Q: What are some common estate planning documents?
Common estate planning documents include the following:
Will – A will is a written document that tells the court how to divide your property at the time of death. It also tells the court who should be the guardian for your minor children and your executor.
Trust – A trust is a written legal document that provides instructions on how the property titled in that trust’s name is to be managed and distributed. Trusts have the advantages of increased privacy, increased asset protection for surviving spouses and children, planning in the event of a disability, legitimate tax avoidance and probate avoidance
Durable Power of Attorney – A durable power of attorney is a written document wherein you (“principal”) appoint someone else (“agent”) to have the authority to act on your behalf. The agent will have the authority to act even in the event you become disabled. The authority granted to the agent can include all financial transactions, managing investments and making gifts.
Health Care Power of Attorney – A health care power of attorney is a written document wherein you (“principal”) appoint someone else (“agent”) to have the authority to make health care decisions on your behalf when the you cannot make them yourself. Your agent should have a clear understanding of your views with regard to continuing health care decisions under certain circumstances.
Living Will – A living will is a document that instructs your physicians regarding specific types of medical treatment that you do and do not want to receive. They are mainly used by those who desire to authorize the withdrawal of life sustaining treatment if the treatment is simply prolonging life without any hope of a meaningful recovery.
HIPAA Authorization – The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) ensures the privacy of your health care information. These strict privacy rules may restrict your loved ones from obtaining access to this information when necessary. A HIPAA Authorization will allow the individuals you designate to obtain this information.
FAQ Nursing Home
How can I legally preserve my assets?
Wisconsin law allows individuals who require nursing home care to place their assets into various types of legal entities that preserve the principal and create an income stream which can then be used to pay for nursing home care.
What is Nursing Home Planning?
How would I pay for nursing home care?
In general, there are three methods of payment for nursing home care:
1. Private Pay – use assets to pay for all costs associated with nursing home care.
2. Long Term Care Insurance – carry long term care insurance which pays a daily rate for care.
3. MEDICAID – a federal government program (Title XIX) which pays for care of personals with limited assets and income.
You need to consider each of these methods of payment for nursing home care to form a proper decision for you.
Is it too late for nursing home planning?
It is never too late for nursing home custodial care planning. Whether a loved one is already in a nursing home, nursing home care is imminent, or you are planning ahead for your future, action can be taken to either eliminate or greatly reduce the costs of the nursing home care. Assets can be preserved at any time.
Is it true I can’t transfer money to my kids or grandkids?
In February of 2006, Congress implemented major changes to the Medicaid rules. This new law is significantly more complex than the prior law, but opportunities to protect yourself and your assets in the event of a nursing home stay still exist. With proper long-term care planning, there is no problem complying with the law. Disclosure of your transfers, gifts, and divestments can be done with peace of mind.
When should I begin planning for nursing home care or assisted living care?
A common mistake people make is to wait until they’re too old or too ill to qualify.
There are many variables to consider when approaching this area of planning. These variables may require the use of a number of different planning strategies. The best approach is to have your care paid by insurance. The sooner you investigate what is offered, the more options you will have and the less it will cost you in the end.
Clients often come to us with the following questions:
• If I give my house to my children, will it be protected from the nursing home?
• If I give away assets, do I have to wait months until I go into the nursing home?
• If my spouse goes to the nursing home, will I have to spend all of our money?
• Will my revocable living trust protect my assets from nursing home costs?
• What would happen to our house if both of us had to go into the nursing home?
• Can the nursing home kick me out if I run out of money?
• Is it illegal to give my assets away to qualify for Medicaid?
• What options do I have to protect and control my assets?
Call us today (262/619-9000) to get answers to these and all your estate planning questions.
FAQ Power of Attorney
What power will I give someone if I appoint them as my agent for financial matters?
A durable (financial) power of attorney is a powerful document. It provides extensive powers to the person or organization you appoint as your agent. hese powers usually include:
• Writing checks
• Making deposits
• Entering safety deposit boxes
• Handling transactions involving U.S. securities
• Buying and selling property
• Purchasing life insurance
• Settling claims
• Entering into contracts
• Exercising stock rights
• Buying, managing or selling real estate
• Filing tax returns
• Handling matters related to government benefits
You also have the option to include the following additional powers to your agent:
• Maintaining and operating business interests
• Employing professional assistance
• Making gifts
• Making transfers to revocable (“living”) trusts
• Disclaiming interests to avoid estate taxes
Can I transfer real estate into my Living Trust?
Yes. All real estate should be transferred into your Living Trust. Otherwise, upon your death, depending on how the property is titled, there will be a death probate in every state in which you hold real property. When your real property is owned by your Living Trust, there is no probate anywhere.
Isn’t a Living Trust only for rich people?
Absolutely not. A Living Trust can help anyone protect his or her family from unnecessary probate fees, attorney’s fees, court costs and federal estate taxes.
What other terms do I need to know?
A beneficiary is the person you name in your will to receive some or all of your property. Property owned jointly with right of survivorship is property such as a bank account that has specific language stating that the surviving party owns all of the property on the death of the other joint owner.