Planning Ahead--Estate Planning

  • An important outcome of financial planning can be directing the distribution of your assets in the event of your incapacity, and after your death.
  • While contemplating your own mortality can be uncomfortable, doing so can be useful to the preparation of the estate planning documents that will accomplish your goals.
  • Depending upon your family needs and financial situation, your estate planning document could consist of one or more of the following:
    • A simple will,
    • A will with built-in trust provisions for loved ones that become effective at death,and
    • A revocable living trust that controls your finances from the time you fund it through incapacity and death,
  • One type of trust that may be useful for PWP’s is often referred to as a Medicaid, or pay-back trust. If properly structured, such a trust may be able to protect assets so they may be passed along to family members or others of your choice, while keeping you eligible for expensive care, such as at a nursing home.
  • Planning with documents known as advance directives can help ensure that your wishes with regard to your physical and financial care during incapacity are followed, and that your resources are used appropriately. Types of advance directives are:
    • Durable power of attorney (DPA) for financial matters: This document authorizes your designated attorney-in-fact, or agent, to handle your financial affairs during incapacity.
    • Durable power of attorney (DPA) for health care matters: Authorizes your designated attorney-in-fact, or agent, to make healthcare and life-extending or life-ending treatment decisions as you would were you able, and states the directives you want that person to follow.
    • Living will: This document “speaks” for you with regard to your wishes for life-prolonging care when death is imminent as a result of terminal illness or injury. Please note that the living will is valid in most but not all states.
    • Failure to sign advance directives that comply with your state’s laws prior to incapacity can have consequences. Without a DPA for financial matters you may be subject to a costly, court-ordered guardianship or conservatorship. Without a DPA for healthcare, or a living will, your loved ones and physicians will be left guessing about your desires for life-sustaining treatments.
    • Your DPA for health care can be, and often is, someone other than your DPA for financial matters.

The legal issues noted in this section typically fall into an area of law called Elder Care. View a presentation by Janna Dutton, J.D., about these and other Elder Care law issues relevant to PD from NPF's 2007 Young Onset Parkinson Network Conference.


Content for this section provided by Allsup, Inc. and Mark Rubin, J.D.

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