Wills Trusts and Power of-Attorney Documents

On August 15, 2013

By Daryl J. Gerber, Esquire

Only a qualified Elder Law Attorney will provide the best advice and planning. "Free seminars can be traps for the unwary," says Gerber, a member of the National Association of Elder Law Attorneys, who suggests local, well established Elder Law Attorneys are the most economical and reliable sources of advice and planning for the future.

YOUR WILL: The Will is the basic instrument for insuring that your wishes are carried out for the disposition of your estate. Your Will needs to be periodically updated, but in most cases a simple Will will meet your needs. By all means avoid a document known as a Living Trust which, unfortunately, is promoted at "seminars" by both financial planners and even attorneys at a cost of many times that of a Will with no REAL benefit.

DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY: While a Will operates after your death, a Durable Power of Attorney takes care of your affairs during your life in the event you are not capable of handling them yourself. You designate a trusted family member or friend to handle your business affairs during periods of either temporary incapacity or even during permanent incapacity.

In the absence of a Durable Power of Attorney lengthy and expensive court procedures may be necessary to appoint a guardian of your interests and that person granted authority by the Court may not be one you would have chosen. A qualified Elder Law Attorney can answer all of your questions about the protections provided by a properly drawn Will and Durable Power of Attorney. These valuable planning tools need not be expensive or complicated.

The only thing constant in Elder Law is change itself. Just as the Inheritance Tax Laws have been recently modified substantially on both the federal and state levels, so too are there constant changes in the areas of concentration for Elder Law practitioners.

Long-term care insurance for nursing home expenses is now widely available and the younger a person is when purchasing this insurance, the less expensive it will be. The advantage of the insurance is that it can provide for nursing home expenses without depleting your estate. The disadvantage is the cost and the possibility that it may not be needed at all. These policies can be complex and need to have increasing benefits to cover inflationary trends.

Even substantial estates accumulated by a lifetime of hard work can be wiped out by a stay in a nursing home facility. Are there other alternatives to long term care insurance or the risk of not having the insurance at all? There are other planning tools available including linked-benefit policies tied to life insurance which prepay the death benefit to fund long-term care. In the event the long-term care is not needed, the life insurance remains available for the beneficiaries and the estate is preserved.

In addition, tax deferred annuities paid for with a single premium should be purchased while in good health. They provide guaranteed long term care benefits and whatever portion of the earnings not used for long-term care is passed, tax free, to that person's beneficiaries. The bottom line is that tomorrow is not soon enough to prepare your Will, your Durable Power of Attorney, and planning to meet the potential expenses of long term care. Calling today for an appointment with a qualified Elder Law Attorney is crucial to your future financial security and peace of mind.