In this blog post, we will provide five important estate planning tips that can lead you in the right direction if you want to make sure that your family is appropriately provided for after your passing.
1.) Now is the time to take action.
If you are wondering when you should put an estate plan in place, the answer is now. Far too many people think that estate planning is only for senior citizens, but in reality, every responsible adult should have a plan in place.
Studies show that the majority of American adults have no estate planning documents. A study was conducted recently by a legal website, and it found that 64 percent of people surveyed did not have a plan in place. Clearly, younger people are more remiss than their older counterparts, but the statistics are also surprising when you look at people who are older.
About 62 percent of the survey respondents between 45 and 54 were unprepared, and the figure was 51 percent among those who were between 55 and 64 years of age.
Since people of all ages pass away every day, action is required if you are going through life without an estate plan.
2.) Beware of do-it-yourself estate planning.
All over the Internet, you will see marketing efforts trying to lead people in the direction of do-it-yourself estate planning downloads and worksheets. Easy answers can sound great on the surface, but think about the stakes that are involved when you plan your estate.
You are going to be transferring everything that you have earned to the people that you love the most. This is an extremely meaningful final act of giving, and there can be a lot of money and property involved. When you think about it practically, this is probably not something that you want to take on without the benefit of professional guidance.
3.) Don’t make assumptions.
This estate planning tip is related to the previous one. If you don’t know all the facts, you may assume that estate planning boils down to the creation of a last will. A will can seem like a simple document that you can create on your own.
In fact, a will is not the only option; and in many if not most cases, it is not the best option. If you make assumptions, you may ultimately make uninformed choices that yield negative consequences that your loved ones will have to deal with after you are gone.
4.) Consider nursing home asset protection.
You could create a retirement budget with your estate planning goals in mind. It can seem to you as though you will have a certain amount left to leave to your loved ones if you live a normal life span.
This is well and good, but many people do not consider potential nursing home costs when they evaluate this dynamic. Nursing homes are extremely expensive, and one fourth of people who are at least 85 are receiving nursing home care. The Medicare program does not pay for long-term care, and this is a very significant fact of life for senior citizens.
If you work with an estate planning attorney, you can implement steps that lead to Medicaid eligibility without losing everything in the process. Medicaid is a government health insurance program that does pay for long-term care.
5.) Incapacity planning is part of the equation.
Estate planning may be viewed as an exercise in drawing up a will or trust; in other words, as all about asset transfers. This is certainly a huge part of the process, but end-of-life planning is also important.
Unfortunately, many elders do become unable to handle their own affairs late in their lives. Alzheimer’s disease is a leading cause of incapacity, but there are many others.
You can name someone to handle your financial decision-making if you include a durable power of attorney in your estate plan.
A living will would also be part of your incapacity plan. In this type of will, you would state your preferences regarding the use of life-sustaining measures like feeding tubes and mechanical respiration.
In addition to the living will, you could add another advance health care directive called a health care proxy or durable power of attorney to empower someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if you ever become unable to make them on your own.
Schedule a Consultation
Now that you have some talking points to discuss with an estate planning attorney, you may be ready to take action. Our doors are open, and you can send us a message through our contact page or call us at (704) 944-3245 to set up a consultation.