People often confuse these two documents or think that they are both one in the same. The Last Will and Testament is not the same as the Living Will document, for the two documents serve two distinctly different purposes.
Many people do estate planning for reasons like avoiding probate, minimizing estate taxes, and bequeathing charitable gifts; however, another important reason is often overlooked. Doing estate planning for the purpose of making things easier on heirs is enough motivation for some people due to the legal battle that often ensues when a person dies before getting their affairs in order.
The Wall Street Journal recently published a video on its website titled "Four Estate Planning Mistakes to Avoid" that summarizes some typical mistakes that people make when it comes to planning for a death or a disability. The first mistake is a common one that we hear many times in our practice, which is not planning due to fear. Believe it or not, many people are superstitious about planning for death. People fear that once they get the ball rolling on estate planning, inevitably something bad will happen.
We encourage people who don't have long term care insurance to develop a game plan years in advance for paying for long term care, a very costly expense that is not covered by Medicare or private health insurance. This type of planning often involves transferring specific assets out of the name of the person who will be receiving the long term care so that, by the time that the care is needed, the recipient will be eligible for Medicaid to cover the costs of the care.
You've probably heard that one of the main reasons why people decide to get a revocable living trust as part of their estate plan is to avoid probate. Did you know that a huge benefit of avoiding probate is protecting your family's privacy?
One of the most frequent questions that we get asked at our office is whether or not a surviving spouse or beneficiaries are personally responsible for paying the outstanding debts of a decedent after his or her death.
Have you heard the saying that planning for death is about one notch above getting a colonoscopy on a person's to do list?
Most people who call our office for estate planning advice assume that getting a Will is the most important activity when doing estate planning. However, based on over 30 years of practice in this specific area of law, we know that the prior assumption is not the always the case.
Estate Planning, in simple terms, is the legal process that takes care of yourself and your property, both during your life and after your death. Estate planning is not synonymous with wealth planning. A common misconception is that you have to have a lot of money in order to do estate planning, an area of law that requires an intricate knowledge of the probate, tax, and trust code, and how they all work together.