People can sometimes become cynical and question why they need the assistance of experts. You can just go online and learn how to do anything you need to do for yourself, right? This is the information age, so we are no longer at the mercy of those who have gained professional expertise.
The above may be true when it comes to something like making simple household improvements. However, there are many things that you should not try to do for yourself, and estate planning is one of them.
As we all know (but sometimes forget), when you buy something that seems like a bargain, you often wind up paying a heftier price later on down the line.
This definitely comes into play with those do-it-yourself estate planning downloads and worksheets. Independent researchers from Consumer Reports magazine found that these online DIY notions were no substitute for proper estate planning with the benefit of expert guidance.
There is a lot to know if you want to plan your estate properly. It is not as simple as filling in the blanks on a single boilerplate form. Let’s look at some of the bases that must be covered.
When you think about vehicles of assets transfer that are utilized in estate planning, the last will may come to mind first. This can be the right choice for some people with very limited resources and simple intentions, but a living trust will actually be more appropriate for a significant percentage of people.
These trusts provide a number of advantages, including the facilitation of probate avoidance. This is a costly and time-consuming legal process that would enter the picture if you use a last will to state your final wishes. The probate factor is just one of the many reasons why a living trust can be a better choice.
Addressing Long-Term Care Costs
You don’t have to worry about how your assets are going to be transferred if you pass away without any resources left. This may be the case if you do not address the potential impact of long-term care costs.
About 35% of senior citizens will eventually need nursing home care, and Medicare will not pay for it. The current costs are well in excess of $100,000 a year in our service areas, and if you are married, you should brace yourself for two different rounds of long-term care expenses.
There are strategies that you can implement to prepare yourself if you act ahead in a proactive manner. Medicaid will typically be the solution, but it takes very careful, informed planning to gain eligibility without losing anything in the process.
Planning For Possible Incapacity
About 40 percent of people who reach the age of 85 are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Individuals who are suffering from dementia can become unable to make sound medical and financial decisions, and it should be noted that Alzheimer’s is not the only cause of cognitive impairment.
If you do not take any action, and you do in fact become unable to handle your affairs at some point in time, the court could be petitioned to appoint a guardian to act on your behalf.
To prevent a guardianship and take matters into your own hands, you can execute documents called durable powers of attorney. With a durable power of attorney for property, you can name someone to make financial decisions on your behalf. You could add a durable power of attorney for health care or health care proxy to name an agent to make medical decisions for you.
Another incapacity document that should be included is a living will. This type of will has nothing to do with financial matters. You would use a living will to state your preferences with regard to the utilization of life-sustaining measures like resuscitation, artificial hydration, feeding tubes, etc.
Attend a Free Estate Planning Seminar!
As you can see, there are a lot of things to take into consideration when you start to think about your legacy. If you would like to take the next step, we have some great opportunities coming up in the near future.
Our attorneys are holding a series of seminars, and you can really build on your knowledge if you attend one of these sessions. There is no charge, but we do ask that you register in advance, because space is limited. You can visit our seminar schedule page to see the dates and get all the details.