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What Surviving Spouses Must Be Prepared to Do Immediately After Losing A Loved One

September 20, 2018

Filed under: Survivorship — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

Does your estate plan tie in directly with that of your spouse? This is one of the most common approaches to estate planning, but it can have dangers if you haven’t considered individual plans beyond both of you. While it’s natural to have an estate plan that passes on assets to the other person when the first passes away, there’s a lot to consider when you lose a spouse. Many people have also reported it’s one of the most challenging things they’ve gone through in their life. Having a plan can make this difficult experience a bit easier. survivorship-planning-widow-tips

Make sure that you understand the important and difficult role that you may have to play immediately after losing a spouse. Being a surviving spouse is one of the most difficult roles to fill, but there are certain tasks that must be taken care of immediately. As soon as you are able to do so, you need to prepare your legal documents and plans to protect both yourself as well as your heirs. The sooner you can reach out to your estate planning attorney and probate lawyer, the easier this process will be. After a spouse passes away, most of the attention is typically diverted to administering the decedent’s estate.

This means that very little time is spent addressing the legal needs of the surviving spouse. However, there are important legal steps that must be taken during this time to protect the survivor. Legal documents must be reviewed immediately to ensure what will happen after the death of the second person and to verify that the surviving spouse is still protected during the course of his or her lifetime.

The surviving spouse should always have their own trust and will reviewed at this time. Many of these documents have an automatic provision that will apply to the treatment of the spouse that has now passed away, whereas others may address the treatment of the heirs.

A consultation with a lawyer is the only way to know for sure whether or not you have done enough in the estate planning process. It can be very difficult to sit down and talk specifics with an attorney, but many lawyers who are very familiar with this process approach the concept with care and consideration. The support of a lawyer is instrumental in helping you through this otherwise very difficult time, and the services of an attorney should be retained immediately.


How Can Better Financial Literacy Assist You with Your Estate Planning?

September 19, 2018

Filed under: Finances — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

Do you have your finances in order? Do you know where you’d start if you wanted to make this a goal for the future? Most people get confused by the prospect of financial literacy and choose to put it off entirely. Others are not sure what financial literacy encompasses and get overwhelmed when they look into the basics. The good news is that foundational financial literacy doesn’t have to be difficult, but engaging in the process can have positive and far-reaching consequences for you.

Most people put off the process of estate planning to begin with, due to the belief that it doesn’t affect them or that they are not at risk of a sudden incapacitation or death. However, financial literacy development now can benefit you in numerous different ways. In order to be independent financially and to have a long-term plan that considers your retirement, long term care and estate planning needs, you must be financially literate.

Financial Literacy. Closeup Pen, calculator, cash and glasses.

It’s never too late to improve your knowledge about financial issues. Searching the internet, taking a financial literacy class and reading magazines and newspapers can also help you get a better understanding of money matters. Purchasing financial tools will also assist you with determining where in your financial life you are maybe falling short. For example, a financial calculator can help you to determine interest rates, loan payments, cash flow and percentages.

A financial dictionary can give you a better understanding of many of the most common terms used in relation to financial advice. Starting an investment club or asking for expert advice can also be instrumental in giving you a better method of understanding critical financial issues.

When your financial literacy improves, you would better understand not only how to protect yourself now and well into the future with your retirement but also how to support your loved ones and beneficiaries if something were to suddenly happen to you. Most people wrongfully assume that estate planning is only about assisting your loved ones after you have passed away. However, the truth is that estate planning also serves an important purpose in the process of planning for incapacitation. Incapacitation documents should be drafted by an experienced estate planning lawyer.


Make a Plan to Manage Your Loved One’s Digital Estate

September 18, 2018

Filed under: Estate Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

Within an estate, some of the most important assets you want to list might be physical. But they also could be harder to tap into, especially if those assets are digital in nature.

