When you go to visit an elder law and estate planning attorney, it is important to tell the truth about all aspects of your family members and other potential heirs. If not, it is possible the estate plan may need to be revised or recreated, your assets may not go where you would like and conflicts can arise in the family, according to the Times Herald-Record in “What you need to tell the elder law estate planning attorney.”
Elder law is all about planning for disability and incapacity, identifying the people who would make decisions for you if you become incapacitated and protecting your hard-earned assets from the cost of nursing home care.
Estate planning is focused on transferring assets to the desired people the way you want, when you want, with minimal court costs, taxes, or unnecessary legal fees and avoiding disputes over an inheritance.
Here are some of the things your attorney will need to know, with full disclosure from you:
Family dynamics. If you have a child you haven’t seen in years, you need to discuss the child. They may have a legal claim to your estate, and that must be planned for. Perhaps you want to include the child in the estate, perhaps you don’t. If you disinherit a child in a will and you die without a plan, that child becomes a necessary party to probate proceedings and has the right to contest your will.
Health issues are important to disclose. If you don’t have long-term care insurance, you need five years to protect assets in a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust (MAPT). Therefore, now may be the time to start a plan. If you have a child who is disabled and receives government benefits, you can leave them money in a Special Needs Trust (SNT).
Full disclosure of all your assets, income, how assets are titled, who the beneficiaries are on your IRAs, 401(k)s and life insurance policies, are all the kinds of information needed to create a comprehensive estate plan. Keeping secrets during this process could lead to a wide variety of problems for your family. Your entire estate could be consumed by taxes or the cost of nursing home care.
There’s no doubt of the seriousness of these issues. You or your spouse may experience some strong emotions while discussing them with your attorney. However, creating a proper estate plan, preparing for incapacity and loved ones with special challenges will provide you with peace of mind.
Reference: Times Herald-Record (May 25, 2019) “What you need to tell the elder law estate planning attorney”