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Category: Estate Planning

Top Reasons to Review Your Estate Plan

Estate plans should not be set in stone, as a rule. Rather, they should be living, working documents that can be changed as needed. After all, life circumstances and events frequently shift and evolve over time, and this often necessitates changes to your estate plan as well.

We recommend reviewing your estate plan every three to five years, no matter what. In some cases, however, you may want to review it even sooner.

5 Reasons You Might Need to Review Your Estate Plan

1. Your finances have changed.

There are numerous circumstances in which your finances may have changed enough to necessitate altering your estate plan. For example, you’ll certainly want to review your plan if you retire or get a new job that significantly alters your income. The same goes for if you suddenly receive an inheritance or a notable raise at your current job.

Any significant change to your overall finances should necessitate a general review of your estate plan to ensure you’re maximizing your benefits.

2. You’ve moved states.

Different states have different laws regarding estate plans. Moreover, these laws are regularly updated, so it’s smart to keep abreast of them and make any necessary changes as needed. You’ll want to maximize the benefits available and minimize any unnecessary fees and charges.

3. You’d like to change your beneficiaries.

There are numerous reasons why you might want to change the beneficiaries listed in your estate plan.

Frequently, for example, new family members necessitate a change. Perhaps you’ve had a new child or grandchild. It’s also possible you’ve decided to include a close friend or an organization or charity that’s close to your heart.

Conversely, certain life changes may necessitate removing a person or persons from your estate plan. For example, if your child is recently divorced, most often, you’ll want to remove the name of their ex-husband or ex-wife from your list of beneficiaries.

4. Your marital status has changed.

If you’ve recently gotten a divorce, in all likelihood, you’ll want to remove the name of your ex from your estate plan or alter their benefits at the very least. Likewise, you’ll want to add a new spouse if you’ve recently gotten married.

If you’re not married but have a partner who you’d like to be listed as a beneficiary in your estate plan, this can be carried out as well.

5. Child beneficiaries have reached the age of 18.

Lastly, if you’ve listed children, grandchildren, or any other minors as beneficiaries in your estate plan, if they turn 18, you’ll want to review their benefits. Minors are often treated differently than adults when it comes to estate planning.

Need Help Establishing a Plan for Your Estate? Contact Beasley & Ferber Today

Whether you’re looking to establish a brand-new estate plan or modify one you’ve already created, our team at Beasley & Ferber can help.

Contact us to set up a consultation appointment and start discussing your legal estate planning options today. We look forward to hearing from you!

How to Select the Right Trustee

Trusts can be established for a number of reasons, and there are many different types of trusts. One of the most common reasons for establishing a trust is to ensure that a person’s estate will be controlled and managed according to their wishes — even when they become unable to manage their estate themselves.

In most cases, a trustee will be appointed to hold legal title to the property of the beneficiary (the estate holder), and they will be entrusted with managing this property should the beneficiary become unable to. For example, living trusts are those in which the beneficiary maintains control of their estate while they are alive, and control passes to the trustee when they die.

No matter what type of trust you are creating, one of the most important steps will be selecting the right trustee. This will be the person who gains legal title to your property and who you’ll need to carry out your estate wishes. Below, we’ll go over how to choose the best trustee for your trust.

3 Considerations to Make When Choosing a Trustee

1. Are they up for the task?

Even small trusts will require that the trustee devote a significant amount of time and energy to carrying out the beneficiary’s wishes. Make sure that whoever you choose to be a trustee is someone who will have enough time and energy on their hands to devote to your trust management. Often, it’s best to choose someone who is retired or does not have a full schedule of responsibilities keeping them busy.

2. Are they trustworthy?

It is crucial to only choose an individual who is totally trustworthy to be your trustee. The word “trust” is right there in the job title after all. You want to know that they’re going to carry out even the minutest details of your trust or at least do their best to follow through when circumstances change. A good way to find a trustworthy trustee is to consider who in your life has always had your best interests at heart.

3. Do they have reasonable judgment?

There may come a time when you are not able to answer inquiries about your estate, and this duty will fall upon your trustee. Perhaps there’s need for clarification, or circumstances have changed such that funds must be diverted elsewhere. You need to know that your trustee will be able to use reasonable judgment in these situations.

Need Help Creating a Trust? Contact Beasley & Ferber Today

At Beasley & Ferber, we routinely receive questions from individuals who are interested in creating a trust but unsure how to go about doing so.

We understand that the process can be challenging, both in terms of logistics and paperwork and emotionally.

However, creating a trust for your estate is an integral part of ensuring financial security for you and your loved ones. Don’t wait to create a sound trust. Give yourself peace of mind knowing your assets are well protected.

