Your retirement is just around the corner, and you’re looking forward to spending your days with your spouse and relaxing at home. You have a will on file and you have designated a family member to be in charge of your affairs, so as far as you’re concerned, your estate plans are nearly wrapped up.
Early Estate Planning Is Key to Protecting Your Family’s Future
While early retirement planning can go a long way toward providing for your family, the creation of a will is simply not enough to protect your loved ones from suffering financial hardship after you’re gone. If you truly want to make sure your loved ones are taken care of, you should examine all facets of estate planning, including:
Advance Directives (Living Wills)A living will grants a member of your family to make life-and-death medical decisions for you if you are unable to make them yourself. The biggest benefit of a living will is that it allows you to choose the type of care you wish to receive if you are incapacitated, preventing your family from having to guess at your wishes. You will have to choose a medical power of attorney (also called a health care proxy) to speak with doctors and access your medical records on your behalf.
Will ProtectionEven after you have drafted a will stating who should receive your home, car, wealth, and other property, there is nothing to prevent your will from being challenged in court. Many families have been subjected to costly court proceedings due to unclear directives in a deceased person’s will. We can help you draft a will or amend an existing will to make your intentions clear and avoid contest in court.
BeneficiariesYou should be careful when choosing the beneficiaries who will receive property from your estate. We can help you decide how much of your wealth should be distributed among your family members, friends, and chosen charities, as well as help you choose trustees for your business interests and caretakers for underage children.
TrustsOne of the biggest benefits of speaking with an estate planning attorney is the ability to create trusts. A trust allows you to transfer your property to your family while you are still alive, allowing you to enjoy tax and government aid benefits in your old age. Depending on your circumstances, we can help you create both revocable and irrevocable trusts to protect your assets from debt collectors and avoid unnecessary taxes.
What If I Need Emergency Estate Planning Help?
Some seniors do not have the benefit of time when planning their estates, and need immediate help with their finances and assets. We have helped clients in the past protect their loved ones from an emergent need, such as:
Terminal IllnessMany people do not begin to consider estate planning until they have been diagnosed with a serious illness, such as cancer or early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. As a terminal medical condition may deteriorate rapidly, estate planning should take place as soon as possible after a serious medical diagnosis. Not only will early planning allow patients to participate more fully, it will offer more financial benefits for spouses and family members.
Special NeedsIf someone in your family requires special care, you can continue to provide for him after your death with a special needs trust. Also called a supplemental needs trust, this protection allows seniors to hold income and assets in trust for a person with a disability or illness. One of the benefits of these types of trusts is that they allow special-needs beneficiaries to retain their assets while remaining eligible for governmental benefits (such as Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid, or subsidized housing).
Nursing Home CareIf one member of a couple enters a nursing home, will the spouse at home be properly provided for? An attorney can help you pay for nursing home care using government benefits, as well as ensuring that the at-home spouse retains access to the marital assets and wealth he or she needs to live on after you are gone.
At Walt Shurden Elder Law, we are committed to helping seniors make the estate planning decisions that are right for them. Our dedicated elder law practitioners explain all of your options to make sure you make the most informed decision possible, protecting you from unforeseen losses. Call our Clearwater office today at 877-241-1230 or email us to find out how planning your future today can protect you for years to come.