Offered by Michael A. Dolan
Bill and Jane’s daughter has struggled since the accident. She was only 13 when it happened, but it was clear she would be disabled for the balance of her life. Now 23, she is dependent upon government assistance for her survival and medical care.
Bill and Jane thought they did not need estate planning. Why not just put everything in joint tenancy, because “it is simple and avoids probate.” Thinking about their disabled daughter, they sought guidance from a counseling-oriented attorney who took time to learn more about them, their estate, and their goals. Their primary objective was to protect their daughter after they died. The attorney worked with them to put together a plan that would place their savings, life insurance and home in a trust for their daughter, following their deaths. This would prevent the assets from disqualifying their daughter from the benefits she is receiving from government programs. As a result, the inheritance can pay for things the government programs do not cover, providing additional comfort to their daughter.
Estate planning can and should be more than avoiding probate and saving taxes. A properly designed estate plan can provide many additional advantages that protect your family. Most of these protections are ignored in cookie-cutter form-driven estate plans. Individuals should look closely at all of the benefits a properly designed estate plan can provide to them while they are alive, and provide to their spouses and their families after their death. Does your estate plan address all of your family’s issues?