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People need estate plans, even when they are not holding large assets.
Despite the popular myth that only people with large financial holdings need estate plans, people who do not have a large estate do need an estate plan, according to Pauls Valley Daily Democrat in "More on estate planning myths."
Many of the people who are not wealthy think that they do not need estate plans. They reason that, if there is little to divide up, then there is little to fight over. Consequently, they believe everything will go smoothly.
You never know when family members will decide to fight over an estate and exactly what they will fight over. While it is true that a large amount of money often leads to a fight, it does not always do so.
Sometimes the most bitter of estate battles are actually over little things. Some estates have even been known to easily settle large fortunes, but have long and bitter feuds over small personal items that are not worth very much.
This means that families might choose to argue over estates that do not have anything of value, if there are sentimental items wanted by more than one family member.
It happens much more often than you think.
An estate planning attorney can guide you in creating an estate plan that meets your unique circumstances.
An estate plan is more than a will and can solve many problems for you and your family.
Some recent statistics point out the importance of Americans not only creating a will, but learning about the options of an estate plan, according to the AARP in "Haven't Done A Will Yet?"
A new survey reveals that 58% of American adults do not have wills. The survey also found that it was even worse for parents of minor children. A total of 64% of them do not have wills. They have more reasons than anyone else to have a will.
However, effective estate planning should not stop with just a will.
A will is only one of the documents you can get by going to an experienced estate planning attorney. For example, you might learn that a trust is a better primary estate planning tool for you to use in your particular situation. Through an attorney, you can also get other important legal documents, including a health care proxy and a power of attorney.
These and other legal documents will make sure that your financial and personal health affairs are managed properly, if you ever become unable to handle your own affairs.
An estate planning attorney can help you to plan your will as well as informing you about other estate planning options better suited to your unique needs.
New Jersey case highlights the difficulties faced with some right-to-die decisions.
Every state has allowed the addressing of the right-to-die issue through living wills that address the person’s views on life-prolonging treatments for the terminally ill, although in New York State, a living will, unlike a health care proxy, does not carry legal weight. While living wills are popular, a recent case in New Jersey highlights some of the difficulties, according to CNN in "Woman with eating disorder dies after court grants her that right."
Last summer, a 29-year-old woman was admitted to the hospital. She suffered from a severe eating disorder and weighed only 60 pounds at the time. She had heart failure after tearing medical tubes out on her own.
According to her court appointed guardian, the woman did not want to be forced to use a feeding tube, because she feared she might get fat. The guardian argued that she should be allowed to refuse the treatment and enter palliative care where she would not be force fed.
The court agreed and the woman has passed away.
In order to avoid having such decisions made for you rather than by you, it is important to consult with an Elder Law or Estate Planning attorney to execute a health care proxy that provides your agent the power to speak for you when you are unable to speak for yourself in the event of a health care crisis.
Not having an estate plan means that your family will ultimately have to deal with everything you leave behind, including what happens with your assets. They will have to sort out your belongings and decide where everything should go.
They will also have to pay for the probate process to make sure that it is all done legally.
When your family has to pay and make decisions about your estate because you did not do so, it can cost them plenty of pain, time, and money.
An estate planning attorney can guide you in creating an estate plan that fits your unique circumstances and may well spare your family difficulties in the future.
A reverse mortgage allows an elderly person to use the equity they have built up in their home. The borrower can get money now as a line of credit, regular payments or even a lump sum. The money does not have to be paid back until the borrower moves out of the house permanently, sells the house or passes away. The lender is paid back the money loaned plus interest by selling the house. If there is anything left after the lender is made whole, the remainder goes to the borrower or his heirs.
Legal protections make these loans better than they used to be, including provisions that borrowers must receive counseling by an approved provider before signing a reverse mortgage.
An elder law attorney can advise you on the reverse mortgage option.
As it turns out, everyone would be wise to create a will.
The Norman Transcript recently answered some misconceptions about the need for a will in "Wills: Who needs them?"
As it turns out, the answer to the question posed in the article's title is "everyone."
There is not a single category of adult who cannot benefit from having at least a will, although most people should have more estate planning documents than just a will. If you have minor children, then it is even more important that you have an estate plan to make sure your children are taken care of by someone you would approve of and that there are assets to provide for the children.
However, it is not just the parents of minor children who need a will.
Anyone with any property, who wants to have a say in what happens to it after they pass away, needs to get a will.
An estate planning attorney can guide you through the process of creating a will and estate plan that will meet the unique circumstances of you and your loved ones.
Living trusts are the most common in use, but there is another type of trust.
While the living trust is used more frequently, there is also a testamentary trust. Many people have the documents that create one, but they aren’t aware of it, according to NWI Times in "Wills can create trusts."
The revocable living trust is the most common in use, so it is often assumed that all trusts are revocable living trusts. However, the truth is that there are many different trusts.
It is very common for a will to create a testamentary trust, when the person making the will has minor children. The language of the will leaves assets to the child as held in trust by a third party. That third party becomes the trustee and assumes all of the normal responsibilities of a trustee.
You might even have these provisions in your will and not know about it, if you have not reviewed your will closely enough.
Whether your estate plan creates a trust for minor children under a revocable living trust or a will, make sure you understand what it will do (and not do) to protect and manage the inheritance.
An estate planning attorney can help you create the estate plan that meets the unique circumstances of you and your family.
Long-term care for future nursing home care may be your best option, but perhaps it isn’t.
What your plans are for your estate and your circumstances may determine your need for long-term care insurance, according to the Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog discussed it in "Should You Buy Long-Term Care Insurance?"
Medicaid will pay for nursing home care. However, the government will not pay if you have plenty of assets of your own. That means if you were planning on leaving a sizable estate to your children, you will likely be unable to do so, if Medicaid pays for your nursing home care.
Another option to consider is to purchase long-term care insurance.
One of the key questions to consider is when you might need the insurance coverage. If you are unlikely to need nursing home care for a long time, then it is often a better idea to save enough money so you can self-insure against the possibility of needing long-term care.
On the other hand, some long-term care policies have waiting periods that need to be considered. If you are likely to require nursing home care before the end of the waiting period, then an insurance policy will not help you.
One thing is certain. Long-term care insurance policies are complex and costly.
An elder law attorney can advise you before signing a long-term care policy.