Incapacity Planning in North Dakota Part 1


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A closer look at incapacity planning in North Dakota - the essential concepts that surround the important question of what will happen to us, and our families, should we one day become incapacitated

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Incapacity Planning in North Dakota Part 1

  1. 1. A Closer Look at Many of the Essential Concepts that Surround the Important Question of What Will Happen to Us, and Our Families, Should We One Day Become Incapacitated RAYMOND J GERMAN NORTH DAKOTA ESTATE PLANNING ATTORNEY INCAPACITY PLANNING IN NORTH DAKOTA (Part 1)
  2. 2. German Law Group Incapacity Planning in North Dakota (Part 1) 2 Estate planning is one of those areas of the law that often requires people to ask themselves some difficult questions. Many of these questions surround our mortality, and require us to look ahead to the future and consider what will, and might, happen to us. When we look to the future we must consider the possibility that we might lose the capabilities we have today, and might do so with little or no warning. Today we are going to take a closer look at many of the essential concepts that surround the important question of what will happen to us, and our families, should we one day become incapacitated. CAPACITY AND INCAPACITY In order to create an incapacity plan, we first have to understand what capacity means. In the law, the idea of capacity is essential whenever someone wants to make a decision. Most of us take for granted that we have the legal authority to make decisions that govern our day-to-day lives. Where do you want to live? What do you want to eat for dinner? How do you wish to invest your money? What kind of education do you want your children to receive? The ability to make these decisions rests upon the assumption that you are a mentally capable person. The law presumes that adults are capable of thinking for
  3. 3. German Law Group Incapacity Planning in North Dakota (Part 1) 3 themselves, and are capable of making reasonable choices. This is known as having capacity. However, capacity isn’t something that everyone has. For example, a child is not legally capable of making most choices. Adults who have learning or cognitive disabilities might also not be legally capable of making their own decisions. Further, even once capable adults can lose the ability to make choices if certain events take place. Once you lose capacity, you can no longer make those day-to-day decisions that govern your life. Instead, other people will have to step in to make those decisions for you. CAUSES OF INCAPACITATION There are a number of ways people can lose their ability to make choices. Most commonly, however, incapacitation arises because of one of two events. First, there is the unexpected event that robs you of your ability to think or
  4. 4. German Law Group Incapacity Planning in North Dakota (Part 1) 4 communicate. Serious injuries that result from automobile crashes, medical complications, adverse drug reactions, and other similar situations can rob you of your ability to make decisions or express them, as can various types of illnesses or diseases. In some situations, drug addictions and mental illness can also result in incapacitation. Second, there is the natural decline in abilities that accompanies the aging process. Even the healthiest of adults will experience some decline in physical and cognitive abilities as they get older. This decline in abilities is often exacerbated as people reach senior citizen status. It also exacerbated by the fact that a variety of illnesses typically only affect people as they get older. For example, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia commonly only affect people over the age of 55. There are several important issues you should note when you think about the causes of incapacitation. First, anyone can be incapacitated at any time. We have no way of knowing what the future holds, and cannot FREE LIVING TRUSTS REPORT LIVING TRUSTS CALCULATING THE BENEFITS A Living Trust is a very versatile estate planning tool - one that can be customized to suit all your needs. A Living Trust Can Provide Peace of Mind . . . There Are Many Reasons Why And Our Living Trust Report is FREE, With No Obligation CLICK TO DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE REPORT TODAY!
  5. 5. German Law Group Incapacity Planning in North Dakota (Part 1) 5 predict when some event might rob us of our ability to choose. Second, even though younger people are much less likely to become incapacitated, it is still a possibility for which responsible people must be prepared. Developing a plan that addresses the possibility that you lose your ability to choose or communicate is essential if you want to protect yourself and your family. INCAPACITY PLANNING If incapacity is the loss of ability to make decisions, then what is incapacity planning? Essentially, an incapacity plan is a collection of tools that give you the ability to make choices now, while you are still capable, that will control what happens to you should you become incapacitated. Incapacity plans can rely on several different types of tools, but these basically boil down into two key types: tools that address your financial needs, and tools that address your medical needs. What happens to your bills if you are involved in an accident? Who will manage your property, look after your farm, or manage your family business? These types of financial and practical questions lie at the heart of every incapacity plan. When you create your plan, you will be able to choose representatives who can step in when needed and manage your affairs on your behalf, as well as choose how you want them to act. Beyond financial and practical concerns, there’s also the question of medical and health care decisions. Your incapacity plan will allow you to name medical representatives, and will also allow you to make health care decisions that you want your doctors to abide by should you lose your ability to tell them yourself.
  6. 6. German Law Group Incapacity Planning in North Dakota (Part 1) 6 ADVICE AND GUIDANCE Now that you know little more about incapacity and incapacity plans, our next discussion will go into more depth about the specific types of tools you will likely use one you create an incapacity plan in Minnesota or North Dakota. While state and federal laws control what types of documents you can create, and what those documents need to contain, you have a number of options when it comes to developing a plan. You will have to make some potentially difficult decisions, but when you do, you must make sure that you make those decisions in a legally enforceable manner. German Law Group has a lot of experience counseling our clients on the creation of incapacity plans that address their unique circumstances. No one can tell you what choices you have to make, but we can help you make sure that your choices will be protected when the time comes. If you haven’t begun incapacity planning, you should contact our office as soon as possible so we can begin the process.
  7. 7. German Law Group Incapacity Planning in North Dakota (Part 1) 7 About the Author Raymond J. German As an attorney in Minnesota and North Dakota, Raymond J. German provides a wide range of estate planning and title services to his clients, with a primary focus on helping them provide for the security of their loved ones, reduce estate taxes and avoid or at least minimize the costs and delays of probate, all with a well-crafted estate plan. Mr. German defines the mission statement for Raymond J. German, LTD. Law Firm as "Helping one family at a time pass on values, beliefs and finances, that can be shared for generations to come." Mr. German is well aware of the growing importance of estate planning and dedicates himself to informing the public of the need for careful attention to their specific situations. He is a frequent speaker on a variety of estate planning topics, regularly presenting educational seminars for the public as well as private groups. Raymond J. German approaches each challenge with not just solid expertise, but also remarkable enthusiasm and vigor. By constantly seeking simpler, better, and more effective ways of doing things, he continues to make a real difference in the lives of families and on the way estate planning is practiced by attorneys around the country. German Law Group, PC GRAND FORKS 2650 32nd Avenue South, Suite O Grand Forks, ND 58201 Phone: (701) 738-0060 Toll Free: (800) 774-7576 Fax: (701) 738-0064 FERTILE 105 North Mill Street, P.O. Box 127 Fertile, MN 56540 Phone: (218) 945-6913 Toll Free: (800) 774-7576 Fax: (218) 945-6914