Think about your own digital presence- how many accounts do you have online, and how many of these have personal or sentimental personal information stored there? Do you have a way for your personal representative or executor to get access to these materials, and quickly? If not, you need to consider incorporating the digital aspects of your estate in your overall planning process.

More estate planning lawyers are including digital assets, passwords, and instructions in overall estate plans. These help to ensure your appointed persons can take action and quickly if something were to happen to you. Preserving or memorializing your digital accounts might be very important to you.

The process of closing out someone’s estate can be overwhelming or even confusing if you’re not fully prepared but digital assets can further complicate this situation. The emotional and taxing process of settling a deceased family member’s estate is already difficult in and of itself. Visiting probate court, sorting through personal possessions, distributing assets, and notifying agencies are just a handful of the tasks that must be completed. However, you must now also consider what to do with a person’s digital estate as far as determining which personal memories and photos to keep and how to store critical financial information. Some people who have already gone through the step of establishing a digital will can make this process much easier for an executor.

Social Media Networking Global Communications Connection Concept

However, far too many people who pass away do not have a digital will established already. Email providers and social media companies may have their own means of assisting an executor to settle someone’s digital estate. Examples of companies that have done this already include Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Yahoo.

Make sure that you keep a recorded copy of what you wish to do with your digital assets and the various storage information necessary for an executor to tap into this quickly. In the event of an emergency situation, such as an unexpected loss of a loved one, being able to find these critical documents can make this difficult process that much easier. The support of an experienced estate planning attorney is strongly recommended to verify that you’ve considered all critical issues in closing out a loved one’s estate.


Care for Your Pet Can Be Incorporated into Your Estate Planning

September 17, 2018

Filed under: Pets — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

Most people care a great deal about their furry friends and consider them family members, which is why estate planning for your pets is so important. One of the easiest ways to accomplish your planning needs around your pet is by using a pet trust. An estate planning attorney can help to draft this for you, and this is particularly important if you have animals who you suspect may outlive you.

Birds are an excellent example of a type of species that can outlive their human counterparts, and the trust drafted by an estate planning attorney can be tailored to you and your pet’s needs. The trust operates in the following manner. You are responsible for putting money in the trust for the care of your individual pet or multiple pets. You might need to identify relevant sanctuaries or people to care for the animal on your behalf. estate-planning-pets

Put sufficient funds inside the trust in order to compensate the person or a sanctuary for veterinary care and food. You can also specify who is eligible to receive any money that is left inside the trust when the pet passes on. This can give you a great deal of peace of mind that your loved one will continue to be cared for.

It can be an unfortunate situation when your beloved pets cannot be cared for by your family members, putting your furry loved ones at risk of having to go to a shelter or an area they are unfamiliar with. Putting together a pet trust can allow you to earmark funds specifically for your pet’s individual care, and also specifies if the animal passes away before those funds are needed, who is eligible to receive those assets. This gives you confidence and peace of mind that even if you are no longer able to care for your furry friends, someone else will.

Should I Put My Child on My House Title?

September 13, 2018

Filed under: Last Will & Testament — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

Are you thinking about estate planning and real estate and planning to add a child to the house title? Many people may miss out on the possible property tax increases associated with this.

A parent usually would add a child to the title of the parents’ home for estate planning purposes, which means that the parent wants the property to go to a specific child after the parent has passed away. However, failing to consider all of the various estate planning aspects associated with this as well as the tax implications can be especially confusing.

It can be very difficult for parents to handle their estate planning this way since the unintended tax consequences may affect everyone involved. There are other ways to ensure that the title of a person’s home passes down to the children wanted without adding those people specifically to the title. Equality among children seems like a good idea on the surface, such as when a person wants to add multiple children to the title, but there are flaws in this kind of logic. First of all, parents cannot necessarily assume that a child will outlive them. 

A joint ownership of the home could lead one child to become the sole owner of the home. There are often smarter ways for parents to own the property, such as putting the home inside a living trust and determining who will become the owner of the home when the parent passes away.

