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Mayfield Heights Estate Planning and Elder Law Blog

What are 3 myths about wills I should know?

One thing that you should avoid doing is getting tricked by myths about estate planning. Myths make it hard to know what's true or false, and you may miss doing something that is legally important to protecting your estate.

There are dozens of myths about estate planning that you could fall for, but these three are among the most common. Here's some information that clears up these myths.

Get the right trust to protect your assets

Trusts are an important protective measure you can put into place to keep your assets safe. They may be used as part of your long-term care plan so that you won't have to exhaust your assets prior to qualifying for Medicaid or other benefits.

Trusts come in two primary forms -- revocable and irrevocable. Revocable trusts can be revoked at any time, whereas irrevocable trusts cannot be revoked once they're in place.

Planning for long-term care can keep you in your home

It isn't always easy to plan for long-term care. As a younger person, you may not have imagined needing long-term care. After all, you were healthy and fit.

Life changes, though, and there is a chance that you'll need care for many years as you age. Planning for long-term care is an essential part of your estate plan that will protect you and your beneficiaries.

What is probate and how can you avoid it?

For baby boomers, many of whom are reaching their retirement years, estate planning has moved to the forefront of their minds. Once you are into your mid-60s, you start to realize many of your friends or older relatives are passing away and you want to make sure your affairs are in order sooner rather than later. In the estate planning process, the term probate comes up a lot, leaving many confused as to what exactly probate is and why you might want to avoid it.

What makes a will legal and valid?

Wills are an important part of any estate plan, even if you don't have many assets or beneficiaries to protect. A will lets you choose how to distribute your assets upon death and can guarantee you that your wishes can't be ignored by those who you leave behind.

When you create a will, you need to choose an executor to carry out the will after you pass away. When you choose that person, make sure they are competent and able to be trusted. They should be willing to seek legal help when necessary to protect your estate.

Understand the importance of a conservatorship

When you're creating an estate plan, one thing you need to learn about is guardianship and conservatorships. Guardianship is also known as conservatorship in some states, and it refers to the court appointing someone to take care of the legal rights of a mentally incapacitated person. This person becomes known as the "ward" of the conservator or guardian.

For someone creating an estate plan, you might want to assign a guardian or conservator if you have a child who has a mental disability and will need support if you pass away. You can appoint anyone in your will, but the court will still review the needs of your child and determine if the individual is capable of providing for their needs.

When is the right time for estate planning?

Many people believe that estate planning only benefits old, rich people. However, this is a common misconception. Most people, regardless of age or net worth, can benefit from creating a personalized estate plan.

A young adult may want an unmarried significant other to inherit his or her property or may want to name an alternate decision-maker in case of a medical emergency. Parents may want to select a guardian for minor children or protect a child’s inheritance. Older adults may want to leave assets to a charity or keep the details of an estate out of public record. A personalized estate plan can help you reach a wide variety of goals.

Long-term care planning is essential for every person

Long-term care planning should be a part of every person's estate plan. It's difficult to plan for your death and impairment, though, especially when you're young. You don't know what to expect, and you can't know how much it will cost.

The annual cost of a private nursing room is approximately $97,455, and those who live in major metropolitan areas tend to pay more than that. If that seems like a lot, you're right. It is. So, how do people afford it?

Don't overlook the importance of a solid will

Your will is important for many reasons, not just so that people you leave behind can receive your possessions. In fact, a will can do everything from helping protect your interests while you're alive to making sure the right people obtain your assets after you pass away.

It's true that the primary purpose of a will is to distribute your property after death. However, it can also indicate a number of other provisions that must be met. It also reduces the chances of your loved ones having to go through the probate process, giving you the peace of mind that your assets will be distributed quickly instead of being caught up in a legal battle.

Learn more about what trusts are and how they benefit you

A trust is something you may have heard about but not fully understand. Basically, it's just a financial arrangement that allows a third party to hold your assets on behalf of those who will become your heirs and beneficiaries. There are several kinds of trusts, all of which have their own benefits and downsides.

Perhaps the most important benefit of a trust is that it can help your beneficiaries avoid probate, which takes time and energy that most people won't want to spend when they've just lost someone they love. With a trust in place, your beneficiaries may be able to obtain your assets more quickly, and, if you set up an irrevocable trust, those assets may not be part of the overall estate for tax purposes.

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