Can you use Estate Planning to control who determines if you are “disabled?”

Can you use Estate Planning to control who determines if you are “disabled?”

Authored by:  Anisha D. Rutkowski

The short answer is YES! It is typical to see Trust language stating that you will be considered “disabled,” and unable to make important decision for yourself, if one or two doctors come to that conclusion.  But you can use your Trust to include additional individuals in a “disability panel.” 

Typically, a disability panel is made up of a mix of professionals, spouse, and family. This allows multiple different viewpoints on your health and wellbeing if and when the disability panel needs to decide if you are disabled. You are in complete control of who you elect for your disability panel.

Perhaps you wish that a medical specialist be a part of making this determination, specifically a trusted physician with expertise in your condition that you may have known for some time.  Or perhaps you prefer to have your spouse, children, or a trusted friend assist in making this decision.  Your disability panel may be comprised of doctors, family members, and friends who will be given the authority, through your Trust language, to vote on whether you should be considered disabled.  You can specify whether a majority or unanimous vote is required to make this determination. 

Essentially, your disability panel allows you to choose the individuals who will make this critical decision for you, at a time when you may not be able to speak for yourself.  Without a disability panel, it remains uncertain who will conclude that you are disabled.

If you would like to elect a disability panel in your estate plan, want to make changes to your existing disability panel, or have questions about this process, contact our office at (248) 792-9193 to set up an appointment with one of our attorneys.

 

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