July 12, 2016
The “10 Most Gruesome Estate Planning Mistakes” series. Mistake #8: Not Planning for What Happens if You Don’t Die
Estate planning is planning for death, versus elder law planning which is planning for what happens if you don’t pass away and continue to age and you continue to age and face all the issues that go along with aging, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s, or just the frailties of aging. More and more, people are living longer and needing long-term care. Failing to plan for the cost of long-term care and failing to have your documents address long-term care issues can be a huge blunder.
It’s important to have a Certified Elder Law Attorney.
The unfortunate truth of the matter, most Michigan estate planning attorneys are ill equipped to help your family deal with issues of aging, long-term care an asset protection. It’s so bad, that we’ve coined the term LifeCare Planning for what we do. It’s planning for your life and should be included as part of your estate plan.
What is a LifeCare Plan?
A Life Care Plan defines, organizes, prioritizes and mobilizes every aspect of an elder’s care. In addition to traditional asset-focused elder law services that help elders qualify for public benefits while preserving family wealth to the greatest extent possible, a Life Care Plan typically includes provisions for care coordination and other forms of family support.
The goal of Life Care Planning is to promote and maintain the health, safety, well-being and quality of life of elders. Every Life Care Plan is designed to achieve three primary objectives:
- Make sure the elder gets appropriate care, whether at home or in a residential facility, to maintain the quality of life that he or she desires;
- Locate public and private sources to help pay for long-term care while resolving issues created by the high cost of care; and
- Offer peace of mind that results when the right choices are made to ensure loved ones are safe and getting the right care while preserving family resources
The attorneys at The Elder Care Firm use a model called the Elder Care Continuum to help families understand the natural progression of aging and its impact on a loved one’s health, mobility, housing and financial resources. An initial meeting with The Elder Care Firm may focus on the elderly loved one’s place on each line of the Elder Care Continuum. Gaps in care can then be identified and solutions discussed for closing those gaps.
Estate Planning is More Than What Happens at Death
Too often, Michigan estate planning lawyers are focus only on what happens when you die. This approach, as explained above, ignores the pressing issues with regards to aging, disability or asset protection. A big area of concern here is that there are missed legal opportunities at best or borderline malpractice at worst.
The Elder Care Firm’s estate planning expert attorneys have reviewed thousands of estate plans. Many of the estate plans reviewed are basic revocable living trust plans. The missed opportunity here is that a revocable living trust offers zero protection against long-term care costs and lawsuits. The main goal of the revocable living trust is passing your assets outside of probate. This will happen only if the trust is funded properly (the process of transferring your assets from you to your trust).
However, assets that are in a revocable living trust are still considered your assets, meaning that the assets in the trust are available to creditors, lawsuits, and long-term care costs. Our attorneys can help you protect those assets! In fact we can do that in a way that you won’t be giving up much control. An asset protection trust that allows you to maintain control….sound too good to be true? It’s not. We do it all the time.
One Size Estate Plan Fits All?
Taking it a step further, our expert attorneys have reviewed estate plans from attorneys all across the state of Michigan that look absolutely no different whether it’s a health 35 year old with a young family or a 85 year old widow diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Where this really comes into play is in the financial power of attorney document and what powers or limitations are built into the document. Not all documents are created equal, not all lawyers have equal knowledge.
Ignoring the long-term care aspect that most families face and focusing only on where stuff goes upon your death is one of the biggest mistakes I see estate planning lawyers and their families make….don’t make it yourself!
The Next Step
If you would like to ensure that your current estate plan will not fail you, join us for one of our FREE LifeCare Planning Workshops that are different than your typical estate planning seminar. It’s promised that time will fly, you’ll learn a lot, and have a little bit of fun. To sign up for a LifeCare Planning Workshop click here.