What is Incapacity?   

Incapacity is defined in Iowa the same as incapacity for a guardianship or a conservatorship under Iowa Code §633.556.  It is defined as functional limitations that make a person unable to communicate or carry out important decisions concerning a person’s affairs.   

What happens if I am in the hospital and unable to make decisions?  What happens if I am incapacitated by illness or injury?  Who will handle my financial affairs?  Who will handle my healthcare decisions?   

Incapacity planning is more important now than ever. 

What tools are available?  

Power of Attorney—The Iowa Uniform Power of Attorney Act – Effective July 1, 2014  

What is a Power of Attorney?  Any grant of authority in writing or other record from a principal to an agent which appears from the grant to be power of attorney.  It is a basic document or agreement to allow someone to make decisions for you, if you are unable.  Your “agent” or power of attorney must act in your best interest and can only do what your power of attorney form allows.  It can give broad powers or limited powers such as paying bills, buying or selling real estate, operating a business or entity, pursuing or defending lawsuits, paying taxes, etc.  It is best to consult an attorney to explain the legal ramifications of granting someone a power of attorney.   

Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare Decisions–  

What is a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare Decisions?  It is just as it sounds.  If you become incapacitated, it allows your agent to make decisions regarding your healthcare and communicate with your care physicians.   

When Should I designate a Power of Attorney or Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare Decisions?   You should make these designations while you are able—before your incapacityMaking these designations now does not relinquish your ability to make these decisions for yourself 

What happens if I do not designate a Power of Attorney or Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare Decisions before I become incapacitated?  If you do not plan ahead and choose someone to make these decisions, a Court may have to appoint a guardian and/or conservator to handle your affairs.  This is a much more complex and costly alternative.  It may not be the person you would choose.   

Note:  For Federal and/or VA benefits, you may need a special form.     

This information does not develop an attorney-client relationship and is not legal advice.  You should consult with an attorney for advice on any estate planning.   

Ashley Allen