Gainesville Estate Planning Law Blog

Study: Only a third of us have living wills or healthcare proxies

Advance directives such as living wills and healthcare proxies are important tools for end-of-life decision-making, yet only about a third of American adults have them. Moreover, people who have chronic illnesses are only slightly more likely than others to have documented their wishes about end-of-life care.

This is according to a meta-analysis that was published in the July issue of the journal Health Affairs. Researchers analyzed 150 studies that were published between 2011 and 2016 and focused on the percentage of U.S. adults who had filled out an advance directive such as a living will, healthcare proxy or healthcare power of attorney.

A trust can protect your child's inheritance in case of divorce

There are a lot of reasons why you might consider creating a trust for your assets. Perhaps you have a large estate, and you want to prevent tax issues. Maybe you're concerned about the financial habits of a child or grandchild. Sometimes, people want to protect assets for minor children until they are adults. There's also the issue of the high rate of divorce in modern families. A large inheritance could inspire a spouse to file for divorce to obtain some of your assets after you pass.

You may have created a very specific last will or estate plan that listed only blood relatives as heirs. Their spouses could benefit from your assets, of course, but you didn't leave anything to them specifically. Unfortunately, unless your heirs have prenuptial agreements that exempt inherited assets from asset division in a divorce, it's still very possible for a spouse of one of your heirs to walk away with a substantial portion of your estate after a divorce. Creating a trust can help prevent this kind of issue.

To protect your loved one's wellbeing, planning truly is critical

The New York Times recently ran an in-depth story about one victim of financial exploitation by a companion-caregiver who was acting as guardian to an elderly gentleman. Initially, the woman contacted her companion's family saying that she was no longer able to care for the gentleman, who had dementia and other health issues.

When the family tried to take over, they learned that the woman had been financially exploiting their parent. They tried to take over as guardian, but even after much of the financial exploitation was revealed, the companion was allowed to continue as guardian and was even granted official guardianship over him. He died in her care, with a nest egg that had dwindled from $480,000 to $60,000, according to the Times.

Are you in your 50s? Follow these estate planning tips

As you age, you may soon realize that your estate plan is no longer exactly what you want it to be.

It may be frustrating to learn that you need to make some changes, but it's good to know that you are able to do so in an efficient manner. Of course, this only holds true if you take the time to review your estate plan, answer the right questions, and move forward in the appropriate manner.

10 things you'll need if your parent has a serious health crisis

It can be hard to talk to our parents and loved ones about what would happen in a health crisis, or about end-of-life decision-making. Emotions can run high. If you're having trouble talking to your parents about planning for the future, consider using another person's situation as a springboard.

Ultimately, your loved ones will need to set up their estate plan on their own, but knowing the existence and location of those documents can be critical in an emergency. Talking about where the information is or should be kept can also be a springboard for a more complete discussion.

How do you know when you are too old to manage money?

The good news is there's no obvious age at which a normally healthy person loses cognitive ability. People who are experiencing normal cognitive aging can often manage their financial affairs competently well into their 70s and 80s.

For those who have cognitive impairments, however, the stakes can be high. A serious financial misstep during retirement can cause a loss of income or assets that is hard to make up for. Worse, there are those who will take advantage of an older person and commit financial abuse. Unfortunately, cognitive impairment occurs gradually and it can be difficult to know when someone's degree of impairment has reached a point where managing money is no longer wise.

Survey shows large gender gap on financial literacy in retirement

The American College of Financial Services recently had survey participants aged 60 to 75 take a quiz to determine their level of financial literacy, especially as it relates to retirement. The unsettling news is that only 35 percent of men passed the quiz. The shocking news is that only 18 percent of women did.

It is a rather challenging quiz, but it's important. It might be tempting simply to follow the outline of an online retirement calculator or turn everything over to a financial adviser, but you need to have a solid understanding of how much money you will have and how much you can spend without cutting into the underlying investments.

5 proposals aimed at doubling the long-term care insurance rate

According to a Associated Press-University of Chicago NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll, 57 percent of Americans surveyed said they plan to rely on Medicare to provide any long-term care services and supports they may need.

That's regrettable because Medicare doesn't cover long-term care. Medicaid does, but it's a program meant for the poorest Americans. In order to qualify, you may need to go through virtually all of your assets paying out of pocket.

Make plans now for your special needs child after you are gone

Parents who have a special needs child usually want to make sure that the child will be cared for as long as necessary. No one is immortal, so they need to plan for what is going to happen when they pass away.

This isn't pleasant to think about, but if your child isn't able to care for himself or herself, you need to take this important step. One thing that you don't likely want is for your child to have to rely on strangers for care. This is where a special needs trust might come into the picture.

Protect your loved one by watching for elder abuse

The decision to put an aging loved one, such as a parent, into an assisted living or nursing home facility is a difficult one. After all, you want to do the best you can by your loved one, and chances are that he or she would prefer to live at home for as long as possible. No matter how strong-willed someone is, however, there comes a point when around-the-clock care and monitoring become medically necessary. Perhaps your loved one has been diagnosed with a condition that causes dementia, like Alzheimer's disease. If you are not able to stay home to provide care 24/7, a facility is the best choice.

When selecting a nursing home or assisted living facility, you should always research carefully. Talk to people who have placed loved ones in the facility previously. Look at reviews and search for previous legal issues in the news online. It's important to remember that a facility is only as good as the staff, and staff changes regularly at these kinds of places with some regularity.

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