A living trust takes into account various changes in life that can occur from the day that the trust is structured through when the parent dies. Furthermore, the parent might also put together a will that designates the beneficiaries of his or her estate by naming the individual who will get the home upon the parents’ death. In other cases, you may be eligible to use a transfer on death instrument that designates who is able to receive the home when the parent passes away. Future tax issues should also be considered. A real estate taxing body or your local tax successor officer should certainly be contacted to discuss the relevant issues involved and how to avoid unintended tax consequences that can follow your heirs for years to come.      

Aretha Franklin’s Death Highlights Estate Planning Concerns

September 12, 2018

Filed under: Estate Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

Every time that a celebrity passes away, it provides an important opportunity to understand their estate planning dos and don’ts. All too often, even those celebrities who have access to the most professional resources and could certainly benefit from the tax opportunities associated with estate planning, far too many of these people make mistakes that leave their loved ones behind to suffer the consequences. 

When Aretha Franklin passed away in August from advanced pancreatic cancer, it appears that she left no trust or will, despite the fact that the estimated value of her estate is around $80 million, and this includes the rights to several of the songs that became famous under her name. Her four sons have listed themselves as interested parties associated with the estate, but one of those sons indicated that the decedent passed away without a will. The estate’s personal representative might be Franklin’s niece and more information is likely to emerge regarding her estate planning or lack thereof it. The entertainment lawyer working for Franklin said that for years, he had tried to get her to put together a trust, since it would have kept matters of her estate private and kept the family out of probate. Furthermore, he said that it would have helped to expedite things if she were to suddenly pass away and the lack of a will or trust can lead to a much higher chance of contest and disputes surrounding estate planning. Franklin was known for being extremely private, which makes the fact that she did not engage in traditional estate planning processes that much more confusing and unexpected.      

Tips for Sorting Through Finances After You Have Lost A Loved One

September 11, 2018

Filed under: Estate Administration — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

Resolving finances of a loved one who has recently passed away can be especially complicated, particularly if you were not looped in on that person’s individual plans well in advance. Thankfully hiring knowledgeable professionals such as an estate planning attorney can help you to resolve finances after a loved one has suddenly passed away. 

If your loved one made it difficult to find the relevant documents or store these with a code, it could take you months or even years to figure out what they intended. First of all, it can be difficult to move through this process while also coping with grief if you do not have the support of outside professionals. Don’t make any emotional decisions when you are in the immediate aftermath of coping with a loved one’s death. You can ask for help from a financial advisor or an estate planning attorney who should be knowledgeable about the probate process.

If your family member already had a financial advisor or an estate planning lawyer, this individual should be the primary point of contact. This person can be significantly helpful in tracking down hard to find accounts or coordinating with other professionals while you sort through your emotions. It is recommended that if you are serving as the personal representative or helping to close out the estate, you get multiple copies of the death certificate.

The funeral home handling arrangements can help you with this and it is recommended that you ask for at least a dozen but preferably 20, since you will need to provide these original death certificates to insurance providers, financial institutions and more. The human resources department of the person’s employer should be notified if the deceased was working at the time of his or her death. Ask whether or not there are any life insurance policies that were active or whether any benefits coverage could continue for family members.

The name of the company that administers the retirement plan should also be discussed at that point in time. The original will and trust, where applicable, should be identified as soon as possible because this can help to address many of the most common questions surrounding the probate administration process and closing out the estate. The support of a lawyer will help you during a time when you already have enough to worry about and when you are concerned about being able to address all of these issues effectively.

Does it Really Take a Year to Settle an Estate?

September 10, 2018

Filed under: Estate Administration — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

Understanding how long it could possibly take to settle an estate is an important issue that must be taken under consideration by anyone who is chosen to serve in the role of personal representative. A personal representative could even be held accountable for issues of personal liability if he or she is not careful in the way that they approach this individual role. 

