Like most people, you are probably aware of the need to have an estate plan in place that dictates how your estate assets are to be distributed in the event of your death. Hopefully, you also recognize the need to have an experienced estate planning attorney assist you in the creation of that plan. That may not be the only time you need an estate planning attorney though. Let’s look at five additional reasons why you might need an estate planning attorney.
Petitioning for Guardianship
At some point in your life, you may be faced with a parent who is suffering from Alzheimer’s or is otherwise incapacitated to the point where living independently is no longer safe. Although it is never easy to make the decision to petition for guardianship of a parent, you may decide it is necessary to keep your parent from being injured or victimized. Because guardianship is the most restrictive option, judges are reluctant to grant a guardianship absent sufficient proof that one is necessary. To ensure that your petition is granted you should work with an estate planning attorney throughout the process.
Probating an Estate
Following the loss of a loved one you may be notified that you were appointed as the Executor of the estate in the decedent’s Last Will and Testament. Or in the alternative, if the decedent died intestate you might decide to volunteer to oversee the probate of the estate as the Personal Representative. Either way, you will likely find that probating an estate can be a time-consuming endeavor, and one that requires at least a basic understanding of the laws and procedures involved in the probate process. For this reason, most Executors/Personal Representatives retain the assistance of an experienced estate planning attorney to help them.
Estate planning should include more than just the creation of a roadmap for the distribution of your estate assets when you are gone. At the top of the list of additional goals for your plan should be incapacity planning because incapacity can strike anyone at any time. If you were to become incapacitated tomorrow, who would make medical and personal decisions for you? Who would take control of your assets and pay your bills? Without an incapacity plan, a judge may decide the answers to those questions. Estate planning lawyers can help you create an incapacity plan to prevent that from happening.
Administering a Trust
If someone names you as the Trustee of their trust, and you have never before served as a Trustee, you may be intimidated by the numerous and varied duties and responsibilities of a Trustee. The position of Trustee is a fiduciary position, meaning you exercise more care and caution with trust assets than you would with your own. You are also required to use the “prudent investor standard” when investing trust assets. Soliciting the assistance of an estate planning lawyer is wise given the fact that a Trustee can, under some circumstances, be help personally liable for mistakes made during the administration of a trust.
The longer you live, the greater the odds are that you (or a spouse) will eventually need to spend time in a long-term care (LTC) facility. The cost of that care will not come cheap. As of 2021, the average monthly cost of LTC in California is over $10,000 – and that figure is expecting to increase significantly in the years to come as demand continues to threaten to exceed supply. Neither your basic health insurance nor Medicare will cover LTC, leaving Medi-Cal (California’s Medicaid program) as the only option for many seniors – unless you can afford to pay out of pocket. To ensure that you qualify for Medi-Cal when the time comes you should work with your estate planning lawyer to include Medi-Cal planning in your overall estate plan now.
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