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Special Needs Planning: What You Need To Know…

5E8B353C-37D4-448E-BD3B-FC060FD44E2AI have written a few other blogs that discuss the legal aspects of special needs planning such as the difference between first party and third party special needs trusts, as well as ABLE accounts and pooled trusts.  

I am very passionate about getting the word out in the community about having the appropriate special needs planning documents in place to ensure that an individual with special needs will not lose their government benefits in the event that a family member passes.  However, this article focuses more on how just having the documents may not be enough.

Parents with children with disabilities often worry about how the child will take care of themselves or who will take care of them, and what will be their quality of life.  

Assuming that we understand the importance of having the legal documents in place, it is equally as important to make sure that your specific wishes for your child about where you want them to live and how you want them to be taken care of are known.  

Take the time to discuss your wishes with the important people who are named in your document who may be the executor of your Will, the trustee of your trust, or the guardian in the future for a child with disabilities.  It’s not enough to have the document, but you must set forth your instructions in detail so that there is absolutely no question about what you want.  

We encourage parents to do personal care plans that will document in writing the details of their wishes for their children with disabilities.  While it is important in other areas of estate planning as well, I don’t think there is any area where it is more important to specifically set forth your wishes.  

I have found in my practice that people will always try to do the best thing for the individual with disabilities.  But at the end of the day, they are not the parents.  The parents are the ones who know what their wishes are and putting those wishes in writing in a personal care plan and having those conversations with the other family members or individuals who will be assisting is invaluable and cannot be understated.

Take the time to put your wishes in writing so that you save a lot of heartache and make sure that your child with disabilities is taken care of, not only from a document perspective but from a care perspective.

We can help.  If you have questions about how to implement a personal care plan for your loved one with special needs just contact us here and we’ll reach out to connect with you and get you answers.

 

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Long-Term Care Insurance, Not Just for Nursing Homes

AC7548D0-C8CF-408D-8B64-9DF78ED42CF2Long-term care insurance is probably one of the most misunderstood concepts in estate and financial planning.

I am not licensed to sell long-term care insurance so I certainly do not have any horse in the race as I write this article, but I am compelled to take a few minutes to hopefully open your eyes to another side of long-term care insurance.

As an estate planning and elder law attorney, I am fortunate to be able to assist my clients with asset protection and asset preservation. We are often able to assist families with protecting assets even if a loved one is already receiving skilled level care in a nursing home. Many people assume that therefore I don’t think long-term care insurance is a good idea and that is just not correct.

In all of the years of my practice, I have never once had a client tell me that they wanted to move into a nursing home. I hear day in and day out that the clients want to remain in their home as long as possible and if that is not the case, that they have their personal care home of choice.

Personal care homes are just one step above independent living and provide assistance with day to day activities when the person needs some assistance but does not need skilled level care. These places are beautiful and often feel very much like a person’s home and is where people want to live if they can’t stay in their home any longer.

I have done other blogs about the different types of long-term care insurance such as the partnership policies and also hybrid policies that are life insurance policies that payout in a death benefit if they are not used during lifetime on skilled care. The purpose of this article is to simply urge the people reading it to understand that I believe the most important thing that a long-term care policy can provide, regardless of the one that you choose, is peace of mind that you will be able to stay home as long as possible and in the event that you can no longer safely reside at your house that you will be able to go to the personal care home of your choice.

I am an absolute believer in nursing homes and the services that they provide but it is nice to be able to stay home or live in a personal care home as long as possible and long-term care insurance will make that a reality.

I often hear from people about the expense of a policy and after digging, it usually becomes apparent that they have not had anyone in their family that had to move out of their home or move out of the personal care home simply because they could not afford to live there anymore.  But they may have been able to stay at home or in the personal care home had they had a long-term care policy.

In 100% of the cases where people have experienced that, they are always looking at long-term care insurance for how it can keep them where they want to be as long as possible and as long as it is safe. 

Please contact your financial professional or licensed insurance agent to discuss the long-term care policies and if they are a fit for you. I certainly don’t think that it’s a one size fits all for everybody but it is important to take a minute to acknowledge that having options to stay in your home or live in a personal care home is certainly worth the time that it will take to get a quote and discuss.

Don’t let misinformation or confusion stop you from doing something that can allow you to stay where you want to be. Contact us, or join us for one of our free educational workshops on estate planning and/or asset protection planning so you know your options when it comes to planning for your family.  Just click here to discover more!

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How Long Has It Been Since You Signed Your Estate Planning Documents?

Time-4051269_640One of the challenges after you get your planning done is to review your planning to make sure that it is current. Unfortunately, a lot of people believe that once they complete their estate planning, they can now check that off their list and don’t have to think about it again.

We often forget that so many things in life can change on a moment’s notice.

For example, health, finances, divorce, unexpected changes in life, et cetera, this list could go on and on, but for the sake of this blog article, suffice it to say that a lot can change in our lives.

