The Women's Journal

Step-By-Step Estate Planning

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By Frank Demarinis  


Estate planning is a crucial aspect of financial management, especially for seniors who want to ensure affairs are in order. As individuals enter their senior years, it becomes increasingly important to plan ahead to protect assets and provide for loved ones. Here are some key tips for seniors to consider when it comes to estate planning:

1. Draft a comprehensive will 

It’s essential for seniors to have a clear and detailed will that reflects their current intentions regarding their estate. Be sure to review and update your will regularly to account for any changes in your financial situation or family dynamics. If beneficiaries pass, it can be a difficult task to obtain death certificates (particularly of non-related beneficiaries). Another safeguard to will directives if you have only 1-2 beneficiaries is a POD/TOD (Payment on Death or Transfer of Death), which can easily be added to bank accounts without the need for an attorney. 401K/IRAs should always have a beneficiary designation in lieu of a will.

2. Consider a living trust 

Setting up a living trust can be an effective way to transfer assets beneficiaries while avoiding the probate process. This can help streamline the distribution of your estate and potentially reduce costs and delays.

3. Appoint a power of attorney

Designating a trusted individual as power of attorney is crucial for managing your financial and healthcare decisions if you become unable to do so yourself. Make sure to discuss wishes and expectations with the chosen individual to ensure they understand their responsibilities. Never keep the original important papers in your safety deposit box which is like locking the safe with the key inside. Those papers are needed by your trustee to access your box. 

4. Communicate with family members

Open and honest communication about your estate plan with your family can help prevent misunderstandings and conflicts in the future. Discussing your wishes and the reasons behind your decisions can provide clarity and peace of mind for everyone involved.

5. Organize important documents

Keep all essential documents, including wills, trusts, insurance policies, deeds, and financial account information, in a safe and easily accessible location. Consider creating a comprehensive list of these documents and informing a trusted family member or advisor of their whereabouts. 

6. Seek professional guidance 

Consulting with estate planning attorneys, financial advisors, and tax professionals can provide valuable expertise and ensure that your estate plan is comprehensive, tax-efficient, and legally sound.

7. Plan for long-term care

As seniors age, the potential need for long-term care should be taken into consideration. Explore options such as long-term care insurance, Medicaid planning, or setting aside funds specifically for potential care needs. 

8. In respect to Medicaid Planning there are acceptable and legal pre-planning tools including

Documenting an adult child helping in the same residence through a caretaker agreement, preparing an asset protection trust (not the same as a living trust or Miller Trust) to shelter assets if you believe Medicaid may be needed in the immediate future to ensure you have spending money after you obtain Medicaid Benefits, and, finally, reviewing deed transfer for fair market value or adding an adult child to the home ownership to ensure your spouse, significant other or adult child have a home to stay in. 

In conclusion, estate planning is an essential part of preparing for the future, especially for seniors. By taking the time to address these key considerations and seek professional guidance when needed, seniors can help safeguard their assets and provide for their loved ones according to their wishes. A certified senior advisor or attorney should be consulted. Senior Advisors of Delaware, LLC non-profit program. Call us for a free consultation, Frank Demarinis at 800-564-0173.


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