Imagine a senior named Jack.
He’s worked hard, raised a family, and accumulated some assets, which are all in his name. Which means, of course, that he’s the only one who can touch them. But Jack’s getting older. What if he has a stroke one day?
If he dies, it’s fairly straightforward – everything goes to his wife. But what if he lives? He’s incapacitated, and can’t touch the money…and neither can his wife or anyone else in the family, in most cases.
You see, Jack never took the time to draft powers of attorney for healthcare or property, or to do some trust planning. So, in order to access Jack’s assets to pay for his long-term care, Jack’s family will need lawyers, will have to pay for court costs, and may end up with a potentially-troublesome mechanism called a guardianship.
Had Jack done proper estate planning, his wife wouldn’t have had to go to court to beg strangers for permission to use her husband’s money for his own health care. And jack would have had a revocable living trust, into which you can deposit things and take them out.
A revocable living trust is like a box with an open top. It includes instructions to your successor trustee. And it guarantees that your family will never face the horrible prospect of living probate (guardianship) or probate at the time of death.
This box with an open top should be at the core of every estate plan. However, it doesn’t have any real asset protection. So you may need to do it in conjunction with other Elder Law mechanisms that can protect your family. (There are a couple types of trusts that allow you to keep some of your assets!)
At the Law Offices of Alice Reiter Feld & Associates, our clients will never find themselves in Jack’s family’s situation. We’re Elder Law attorneys. And we build comprehensive, effective estate plans for our clients, protecting both their rights and their assets. We’ve been doing this for South Florida families for 33 years. And we know that an effective estate plan is a puzzle with many pieces – wills, trusts, long-term care planning, assistance with Medicaid or the VA, asset protection, etc. – all of which fit together to offer the most protection.
You don’t have to be in the same situation as Jack’s family. We’re just a phone call away.
Revocable Living Trusts: The Open-Top Box