According to a recent study conducted by Caring.com, the percentage of people aged fifty-five and older who have created a will has fallen from 60 percent to 44 percent since 2019. Although creating or updating your estate planning may seem challenging, a proper estate plan can help address the concerns you may face as you age. We are here to help you.
Who can help me if I am unable to manage my own affairs?
A 2018 survey conducted by the US Census Bureau showed that approximately 69 percent of survey respondents who were age eighty-five and older had at least one type of disability. As you get older, it is more likely that you may need assistance in handling your financial and medical affairs.
A financial power of attorney allows you to choose a trusted person (called an agent or attorney-in-fact) to handle your financial matters, such as signing checks, paying bills, filing taxes, and so on. Without a financial power of attorney, if you became unable to handle your financial matters yourself, a court would need to appoint someone to act for you. This type of court procedure results in loss of time, money, and privacy, and could conclude with the judge choosing someone to act for you who you may not have chosen yourself.
A healthcare power of attorney allows you to appoint a trusted person (called a patient advocate) as your decision maker to communicate or make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you cannot do so. Without a healthcare power of attorney, again a court may be required to name someone to make these decisions for you, costing you and your loved ones time and money and infringing on your privacy.
How do I protect my loved ones after I am gone?
We know that eventually each of us will pass away. After you are gone, although you will no longer be with your family, you can still have a direct impact on your loved one’s financial future. A trust is a great tool to hold money and property you want to give to your loved ones. You can give the beneficiary direct control over what you leave them, or you can name someone to oversee the money and property and instruct that person on when and how the money and property must be used.
When establishing a trust, there are many different options for how your loved one can receive the money and property:
- Outright distribution. The terms of the trust can instruct the trustee to distribute all the money and property to your loved one or give your loved one the right to withdraw all the money and property in their share of the trust at any time, without any strings attached.
- At certain ages. The trust can dictate that a certain percentage of the trust assets be distributed to your loved one at different ages, such as one-third at age thirty, one-half at age thirty-five, and the remainder at age forty.
- After reaching certain milestones. If there are certain things you want your loved one to accomplish before receiving access to the money and property, you can instruct the trustee to distribute a certain percentage or amount once that milestone has been reached. Milestones could include things such as attaining a college degree or maintaining full-time employment for a certain length of time.
- Leave it up to the trustee. If you are concerned about what your loved one may do with the money or if your loved one has a high-risk job, creditor issues, an unhealthy marriage, or an addiction, allowing distributions to be made only at the trustee’s discretion is a good way to protect the money and property that you have set aside for your loved one. Provisions can be put in place so your loved one can receive enjoyment from the money and property, while protecting it from creditors and predators.
- Leave it up to the beneficiary in a protected trust. Rather than giving to your beneficiaries outright or requiring someone else to act as trustee and completely control what your beneficiary can get and when, you can create a beneficiary-controlled trust that would provide creditor and predator protection. Such protection is unavailable with outright distributions, but does not have to require a trust be completely controlled by a separate trustee. This type of protected trust can be very desirable even for beneficiaries who have no current issues with exposure to liability concerns, creditor issues, addictions, or a shaky marriage.
Your golden years should be enjoyed to the fullest. One way to make sure that you live a full and happy life is to address your concerns and goals with a proper estate plan. To learn more about the ways in which we can help you and your loved ones, contact us at your earliest convenience.