Disability & Illness

October 11, 2013   Disability & Illness

Navigating Your Way: Social Security Disability Benefits

Most people do not realize how common disability is, or how likely it is that they will become disabled at some point during their working career. In fact, studies show that one in three 20-year-old workers will become disabled at some point before they reach their full retirement age. For those workers who do become disabled, Social Security disability benefits may be available. Unfortunately, however, many people do not understand how the get the benefits they deserve. Social Security disability benefits are reserved for more serious disabilities. For example, if you catch a virus and are out of work for a week, you are not eligible for benefits. However, for those who suffer a medical condition that is expected to keep them out of work for one year or result in death, Social Security d...
August 7, 2013   Disability & Illness

Disabled Children and Your Estate Plan—What’s Best?

For the parents of disabled children, estate planning is of supreme importance. Without proper parental estate planning, a disabled child who is unable to live independently may be left extraordinarily vulnerable. Below are some of the more common legal considerations that parents of disabled children should make:   First, select a guardian. A guardian is necessary if your child either has not reached the age of majority, or has been adjudged incompetent. In either situation, parents should carefully select the person or institution that will be able to best care for the child. If parents do not make this designation, they suffer the possibility that the court will select a person or institution that the parents would not have selected.   If you are worried that an inheritance wi...
July 26, 2013   Disability & Illness

Is Disability Insurance Worth It?

From homes to body parts, Americans protect a variety of assets through insurance policies. When purchasing insurance policies, however, many Americans forget to insure their most important asset, the ability to work. Through disability insurance, a person can insure his or her paycheck.                           Many people wonder if disability insurance is necessary. After all, the Social Security Administration does provide a safety net – disability benefits – to those who become unable to work due to physical or mental disability. However, for many people, social security checks will not cover the financial needs created by an inability to work.  ...
July 19, 2013   Disability & Illness

Estate Planning With Dementia on the Rise

Dementia is a syndrome that causes deterioration of cognitive function. As the baby boomer generation continues to age, so does the number of people who are affected by dementia. Perhaps more alarming, dementia is more commonly being diagnosed among individuals in their 50s. Although you may never have to deal with the challenges that a diagnosis of dementia can bring, it is still vital that you complete your estate plan early, while you have the mental capacity legally required to make estate planning decisions.   In order to maintain an indicia of control over the medical care you receive after you become mentally incapacitated, it is important to complete a Health Care Power of Attorney, as well as a Living Will. A Health Care Power of Attorney designates the person who you would l...
September 28, 2012   Disability & Illness,   Estate Planning

Planning For Incapacity and Long-Term Care

With people living longer due to advances in medicine and lifestyle changes, chances are that most of us will become disabled for some time before we die and will need some long-term care. And while we tend to think of incapacity or disability as something that happens when we are older, the reality is that even those who are young and healthy can suddenly become disabled from an accident, an illness or a random act of violence. Unfortunately, too few plan for what is more likely to be a probability than a possibility.   What Happens If You Don’t Plan: Living Probate Most people are familiar with the probate process at death. It is the legal process for changing titles on assets from the name of a deceased person to the name of the heirs, and is required because a deceased perso...
April 9, 2012   Disability & Illness

Advance Directives/Living Wills are a Critical Component of Estate Planning

March 31, 2012 marked the seventh anniversary of the death of Terri Schiavo, the 41-year-old who succumbed after her feeding tube was removed as part of a very public legal battle between her husband and parents. As you may recall, Terri Schiavo was in a coma for nearly 15 years after she suffered cardiac arrest and sustained a brain injury. Her husband, Michael Schiavo, alleged that his wife would not want to live in her incapacitated state; she had no written instructions in place. Her parents, on the other hand, suspected that Michael had something to do with Terri’s collapse and argued that she valued life and would have chosen to be sustained. As you also recall, the Florida Legislature, then-Gov. Jeb Bush, and then Congress and President George W. Bush all intervened in this...
March 5, 2012   Disability & Illness

An Introduction to Planning for Long Term Care

Long term care is the kind of care you need if you are not able to perform normal daily activities (such as eating, dressing, bathing, and toileting) without help, and it is expected that you will need this help for an extended period of time, often for the rest of your life.This kind of care is often needed due to aging, chronic illness or injury, and most of us will need it for at least some time before we die. But it is not just for the elderly; a good number of younger, working-age adults are currently receiving long term care due to accident, illness or injury.Long term care can be provided in your home, in an assisted living facility, or in a nursing home. All can become very expensive.Home health care can easily run over $20,000 per year. That's at $16 per hour, for just 25 hour...
December 15, 2011   Disability & Illness

The Special Needs Trust

Planning for a Disabled Dependent If you have a child, sibling, parent, spouse, or other loved one who is physically, mentally or developmentally disabled -- whether from birth, illness, injury or drug abuse -- he or she may be entitled to valuable government benefits (SSI and/or Medicaid) now or in the future. Unfortunately, most of these benefits are available only to those with very limited means.As a result, you may find yourself faced with a difficult choice. If you leave a substantial inheritance to your special needs person, he will be disqualified from receiving government benefits which may be crucial for his care. On the other hand, you may not want to have to disinherit him in order to preserve these benefits.Fortunately, a special needs trust will keep you from having to make t...
April 10, 2011   Disability & Illness

The Psychiatric Advance Directive: An Often Overlooked but Important Incapacity Planning Tool

By Suellen Fagin-Allen, JD, NCC, LMHC
Approximately five percent of Americans have seri­ous, chronic mental illness, according to official government reports, and since 1955, there has been nearly a fourfold increase in the number of reported psychiatric care episodes per 100,000 U.S. population. Regardless of the reasons for this astounding rise, up to half of us may be affected in some way by mental illness within our lifetimes. Yet, reliable sources show that few patients have executed advance medical directives for psychiatric care. Think this information has little applica­tion to you as an estate planning attorney? Consider the following true stories of my personal friends, told with their permission. Details have been modified to protect anonymity.  A professional man in his 50s with multiple advanced degr...
July 15, 2010   Disability & Illness

Special Needs Planning

In this article, we will focus on an area that will likely apply to you or someone close to you: planning for a loved one with special needs. We will look at the increasing need for this planning; the decrease in government benefits; the concerns families have about providing for their loved ones; whether it is worth protecting government benefits; and planning tips to help you provide for and protect your loved one for as long as he or she lives.The Increasing Need for Special Needs Care and Planning Chances are there is or will be someone in your family (child, grandchild, nephew, niece, parent, grandparent) who will need long-term help managing personal care and/or finances. A quick look at the following statistics confirms that the need for special needs care and planning is increasing...
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