If you have kids or anyone else who you want to leave a legacy to, you are going to have to plan ahead. You might have health care issues, and may need long term care, but don’t let ill health catch you blindsided.
Giving Your Kids the Right Tools for the Job
When the time comes, we want to ensure that our kids have the right tools for the job. We are not invincible – we will eventually pass away, or get sick before we pass away. We need to have a plan in place to address all circumstances.
So what do the right tools look like?
In my opinion, utilizing trusts allows us to keep our lives private, and can protect assets from long term care expenses. A document, called The Power of Attorney allows the person called my agent, to make legal and financial decisions on my behalf. This is important if I become incapacitated. There is a notice on the front of the document that we sign to make it legitimate. In the document, the agent becomes the legal and financial decision maker, with the power and authority to do what is specified.
If you’ve got elder law concerns, the agent must have the ability to give unlimited gifts. When you go to the nursing home, your agent must be able to move money out of your name, and put it in a trust or in your spouse’s name, to protect it. The power of attorney document must authorise giving the money away, so you don’t lose it to the nursing home.
Get your Power of Attorney Document Reviewed
If you have created a power of attorney in the past, but it wasn’t done by an elder law attorney, please allow us to review it, so we can make sure that it will protect your assets.
Teach Your Kids How to Do the Job
By giving our kids a will or trust, it does not make them an executor or trustee, so it is important to educate the kids. At the Sechler Law Firm, if you engage our law firm for services, we have an ongoing support membership program, called the Red Wagon Club. One of the benefits is a webinar we offer twice a year, when we invite the kids of our clients to join us. This is where we teach the kids what will be expected of them if they are appointed as Executor or Trustee.
By doing so, we are building a relationship with them. We already have a relationship with mom and dad but if either parent falls ill, we need to have a conversation with the children. It makes it easier for them if we’ve already provided education on the way things are done.
We educate our clients about setting up a trust to give the kids their inheritance. This ensures that when the kids receive their inheritance, the money is safe from a potential divorce, creditor, or lawsuit issues. The kids also know what to expect when they receive an inheritance.
No joint Agents, no joint Executors or no joint Trustees
You can name more than one person to be your financial and legal decision maker, or you can name joint agents with joint executors, but I don’t recommend it. I realize my client does not want to offend one his kids, but it could actually create family tensions having joint agents. Based on what I’ve seen, it is hardly ever peaceful or cooperative, and they may disagree on various thing. It is best to have just one child as your decision maker, and a successor.
B-O-S is a term that attorneys and financial advisors use when clients come through the door, with a ‘Bag of Stuff’. This bag likely contains statements, tax returns, investment statements and life insurance policies belonging to their deceased mom or dad. In this situation, the kids don’t understand mom or dad’s plan, or the estate plan was not found.
To avoid this, you should show your kids your financial snapshot by putting your assets on an Excel sheet. Keep a record of it in a place where they will easily find it, when you get sick or pass away.
Inform your kids about your assets, and share your wishes about your end of life decisions and funeral wishes. Be organized so your kids won’t have months of stressful administration to contend with. When you fund a trust with Sechler Law Firm, we provide this documentation with your Estate Plan.
Start the relationships earlier
If you have a financial advisor, introduce the financial advisor to your children. As estate planning and elder law attorneys, we’d also like to meet your children. Whether in person, on a phone call or a zoom meeting, we can teach your kids about their roles. Please write down the names and numbers of the advisors you trust. If I’ve done your estate plan and you trust me, tell your kids they can count on me. If your kids meet your advisors before you pass away, it is easier to get the relationship off on the right track.
Many Resources Are Available For You
You will find all types of information, including videos, blog articles and free downloads on our website. The education you need is all there to help you better understand your options. You won’t do estate planning on your own, but you will be equipped with knowledge to make informed decisions. We create the best plan for you and advise you throughout life’s changes.
Come to one of our free estate planning and elder law workshops. Also known as our 3 Secrets Workshops, we will teach you about the tools like wills, trusts, the power of attorney, long term care and taxes. We want to get to know you, and we’re going to provide you with valuable content throughout our relationship. We regard our clients as ‘members’ and we’re here to look after you. Register for our workshops here.