Older woman working on estate plan with attorney

Disability Panels: What Are They and Do You Need One?

When someone (the Grantor) is no longer competent to manage a trust, a disability panel has the right to remove the Grantor as trustee. The disability panel makes a determination of whether the Grantor as Trustee has capacity. 

For joint Trusts, each Grantor will set his or her own disability panel. It’s important to know that the Grantor (so long as he or she has capacity) can change the members who serve on the disability panel. 

In a Revocable or Irrevocable Trust, Article Two provides the option of appointing a disability panel. In a Personal Care Plan, the option is stated in the first couple of paragraphs prior to listing personal preferences.  

While a disability panel can be extremely helpful, it’s important to acknowledge that its members’ judgment concerning the “competency” of the Grantor as Trustee is somewhat subjective. Therefore, it’s generally best to have a panel of at least three people, with the majority vote controlling the outcome. 

Choosing Members of the Disability Panel

You should choose individuals who you know well and who know you well to be able to determine if you are no longer acting like yourself. It’s also a good idea to decide upon having at least one person as back-up, in case a member of the panel dies before the Grantor.

Common picks for disability panel members include:

  • Spouses;
  • Adult children;
  • Siblings;
  • Other close family members;
  • Close friends; and
  • Primary care physicians (although this is not as common).

Executing a Disability Panel Determination

Should a Grantor become incapacitated, the disability panel can make a determination. The disability panel’s determination is generally executed through another document, which includes:

  1. When the Trust was created;
  2. Who created the Trust;
  3. The location of the disability panel section in the Trust;
  4. The requirements of the disability panel section in the Trust;
  5. The disability panel members
  6. Statement that the members hereby attest to the incompetency or incapacity of the Grantor-Trustee; and
  7. Spaces for the members of the panel to sign in front of a notary public.

Biddle Law Can Help 

Trusts are obviously very important documents that are intended to ensure that someone’s assets are managed in a manner that they desire both during and after their lifetime. That’s why it’s so important that the Grantor-Trustee follows the wishes set within. By properly establishing a disability panel you can ensure that your wishes will be correctly carried out.   

This is why it’s so important to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced California estate planning attorney who knows the current laws and has experience dealing with such important estate planning issues. 

At Biddle Law, we are here to answer all of your questions and walk you through the entire process. We care about you and your loved ones and want to help in any way we can. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, contact us today!