Articles Posted in Asset Protection

When choosing the people you trust the most to serve as a part of your estate plan in any capacity, whether they be a family member, close friend or trusted individual in the community, it is important to understand the role that you are asking them to play. Serving as the executor of your estate, the trustee of your trust, as your healthcare representative or power of attorney is not a blessing. Making sure that the people you ask to fulfill these roles ahead of time understand that is crucial to ensuring that your estate plan is carried out effectively and to your wishes.

Managing Expectations

Many people feel that being chosen for one of these roles is a great honor. After all, being asked to serve as someone’s power of attorney or trustee means that there is a presence of trust in the relationship. After all, out of all the people who could have been chosen, out of all the people who could have been asked, you asked that specific person to handle your affairs.

There comes a time in many people’s lives when their adult children begin to help out with daily tasks. For some people this includes writing checks and paying bills. Many people begin to wonder if they should take steps to make being taken care of easier for their caregivers. In these cases, the question arises “why not just add your adult child to your bank account?”.

The Pros

The most obvious and powerful positive for adding an adult child to your bank account is ease of access. As joint owner, your child will be able to access funds from the account in order to assist you with bill paying and other financial matters.

Nearly seventy percent of Americans who reach age 65 will require some form of long-term care support. Many of these seniors will need care for a number of years. On average, women require 3.7 years of care while men require only 2.2 years. Decisions regarding this care should not be made lightly. If you are the child of a senior citizen and are faced with making choices regarding the care of your parent, there are a number of factors to consider.

Time & Scope of Care

The first step in assess the level of care you parent or parents may need is to evaluate the amount of care required. Ask yourself:

It may sound like common sense, but the older you are the longer you’re going to live. According to the Social Security Administration, men who reach age 65 can expect to live until age 84 and women who reach age 65 can expect to live until nearly 87. People are living longer lives and many Americans are living twenty years beyond their retirement. This increased longevity forces many people to change the way they view their later years.

Requiring Care

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, nearly seventy percent of people turning age 65 can expect to require some form of long-term care during their lives. Not only is the chance of needing long-term care high, many people are requiring care for a longer duration. This increased benefit duration affects women more than men. Women tend to need 3.7 years of care, on average, while men require only 2.2 years. Almost twenty percent of seniors will need care for more than five years.

Planning your estate is an important step in ensuring that you, your loved ones, and your estate will be taken care of in the event of your incapacity or death. A few documents can determine the type of medical attention you receive, who handles your financial matters, and how your estate is distributed after your passing. Choosing a knowledgeable and experienced professional to guide you through the estate planning process can protect your family from trouble in the future.

A Relationship Built on Trust

Choosing a legal professional can be difficult. One of the most important things to consider is trust. Your estate planning attorney should be someone that you are comfortable with. In order to fully plan out your estate, you will be faced with a number of difficult questions and what-if scenarios, such as “who will care for your children” and “do you wish to be kept alive by artificial means”. Hiring an attorney you feel comfortable with who is able to talk through these situations with you can make the process much simpler and less stressful. In many cases, the attorney who drafts your estate planning documents will also be working with your loved ones to ensure that your wishes are carried out after your death. Choosing someone your trust who is aware of your wishes can make this process easier.

While everyone needs an estate plan, demographics show that women in particular should take steps to address the matter.

Living Longer & Needing Care

On average, women live five years longer than men. This means women have to face a few realities: (1) they are more likely to require long-term care, and (2) will require care for a longer period of time than their male counterparts.

According to the Pew Research Center, more Americans age 18-34 are living with their parents than in any other living situation. Over 32% of people in that age group live in their parents’ house which leads to an interesting estate planning dilemma for the parents.

While some adults who live with their parents are financially independent providing for their own daily living expenses and even paying rent, many living at home are in some way, shape or form financially dependent on their parents. This dependence can make estate planning even more important.

Discuss Your Plan

Estate planning is vital for all people wishing to have control over the distribution of their assets following their death. Women, in particular, should take time to plan their estates. In the U.S., women control nearly 40% of the nation’s investible assets and nearly half of those assets are managed solely by women.

Surviving Spouses

Many women outlive their husbands by a number of years. Outliving your partner tends to mean that you inherit their estate. Most spouses will be sole beneficiaries of each other’s’ estates. This means that the surviving spouse will be in full control over the final disposition of the assets. If your spouse didn’t make plans and you are aware of special instructions or requests they would have wanted, it is your job to make those plans now. For instance: if your spouse had children prior to your marriage and wanted them to have an inheritance but didn’t plan, it is now up to you to decide whether or not to include those wishes in your own estate plan.

The passing of a loved one is not easy. The closer you were to the deceased the bigger a toll that it takes on you mentally and emotionally. You may experience anger, frustration, and numbness as you seek to process the passing. As you begin to contemplate what you must do next, you experience a feeling of being overwhelmed with facing the unexpected. All of these feelings are a part of the normal process of grieving and it is typical for a person responsible for handling the deceased’s estate to feel overwhelmed. Thinking ahead of time and knowing what to expect can reduce these feelings and help make the overall process go more smoothly.

Beyond the Funeral Arrangements

Many people are already familiar with arranging a person’s funeral, burial or cremation. After you have made arrangements for a funeral service, a viewing, the burial, cremation or spreading of the ashes, there are still a number of actions that must be completed to wrap up the deceased’s affairs. It is of the utmost importance that you contact all relevant people and organizations that need to know of the deceased’s death.

Probate is the legal process that takes place after a person passes away.  It typically involves submitting a valid will to the surrogacy court in New York state, taking inventory of the deceased’s estate’s assets, paying off the estate’s liabilities and distributing the estate assets to the beneficiaries designated in the will. What assets go through probate though are not always what the deceased or the future beneficiaries expect. Only certain assets are considered probate assets and pass ownership through New York probate proceedings.

Probate Assets

Probate assets are those who are owned individually by the decedent or person who has passed away. These assets are a part of the decedent’s estate because they have not been disposed of through other testamentary instruments like a trust or been passed on through a survivorship right or named beneficiary designation. Typical examples of a probate asset is all the property left in a person’s residence, the residence itself, bank accounts and cars.

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