Real estate agent working in the office and piles of paperwork, model house on the foreground and mortgage loan documentation

The support of an experienced estate administration or probate administration attorney is recommended for anyone appointed as a personal representative. Before you name your own personal representative, you should inform this individual about the responsibilities associated with it and the potential issues that he or she might face when handling the end of an estate.

Closing out an estate requires many different administrative duties and some of these can be overwhelming or confusing without the insight of an attorney. When there are many different assets included inside an estate, even if appropriate estate planning has been done, there are many different aspects of closing out an estate and verifying that all relevant issues have been addressed. This includes creating an inventory of all of the assets, reviewing the necessary documents, notifying creditors, paying off taxes and then distributing the remaining assets to the loved ones. A proposed executor will also have to file all necessary paperwork and ensure that the relevant details have been recorded appropriately. If he or she fails to do so or is accused of violating existing laws, that person could be held personally accountable. You deserve to have the insight of an attorney who is thoroughly experienced in this area of the law, and who can advise you about what to anticipate so that you can minimize the personal representative’s issues and concerns about serving in such a role. A personal representative is an important role, but it is also one that must be handled with careful detail and organization. A person chosen to serve in this particular capacity must be comfortable with doing so.     

Women Are Now Taking A More Prominent Role with Financial Planning

September 6, 2018

Filed under: Asset Protection Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

A new study has found that younger wealthy women are taking on a big role in terms of family financial planning. Among younger women recently surveyed, nearly 72% said that they were the primary financial planning decision makers in their individual households. That’s a result of a study conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit. 

Hands typing on computer keyboard

They looked at perceptions around wealth by speaking with more than 1,000 individuals who had at least a million dollars in investments. Those respondents were sorted into three specific categories; baby boomer women, millennial women and men of all ages. Young women with money are far more idealistic and entrepreneurial than their mothers’ generation and they have more control of the family estate than ever before, according to the results of the study.

A number of different areas yielded clear differences of opinion. For example, younger women were most interested in directing their wealth to social causes, even if this meant minimizing their children’s inheritance. Approximately 22% of older women were more inclined to keep investment and charity decisions separate. Only 7% of younger women who responded to the study would say the same. They chose to invest based on their principles and younger women were more likely to bequeath some of their wealth to charities. This reflected a bigger sense of obligation to society as a whole. Younger women were more likely to claim ownership of making the financial decisions within their household in direct comparison to older women. Many of the women who were included in the study amassed wealth prior to meeting their spouses, which led many financial advisors to comment on the study to state that this seemed natural that those women will want to maintain some control over their finances. Approximately half of the time, older women self-identified as the key decision maker. However, they couldn’t name any particular area where they had more influence than their spouse. If you’re interested in estate planning, financial planning and retirement planning, you need the support of an attorney.     

Top Reasons to Consider Using A Living Trust

September 5, 2018

Filed under: Asset Protection Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

Have you ever thought about using estate planning tools including a living trust to protect your loved ones and your own future? If so, scheduling a consultation with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney is strongly recommended because a living trust has to be properly drafted and funded in order to be valid. People often assume that trusts can do everything, however, not every problem is solved by having a trust. 

A trust can address many different issues, particularly when you have an experienced estate planning lawyer on your side who is very familiar with trust language. Here are some of the most important and valuable things that clients often choose to do with a living trust. These include:

  •      Protecting minor children by holding money in the trust until they are responsible enough to manage it themselves.
  •      Reducing estate taxes, particularly if your state assesses their own taxes as well.
  •      Keeping assets inside the family if you are concerned about potential divorce for your beneficiaries.
  •      Protecting your grown-up children from not being able to manage the money due to alcohol, drug related issues or mismanagement, allows a trustee to hold the money for the lifetime of the child and distribute it as necessary.
  •      Avoid probate. If you place assets inside your trust during the course of your lifetime rather than relying on your will, you can avoid the probate process and make things easier for your loved ones.
  •      Ensure privacy within the family. A will that is probated becomes matter of public record along with personal details about you, such as an inventory listing of your assets and the value of those assets. Using a living trust can help to guard against this.
  •      Protect you while you are still alive. If the trust is funded during your lifetime and you later develop an incapacity, a successor trustee is eligible to manage the trust assets on your behalf. This important for those people who do not have children and those people who are single.

