If we are very fortunate, we may make it to the end of our lives without suffering long-term impairment or disability, but that is much less likely than most people like to think. Disability can occur suddenly because of an injury. Without proper precautions in place, even a person with an otherwise strong estate plan may find themselves in a bad financial position. If your estate plan does not deal with the possibility of long-term disability, you are leaving yourself open to needless risk.
Of course, it is easy to understand why most people put off planning for disability, even if they plan for other possibilities. No one wants to consider that their life could take a drastic turn, and planning for it may make it seem much more likely. This is typical human behavior, but actually increases the likelihood of large-scale complications if disaster strikes.
Protecting yourself from the possibility of becoming disabled may not be a fun way to spend your time, but it will help you protect the time that you have, no matter what comes your way. With a strong estate plan, you can keep your priorities protected even when things take a bad turn.
Protecting yourself is key
Building your estate plan to protect against disability means that you must protect yourself as well as your assets. If you only build protections for yourself, you may have the assistance and amenities that you need, but may not have the resources to sustain these services.
If you only build protections for your assets, then you may find that others are more interested in helping you to access those assets than to keep you safe and secure.
If you suddenly cannot move or speak to make your wishes known, who will represent your wishes and make sure that you receive the care that you need and approve?
It is important to outline clearly who has these responsibilities. If you do not, your loved ones may fight over who maintains this control, which can endanger your resources and also create large rifts in those relationships. Beyond giving a specific person power of attorney or other similar positions, you should also consider naming a potential guardian, if you have property that requires upkeep.
Protecting your assets
Without proper planning, disability care can quickly drain even significant assets dry. Planning for disability may mean establishing a trust to handle your assets and keep them protected. In many cases, a well-built trust can work in tandem with government assistance like Medicare and Medicaid to provide the assistance and treatment that you need while still allowing you to qualify for that help. If you do not have this planned out ahead of time, you may have too many assets to qualify for government assistance, which means you must pay for the help and care out-of-pocket.
It is also important to understand how to protect your assets from creditors or others who might try to take advantage of your compromised state. B sure to consider these issues and many more as you build an estate plan that addresses your needs and fears while keeping your rights and priorities protected.