“I have always been really healthy” and “I plan to stay in my home until I die” are common refrains I hear when I meet with clients to discuss estate and long-term care planning. Unfortunately, relying on luck to plan for future circumstances can be detrimental to you and your loved ones. In recognition of St. Patrick’s Day, here are a couple of situations where expecting luck to be a sufficient estate planning or long-term care planning strategy should be reconsidered (even if you are Irish).
Luck is not the most supportive companion when you have a short or long-term health care problem arise. It cannot make health care decisions on your behalf nor can it pay your bills and transition you to a nursing home if you need long-term care when you are incapacitated. Instead, you could prepare documents such as a Health Care Proxy and Durable Power of Attorney to ensure you will receive appropriate health and financial care while you are alive, and that decisions can be made by the people you choose.
Luck plays the cards close to the vest and regularly withholds information about your date of death in advance. Your plan may be to spend all of your money while you are alive to avoid probate and minimize the need to pay estate taxes, but luck may have different plans in mind for you. You can outsmart luck by creating one or more Trusts to avoid probate, reduce estate taxes (and increase your beneficiaries’ inheritance, too), and protect assets from liability for long-term care expenses.
While luck may come to the rescue in some situations, relying on it to take care of you and your loved ones’ health and financial well-being is not a plan. Instead, make sure you are prepared by working with an experienced estate planning attorney to create the appropriate documents in case luck decides to abandon you in the future.
Attorney Abigail V. Poole is a senior associate attorney with the Dedham firm of Samuel, Sayward & Baler LLC which focuses on advising its clients in the areas of trust and estate planning, estate settlement and elder law matters. She is an active member and current President of the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA). This article is not intended to provide legal advice or create or imply an attorney-client relationship. No information contained herein is a substitute for a personal consultation with an attorney. For more information visit ssbllc.com or call 781/461-1020.
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