Planning is crucial for everyone. Life can change in an instant.

I don't have much, do I really to worry about this?

When you think of “Estate Planning”, you may think that this type of service is only for people that have significant assets, or a service for the elderly. The truth is everyone should have an estate plan. Powers of attorney for health care, for finances, and a living will are some of the most basic and important planning tools that everyone should have.  

If you pass away without implementing an estate plan, your estate would be subject to probate.  Probate is a public, court-supervised proceeding that can be expensive and time consuming.  Many people mistakenly believe that their assets simply pass to their children if they "don't have a lot of assets" and they "just do nothing."  If you fail to outline a proper legal plan, you will be subject to the state's intestacy laws.  This often results in unnecessary fees and bitter family feuds over modest sums of money or family heirlooms. 

What happens if I don't plan?

The government has a plan laid out for your in the event that you choose to do nothing.  Competent adults have the right to choose their own plan and make proactive decisions.  A good estate plan will involve strategies to minimize taxes and settlement costs and coordinate what you would like to happen to your home, your retirement assets, your investments, your life insurance, and any other property in the event of your death.  

Nowadays, it is extremely important for your estate plan to consider the possibility that you might require the care of another person.  These are circumstances can bankrupt a family if no action is taken. 

I still have young children, isn't this far in my future?

For people with minor children planning is critical.  You should carefully consider the individual whom you would want to raise your children if you could not. With prudent planning, you can develop a road map for the future of your family in your absence. As your children get older and become adults; it is important to update these documents, avoid the probate process, and address future concerns. 


Should I wait until I need Medicaid to see an elder law attorney?

Absolutely not.  If you think that you may need Medicaid at any point in the future you should speak with an elder law attorney now. There are steps that you can take now to protect assets that may not be available if you wait until you need Medicaid.  Furthermore, this area of law is nuanced and there are many innocuous mistakes that people make that render them ineligible for Medicaid.  An elder law attorney with experience in Medicaid can evaluate your situation and give you a solid legal plan. 

What is Medicaid planning?  

Medicaid is a federal program that pays for in home care, some assisted living expenses, and nursing homes.  Medicaid should not be confused with Medicare.  Medicare is a federal health insurance program that people pay into while they are working.  Medicaid is needs-based program that helps Americans with medical expenses. 

Doesn't Medicare or my insurance cover nursing home care?

Medicare does not pay for long-term care such as assisted living or nursing home care. There may be a period of time when a patient is released from a hospital after a three night admitted stay where Medicare covers some of the initial cost, but after that the patient and his or her family is left scrambling to figure out how to cover the cost. While some can afford to privately pay the high cost of the facility rates, often the savings of all but the wealthiest of families is completely wiped out by this expense.