Developing a Comprehensive Plan for your Estate Goals?
There are many layers to creating a proper estate plan. A good plan covers much more than simply having a Last Will and Testament. A comprehensive plan will address many areas such as:
- What are the senior’s goals?
- What are the family dynamics? How can conflicts be reduced or avoided?
- What has occurred in prior estate plans? Have prior gifts been made that need to be taken into consideration?
- Are there taxation issues?
- Should there be protection features in the plan to make sure the surviving spouse has access to the deceased spouse’s funds but cannot leave the funds to a new spouse or someone that would be different from the deceased spouse’s choice?
- Are there any minor children?
- Does an adult child have creditor issues or lawsuits pending, including a possible divorce?
- Does a child have a disability?
In addition to these questions, seniors must also ask themselves:
- Do I want to avoid my estate going through probate court by using a trust? If so, how does a trust work?
- Do I want the distribution of my estate to be fast and inexpensive while still addressing complicated family dynamics and wishes? If so, how can this be accomplished?
- If I become disabled, who will make important decisions for me?
- If my children need someone to manage their inheritance, who will it be?
Furthermore, even the most sophisticated estate plan is worthless if the senior spends all of the assets to pay for long term care. Seniors must also consider:
- What are my options for long term care and how can I pay for it?
- What can my spouse keep if I go to a nursing home?
- What can I give to my children and grandchildren if I go to a nursing home?
- What are my options to stretch my assets and protect assets?
A good estate plan will consider these issues and take action based on the client’s wishes and needs. Ask your elder law attorney for a detailed analysis or report, an Elder care Action Plan, that addresses these situations so a thorough plan can be developed.
Partner, Bradford & Holliman, LLC
Practice focuses on estate planning, elder law and special needs trust.
2491 Pelham Parkway, Pelham, Ala. 35124
This article is for educational purposes and is not intended for specific legal advice.