As poet Robert Burns mused centuries ago, “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Despite thoughtful effort and a concerted strategy, you cannot prepare for every emergency. A car accident, sudden illness, workplace injury or chronic medical condition can force you to re-evaluate the core assumptions you used to plan your future and set up your legacy. When this happens it is important to remember that you can take meaningful actions to protect your legacy and estate in the wake of any newfound limitations you may have. The following are actions to consider taking:
Work with a qualified estate planning attorney to ensure that:
1. There’s an authorized person to make financial and healthcare decisions for you if you become mentally or physically unable to do so yourself.
2. There’s also an authorized person to manage your property, pay your bills, file your taxes and handle similar business if you’re unable to do these tasks.
3. Your wishes about health care decisions, such as end of life care and do-not-resuscitate instructions, have been communicated in a legally valid and binding manner.
Ask your estate planning attorney or your financial advisor what additional actions you may need to take, such as:
1. Ensuring you have all appropriate insurance.
2. Reassessing your investment options and portfolio in light of your new limitations and constraints on your ability to generate income.
3. Making sure you have an appropriate budget and that your bills will be paid on time.
Mind this important distinction: “disability” for legal purposes is different than “disability” for financial planning purposes. For example, disability for financial purposes might mean you can’t work gainfully anymore because of cancer or a workplace injury. On the other hand, disability, or “incapacity”, in an estate planning context typically means that a person is no longer capable of making sound decisions, often due to systemic illness or injury. In other words, you can be “disabled” for financial/insurance purposes and be non-disabled for legal purposes. However, almost anyone who is disabled for legal purposes would also be considered disabled for financial purposes.
In all instances, it is important to work together with both your estate planning lawyer and financial advisor to make sure your family is fully protected.
Take these actions on your own:
1. Pay attention to where your money is going as well as to your long term planning strategy. Your estate planning attorney can help you assess whether your current plans are still realistic and, if not, what alternative options you have.
2. Get the help you need from trusted professionals. Now is the time to network through your friends and family and get the assistance you need to maintain a healthy lifestyle. No one advisor will have all the answers. Your team can work together to reduce any anxiety and keep you focused on what really matters.
Please reach out to us to assess your long term plans and documents, and to make sure you are as secure as possible in light of any new challenges.