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DisabledMike Tyson once said that everyone has a plan until they get punched.  Although most of us will not get into a fight anytime soon, the general principle still applies well to life.  You cannot foresee the future and correctly plan for everything that can go wrong.  Injury or illness can happen suddenly, and can sometimes cause you short-term problems and have permanent consequences for you.  A long-term injury or illness can force you to change how you plan for your future will set up your family legacy.

A 2015 report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offered this sobering assessment: “In 2013, approximately one in five U.S. adults reported any disability, with state-level prevalence of any disability ranging from 16.4% in Minnesota to 31.5% in Alabama.” The CDC also reported that “annual disability-associated health care expenditures were estimated at nearly $400 billion in 2006, with over half attributable to costs related to non-independent living (e.g., institutional care, personal care services).”

The basic fact of life is that we can not turn back the clock.  Once something happens to us, we cannot go back and prevent it from happening.  You therefore have to plan for any problems while you are still healthy.  Fortunately, that is possible.  The following are some actions that you can take to prepare for unplanned disabilities and protect yourself and your loved one:

Work with an Estate Planning Attorney to Plan for Becoming Disabled

  • Make sure that you have appointed someone to make financial or medical decisions for you if you are ever not capable of making financial or medical decisions to take care of yourself.
  • Give someone the authority to run your assets, pay taxes, pay bills, or other day-to-day activities if you cannot do them yourself.
  • Express your wishes if you are ever in an end-of-life situation in a clear and legal way.
  • Identify other planning needs and professionals who can help you, including the following:
    • Having enough health, life, or long-term care insurance.
    • Making sure that your investing strategies reflects your goals, life situation, and risk tolerance.
    • Creating a budget that is realistic for your life.

An Important “Disability” Difference

You need to know that sometimes the definition of “disability” is different between legal and financial planning purposes.  Being legally disabled often is defined as when someone can not make sound decisions for themselves because of an injury or illness.  Being disabled for financial planning purposes means that you are no longer able to earn an income.

This difference means that you can fulfill one definition of disability and fall short in the other definition.  Most of the time, it is harder to be legally disabled than disabled for financial planning purposes.

Knowing this difference can begin to help you make appropriate plan for a situation that no one wants but can happen to anyone.

Actions You Can Take

You need to take control of your finances, including a savings plan.  You can take care of yourself.  Eating healthily and working out can help decrease the chances of long-term or permanent injuries and becoming disabled.

Find professionals who can help you.  No one is an expert at everything.  Find experts who you can trust and work with and let them help you get all your affairs in order.  As your team works together, they can provide you with comprehensive solutions and strategies for your life.