3 Reasons Why You Want To Discuss Incapacity Planning

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Discussing the implications of severe illness or approaching the end of one’s life can be a sensitive topic. It is common for individuals to feel uneasy when contemplating the possibility of being unable to function due to an unforeseen accident or a sudden deterioration in their health. Often, we tend to shy away from engaging in conversations about end-of-life care to avoid negativity or dwelling on grim matters. However, it is an unfortunate truth that the majority of people only confront the possibility of serious illness and incapacitation when it is already too late, leaving their family and loved ones to make urgent decisions under duress.

Avoiding the conversation doesn’t mean that illness and accidents won’t happen. In this article, we’re going to cover 3 reasons why you want to discuss incapacity planning now.

1. Ensure Your Wishes Are Honored

Discussing your preferences for end-of-life care while you are still in good health allows you to clearly articulate your wishes. This ensures that, if a critical situation arises in the hospital, medical decisions align with your values and desires. Delaying this conversation may lead to missed opportunities for your loved ones to understand and respect your choices, potentially resulting in a course of action being taken that does not reflect your true wishes. This is especially true when you and your family have differing opinions on non-medical care, such as religious or spiritual care (i.e., last rites or intercessory prayer).

2. Reduce Family Conflict And Stress

Talking about end-of-life care can be emotionally challenging, but postponing the discussion can exacerbate stress and conflict among family members. When a loved one is hospitalized and the need for decisions arises suddenly, family members may find themselves in disagreement about the best course of action. Open communication beforehand helps to minimize these conflicts by providing a clear understanding of your preferences and allowing the family to unite around a shared understanding of your wishes. In addition to speaking with your family, having an Advance Directive allows you to designate a trusted agent to speak for you on matters of medical care and enforce your wishes regarding who may visit you in the hospital.

3. Empower You And Your Family

Having these conversations about end-of-life or incapacity care empowers both you and your family members to make informed decisions. Knowing your preferences allows your family to act as advocates for your well-being. This proactive approach ensures that your values are respected and provides a sense of control and understanding during a challenging and chaotic time. Delaying these discussions may result in decisions made under duress, without the benefit of your input, leading to, at best, potential regrets and emotional distress for your family and at worst, emotional ramifications that can last a lifetime.

With a document like an Advance Directive, for example, you can clearly outline your wishes for medical care, designate a trusted agent who can speak on your behalf, and provide your family with peace of mind should you be incapacitated or otherwise unable to speak for yourself. However, it is important to remember that an Advance Directive is just one part of a comprehensive estate plan.

For assistance with Maryland and D.C. wills, estate planning and probate, contact the

Law Offices of Elsa W. Smith, LLC at


Attorney Elsa W. Smith