Posted by: BlogMaster | June 8, 2013

‘Simple’ Can Be a Good Thing … in Estate Planning

We live in a complex world.

And estate planning – including elder care law planning – can be complex, too.

But, before you enter into a complex – and expensive – estate plan, it’s important to consult with a qualified attorney about your planning.

You may be able to keep it simple.

First ask yourself these questions:

  1. Who will manage my financial affairs if I am permanently or temporarily incapacitated?
    • To avoid a costly legal proceeding, consider having an experienced attorney prepare a Power of Attorney for your financial management.
    • And, if you are concerned about depletion of your assets if your disability or medical care will never be fully covered by insurance (medical insurance, Medicare, or long term care insurance), consider the Statutory Gift Rider (SGR) to the Power of Attorney for lawful Medicaid planning.
  2. What happens to my property when I die? 
    • Most individuals benefit from preparing a Will, particularly if they have minor children or a disabled family member.
    • Children need someone to manage their financial assets until at least the age of majority (age 18 in NY State).
    • Persons with intellectual or physical impairments who may rely on government benefits now or in the future need a Special Needs Trust to legally shelter their inheritance from potential rapid depletion or claims and to maintain public benefits.
  3. If I don’t have minor children or a disabled family member, is there a simpler way to pass property at my death? 
    • Yes, with discussion and planning.
    • Consider beneficiary designations for bank accounts (called POD – payable on death) and financial accounts (called TOD – transfer on death)
    • Don’t forget to name beneficiaries for your life insurance and retirement accounts
    • Savings bonds can be re-titled to designate a beneficiary (POD) without surrendering the bonds.
  4. Who will make health care decisions for me if I become incapacitated or temporarily unable to make my own medical choices?
    • Use a Health Care Proxy to avoid legal disputes or the appointment of a guardian through a costly court proceeding.
    • You may designate one primary agent/proxy and one alternate.
    • The Health Care Proxy form is available online at the NYS Department of Health and the NYS Bar Association websites.

While simple estate planning might work for you, it still requires thought and planning.  My law office can counsel and advise you through this process.

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