Do I Need A Different Estate Plan When My Life Changes?
There are many different times in your life when you will need to change or update your estate planning. Families that add a child need to create an estate plan that controls who will receive the family money and use that money for the care of that child. The family will also need to decide who will be the guardian of the child, who will invest the child’s money, and who will assure that the money is used as wisely as possible.
I have found, in my many years of practice, that if you do not leave instructions as to who should care for your child, the least reliable person in your circle of friends and family is usually the first one to race off to the courthouse and ask the court to put them in charge. This is an outcome to be avoided at every reasonable cost. You will need to have, at minimum, a simple will designating who you are nominating as guardian of your child or children and who will be the trustee of that child’s money.
Many of us will experience a divorce at some point. This is another time when we will need to immediately revisit our estate planning. If you previously nominated your spouse as your executor, you will need a new nomination. Presumably, you left a significant portion of your estate to the person who is no longer going to be your spouse, and you will need to make adjustments to that plan. While you are doing these adjustments, it is a good time for you to be thinking about upgrading to a revocable trust-based plan. This will allow your estate to avoid the financial ravages and time lost that goes along with probate in Oklahoma.
As you reach your 50s, 60s, and beyond, it is time for you to start thinking about a serious estate plan that can protect your money from the destruction that comes with long-term care and huge medical bills. This planning generally includes both a revocable trust and an irrevocable trust. Often, you will need them both in order to have the very best outcome possible. Using these tools, you have a great chance of leaving a significant inheritance for your family, even if you spend years in long-term care or spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on medical care.
Even beyond our 50s and 60s, there will come a time when we can see that mortality is on the horizon and our health is not what it used to be. That is the time when you need to spend quality time with your estate planning counsel to assure that you have done everything possible to protect yourself and your family financially, spiritually, and emotionally. Maybe the plans you made in your 50s are out of date and you have reconciled with certain loved ones. If so, it is time to change your planning. Further, it may be time to soften the language that you used earlier in life. You may still wish to disinherit a certain son, but you may want to say so much more gently now than you did back then.
One of the most promising and yet most difficult issues that families have to deal with is preparing their finances to take care of special needs children. Children with special needs require special planning to assure that they receive the benefit of your gift. If your child is incapacitated and receiving Medicaid assistance, you must be certain not to leave them an inheritance directly. Their gift inheritance should be funded into a special needs trust that complies with Oklahoma law. This will allow your child to continue receiving all of the Medicaid and Social Security benefits that they would lose, if they had more money than was allowed by those programs. These are terribly important programs and their benefits make your child’s life much better. Therefore, you need to go the extra mile to ensure that you’ve protected them from the rules of law that are put into place by the government.
There may come a day when you recognize that you may suffer incapacity yourself and may be headed into long-term care. If you recognize this issue well in advance, we can salvage almost all of your assets and protect them from expensive long-term care costs. Even if you wait until you have an incapacity crisis, there is still a lot that we can do to protect your independence. Depending on your age, we may need to create your own special needs trust or perhaps a plan that would allow you to salvage a significant portion of your assets while still getting you onto Medicaid assistance as soon as possible.
For more information on Updating/Reviewing Your Estate Plan In OK, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (405) 754-4166 today.
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