Studies are conducted on an annual basis to gauge the estate planning preparedness of American adults. Though passing away is one of the two certainties of life as the saying goes, the vast majority of people in our country are going through life without any type of estate planning documents at all.
There are different reasons why they fail to take action, but one of them is the simple fact that they do not know how to begin. The process seems a bit overwhelming, so they resolve to do it later on and put it on the back burner.
Like anything else, if you break it down into its simplest parts, the endeavor becomes easier to digest. Let’s take a look at the basic things you need to think about when you are contemplating your legacy.
Take Stock of Your Resources
No one has a crystal ball, so most people do not know exactly what they will have left to pass along to their loved ones. This being stated, you can definitely get a general idea, and you should do this when you are starting to visualize your estate plan.
In addition to cash and investments, you can also inventory your family heirlooms and other items that you value that you intend to pass along.
People in your family have invariably commented on these items over the years, and you can use this information to help you make decisions. Some folks decide to give some of these gifts while they are still living, and this can be quite meaningful for all concerned.
Consider Potential Long-Term Care Costs
When you are thinking about the future, you should definitely confront an unpleasant truth about Medicare. This program will not pay for a stay in a nursing home or assisted living community, and these facilities are extremely expensive.
The state of Connecticut has determined that the average cost of nursing home care this year is $12,851 a month. According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the average length of stay is one year.
This is a lot of money, and it can be doubled if you are married. Medicaid does pay for long-term care, and most people in nursing homes depend on this program to provide financial assistance.
To qualify for Medicaid as someone with resources, you could give gifts to your loved ones before you apply. This takes careful planning, because the gift giving must be completed at least five years before you submit your application.
Prepare for Possible Incapacity
This is another subject that is a bit disconcerting, but you should prepare for possible incapacity when you devise your estate plan. Cognitive impairment is one looming threat, and Alzheimer’s disease strikes about one third of people that are 85 years of age and older.
In addition to Alzheimer’s and other causes of dementia, people sometimes become unable to communicate when they have severe physical ailments. If you do nothing to state your wishes in advance, the state could be petitioned to appoint a guardian to act on your behalf.
You can prevent a guardianship if you execute documents called durable powers of attorney. With these devices, you can name agents to make medical and financial decisions on your behalf in the event of your incapacity.
Schedule a Consultation Today!
At the end of the process, you have to discuss your conclusions with an attorney so you can develop a plan that is ideal for you and your family. Each situation is different, and there is no single approach that is right for everyone.
We would be more than glad to gain an understanding of your goals and your financial situation and make the appropriate recommendations. If you decide to move forward, we can put a plan in place, and you can proceed with peace of mind.
You can send us a message to request a consultation appointment, and we can be reached by phone at 860-548-1000.