Believe it or not, you have an estate. In fact, nearly everyone does. Your estate is comprised of everything you own— your car, home, other real estate, checking and savings accounts, investments, life insurance, furniture, personal possessions. No matter how large or how modest, everyone has an estate and something in common—you can’t take it with you when you die. When that happens—and it is a “when” and not an “if”—you probably want to control how those things are given to the people or organizations you care most about. To ensure your wishes are carried out, you need to provide instructions stating whom you want to receive something of yours, what you want them to receive, and when they are to receive it. You will, of course, want this to happen with the least amount paid in taxes, legal fees, and court costs.
We focus on Estate Planning that protects clients against their biggest threats while they are alive, the biggest of which is long term care costs ransacking their estate.
Your Estate Plan Should do the Following:
Include instructions for passing your values (religion, education, hard work, etc.) in addition to your valuables.
Include instructions for your care if you become disabled before you die.
Protect you & your estate from the devastating effects of long term care costs
Name a guardian and an inheritance manager for minor children.
Provide for family members with special needs without disrupting government benefits.
Provide for loved ones who might be irresponsible with money or who may need future protection from creditors or divorce.
Include life insurance to provide for your family at your death, disability income insurance to replace your income if you cannot work due to illness or injury, and long-term care insurance to help pay for your care in case of an extended illness or injury.
Provide for the transfer of your business at your retirement, disability, or death.
Minimize taxes, court costs, and unnecessary legal fees.
Be an ongoing process, not a one-time event. Your plan should be reviewed and updated as your family and financial situations (and laws) change over your lifetime.
Estate planning is for everyone.
It is not just for “retired” people, although people do tend to think about it more as they get older. Unfortunately, we can’t successfully predict how long we will live, and illness and accidents happen to people of all ages.
Estate planning is not just for “the wealthy,” either, although people who have built some wealth do often think more about how to preserve it. Good estate planning often means more to families with modest assets, because they can afford to lose the least.
Individuals put off estate planning because they think they don’t own enough, they’re not old enough, they’re busy, think they have plenty of time, they’re confused and don’t know who can help them, or they just don’t want to think it. Then, when something happens to them, their families have to pick up the pieces.
If you don’t have a plan, your state has one for you, but you probably won’t like it.
At disability: If your name is on the title of your assets and you can’t conduct business due to mental or physical incapacity, only a court appointee can sign for you. The court, not your family, will control how your assets are used to care for you through a conservatorship or guardianship (depending on the term used in your state). It can become expensive and time consuming, it is open to the public, and it can be difficult to end even if you recover. The State also has a plan for you to spend down all of your assets on long term care if you need it.
At your death: If you die without an intentional estate plan, your assets will be distributed according to the probate laws in your state. In many states, if you are married and have children, your spouse and children will each receive a share. That means your spouse could receive only a fraction of your estate, which may not be enough to live on. If you have minor children, the court will control their inheritance. If both parents die (i.e., in a car accident), the court will appoint a guardian without knowing whom you would have chosen.
Given the choice—and you do have the choice—wouldn’t you prefer these matters be handled privately by your family, not by the courts?
Wouldn’t you prefer to keep control of who receives what and when?
And, if you have young children, wouldn’t you prefer to have a say in who will raise them if you can’t?
If You Are Worried About Long Term Care Destroying Your Estate, We Encourage You to Learn About Long Term Care & Medicaid by Downloading One or All of Our Nine FREE Downloadable Medicaid Modules:
Module 1: Medicaid Basic Eligibility Rules
Module 2: Medicaid Income Rules
Module 3: Medicaid Asset Rules
Module 4: Medicaid Estate Recovery Liens
Module 5: Burial Allowances & Life Insurance Rules
Module 6: Medicaid Asset Transfer Rules & Penalties
Module 7: Crisis Case Examples of How We Help Families
Module 8: Pre-Planning Examples: How to Plan Ahead
Module 9: What is a Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) & Why Do I Need One?
Once you've learned the basics you might consider attending a free workshop, or taking advantage of a free asset protection consultation. Additionally, we offer you the ability to have us do a free asset protection analysis before you come in simply by submitting your information.