The Question Everyone Needs To Ask

After more than three decades of practicing law, we have encountered people in various stages of life, all of which are navigating challenges. Everyone struggles and feels degrees of pain, but we have found that there is one thing that everyone has in common: We are all going to pass away. There is a spiritual element to this, and people seek different ways to process their mortality to be ready for that stage. This is an uncomfortable topic, and we have firsthand experience with it because we meet with clients and speak in front of groups about it. At our core, we help people with the legal elements associated with passing away. 

Whereas being ready is spiritual, the question of being prepared falls into the legal realm. When we ask our clients and other community members if they are prepared, they often tell us they are because they have a will. Typically, they add that they must update their will to reflect their current situation accurately and wishes. When asking if you are prepared, the answer has to be more than just having a document. What steps do we need to take legally to be prepared for when we pass away? There are two things. 

#1: Put Your Wishes in a Legal Document 

We have seen countless families that say they know what the deceased would have wanted. We have witnessed families splitting up at funerals because of disagreements about how the services should have gone. Put your wishes into a document, whether they are detailed, specific, or general. 

The most common document people use is a will, but you have heard us say this before. Having a will is like building a car and never putting an engine in it. Like the engine-less, a will alone is not enough. Why? If a will alone was enough, probate would not be needed. There would be no need to prove the will or carry out the extra steps to execute it. More importantly, more than a will is necessary because it needs title. This is why probate exists. You cannot title your assets in coordination with that will. Do you have a retirement account? If so, you cannot name your will as a beneficiary. The same applies to a life insurance plan and several other assets. In this sense, you are not prepared because there are extra steps your family must take. 

Trusts allow you to express your wishes and title your assets in accordance with it. This is being prepared. Coordinate your wishes and title. 

#2: Are You Prepared to Go into a Nursing Home?

Statistically, from our experience, we are all living longer. But the longer we live, our bodies decline, giving way to serious health issues. This is why long-term care facilities exist. Are you prepared for it? In this area, it can cost you upwards of $10,000 per month. The longer we live, the more likely we need this level of care. Government benefits will only help you pay for care outside of a nursing home. 

You can be prepared for this by focusing on three things:

  • Focus on the type of assets you have. The type of asset determines whether you have to spend, use, or sell it before you get government assistance. (This is why you won’t lose your home.)
  • Focus on maintaining ownership of your assets. Don’t make the false assumption that you can put your home in your child’s name or place it in an irrevocable trust and think you are protected. 
  • Ensure you and others can access your assets; you cannot do this without maintaining ownership.

Speak with J. Kevin Tharpe, P.C. Today

If anyone tells you you must give up ownership to be protected, we urge you to get a second opinion. This has negative consequences, and we will outline what they are when you speak with us. We encourage our clients to keep ownership of their assets because we want you to be prepared. Contact our office today for a consultation, so we can help you be truly prepared.

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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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