The Livens Law Firm

Dallas Estate Planning Law Blog

Estate planning should be an ongoing process

Statistics from the AARP reveal that almost 60 percent of people from Texas and elsewhere around the country do not have a will in place. Given a will's importance, the omission of one is often considered to be the biggest mistake made in estate planning. However, having just a will alone is likely not enough. It is imperative to routinely review and revise estate planning documents at several crucial times.

Experts suggest making updates at several crucial times. Certainly, financial advisers recommend a review of one's estate plan if it was developed over three years ago. Tax laws or other regulations may have changed that could have a significant impact on a plan. Since each state has unique estate planning laws, a move to another state would also warrant a review. This is particularly important if some of the assets, such as property, remain in the former state after the move.

Planning for long-term care can relieve stress of getting older

Aging is a fact of life. Many people are living longer and healthier lives as a result of improved diets and exercise. But no matter how hard one fights it, the aging process will likely catch up with a person in the end. As people are living longer, the need for long term care becomes more likely. However, many people are not planning for their own long-term care needs in Texas.

Many individuals may think that the need for long term care is something that happens to others and not see a need for coming up with a plan. The hard truth is that failure to plan for long term care can place the burden on one's loved ones. Medicare and health insurance policies do not cover long term care. Medicaid will only cover these expenses if the individual has no other means available.

Insurance one way to fund long-term care plans

With comprehensive medical advances, most Texas residents and others around the world are living longer. Life expectancies have continued to increase over the years. While this is certainly excellent news, there are still some challenges that come with an aging population. A major concern for older adults is long-term care and how their daily needs will be met in the future. A financial expert has offered some insight on one of the ways many people choose to fund their long-term care needs.

Long-term care insurance is likely the main source of funding most consumers consider when thinking about these future needs. However, it is important to remember that it is not available to everyone. Put simply, a policy would need to be obtained when someone is younger and in good health. The likelihood of being approved for a policy goes down alarmingly as one ages.

Long-term care costs just one of many expenses after retirement

Many Texas residents and others around the country are looking forward to their retirement years. Some may be anticipating the time when they get to finally relax, travel or take up a new hobby. Others may be excited about starting a new business venture or embarking on a second career. Regardless of what a person intends to do after he or she retires, there are many plans that must be made before leaving the workforce, including making decisions about long-term care.

The country's Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that the average person spends roughly 18 years in retirement. Based on estimated annual spending, it is suggested that someone needs over $800,000 in retirement savings to cover those years. Certainly, these numbers could go up if a person retires early or has a longer life span. It is critical to have a plan that addresses how these "golden years" will be funded.

Stan Lee: Estate planning should include protection from abuse

Stan Lee, a respected writer and creator of several iconic comic book characters, was revered by many Texas residents and others around the nation and the world. He recently passed away at the age of 95, with reports stating that he left an estate of over $50 million. Unfortunately, it was suspected that his estate had been targeted by some individuals who allegedly wanted control of his finances. As with many senior citizens, Lee's faculties had become impaired over the years. While his estate planning presumably focused on how his assets would be distributed after his passing, little direction was likely given on how to handle his decision-making if he had become unable to do so.

To avoid situations like this, one should consider reducing the number of accounts where assets are held. It could be confusing for investors of any age to maintain assets at a large number of institutions. Another suggestion is to consider creating a revocable trust to provide safeguards against abuse. A trust of this type can specify how finances would be handled should someone become incapacitated.

Review of beneficiaries is critical step in estate planning

Estate planning is a process that enables Texas residents and others around the nation to specify exactly how they would like to distribute their assets after they have passed away. A person's estate plan may consist of only a will or be more complex with different types of trusts involved. Regardless of its complexities, a basic step in any plan is naming beneficiaries. Experts stress the importance of making thorough and ongoing reviews to ensure that one's beneficiary designations are up to date in all documents included in an estate plan.

Financial planners note that everything belonging to an individual will be passed on by either title, will or contract. For example, if a husband and wife both have their names titled on an account, the surviving spouse would own it if the other died. A will establishes how assets that are not specified by contract or title will be distributed.

Understand options available for long-term care

Most Texas residents and others around the nation avoid thinking about the possibility of being physically or mentally incapable of caring for themselves one day. Unfortunately, this situation is the reality for many individuals, especially as they become older. While some people have made plans for future long-term care, the majority have not. Considering the different options and understanding the differences among the facilities available can be a worthwhile process.

Hopefully, many senior adults can continue living in their own residences and begin receiving in-home medical care. This may start with assistance with personal care activities or ensuring that medications are taken properly. When care at home is no longer feasible, there are many different options available.

Estate planning now helps avoid future confusion, conflict

Regardless of income level, most residents of Texas and other states around the country have an idea of how they would like their assets distributed after they are gone. While many have certain expectations, not everyone has formally expressed their desires by going through the estate planning process. Countless individuals have never developed a will, much less a comprehensive estate plan. Experts suggest that such plans help eliminate any confusion regarding how someone's wishes should be carried out.

Recently, the singer Aretha Franklin passed away without a will, leaving her survivors in uncertainty as the distribution of her estate must now be determined by the courts. Financial planners recommend that the issues be addressed while a person has the faculties to do so. Some first steps would be to develop a will to designate how an estate will be divided and who will oversee the process. The person selected to manage someone's estate is an executor.

Include charitable giving wishes in estate planning process

Many Texas residents and others around the country have various charitable organizations they are passionate about. They regularly contribute money or routinely donate their time to causes important to them. Certain people may have the desire to somehow continue to support these causes, even after they have passed away. They may choose to incorporate this philanthropic desire into their estate planning process so that their support may continue for many years.

Whether the reason is purely philanthropic or based on tax purposes, financial advisers recommend that charitable giving should be a part of developing an estate plan. They first suggest to decide how many organizations can be supported on an ongoing basis, particularly if someone has contributed to several causes. The decision must be made whether to spread future donations among several charities or give it all to one. Then, following personal goals or priorities, select the organization to receive the donations.

Those with higher income levels concerned with long-term care

Health care costs are skyrocketing for most Texas residents and others around the country. Those with reputable insurance plans still often face outrageous premiums and high deductibles. Unfortunately, the likelihood of a catastrophic illness or injury increases as the population gets older. The long-term care required for these medical situations can be a personal and financial burden for most, even for those in a higher income bracket.

A national industry survey recently showed that nearly half of the adults over the age of 50 who had over $150,000 in household income were concerned that they would be a burden to their families one day. Of this same group, just slightly over a quarter of them had any type of long-term care insurance policy in place. Yet, over 70 percent of them hoped that their families would take care of them should the need arise.

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