To learn more about estate planning and how to establish a trust, contact Beasley & Ferber today.

Ways to Protect Your Assets When Moving into a Nursing Home

Most older people would rather leave their assets to family members rather than have their hard-earned savings go to pay for nursing home care. The bad news is that the federal government and nursing home administrators determine the cost of care based on personal assets. The good news is that people who need to move into a nursing home can do several things to restructure their assets and keep more of their own money. We explore three possibilities in this blog.

Create a Life Estate

If you or a loved one plans to apply for Medicaid to help finance the cost of nursing home care, you should be aware that the program has a five-year lookback period. The purpose of the lookback period is to prevent people from giving away or selling assets so they can meet eligibility requirements. Establishing a life estate is a possible workaround for dealing with the look-back period.

The term life estate means that a person retains ownership of their home until they die. This is true even if their death takes place in a nursing home. The person who takes out a life estate policy names another person as the one who will inherit the property after death occurs.

A life estate is different than a joint tenancy because the named person has an interest in the property while the policyholder is still living. This strategy divides the real estate assets when it comes time to apply for financial assistance for nursing home care.

Consider Long-Term Care Insurance

Long-term care insurance provides reimbursement for some costs of care in a nursing home, rehabilitation center, adult daycare center, or assisted living facility. The person utilizing these services must require substantial help with the activities of daily living. Common examples include grooming tasks and the ability to feed themselves.

Some people hesitate to purchase long-term care insurance because the cost has gone up dramatically in recent years. Others do not want to invest in it because the policy offers no cash value if not used. This is obviously a personal decision that requires consideration of the pros and cons. However, these statistics from the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance can help:

  • 30 percent of nursing home residents reside for one to three years
  • 12 percent reside for three to five years
  • 12 percent reside for more than five years

Open an Irrevocable Trust

The term irrevocable trust refers to a legal entity that holds a person’s assets in a trust account and designates one or more beneficiaries to receive them. The person holding the trust cannot cancel it or make changes except under specific circumstances. Since the account holder no longer owns the assets, they do not count towards the asset total when it comes time to determining financial eligibility for nursing home care.

Get Help From Professionals

Helping people protect their assets when moving into a nursing home is just one of many legal services we offer at our elder and disability law firm. Please contact Beasley & Ferber to request a consultation to learn more about how we can help.

What Should You Look for in an Elder Law Attorney

There are a lot of questions that come with aging that need to be answered regarding the future. So, how do you get a good elder law attorney who understands the legal issues that you or your loved one might face? Read on to learn what to look for in an elder law attorney.

Expertise in Elder Law

Several law attorneys are experienced in different fields of law. Some of them may profess to know about elder law. It’s best to choose an attorney that specializes in elder law, however. Choosing an elder law attorney who has the expertise and focuses on elder law will benefit you since they are more knowledgeable about the issues affecting elders. Their expertise helps them protect against property loss, protection of assets, and develop proper plans to improve quality of life.

Understanding of Financial and Personal Profile

The most suitable attorney is the one who has an understanding of both personal and financial profiles. The vast knowledge will help the attorney make essential decisions and recommend the best strategies for legal matters. Choosing such an attorney will significantly help in resolving issues that may arise.

Process Guidance

The best elder attorneys have the patience to guide you through the different planning processes and legal stages. They should be capable of guiding you through different options to achieve your goals. The guidance should cover asset protection and incapacity planning in case of pre-planning and quality of life preservation in case of crisis planning.

Fast Implementation

A good elder law attorney should be able to expedite the process of implementing the agreed strategy. Pre-planning may take between 4 to 6 weeks to prepare the protection documents, while crisis planning requires faster processing, especially where long-term care is concerned.

Custom Planning and Consultations

Customized solutions have a much more favorable outcome than general solutions. Having an attorney who is present and involved in the plan creation and execution is beneficial to you. An attorney with a personalized approach will have no problem walking with you through the process, educating you, and helping you choose the best course of action to take.

Consider Education and Experience

Choosing an elder attorney who has the proper education and experience comes with a more significant promise of success. An educated attorney ensures they know the most recent changes to laws and how to navigate them. The different circumstances they handle and the experience gained means they understand the strategies and processes that will work well.

An elder law attorney can be contracted to offer vital help in ensuring you or your loved one’s legal needs are taken care of in a legal and profitable manner. These are some of the considerations you should keep in mind when choosing an elder attorney. For more information about the many services that an elder law attorney can offer, please feel free to contact us.

Who Should You Disclose Your End-of-Life Arrangements With?

