The best time to plan to preserve your assets, make life easier for your family, and avoid becoming impoverished due to devastating health care costs in retirement is when you're healthy. When it comes to your future security, getting your "ducks in a row" sooner rather than later is undoubtedly one of the best things you can do for your spouse, for your children..and for yourself.
Too often, people plan their estate only to answer the question of... "What if I die?" After over 20 years of experience, though, we've learned that the question that really keeps people up at night, gives them some acid reflux and makes it hard to go back to sleep is the question of... "What if I don't die? What if I live a long life then become ill and need care? How will I get that care, and will I run out of money and become impoverished?"
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This, in large part, is why the elder law estate planning services we provide at The Elderlaw Firm encompass much more than just a traditional will, living trust and routine powers of attorney. We are your source for all things estate planning, and we are here to provide you with the resources you need to make the most informed decisions possible for your future.
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Here are some suggestions for your elder law estate planning.
Planning for incapacity
What if you (or your spouse) is healthy one day and has a stroke the next? What if you have an accident or some other disabling injury or disease that leaves you alive but mentally incapacitated? Or what if you don't face a sudden event, but Alzheimer's, Parkinson's or some other disabling disease robs you or or your spouse of the ability to make decisions? That's where having the right powers of attorney can make all the difference. With powers of attorney already set, navigating health care and financial matters while preserving family harmony can be simple. Designating powers of attorney is a lot more involved than simply filling out some forms. You'll need to talk with an experienced elder law attorney who can make certain someone (your spouse, child or other trusted agent) can act for you if you can't act yourself.
Planning for inheritance
This answers the question of what happens if you die. It really deals with how property transfers from one person to another after death. There are two types of inheritance plans: will-based and trust-based. Which is right for you? It depends. Don't listen to a lawyer who insists that everyone needs a living trust; not everyone does. A trust-based plan can speed administration and avoid court costs, and keep a person's affairs more confidential. You'll find lots of information on this site to help you have a conversation with your elder and estate planning attorney about which type of plan would be right for you.
Planning for health care
Planning for health care often involves a combination of legal and financial strategies. On the legal side of things, there are particular types of irrevocable trusts that can speed up the eligibility process for government assistance such as Veterans Aid and Attendance, and nursing home Medicaid. Financial strategies will depend more upon being healthy enough to obtain insurance contracts that will leverage a portion of your investments or IRA, and allow you to pay for health care costs if they arise while leaving a tidy inheritance to your family if you never need long-term care. Discussing these options with a certified and experienced lawyer can help you quarterback the right strategy for your needs. Of course, gathering more information through our resource center is a great way to jumpstart the process!