Trust And Estate Planning

What is Estate Planning?
Most of us spend decades building a nest egg that will give us financial security in our senior years. However, just as important as building a nest egg is keeping it so that it will be there for you and your family when you need it. A well-designed Estate Plan can help.

The best way to understand what estate planning is, is to define what estate planning is not. Estate planning is not a product or document. It is not a will, a living trust or a nursing home insurance policy. It may involve some, many or no documents.

An Estate Plan is a strategy to preserve and protect your wealth.

The type of Estate Plan or strategy that is appropriate for you should start with a comprehensive analysis of your family, health and financial situation by a qualified professional. If you have not been involved in a comprehensive professional analysis of your family, health and financial situation, you do not have an Estate Plan.

Problems transferring assets to children
Commonly Made Mistakes
Gifting The Wrong Way – Transferring assets without knowing the implications could cause you to lose nursing home benefits and to lose control.

Thinking It Is Too Late To Plan – Even if you are in a healthcare crisis including a current nursing home stay, it is possible to retain as much as half of your remaining assets.

Listening To The Advice Of Others – What worked for your neighbor, relative or hairdresser may not work for you. Each and every case is unique.

Misunderstanding Your Legal Documents – While some trusts can protect your assets from nursing home costs, most types of trusts and all pre-nuptial agreements do not.

Failing To Use Specialists – Not planning with qualified professionals who understand the intricacies of senior planning could cause you to become ineligible for nursing home benefits. In some cases, you could even unknowingly open yourself to the risk of being charged with fraud for failing to properly disclose assets.

Should Everyone Have An Estate Plan?
Most people believe that you have to be a fat cat to benefit from estate planning.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Estate planning is for everyone, whether your estate is $5,000 or $5,000,000. Regardless of the size of your estate, everyone needs to have a plan to preserve and protect their wealth. Your estate plan may be a very simple plan involving the use of basic documents or it may be complex.

Remember, if you don’t have a plan, the government has a plan for you, and you are not going to like it!

Can I Do It Myself?
Yes, you can. There are many sample documents available at bookstores, libraries and even on the Internet. However, we believe that do-it yourself estate planning is one of the most dangerous types of legal self-help. For example, if you attempt your own divorce and fail, you can try it again. By contrast, if you try to do your own trust or estate planning documents and you die or become disabled, you will not have another chance to fix them.
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