Wills and Trusts
Wills and trusts are both estate planning tools that explain how you want your affairs handled and assets distributed after your death. A will and a trust provide different levels of protection for your family, however. A will allows you to direct how your assets are distributed and who may care for your minor children, for example. But it will not protect your family from probate court and will become part of the public record for all to see. With a trust, however, you may avoid probate and the associated court and attorney fees. Also, unlike a will, a trust can provide important incapacity protection to avoid conservatorship or guardianship proceedings.
Seek legal counsel to determine whether a will or a trust or some other tool is appropriate for your circumstances. Each of these mechanisms will be discussed in our upcoming free webinar. Please check our webinar schedule to register.
Special Needs Planning
As disability attorneys, we are intimately familiar with the importance of public benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income, to those with special needs. And the last thing any family member would want to happen is for their death to cause a deserving special needs child or grandchild to lose those benefits. With no estate plan in place this might be the unintended result. With proper planning, however, it is possible to pass down your assets to a special needs heir without jeopardizing any disability payment they may receive. A Special Needs Trust can hold the child’s share and distribute only small amounts to the child, thereby keeping the public benefit in place and offering the child a secure financial base for the future.
If you have a special needs child or grandchild in your family, proper planning is critical. Please register for a free webinar to learn more about this planning tool and how it may help your family.
Young Family Planning
A common misconception is that those with little assets need not undergo formal estate planning. But this simply isn’t true. On the contrary, a young family with minor children may have an even greater incentive to create an estate plan. Not only can a well-drafted estate plan direct who will care for your minor children, but it can provide protection of assets should your spouse remarry after your death and protect your children from receiving their inheritance before they are ready. Most importantly, creating a Legacy Wealth Plan can help your children understand their identity. Estate planning is about more than a transfer of wealth or protection of assets. It’s about passing down your life stories, wisdom, and values. Investing the time in writing your story will tell your children about who they are, even after you are gone.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that estate planning is not necessary because you are young with few assets. Attend a free webinar and learn about how much more than asset protection estate planning can accomplish.
A stroke, injury, heart attack, dementia, or numerous other medical conditions can result in the inability to care for yourself. Moreover, incapacity impacts not only your ability to make your own healthcare decisions, but also to decide how your assets are managed. Should you become incapacitated with no planning in place, it is likely that your family will have to go through guardianship or conservatorship court proceedings and that a judge will appoint someone to manage your affairs for you. While it may be a family member, it may not. Creating a revocable living trust avoids the need for an expensive court process and allows someone you choose to begin managing your assets seamlessly while you focus on your health.
In addition to creating and funding a revocable living trust, however, it is important to create and properly execute emergency legal documents, including a health care power of attorney (also known as an Advance Directive), property power of attorney, and up-to-date HIPPA release. A health care power of attorney will work with the up-to-date HIPPA release form to make known your wishes to your healthcare provider. And a property power of attorney will allow someone you choose to manage assets that may not have been properly funded to your revocable living trust.
Incapacity planning is important for everyone of any age. Register for one of our free webinars to see how you can protect yourself should a medical condition take away your ability to manage your affairs.
Without prior planning, many families suffer financially when forced to place their loved one in a nursing home. On average, nursing home costs range from $4,000 – $8,000 a month, putting a strain on many families paying out of pocket. Fortunately, there is a way to get help. Medicaid, a state-based program for those who qualify, will pay most, if not all, of the nursing home costs. There is only one catch: Medicaid is means-tested. The state and federal government limits the number of resources you may have and still qualify for the program. But, through proper planning, it is possible to prepare for nursing home costs, whether they are immediate or future. In either case, we will enable you to get the nursing home care you need while maintaining assets to provide for your family.
About Parmele Estate Planning
Partners, Kathleen Overton and Andrew DeLaMare, head up our estate planning practice in the Kansas City metro area. At Parmele Law Firm, our attorneys bring a unique perspective to solving estate planning issues facing people with estates of all sizes.
Why Estate Planning Is Important To You
It is not about the size of the estate, but about protecting what is important to you. It is an unfortunate, but common belief that estate planning is only for those with estates of a certain size. This simply isn’t true. Estate planning is necessary for those looking not only to maximize protection from “death taxes”, but also to avoid the drawn-out and often expensive probate process. Further, proper estate planning can keep your final wishes private. And, with proper planning and communication, a good estate plan tailored for your family can keep your family relationships intact rather than having family members fight over money and possessions after you are gone. While often overlooked, estate planning can also provide protection for you in old age when you are unable to manage your own affairs. Indeed, it can eliminate the need for guardianship or conservatorship court proceedings. Most importantly, however, it allows you to choose who will look after your affairs rather than allowing the court to make that decision.
At Parmele Law Firm, we view all these benefits as important parts of estate planning. But, unlike many estate planning lawyers, we want to help you preserve your legacy for future generations as well. Of course you want to provide for your family with any resources you leave behind, but more than that, you want to provide your heirs with an identity. You want them to benefit from your life lessons, wisdom, and experiences. A good estate plan can do just that.