Estate planning and elder law is a vast area that allows us to serve a lot of different needs of clients and their families. Over the years, we have found that three of the most common reasons why people come to our firm are, in no particular order:
- To create estate plans or update their current estate plans.
- To learn if there is a way to protect assets for their family from long-term care costs.
- To learn whether they can protect their child from the son- or daughter-in-law?
These are the three things that we hear the most, and also are the basis for most of the questions that we get in the weekly estate planning workshops that we offer at Bellomo & Associates.
Most common are the typical clients who have not updated their estate plan for over 20 years, and they just want to make sure that all of their bases are covered just in case. A close second are families who need their bases covered because they have felt they have nothing and just simply haven’t planned prior to now. Very often, clients simply want to make sure that in the event that they are incapacitated, they have their financial and medical decisions, as well as their end-of-life decisions, covered.
Often, clients want to get a base Last Will and Testament done to ensure that their assets go where they want them to go after they die and that the appropriate people will carry out those wishes. This blog is not intended to go into each one in depth, as we have done numerous blogs on those in the past, but simply to acknowledge that that is one of the most common reasons why people will come into our office. If you would like further information about the details of these documents, you can look at other blogs that we’ve posted on these subjects, or come to one of our weekly estate planning workshops.
The second and maybe most common thing that we hear is that families want to know if there is a way to protect assets from long-term care costs. It is worth noting that we have very close relationships with many of the nursing homes in and around York County, and they certainly are incredible places and offer a great service to our community. We are honored and blessed to be able to work well with so many incredible long-term care facilities, and we thank each and every one of them for their service. Even so, clients often come to our office and are scared because they realize with the long-term care costs between $10,000 and $12,000 a month, it does not take long for their hard-earned money to disappear.
Clients are often overwhelmed and stressed about the possibility, and the number one thing that I hear at every single workshop is, can I protect my stuff from my long-term care costs? The laws in Pennsylvania are currently very favorable, and certainly will allow us to do pre-planning and crisis planning to be able to accomplish that objective. If you or a family member are wondering if that can be done, please feel free to contact our office or come to one of our weekly workshops to learn what many of the other clients have found out. It certainly is possible to get the care that you and your family need but not to lose the hard-earned money and assets that you have worked for.
The third most common thing that we hear is questioning whether or not a parent can pass assets on to a child and not run the risk of a daughter- or son-in-law taking those assets. Although it is true that children can keep their inheritances in a segregated account in their name alone in the state of Pennsylvania, our experience is that most children do not do so. Most look at an inheritance from their parents as the way for them to get out of debt, to pay off their mortgage or other debts that they have, and the child and spouse will use that inheritance to do so. Unfortunately, by doing this, they have taken an inheritance and now made it marital property, which will certainly be available to their spouse in the event of a divorce. Divorces are so common these days that often people don’t even think about them as a major occurrence. Although very unfortunate, is it true, and it is something that we have to deal with on a daily basis.
Every week parents express to me their concerns and fears that the money that they have worked their entire lives for may get taken by an in-law. However, there are numerous ways we are able to protect assets for a child from potential divorce or future creditors, and also sometimes from a child, perhaps because of addictions or spendthrift problems.
If any of the three most common reasons strike you as important or something that you want to learn more about, we would love to see you at our free weekly workshops on estate planning and elder law. We at the law offices of Bellomo & Associates protect parents’ and families’ assets every day. We look forward to seeing you soon and helping you solve these three major problems, and many more as well.