Massachusetts Estate Planning & Asset Protection Blog

Tips for Protecting Your College Student in a New Semester Through Estate Planning

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Fri, Feb 01, 2019

 

Even young people need estate planning

 

Whether your child is just beginning to receive college acceptance letters or is preparing to leave home for the upcoming semester, your child is planning ahead for his or her future. As a parent, protecting your child does not stop when he or she leaves for college. Your role in their life, however, may have changed. Once your child turns 18, he or she is considered an adult in the eyes of the law. Accordingly, your ability to help him or her with their finances or medical decisions may be limited. We know this can be a challenging and emotional time, which is why we want to share a few ways to use estate planning to protect your child when they are not with you.

The first step, and perhaps the most important one, is to talk to your child about their planning options. As a parent, it is important to express any concerns you may have about their safety and well-being. Try to remember that your child is now an adult and may be hesitant to allow you access to their bank account or medical records. Talking to them about the importance of creating planning documents, however, and sharing examples of scenarios where you would use your decision-making authority may help make this conversation easier.

After you have had this discussion with your child, we encourage you to think about your goals for your child’s protection and the types of planning documents you need. A durable power of attorney is a document that provides you with the authority to make decisions if a legal or financial situation arises while your child is away at college. This can be for simple matters, for example, if there are issues with your child’s lease or if you would like access to your child’s grades. It is important to keep in mind that if you do not have an established durable power of attorney, your child’s bank, college, or rental company is within their rights to refuse sharing your child’s information with you, even as their parent.

Finally, health care documents are a crucial part to any estate plan, particularly when it comes to your college student. If you do not have HIPAA authorization, for example, or a health care power of attorney set up, medical professionals could refuse to allow you access to your child’s medical records. Designating a health care power of attorney before your child leaves for college can help combat this issue from arising.

College is an exciting time for both you and your child. No matter where your child lives, however, accidents and unexpected situations can arise. By planning ahead and creating planning documents for your child’s protection, you can feel confident handling any circumstance that comes up. If you have any questions or are ready to begin planning, do not wait to contact our office or attend a free seminar to learn more.

 

Tags: 2019, grandchildren, heir, doctor, children, Single, college planning, New Year's Resolutions, health, Estate Planning Recommendations, living will

Did You Know Your Estate Planning New Year's Resolutions Can Protect Your Family?

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Mon, Jan 21, 2019

New Years Res. Protects Your FamilyMany of us view the New Year as a fresh start. It is a time to reflect back on the things we wish we had prioritized the previous year and create resolutions to accomplish new goals or hold ourselves to a higher standard for the upcoming year.

 While many people create resolutions focusing on exercising more or eating healthier, have you considered making resolutions that can protect your family? We encourage to think about more than just spending more quality time with your family and, instead, going a step further and putting protections in place in the event you experience an accident or sudden illness.

 Do you need help knowing where to get started? Let us share three ways to create an estate plan that can help protect you and your loved ones this New Year.

 

  1. Create a plan for your minor children to keep them protected.

 When it comes to your children, you can never be too prepared or plan too far in advance for their future. Preparing for your minor children’s care in the event of your death is a necessary challenge of being a parent. One way to ensure your children are well taken care of after you are gone is to create a comprehensive estate plan that designates a guardian to care for your children. This should be someone you trust implicitly to care for your minor children and help raise and guide them into adulthood. You may also wish to plan to take care of your children financially by creating a trust and placing funds in it for their behalf. 

  1. Create a plan for yourself in the event of an accident.

As important as it is to plan for your children’s protection, it is equally as important to create a plan that protects you as well. A living will, also known as a healthcare directive, is a legal document that outlines your end-of-life medical care wishes. This document helps loved ones and healthcare professionals to make appropriate medical decisions on your behalf when you are unable to make them yourself because of, for example, you experience a serious illness or are in a bad accident. The provisions within a living will do not take effect until you are legally and medically declared unable to competently make medical decisions for yourself.

  1. Create a plan for your legacy.

Creating an estate plan is more than just compiling a series of documents. It is the embodiment of the legacy you wish to leave behind for your loved ones. Creating and sharing your goals and thought process behind making each decision related to your estate plan is a way to share your legacy with your loved ones while you still have the opportunity to do so.

These are just a few of the ways you can help protect your loved ones this year. Do you have other ideas? Do not hesitate to let us know! Your family’s safety and your legacy are very important to us. We encourage you to attend one of our free estate planning seminars to learn more and qualify for a complimentary meeting with an attorney so we can discuss your estate planning related questions.

