Elder Law Attorneys and Estate Planning for Seniors
“It’s more than just a will or trust.”
From and elder law perspective the term estate planning entails more than just drafting a Last Will and Testament or a Revocable Living Trust to manage and distribute your assets upon death. It also includes helping client’s develop a plan and documents to assist them if they become disabled or incapacitated.
Our firm takes a holistic team approach with a client to determine what their desires in reference to managing their financial affairs as well as maintaining their independence and dealing with circumstances when they may be incapable of managing their own affairs or healthcare decisions during their lifetime.
Our firm’s lawyer meets with each client to understand their planning desires, goals and needs and develops an estate planning package to meet those needs. The client is provided guidance on probate avoiding options as well as importance of defining beneficiaries of assets and retirement accounts.
Typically, our firm’s estate planning packages include a combination of a Last Will and Testament, possibly a Revocable Living Trust as well as a Durable Power of Attorney, Healthcare Surrogate Designation, Living Will and HIPAA Release.
In preparing an estate plan, it is essential that all of your assets are considered. You should do a complete inventory of all that you own before contacting your estate planner.
Your estate consists not only of your home, your car and your bank accounts. Your estate also includes the value of life insurance policies, annuities contracts, investments that you may own (including those held in joint tenancy with other persons), your IRAs and other retirement accounts, and any other assets over which you can exercise control.
You will need to make decisions about what to include in your estate plan. First, you will need to list any specific gifts you want to make to family or non-family members and/or to charities. You should determine who will inherit your property upon your death. You must also be certain that your spouse or heirs are capable of managing financial affairs after you. If capacity or vulnerability is an issue, you may want to name a trustee to handle financial affairs for him or her. You must designate an Executor or Personal Representative to administer your estate, as well as an alternate for this role. Special arrangements may be needed if there are particular family issues, such as children from a previous marriage of either spouse.
Once these decisions are made and your inventory is completed, your attorney will be able to advise you as to the best technique to use in planning your estate.
In the event of a disability, you should decide who will be your decision-makers with respect to your finances and your health care options. Finally, you should give thought to the difficult questions of what type of care you would want or not want in the event of terminal illness. If you have special desires concerning disposition of your remains, such as burial in a certain place or possible cremation, these should be brought up during your planning conference as well.
These are complicated and personal issues. The advice of a qualified Elder Law attorney is essential to protect your financial health and welfare and to insure that your health care wishes are known and carried out.
Gregory G. Glenn, Esq. is a Certified Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation. He has practiced elder law since 1995. Prior to law school Mr. Glenn worked as a management consultant at the Big Eight accounting firm of Coopers & Lybrand, CPA’s and also at Dunn & Roth, CPA’s as a staff accountant. He has his law degree from MSU and completed his legal studies at the University of Miami School of law. His focus in elder law is on estate planning for the over 65, disability planning, probate, and Medicaid eligibility planning. He has offices in Boynton Beach, North Palm Beach, and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.