We don’t like to think about ourselves or our loved ones becoming disabled. However, it is becoming increasingly likely that disability will directly touch our lives. A good estate plan helps to prepare for disability. It can maximize the value of your money spent on care, or ensure that you or your loved one can qualify for public assistance, while still preserving as much as possible for the family. It can enable you to give a loved one a better quality of life, without interfering with the necessary assistance. A good estate plan integrates smart financial planning, and makes the best use of long term care insurance and life insurance.
Did you know that statistically, 66% of us over the age of 65 require assistance with 6 or more daily functions for more than 30 days, either at home or in a facility? Not all of these people will be unable to handle their affairs, but many will. It is not just the elderly who are stricken with such problems. Statistically, 40% of those receiving such long term care assistance are between the ages of 18 and 65. (Many thanks to Jennifer Knott and Paul Keebler at NorthWestern Mutual for the statistics. )
When that day comes, you want your loved ones to be able to take care of you, or to be able to take care of your disabled loved one. Proper planning ensures that the documents are there giving the authority to deal with everything from creditors to medical providers to mail carriers. Proper estate planning may also help you get an affordable long term care insurance policy to assist with those costs. Learn more about preparing for this eventuality by reading our booklet, Tying A Net. This is a free information guide. Please feel free to share it (please share it only as the complete document).
So what happens when this day comes unexpectedly and no plans have been laid? Yes, you can still take care of your loved one. You will need to do a Guardianship proceeding and/or a Conservatorship proceeding in the Court. A Guardianship proceeding gives you authority over the individual and his/her care; you can say where they live, what treatment they receive, where they can spend their time, etc. A Conservatorship proceeding gives you authority over the finances; you can say how the money is spent, when the bills are paid, whether to invest, whether to sell the house or car, etc.
We can help you in each of these situations. These are difficult things to think about, but by planning for the worst, you can make it easier and give yourself more time to focus on what you really want: spending more time with your loved one.
For information on upcoming seminars on this topic, please see our Noteworthy page.