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Disclaimer: The content on this website does not constitute legal advice. A qualified attorney in your state should be consulted concerning any legal questions, issues or matters that you have.
Estate Planning 101
"Our parents had very little as far an Estate goes. Investing in Estate Planning - priceless."
We were just like you- unsure about the status of our parents' Estate plans, confused financial planning with estate planning and made assumptions about our entitlements as Dad's daughters. We are here to tell you, whatever you think you may already know about "elder laws or practices", it is all myths and urban legends.
Thankfully we met Peter Gilbert, from HighPoint Law Office who opened our eyes about it all. My sister and I were scared straight and thankful that we had not acted upon the rumors we had heard over the years. We took advantage of a Free consultation with Mr. Gilbert where he explained and educated us about what was necessary to have in place for Dad now and for when he eventually passes.
Here is another myth -Estate Planning is only about your loved one. Not true, Estate Planning also addresses the issues of those who are or will be caring for that person in the future. The most ask question by Caregivers is "Can I be paid for caring for my Parent/loved one?" The answer is yes - with the aide of an Estate Planning Attorney who would create legal agreement between the individual and the Caregiver.
The content on this website does not constitute legal advice. However, it is our advice to seek a qualified attorney in your state to consult with them concerning any legal questions, issues or matters that you have. The only way for you to achieve any level of mental comfort about your concerns as the Caregiver or future Caregiver is by having a conversation with them. But you will not have to do this alone. We are here to help. Learn about our Services and benefits as a Member of our website.
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"My name is on my parent's bank accounts so I don't have to worry about anything."
"My parents created a POA years ago, so they are in good shape."
"We'll just transfer mom's house into my name"
"They don't need a Will."
This is not a plan.
These are only myths.
Estate Planning Basics 101
Estate planning sounds intimidating, but it really isn't. It is not just for the wealthy either nor is it too expensive affordable. When you break it down, it is just the process of getting your act together. Fortunately, with so many online solutions and apps available today, doing your own estate planning from the comfort of your couch is easier, more convenient and even more affordable. These services even offer an opportunity to speak with an Attorney for an additional FEE. Sometimes using this type of legal services help to minimize the stress most families feel while going through this process, but not anymore.
Estate planning typically involves preparing several Key Documents. Legal Zoom provided some great information in defining what they are. Each of them serves a specific purpose:
POWER OF ATTORNEY - A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that lets you appoint someone to handle financial and legal matters on your behalf. With a power of attorney, the person you appoint will be legally permitted to take care of important matters for you, including paying your bills and managing your investments, if you are unable to do so for yourself.
HEALTH CARE POWER OF ATTORNEY - The health care power of attorney is a document in which you designate someone to be your representative, or agent, in the event you are unable to make or communicate decisions about all aspects of your health care. In the most basic form, a health care power of attorney merely says, "I want this person to make decisions about my health care if I am unable to do so."
HEALTH CARE DIRECTIVE - A living will, commonly referred to as an advance directive, is a document that provides instructions regarding end-of-life care. Living wills allow you to make your own choices about life support and helps prevent confusion about the type of care you do or do not want in the event you become incapable of communicating your wishes. Without a living will, the laws in your state will determine who will make your health care decisions.
LAST WILL - A last will and testament is a legal document that lets you designate individuals or charities to receive your property and possessions when you pass away. These individuals and charities are commonly referred to as beneficiaries in your last will. The main purpose of a will is to ensure that your wishes, and not the default laws of the state, will be followed upon your death.
During our Estate Planning process, we learned about a Trust. Most of us have heard about it in urban legends but no one really understands what it is or how it works. We came across this video Will vs. Trust by Mark J Kohler that offers some helpful insight about Trusts and how they fit into the Estate Planning process.
"After working with Mr. Gilbert, HighPoint Law Office, we now had a plan in place for us and Dad."
But wait, there's more....
Estate Planning is more than just about the individual. This process also addresses the concerns of the Caregiver and helps to curb any future tension between siblings. The dark side of a family's dynamic appears whenever a loved one passes away. All of a sudden everyone has a list of reasons for their entitlements. Unfortunately, the one who usually gets the short end of it all is the one who had been the Caregiver of the deceased loved one.
"I didn't get paid for what I was doing so I should get more of the Estate."
"I should get the house because I sold mine to move in with Dad to care for him."
"I used my money to care for Mom."
"I gave up my life and career to care for Dad."
This is all very real. We have been watching our friends go through this. However, this could have been avoided with Estate Planning. It is a guided process with an attorney who takes families through various scenarios. They act a mediator through difficult discussions in order to come up with a plan that is amenable to everyone. So even if today it is unknown which sibling will be Mom and Dad's future caregiver, their Estate Plan Binder will have an agreement in it outlining the Caregiver's compensation plan and the funding for it.
Advice from Cyberspace
Online Legal Solutions may be a good way for your family to start the process. Some may prefer using an online environment from the comfort of their living room. It makes the entire process less intimidating and the information may be used to help you through "The Talk". Here are some options worth exploring:
FREEWILL - Why is FreeWill free? FreeWill is made possible by the support of many nonprofit organizations. Many of the users choose to leave a portion of their estate to charity.
EVERPLANS APP - This app helps your parent become organized. It creates a secure and shareable digital document archive as well as a means to organize those end of life documents. The site will help them compose a just-in-case letter for the survivors with info about bank accounts, insurance passwords and so on.
LEGAL ZOOM - A online legal services that offers help with creating legal documents. Here you will find a wide variety of al-la-carte services.
Professional Legal Advice
Nothing replaces the value of services provided by an Eldercare Attorney. They are legal professionals specializing in Elder Care law who not only create documents, and long term care plans but who will provide information about laws which affect medicaid benefits.
In addition to receiving legal advice, they are extremely helpful in bridging difficult conversations and issues that families will encounter while on this journey with an aging loved one.
Take advantage of Free consultations with them or attend any of their hosted workshops and seminars. The knowledge you'll receive is priceless.
The issues are real. My sister and I are real. We are just like you - heard the same urban legends, we thought our parents were not worthy of Estate Planning, etc.
Take the opportunity to explore the resources, tools and connections made available to you right here right now. If you would like some help in finding a qualified Estate Planning Attorney in your area, please contact HightPoint Law Office for a referral at email@example.com
Disclaimer: AgingParentsMarketplace does not receive ANY consideration from any business represented on this page. We found their information helpful in this process. Always consult with a qualified attorney in your state.