When it comes to protecting your estate, it helps to work with an elder law attorney. What are the different services to consider?
Asset protection is a legal option for someone who wants to shield their assets from legal judgments or claims from creditors and ex-wives or ex-husbands. Both individuals and businesses can use asset protection planning to protect their property legally.
While some assets, such as personal jewelry and clothing, cannot be seized in a legal judgment, some can be. A second home is an example of an asset that a person might want to protect.
Why not just transfer assets? That’s always an option, but it does put you at risk that the person you’ve transferred to will burn through your money or sell it anyway.
Estate planning is a multi-faceted arrangement that protects your assets and transfers them to your desired heirs upon death. Typically, an estate plan includes a will, trusts, powers of attorney, and medical advanced directives or living wills.
Power of Attorney
A power of attorney is a legal measure where you choose a person to act as your agent or representative if you become unable to make decisions for yourself. That agent will follow your wishes when it comes to making medical decisions, signing up for insurance plans, paying bills, and transferring funds from one account to another.
You have a power of attorney for healthcare matters, legal matters, and financial matters. A power of attorney typically ends if your mental abilities decline after a stroke, accident, or with dementia. There’s a way to protect yourself in that situation, too.
There’s also a durable power of attorney that continues to protect you if you become mentally incompetent. These are especially important if you have dementia and know your mental acuity is going to decline and will need help making the right medical and financial decisions.
Probate law is the process where the court determines if the will that has been presented after your death is valid. Once that is determined, an executor is assigned to pay off the remaining debt and distribute any remaining assets.
When a person dies without a will, probate law is still going to take place. In this case, the court chooses someone to fill the role of an executor. Probate law varies between states, so it’s important to work with an elder law attorney to ensure everything is in place and won’t create arguments or hassles after your death.
A will is a legal document that states what assets you possess and how you want them distributed after your death. You may not want a child who hasn’t spoken to you in 20 years to inherit anything, so you need a will to make that clear and avoid any future disputes when your estate is distributed.
If you haven’t taken time to have a will and other estate planning documents drafted, it’s past time. The last thing you want is for your family to have to enter into costly legal battles after your death. Talk to an elder law attorney to start making the necessary legal arrangements.