Most people have heard of estate planning.
But many people don’t realize how deeply it touches them in every stage of their life. The benefits of a well-crafted estate plan go well beyond what most people imagine.
Good estate plans address problems before they occur.
Everyone Needs a Basic Estate Plan.
At the very least, every adult should have the following documents:
Last Will and Testament. A Will is a legal document that states a person’s final wishes regarding property and heirs. Whether you have a large estate or small, and whether you have many beneficiaries or just a few, you need a Will.
Durable Power of Attorney. This legal document allows you to designate someone to make financial decisions for you. Durable powers of attorney can be very limited or broad. Sometimes a power of attorney allows someone to act on your behalf in only one transaction.
Documents Related to Health Care. An Advance Directive or Living Will provides crucial information to medical providers if you are not able to. If you become incapacitated without signing one of these documents, your family may have to ask a court to appoint a guardian to make decisions for you.
Some Need Additional Plan Documents.
People with larger estates or special circumstances may need to create and fund a trust to make sure their property transfers as easily as possible. One advantage is that property passed to beneficiaries through a trust does not have to go through probate. Avoiding probate offers lots of advantages, including privacy. Trust documents are not made public record, like Wills are, so no one can see what property you had and who received it.
Three common trusts are:
Revocable Trust. The person making the trust can add and remove property from a revocable trust.
Miller Trust. To meet Medicaid eligibility requirements, people may move extra income into a Miller trust. You may also hear this trust called a “Medicaid Income Trust” or a “Qualified Income Trust.” We like the name “Miller Trust” for obvious reasons!
Special Needs Trust. This trust does exactly what the name says – provides money to use for people with special needs.
The Elderly Need a Little Extra Care.
Senior citizens have special needs, and the right estate planning can help.
Medicaid planning. Applying and qualifying for Medicaid can be complicated, especially if you or your loved one is facing a medical crisis. We know how to structure your income and assets to help make Medicaid a reality. It’s best to work on Medicaid planning before you actually need Medicaid, so talk to us as early as possible.
VA benefits. Veterans may be eligible for benefits to cover special health conditions. Aid and Attendance is just one program that could offer substantial assistance to defray the costs of nursing home, assisted living, or home health care. As you might imagine, the application process is difficult. Many of our clients need our help to get the benefits they deserve. And we deliver.
Don’t Let a Judge Make Decisions for You.
Maybe you’ve decided estate planning is not for you. You don’t have time, or you feel uncomfortable thinking of your own mortality.
Here’s something to remember: If you never take one step toward preparing a comprehensive estate plan, your estate will be distributed any way. But a probate court judge will be making decisions for you and your heirs.
Estate Planning Helps You . . . and Your Family.
At Adams & Miller, P.C., we help clients develop a great estate plan that’s just right for their lifestyle. Call us at 256-237-3339 or use our Contact Form to let us know you’re ready to get started on your estate plan.