Elder Law Issues Affecting People Diagnosed With Multiple Sclerosis
People diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, at any age, are affected by the disease on many different levels: physically, possibly cognitively in the later stage of the disease, in their close relationships and potentially their employment ability. The earlier that people create a legal plan the greater likelihood they can remain independent and autonomous in their decision-making. Individuals and their families will want to discuss the following issues and consider the suggested tips:
- Paying for long-term care: Resources are available including Medicaid, Medicare, SSI, Veteran benefits and long-term care insurance. Learn about the medical and financial eligibility requirements so that you can qualify at the earliest possible time.
- Replacing Employment Income: If the disease prevents a person from being substantially gainfully employed it may be time to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).
- Creating a Personalized Legal Plan: A person must be mentally competent to create documents such as a Durable Power of Attorney and a Designation of Healthcare Surrogate (to name a few) naming a trusted person to make medical and financial decisions during your incapacity. When done timely and properly your legal plan will maintain your privacy, ensure your wishes are honored and avoid a guardianship.
- Create An Asset Protection Plan: Some government benefit programs limit the amount of assets a person can own in order to qualify. Consider working with a board certified elder law attorney to create a special needs trust to hold your assets so they can be used to supplement the quality of your care and allow you to qualify for government benefits. The special needs trust can even be used to protect your alimony in the event of a divorce.
- Create a Plan for Young Children: If you have a minor (under age 18) child your plan should include designating a guardian in the event of your incapacity or demise, as well as naming a healthcare surrogate to make medical decisions for your child if you are traveling.
These are just a few of the issues that should be coordinated in a comprehensive plan. Don’t forget the resources offered by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society of South Florida. I welcome the opportunity to work with your friends and family to guide and empower them to make decisions that can create Peace of Mind.
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