Life has a way of being unpredictable. People may develop health issues after decades of enjoying a healthy lifestyle. It only takes a moment for someone to end up severely injured in a car crash or work incident. As such, adults need to plan for the possibility of some major setback or leave themselves at risk. Estate planning is a way to address not just premature death but also personal vulnerability after changes in health. If someone experiences a truly debilitating incident or if their mental acuity declines as they age, they could be at risk of involuntary guardianship or conservatorship.
When people cannot manage their own affairs anymore, the courts can grant authority over their lives to another adult. Other people could petition the Montana probate courts requesting the authority to manage someone’s assets or healthcare decisions. The right estate planning steps could reduce the risk of a guardianship.
People can essentially choose their own guardians
Thorough estate plans don’t just include provisions for managing someone’s memorial services and the distribution of their assets. People can also put together information about their medical wishes and draft powers of attorney. Powers of attorney are documents that grant a trusted individual the authority to act as an agent in certain circumstances.
A lawyer can include special language in Montana powers of attorney to make them durable documents. A durable power of attorney continues to have legal authority even if the courts decide that someone has become permanently incapacitated. The agents named in the paperwork should retain their legal authority until the medical condition of the principal improves or they eventually die.
An individual with durable powers of attorney on record can count on people having authority for their personal needs and financial matters. They don’t have to worry about a scenario in which there is no one to speak on their behalf.
Without durable powers of attorney, those who experience incapacitating medical events could be at risk of any professional or family member seeking guardianship or conservatorship. While most people never experience a prolonged period of incapacitation, having a plan in place in case of such an emergency is generally a smart move.