Special Needs Planning Suggestions for a Loved One with Multiple Sclerosis

Since 2010, Stuart Estate Planning lawyer John Mangan has provided guidance to the Stuart, Palm City community for addressing the Special Needs Planning Suggestions for a Loved One with Multiple Sclerosis

A person who has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), and the person’s family members, understand all too well the lengthy and stressful time it can take to get to a diagnosis of MS. As they work to accept the diagnosis, special-needs planning may be far from their mind. Did you know early planning can be essential? Let us discuss some special needs planning suggestions for your loved one.

  • Plan early. In many cases of Multiple Sclerosis, the brain loses the ability to send messages to certain parts of the body, which may negatively impact a person’s ability to communicate. Although this can be a frightening prospect to confront, it makes early planning necessary to prevent any issues of testamentary capacity from arising. Also, if your loved one has minor children, one of the most important things to do may be to name a guardian for the children, in the event that your loved one becomes unable to take care of them. 
  • Make medical wishes known. Your loved one should have health care documents in place, such as a living will and health care surrogate. The living will can set forth your loved one’s wishes regarding end-of-life medical care. A health care surrogate can designate a trusted loved one to make medical decisions on his or her behalf in the event of incapacitation. Due to the high level of medical care associated with MS, it is important to work with an experienced estate planning attorney so these documents have sufficient detail in terms of MS treatment.
  • Long-Term Care Planning. The cost of care and assistance for a person with progressive MS can be quite high, especially as the disease advances, often requiring home modification, in-home assistance, or placement in a residential facility. A special needs trust may be the best option for managing the finances of your loved one while helping to assure eligibility for government assistance. If your loved one’s mental capacity decreases, the trustee will be able to manage the financial affairs of your loved one.

Although the diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, coupled with special-needs planning, can feel overwhelming, consider following these suggestions and working with an attorney who understands capacity to help ease the process. Special needs planning is not the end of the road. Rather, its purpose is to ease some of the burden for you and your loved one by assuring needs are met. Most importantly, there may be good days and bad days with MS, so try not to let yourself or your loved one be controlled by the diagnosis. Make plans and memories and keep enjoying life.

For assistance in special needs planning, please reach out to our office to schedule an appointment.

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