Estate Planning: The Sixth Love Language

February 14, 2018

Giant teddy bears, sweets in heart shaped boxes, hallmark cards, and blooming bouquets are all synonymous with Valentine’s Day. But what is Valentine’s Day truly about? The magic four letter word is Love. Everyone expresses and receives love in different ways. According to the 5 Love Languages by famous author Gary Chapman, the five basic languages are: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. Another way you can show your family you love them is through proper estate planning.

An effective estate plan includes documents that will make your family’s life easier when a difficult situation arises. Here are a few legal ways that you can show you care:

  • Medicaid Planning can be a very useful tool for seniors who may be faced with the need for nursing home care.  Nursing homes are tremendously expensive and can eat up accumulated assets quickly.  We employ legal and ethical methods that will transfer your assets so that you may qualify for Medicaid later in life. The most common method is by creating a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust.
  • Health Care Surrogate, also known as a Health Care Proxy, allows you to plan ahead for difficult medical decisions.  It allows you to name someone (the “agent”) that will make health care decisions for you in case you are unable to make them yourself. This is crucial because it prevents disagreements within the family as to who should make these critical decisions.  Such decisions include consenting to certain medical procedures, seeking a second opinion, obtaining medical records, or transferring you to a different medical facility.
  • Special Needs Trusts (“SNT”) generally work like this: a person wants to make sure their loved one with special needs is provided for upon their death.  Instead of leaving a lump sum of money behind in their Last Will and Testament (“Will”), they will create a SNT to benefit their loved one (the “Beneficiary”).   The person creating the Trust (“Grantor”) places certain assets into the Trust and designates who will manage them (“Trustee”).  The assets in the Trust are then managed according to the Grantor’s terms and used to help pay for the beneficiary’s needs.  The most important aspect of a SNT is that the assets in the Trust are not counted as being owned by the special needs individual. This allows them to qualify or retain their public assistance benefits such as Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or subsidized housing. Now, that’s love!

Estate planning is not the sexiest gift on Valentine’s Day but it’s probably one of the smartest gifts you can give your loved ones. There are countless estate planning strategies you can implement depending on your family’s situation. A well drafted estate plan gives your family peace of mind. It lets your family know that you have thought of everything and have a plan in place for them to handle the transition of your assets. You do not need to be a millionaire to set up an estate plan. If you have assets of any kind such as a real estate, bank accounts, cars, etc.; then you need an estate plan.

On this Valentine’s Day when you’re expressing love to the people you cherish, by all means buy the chocolates and go to dinner, but do not forget to set up an estate plan for their long-term protection. For assistance with estate planning contact us today at (954) 251-0332 or for your free consultation.