A key deficiency in the process of planning for long term care occurs when seniors fail to provide for orderly distribution of assets at death and fail to let their family know what to do when the senior can no longer handle his or her own affairs.
Estate planning from a qualified estate planning or elder law attorney, a financial adviser who specializes in estate planning or a CPA planner, is the design of documents to provide the orderly transfer of assets and property to the next generation. Wills, living trusts and a myriad of other trust documents or business arrangements to avoid estate taxes, income tax and real estate capitol gains are some of the principal documents used. Estate planning also concerns issues of business succession or disability of a business owner.
Many estate planners are also adding final directive or end-of-life documents such as living wills, powers of attorney and special medical directives. But often these are considered secondary to the process of transferring assets or property. Unfortunately, these documents are much more important to family caregivers dealing with the needs of elderly loved ones.
Estate planners also need to become more involved in the planning process for long term care by helping in the production of a written long term care plan. This should also include meetings with potential family caregivers and instructions or checklists for these people. We call this Life Resource Planning. This important aspect of planning is often overlooked. Likewise the elderly or their families who are assisting them should insist on more careful planning for long term care issues when doing an estate plan.
Some advisers have recognized this need and have put together a team of experts such as attorneys, care managers and financial planners who provide a more complete and comprehensive approach to estate planning, long term care and end-of-life issues.
Here are some other important issues to consider for end-of-life planning:
- Provide instructions, in the event of death, for guardianship of minor children.
- Provide for disabled adult children, elderly parents, or other relatives.
- Get your property to chosen beneficiaries quickly and determine in advance who gets what.
- Plan for incapacity.
- Minimize expenses of transferring property.
- Choose executors or trustees for your estate.
- Ease the strain on your family by making funeral arrangements and purchasing a funeral trust.
- Create tax savings and leave money to charity.
- Reduce state and federal estate taxes.
- Provide a plan for an orderly transition of your business ownership to others.
- Pre-plan for Medicaid