How do I plan for incapacity using my revocable living trust?

One of the major objectives of using a revocable living trust is to plan for incapacity. For that reason, revocable living trusts typically contain a provision that provides for a successor Trustee who is able to manage the assets of a trust for the benefit of the Trustor (the creator of the trust) while the Trustor is incapacitated.

The standard for when the successor Trustee will assume the role of Trustee usually depends on the medical determination of one or more physicians. Some trusts may also allow the successor Trustee to make this determination based on his or her personal judgments. As a practical matter, however, financial institutions that hold the trust assets may have a difficult time accepting an informal determination by a successor Trustee.

If relying on the certification of one or more physicians, it is important to ensure that an Advance Health Care Directive naming an agent is in place. A physician may decline to render an opinion regarding the current Trustee's capacity without a document allowing disclosure of sensitive medical information.

As our population's lifespan increases, the risk that a portion of it may be spent in an incapacitated state makes it even more important to ensure that proper measures are in place to plan for these situations.