Making plans to deal with incapacitation may be part of estate planning for many people in New York. However, if the individual has a brain disease, the plans should take into account specifics about the disease.
One reason for this is because different levels of competency may be required for individuals to sign certain legal documents. For example, if a person is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, it might be best to move quickly to get estate plans in place. It’s important to remember that a higher level of competency may be required to create a revocable trust as opposed to a will.
Another consideration is whether the condition is one that involves a progressive decline, as Alzheimer’s does, or if it’s more a matter of flare-ups that may subside, as is the case with MS. If a person with MS has a revocable trust, in order to avoid having to be reappointed as trustee after every period of disability, the trust could specify a time period for disability that would remove the individual as trustee, such as 30 or 60 days. Individuals may also want to consider whether they need documents such as a living will and HIPAA release.
However, people do not need to wait until they have been diagnosed with an illness to think about estate planning. All adults should consider having an estate plan even if they are young and have few assets and no dependents. In its most basic form, an estate plan can appoint people to make decisions about health care and finances on the creator’s behalf and include a simple will that says who should get the individual’s assets.