Do you have a loved one with a disability? Do you have a loved one recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis? As you and your loved one know, it can often be a lengthy and stressful time to get a diagnosis of MS. As you, your family and your loved one work to accept the diagnosis, you may need to begin special-needs planning. We would like to discuss some special needs planning tips for you and your loved one.
• Early planning is essential. In many cases of multiple sclerosis, the brain loses the ability to send messages to certain parts of the body, which may impede a person’s ability to communicate. We realize this can be a frightening prospect to confront but it makes early planning necessary to prevent any issues of testamentary capacity from arising. In addition, if your loved one has minor children, one of the most important things to do may be to name a guardian for the children, in the event that your loved one becomes unable to take care of them.
• Your loved one should make medical wishes known. Your loved one should have health care documents in place, such as a living will and health care surrogate. The living will can set forth your loved one’s wishes regarding end of life medical care. A health care surrogate can designate a trusted loved one to make medical decisions on his or her behalf in the event of incapacitation. Most importantly, because of the high level of medical care associated with multiple sclerosis, it may be important to work with a Florida estate planning attorney experienced with multiple sclerosis, so these documents have sufficient detail in terms of MS treatment.
• Prepare for long-term care. The cost of care and assistance for a person with progressive multiple sclerosis can be quite high, especially as the disease advances. There is often in-home modification, in-home assistance, or placement in a residential facility needed. A special needs trust may be the best option for managing the finances of your loved one, while helping to assure eligibility for government assistance. If your loved one’s mental capacity decreases, the trustee will be able to manage the financial affairs of your loved one.
Although the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, coupled with special-needs planning, can feel overwhelming, consider following these suggestions and working with an experienced Florida elder law attorney who understands capacity to help ease the process. Special needs planning is not the end of the road. Rather, the purpose is to ease some of the burden for you and your loved one, by assuring his or her needs are met. Most importantly, there may be good days and bad days with multiple sclerosis, so try not to let yourself or your loved one be controlled by the diagnosis. Make plans and memories and keep enjoying life.
Our office is here to help you navigate the legal issues related to seeking and covering the cost of memory care. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with our attorneys.