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Paul E. Riffel Tampa Estate Planning Attorney

Do You Know How to Help a Loved One with Multiple Sclerosis or Other Disability?

Do You Know How-to-Help-a-Loved-One-with-Multiple-Sclerosis-or-Other-Disability

Do you have a loved one with a disability? Does your loved one have Multiple Sclerosis? Are you aware that MS affects hundreds of thousands of people in the United States, as well as those who love and care for them. As of right now there is no known cure and, in fact, most people living with the disease had no 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.

Do you know exactly what Multiple Sclerosis is? MS is a central nervous system disorder 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 symptoms, including visual problems, overwhelming fatigue, difficulty with balance and coordination, and various levels of impaired mobility.

This March, as 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 enlist the help of an experienced Florida estate planning attorney. Your attorney can meet with both you and your loved one and begin a conversation and plan for any special needs planning that is needed so that you can help ensure your loved one is well cared for in the event such care is needed. We would like to share three important topics for you to discuss with your loved one.

1. The need for a power of attorney. 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 and 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. The need for both a health care surrogate and a living will. In addition to the power of attorney, your loved one should also execute a health care surrogate and living will to 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 living will outlines end of life care preferences in the event of a terminal stage situation. A health care surrogate designates a trusted individual to make health care decisions on behalf of an incapacitated individual.

3. The need for financial planning. Living with Multiple Sclerosis can be complicated and expensive. Enlisting the help of experienced professionals is very important, including a Florida estate planning attorney, to help plan for the long-term care of your loved one with MS. An experienced attorney can help set up a trust or other vehicle that will enable your loved one to make the best use of available finances while still qualifying for essential government benefits.

Although a Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis can feel stressful and overwhelming for you and your loved one, adequate planning will help you both feel more secure about the future. Our office is available to assist in establishing a comprehensive plan for your loved one with MS. When your family or financial health is on the line, trust attorney Paul Riffel to help you protect your interests and achieve your goals. Attorney Paul Riffel has been practicing law in Florida for over 30 years, focusing in the areas of Tampa estate planning and family law. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with us.

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