The Financially Vulnerable Trustee

By Elder Law and Estate Planning Attorney Rick Law, founder of the Estate Planning Center at Law Elder Law.  Law Elder Law is a multi-generational firm serving seniors, boomers, and their families in the western suburbs of Chicago in Illinois.

The concept of removing a financially vulnerable trustee by panel works well for both married couples and single individuals, in that the family may identify certain trusted friends or family who they believe would make a proper decision when and if the clients become sufficiently incapacitated to handle their own affairs.

Many families choose to include family members and one attending physician. They often empower a majority to rule in the decision making. In other cases, clients may be more comfortable with a unanimous decision.

The concept of a disability panel is very important because physicians are reluctant to take the liability of determining that a person is incapacitated.

Because of this reluctance, it’s becoming harder and harder to have the traditional language in a trust that actually works to provide the protections people want. People want the trust to be able to relieve an incapacitated trustee of authority and replace him or her with a successor to take over. If you have chosen one or two physicians, your attorney may have difficulty getting one or both of them to declare incapacitation.

I once actually heard a physician say, “I would not determine a person to be incapacitated unless I was convinced that if there was a fire in their home, they would not know enough to leave.”

This is troubling because people become vulnerable from a financial standpoint long before they would know to leave if the room was on fire.

Many people become vulnerable to financial exploitation and financial error long before they’re incapacitated. They are vulnerable.

The author then asked the doctor, “What, if anything, could you do if a person was losing their ability but it hadn’t reached the level of incapacity?”

The doctor replied: “Well, there’s no Medicare reimbursement code for the determination of vulnerability. There’s no protocol for vulnerability. I could not do anything.”

If your loved one has memory problems and you’re afraid of the consequences that may bring, give our office a call today at 800-310-3100.  Your first consultation is absolutely free.  We’ll let you know what steps you need to take, right now, to protect yourself and your family.  Call now.


Rick L. Law, Attorney, Estate Planner for Retirees.

Rick was named the #1 Illinois elder law estate planning attorney by Leading Lawyer Magazine. He has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, AARP Magazine,, and numerous newspapers and articles. Rick is the lead attorney for Law Elder Law, LLP, focusing in Estate Planning, Guardianship, and Nursing Home Solutions. His goal is to give retirees an informed edge when it comes to dealing with an uncertain future.  Get flexible retirement strategies that work during good times and bad, plus information on how you can save your home and assets from being used to pay for long term care.  Call 800-310-3100 for your free consultation now!

Our Reviews

“We would be lost without Law Elder Law! We walked in their doors over a year ago feeling lost and confused. With a father/father-in-law suffering from Alzheimer’s, we were overwhelmed by the Medicaid process, selling his home, protecting the assets he worked for his entire life, and finding him a memory-care facility that we could trust as his new home. 

Law Elder Law helped with all of it! From the minute we walked out of our first meeting, we knew we (and he) were in good hands. We could not have possibly navigated all that had to be done without their expertise.”

A.M., Client of Law Hesselbaum and Law Elder Law