Estate planning is one of the most important steps any person can take to make sure that their final property and health care wishes are honored, and that loved ones are provided for in their absence. An attorney will prepare estate planning documents that best align to the client's needs for healthcare, housing, probate matters, and other personal wishes. Estate planning documents may also include trusts to provide transfer of out of state assets, for blended family members, or for someone with special needs. An estate planning package will include some or all of the following documents:
Last Will and Testament
Durable Power of Attorney
Health Care Directive
Revocable Living Trust
Special Needs Trust
Probate and Trust Administration
Probate is a legal proceeding that winds up a person's affairs after his or her death, and ensures proper distribution of assets to the deceased's heirs and beneficiaries. The decedent's executor or personal representative must be appointed by the court, and follow the statutory process for distribution of assets. Given that it is an emotional time, an attorney can alleviate the burden by guiding the personal representative through the probate process.
If the deceased person left a Trust, probate may possibly be avoided. However, there are still legal requirements that must be followed when distributing trust assets, and an attorney can guide the assigned Trustee through this process.
Medicaid and Long Term Care Planning
The cost of long term care (in home, assisted living, or nursing home) are generally not covered by Medicare. The Medicaid program pays for nursing home, assisted living and some in home care for those who qualify, but the rules and application process can be complicated. An attorney can guide clients and their families through the application process, and discuss the options available to the client given both their financial assets and future health care needs.