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Estate Planning For Seniors

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Everyone should have an estate plan by a certain point in their lives. However, many in the elder generations do not have these documents in place, simply because attitudes have changed about having them over time. As our parents and other loved ones age, it is generally a good idea to try and assist them in getting the documents to settle their estate in the manner they desire. Estate planning for seniors can involve some unique questions, so having an experienced estate planning attorney can be very helpful.

Everyone Should Have A Will

While there are several different ways that a person can plan their estate, some of the simplest and most effective tools for senior citizens are wills and trusts. Without a will, Florida intestacy law applies, which means that instead of the senior citizen choosing their beneficiaries, their assets will be distributed according to the law. A simple will can set out assets and name beneficiaries in a few simple pages, or conversely, it can take any number of pages to explain whichever distribution the testator prefers.

A trust, meanwhile, is a fiduciary arrangement that lets a trustee hold assets on behalf of another person. The settlor (the person who started the trust) may act as its first trustee, but must name a successor who can distribute the assets in the trust after the settlor’s passing. Unlike with a will, items in a trust are generally exempt from Florida probate, given they are in the name of the trust and not the settlor. However, even with a trust, it may be necessary to have what is known as a pour-over will; it disposes of all the assets not contained in the trust itself.

Issues Disproportionately Affecting Seniors

Much of estate planning for senior citizens can be very straightforward, but when one has to breach the issue of planning for long-term care, things can become much more complex. So-called “Medicaid planning” is crucial – in other words, one must plan for the likelihood that Medicaid will seek reimbursement for your long-term care out of your remaining assets. Some assets are exempt – for example, a Florida homestead will generally be immune – but most are not. An experienced estate planning attorney can help ensure that Medicaid is repaid without completely draining your assets.

Another issue that comes up more often for senior citizens is the possible necessity of a durable power of attorney (DPOA) or a healthcare advance directive, particularly if mental capacity becomes an issue. While anyone can become unable to make their own decisions, it does occur more often in those over the age of 65, and it is important to ensure that your parent or other loved one has someone by their side making the right choices for their welfare. It can be difficult to get an elderly loved one to consent to a DPOA or other similar document, but it is highly recommended for the person’s own protection.

Contact A Naples, FL Estate Planning Attorney

If you have questions, concerns, or just want to set up a complimentary consultation to discuss your personal legal issues in a confidential setting, contact James R. Nici, the Managing Partner of Nici Law Firm, a Naples estate planning attorney with almost 25 years of legal experience.  This may be the first step toward ensuring all is how you want it to be going forward. Contact our offices today via our website, or on the telephone at 239-449-6150, to schedule your complimentary consultation.


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