End-of-life arrangements are highly personal decisions. You have legal control over your body, possessions, and financial assets until your expiration, and rightly so. When you work with the elder law firm of Beasley & Ferber, you can trust that your end-of-life arrangements will be held in the strictest of confidence. However, to facilitate matters after your demise and to ease the way for survivors, you may choose to disclose those arrangements with certain others.

Direct Beneficiaries

Sometimes people like to disclose end-of-life arrangements with direct beneficiaries of trusts, wills, and insurance policies. While this choice often comes from an eagerness to let beneficiaries know they will not be forgotten, it’s not always smart to disclose this information. Being a direct beneficiary with full knowledge of the inheritance makes that person vulnerable to scrutiny, should unusual circumstances come into play. For instance, if an end-of-life decision must be made, you wouldn’t want your beneficiary to be wrongfully accused of trying to sway the choice in one way or another. Rest assured that the very act of including a loved one in your financial gifting post-departure will ensure they know they were cherished.

Adult Children

When estate planning necessitates leaving property and other assets to adult children, it can be a good idea to let those children know what they can expect. This is especially the case when you have multiple children since surviving children have a tendency to debate the fairness of inheritances. To avoid family rifts after your passing, let adult children know ahead of time at least the percentage of your estate that each can expect to receive.

Now, this brings up a dilemma. While you may want your adult children to know what percentage of your assets they will get, you may not necessarily want their spouses to know, or their spouse’s parents. There’s no point in denying that if the estate is substantial, adult children and their spouses will be liable to talk about what numbers that you’ve disclosed. Therefore, it will no longer be very private.

One way to circumvent this is to directly ask that your adult children keep the information private. Another way is to keep it general; let them know they will each be treated equally, but do not disclose any other details.

Crisis Planning is a Special Case

An Advance Directive is a way that you can let your wishes be known to doctors and loved ones in case you are mentally incapacitated and unable to do so. It behooves your loved ones if you tell them that you have signed an Advance Directive to be followed in this circumstance. This way, your loved ones will be ready to make that difficult decision on your behalf. You should tell your spouse or partner at a minimum.

When you’re ready to make end-of-life arrangements, contact the elder law firm of Beasley & Ferber, everything will be made easier. Whether you need estate planning or to put in place an Advance Directive, you can rely on us.

5 Benefits of Having a Medical Directive

Having a medical directive is something you should think about obtaining, even if you’re still young and able to care for yourself. The last thing you want is to wait until it’s too late and there’s no directive in place. Medical directives can benefit you by:

1. Keeping You In Control Even When You Cannot Speak For Yourself

A medical directive is a legal document that details specifically what you want to happen with your person and your property in the event that you become incapacitated or pass away and are no longer able to make decisions yourself.

Medical directives are written when you are lucid and have the legal mental capacity to create and sign such a document, so even if you are incapacitated, your wishes will still be carried out when you have a medical directive in place.

2. Preventing You From Having to Endure Unnecessary Procedures or Pain Against Your Will

Because a medical directive specifies in advance what you want to happen in different hypothetical situations, you will not have to endure a procedure or be in pain if that’s not what you have explicitly stated you want. Without a medical directive on file, your next of kin or even the state could be in charge of your medical care, subjecting you to procedures or life-prolonging care that you don’t want.

3. Minimizing Stress During an Emotional Time

When you pass away or if you become incapacitated, this is a highly stressful and emotional time for your loved ones. Big decisions will need to be made quickly, and your loved ones may not be in a sound emotional state to make them. Finding out that a loved one has a medical directive can be an immense relief for people who feel incapable of making such critical decisions with the life of a family member in the balance.

4. Affording Your Loved Ones Peace of Mind

If your loved ones know of your medical directive in advance, this can give them peace of mind knowing ahead of time that those critical decisions were already made by you. When you’re grieving and in distress, being able to follow a clearly detailed plan that you know your loved one wants can be comforting and may afford your family peace of mind even well before you need a medical directive.

5. Reducing the Potential for Conflict Among Loved Ones

If you fail to specify your wishes and pass away or become incapacitated, and your loved ones have to make decisions for you using guesswork as to what you would have wanted, this can lead to high-stress conflict.

Many family fights are started after a person dies or is no longer able to care for themselves and remaining family members have to figure out what to do next with no guide or ability to ask you what your preferences are. If you have a medical directive in place, your wishes are clearly stated and there’s simply no room for conflict.

Get Help Creating a Medical Directive: Call Beasley & Ferber Today

Interested in learning more about how a medical directive can benefit you or want to move forward with formally creating one? Beasley & Ferber can help. Call us now for an appointment at 1-800-370-5010.

Why Plan Now for What Comes Later?

