If you have a newly paralyzed relative in your family, your primary concern is likely to be obtaining top-notch medical treatment for him or her. After you settle into your new way of life, though, you may want to think about estate planning. Remember, your loved one may need some extra help throughout his or her life.
According to the Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami, roughly 18,000 Americans suffer a spinal cord injury every single year. Many of these are young and adventurous individuals who have much life left to live. With some estate planning, you can improve your loved one’s quality of life.
Because spinal cord injuries often require surgery, extensive rehabilitation and ongoing medication, your loved one may have some clear ideas about the medical treatments he or she wants doctors to use. Recording these in an advance directive probably makes a great deal of sense, as it allows your relative to maintain some control over his or her health care.
Health care representatives
Your relative also may want to designate a health care representative who can make medical decisions on his or her behalf. This trusted person only makes medical decisions in the event of your loved one’s incapacitation.
Special needs trusts
If you fear your relative is unlikely to be able to work and support himself or herself, you may decide to form a special needs trust. This trust gives your loved one access to funds for expenses government benefits do not cover. Your loved one still qualifies for public help, though.
Ultimately, while estate planning is important for everyone, having a comprehensive estate plan is one of the more valuable ways to deal with the aftermath of a spinal cord injury.