When you think about the need for an estate planning attorney, you undoubtedly think about creating or revising an estate plan that determines how your estate assets are distributed after you are gone. While an estate planning attorney certainly can help you with that, there are numerous other ways an estate planning attorney can help you. Here are seven ways an estate planning attorney can help you that might surprise you:
- Planning for the possibility of incapacity. Incapacity is not something that only happens when you are old. On the contrary, you could become incapacitated at any age because of a tragic accident or serious illness. If you become incapacitated, who will take over control of your assets and make medical decisions for you? If you want to be the one to decide, you need to plan for the possibility by incorporating an incapacity planning component into your comprehensive estate plan that may include things such as a revocable trust, a Financial Power of Attorney, and advance health care directives.
- Estate Administration. When someone dies, his or her estate may be required to go through the legal process known as “probate,” which is a public proceeding exposing your family’s assets and ultimate recipients to the public. If the decedent executed a Last Will and Testament before death the individual named as the Personal Representative in the Will is responsible for effectuating the estate administration. If the decedent died intestate, the Personal Representative would be appointed by the Court. If you are the Personal Representative, you will find that it can be a complex and time-consuming job. An estate planning attorney can help you, saving you time and ensuring that mistakes are not made during the probate process.
- Trust Administration. If you suddenly find yourself faced with the prospect of administering a trust because the Trustor appointed you to be the Successor Trustee, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed. Making a mistake while administering a trust could result in a loss of trust assets and may even subject you to personal liability. The good news is that an estate planning attorney can help you fulfill your duties and responsibilities as a Trustee.
- Contesting a Will. The loss of a loved one is never easy; however, the grieving process can be worse if you believe that the Last Will and Testament submitted for probate is invalid. If you find yourself in such a position, an estate planning attorney can review the Will and evaluate the circumstances surrounding the execution of the Will. If you have grounds for challenging the validity of the Will, an estate planning attorney can help you do so. Alternatively, if you find yourself on the other side, as the beneficiary or personal representative of a contested estate in which someone else has brought an action, an Estate Planning Attorney could be of use to help you Defend the Will in question.
- Long-term care (Medicaid) planning. There is a very good chance that you will one day need long-term care (LTC) and the longer you live, the greater the odds. For the average person, the cost of LTC can be prohibitive given the fact that neither Medicare nor basic healthcare insurance will cover LTC costs. Medicaid will cover LTC expenses if you qualify; however, qualifying can put your assets at risk if you did not plan accordingly. An estate planning attorney can help ensure that you are prepared for the high cost of long-term care by making sure you will qualify for Medicaid without putting your assets at risk.
- Planning for a child with special needs. If you have a child, grandchild, or loved one with special needs, you must be careful about how you provide support to that person when they reach adulthood because any direct gift left to a person with special needs could jeopardize much-needed assistance from programs such as Medicaid and SSI. Creating a special needs trust, however, can protect the gift while still allowing your loved one to maintain eligibility for state and federal assistance programs.
- Eldercare. At some point in your life, you may realize that your parent or loved one is no longer able to safely make decisions or handle his/her finances. At that point, it may be time to consider petitioning for guardianship/conservatorship. The decision and the subsequent legal process can be emotionally exhausting and time-consuming. You may eventually decide that nursing home care is the best option for an elderly loved one. Making that decision is difficult enough; however, it can be downright heartbreaking if you begin to suspect elder abuse or neglect after your loved one is settled. Fortunately, an estate planning attorney can help you make the right decisions and provide you with legal options if you suspect elder abuse.
Contact Owings Mills Estate Planning Attorney
For more information, contact our estate planning office in Owings Mills, Maryland by calling 410-654-3850 to schedule an appointment.