2018-05-10 / News

Tips from Zolton Law Offices on end-of-life planning


Pictured are Darrell Zolton (foreground), Michael Weiss (left) and Lori Bommarito (right). Pictured are Darrell Zolton (foreground), Michael Weiss (left) and Lori Bommarito (right). ESTATE PLANNING TIPS AND ADVICE

If it’s true that the only certain thing in life is death and taxes, then it makes common sense to plan ahead for both of them. While many people think only the wealthy need to worry about estate planning, the truth is, making a plan is the best thing you can do for your loved ones, regardless of your financial standing.

Rich or poor, old or young, it’s best to write a road map for handling your property and other assets in the event you die unexpectedly. Not having a sound estate plan can result in legal difficulties, great inconvenience, unnecessary taxation and family strife. Taking the time to consult with an estate planning professional can have a significant impact on your lasting legacy.

Keeping those thoughts in the forefront, consider these tips for creating a sound, logical estate plan.

SEEK LEGAL COUNSEL

It’s easy to find a form online to draft a will, but what does it mean? How will it be implemented after your death? Can it be contested? Most people would benefit from consulting with an estate planning professional to answer these and other questions. The answers are not found in a form. An experienced lawyer can create documents with your specific circumstances in mind.

Everyone should have a will, regardless of age, but that only represents one piece of an estate plan. You should also consider a living will, power of attorney, and possibly a trust. It is general believed that approximately 55 percent of American adults do not have a will or other estate plan in place. This number has stayed relatively steady during the 2000s, even as the number of other estate planning documents Americans have -- like medical directives -- has increased. Among minorities, the numbers are higher than in the general population: 68 percent of African-American adults and 74 percent of Hispanic adults do not have one.

FUNERAL EXPENSES

Funerals can cost thousands of dollars. That’s why it is important to plan ahead to cover your funeral expenses. You don’t want to leave your family holding the bag for large bills. A pre-paid funeral plan is becoming more of a popular choice, or you could simply purchase your burial plot in advance so that one major task will be handled before your passing. It may be uncomfortable to think about, but it is something that must be addressed as part of a solid estate plan. Visit funeral homes in your area to discuss the types of pre-payment options they offer.

LONG TERM CARE

Long term care and/or Medicaid planning is becoming something estate planning and elder law attorneys are seeing more of as the baby boomers age. When nursing homes cost on average in Michigan around $8,018.00 per month, getting a plan in place ahead of time can be of great benefit in cost saving to all involved. Like any product or service you purchase, you should do your research before retaining an attorney in this legal area. We would suggest, when looking for an attorney that does this type of work, that you price compare, ask about their experience, consider how you came to contact them, and ask them if they do anything but Medicaid planning. Medicaid planning involves other legal issues that play into any planning, including taxes, real estate, joint ownership and others.

COMMUNICATION IS KEY

In general, we would encourage our clients to not keep family in the dark about your estate plan. Telling them in general terms what to expect in case of your unexpected death could head off estate disputes and heartache. This is another area in which a good estate planner can be helpful. Estate planning is more than just spitting out forms. It includes discussing the complicated family dynamics and concerns that can frequently accompany the process. With the right estate plan and experienced professionals to help, your estate can be a blessing that your heirs will treasure for the rest of their lives.

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