Tags: 2019, New Year's Resolutions, legal guardians, Estate Planning Recommendations, massachusetts estate planning strategies, living will, durable power of attorney, Estate Planning

5 Questions to Ask When Updating Your Estate Plan in the New Year 2019

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Mon, Jan 07, 2019

P42.Sullivan.Blog.Dec1Creating a personalized estate plan may be the single most important thing you can do to make sure your decisions are honored if you become incapacitated or when you pass away. If you do not have an estate plan right now, or it has been years since you reviewed it, the new year may be the right time to ensure you are able to protect yourself and those you love most.

Much of estate planning deals with protecting and distributing property. A Last Will and Testament, for example, provides instructions for how a deceased person’s possessions should be distributed. Similarly, a Revocable Trust can direct the distribution of assets upon one’s death, although it can also manage the creator’s assets while he or she is alive.

There is much more to estate planning than Wills and Trusts, however, and your estate planning attorney can provide plenty of guidance. Let us share five questions to ask not only when you are considering crafting an estate plan but if you are updating an existing plan in the new year.

 

  1. Did you move to a different state? Every state has its own laws governing estate planning. Some features in an existing plan will be unaffected, while some key items may need to be revised. Do not wait to review with an estate planning attorney in your new state to ensure your plans can be fulfilled as you originally wanted them to be.

 

  1. Do any of your beneficiaries have special needs? If a special needs loved one is named in your estate plan, then it is worth exploring ways of specifically providing for them, especially after you are gone. Unfortunately, without planning that contemplates the needs of your disabled loved one, he or she may be at risk of losing valuable government benefits.

 

  1. Do you need to update a power of attorney? A power of attorney document gives someone else the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf. The document can be tailored to meet your specific needs, or provide for general decision making authority. Talk to your attorney to ensure there is a durability provision to cover the possibility of your incapacitation.

 

  1. Have you considered advanced healthcare directives? Advanced healthcare directives, including tools such as the living will, are legal documents in which a person specifies what actions are to be taken regarding his or her health if he or she is no longer able to make decisions. You may want to review any existing plans to ensure you have the right person named to make your healthcare decisions.

 

  1. Do you want to change beneficiaries? A marriage, a death in the family, a divorce, or the birth of new child or grandchild, are only a few reasons to update beneficiary designations in estate planning documents. You may also want to add a charity or a cause you care about. The new year is a great time to do so.

 Do not wait to think about the estate planning you need to protect yourself and your loved ones. Although the new year can be a great time to get things in order, remember, there is never a “wrong” time to ensure you have the planning you need. Do not wait to contact us with your questions and to schedule your attendance at one of our free Trust, Estate and Asset Protection Workshops.

Tags: Estate Planning, long term care, asset protection, Retirement, durable power of attorney, Health Care, health care proxy, seniors, estate tax, family, Estate Planning Tip, Baby Boomers, Elder Law, HIPAA, 2019, New Year's Resolutions

Ways You Can Plan for the Rising Costs of Long-Term Care

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Thu, Jan 03, 2019

P42.Sullivan.Blog.Dec2

The New Year is here! For many of us this means creating New Year’s resolutions. Whether your goal is to spend more time improving your health, spending more time with family, or making changes in your job, it can be an exciting time to put a plan in place to create the future you want.

 As you think about the New Year, do not neglect thinking about your estate planning and elder law planning. Although many of the people we meet initially think these things are the same, nothing could be further from the truth. Estate planning contemplates the plan you need to provide for you and your loved ones in the event of your incapacity or death. Elder law planning, on the other hand, is planning for a potentially uncertain long-term care future.

 While we do not want you to forget to update your estate planning in the New Year and can help you do so with our Lifetime Protection Program, we want you to think about the elder care needs for you and your aging loved ones. The future is uncertain for all of us. It is important that we plan early and well for what it could hold for us. Unfortunately, long-term care is expensive and these costs continue to rise. Estate planning can be a great start but each of us should create a plan this year that covers a future that includes the need for long-term care.

 Where do you start? What type of plan do you need? Since Medicare will not pay for all of your custodial long-term care needs, how will you access much needed benefits? Let us provide some of the insight that we give our clients and their loved ones as they work with us to create a long-term care plan that can sustain them for the future.

