Estate Planning to Assure Your Independence

Susan B. Anthony said, “Independence is happiness.” There are few values as highly regarded in our culture as independence; and not only political independence but personal as well. Yet, far too often, we give up our independence in the most personal context when we face incapacity, death, and other life-altering circumstances. Simply stated, seventy percent of Americans have no (or the wrong) estate plan in place today to meet the demands of their current situation. How about you? You have the freedom to direct how your estate will be handled in the future. You can assure your independent lifestyle as you age. And you can protect and empower your loved ones as your capacity is challenged. But only if you act now to design the best plan, working with a skilled legal professional offering a holistic approach. Let’s call it Legal Life Care Planning.

REAL SOLUTIONS TO SAFEGUARD YOUR INDEPENDENCE

  • Working with the right estate planning professional, you can design an individualized plan around a Will or Living Trust to ensure that the wealth you have built is protected, administered and distributed on your terms without government or court interference, as when you fail to properly plan. There are significant differences between these legal plans, involving a myriad of options, that can be best explained only by a legal specialist.
  • Proper estate planning involves many legal strategies, as well as non-legal options – including beneficiary designations, joint asset ownership, transfer on death deeds, gifting, protection against estate and capital gains taxes, insurance options, and more. Too often, people only get “part of the picture” when talking to non-attorney advisers, but they choose not to sit down with a legal professional. Worse yet, online services provide false promises of easy, cheap and complete do-it-yourself solutions. Don’t put your family’s future at risk by cutting corners in such important matters.
  • A properly drafted power of attorney and health care directives are vital to provide the appropriate legal authority to a representative who will make financial and medical decisions for you when you can’t speak for yourself. These must be updated regularly to avoid rejection by banks, government offices and other third parties. And careful consideration must be given to the consequences of granting so much authority to an agent to avoid financial fraud and elder abuse.
  • Options to pay for extended care needs, to maximize your independence and quality of life include hybrid long-term care insurance policies and asset-based annuities providing guaranteed streams of income. Also, there are little-known strategies available to reduce your financial burden for nursing home expenses of $8,000 - $12,000 per month, where one cannot live independently. Without proper asset-protection planning, your life savings, retirement security, and family’s future will be wiped out.
  • Quality of life decisions as a loved one loses the ability to live independently involve safety, comfort, socialization, and being in the least restrictive residential setting. Working with a transitional care consultant to navigate you through these challenges and to coordinate all the services of hospitals, physicians, skilled nursing facilities and government bureaucracies can greatly improve your odds of getting the most appropriate and compassionate care.
  • Elder abuse, assault, fraud, theft, and scams are the “silent” crimes that are too infrequently prosecuted and protected against. You must be vigilant in ensuring that loved ones do not become victims and, when they do, to advocate for them vigorously. Know your rights. Seek proper guidance from a legal professional specializing in elder law.

Don’t fall victim to the “I’ll get around to it” avoidance disorder. There are resources available that families can use to deal with these deeply complex issues. Local workshops by estate planning and elder law professionals, such as Aspen Legacy Planning (now with offices in Rapid City and Spearfish), are available to address in detail the strategies available to provide security and independence for you and your family. These workshops are informative and sign-ups are available now, followed by individualized no-obligation consultations to evaluate your unique needs and solutions.

Categories: