The term “estate planning” covers a variety of arrangements a person makes to manage their assets in the event of incapacity or death. Estate planning should be started as soon as one has any measurable asset base. It is not just for wealthy people or those near retirement.
Estate planning should include plans for personal financial and health care management, and plans can either be effective immediately, or can “spring” into effect under specific circumstances. There are many benefits to planning for adverse events that may occur during your lifetime, including avoidance of guardianship and court involvement should you become incapacitated, and being able to designate a specific person or agency to manage your affairs in the event of disability. In addition, Medicaid planning can help avoid consuming family assets in their entirety on one family member’s long term care expenses.
Making a solid plan for how your assets should be distributed after your death also imparts many benefits, including limiting estate taxes and/or avoiding probate with the creation of trusts, protecting any heirs who are under legal disabilities to avoid disqualifying them for public benefits, and planning for management of the assets of any heir who may be irresponsible with money or need protection from creditors. It is a good idea to consult with an attorney rather than depending on fill-in forms for these tasks to ensure that your documents comply with state law and will be more readily accepted by financial and health care institutions.
Estate planning is an ongoing process. As life progresses and goals shift, the estate plan should be reviewed and updated in line with new goals. Robin H. Balsam P.S. assists clients with all major aspects of estate planning tasks, including powers of attorney, wills, trusts, Medicaid planning, and analysis and updating of previously executed estate planning documents.