       1. Find out what care costs in your state. Many of the Older Americans and their families                 that we speak with are shocked to learn the costs associated with long-term care.                       Further, they are also surprised to learn that Medicare will not pay for assisted living                   facilities or extended care in the home. Most families cannot afford theses costs on top               of their monthly expenses. We encourage you to not wait to learn the cost of care needs             right here in Massachusetts. You can take a look at the Genworth Costs of Care study to             learn more about costs of care.

  1. Evaluate your current home. Many seniors do not want to leave their homes. Although for most this may not be an option, this can become more of a possibility when the home is modified to consider the needs of the Older Americans. For example, are bathtubs slippery or hard to enter? Are lights easy to turn on and off? Are stairs becoming more difficult to manage? Consider speaking with a contractor who understands the needs of seniors for recommendations on how to make the home more appropriate for aging in place.
  1. Purchase long-term care insurance. Long-term care insurance can help cover the costs of long-term care. From skilled nursing facilities to assisted living facilities to additional help in the home, there are different policies to help cover these expenses. While not all qualify, you may wish to speak with a long-term care insurance planner to determine if there is a plan for you or your loved ones available right now.
  1. Meet with an Elder Law Attorney. Your elder law attorney will be able to help you navigate this long-term maze. Knowing what you need and how to access it, together with the steps to take to access public benefits, are key to successfully planning for long-term care. Your elder law attorney can help you be prepared for your potential needs and how to prepare for the rising costs of long-term care in the future.

There is never a wrong time to start planning for long-term care planning.  In fact, this is why we wrote our book The Seniors and Boomers Guide to Healthcare Reform and Avoiding Nursing Home Poverty which you may download by clicking this link. We are here to help you and your loved ones create the planning you need for the future. Do not wait to contact our law office to schedule a meeting with us today.

 

Tags: care costs, care unit, skillled care, in home, caregiver, New Year's Resolutions, long term care insurance, Lifetime Protection Program, Nursing Home Costs

Massachusetts Estate Planning Tips | 3 Estate Planning New Year's Resolutions

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Thu, Jan 10, 2013

The New Year is filled with resolutions: lose weight, save money or plan a vacation, but in the thick of things it is easy to forget about planning ahead as you get a little older.

In this article, we review 3 Estate Planning Resolutions that should be part of everyone's 2013.

You Could Lose Everything  Unless You Act Now

1. Review your beneficiary designations.

While the terms of your Will control the distribution
of your probate property, beneficiary designations determine who will inherit your non-probate
assets. Non-probate assets include brokerage or bank accounts with TOD (“Transfer on Death”) or POD (“Payable on Death”) beneficiaries, life insurance proceeds, assets held in a living trust, property held in joint tenancy with a right of survivorship, etc. The beneficiary designations on these assets are just as important to your estate plan as the naming of beneficiaries in your Will because these beneficiaries will also inherit from your estate.

estate plan, 2013, new year

To conduct your review, identify the beneficiaries you have designated for each asset. If you have married, divorced, had children, or experienced any other significant change in family circumstances, you may wish to alter certain designations. If your current designations leave property outright to a minor or an individual with special needs, you may want to consider protecting those assets for your beneficiaries.  For more information on protecting your beneficiaries' inheritances, call our office at (781) 237-2815.

2. Plan for the disposition of your digital assets.

Sure, you know who will inherit your house and your IRA after you are gone, but what will happen to your emails? The tax records stored on your hard drive? Your Facebook page? The family photos in your Flickr galleries?

If your estate plan fails to address these and other digital assets, your loved ones may have trouble accessing financial accounts or lose precious family memories. Furthermore, failing to close online financial accounts may even expose your estate to the risk of identity theft.

Start by making an inventory of your digital assets then give your loved ones or executor instructions regarding what you would like to happen to each asset. For example, are any of your bills on auto-pay? Should your Facebook page be taken down?

3. Schedule a review of your estate plan.

Generally speaking, it is a good idea to review your estate plan every year. This is particularly
important if you have recently experienced a significant change in circumstances, such as a birth or death in the family, a marriage or divorce, or a change in financial circumstances.

As we move into 2013, it is critically important to schedule a time to have your estate plan reviewed by our team of professionals, to be sure that your spouse, home and life savings will be protected.

 

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones.  We provide clients with a unique educational and counseling approach so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops. Call 800-964-4295 to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your beneficiaries, digital assests, Estate Plan and legacy.

Click Here to Register For Our Trust, Estate & Asset  Protection Workshop

Tags: Estate Planning, Beneficiary, revocable living trust, assets, benefit, 2013, plans, New Year's Resolutions

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