Estate And Financial Planning For People Living With Multiple Sclerosis
People living with multiple sclerosis can have estate and financial plans that are customized for their illness. This was not always the case.
When Patti was diagnosed with MS in 2006, her life changed. But her estate and financial plans did not reflect these changes. In fact, when Patti’s husband, Martin, searched for ways to customize Patti’s estate and financial plans, he found none. So, he created them.
Martin M. Shenkman, a highly regarded estate planner in New Jersey, is well-known because he has written more than 35 books and more than 700 articles on estate and financial planning. He makes countless presentations to educate consumers and professionals.
Marty, as he is known to his friends, realized that estate and financial planners were overlooking the unique circumstances that people with a chronic illness face. He tweaked Patti’s and his own estate and financial plans. For example, Marty obtained two life insurance policies on his own life, with Patti as the beneficiary of one policy and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society as the beneficiary of the other. He also set up a revocable living trust for Patti. For more about Patti and Marty’s story, see Ashlea Ebeling’s article that appeared in Forbes Magazine, Lawyer’s Volunteer Work Helps Those With Chronic Diseases Plan. Marty has been relentlessly educating consumers and professionals about the importance of estate and financial planning that is custom-tailored to a particular chronic illness. Marty is providing many articles on www.RV4TheCause.com and www.laweasy.com to educate consumers and professionals. He has also been tirelessly giving consumer and professional webinars.
On Monday, October 17, 2011, Marty is giving a free consumer webinar titled, “Estate and Financial Planning For Life: In 12 Steps.” This webinar is sponsored by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Marty will present this webinar with Dr. Nicholas G. LaRocca, Vice President, Health Care Delivery and Policy Research, of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. I will be the moderator for this webinar.
The 12 steps for estate and financial planning that will be discussed in the webinar are:
- Organize your emergency information and information about your advisors.
- Designate a person to handle your financial and legal issues by creating a power of attorney.
- Designate a person to make health care decisions and access medical records by creating a health care proxy.
- Communicate your health care wishes by creating a living will.
- Protect your minor children with an emergency child medical form.
- Sign a will.
- Create a personalized (not boilerplate) revocable living trust to manage your assets during your disability or illness.
- Ensure that your insurance coverage is in order.
- File your beneficiary designations and confirm title to your accounts.
- Give back so you can demonstrate important values to heirs, help others, and inspire others.
- Communicate your estate and financial plan to your advisors, family, and friends.
- Review, revisit, and revise your plan so it can continue to protect you.
It is important to note that estate planning is a process. It entails much more than just having a will. It is vaster than tax planning.
Everyone should have an estate plan to protect themselves and their loved ones. People living with multiple sclerosis should customize their plan. The webinar will educate you on how to do this.
People who are not touched by multiple sclerosis or another chronic illness should consider attending this webinar. It will give insight into what it means to live with multiple sclerosis or have someone you love live with the illness. Some people do not understand that 96% of the symptoms of chronic illnesses are invisible. “Many people living with MS experience ‘invisible’ (or not outwardly visible) MS symptoms,” explains a handout by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, But You Look So Good.
The most common symptoms of MS are “exacerbations,” which are sudden attacks, and fatigue. “Fatigue is a significant issue for me,” provides one slide for the October 17 presentation. “It is serious and is the number one reason people with Multiple Sclerosis disease leave the workforce. It is not analogous to how you feel when you had a late night. A cup of coffee won’t help. It feels like quicksand and I can’t function.” Other symptoms of MS include “pain, cognitive problems like memory loss or trouble solving problems, weakness, blurred vision, numbness, prickly or tingling sensations, heat sensitivity, dizziness, balance/ coordination problems, and bladder or bowel problems.” (Note that primary progressive MS tends not to bring exacerbations.)
Marty has created many resources for people interested in learning more about estate planning for people living with multiple sclerosis or another chronic illness, including:
A wealth of information on multiple sclerosis is provided on the website of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, http://www.nationalmssociety.org/index.aspx. The Society “helps people affected by MS by funding cutting-edge research, driving change through advocacy, facilitating professional education, and providing programs and services that help people with MS and their families move their lives forward.” Please consider giving to the Society. You can get involved by giving money, time, and attention. You can also help by being compassionate toward people with multiple sclerosis and other chronic illnesses.
Compassion is important. “Too many people and institutions are insensitive to those living with chronic illness. The more visibility given to the realities of any chronic illness, the easier it will become for anyone living with a chronic illness, or anyone who has a loved one with a chronic illness as well,” writes Marty.
Through the efforts of Martin Shenkman and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the more than 400,000 Americans living with Multiple Sclerosis can learn how to get some certainty in their otherwise uncertain lives. Customized estate and financial planning is important not just for the person with the illness, but also for their loved ones.
Marty is presenting other webinars on estate and financial planning for people living with a chronic illness and their loved ones. Some of the webinars are disease specific and meant to educate consumers. Others are for professionals.