More than half of Americans now have at least one chronic health condition, mental health concern, or substance abuse issue. That is a staggering statistic that our Middle Tennessee estate planning lawyer who works with sick and disabled clients confronts every day.
There are varying definitions of what it means to be “chronically ill.” One definition is having a disease that a person will live with for many years. These types of illnesses include diabetes, cardiovascular disease, lupus, multiple sclerosis, hepatitis c, and asthma. Alternatively, some define chronic illness as an inability to perform at least two activities of daily living such as eating, toileting, transferring, bathing, and dressing. Or, the patient may require constant supervision by someone else for health or safety issues.
Regardless of how “chronic illness” is defined, every adult living with a long-term diagnosis should have a few basic legal documents in place to ensure that their wishes are honored and that they are legally and financially positioned to receive the best care possible in the least restrictive environment as possible.
For example, an experienced Middle Tennessee estate planning lawyer can help create legal documents such as Powers of Attorney or Healthcare Directives that appoint someone you trust to pay your bills, access bank accounts, and make medical decisions for you if you are incapacitated or otherwise unable.
Additionally, a Middle Tennessee estate planning lawyer can help you utilize tools such as trusts to protect hard-earned assets from nursing homes, creditors, or predators. A living trust also offers control, as you can set rules and parameters as to how your assets are to be used and managed by a trustee who is overseeing your affairs. A trust can also help pass down your assets outside of probate, which can be a long and expensive process that most Tennessee residents would prefer to avoid.
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 (or a loved one) are 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.