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New York Elder Law Attorney Blog

Protecting documents is an important part of estate planning

Many New York residents understand the benefits of having estate plans. They take the time to make major life, end-of-life and after-life decisions so that their surviving loved ones will have the information they need to close the remaining estates. However, estate planning does not end with creating the documents that provide that information. It also involves protecting them and making them accessible.

Without access to the information, surviving loved ones may have no idea what their family member's estate plans included. As a result, it may seem as if one does not exist at all. Individuals creating their plans may find it useful to obtain copies of their legal documents and property information and store those documents in a secure place that the appointed executor or other applicable party can access when needed.

Does your veteran parent need nursing home care?

If you have an elderly parent who is a veteran, then you may know they are eligible for benefits through the Veterans Administration (VA). You may not know, however, exactly what those benefits are and whether they can help your parent who now needs nursing home care. Here are a few highlights from the complicated world of VA benefits to get you started:

Discussing power of attorney information important for care

When making important decisions that involve other people, it is often wise to discuss the situation with the other parties involved. For example, if a New York resident wants to appoint a loved one or other trusted party to make medical decisions for him or her in the event of incapacitation, it is important to talk about those wishes. In some cases, the person given power of attorney may need to broach the topic.

While it is beneficial to create a power of attorney document to put someone in charge of important medical decisions, that person also needs to know the right decisions to make. Unfortunately, even after making appointments, few individuals actually talk about their specific care wishes with their appointed agents. If parties have not made appointments, it is even more likely that loved ones do not know their wishes.

Important first steps to consider when estate planning

Over the years, most New York residents accumulate numerous assets, and they often want to make sure that those assets get passed on to future generations. Commonly, people utilize estate planning in order to protect their assets and dictate how their property should be distributed after their deaths. Creating an estate plan can start simply and expand to include a variety of important documents.

One step that individuals may want to consider first is to create a letter of last instruction. This letter can provide information regarding where important documents and account information is kept. Parties can address locations of birth certificates, insurance policy information, titles, deeds, funeral instructions, wills, contact information for important people and a great deal of other information.

Does creating a trust make sense for you?

An estate plan can be created with a variety of different tools, but two of the most common options are a will and a trust. Most people are familiar with wills. You likely have heard of a trust, but may be unclear who should use a trust. Here are some of the benefits and drawbacks of using a trust for estate plans. 

A serious health condition may present a need for a living will

When New York residents think about planning for the future, many of them consider trips they would like to take, having a family, reaching career goals or other similar positive events. However, it is also important to plan for the not-so-positive life events. In particular, it is wise to plan for a potentially serious health condition.

Individuals of any age could develop a health condition or suffer serious injuries in an accident that leaves them incapacitated or which could prove terminal. In these situations, it is important that medical staff members know how to treat their patients, even if those patients cannot voice their wishes for care. Fortunately, living wills can detail how patients want their treatments carried out. However, only 37 percent of individuals across the country have advance health care directives.

Consider planning for care during Long-Term Care Awareness Month

November is Long-Term Care Awareness Month. Many New York residents may want to take some time in the near future to consider what options they would like to take advantage of in the event that they need such care. The majority of people over age 65 will need long-term care at some point, and planning for care can prove invaluable.

Planning ahead can prove beneficial for the person needing care, and it can also help that individual's family. According to a recent survey, 75 percent of Americans believe that they will need to care for a family member at some point. In particular, daughters feel that they will have to bear the brunt of this responsibility more than sons. Unfortunately, not everyone feels ready to care for an ailing or elderly parent.

Plan ahead to address long-term care costs

While New York residents may not know for certain that they will need long-term care as they get older, it is a substantial possibility. While many people may hope that they will receive the necessary care if and when the time comes, hoping may not be enough. Instead, individuals may want to be proactive and plan ahead, especially to make sure they can afford needed care.

Addressing the potential for long-term care expenses could be as important as planning for retirement. Most people would balk at the idea of not setting aside any funds for retirement, but those same people may not think that setting aside funds for medical care is necessary. However, nursing home care can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars every year, especially if individuals want private rooms.

Special needs trusts can be an important part of estate planning

It is common for New York parents with children who have special needs to worry about their future care. It is unfortunate but true that parents will not be around forever, and it is understandable that they want to plan ahead to address the care their kids may need. Luckily, estate planning can help with the endeavor.

In particular, parents often want to provide financial support for their kids. However, simply gifting them assets or allowing them to inherit property after their parents' deaths can jeopardize eligibility for certain government benefits. This is where special needs trusts come in. These accounts can hold assets that can go toward the support of special needs children in the manner the parents see fit without directly giving the funds to the children.

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