The silver lining in a dementia diagnosis is that it emphasizes the importance of living life as fully as possible now. The uncertainty over how the disease will progress also highlights the urgency of planning for the future. As you journey forward, taking this step can help you and your loved ones feel more in control.
If you die without a will, you might believe your money or your property will go directly to your surviving next of kin. But that doesn't always happen. If your assets must pass through probate first, the process could delay the inheritance and cause stress for your loved ones. Preparing a will before you die makes it more likely that your assets will be distributed according to your wishes.
Do you believe lightning never strikes in the same place twice? As it turns out, that’s not true. The Empire State Building, for instance, survives dozens of lightning strikes each year. Like other aspects of popular culture, estate planning has its share of beliefs that on closer scrutiny, don’t hold up to the facts. But because they’ve become widely accepted, people tend to think they’re true.
Without other people to act on your behalf, your estate plan wouldn’t exist. Choosing the right legal representatives and beneficiaries for one requires thought and care; they must also be willing to serve in those roles. When you choose them, you should weigh certain factors in your decision.
A Wells Fargo survey found that nearly half of all Americans would rather discuss funeral plans than financial plans with their parents. The discomfort about broaching these and similar topics can arise over concerns about appearing to expect an inheritance. Adult children might also wonder if they’re ready to handle responsibilities like caring for aging parents. And they could fear their parents will overreact or they will lead their parents to think they believe they’re experiencing health or financial troubles. To ensure you won’t need to guess in an emergency, find out your parents' financial, health-care, and legacy plans -- whether they’re already in place or should be considered. Here's how.
The end of the COVID-19 public health emergency has led to a return of Medicaid eligibility reviews nationwide. People often seek help with Medicaid planning in a health-care crisis – when they or a loved one become seriously ill or need nursing home care and can't afford it. State laws and eligibility requirements for long-term care (LTC) may be hard to understand without advice. Experienced elder law attorneys, like those at LWP&E, can offer ways to qualify for Medicaid while you protect your assets.
Personal finance expert Dave Ramsey has joked that to show you hate your family, "leave unclear instructions and no will." Without knowing your final wishes, those close to you could fight over your estate or wind up paying your end-of-life costs themselves. If your loved ones struggle to manage the probate process, the burden may also affect them physically and emotionally.
If you have a will, you understand the importance of ensuring your final wishes are known ahead of time. But what if you don't update your will? It might not reflect your current life situation. It's best to review your will every three to five years or whenever you experience a major life change. Generally speaking, a new will supersedes an older one; probate laws, however, vary by state. To help prevent confusion and potential disputes, consider how to handle updates to your will.
AARP Maine reports that over 135,000 people age 50 and older live alone in the state and are at higher risk of social isolation. Often, these solo agers, “kinless,” or “elderly orphans” are widowed, divorced, never married, or have no children. Black people, women, people with low incomes, and the LGBTQ community are among those most affected. A recent AARP survey showed that people between the ages of 66 and 75 most frequently said they are more lonely now than they were before the pandemic. Contributing factors include experiencing a major illness or the death of loved ones.
Estate planning doesn't have to be complex or confusing. You can save time, stay organized, and simplify the process. If you're not sure where to start, this resource will walk you through what to think about before you gather documents or talk to an attorney. Ideally, you'll consider everything from preparing for incapacity to potential long-term care needs. Not just for seniors, it’s for any adult at any stage of life.
Caretakers of ill or disabled loved ones might not be paid for their time and effort. If a family caregiver has other commitments, such as to a job or their own family, they can experience stress and other challenges. In some cases, they might also be paying for a parent or another loved one's care. If the care recipient can make their own decisions, it's possible for a family caregiver to get paid for their efforts.
You might have planned for a career, a family, or retirement, but have you considered planning for a time when you can’t care for yourself? You might not like to think about that. You could stay healthy well into your golden years. Planning for long-term care, however, can minimize the costs should the need for it ever arise.
Many of us appreciate the companionship, support, and unconditional love animals provide. If you own a pet, you can become so close to them that they become part of the family. In case something happens to you, it is extremely important to have documents in place to ensure they receive care in your absence.
According to a Caring.com survey, 56 percent of American adults know it's important to have a will, but only one in three has an estate planning document.
Talking about death is often considered taboo in our culture, yet death is a natural part of the cycle of life that we all face. The thought of deciding on your final arrangements may seem morbid and make you sad. But if you make your wishes known now, you can feel relieved that you’ll spare grieving loved ones from making difficult last-minute decisions later.
The National Council on Aging defines financial exploitation of the elderly as “the misuse or withholding of an older adult's resources by another.” A form of elder abuse, the elderly are often ripped off by people they know. Perpetrators may try to access the elders' financial accounts or pressure them to give gifts or no-interest loans.
The older you get, the more likely you are to be affected by legal issues involving aging. An elder law attorney can help you address some of them. An elder law attorney offers guidance on matters that concern the elderly, their families and caregivers, and adults with special needs, including long-term care and estate planning.
Even if you have done some estate planning, you might not have covered everything. That may be OK, because you can still change course. If you have an estate plan, any mistakes you've made are a sign you should update it. Here are some of the most common errors people make in estate planning.
The parent or guardian of a child or other dependent with special needs can create a letter of intent to detail care and other arrangements after the parent or guardian dies. An informal, non-legally binding document that complements an estate plan, a letter of intent may be addressed to a personal representative, trustee, successor guardian, or others the writer wants to care for their loved one.
After you've finished an estate plan, to ensure it will be around when it's needed, you should carefully store your documents such that they are easy to find but kept private while protected from damage.
As our lives change, our estate plans should also adapt. Like a home, a car, or even your health, an estate plan needs regular checkups to see if it requires any updates. Ideally, you should review your estate plan every three years or whenever a major milestone occurs. While you're still capable, around the start or end of every year is a good time to consider if it needs to reflect changes in the law, your life, or your legacy.
The gift of an estate plan lasts a lifetime and beyond. In case of an unexpected event, like an accident, an illness, or death, your loved ones can feel comfortable knowing that your final wishes are in place. During a crisis, an estate plan removes the guesswork surrounding your end-of-life care, what will happen if you become incapacitated, who gets your assets, and how to honor your memory. It gives those closest to you guidance so they don't need to make important decisions while they grieve.
The recent closing of long-term care facilities in the Pine Tree State has highlighted concerns about what's happening to the industry. If you or a loved one need care now or later, you may wonder what to do and where to go. Knowing what's in-store for long-term care in Maine and nationwide can help you explore your options.
What will happen to a mentally or physically disabled loved one when you're gone? Who will support them? Depending on their situation, the options for securing their future include setting up a supplemental care or special needs trust (SNT) or an ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) account. In some cases, you can do both. Parents, grandparents, or anyone else with the legal authority to support someone with a disability may create them.
The need for in-home care can arise when someone is ill or can't take care of themself and support from friends and family is limited. Before you or a loved one decide on in-home care, some things to think about include your budget, the services you want, and whether the need is temporary or long-term.