“Easy-to-Use Online Estate Planning Program! Only $39.95!”
Yes, unfortunately, programs like this do exist. And if you’re the kind of person who’d perform a medical operation on yourself, you’d probably be interested.
Most of us, though, wouldn’t think of operating on ourselves. We’re not doctors. We haven’t spent twelve years in training. And we realize that we’d make mistakes that could cost us everything. So why, then, do people still think developing an effective, protective Estate Plan is as easy as finding an online “bargain?”
In reality, a do-it-yourself estate plan can be so “easy to use” that you eventually won’t need to do-it-yourself – because you won’t have an estate to plan for!
As a South Florida Elder Law attorney for 33 years, I’ve done more wills, trusts, long-term care planning, Medicaid and VA assistance, Powers of Attorney, and asset-protection plans that I can count. And I’ve also met a few poor souls who’ve tried the do-it-yourself route. Here’s the story of one of them.
He should have known better, because he’s an accountant. Trying to help his mother qualify for Medicaid, he transferred $500,000 to an irrevocable trust, and then began paying for her care during what he thought was the Medicaid waiting period. While filling out the Medicaid application, he checked “Yes” next to: “Do you wish to apply for ALL Medicaid benefits to which you are entitled?”
Unfortunately for his mother, this accountant submitted the application at the wrong time. As a result, Medicaid counted the $500,000 transfer as a gift – and imposed a waiting period of 100 months. His mother’s assets were decimated.
You see, in elder law contracts, seemingly-simple words can easily be misinterpreted by people who aren’t Elder Law attorneys. And that’s why you need an Elder Law attorney – not an online program, not your brother-in-law, not even your accountant – to help a loved one apply for Medicaid!
If you try to play doctor, and “operate” on your estate plan yourself…you’re going to have a very sick patient. Just ask that accountant.
At The Law Offices of Alice Reiter Feld & Associates, we practice Elder Law – and only Elder Law. We’re the ones who can help your loved one apply for Medicaid (or Veteran’s Benefits)…without endangering their life savings.
When puttering around the house, do-it-yourself skills are handy. When trying to do estate planning, they can be deadly – to the estate!
We’re just a phone call away.