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A kind approach to elder law and estate planning

Discussing one’s death and disability can be so stressful that plans are not made for those events. Planning may be something we’ll get around to someday, or not. It’s so easy to procrastinate.

If someone is not able to discuss planning for unpleasant events, that person is less likely to actually do any planning. When you fail to plan for yourself, you also fail to plan for family members and others who would be affected by your death or disability.

Knowing that discussing long term care and death related issues may be the ultimate barrier to taking steps to planning, so we like to take a “kind” approach to these issues.

Instead of talking about death first, we will talk about planning for incapacity or disability. An elder law estate plan does not just address what happens when a person dies, but names people who will make decisions for us if we no longer are able to make decisions for ourselves, either due to an accident or illness.

“Who would you want to make decisions for you if you no longer can?” It may seem simplistic, but having this discussion now can save thousands of dollars and untold heartache later on.

 “Who would you want to receive your assets if you were no longer here?” Again, this may seem like an easy answer to some, but other folks do not allow themselves to consider this question, assuming incorrectly that “the kids will figure it out.”

For most of my clients, simply describing what would happen without a plan lead most to take action.

Without disability planning, such as a trust, power of attorney and health care proxy, a judge in a guardianship proceeding may appoint a guardian to handle your affairs. Guardianship proceedings are costly and lengthy. You don’t know who will be making legal, financial and health care decisions for you.

If you die without a trust or a will, certain family members may inherit your assets even if you wanted others to be your beneficiaries.

Without advance planning for long-term care costs, your assets may be completely used up for your nursing home costs.  

It sometimes helps to describe elder law estate planning in terms of a safety net, as we think about insurance for our house and car. We don’t buy insurance hoping disaster strikes, but in case it strikes, we’re covered.

One of the main benefits of visiting Longstreet Elder Law & Estate Planning is the “sleep better at night” effect. For some, the elder law estate plan is an uncomfortable necessity. For others, it’s just the right thing to do for time and cost savings, efficiency, and protecting ourselves and our loved ones.