If you have recently made the wise decision to start creating an estate plan, you have taken an important step in protecting you, your assets, and your loved ones. Like many people, however, after deciding it is time to create your estate plan you are unsure of what needs to be included in that plan. Given the highly personal nature of estate planning, the best way to decide what components should be included in your estate plan is by consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney. The components you add to your plan, however, will be directly related to your estate planning goals. With that in mind, the estate planning attorneys at Nash Bean Ford & Brown, LLP discuss common estate planning goals to give you some ideas for your estate plan.
Distribution of Estate Assets
For most people, the primary purpose of their initial estate plan is to ensure that their assets are distributed according to their wishes after their death. The traditional method used to accomplish this goal is executing a Last Will and Testament. Your Will also allows you to appoint an Executor to oversee the probate of your estate following your death and nominate a Guardian for any minor children you may have in the event one is needed. For a variety of reasons, many people choose to use a trust as the primary estate planning tool to distribute estate assets. Talk to your estate planning attorney about both options to determine which one is right for your needs.
Although your Will may play an important role in your estate plan, the terms of your Will only become effective upon your death. If you become incapacitated, your Will cannot help answer important questions such as:
- Who will take over control of your assets?
- Who will make medical decisions for you?
- Who will ensure that your bills are paid?
- Who will make personal decisions for you?
The only way to answer all of these questions with certainty is to create an incapacity plan and incorporate it into your comprehensive estate plan.
Although you may have an existing retirement plan, that plan should be incorporated into your overall estate plan to ensure that your retirement plans are in harmony with your estate plans.
By the time you reach retirement age you will stand about a 50% chance of one day needing long-term care (LTC). The cost of that care could deplete your retirement nest egg in a relatively short period of time given the high cost of LTC. Because neither Medicare nor most health insurance plans will cover LTC expenses, over half of all seniors currently in LTC facilities rely on Medicaid to help with their expenses. Qualifying for Medicaid, however, can be problematic if you failed to include Medicaid planning in your estate plan far enough in advance of the need to qualify.
Advanced Directives, Funeral, and Burial Plans
If you are like many people, you have strong beliefs about issues surrounding end of life medical treatment as well as funeral and burial plans. For example, you may be strongly opposed to being kept alive via the use of life support equipment or you may want a wake in lieu of a somber funeral service. The only way to ensure that those wishes and/or beliefs will be honored when the time comes is to plan ahead. One way to do that is by including advanced directives, such as a living will or a health care power of attorney, in your estate plan. Another way is to include a funeral and burial planning component is your plan. Doing so allows you to decide ahead of time how your body will be handled after your death and even gives you the option to pre-pay or arrange for payment to remove that burden from your loved ones who will be grieving your loss at the time.
Contact Estate Planning Attorneys
For more information, please download our FREE estate planning worksheet. If you have additional questions or concerns regarding common estate planning goals, contact the experienced estate planning attorneys at Nash Bean Ford & Brown, LLP by calling 309-944-2188 to schedule your appointment today.