Estate Planning Isn’t Just For The Elderly

Happy, smiling couple in their sixties.

“The Future” Is Closer Than You Think. Are You Prepared?

Countless people have uttered the words, “I need to get my affairs in order.” Yet most never follow through. Let today be the day you take action to start preparing for tomorrow. Take the first step by making an appointment to talk to our elder law and estate planning lawyers.

It’s never too early, and it’s not yet too late. The experienced and compassionate team at Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, LLP, will help you create a comprehensive plan to ensure your interests are protected and your wishes are honored. Below is an overview of what’s involved in truly preparing your personal affairs.

Get Your Financial House In Order

You will need certain estate planning documents and strategies to get your estate and finances squared away. These may include:

  • A last will and testament specifying who inherits your money and other wealth when you pass. A will can also nominate a guardian for minor children, provide care for your pets and make arrangements regarding funeral rites.
  • A living trust holds assets apart from your estate to help your heirs avoid the expense and delays of probate.
  • Asset protection trusts shield family wealth from creditors and lawsuits.
  • Durable powers of attorney authorize someone to manage your financial, business and legal affairs if you cannot.
  • Establishing a legal entity such as a family limited partnership or limited liability company (LLC).

Make A Plan For Health Care

If something should happen to you – through illness, accident or mental decline – you want provisions in place to protect your interests and guide your caregivers. These provisions may include:

  • Advance directives that provide concrete guidance to medical providers and your family. A living will outlines your wishes regarding end-of-life care, such as life support, palliative care and religious last rites. Another example is a do not resuscitate (DNR) order if your heart were to stop.
  • A health care proxy appoints a trusted person to make medical decisions on your behalf in an emergency or incapacity situation.
  • A HIPAA authorization enables designated family members to access or release your medical information in order to manage and pay for your care.
  • Nursing home planning may entail Medicaid planning, long-term care insurance, legal transfers of wealth and other strategies to pay for elder care without depleting the family’s life savings.

Gather The Documents Your Loved Ones Will Need

Imagine your family members frantically hunting through drawers and file cabinets and boxes in closets. You should have one clearinghouse (ideally a safe or lockbox) for all the important documents they might need in the event of your incapacity or death.

Personal information: Social Security numbers, date of birth and place of birth, birth certificates, marriage certificates, divorce decrees, names and addresses of next of kin, employment history, military service records, contact info for spiritual advisors, contact info for close friends and relatives, contact info for lawyers, accountants and professionals, and important usernames and passwords

Finances: Current employer (if applicable), sources of income, retirement accounts, Social Security statement of benefits, insurance policies and agent info, bank accounts, investments, stockbroker info (if applicable), recent tax returns, copy or location of your most recent notarized will, property tax statements, mortgage provider and balance, credit cards and balances, homestead deed and other property deeds, car titles, and safety deposit box info (if applicable)

Health and medical: Name and contact for physicians, name and contact for health care proxy(ies), preferred hospital, living will/advance directives, prepaid or prearranged nursing care facility, health insurance policy and provider contact, prescription medications and important medical history

Have The Talk With Your Loved Ones

Your family members don’t need to know the contents of your will or your bank balances, but you should tell a trusted person or your attorney where they can locate key documents in an emergency situation or in the event of your death. You should discuss with your loved ones your wishes and any plans in place for health care, such as an assisted living or nursing home facility you have vetted. When the time comes, there won’t be surprises, and they will know what to do to respect your wishes.

Circle Back As Circumstances Change

A divorce, the birth of a child, the death of one of your heirs or a dire medical diagnosis can disrupt the best-laid plans. You should review and update your documents after major life events, and periodically to ensure that your information is still relevant and correct. For example, you may need to record a codicil (addendum) to your will or change your life insurance beneficiary designations.

Lean On Our Professionals

Our estate planning lawyers realize that getting your affairs in order is a tall task – and an ongoing process. We can help you prepare your first will and companion documents or update your estate plan with guidance on what documents to gather and how to organize them all.

Call us at 914-269-2367 to arrange a consultation at your convenience or email us today to connect with an attorney.

Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, LLP