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Planning for incapacity is prudent even for the young

Ohio residents may think of debilitating medical conditions like Alzheimer's disease when the issue of incapacity is raised, but car accidents or other unforeseen events can leave even younger individuals who enjoy good health unable to care for themselves or make important decisions. While becoming incapacitated may be difficult to talk or even think about for most people, taking steps to prepare for the worst possible outcomes in life could help to make things easier for friends and family members during extremely difficult times.

Drafting certain legal documents also provides individuals with a certain degree of control over their financial affairs and medical treatment even if they become incapacitated. Health care proxies authorize trusted individuals to make decisions about what type of treatment options should be pursued and may include specific instructions about when further efforts to prolong life should be abandoned. These documents may also instruct doctors and nurses not to attempt to resuscitate patients who have gone into cardiac arrest. Living wills can also be used to grant trusted individuals the authority to make end-of-life decisions.

Even brief periods of incapacity can be disastrous for individuals with complex financial affairs. One way to ensure that investment portfolios and other interests continue to be managed in such situations is to place assets into a revocable living trust. This arrangement allows individuals to act as trustees themselves and also name successor trustees who would be able to take over the decision-making responsibilities in times of crisis. Powers of attorney are also useful in cases of incapacity as they authorize designated individuals to pay bills and handle other financial matters.

Attorneys with experience in estate planning could explain how facing the less pleasant aspects of life and taking steps to prepare for them can provide peace of mind. Attorneys could also point out that using trusts also generally allows estates to avoid the public scrutiny of the probate process.

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