Schedule a consultation with an estate planning lawyer today.


Don’t Forget These Four Issues in Your Business Succession Plan

September 4, 2018

Filed under: Business Succession Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

A person running a business cannot have an estate plan without a business succession plan and vice versa. These items must work together to protect your individual interests, your future beneficiaries and the future of the company. All too often, however, critical details are overlooked in your individual or your business succession plan. 

Time is Money Concept. Clock with Dollar Signs on a white background

A rock-solid plan for the future can give you greater peace of mind and help to protect your beneficiaries if and when you become incapacitated. The first of these issues has to do with incapacity.

Far too many people approaching estate planning look at it just for handling what happens when you pass away. However, it is becoming more likely that the average person entering retirement will at least one or more periods of incapacity during their lifetime in which they are unable to make decisions for themselves. Make sure that you appoint someone else for seamless asset management during these periods of incapacity.

Continued management of your assets and the business should also be included after you pass away. Place these assets inside a trust if necessary because the beneficiaries are not of sufficient maturity or age. Another thing to consider on behalf of your beneficiaries is divorce protection. Although your loved ones might appear to be married happily right now, nearly half of marriages end in divorce. Divorce protection can be one way to give you peace of mind about your loved one’s future. Finally, also consider whether or not beneficiaries could have creditor issues. Asset protection involves developing trust and other strategies that can help to shield these assets from being attacked by creditors. One of the easiest tools to do this, with the help of an experienced estate planning attorney, is to put the assets inside a fully discretionary trust managed by a third-party trustee. If you have questions about approaching the estate planning and business succession planning process, the support of a lawyer is instrumental in helping you to accomplish your goals. Schedule a consultation with an attorney today.

New Study Shows That Retirement Could Enhance Charitable Giving

September 3, 2018

Filed under: Retirement Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

There has long been a perspective that people stop giving assets away to charity when they get older. But a study shows that this is simply not the case. Research completed by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute shows that charitable giving stays the same after retirement while other types of spending drops significantly. The study also identified differences in how single men, single women and married couples give to charity. 

Senior Couple Walking Along Coastal Path

Retired couples are often portrayed as not having the money or refusing to give. However, an Indiana University study found that this was not true, and this is good news for any non-profit that relies on donations received for financial support. Many of these retired couples could choose to give while they still are alive and are also including estate planning charitable options when putting together their documents for the distribution of assets.

The study looked at charitable giving among single men, single women and married couples starting in 2001. Overall, the report looked at data for more than 6,000 people who fit into their various categories, and individuals in these cohabitating, married or single households were between the ages of 55 and 101. The study found that the likelihood of giving to charity decreases by approximately 4% in the 5 years immediately after and before retirement. However, that was considerably less than the overall decline in general spending, which is approximately 16%. If you are contemplating including charitable giving in your overall estate planning, schedule a consultation with an experienced lawyer today.   

What Is Self-Directed Long-Term Home Care?

August 30, 2018

Filed under: Aging In Place — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

Many people approaching retirement today will need long term care at some point in the future. Long term care typically brings to mind an image of nursing homes, but one growing trend is known as self-directed long-term home care. There are many different options available and more people than ever are choosing to self-direct their own long-term care when this is a possibility. 

An elderly Indian man at the retirement house

Person-centered choices are becoming increasingly requested, especially as people wish to age in place, even when faced with physical or mental challenges that require long term care. Individual states are choosing to create self-directed programs that enable the person in need of care to pay home care providers and schedule them as they wished.

