Estate Planning for the Chronically Ill

by Julia Leigh Dean on Jun. 06, 2019


Summary: Estate Planning for the Chronically Ill

In the United States, six out of ten adults in the United States have a chronic disease, and chronic disease is the leading cause of disability and death. While many healthy adults view estate planning as a contingency plan, adults with a chronic illness approach estate planning with higher urgency. While preparing their plan, adults with chronic illnesses should assemble a “team” of advisors. 
An attorney can draft important financial and health documents, such as your: 

- Will or Revocable Living Trust: Expresses your wishes regarding your property after you pass away;
- Durable Power of Attorney: Appoints an agent to make your financial decisions if you cannot do so;
- Medical power of attorney: Appoints an agent to make your medical decisions if you cannot do so;
- Living Will: Expresses your preferences for life support;
- HIPAA Authorization: Allows family members to know your protected healthcare information;
- Out of Hospital Do-Not-Resuscitate Order: Informs paramedics not to use a cardiac defibrillator if your heart stops.

These documents will enable you to empower a trusted person or group of people to care for you when you are unable to do so. An attorney can also prepare trusts to provide for an individual with disabilities without disqualifying them from important government aid in the future, such as: 

- Special Needs Trust: Maintains qualification of needs-based government assistance;
- Medicaid Asset Protection Trust: Allows you to qualify for Medicaid, assisting your long-term care needs while protecting some assets for your loved ones; 
- Veteran’s Asset Protection Trust: Assists veterans and their spouses to qualify for Veteran’s benefits while protecting some assets for your loved ones if you need long-term care.

Other people in your “team” can include a financial advisor, who can prepare an investment strategy tailored to your needs, and an accountant, who can help you budget for future health care.   

If you are diagnosed with a chronic illness, it is important to prepare for what the future may bring. Planning before you need assistance is a gift that you can give to yourself and your loved ones, so a consultation with an estate planning and elder law attorney is critical first step to ensuring that all necessary planning steps are contemplated and eventually implemented. 

Julia Dean is the managing attorney at The Dean Law Firm, PLLC, a boutique law firm practicing in estate planning, probate, guardianships, elder law, and civil appeals. Mrs. Dean has been recognized as a Top Attorney and Leading Advisor by Acquisition International, Forbes, Newsweek, H Texas, Houstonia, and the Sugar Land Sun, and has earned Martindale-Hubbell’s Client Distinction Award. The Dean Law Firm is committed to bringing you peace of mind by providing thoughtful estate planning for your family.

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