Estate planning is often a deeply personal process, and it is one that many people work through independently with the help of lawyers and other financial professionals. However, individuals with mental health challenges may depend on support from loved ones to complete critical estate planning steps. There are several complexities involved in supporting a loved one with mental health challenges to complete a comprehensive estate plan, from planning ahead for care to ensuring one doesn’t overstep their role. Here are a few ways loved ones can support this process when mental health issues are in the mix:
- Help connect the person with resources: Local mental health departments and aging councils can be a wealth of information and support for people who are struggling and can support many common challenges, including estate planning. Connecting the person with other loved ones can also be key to supporting their overall well-being and creating a “circle of support” that can ward off financial abuse.
- If they have capacity, connect them to a lawyer to complete key documents. In particular, someone with health struggles will want to get a durable power of attorney, HIPPA waiver and health care proxy in order. This is imperative to ensure wishes are understood and met if one’s health takes a turn for the worse.
- If they do not have capacity, look into guardianship. If the mental health challenges are significant enough that the individual cannot advocate on his or her own behalf, setting up a guardianship (also known as a conservatorship) should be a priority. This will ensure there is someone to help make key decisions for the person when it is needed.
If a guardianship is required, it is important to consider that there are different types of guardianships. Some have limited powers, which can be ideal for those who need a little oversight but wish to retain their independence. An experienced Oregon estate planning lawyer can help families review their options and ensure they take the optimal steps for their unique circumstances.