A lot of people think that estate planning boils down to one simple act. At some point, you draw up a will and that’s the end of the story. You can buy a fill-in-the-blank legal documents online, so you can get it done in a matter of a few minutes.
DIY projects have their place, but there are some tasks that are too important to take on yourself. Let’s look at some of the reasons why it is wise to engage an estate planning lawyer when you are planning your estate.
Asset Transfer Methods
The most commonly held misconception that people harbor about estate planning is the idea that a will is the ideal asset transfer device for just about everyone. People that embrace this myth are under the impression that the executor can distribute assets shortly after your death and there are no hassles.
In reality, this is not the way it works. The will would be admitted to probate, and the court would preside while the estate is being administered by the executor.
We are not going to delve into all the details, but suffice to say that probate is time-consuming. No inheritances are distributed until the estate has been probated and closed by the court, and it will typically take about eight months to a year.
Generally speaking, you would be allowing for lump sum inheritances if you use a will, and this may not be consistent with your wishes. Aside from spendthrift concerns, in some instances, a significant direct inheritance can cause various problems.
There are multiple different types of trusts that can be used, and a trust would be a better choice in many if not most cases. You should certainly discuss your options with an estate planning attorney so that you can provide for everyone on your inheritance list in the ideal manner.
The probate court is bound by the state to uphold certain standards, and there are legal requirements that must be met. In a similar manner, there are laws that apply to trust administration.
If you have no experience in this area, and you name an executor or trustee that has never administered an estate, difficulties can ensue after you are gone.
This is an area of expertise for estate planning lawyers. When you arrange for an attorney to assist your executor or trustee when the time comes, you can be sure that your estate will be properly administered.
Attending to Details Laypeople Overlook
In addition to the facilitation of asset transfers, a comprehensive estate plan will address end-of-life issues. This is something that an inexperienced person that is not in the field may not consider.
First, there is the matter of nursing home asset protection. Over one third of elders will eventually reside in nursing homes, and Medicare does not cover this type of care.
These facilities are very expensive, so the costs could consume everything that you would like to leave to your loved ones. Medicaid does pay for long-term care, but it takes careful, informed planning to qualify because it is a need-based program.
There are ways to get assets out of your own name with Medicaid eligibility in mind, but you have to act in an informed manner at the right time.
Incapacity planning is another consideration. Cognitive impairment is common among elders, and the state could appoint a guardian to act on your behalf if you become unable to handle your own affairs. You can take the matter into your own hands and name your own representatives through the execution of the right documents.
Schedule a Consultation Today!
We are here to help if you are ready to put a proper estate plan in place. You can send us a message to request a consultation appointment, and we can be reached by phone at 860-548-1000.