Don’t Let a Random Doctor Decide Your Fate – Establishing an Individualized Disability Panel to Determine If You Are Disabled

It’s an unfortunate fact of life – when we get older, we’re at a greater risk of having our mental faculties suddenly decline to the point of being declared mentally incapacitated. This cruel fact applies to everyone, even those of considerable financial means.

The heartbreaking end to Casey Kasem’s life was an example. Another example is the continuing legal battle over the mental capacity of Donald Sterling, the soon-to-be-former owner of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball franchise.

The capacity of Mr. Sterling is the center of a contentious legal battle. Two neurologists determined that Mr. Sterling was mentally incapacitated and no longer able to conduct his own legal and business affairs, according to This determination allowed Mr. Sterling’s wife to take over as trustee of the Sterling Family Trust, which included the ownership rights to the Clippers. Mrs. Sterling then quickly sold the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. The Sterling legal battle could drag on for months, if not years. Could this have been avoided? Answer: probably yes.

One way to avoid unnecessary litigation is to establish an individualized disability panel in your estate plan or trust documents. A disability panel can be comprised of individuals you know and respect who will be tasked, if necessary, to make a determination as to whether you are disabled and therefore incapable of making important decisions about your estate.

At InSight Law, we advise clients from the very beginning to consider adding a disability panel to their overall estate plan. For example, our estate planning lawyers have clients pick a specific disability panel to determine whether they should be removed as trustee. This panel usually consists of someone with a medical background, but also includes a trusted friend or relative.

Additionally, our firm has a policy of updating our client’s estate plans every two years so clients can change who would be on the panel over time, if they feel the need to make a change. For more information, take the time to contact InSight Law to set up a meeting with one of our team members.