Last week we shared information about an article written by one of our New York elder law estate planning attorneys that discussed commonly used terminology in the field of elder law estate planning. By learning the meaning behind many of the common buzz words of the process, it is hoped that more community members will take the steps to conduct the necessary planning. The process is important not only so that wishes are carried out upon death but also to protect current property from the costs of long-term care.
Yesterday our New York elder law attorney, Bonnie Kraham, Esq., had another article published in the Times Herald-Record. In this piece she discussed the way that an elder law estate plan is crafted. She specifically highlighted the four major steps that occur upon a new client’s visit.
First, it is vital that a lawyer know the unique dynamics of each family so that a plan can meet the specific needs of the individual and their loved ones. It is not a “one size fits all” assembly line approach. Information about an individual’s age, heath, marriage history, relationships with family members, and similar details are important to specifically tailor each plan.
Next, documents must be reviewed to provide information to go into the plan and to determine if anything is out of date. A previous will, trust, power of attorney, health-care proxy, and other materials are analyzed to assess their continued benefit. Particularly important in the elder law context, is the need to review all material related to ways in which one may have prepared for long-term health care, including long-term care insurance documents.
Third, all assets much be reviewed. This would include all physical property as well as items like “qualified plans” such as IRA’s and 401(k)’s. This step is helpful in determining whether estate taxes will be owed, whether probate will be required, if planning needs to be done for nursing home costs, and similar queries.
The final step involves the actual development of the elder law estate plan. The plan may include a variety of components. For example, an individual may be designated to make medical decisions. A trust could also be drafted with a specific trustee chosen. There remain many different parts of the plan depending on individual unique needs. Once completed, the plan should be reviewed every three years to account for changed circumstances and desires.
Our New York elder law attorneys remain committed to helping all area clients with the preservation and protection of their assets. The overall process is often not as daunting as many expect. The benefits of having the plan in place are worthwhile to virtually all residents no matter how many assets you have or your specific family situation.
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