Special Needs Planning for Loved Ones with Multiple Sclerosis

Do you have a loved one recently diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis? Do you know exactly what Multiple Sclerosis or MS is?  It is a disorder of the central nervous system that is most often diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 50. Multiple Sclerosis damages or destroys the protective covering, known as myelin, surrounding the nerves of the central nervous system and causes reduced communication between the brain and nerve pathways. This damage to the nervous system and reduced communication between the brain and nerve pathways leads to a variety of health problems, including visual problems, overwhelming fatigue, difficulty with balance and coordination, and various levels of impaired mobility.

Because of the diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, are you aware that you may need to have special needs planning for your loved one?   Multiple Sclerosis affects hundreds of thousands of people in the United States, as well as those who love and care for them. Right now there is no known cure for MS.  Most people living with the disease did not even have any prior recognizable risk factors. In order to reach out and help those impacted by Multiple Sclerosis, advocacy groups and concerned organizations and individuals have worked to have the month of March designated as Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month. This annual event is dedicated to increasing public education, advancing research, and supporting those in need.

This March, when you look around your community you might see orange ribbons with butterfly symbols. Orange is the official color of Multiple Sclerosis awareness, and the butterfly represents the shape commonly seen on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scans of someone with MS. 

If you do have a loved one who has been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, it may be an important time to find and meet with an experienced Florida estate planning attorney. Your attorney can meet with both you and your loved one and begin a discussion about the need for any special needs planning. This planning can reassure you that your loved one will be cared for in the event such care is needed. We have three thoughts we would like to share with you to discuss with your loved one.

  1. A power of attorney is needed. While your loved one has capacity, you should encourage your loved one to execute a power of attorney designating a trusted friend or family member to act on his or her behalf as agent. The agent your loved one selects will be able to legally manage his or her financial affairs in the event the MS advances to the point where your loved one becomes temporarily or permanently unable to do so for himself or herself. The power of attorney can provide the agent with specific directives and authorities regarding how your loved one would want affairs handled so that any guesswork may be eliminated. Establishing a durable power of attorney means that the power granted by the document will survive incapacitation of the principal. 
  2. A health care surrogate and a living will are needed.  In addition to the power of attorney, your loved one should also execute a health care surrogate and living will. These documents will outline healthcare wishes and designate an agent to make healthcare decisions in accordance with those wishes in the event he or she is unable to communicate directly with his or her doctors. A health care surrogate designates a trusted individual to make health care decisions on behalf of an incapacitated individual. A living will makes clear end of life care preferences in the event of a terminal stage situation. 
  3. Financial planning is needed. Living with Multiple Sclerosis can be complicated and expensive. Meeting with and hiring an experienced Florida estate planning attorney, who is also experienced and knowledgeable in elder law, is important. She can help you and your loved one with long-term care planning, including discussing whether a trust or other vehicle is needed that will enable your loved one to make the best use of available finances while still qualifying for essential government benefits.

We understand that a Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis can be stressful and overwhelming for you and your loved one. However, with good legal advice and planning from your Florida attorney you and your loved one will both feel more secure about the future. Our office is available to assist in establishing a comprehensive plan for your loved one with MS. 

Do not wait to contact our law practice to learn more today. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting. To learn more about Meloro Law and how we can help you when you need legal representation for estate planning or elder law issues do not wait to call us today.