Time to Get Back to Business: Estate Planning & More

Now that winter 2018-19 is behind us, it’s time to get back to business. Along with many other of life’s obligations that were put on hold, your estate or long-term care planning needs are still demanding your attention. So, let’s refresh some concepts that impact you and your family.

Only 4 in 10 Americans have an estate plan and too many have the wrong plan in place for their circumstances. Do you fall into this statistic? With the careful guidance of an estate planning professional, mistakes can be easily avoided, such as:

  • Dying Intestate. Dying without a Will or other estate plan means that the State or the IRS will simply make one for you, resulting in a probate process that is needlessly time-consuming, expensive, public, and frustrating.
  • Having an “I Love You” Will. In many situations, a Will simply passes the complex issues and problems associated with transferring and protecting wealth on to the spouse or future generations; it creates more problems than it serves.
  • Giving Property Outright to Children. Countless problems arise when, for example, a child is too immature to handle money responsibly, suffers a severe financial setback, marries a fortune-hunter, or is addicted to drugs or alcohol. You may need to protect your heirs from their own poor decisions.
  • Not Having a Trust. A trust is the single most effective estate planning tool available. There are many types of trusts and among the more common are revocable trusts, irrevocable trusts, testamentary trusts, and retirement trusts. In addition to protecting your privacy, a trust will help you leave what you want to whom you want, in the way you want (a completely customized plan) at the lowest possible cost.
  • Not Funding Your Trust. Establishing a trust means re-titling your assets to the trust, otherwise, it does no good. Avoid procrastination in this crucial task.
  • Not Updating Your Documents. Once an estate plan is put in place it is important to have it reviewed at least every two to three years to keep up with changes in your life or the law. How long has it been since your estate plan was updated?
  • Failing to Plan for Life’s Other Crises. Additional planning and strategies are important to provide comprehensive protection. Examples are Advanced Health Care Directives, HIPAA authorization for loved ones to access medical information and records, comprehensive Power of Attorney for financial affairs to determine who will make financial decisions for you, and other vital estate planning instruments and strategies to complete your estate plan.

The U.S. health care system is facing a tidal wave of aging Baby Boomers. This, among many other factors, will create an unsustainable demand for long-term care (LTC) in the coming years. Fewer family caregivers, increasingly limited personal financial resources and growing strains on federal, state, and family budgets will further complicate efforts to organize and pay for these services. Seventy percent of us who reach the age of 65 will require some form of LTC, and the catastrophic costs of $8,000 to $12,000 per month can wipe out your life’s savings. Trying to understand how Medicaid laws and regulations can provide assistance when all your assets have been exhausted, or taking steps to preserve your assets, is an overwhelmingly complex proposition.

With the careful guidance of qualified South Dakota estate planning and elder law professionals, such as Aspen Legacy Planning, you can implement unique planning strategies to protect your loved ones and preserve your assets. Local workshops, followed by complimentary consultations by legal professionals, are available to pre-qualified individuals. The value of these educational opportunities is immense. With additional special offers such as attorney fee credits, there is no better time to get back to business and no reason not to.

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