As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have been forced to confront their mortality. Subsequently, a growing number of people are realizing that estate plans are not just for the extremely old and that it is a good idea to make sure you have an appropriate estate plan in place.
If you are the guardian of a special needs adult, it is particularly important to make sure that your loved one has an estate plan in place. Remember, disabled adults are much more likely than adults without disabilities to have various health complications including heart disease, lung disease, and various types of cancers. As the guardian of a disabled person, you must make sure that you are as prepared as possible to navigate these challenges. Having an estate plan in place is one of the best ways to prepare for these hardships.
Advance Healthcare Directives
On its most basic level, advance healthcare directives allow a person to select an agent to make decisions on the creator’s behalf regarding healthcare decisions in the case that the creator becomes incapacitated and cannot do so. In the case of a special needs individual, it is a good idea to begin by assessing what the individual can handle independently and under what situations the person can benefit from additional help. These documents can then be created to specifically address what issues should be handled by the special needs individual and which will need the agent’s help.
In tandem with an advance healthcare directive, it is also important to consider creating a financial directive, which is created by the special needs adult to grant another individual the ability to make financial decisions on his or her behalf. Because finances are often involved, it is critical to make sure that the special needs adult names someone who can be trusted to function in such a position. Remember to raise the issue if there are questions or concerns about the special needs adult’s ability to pick a responsible agent to act in such a position.
As the guardian of a special needs adult, it is likely high on your list of concerns that the special needs adult has enough financial support should something happen to you. Trusts help a person to transfer assets without facing common complications like taxes which often must be dealt with if an asset is transferred through a will. While there are many types of trusts, a “special needs” trust permits a special needs adult to benefit from assets while still qualifying for public benefits programs maintained by Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income.
While it is not the best option for everyone, if the special needs adult is unable to receive information, make an informed choice, and communicate this decision, guardianship might be the best possible route. To appoint a guardian, a court must perform a detailed review and subsequently enforce penalties in terms of the guardianship are not satisfied. Remember, guardianship encompasses a much greater deprivation of individual rights and is used much less frequently than power of attorney.
Contact a Knowledgeable Estate Planning Attorney
One of the biggest challenges in estate planning is that no estate plans are ever exactly alike. While it can be tempting to download an estate planning document online, an experienced estate planning lawyer can help you make sure that your estate plan fully achieves each of your goals. If you live in the Oklahoma City area and need help from a compassionate attorney, do not hesitate to contact attorney Jim A Lyon today for assistance.