“…I want what I do have to go to my children…”
“…I don’t want my money going to the nursing home…”
“…I would rather my money go to my kids than to Uncle Sam/tax man…”
“…I don’t want my estate to go through probate…”
“…I’m concerned about how my child is going to spend their inheritance…”
I could keep going on and on, but my point is that estate planning is not about how much money you have – it’s about your wishes and specifically, how to ensure your wishes are appropriately accomplished. Your estate plan is your storybook and going through the estate planning process simply gives you the pen and paper to write the story. (What came first – the chicken or the egg? I hope you get my point!)
Speaking of stories, grab a cup of hot cocoa and take a look at some of my most recent meetings:
- I met with a gentleman – we were meeting in regards to his mother who would be moving into a skilled nursing facility soon. He said, “She doesn’t have a lot … but the house means more to her than anything because that’s where she raised us kiddos.” Solution? We created an Asset Protection Trust, so that she was able to keep her house and still qualify for Medicaid benefits.
- I met with a married couple – they were in their mid-30s and recently had two children. They recognized the need to put people in place to take care of their children should something happen to them. Solution? We did a package containing “vital” documents – Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy, Will. Now, they can stop worrying about “what if something happens to us?!”
- I met with a married couple – they were in their mid-70s. They shared with me that the husband’s father “spent everything down to qualify for Medicaid” and that they “did not want that to happen to them.” Solution? We created an Asset Protection Trust as a pre-planning strategy for any long-term care costs down the road.
- I met with a married couple – they were in their early 60s. Their children were grown, successful, unmarried, and generally had no concerns around them. They were not worried about asset protection nor concerned about probate. Solution? We updated their existing plan to bring it up to date so that it became reflective of their current wishes.
- I met with a widowed gentleman – he was only in his 30s. Before his wife’s passing, they had a child. It was important to him to ensure that if something happened to him, the child could immediately be taken care. Solution? We created a Revocable Trust to ensure probate was never an issue and he also included staggered distributions to the child – like 25% at age 25, 25% at age 30, and remaining 50% at age 35.
- I met with a married couple – they were in their 40s and were both on their second marriage. The wife had children from her prior marriage; though the husband explained that the children “were like his own.” It was important to them to “get their ducks in a row” first before considering additional planning like a Revocable Trust. Solution: We did a basic package of all the vital documents.
- I met with a lady – she was widowed and in her early 70s. She had property in Indiana and farmland in another state. We had a conversation around probate – when individuals own property (like houses, farmland, condominiums, vacation homes, etc.) in multiple states, probate will likely occur in every state which she has property. Solution? We created an Asset Protection Trust to not only avoid probate down the road, but also gain asset protection against long-term care costs.
As you can see, every story is different. Estate planning is not about how much money you have – it’s the goals/wishes that usually come after the words “I’m not rich but…” (And hey, by the way – a solid 99% of us are not rich either, so welcome to the majority!) Your estate planning goals/wishes are likely not the same as mine or your brother, friend, cousin, colleague, etc. Fortunately, we all have the opportunity to write our own storybook. Start writing yours today by calling us at 317.863.2030 or visiting our website at HunterLawOffice.net.
Jennifer L. Rozelle, J.D.