Roller Coasters, Estate Planning, & Special Needs Planning Month

One of the true joys in life is discovering a passion. The focus may range from driving the country to viewing covered bridges to riding roller coasters. Though we are about to discuss the latter, it doesn’t matter what people are passionate about; finding something you value and appreciate is genuinely important. The American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE) have an annual marque event called Coaster Con. Members meet at different theme parks yearly, get early access to rides, and spend time with like-minded individuals. This began in 1978 at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, VA. A little over 50 people attended. Now, upwards of 800 people congregate each year. Some of them ride thousands a year. 

Whereas this may seem out of left field for a legal blog based on estate planning and elder law, we will highlight that attorney J. Kevin Tharpe has spent a fair amount of time riding them, although he is not a card-carrying member of the ACE. Furthermore, he is fortunate to have found a career he cares deeply about. Because October is Special Needs Planning Month, we want to highlight that this term can also apply to incapacitated adults. Many of the things we are about to discuss in this blog apply to it directly. 

The Ups & Downs

Today, we will use the roller coaster metaphor to discuss what you can do legally to weather the roller coaster of the economy and your life in general. For instance, attorney Tharpe’s father’s primary focus on estate planning is that his wife was cared for when he passed away. It’s an act of love that many married couples can relate to. His father was convinced that he would pass away first. 

Life doesn’t happen on people’s timetables. Sadly, his wife endured some serious health issues. However, that only fueled his desire to ensure she was provided for if he wasn’t there to support her. One thing he did was obtain life insurance policies for himself. This was a conscious effort to take care of his wife. 

The First Step Toward Peace of Mind 

The first thing he did was to change from a will to a trust. The reason for this was that by doing that, he would help his family avoid going through probate. There would be no delays or waiting, and the rest of the family could immediately care for his wife when he was gone. His wish was to leave by a seamless transition. Everything the family had been doing to support his wife would continue without the pause the probate process would naturally create.  

Anyone who has worked with us or read our blogs knows that when you switch from a will to a trust, you can change title—precisely what he did. For instance, attorney Tharpe’s parents had joint bank accounts. If his father passed away first, all that money would default to his wife, regardless of her condition. Joint ownership does not take into account the condition of your surviving spouse. Remember, the bank may advise you to create a joint account, and the insurance agent may tell you to make your wife the beneficiary. Though you can, this doesn’t mean it is best to ensure your spouse is provided for when you are gone. If your spouse is incapacitated, how can you change this? 

  1. Switch from a will to a trust. 
  2. Title your banking accounts in the name of the trust.
  3. Leave the contents of the trust to your spouse, but if your wife is incapacitated, everything can remain in the trust. Express your wish that she will be taken care of through the trust. This can be accomplished because your attorney has helped you title your assets, e.g., your bank account, in coordination with the trust.

Kevin Tharpe P.C. 

Life’s twists and turns can be as unpredictable as a roller coaster. Secure your legacy and provide peace of mind for your loved ones with thoughtful estate planning. At J. Kevin Tharpe P.C., we craft plans tailored to your needs. Navigate life’s uncertainties with confidence. Don’t leave your legacy to chance. Schedule a consultation with J. Kevin Tharpe P.C. today and ensure your loved ones are cared for, no matter what the future holds. Your family’s well-being is worth it.

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Kevin Tharpe

With 25 years of experience, Kevin understands how estate planning, special needs planning, and government benefits programs work together. This is a crucial element of a thorough plan. He explains your eligibility for benefits programs and ensures that you do not make costly mistakes that may disqualify you or deplete your assets.

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