How Does Estate Planning Help Protect those with Mental Health Struggles

Suicide Awareness and estate planning (600 × 315 px)

Estate planning can play a crucial role in protecting individuals with mental health issues by ensuring their financial and personal affairs are managed effectively and in accordance with their wishes and those of their families. Here are several ways estate planning attorneys provide tools and support for individuals with mental health challenges:

  1. Healthcare Directives:
    • Healthcare Power of Attorney: This legal document allows individuals to appoint someone they trust to make medical decisions on their behalf if they become unable to do so due to mental health issues. It ensures that their medical treatment aligns with their preferences and values.
    • Living Will: A living will outlines an individual’s preferences for end-of-life medical treatment. For individuals with mental health issues, it can provide clarity on their wishes regarding life-sustaining treatments and interventions.
  2. Financial Management:
    • Durable Power of Attorney: This document designates an agent to manage the individual’s financial affairs if they are unable to do so due to mental health issues. It allows for the payment of bills, management of assets, and other financial matters to be handled in their best interest.
    • Revocable Living Trust: A trust can be established to manage and protect assets for the individual’s benefit. The trust document can include specific provisions to address the individual’s mental health needs and financial support requirements.
  3. Guardianship and Conservatorship:
    • In cases where mental health issues make it impossible for the individual to manage their personal and financial affairs, a court may appoint a guardian or conservator. However, proactive estate planning can help individuals designate their preferred guardian or conservator, reducing the need for court involvement.
  4. Special Needs Trust:
    • If the individual with mental health issues also has a disability, a special needs trust can be established to provide for their financial needs without jeopardizing their eligibility for government assistance programs like Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
  5. Letter of Intent:
    • A letter of intent is a non-binding document that can accompany an estate plan. It provides guidance to caregivers or family members about the individual’s preferences, routines, and care requirements in cases where mental health issues limit their ability to communicate effectively.
  6. Regular Updates:
    • Estate plans should be reviewed and updated periodically to ensure they reflect the individual’s current wishes and circumstances, especially in cases where mental health conditions change over time.
  7. Crisis Planning:
    • Estate planning can include provisions for handling crises related to mental health issues, such as hospitalization, involuntary commitment, or emergency treatment. These provisions can designate who should be contacted and informed during a crisis.

It’s important for individuals with mental health issues to work closely with experienced estate planning attorneys and mental health professionals who can provide guidance on creating a plan that addresses their unique needs and circumstances. Additionally, open and ongoing communication with family members and designated agents is crucial to ensure that the estate plan is effectively implemented and that the individual’s wishes are honored. Reach out today if we can be of service with a complimentary consultation.