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Houston Estate Planning Law Blog

Lack of knowledge of government programs could cause trouble in care planning

How an elderly individual addresses the costs they face can play a very major role in what their retirement is like and what sort of financial legacy their loved ones are ultimately able to receive from them. For many elderly individuals, one of the bigger costs they face are the costs related to long-term care and medical care. Thus, care costs are something it can be very important for seniors to prepare for.

There are many things it can be important to take into account when care planning. One such thing are government benefits. There are many government programs seniors may have benefits eligibility under during their elderly years, including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Federal estate tax exemption projected to go up next year

Not all estates are subject to the federal estate tax. Rather, the tax only applies to estates that have a value above the currently applicable exemption amount.

This exemption amount has not been one constant number, but rather has shifted over time. Multiple things can lead to the exemption amount changing. One are changes in federal law. Another is inflation. This is because the exemption amount is inflation-indexed under current law.

Planning for care costs for Alzheimer's

Alzheimer's disease can have a range of major impacts on its victims and their families. This includes financial effects. Significant care costs can arise in connection to Alzheimer's disease.

There are many different types of care services a person with Alzheimer's could end up needing. Some examples include nursing home care, assisted living facility care, the assistance of a home health care aide and adult social day care programs. The costs of Alzheimer's-related care can vary considerably depending on the person's care needs and where they live. However, such costs can easily build up to very big levels for an Alzheimer's victim and their family, such as tens of thousands of dollars annually or higher.

Estate planning when the kids don't get along

Parents hope their children will get along with each other well. Unfortunately, this doesn't always happen with siblings; siblings sometimes have rather tense rivalries or poor relations with one another. Sibling rivalries among their children have the potential to have estate planning implications for parents.

The existence of sibling rivalries could increase the likelihood of disputes arising among a parent's children over aspects of the parent's estate after the parent's death. Things that can sometimes be battlegrounds for siblings with tense relations after the death of a parent include:

  • Who personal items belonging to the parent will go to.
  • How various assets in the estate are divided among the siblings.
  • Who will serve important roles regarding the parent's estate and assets, such as executor or trustee.

Helping guardians of the estate at all stages

One thing individuals with elderly relatives often care greatly about is protecting their elderly loved one. This can include protecting them financially. One thing that can create major financial dangers for an elderly individual is when their financial decision-making abilities become compromised, such as by a medical condition like dementia. When a person here in Texas believes their elderly loved one is no longer able to make financial decisions on their own, one option they may have to financially protect their loved one is to pursue being appointed the guardian of the estate for their loved one

When a person is named the guardian of the estate of a loved one, they receive decision-making authority when it comes to their loved one's financial affairs.

Wills aren't as permanent or ironclad as they may seem

A will is a very important part of your estate plan. Many people may think that the will is the only document that relates to your estate plan -- some may even think the will is the estate plan. But your estate plan is actually a collection of documents, assets and contracts, of which the will is an important factor.

These misconceptions about the will actually lead to another myth: that the will is almighty and all-powerful. Once it is put together and signed, that's it. What it says, goes. Though this is the usually the case, there are certain circumstances in which a will is actually quite fallible and open to a legal challenge. Let's examine a few of these situations.

Making sure your will is enforceable

Wills can be a very helpful tool for a person when it comes to having their desires regarding their property carried out upon their death. However, wills can only serve this important role when they are legally enforceable. There are certain mistakes that can cause a will to be unenforceable. Such mistakes can undermine the entire purpose of a will and can make it so all the work a person did to form a will was for naught. Thus, avoiding such mistakes is very important.

One type of mistake that will generally render a will legally invalid is failing to sign the will. Generally, here in Texas, a signature is required for a will to be enforceable. Thus, a will typically won't be enforceable until it's signed.

End-of-life care planning and cancer patients

When a person has been diagnosed with cancer, there are many things it can be important for them to think about and plan for when it comes to the care they receive for their condition. One is, if the cancer ends up being fatal, what will happen with their care in the last stages of their life.

There can be many important decisions to make when it comes to end-of-life care, including decisions regarding what treatments should and should not be given. These decisions can touch on issues that can have major impacts for a cancer patient and their family.

Don't let fear and anxiety get in the way of estate planning

Many people find thinking about the reality that they will one day pass away very difficult. This is understandable. One's mortality can be a scary thing to contemplate. Also, thoughts about what will happen with one's family and friends after one passes away can trigger many strong emotions and anxieties.

While it is perfectly natural to feel unease when thinking about one's mortality, it is very important for individuals to not let this unease stop them from engaging in planning regarding what will happen with their estate when they die. One trap individuals can fall into is letting fear, anxiety and strong emotions lead them to major procrastination, inattentiveness and indecision when it comes to such planning. Among the things this could result in is a person simply not having an estate plan or having a plan that is out of date or fails to address some major issues.

Special concerns can arise in high-asset estate planning

Estate planning can be valuable for individuals of all income and asset levels. However, this does not mean that how much in assets a person has is irrelevant when it comes to estate planning matters. It is one of the things that can heavily impact what sort of estate plan is best for a person.

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