When it comes to estate planning, the process is often complex for a host of reasons, from naming a personal representative to determining how to divide one’s property and assets among beneficiaries. However, some people are in especially difficult positions, such as those struggling with a mental illness or those who want to pass their assets down to a loved one struggling with mental health challenges.
It is imperative to understand how mental illness can affect estate plans and respond accordingly. By taking the right steps, people can make life significantly easier for loved ones who are mentally ill.
A critical part of an estate plan is planning for where your property and assets will go after death. In many cases, assets will go to loved ones, including a spouse, children, grandchildren and more. When a loved one has serious mental health problems, this can become more complex. Those suffering from mental health issues may have difficulty in managing their assets.
In these instances, some people decide to set up a trust to ensure that their loved one’s assets are protected. Moreover, a special needs trust is often helpful for those who may depend on government assistance and do not want to lose eligibility as a result of an inheritance.
Naming a personal representative
Aside from passing down assets, people also need to take their loved one’s mental state into consideration when naming a personal representative. For example, many people choose to name their spouse or one of their children for this role. However, if a loved one has a serious mental illness, choosing another individual, even a financial adviser or other professional, may be a better decision. Personal representatives are tasked with often difficult and time-consuming responsibilities and should be both financially savvy and able to remain calm under pressure.
Sometimes, people develop a mental illness after an estate plan is set up. In such scenarios, revisions to estate plans may be necessary. An attorney can help in crafting or revising an estate plan fit for your unique situation.