by Nancy J. Brady. RN, Esq., Partner- Brady & Marshak, LLP Attorneys at Law
Estate Planning is an area of legal planning concerned with having ownership of your assets with beneficiary designations that will most suit the client’s goals for preservation of hard earned savings and property throughout one’s life and after death. Elderlaw and attorneys who practice in the area of Elderlaw focus on estate planning and areas of specific concern for the aging population. The aging process often involves decline in physical status, memory issues, and early to advanced dementia. Typically, the Elderlaw attorney’s approach involves steps to protect and preserve the client’s assets during life- for financing long term care- as well as to ensure meeting the client’s goals in disposition of assets upon death. This type of planning typically involves client meetings to select trusted individuals and completion of documents in advance of when they may be needed- such as advanced health care directives, power of attorney documents, and in some cases trusts. If a particular client no longer has the ability to understand the importance of these documents, in some cases the attorney will guide the client through the guardianship process- court proceedings- to prevent such a client’s assets and health from being at risk.
In planning the ultimate distribution of one’s estate or for preservation of assets through advanced age and possible Medical care needs, long-term security, your attorney will discuss and develop a plan along with you to ensure
* Your assets will be directed toward the parties you choose, not creditors and Medicaid/government agencies
* Your beneficiaries will take control of your assets without delay and added expense or court involvement
* The estate planning documents you complete express your wishes, are best suited to carry out your plans, and allow for contingencies
* You and your loved ones can be assured regarding your long-term security and comfort well into old age. It is of utmost importance to have several basic documents in place- while you are well and able to make these decisions, as well as choose those people you want to represent you if you have an emergency, or cannot manage your finances due to mental status changes.
The following documents are for use during your life:
* Advanced Medical Directives- Health Care Proxy- a person and a backup person for emergency medical decisions.
* Power of Attorney- with persons you choose to have authority over your assets – to avoid delays in accessing your money or property, for example, if you are physically or mentally incapacitated- so that your trusted agent will be authorized to transfer assets, pay bills, etc.
* Trust- used to shelter assets and property from having to be lost to costs of your home care or nursing home care and to obtain government benefits to finance care.
Upon death- beneficiary designations, trust beneficiary clauses and the Last Will and Testament will all be part of a cohesive plan to ensure your wishes are met with minimal expense and delay for your loved ones.
This information is general in nature, and is not intended to be individual legal advice. You should consult with an attorney regarding your specific circumstances. Ms. Brady is a partner at Brady & Marshak, LLP, and can be reached at 1-718-738-8500. This article may be considered an Attorney Advertisement.