There is a wealth of good estate planning information, especially on the internet. Additionally, it is really easy to find fill in the blank estate planning forms from service providers such as LegalZoom or, more recently, TaxAct. However, one size does not fit all in the estate planning world; there are a number of ways attorneys can help you shape your plan to deal with your family’s unique needs and goals. In fact, by cutting corners on your estate plan now, your heirs could pay a huge price in the future.
As part of your plan, you should consider your Medi-Cal eligibility in case it becomes necessary during your life. By planning in advance for your eligibility, you may be able to limit or eliminate cost recovery against your estate and avoid depleting all of your assets. If you are a war-time veteran, you may also want to consider planning for VA Aid & Attendance Non Service Connected Pension benefits. By gaining eligibility, you may save your family over $24,000 per year on long-term care! In order to get the most out of your Medi-Cal or VA Aid & Attendance benefit, special trusts like QMap and QVap trusts may allow you to retain certain income tax benefits on your home. Similarly, if any of your heirs receive government benefits, you should plan to protect their continued eligibility.
Pets are not unique members of a family; many people own them and want to care for them after their demise. However, the problem with planning for pets after death is the word “own.” They are considered property and may legally be disposed of similarly to any other property. However, many families and elderly pet owners enjoy the love and companionship their pet provides and would be devastated to learn that their pet was turned into a shelter or kicked out on the street. By naming a person to care for the pet who agrees to do so and setting aside money for your pet’s care, you can ensure that your pets are cared for properly. Additionally, you should make sure that the individuals charged with administering your property are on board with your decision to continue caring for your pet.
Have you thought of what would happen to your children if you and your spouse died? Who will care for them and raise them with the values you wish to instill? How much access will your guardians have to your assets and for what purposes? By thoughtfully considering your children’s future and your goals with respect to leaving an inheritance, limiting the burden on their guardians, or providing for tuition, you can ensure that your minor children are protected in your absence. Dealing with the loss of their parents would be difficult enough without being embroiled in court proceedings!
Your family is unique and requires a plan that meets your specific needs. Don’t sell yourself or your family short by buying one-size plans. Meet with an attorney who you trust and create a plan that works for you!
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