It’s unfortunate that in our society, a certain stigma is often attached to mental illness. As a result, clients may be embarrassed to mention to their estate planners that they or a loved one suffers from a psychiatric disorder. As Moira S. Laidlaw notes in her article, “Mental Health Directives in Estate-Planning Engagements,” p. 42, although one in five individuals suffers from mental illness, the taboo of this condition hinders medical treatment and likely hinders our legal work with clients. Her article goes on to explore the need to discuss psychiatric advance directives (PADs) with clients and how to implement them into an estate-planning strategy.
Another challenging situation for planners is addressing the needs of clients who have or are developing cognitive impairment. As with the PAD, it’s important for practitioners to discuss this eventuality with clients while they’re fully competent so they can plan for the possibility of future incapacity. “Planning for Your Client’s Diminished Capacity,” p. 34, by Tara Anne Pleat, Bernard A. Krooks and Robert B. Fleming, details the protocols to put in place to ensure that a testator or trustor’s intentions are carried out to the greatest extent possible.
The above-mentioned articles are part of our Elder Care/Special Needs Committee Report, which also includes articles on planning for U.S. elders and proposed legislative changes that will affect seniors. Our double issue also features our High-Net-Worth Families & Family Offices Committee Report. And this month, we’re happy to announce that Sandra G. Swirski has joined our editorial advisory board on the Philanthropy Committee. Sandra, based in Washington, D.C., has often provided analyses on wealthmanagement.com on what we might expect from federal lawmakers. She’s a welcome addition to our advisory board.