How Disability Can Affect Your Estate Plan in Cary, North Carolina
What Happens to My Estate if I Become Disabled?
The younger you are the more immortal you feel. As we age we usually learn and feel our true mortality. Today's medical treatment and technologies are amazingly helping improve our quality of life and extend life so much more than ever before. The benefits allow us to live with a disability much longer than traditionally we were able. Disability can come quickly and unpredictably. A car accident, slip and fall, cancer, virus, food allergy, bug bit, and other events or conditions can strip us of our ability to live free of expensive medical treatment, assistive technology, and medicines.
Disability costs can drain your estate. Most people's first defense is health insurance. We all know of the limitation of health insurance. And it seems that it costs more and the benefits are less and less. If your condition requires more you have to private pay. If you can't pay then you either go without or spend down all your assets until you become eligible for Medicaid may pay for it. This process is the same for nursing home care. Click Here for more information.
Another cost of a disability comes when you haven't planned for this in advance by having an updated Power of Attorney. Without an updated Power of Attorney, if you are unable to manage your own affairs or communicate your health care wishes your family will be forced to sue you in court. The lawsuit is called a Guardianship Proceeding. This is a legal process where you are publicly declared incompetent and a judge appoints a guardian of you and or your assets. This process is long, emotional, and expensive. It is difficult and hardship on your family.
The failure to plan and prepare causes delays and added expenses to put in place the people with the appropriate authority to act quickly.
How to Protect My Estate from Disability in NC?
As alluded to above, the first line of defense is to have an updated Power of Attorney properly executed. This document empowers the people you know and trust with the legal authority to manage your affairs without court involvement. Financial institutions, businesses, medical providers, and everyone else is required by law to accept updated Power of Attorney documents by your named trusted individuals within the document to interact with those people as if they were interacting with you. They stand in your "shoes" and act on your behalf in your best interest. And the blessing is they don't have to go through a guardianship lawsuit to do it.
Another legal document that can help is using a Trust. Having a funded Trust will give access to your assets for your benefit much quicker than the use of a Power of Attorney and Guardianship. It's never too late until it's too late. A funded Trust puts your assets in a position to be protected and used without any additional legal action. The sooner the better.
You can also invest in additional insurance and financial accounts that have provisions to provide or reimburse you for disability-related services and equipment. Working with a financial advisor is a great resource to learn about these options for you.
Don't underestimate personal relationships. Not all people are "in it for the money". Love is a great equalizer. If you grow and maintain loving personal relationships then you will have built up a group of people who will enjoy helping and serving you in the event you experience disability or hardship. Reciprocity is the key. As you serve and support others, it will strengthen their desire and ability to "return the favor". Churches and other civil organizations are great places to participate in this.