October 21st – 27th is
National Estate Planning Awareness Week!
To start off the month, we want to give you five more surprisingly common Estate Planning mistakes that, unfortunately, we see too often. If you missed our first five Estate Planning mistakes article, you can find it here: http://elderlawgroupwa.com/april-newsletter-2019/.
Mistake #1: Waiting too long
The first mistake that most people make is waiting too long. It’s human nature – people often don’t take action until they absolutely have to. However, the longer you wait, the more limited your options are. One consequence of waiting too long could be the loss of capacity. Once you lose capacity, you are unable to sign off on critical planning documents, which can cause the courts to become involved in decision making, such as guardianship. Additionally, waiting too long to plan can result in increased care costs over time, as some planning options may no longer be available.
Mistake #2: A Will with no Asset Protection
Another mistake is failure to have a Will that includes asset protection. Many people assume that a Will prepared by a traditional estate planning lawyer guarantees that their home and their money is protected from the State and creditors. However, unless your estate plan specifically includes a strategy for asset protection, your assets remain vulnerable. By ensuring that you have an Asset Protection Estate Plan™, you can preserve your legacy for the people who matter the most.
Mistake #3: Lack of communication
The third mistake is not communicating your wishes with your family. In all likelihood, your family will be responsible for making decisions on your behalf if you are ever unable to speak for yourself. Many problems can be avoided if you sit down and have that tough conversation with your family about what you want if a crisis occurs. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Although this is an emotionally difficult subject, stress the importance of this conversation to everyone that is affected. Your care, and your estate, might be handled in a manner that you disagree with if you fail to discuss your wishes with your family.
Mistake #4: Not taking advantage of resources
The fourth mistake is not educating yourself about all of the available resources and government benefits that you may be qualified to receive! Understanding these benefits is not an easy task, so seek the help of an experienced Elder Law attorney who is familiar with the complex rules and regulations.
Mistake #5: Spending down money for Medicaid
The last mistake that many people make is spending all of their money in order to qualify for Medicaid benefits. For a couple, that’s just plain wrong, and not the law. Did you know that you can keep substantial assets and still qualify for Medicaid? You may be able to qualify for Medicaid if you own your home and even if you have money in the bank.
Now you know how to avoid these five common estate planning mistakes. Sorting out your estate can be complicated but planning for the future now will avoid a lot of heartache and avoidable costs in the future.