Financial Planning for the Young MSer

Financial planning … shall we let out a collective “UGH!?”

Personal finance is a stress trigger, a topic most enjoyed when avoided, unless you are, of course, rich! As Swedish pop group ABBA so gracefully sang in their underrated but always fiscally relevant hit, Money Money Money, must be funny, in a rich man’s world. Unfortunately, most of us DO live in a rich man’s world, except, of course, not all of us play the part of the rich man (or woman for that matter!).

Being diagnosed with something like MS is hard enough. The disease is bound to affect your quality of life, as well as that of those closest to you. Estate planning? We don’t blame you for not even wanting to think about it. After all, planning for the future is a figurative pain for everyone and both a figurative AND literal one for you. The added complexities of your future finances can be overwhelming, so take a deep breath and try to relax. Let’s just start the discussion. After all, you have to begin somewhere! Below is a summary of financial expert Marty Shenkman’s estate and financial planning tips for those with chronic illnesses.

1. Organize your emergency information and information about your advisors.

2. Sign a will.

3. Create a personalized (not boilerplate) revocable living trust to manage your assets during your disability or illness.

4. Ensure that your insurance coverage is in order.

5. Communicate your estate and financial plan to your advisors, family, and friends.

6. Review, revisit, and revise your plan so it can continue to protect you.

These steps are outlined in further detail here. You may also download National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s guide to financial planning with MS. The most important part of this process is to find people you trust, including family, friends, and/or a financial planner (if you’d prefer to have one help you). There are many resources at your fingertips. Use them, as Julie Stachowiak, Ph.D. suggested, to set a goal of completing a financial plan within a year.

Ultimately, you have to be smart. As Caitlin Moran stated at the thirteen minute mark, that “investment” handbag won’t help if you’re suffering from fatigue so intense, you have to resign from your high-powered job. At that point, you’ll need some real investments (i.e. property, derivatives, etc.) Coco Chanel does not sell pensions, and as kind as that British man standing outside of Burberry may be, he won’t cover your copays.

Ignorance may feel like bliss now, but you’ll probably regret it later. Take action, especially when you have the energy to make important decisions. Use all the help available. It is there for YOU!

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