Many seniors are making strides toward estate planning by working with their elder law attorneys to set up what they believe are the appropriate wills and trusts. The goals with this type of planning are most commonly to:
- avoid probate,
- make decisions regarding trust administration,
- and—most importantly—to protect your assets for your heirs.
Unfortunately, this final criteria is not always met in traditional wills and trusts.
The problem stems from long-term care. When you set up your initial estate planning documents, such as a revocable living trust, you probably fully intend to outline your wishes for how your estate will be dispersed upon your death. Unfortunately, this document does not protect your assets from creditors, lawsuits or the incredible costs associated with nursing home care during your own lifetime.
In order to pay for care during your lifetime, your entire estate can be at risk. Your assets can be used to pay for your medical expenses and other needs, potentially leaving little or nothing to be administered in your trust. This means that even if you have a legal document directing how your assets should be distributed, it will be referring to assets that were already sold off to cover expenses. As nursing home costs continue to rise, we see more and more of this in Cary.
To avoid this situation, it’s often necessary to work with an attorney who focuses on elder law and long-term care planning, in addition to traditional estate planning. If it appears your estate is at risk of being wiped out due to unexpected illness, incapacity or long-term care costs, your attorney can work with you to create the right kind of trust that will adequately shield your assets during your lifetime, and after death.
To learn more about how seniors are engaging in long-term care planning to protect their assets from the skyrocketing costs of nursing home care, contact our Cary office at (919)443-3035 and ask about one of our upcoming workshops.