When it comes to creating Wills, Trusts and estate plans, older Americans outpace their younger counterparts. We are the baby boomer generation. Still, a significant number — 19 percent of those over age 72 and 42 percent of those between 53 and 71, according to survey data — lack any type of estate plan. This my friends is called you have the “government plan” and you are putting your family and loved ones at significant risks!
Although managing these details can seem daunting and depressing at first, the task becomes far less unpleasant with proper understanding and with “taking action” to begin the planning process. From my experience the process of creating an estate plan and protecting your family can even be personally gratifying and calming for my clients because it gives them an immense peace of mind knowing that they took action to protect their loved ones. Estate planning is critically important for seniors and for their family members to be prepared in the event of a loved one’s illness or passing because with the government plan (no written plan) the consequences can be extremely costly for your family members.
If you or an aging loved one have been putting off estate planning, start with the basics and learn why it’s important take the focus off of the negative and shift it to the positive benefits. We make it easy for our clients. They attend one of our free estate planning and elder law workshops named “How to Avoid the Four-Headed Monster of Estate Planning & Elder Law” at our learning center. This entitles you to receive a $500 voucher for your Initial meeting to get started in the process. Also, we have been teaching these free workshops in the community for over then years and people love them because they are very educational, informative and fun. You will learn in about an hour how you can protect what you have for the people you love the most. You will learn how you can save your family and loves ones tens of thousands of dollars and even hundreds of thousands of dollars from the costs and expenses of Probate Court, The Massachusetts Estate “Death” Tax, Financial Creditors and Predators (lawsuits, divorces, times of turmoil) and the $15,000.00 per month Nursing Home.
Understanding the meaning of “estate”
In addition to the fear factor of planning for illness and death, many seniors dismiss its importance because they don’t understand what “estate” means, or they believe it applies only to those with significant wealth. In reality, an estate includes everything you own — from your home(s), bank accounts, retirement accounts, life insurance, automobiles., personal property and other assets.
Also, planning for your eventual Disability is of the utmost importance because disability planning is one of the most overlooked areas in estate planning and often the first shoe to drop for us. Unfortunately, unlike fine wine we do not get better with age. Most of us will become incapacitated before we check out and when you do not have proper disability planning in place the “Disability Probate” process can be very expensive and costly for your family in loss of money, time and unnecessary stress. I call this the “stresses and messes” of probate court.
The estate plan’s role in self-advocacy
Estate plans help seniors establish important guidelines that allow them to advocate for themselves. This is essential for seniors who wish to retain their independence and protect their assets. In addition to creating Wills, Trusts and other important documents, an estate plan allows seniors to have a say in the quality of their long-term care — whether at home or in an assisted living facility — and to qualify for government benefits, such as Medicaid to help pay for that care. It also helps them to protect their life savings and outline their wishes should they become incapacitated or die unexpectedly.
Elder law attorneys can help clients develop strategies to enable seniors to better advocate for themselves in these scenarios.
Establishing Trusts or Your “Treasure Chest”
Estate planning also includes provisions for developing Trusts. Trusts allow seniors to set aside money for specific people to avoid the long, drawn out, expensive and stressful process of probate court. Once your Trust or what I like to call your “Treasure Chest” is properly funded with your assets it will allow your loved ones to receive their inheritances much more quickly, with far less cost and if the Trust is drafted properly they can receive asset protection from their potential financial creditors and predators. The asset protection is a nice sweater to have in the suitcase just in case your in-laws turn into outlaws. As Forest Gump eloquently said, “It happens.”
While many trusts are revocable, meaning the senior can change or terminate the trust at any time, irrevocable trusts are often used to protect assets of a senior from the costs of the $15,000.00 per month Nursing Home. With the staggering costs of long term care and the average stay in the nursing home about three years it can cost you a wapping $540,000.00 for three years of private paying a nursing home for three years. Also, keep in mind there is a “Five Year Look-back” period when protecting your home from the nursing home. If your goal or vision for your family is to Protect and Preserve the family home from the Nursing Home you need to take action now because the clock does not begin to run until the day your home is funded or transferred into your Irrevocable Medicaid Asset Protection Trust (MAPT).
If you or your loved one has been avoiding this important planning responsibility, now is the time to begin. Being proactive increases your success to protect what you have for the people you love the most. I always advise my clients the best time to plan is when you are “alive and well” compared to being “alive and not so well” which is a time of incapacity. Do not wait until the fourth quarter of life or the two minute warning thinking you can throw a “Hail Mary pass” and be successful in protecting your family. If you do, who may pick off your pass? Likely, one of the Four-Headed monsters of estate planning and elder law.
Next steps: TAKE ACTION NOW and call our Elder Law Care Team at 781-871-7526 to attend
our FREE educational Estate Planning & Elder Law workshop or email firstname.lastname@example.org because
seating is limited and our Learning Center fills up quickly!
This blog is intended to be
educational and for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for
hiring a qualified estate planning or elder law attorney. Learn more here
because we are here to help you: elderlawcare.com