Estate planning is a daunting task that must be done to protect an elderly individual’s family and legacy. Setting up an estate plan is therefore recommended. Although not all seniors set up a plan, for those intent on creating one, here are important estate planning tips.
What is an estate plan?
Estate planning involves naming the people who will receive a senior’s assets upon the latter’s death or incapacitation. Estate planning also makes it known how the elderly individual wants his affairs handled after his death or in the event he is unable to manage them.
An estate consists of the property a senior owns. Included in an estate may be the senior’s cars, houses, and land. Clothes and jewelry are also part of his estate. The senior may have investments, retirement accounts, and savings that are considered part of his estate.
What documents are included in an estate plan?
Estate planning documents are numerous, with each being an important way for a senior to communicate his final wishes. A will is one of the most common legal documents that expresses the senior’s last wishes for the distribution of his property and assets.
A trust, also included in an estate plan, allows a trustor to give the trustee the rights to hold assets on behalf of or for the beneficiary. Guardianship indicates what the senior wants to happen to dependents after his death; these wishes are normally stated in the senior’s will.
Financial power of attorney is a legal document that gives an individual the power to manage the senior’s financial affairs. Durable power of attorney gives a person the legal right to handle nonmedical affairs. An advanced healthcare directive indicates the senior’s wishes for medical care in the event of incapacitation.
What are tips for creating an estate plan?
1. Inventory All Assets
Seniors who initiate estate planning should first create an inventory of all assets, from larger, tangible items, like vehicles, boats, and homes, to smaller valuables, like collectible coins, art, or antiques. Intangible items, like stocks, bonds, life insurance policies, and retirement plans, should be included.
2. Assess the Value of Assets
Estimate the value of all assets. Outside valuations are appropriate for some assets; consider recent appraisals of a home or financial account statements. When proceeding without outside valuations, seniors can instead value the items based on how they expect heirs to value them.
3. Gather Documents
Gathering supporting documents associated with the estate will be helpful for the executor; marriage certificates, divorce papers, business agreements, vehicle titles, and property deeds are examples. User names and passwords should be stored with these documents in a safe deposit box.
4. Name an Executor
Seniors should name an executor of the will and choose a medical and financial power of attorney. While elderly adults can appoint a single person to handle all of these positions, it is advisable to divide the responsibilities among two or three trusted individuals.
5. Hire an Estate Planner
Consider hiring an estate planner or lawyer for complex finances. Hiring a professional to prepare the documents can cost over $1000. Uncomplicated finances can be prepared via DIY kits, available for $150—however, mistakes in preparation can cause heirs issues after the senior passes.
Aging adults who have built a legacy for their families should strongly consider hiring an estate lawyer or planner to organize their affairs. While professional services come at a cost, the investment is worth the expense of properly preparing the documents and protecting the family and future generations.
6. Review Beneficiaries
Beneficiary designations in a retirement or insurance plan can take precedence over what is listed in the senior’s will. Check that the listed beneficiaries are up to date. For example, policies created years ago may have an ex-spouse listed, which means the current spouse will not receive the payout.
Avoid leaving beneficiary fields blank; when the accounts go through probate, distribution may be based on the state’s rules about who receives the assets. Also name contingent beneficiaries, which becomes important if the primary beneficiary dies before the senior does.
7. Update the Estate Plan
Update estate plans every three to five years, or whenever major life events happen. Important life events include the birth of a child, marriage, divorce, or the death of someone named in the estate plan; the sale of a business or creation of a trust are also significant life events.
Selling a home or a vehicle should prompt a review of the estate plan. An additional reason to update the estate plan is when the senior receives a medical diagnosis of a life-threatening condition. Revisions and reviews are important, as life events can spur changes to the estate plan.
Estate planning can be overwhelming, especially when complex finances are involved. Hiring an estate planner will make it easier on the senior and family. Another component that eases the aging process is choosing in-home senior care from Assisting Hands Home Care.
Our home care agency is a national leader in elder care. Our quality home care services meet the non-medical care needs of countless seniors. Professional caregivers from our home care agency deliver compassionate support so that seniors of all ability levels continue to live in the comfort of home.
Trained caregivers help seniors with personal hygiene tasks, shop for groceries, prepare balanced meals, conduct fall risk assessments and give timely medication reminders. We are excellent companions and deter social isolation and loneliness, which especially affect seniors who live alone.
Assisting Hands Home Care services are flexible and varied. We offer skilled Alzheimer’s and dementia care, non-medical hospice home care, 24-hour care, overnight care, live-in care, and post-surgical care. Families with short-term care needs find our respite care services to be essential.
Families experience maximum peace of mind by choosing Assisting Hands Home Care. Our caregivers are licensed, bonded, and insured. We are trained in CPR and First-Aid. Turn to us for dependable senior care. Call us at (214) 865-7870 to schedule an in-home consult, and start the senior on a path toward greater well-being.
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