With Christmas fast approaching and the New Year practically upon us, discussions of goals and resolutions for the upcoming year frequently come up. Invariably, when legal life planning is discussed, many times a “We’ll do that next year” approach is adopted.
The legal life planning process, though, can only fully use all available tools if sufficient time exists. Adequate preparation can mean the difference between having options and protecting your assets versus facing additional expenses and headaches down the road.
One of the best ways to plan ahead is to formally nominate someone to make health care and financial decisions for you when you are unable to communicate those desires. Failing to execute Health Care and Financial Power of Attorney documents can result in your loved ones being forced to go to court, spending time and oftentimes thousands of dollars, to gain such authority.
Planning ahead about how best to pass your assets can also help ensure a smooth process for your chosen beneficiaries, while minimizing administrative costs. Wills and other non-probate tools, like a payable-on-death (POD) designation or a life estate deed are often used, but other legal options, like a revocable trust, may deserve consideration too.
When attempting to protect assets from a future need for a nursing home stay and qualify for the government program that pays for such care (“Medicaid”), planning ahead is especially critical.
If you have gifted or sold any assets for less than fair market value within 5 years of trying to qualify, the Medicaid system requires the difference to be repaid before you qualify (the “5-year look back period”). Putting in place legal tools now to safeguard those assets before a need for nursing home care arises can avoid this issue.
Timing is everything in legal life planning! Protections to put in place now to protect yourself and your loved ones will be discussed at our first seminar of the new year on Saturday, January 14th at 10:00 a.m. This seminar will be held at the Weyers-Hilliard Library in Green Bay. Light refreshments will be served. More information can be found by clicking here!
From all of us at Davidson Law Office and The Estate Planning Group, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a safe and happy New Year!