How to Plan Ahead when dealing with a Chronic Illness

Chronic illness affects millions of individuals and their families, with the elderly being particularly vulnerable. The reality is that chronic illnesses often bring additional challenges, including complex medical needs, financial concerns, and emotional strain. 

Based on data from the CDC, six out of every ten American adults grapple with a minimum of one chronic illness. Even more concerning is that four out of every ten have two or more concurrent conditions, with cancer, heart disease, and diabetes ranking among the most prevalent. The National Institute on Aging paints an equally sobering picture: 85% of older adults contend with a single chronic illness, while 60% face the challenge of managing two. These percentages significantly increase with age. 

While navigating the uncertainties of chronic illness, addressing your estate planning becomes vital.

Estate planning is not only useful; it is a crucial tool for those facing chronic illness. In this article, we will explore what is considered “chronically ill” in estate planning, how chronic illness impacts estate planning, and the essential estate planning documents to secure your future. Additionally, we will highlight why it is imperative to consider estate planning when living with or expecting a chronic illness.

How Chronic Illness Affects Estate Planning

Chronic illness introduces a new level of urgency and importance to estate planning. Here’s why:

  • Medical Decision-Making: Chronic illnesses often entail complex medical treatments and decisions. Having the right estate planning documents can ensure that your medical wishes are respected, even if you become unable to communicate them.
  • Asset Protection: Chronic illness can lead to substantial medical expenses. Well-crafted estate planning can help protect your assets, including your home, from being depleted by medical bills.
  • Beneficiary Designations: It’s crucial to review beneficiary designations on insurance policies and retirement accounts, ensuring they align with your wishes, especially in light of your chronic illness.

Essential Estate Planning Documents for Those with Chronic Illness

Estate planning for chronic illness involves several crucial documents. Some of the most important include:

  • HIPAA Authorization: The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) authorization allows your healthcare providers to share your medical information with your designated individuals, ensuring they are informed about your condition and treatment.
  • Living Will: A living will, also known as an advance healthcare directive, outlines your medical treatment preferences. It helps your family and healthcare providers make decisions in line with your wishes, even if you cannot communicate them.
  • Healthcare Power of Attorney (HPOA): A healthcare power of attorney designates someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if you’re unable to do so. This individual should be someone you trust to advocate for your healthcare preferences.
  • Financial Power of Attorney (FPOA): A financial power of attorney allows a trusted person to manage your financial affairs if you are unable to do so. This document can help protect your assets, pay bills, and ensure your financial stability during your illness.
  • Revocable Trust: A revocable living trust allows you to retain control over your assets while planning for their seamless transition if you become incapacitated or upon your passing. It can help avoid probate and ensure the distribution of your assets aligns with your wishes.

Estate Planning: Protecting Your Future in the Face of Chronic Illness

Estate planning is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. If you are living with or expecting a chronic illness, it’s essential to create a customized estate plan that addresses your unique needs and concerns. This is where Hermance Law can provide invaluable guidance and support. Our team of experienced estate planning attorneys can help you navigate the complexities of estate planning and create a plan tailored to your specific circumstances. Don’t wait; secure your future today. Contact us to start your estate planning journey.

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