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St. Paul Probate & Estate Administration Law Blog

Retirement living and long-term care planning may coincide

Finding the best place to live out the golden years of life can be difficult for many Minnesota residents. They may want to find a place near their loved ones, while maintaining the ability to remain as independent as possible. Of course, many individuals likely also want to consider long\-term care planning and how suffering a negative health event could impact their living arrangements.

It is not uncommon for family members to take over the care of an incapacitated loved one, but other options due exist for care. Indeed, parties could choose a retirement community that may offer certain benefits relating to long-term care. A continuing care retirement community could allow individuals the ability to live their independent lives but also have the means of obtaining necessary care.

Avoid these 7 common Medicaid planning mistakes

Many people rely on Medicaid or other government assistance programs to provide them with care in their golden years. To qualify for these programs, individuals must meet certain income and asset requirements.

Through Medicaid planning, you can plan for your future care while preserving your assets for your beneficiaries. Long-term care planning is an essential element of an estate plan, but it is not without potential pitfalls.

Are Minnesota residents missing long-term care planning?

Though many individuals have insurance and other means for paying for medical expenses, they may not always plan ahead. Because anyone could find themselves in need of extended care at some point in their lives, especially in their later years, long\-term care planning can have many benefits. Of course, some Minnesota residents may believe that Medicare should play a role in paying for such care.

A recent report gave the outcome of a survey that related to the use of Medicare and long-term care. Apparently, 56 percent of Americans over the age of 40 believe that Medicare should play a significant role in attending to the costs for ongoing assistance. It was also noted that, in 2013, the number of individuals who felt this way landed at 39 percent.

Components of a basic estate plan

The concept of estate planning may raise the notion that you must be a millionaire or have a consider amount of assets to pass on to one’s heirs.  Indeed, that does not describe most of our realities. In fact, ordinary people can have an estate plan

Moreover, you can have an effective plan without spending tens of thousands of dollars on a complex set of documents that only actuaries understand.  After all, your loved ones will have to understand what your wishes are in the event you are incapacitated or pass away. With that, this post will highlight some basic documents that can be a part of your plan. 

When an estate plan has mistakes: Your legal options

You were there with the attorney who drew up your father's will and estate plan. You know that the beneficiaries changed at the last meeting, taking away assets from some who had become distanced from the family and shifting them to newly born members of your family who could best benefit from assets as they grow. Your dad forgot to talk about his life-insurance policy, though. You assumed the will's update would cover anything he missed.

When your father passed away, you were shocked to find out that the insurance policy recognized the old beneficiaries, not your father's new beneficiary preferences. You show the company the will, but it won't recognize the changes since it has its own beneficiary designations. What can you do?

The necessity of a fiduciary: What having a fiduciary means

If you're starting to plan your estate, then one term you may have heard time and time again is "fiduciary." What is a fiduciary, though, and how does the fiduciary you have impact your estate plan?

A fiduciary is a person who manages your assets, simply put. This can be anyone you designate, like your attorney or an accountant. This person has an ethical and legal obligation to make decisions in your best interests. If the fiduciary is a financial representative or advisor, for example, then that person should help you make good investment decisions.

Estate planning: Protect your assets and beneficiaries

When you begin to age, you realize that there are people who depend on you or who you want to take care of that you won't always be there for. Estate planning helps you make sure those people receive the assets you want them to have, so they're supported or have something tangible to remember you by after your passing. Estate planning is as much about life as it is about death, and it's important to do it as early as possible.

In the event of a life-altering event, an estate plan can help others understand your wishes. For example, if you're in a coma, an estate plan can help others realize that you don't want to be kept alive artificially, or you might indicate that you do. You can give information on your taxes and business needs, so those items are attended to even when you cannot take care of them yourself.

2 things you can do to reduce conflict as an executor

Being an executor isn't easy. It's filled with responsibilities, and you have to balance legal requirements with emotional strain from beneficiaries and heirs. Here are two tips you can use to be better as an executor of your parent's estate.

First, secure the estate the moment you know that your loved one has passed. If you can, begin to secure the estate prior to your loved one's passing, so you know where assets are after his or her death. It's a tumultuous time in your life, but this has to be done correctly. Some planning ahead of time makes it easier to access assets when it's time to do so.

Changing taxes: Your estate plan is still vital

Tax laws are changing, and that means that estate plans might change in the future, too. Since tax liability is a major part of estate planning, you might think it's a good idea to wait until the new administration makes those changes before you put time into an estate plan. That's the wrong way to look at it, because you need to have a plan as soon as you can.

Most of an estate plan is transferring assets into irrevocable trusts. This isn't tax related on the whole, and it's a good way to protect your assets and beneficiaries. Doing this now won't result in any serious changes later on in most cases. This plan is protective no matter what the tax laws do, so there is little point in waiting to complete an estate plan.

What job does an executor fulfill?

An executor has a very specific job. It's an honor to be an executor, because it means someone trusts you enough to execute his or her last will and testament. Of course, it can also be a lot of hard work and a confusing position to be in.

You have a large responsibility to make sure the person's will and last wishes are carried out. You must perform the actions required of your role as executor in good faith. You aren't entitled to proceeds from property sales from the estate, and you may only be entitled to a fee that compensates you for the administration of the will.

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Jeffrey P. Scott & Associates

Jeffrey P. Scott & Associates LLC
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