This removes some of the limitations typically associated with long term care policies, which have become very expensive in recent years or through Medicaid. Many people are choosing to direct their own care, because there is a major problem associated with using agencies where the assigned caregiver doesn’t show up.

Customized care services also appeal to those who want individualized support and in general, research has shown that these people who were able to take control of their care were more satisfied and their overall experience was just as good or had better outcomes when compared with traditional care. There are now 1 million people in more than 200 different self-directed, veteran and Medicaid programs across the country.

And since 2011, enrollment in these services has increased by more than 2011. More vetting and management is required if you choose to go the route of self-direction. If you’re interested in protecting yourself with regards to a long-term care plan, you need an experienced estate planning lawyer who understands the scope of your state’s Medicaid rules and can help you design strategies and goals for the long term.

How Long Does It Take for Your Estate to Be Settled?

August 29, 2018

Filed under: Estate Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

Whether you’re serving as an estate administrator or thinking about appointing a person just to serve in this role, you should be familiar with the fact that every estate is unique, and it can take various amounts of time in order to settle an estate. The more work you do in advance by hiring an experienced estate planning attorney can greatly help your loved ones, as well as the person appointed to serve in the role of personal representative. The complexity of your estate will also dictate how quickly it can be effectively settled. It does not take long to settle simple estates.

However, if it’s beyond more than just a 401(k) and a house that is being given to family members, you need to be prepared by having estate planning tools and strategies like a living trust. The first steps involved in probate administration are to get the will admitted as the last will of the decedent and having the executor personal representative be appointed by the surrogate.

Image of a business work place with papers on the table

This usually does not require an appearance in front of a judge so long as the original will has been submitted, is shown to be valid and there are no disputes like a will contest. The proposed executor will then visit the county surrogate’s office and prepare the necessary paperwork. These usually are ready in less than a week. However, there can be complicating factors if it is difficult for the executor to gather the necessary materials.

Some assets will not be processed through the probate process to begin with, such as retirement accounts and life insurance policies. This is because beneficiary forms are used by these individual companies for the person to fill out and have passed on directly to the beneficiaries. However, other assets need to be included in an inventory and also processed in relationship to claims that have to do with creditors or taxes. The estate administrator has to process all of this material before the assets can be distributed to the relevant beneficiaries of the estate.

If you have questions about the process of probate administration and how estate planning tools and strategies such as living trusts can be used to help keep many of your assets outside of probate, you need the support of an experienced estate planning lawyer from beginning to end.

What You Need to Know About Part Time Work in Retirement

August 28, 2018

Filed under: Retirement Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

What do you have lined up for your retirement plan and the time you’ll have? You might want to stay working in a part-time capacity, but make sure you understand how that could influence your financial situation.

Most people find that having something to do in their retirement that gives them an additional purpose is extremely beneficial to their wellbeing and possibly even their physical health, but it’s important to realize how retirement part time work can affect your Medicare costs and social security taxes. 

Older workers who decide to file for social security prior to full retirement age must account for the impact of their wage income on their possible benefits. Benefits might be reduced temporarily up to 85% and those benefits could be taxed if their combined income exceeds a particular level. A higher level of income can also push you into a bigger tax bracket, putting you in an unfortunate situation and one that should at bare minimum be anticipated.

Planning ahead for retirement and for estate planning and elder law concerns should all be done together. Amassing a team of professionals who each have their individual knowledge in these areas can help you to work through some of the most common pitfalls experienced by people approaching and advancing into retirement. One of the leading concerns for the elderly today, for example, has to do with paying health care.

Being able to afford long term care insurance might be something that is outside your realm of possibility, but advanced Medicaid planning can ensure that you have put projects into motion that will allow you to tap into this federal government program if and when you need to due to a sudden health care event. Only an attorney should advise you about these complicated issues and you should retain a lawyer sooner rather than later to give yourself the best possible chance of guarding yourself well into the future.