It is not enough simply to get the planning done and forget about it. I believe that once a year you should pull your documents and just take a quick look through them. I am not saying that you should hire an attorney and spend lots of money, but simply pull out the documents to get an idea of what it was that you had done and also ensure that nothing has changed.

Have your kids gotten married? Are there any divorces? Anyone have any new addictions or issues? Did a relationship with one of your children change in the past year? Do you have a new grandchild?  This list, too, could go on and on, but ultimately, I believe it is imperative to take a look just to make sure that everything is the way that it was intended to be.

Several years ago, we implemented a program called the Maintenance Program in our office. It allows clients who have plans with our firm to pay a small amount of money per year to receive unlimited access to speakers and maintenance appreciation events, as well as to a yearly meeting, where I talk about all the changes that we are seeing across the country and what we need to be aware of.

Probably the most important asset that the maintenance program provides is the ability for clients to come in and review their documents with an attorney to ensure that it is the way that they want it. For example, in our enhanced will plans, the Maintenance Program for an entire year is $295, whereas our hourly rate to meet with a client is $300 per hour.

Essentially, a client is paying less than one hour’s worth of time to receive access to monthly speakers and also have unlimited meetings with team members and attorneys to evaluate their plan. We are very proud of our Maintenance Program and have an extremely high retention rate for people who enter it.

I am not suggesting that an attorney who does not have one is in some way doing anything bad, but I do believe that those yearly reviews are essential. If you do not belong to a maintenance program or your attorney does not offer one, please take the time yourself to review and make sure that nothing has changed in the past year.

With the start of a new year this is a great time to make that time to review your documents. If you are in a maintenance program with our firm or another, please schedule your meeting with the attorney and sit down and go through it to make sure that you’re all on the same page and that the plan is going to work the way that you intend it to and that you’re taking into consideration any changes that may have occurred.

To find out more about our maintenance program, just click here and fill out our short form and we’ll contact you to go over your options. 

 

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Don’t Let a Healthcare Crisis Turn Into a Legal Crisis!

Ambulance-24405_640Many people know the importance of appointing a financial power of attorney, a healthcare power of attorney, and an executor to assist with your estate and fulfilling your wishes.

We often find that people will come into our office and are absolutely adamant that they get these documents done and they appoint the appropriate people to make decisions in the future.

Unfortunately, the one thing that people forget is to make their intentions very clear to the agent that they are naming. There are far too many horror stories of cases where the agent did not necessarily know what the principal intended, and it caused major chaos and heartache in families.

It is not enough just to appoint somebody, but you must take the time to sit down with them and let them know a little bit about what your wishes are.

This can be as simple as how you pay your bills and how you like to manage your money, to your day-to-day healthcare decisions and beliefs on certain types of healthcare. It could also mean your wishes regarding end of life decisions and what you want to have happen if you are end-stage medical. It also would be extremely helpful even if your estate planning provides equally to certain number of beneficiaries to tell your executor whether you intend for them to sell the house or give the house to one of the beneficiaries.

I often find that children never fight over what mom and dad wanted, they only fight over what mom and dad intended.

I could not tell you how many times I have heard, but mom intended for us to … or dad intended us to … .

It is amazing to me how many different intents one person can have. The reason for that is because the wishes were not made clear to everybody.  People always want to do what mom and dad wanted, and they will fight to the end to do just that.

My advice is that you put your wishes in writing, even if it’s just as simple as an e-mail to your agents or call a family meeting and bring everyone in at one time to tell everyone what you want to see happen. Don’t allow miscommunication or unvoiced intentions wreck your family or your future.  To make sure you have your documents as you want them to be join us for our free estate planning educational workshop.  You can find out more and RSVP here.

 

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Estate Planning: A Worthy New Year’s Resolution.

New-years-day-4707619_640It is that time of year again. When the prior year closes and everyone is reflecting on what they want to get done and are checking things off of their list.

The real question is, what do you actually NEED to get done this year? 

I love talking to clients and friends this time of year, learning about all of the New Year’s resolutions. I often hear the same ones every year about losing weight, going to the gym, eating healthy, standing up for yourself, etc.

They are all extremely important and certainly are worthy resolutions to consider. A client recently was telling me a horrific story about her family and how the mom didn’t finish her estate planning, she kept putting it off. Every year she would promise to get it done and every year she never got to it.

Unfortunately, her mother died and the estate was a complete and utter mess. To make matters worse, the assets did not end up going where the mother wanted, nor where she had indicated to the family she wanted them to go. My client was obviously devastated and asked me to please urge people to take time for themselves and put themselves first and get their planning done. 

As 2020 rolls in, make your New Year’s resolution to get your estate planning completed, if not for yourself, then for your family. Make this year count and get that planning done before February rolls around.  Take the first step and register for one of our upcoming free estate planning workshops by clicking here now.

 

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