Question: What are the basic estate planning documents that I need?
Answer: We recommend that every client have the following:
- Financial Power of Attorney – Provides another person to represent you and act on your behalf
- Health Care Power of Attorney – Names a person you trust to be your health care agent if you are incapacitated
- Living Will – Guides end of life matters, whether or not to be artificially kept alive or to withdraw from food or treatment
Question: What is a Revocable Living Trust? When would I need one?
Answer: A Revocable Living Trust is an agreement where a grantor transfers assets into a trust, to be managed by a trustee. Instructions in the trust specify how the assets are to be used during the grantor’s lifetime and after death. The grantor is often the initial trustee. Assets placed in the trust are not considered to be part of the grantor’s estate for probate purposes.
You should consider a Revocable Living Trust:
- If you want to avoid a full probate process upon death, which may be time consuming and involve family conflict.
- If you want continued management of your assets if you become incapacitated by accident or sickness.
- If you expect your estate to significantly increase during your lifetime.
Question: What is Elder Law?
Answer: Elder Law attorneys help families to prepare for the time that aging loved ones can no longer take care of themselves. We do three specific things:
- Create Powers of Attorney and facilitate guardianships (when necessary) so that financial and health care decision-making is clear and secure;
- Draft trusts that protect family resources; and
- Qualify individuals for Medicaid assistance when seeking long-term nursing home care.
Question: Why should I be concerned about long-term care costs if I am currently healthy?
Answer: Over 30% of individuals 65 years or older will receive long-term care in a nursing home. The cost of a nursing home can reach and exceed $80,000 per year. The only public benefits program that pays for long-term nursing home care is Medicaid but qualification requires that applicants spend down their own funds first, until they only have $2,000 in “countable” assets. An attorney can help structure your resources to maximize your non-countable assets. A modest amount of planning early on can save resources that may be in jeopardy when a medical crisis arises.