New Study Shows That Retirement Savers Are Struggling to Catch Up

August 27, 2018

Filed under: Retirement Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

A new study completed by Allianz Life Insurance Company identified that people who are trying to catch up on their savings goals feel financial pressure. Approximately half of American retirement savers, for example, believe that they are already too behind in order to accomplish their savings goals. However, 90% of that same group agrees that being able to enjoy their future retirement hinges on accumulating enough savings in advance.

A happy senior couple sitting on the front of a sail boat on a calm blue sea

Chasers are known as Americans between the ages of 45 and 65, who are currently saving for retirement and they count for 49% of Americans at this point in time. Many of them are actively saving for retirement but believe they need to catch up significantly and believe that they need help understanding the various solutions offered to them that could help to increase the savings gap in time for retirement.

There are two factors that help to define chasers. First, they are people who could be worried that if they don’t accumulate savings in near future, they will not have a chance at retirement comfortably and then there are also savers who have fallen behind on where they should be in order to retire.

Nearly 85% of the people who participated in the study felt that they have fallen behind in their savings goals and the same percentage of them are worried that it is too late to be able to have a comfortable retirement. Many of them are not willing to assume additional risk even though they are desperate for additional retirement savings and the resulting benefits.

If you have not considered how retirement planning and estate planning work together, now is a good time to take a hard look at your goals with an analysis and support from an estate planning lawyer who can advise you through this process and help prepare you for what to anticipate in the future.


What You Need to Know About Medicaid Planning

August 23, 2018

Filed under: Medicaid — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

Long term care is extremely complicated and very expensive and simple errors in your planning or in the submission process can cost you in a big way. The motivations behind Medicaid planning are to be as organized as possible and to ensure that you get the support that you need when you need it most. Medicaid crisis planning can still be effective; however, it is far better to work many years in the future towards establishing a Medicaid plan that considers all of your unique needs and family dynamics.

Doctor’s hands with health care words isolated on white

The sooner that retain the services of an estate planning attorney who works in the area of elder law and helps numerous people with target Medicaid plans, the more confident you will feel about your own future. A Medicaid planning attorney will understand the complexity associated with resources, monthly income and financial eligibility limits. They will also advise you on how to use different tools such as trusts to ensure that your assets are protected. Every state has different Medicaid rules, which is why you should work with an attorney in your individual state.

Some of the most common reasons to engage in Medicaid planning sooner rather than later are to ensure that a family’s limited assets are protected and to have peace of mind that the next generation can afford an education or live in a home, to ensure that a healthy spouse staying in a home will still maintain financial resources and continue to do so if you need to leave the home and receive care in a facility, and because the process of applying and having your case reviewed is very time consuming.

A Medicaid planner who knows the ins and outs and also the common missteps and problems associated with this process will help to protect you and your loved ones for many years to come. You can never anticipate when you may experience a challenge that could leave you incapacitated or in need of long term care. So, make sure that you have an attorney at your side as soon as possible.


The True Cost of Long Term Care Highlights Longevity Concerns

August 22, 2018

Filed under: Long Term Care — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

A recent survey shows that many people are willfully unprepared for the significant out of pocket costs from long term care facilities. More than 2,000 family caregivers and patients were recently surveyed, and most underestimated the possible need for long term care as well as the typical expenses connected with getting the support. Approximately 70% of all patients today end up needing some form of long term care support, but just under half of patients who responded in this study felt that they would need long term care.  

Patients also underestimated the age at which it was likely for them to need long term care. Most survey respondents anticipated that they would need this additional support from a facility or caretaker at age 79, although the national average in the United States for getting this kind of treatment is 73. This gap of 6 years’ worth of treatment can mean that you don’t have enough money set aside to prepare yourself for the rising cost of long term care.

Long term care has an average cost of $47,000 or more, depending on the facility that you select. A private nursing home, for example, comes with a price tag of $100,000 whereas an assisted living facility comes in at an average of $45,000.

