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Seguin Estate Planning Law Blog

Long-term care planning includes avoiding some common pitfalls

Whether one resides in Texas or another state, there are some basic pitfalls to avoid when considering retirement and vital long-term care issues. For example, the cost of long-term care, including the costs of daily health care for an extended period, may run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenses. If long\-term care planning means purchasing insurance for a few thousand dollars per year in preparation, it can constitute the dodging of a major financial bullet in one's later years.

Such planning can assure a much better quality of life in retirement because more options for the types of services one chooses may be expanded. In addition, one will enjoy peace of mind in the earlier retirement years knowing that a potential major obstacle is covered for the future. By smart money management now, the future does not have to hold unanswered questions that portend possible unwanted sacrifices in comfort and maximum independence.

Long-term care planning may include planning for Medicaid

Texas and other states impose federal rules and regulations for qualifying for Medicaid assistance by elderly applicants. Because Medicaid is a primary source of funding for nursing homes and similar institutions, long\-term care planning may include planning for this federal program. For those who cannot afford insurance to cover nursing home or other long-term care, Medicaid may be the main available remedy.

Sometimes, where there is close family planning, the elderly patriarch or matriarch may be able to stay at home and obtain the necessary care from a host of family and friends, along with supplemental private nursing when necessary. This type of alternative may or may not turn out to be feasible. Thus, Medicaid planning may be an important back-up strategy, even if it turns out that it is not needed.

Estate planning provides personal preference and peace of mind

In one's financial affairs and in life, there are two basic ways of doing things: organized and disorganized. Being organized in Texas and elsewhere is a good thing that results generally in success, whereas doing things in a disorganized manner, or not doing them at all, can cause financial and personal disarray. With respect to estate planning, an individual definitely wants to be organized to avoid disaster and to leave one's family and loved ones with smooth sailing after his or her death.

There are many reasons to organize one's affairs and to establish an estate plan. One of the most important is to have the peace of mind of knowing that your heirs will be taken care of according to your wishes and not according to the dictates of state law. If the estate plan is fully prepared, your heirs will not have to spend inordinate amounts of money and time to retain experts and attorneys to straighten out the results of a person's unplanned estate.

Estate planning works best when shared with family members

Family members may find it interesting to discuss financial issues, but generally that does not carry over to freely discussing topics of inheritance and estate planning. That is a mistake that families in Texas and elsewhere should correct wherever possible. Having open and detailed discussions about financial status and estate planning for the inevitable events of the future can be an emotional relief for all concerned.

Experience proves that those families that take up such topics and discuss them in detail lay the groundwork for better relations during life and a more efficient transition at death. No one really wants to see one's heirs fighting over assets, or sacrificing great amounts of time and money to get unprepared estates straightened out under circumstances of stress and uncertainty. Everyone enjoys better peace of mind with proper lifetime planning.

Elder law provides tools to meet the potential of Alzheimer's

The costs of taking care of Alzheimer's patients have skyrocketed to the point that it is now called the country's most expensive disease, a tag that likely applies also in Texas. This is an unfriendly subject that most people want to leave in the distant shadows of their mind. However, the numbers of people suffering from the disease -- or from its cousin, dementia -- is rising, and the elder law issues related to planning cannot be conveniently avoided.

As our life expectancy goes up, the incidence of these diseases is becoming more prevalent, and the odds of getting either of them is increasing substantially. There are important reasons why long-term care planning make sense with respect to this topic. For one thing, modern medicine and science are taking up the research of Alzheimer's on a widescale basis. More medicines have been approved and more are coming out each year.

Putting off estate planning can lead to disputes and expenses

A recent study by an international wealth management company concludes that as family dynamics become more complex, the potential for conflicts after a family member's death increases. The survey took a national sampling, which presumably included Texas. The report states that only 28 percent of those responding said that their parents had shared their estate planning details with them.

In addition, 40 percent of the respondents that replied believed that the distribution of their parents' estates were unfair, with most of that group being unmarried children. It was also found that 25 percent of married persons indicated that only their spouse knows the location of their wills and estate planning documents. Slightly over half of the surveyed persons indicated that they had no will.

Estate planning is best done with experienced professional help

Estate planning in Texas and elsewhere is always an important legal process that one should take seriously. In that light, it is not something to experiment with by adopting online offerings or selected snippets of information that do not consider the full range of legal and factual issues pertaining to the individual or married couple. Estate planning is a process that is best done in conjunction with an experienced estate planning attorney.

The experience that legal counsel will impart to the process can be invaluable in keeping one from venturing into untried or inadvisable territory. It is important that a person who is engaging in the estate planning process also obtain and implement a complete estate plan. This will involve at the least a selection of living trusts and/or a simple or complex will, depending on the factual circumstances of the individual.

Wills are useful for young couples and those of modest means

Many people in Texas and elsewhere have the misconception that because they are young they do not need a will. Young parents, however, may greatly benefit from having in their wills the designation of who should take care of their children if they have both died. The fact that this does not happen often does not dismiss the need and wisdom to prepare for such an event.

By preparing the foregoing clause, a lot of potential trouble will be prevented. This may include the need for court-appointed guardians and even the prospect of inter-family battles for custody of the children. Another important misconception that people have is that they do not need a will if they are not rich.

Long-term care planning is best charted prior to retirement

Long-term care in Texas generally refers to a range of products and services that older persons may need to get through their daily lives. For example, one may need assistance in preparing meals, getting dressed, bathing, cleaning and the like. If one is disabled and in need of medical care, this may be done in the home or it may require in-patient care. Medicare pays essentially nothing for such services, and it is prudent for a couple or individual to do some vital long-term care planning.

When there is a disability that is incapacitating and the individual simply cannot care for herself or himself, placement in an assisted living facility may be feasible. The more incapacitated persons may have to be placed in a nursing home. With memory problems such as Alzheimer's, an assisted living facility may be inadequate and the nursing home may be more appropriate.

A simple will and power of attorney can avoid numerous problems

Many Americans, including in Texas, are not certain how their estate should be divided after death, per a 2016 Gallup survey. Well over half of all Americans also do not have a simple will. Going without a will may raise complications for persons who are single without children, unmarried couples living together, or even married couples without kids.

That is because the intestate laws that set forth how the estate shall be divided when there is no will may be inadequate. They may in some cases bring about a result that was not intended by the decedent. For example, when a single person dies, different relatives and friends may challenge the designations set by law or may claim to be relatives who are entitled to inherit under those laws.

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