There are many among us who find it easy to believe that people in the legal profession prefer it when their clients are kept in the dark about how the law affects their lives. Some might call that job security – since that lack of knowledge would presumably ensure that attorneys always have clients in need of their services. That’s pure myth, of course. The reality is that almost all attorneys encourage their clients and would-be clients to gain greater insight into the law, since an informed populace helps to preserve all our rights and interests. Nowhere is that truer than in the realm estate planning law. In fact, there are several important secrets that your Indianapolis estate planning attorney wants you to know.
You Need to Think About the End of Your Own Life
We understand just how uncomfortable it can be to contemplate your own mortality. There’s a reason most of us never even make out a will; death is just something we’d rather ignore whenever possible. Still, it’s not like there’s any way to dodge death forever. Like the aging process, death is something that eventually takes its toll on each of us. The problem with trying to ignore it is that our failure to give death its due could end up having a damaging effect on our loved ones.
Just consider this: if you died tomorrow, what would happen to your spouse, your children, or your other loved ones? Would they have the support they need to make it on their own without your continuing contribution? And even if they could, should they have to? By thinking about death now, you can work to ensure that your loved ones are well cared for even when you’re gone.
You Do Need a Will
Did you know that more than 50% of us don’t have a Last Will and Testament? That’s a sure path to confusion and strife, since heirs who are left to deal with an intestate estate may not get the inheritance they thought they would. Without a will to ensure a somewhat orderly probate, family members may end up suing one another, squabbling over seemingly minor details, and ruining relationships that have taken a lifetime to build. Your will can prevent all that.
You should Think Before Naming an Executor
If you’re tempted to name your closest relative to serve as executor of your estate, consider his or her qualifications first. That job requires a great deal of attention to detail, and an ability to follow through on a commitment. If your choice cannot meet those expectations, you may want to consider someone else. Of course, you can also name that close relative to serve as executor, and arrange for an experienced law firm to help as well. That can help to ensure that your executor has the support needed to fulfill even the most complex duties.
You Need to Catalogue Your Assets
Do you have a firm grasp on your own belongings? Many people never have a real grasp on the size of their estate, but that’s something that you need to understand when you make out a will, start a trust, or otherwise plan for your legacy. Make a list of things like stocks and bonds, insurance policies, vehicles, retirement plans, art collections, and other assets with monetary value.
Your Legacy is Worth Thinking About
When it comes to your legacy, few things are more important than determining the distribution of assets to heirs. You need to identify who your heirs will be, and decide upon the type of inheritance you want each one of them to receive. Over the course of a lifetime, you may want to review your beneficiaries’ inheritance status multiple times to ensure that your decisions are still correct. New heirs are likely to be born, and older heirs might pass away or fall out of favor. Adjust accordingly.
At the same time, don’t forget about those other assets and beneficiaries that often lie outside the bounds of your Last Will and Testament. Insurance policies, for example, have beneficiary designations that take care of any asset distribution needs. As a result, the proceeds from those policies are delivered to beneficiaries without any need for a probated will. Those policies should also be reviewed, since your beneficiary needs may change over time. Update those designations as your life circumstances warrant.
Plan for Long-Term Care While You’re Working
Far too many people wait until they need long-term care to start worrying about paying for nursing home care. And while it is true that there are things that we can do to help you earn eligibility for Medicaid benefits even under emergency circumstances, it is vital to understand that advance Medicaid planning is always a better option. Last-minute efforts to obtain Medicaid benefits offer few useful options for preserving your assets.
Medicaid planning can help you to safeguard your assets and secure them from nursing home costs – but that planning is best accomplished years in advance of nursing home need. When you begin your planning early, you can use every tool available by law to ensure that your assets are organized in a way that secures eligibility without spend down strategies or other costly and inefficient options. Ideally, your Medicaid planning strategy should begin more than five years before you need care, to help you avoid the program’s five-year look-back provision.
Your Attorney Can Help!
The last secret shouldn’t really be a secret at all. By now, you should know that your Indianapolis estate planning attorney is here to help you with all these critical concerns. At Frank & Kraft, Attorneys at Law, our experienced lawyers can help to ensure that you get the help you need to resolve all your estate planning and elder law issues. We’ll work with you to provide critical financial, business, and long-term care planning that ensures that you have the asset protection strategies you need to secure the legacy your loved ones deserve. To find out more about how our legal team can help you with these and other important concerns, call today at (317) 684-1100, or contact us at our website.
Mr. Kraft assists clients primarily in the areas of estate planning and administration, Medicaid planning, federal and state taxation, real estate and corporate law, bringing the added perspective of an accounting background to his work.