A mental disability or terminal illness can leave you unable to handle your finances and make your own medical care decisions. That is why it is important to create a disability plan. Without a disability plan, the legal system will decide who has control over your medical wellness and financial assets.
Make a Medical Plan
A mental or severe physical disability may leave you without the ability to tell your family members and doctors how you want to be cared for. If you would like to name a family member or friend to make medical decisions on your behalf, you can use an Advanced Medical Directive, also known as a Medical Power of Attorney. An Advanced Medical Directive goes into effect when your doctor deems you unable to make your own decisions.
You may also create a Living Will, a document that states what type of care you do or don’t want in the event of terminal illness or a vegetative mental state. A Living Will is often used to state how long a person is willing to be left on life support systems and whether you want to be resuscitated if your life signs fail. Your Living Will cannot, however, make real time decisions for you, making the Medical Power of Attorney equally important.
Make a Financial Plan
Who will control your finances and property if you should become incapacitated? You can determine this in a variety of ways. First you can create a Financial Power of Attorney. If your Financial POA is a “durable” one, then you can use it any time during sickness or health. If, however, your POA is only “springing” it will not go into effect until a doctor states you are mentally or physically unable to make decisions.
A Revocable Living Trust is a common disability and estate planning tool. The benefit of a Living Trust is that it has powers before and after your death. As long as you are in good health you will control your Trust and all of your financial assets, but if you should become disabled or die, a trustee will take over. In the event of your death, a Trust allows property to pass easily to your heirs.