As your life continues to evolve, so should your legal and estate planning. The concerns you have as a single person, as a spouse or a parent with minor children, and when you are nearing or in your retirement years, are all different. Whether those issues include tax, inheritance or long-term health care planning, your legal documents should reflect the reality in your life today with the flexibility to adapt to changes in the future.
Now may be the time to revisit your legal planning to ensure you are addressing the concerns of today.
ESTATE PLANNING TAILORED TO MEET YOUR NEEDS
Estate planning is more than drafting a Will to appoint an executor and name your heirs. Every person has their own unique goals and concerns, and your estate plan should reflect your particular needs.
Whether you are concerned about long-term care issues for yourself or your spouse, are a family with Special Needs individuals, are a blended family with children from a previous marriage, are parents with minor children, or want to ensure ease and efficiency in winding up your affairs, I can provide the legal planning necessary to ensure your goals are accomplished.
An effective estate plan should include a Will or a Living Trust, Powers of Attorney, a Living Will, and in some cases a Community Property Agreement.
Your Will or Living Trust should address not only who benefits from your estate, but how any inheritance is received. It involves making sure your wishes are respected and your heirs are provided for in the manner you would if you were still living, without making the IRS an unintended beneficiary.
A Power of Attorney for financial matters and a Power of Attorney for health care matters should be up-to-date and provide comprehensive instructions for your Agent and for the institutions (banks, hospitals, etc) your Agent communicates with in making decisions on your behalf when you are unable to do so yourself.
The Living Will is essentially a gift to your loved ones that expresses your wishes regarding the use of artificial means of life support if there is no expectation that you will survive, or have any degree of quality of life. It gives your loved ones direction and guidance when faced with making difficult end-of-life decisions.
LONG-TERM HEALTH CARE PLANNING
Nobody plans to retire in a nursing home, but in Washington State the nursing home occupancy rate is 90.6%. Why? Because people do not plan ahead to stay out of a nursing home. Long-Term Care planning involves coordinating your legal planning to figure out how to pay for the ever-increasing cost of long-term care, and working with a Health Care manager when necessary to guide the family through the difficult and often confusing process of developing a care plan. The goal is to maintain independence while preserving quality of life.
As an Elder Law attorney, I assist individuals and families in crisis to address long-term care issues, and engage in pre-crisis planning to address the possibility of future long-term care issues.
Outdated, ineffective or nonexistent Power of Attorney documents may leave an incapacitated person with nobody to help them make financial and health care decisions, or the incapacitated person’s decline in decision-making abilities put themselves at serious risk of physical or financial harm. I assist families in exploring less restrictive alternatives to establishing a court monitored Guardianship, and act as attorney in Guardianship actions when it becomes necessary.
PROBATE AND TRUST ADMINISTRATION
My practice also includes representing Executors and Trustees in winding up the affairs of the decedent through the court process of Probate, or outside the court with the administration of Living Trusts, and representing the rights of beneficiaries of estates.