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Keeping family discussions about estate planning from going off the rails

Important things often require great care. Take discussions with the family about estate planning issues for instance. Talking with one's family about one's estate plan can be a very important thing. It can help create clear expectations within a person's family regarding what will happen asset-wise when the person passes away. It can also help bring potential issues and concerns regarding such matters within a family to the front early, thus giving a family a chance to properly address them. These sorts of things may be able to help things go easier for a person's family during the probate process after the person has passed away. 

It is, however, possible for such discussions to go awry. Discussions on estate planning can touch on some sensitive issues for a family, and thus could rather easily go into troublesome territory when not handled with careful thought. An estate planning discussion with one's family going badly could have many negative implications, including hurt feelings and increased difficulty in having constructive conversations about these topics in the future. 

Changes in wills for changes in life

Life can be full of changes. These changes can impact all sorts of things for an individual, including their priorities, their goals for the future and their family situation. Thus, a person's desires for what they want their estate plan to do won't necessarily be static; they could shift over time.

Thankfully, a person isn't simply stuck with however they first set their estate plan. There are generally ways to update estate planning devices to adjust to changes. For example, wills can be updated.

Child caretaker designations in an estate plan

When parents are expecting or just had a new child, it can be important for them to think about the future. This includes planning for the possibility of tragic events happening in the future, such as them passing away before their child is an adult.

When a child's parents pass away while the child is still a minor, one of the big issues is who will now care for the child. Who cares for a child can have major impacts on a child's life. Thus, who would care for their child in such a situation is something parents generally very much want a say in. Unfortunately, there are certain things that could cause parents to lose the ability to have their preferences control what would happen in such a situation.

Balancing charitable giving with other goals in estate planning

One thing many individuals put a high priority on is supporting the charities they care about. When it comes to charitable giving, it can be important to go about such giving in a way that doesn't severely compromise the other important goals one has. 

One goal a poorly thought out giving strategy could potentially get in the way of is the goal of having a good retirement. Having a strong nest egg can play an important role in having the type of retirement one wants. Not exercising proper care when it comes to giving away assets, such as charitable giving, is one of the things a recent CNBC article identified as having the possibility to seriously endanger a retirement nest egg. It could result in a nest egg getting depleted too much or too early. 

Whether or not you have kids, estate planning is important

One major role an estate plan can play is that it can allow a parent to set up protections for their children. For example, they can set up provisions directing who will care for their children if they pass away while the kids are still minors and set up provisions aimed at providing after-death financial support to the kids. Thus, proper estate planning can be very important for parents. 

A false assumption that should not be drawn from this though is that estate planning isn't as important if you don't have kids. On the contrary, ignoring or needlessly putting off estate planning could be very damaging for a person without children.

The growing elderly population in Texas and long-term care

The size of the elderly population here in Texas is expected to grow considerably in upcoming years. Some estimates have predicted that, by 2040, the over-65 population in the state will be over double its current level, growing from 3.2 million all the way up to 7.5 million. 

There are various concerns this expected increase in the number of elderly individuals in the state raises when it comes to long-term care. One are concerns about how long-term care facilities will handle the increased strain a significantly larger elderly population could put on them. One wonders what actions such facilities will take as the state's elderly population grows, and what impacts such actions will have on the quality of care at such facilities.  

Proper handling of retirement assets important in estate planning

Many people put a lot of hard work and effort into building up their retirement assets. Thus, it is natural for a person to want to have a say in what happens with such assets if they pass away before using all of them. 

Thankfully, there are ways for individuals to have such a say. One of the main ways a person can have their voice heard when it comes to the after-death distribution of their retirement assets is through their beneficiary designations. For most retirement assets, what happens to them when the person they belong to passes away is controlled by a beneficiary designation on the asset. 

Many different things make seniors financial abuse targets

When a person is in their elderly years, their financial state is generally very important, as it can affect things such as their quality of life in retirement and their ability to get proper medical care for health issues that arise for them down the line. There are many things out there that could substantially weaken a senior's financial state. One such thing is financial abuse.

Unfortunately, seniors are increasingly finding themselves the target of financial exploitation. There are a variety of different reasons why elderly individuals are particularly vulnerable to being targeted for financial abuse. A recent Huffington Post article went over some of these reasons, including:

  • The fact that some individuals experience substantial diminishments in mental capacity in their elderly years.
  • The fact that elderly individuals, generally, have a lower likelihood of reporting financial abuse committed against them.
  • The major focus older generations put on politeness when dealing with others.
  • The high level of willingness elderly individuals may have to take chances when they believe it could help them stay healthy.
  • The high concentration of wealth among elderly individuals.

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.

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