Estate Planning for Disability

Ask yourself – what will happen to me if I become disabled?  What does that look like?  Who makes that decision?  Who will care for me?  These are all questions that everyone has to consider.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, 11.2% of Americans aged 45 and older are living with cognitive impairment.  Among Americans living alone, that number is higher.

When most people think about estate planning, the first thought that comes to their mind is how do I make things easier on my family after death.  The more pressing question for most people, and the one that will most acutely affect them is what does their life look like if they become disabled.

We have reviewed hundreds of estate plans.  Most of them have either a simple plan for disability, or worse, no plan at all.  Of the plans that do speak to disability, they fall into one of two categories:  1) they state that if two physicians determine that a disability exists for an individual, then that person shall be declared disabled; or 2) that if a probate judge declares the person disabled, then they are disabled.

Neither of those are plans that have instructions about who should be put in charge when a disability occurs, nor what instructions the disabled person wants to leave regarding how they are to be cared for.

Disability is a Major Life Event

We look at disability as the major life event that it is.  It requires careful and thoughtful planning.  We want a client to determine how they are to be disabled.  We do this most often by using a panel of trusted physicians and/or family and friends to make that decision for a client.  We then help the client determine who amongst their family and friends would be best served to act as their trusted helper.  We then want the client to leave instructions for what their care should look like during the time that they are disabled.

This type of thoughtful disability planning takes the unknown and guesswork away, and helps us ensure that our clients plan will work in the way that it was intended.

If you need advice on how to plan for disability in Missouri, do not hesitate to contact Polaris Law Group and St. Charles trust and estate lawyers Scott Stork and Raymond Chandler. Schedule a meeting with Scott or Raymond today by phone or by filling out our quick contact form.

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