Nobody wants to think about dying, let alone talk about it. But the truth is, funerals are expensive. Long-term care is expensive, too. And unless you want to pass your debt down to your children, you need to make plans for the inevitable. There’s no need to wait until you pass that senior citizen milestone to begin thinking about end-of-life expenses. In fact, the sooner you begin putting money away and channeling your savings where you want it to go, the better you can provide for those you love after your absence. Speak with an elder-law attorney at Beasley & Ferber today for answers to all your frequently asked elder-care questions.

I’m Still Young. Why Do I Need to Start Elder Planning Now?

Tomorrow is not a sure thing, and if the unexpected should happen sooner than later, would your loved ones be financially prepared to go on without you?

Planning for the future means more than just financing a burial plot and prepaying a funeral home for your interment. It might also mean helping your spouse keep the house in the event of your death or keeping your kids in college should your income suddenly cease. By talking with a specialist in elder law, you can learn how to minimize the financial impact of your death on those you love.

Won’t My Life Insurance Pay for My Funeral?

Your life insurance will pay a death benefit to your beneficiary upon proof of your death, but it’s important to make sure that number is enough to do more than just offset the costs of your funeral. If you’re half of a two-income household, your absence will leave a huge financial hole. An elder law attorney can help you choose the right amount of coverage to suit your health, your lifestyle, and the cost of premiums you can afford.

As Long As I Provide for the Necessities, My Family Should Be Okay, Right?

Unfortunately, nobody has a crystal ball that helps them foresee what the necessities will be. And your quality of life as you age will play a major role. You may eventually need the services of a long-term care facility, and Medicare doesn’t typically cover this expense. Therefore, you’ll need protection for your assets, so your children aren’t denied their inheritance. Making an appointment with Beasley & Ferber can help you protect what’s rightfully yours. It can also help you better predict the sort of expenses you might accrue as you age.

I Don’t Have Children, So Why Should I Worry What Happens After I Die?

While it’s true your financial worries will cease upon death, there’s no guarantee that you won’t need help in the years leading up to your final exit. With no children to help care for you in your old age, you may need to hire a professional caregiver, and they don’t usually come free. If you begin planning now, you’ll be able to rest easier later.

When you’re ready to begin planning for your own elder care or for the care of an aging parent or other loved one, Beasley & Ferber is available to help. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.


Getting Married Again Consider Creating an Estate Plan Now

Remarriage after the end of a previous marriage due to divorce or the death of a spouse is common. Unlike first marriages that typically occur in the middle to late 20s, people getting married a second or subsequent time may be well into middle age. Whether they have children from previous relationships or not, older spouses bring special financial considerations into the new marriage.

Making an Estate Plan Now Can Save Legal Hassles Later

Perhaps you or your future spouse created separate estate plans earlier in life and want to update them to reflect your new marriage. Another possibility is that neither of you have created an estate plan. Whatever your individual situation, entering a second marriage brings up several unique considerations. Examples include:

  • What assets do each of you plan to continue holding individually?
  • What assets do each of you plan to leave to your respective children, if any?
  • Do you plan to have children together? If so, what assets would you like to make available for them?
  • Are either of you bringing individual debt into the marriage?
  • Do you expect to incur new joint debts after the marriage?
  • Will you need to order a new title for any assets you would like to reflect joint ownership, such as checking, savings, retirement, or mortgage accounts?
  • Do you plan to establish a joint will?
  • Do you foresee needing any additional estate planning tools, like a power of attorney, trust, or advanced healthcare directive?

Ideally, you and your fiancée will discuss these questions long before you get married. Neither of you should assume what the other is thinking when it comes to something as important as finances. Couples with substantial individual assets before a second marriage may want to give serious thought to a pre-nuptial agreement. Although it might not sound romantic, taking this step helps to protect individual financial interests.

Special Estate Considerations When Either of You Has Children

Couples often discover how differently each one thinks about certain financial matters when it comes to leaving an inheritance for children. One common example is that one spouse wants to divide their individual assets among their own children while the other would like to divide them equally between children and stepchildren. You also need to consider who would take control of assets on behalf of either party’s minor children should one of you pass away prematurely.

If you already have a will that leaves certain provisions for your children, consider how this decision would impact your new spouse. Some couples resolve this issue by establishing a separate marital trust to make sure the surviving spouse receives assets the other spouse wanted them to have.

Don’t Forget to Update Beneficiary Designations

If you already own assets such as a 401(k) and want to replace the beneficiary with your new spouse, be sure to do this as soon after your marriage as possible. You will need a copy of your marriage license to make the changes.

Beasley & Ferber Law Firm is here to assist you with estate planning. Please request a consultation to discuss your needs.


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