Estate Planning for Different Ages and Stages of Life

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An estate plan works like the operating system on your phone or computer. It runs in the background. However, it needs occasional updates to keep the plan current.

Estate planning for different ages and stages of life is a critical means of protecting your financial legacy, providing for loved ones, reducing taxes and preventing unnecessary expenses, says a recent article from The Seattle Times, “Estate planning needs vary at every stage of your life.” The reasons for an estate plan change depend on your stage of life. It is for this reason; our website has a “Life Stages” tab! No matter what your income is or how old you are, if you are an adult, you need an estate plan.

There are certain events during life known as “trigger points” sparking reminders to either create an estate plan or update an existing one.

Welcoming a new member of the family. Estate planning often starts when a child is welcomed into the family, or when someone marries. An estate planning attorney can provide you with options based on your specific situation, so your will reflects your wishes and the laws of your state. An estate planning attorney will also guide you through other parts of the plan. I recently had a case where unmarried parents had failed to plan and the father died, leaving as his sole heir his little child, not his partner! Once you have an estate plan in place, you will have the peace of mind of knowing that you and your loved ones are protected with a legal safety net.

Midlife challenges. The sandwich generation, typically people in their 40s and 50s, are busy raising children and helping parents as they age. Having a power of attorney for financial and medical matters is important for an adult child who is involved in their parent’s healthcare if the child needs to be able to speak with physicians. Parents also need health care directives addressing end-of-life care, so loved ones know what their wishes are.

Parents will do their children a favor by telling them what they want and back up their wishes with the appropriate legal documents. This spares the children from having to figure out “what mom wanted” or fighting over “what dad really meant.” To aid in this we have a special handout for our clients that helps them think and determine their wishes and then have a tool to share with their kids.

Before and after retirement. The years just before and just after retirement are often when health issues crop up. Retirement is the right time to review estate planning documents and review named beneficiaries. The people you named ten, or even five, years ago to handle your estate may no longer be in your life. You may have new grandchildren you want to provide for. All these matters need to be reviewed with an experienced estate planning attorney to be sure they reflect your wishes right now.

Another key aspect to review is how all your assets are titled and held. Did you know that your financial statement might cost thousands of dollars in unnecessary long term care expenses? When we are aiding clients in securing long-term care coverage, we need to be able to work quickly because every month in long term care without coverage could cost up to $9000! Do you have whole life insurance policies, annuities, or certificates of deposit in numerous banks? Just the way you hold your assets could slow down eligibility for coverage!

Your estate planning should be properly reviewed regularly with an experienced and certified elder law attorney and change as your needs and situation change! Updating an estate plan throughout the difficulties of life ensures you will be able to enjoy the retirement you worked for and focus your attention on the present.

If you or a loved one are concerned about issues with situations like this in estate planning and elder law concerns including Asset Protection/Medicaid Planning and questions regarding long-term care and the nursing home, reach out to us!  Book a call with us on our website: www.VAElderLaw.com to see how we can help! We have offices in BassettDanville and Lynchburg to serve you.

Reference: The Seattle Times (Oct. 17, 2022) “Estate planning needs vary at every stage of your life”

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