More than half of Americans now have at least one chronic health condition, mental disorder or substance abuse issue. That is a staggering statistic, even for me as a Houston estate planning lawyer that works with sick and disabled clients every day.
There are two common definitions for chronically ill. The first definition is a disease that a person will live with for many years. This types of illness include diabetes, cardiovascular disease, lupus, MS, hepatitis C, and asthma. The legal definition of chronic illness states “the person is unable to perform at least two activities of daily living such as eating, toileting, transferring, bathing and dressing, or requires considerable supervision to protect from crisis relating to health and safety due to severe impairment concerning mind, or having a level of disability similar to that determined by the Social Security Administration for disability benefits.”
Everyone needs estate planning, but for the chronically ill there is a high sense of urgency. For healthy people, a will or trust plans for the “what if?” When you have a chronic illness, you are planning for the “here and now.” We can help you set up a plan for your care and well-being by naming someone who can make medical decisions if you are not able to do so yourself. Without a plan that includes a HIPPA authorization and healthcare directives, the person that you choose may not legally be able to speak for you.
Additionally, an estate planning lawyer in Houston can help you utilize tools such as trusts to protect assets so that you can be eligible for Medicaid without totally scrambling your nest egg. A living trust can also give you the peace of mind knowing that your estate will easily be passed to your heirs without going through the probate process when you do eventually pass away.
The bottom line is this: do not assume that because you are suffering from a chronic illness that it is too late to take steps to better your financial situation or safeguard your family. Even if you are (or have a loved one) currently in a nursing home, there may still be options! The first step is to simply contact our office. We will schedule a planning session with you and walk through all of the avenues of protection that could work best for your family.