When discussing a possible move to a long-term care facility, the family caregivers and patients who participated in the study said that the cost of care was one of their biggest concerns and for those family members who had already undergone this situation, the cost of long term care ended up being much higher than they anticipated. Although there is no way to guard against all possible negative outcomes or issues associated with long term care, there are many things that you can do to protect yourself as well as your loved ones from the challenges of recovering after an incapacitating event or needing consistent long-term care from a facility.

While it’s impossible to predict just how long you’ll live, it’s good to plan for a long and healthy lifestyle.

Talking with an estate planning and elder law planning lawyer now can open your eyes to all of the opportunities available to you and can help to ensure that you have the appropriate documentation and strategies in place to guard against the problems.


How to Select the Right Executor for Your Will

August 21, 2018

Filed under: Probate — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

An executor should be someone you can trust who will make things easy for your loved ones when closing out your estate. This person should be well prepared for the process.

last will and testament with dollar , certificate and key.

When dealing with all end of life issues, it’s far too easy to get overwhelmed. If you have been named the executor of someone else’s will or if you are thinking about who to name as the executor of your own estate, you need to follow some simple guidelines to ensure that you have made the right choice. First of all, an executor has many different responsibilities, so you should never put someone in this role without first discussing it with them. There are legal and financial obligations that must be addressed by the executor after you pass away.

These include maintaining property until the estate is settled, paying taxes and bills for the estate, notifying creditors about the death of the deceased, making court appearances on behalf of the estate and distributing assets according to the will. If significant court time is required or if the will is especially complex, an executor might need to hire an attorney to assist with probate administration.

Typically, you can select anyone to serve in the role of will executor and no financial or legal knowledge is usually required. For that reason, many of the most common executors to wills you’ll find are children, siblings and spouses. You need to have an executor who has organization, honesty and communication as top qualities. People often overlook the ability to communicate and the requirement of being organized. However, during a challenging time for your loved ones, they deserve to have someone with these qualities instilled in such a role.

Other important factors you need to contemplate when selecting an executor include family dynamics, such as whether or not your loved ones will get along with the executor, the executor’s physical location when it comes to issues such as checking the mail, court appearances and property maintenance, and whether or not you need to name an alternate executor. Talk to a lawyer about how to select the right executor to help you.


Five Tips to Avoid the Probate Process

August 20, 2018

Filed under: Probate — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

You might have heard that probate is an expensive and time-consuming process, and that is certainly true. Another added downside of probate is that your personal estate becomes a matter of public record. This is one of the biggest reasons to consider avoiding going through the probate process.

Inheritance paper scrap on US cash

A properly structured estate plan makes things easier to transfer those assets efficiently without a grueling process known as probate. Without a will, the probate process is officially guided by your state’s legal standards for the distribution of property after a person passes away.

Avoiding probate now will help your family members in a difficult time and ensure that your estate is managed as efficiently as possible.

There are five simple ways that you can discuss with your estate planning lawyer about how to keep an estate out of the probate process. These include:

  • Proper titling, including joint tenancy with rights of survivorship or tenancy by the entirety.
  • Using certain accounts that allow for beneficiaries to be designated, such as a life insurance policy.
  • Gifting assets while you are still alive.
  • Establishing a living trust that you can make edits to over the course of your life.
  • Using a life estate.

No matter what type of estate plan you intend to pursue, you should consult with a lawyer about how to handle this situation and what makes the most sense for you and your loved ones.  No matter your reasoning for wanting to keep your estate private, but it needs to be accomplished with a lawyer’s help.

Avoiding probate might not seem like something that benefits you directly, but during a time when your loved ones are already grieving and attempting to move on from the loss of someone they care about, having a thoroughly established estate plan means one less thing for them to worry about, enabling beneficiaries to receive assets sooner rather than later and minimizing the chances for a conflict or dispute around your estate planning intentions.


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