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Denver Elder Law Blog

Family members can be greatest estate planning obstacle

In today's world, the modern family is a complex mix of individuals. In some instances, the Colorado family is comprised of two parents and their children. Other families consist of one or two parents with children from other relationships. This diverse family dynamic can have a dramatic impact upon the estate planning needs of the individual.

The driving force behind most estate plans is the desire to minimize estate taxes; however, these taxes are not the only threat to the individual's estate. In many cases, family members are the primary threat. With a mixture of children from the current marriage, children from previous marriages, a current spouse and possibly an ex-spouse or more, deciding exactly who should receive what can become complicated.

Medicaid planning essential to preserving estate

No more alarm clock; no more Monday morning meetings. The average Colorado family looks for to the opportunity to set their own schedule, travel and enjoy their retirement years. These golden years offer the promise of a more relaxed lifestyle; however, they also can prove to be a financial challenge. In fact, many retirees discover that Medicaid planning is an essential component in protecting their estate.

As the Colorado family settles into retirement, decisions regarding how much money should be withdrawn from investment accounts can be crucial. The family wants to enjoy life; however, they also want to ensure that they will have enough funds to last throughout their retirement years. Additionally, the possibility of unexpected medical expenses and long-term care increase as each individual ages.

An estate planning checklist can be a necessity

Checklists are a part of life. The average Colorado family has a checklist for the grocery store, the daily chores and even packing when preparing for vacation. Checklists should also be a part of preparing for one's future. As such, an estate planning checklist can help ensure that all important details have been taken care of.

One of the first items on the checklist should be the will. This document allows the individual to direct who will receive which assets and who will act as executor for the estate. In addition to the will, the individual may want to have a living trust in place. Once assets are transferred to the living trust, the trust becomes the owner and beneficiaries can be named within the trust. This will allow assets to transfer without the need to go through probate.

Special needs planning required for special needs children

All Colorado families are different. Some families are traditional and have a mom, dad and two kids; other families feature only one parent with one or more kids. Regardless of the family structure, concerned parents plan for their children's well-being. When children with special needs are involved, this special needs planning becomes even more critical.

Children with special needs often require care even into adulthood. As long as the parents are able to provide this care, this typically does not pose a problem. However, if the parents are no longer able to care for the individual due to death, illness or other reason, the burden of care can fall upon another family member or the special needs individual may end up being placed with an institutional setting.

Signs a guardian may be abusing a senior citizen

Some senior citizens require guardianship, so someone with proper mental faculties must take over decision-making tasks regarding the person's finances and health. Unfortunately, not everyone who signs up to be a guardian is trustworthy. There are many cases of people who had their bank accounts completely cleaned out by unscrupulous guardians.

It is often best for a family member to become a loved one's legal guardian rather than rely on someone appointed by the court. However, regardless of who ends up in the role, it is important for family members to watch vigilantly for any unusual activity in the individual's financial accounts. 

Estate planning may require some spring cleaning

The snow is starting to melt, flowers are beginning to bloom and kids are ready to play in the warmer weather. As spring kicks in, many Colorado families adhere to the yearly ritual of spring cleaning the house and yard. In addition to this ritual, it is also a good time to make sure that any cleaning up that needs to be done in regard to one's estate planning needs is acted upon.

Prior to drafting a will, most individuals will carefully consider their current family status. The current spouse and children are typically taken into consideration, and these individuals are typically noted as beneficiaries in the will. At this point in time, it is the individual's intent for these individuals to benefit from items specified in the will.

3 benefits of estate planning

When they hear the term "estate planning," many people conjure images of wealthy families leaving vast inheritances and property to their children. However, estate planning is not just for the wealthy. Everyone can benefit from a comprehensive estate plan and the related issues, such as guardianship, trusts and wills.

If you are the adult child of an elderly parent who is facing end-of-life decisions, estate planning may be even more critical. The sooner a plan is set forth, the better. It is much easier and effective to put a plan in place before you need it. Here are three benefits of estate planning for your consideration.

Need for care services may be met with in-home help

For many in Colorado, the thought of declining health as they age can be frightening. Along with the uncertainty that an illness brings, there is the ever-increasing cost of health care, especially long-term care. When seniors consider their need for care services, they often express a desire to remain in their homes as long as possible. This means including the option for in-home care as they plan for their retirement.

In-home care services can be as basic as assistance with meal preparation and light housework, but it may also include more skilled nursing care such as physical therapy or wound care. Many seniors who are otherwise independent find this option helpful when recovering from surgery or in the early stages of a degenerative condition. The benefits include remaining in a familiar and comfortable environment and receiving individual attention, which often makes recovering from an illness or operation much quicker.

Estate planning and living trusts

Taking care of loved ones is often a primary concern in planning for the future. As a part of this process, some Colorado residents want to make sure that their assets are passed on without the headache or expense often associated with probate. Thus, they establish a living will as a part of their estate planning process.

Unfortunately, establishing the living trust is often where this process stops. When this happens, the funds to create the document have been spent, yet nothing has been done to protect the intended assets or individuals. In order for this to happen, the living trust must also be funded.

When nursing homes are understaffed

Accepting the fact that one of your parents may fare better in a nursing home or continuing care facility can be tough, and the process of finding that ideal assisted living situation often proves to be, as well. When you place your loved in in a residential home, chances are, you want to feel confident in knowing that the care he or she will receive is comparable to the care you, yourself, would provide. Regrettably, this is often not the case.

One of the most widespread problems currently affecting the quality of care at Colorado and American nursing homes is understaffing.  

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