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Planning Ahead With Estate Planning

The use of wills and trusts are essential components of estate planning for a senior adult. Both documents have important roles in estate planning for seniors. Having a will in place directs the distribution of a person’s assets upon their death. A will is not effective until death, thus its role is truly to provide peace of mind to a senior that their assets will be distributed per their wishes.

Trusts, whether revocable or irrevocable, are effective upon signing, and potentially have an immediate use and benefit for the senior adult. Attorney Katherine Breckenridge (formerly Katherine S. Charapich) is an advocate for the use of trusts, as long as there are identifiable and worthwhile benefits to the senior adult.

Revocable trusts are trusts in which the senior adult can maintain full control and discretion over his assets should he so choose. He can also amend or revoke the trust at any time. The benefits of a revocable trust, include the seamless transfer of the management of assets to a successor trustee should the trustor, the senior adult, no longer be able to manage his assets. Though the senior adult may not be in a position to manage his assets, the assets are still used for the benefit and care of the senior adult.

Irrevocable trusts, such as asset protection trusts and income only trusts, are frequently used by senior adults to protect assets in the event a senior adult is in need of long-term care and government assistance.

Powers of Attorney and Advance Medical Directives

As an elder law attorney, attorney Katherine Breckenridge believes the care of a senior adult while they are on this earth the most important consideration. She believes that while a senior adult has the capacity to do so, he or she should put in place a power of attorney and an advance medical directive.

A power of attorney will give a trusted person the legal authority to help the senior adult with maintaining his quality of life, as well as with the maintenance of his finances. Having a power of attorney in place often provides a senior adult comfort, knowing that they have authorized a trusted person to help them with many of the tasks that for so much of life many of us take for granted, such as going to the bank if they are not able, to negotiate with a government agency on their behalf, to help us them pay their bills, and to make sure they have the care they need.

In addition to a power of attorney, the Estate Law Center, PLLC, believes an advance medical directive is an essential legal document for every senior adult to have in place. It is the legal vehicle for the senior adult to set forth his wishes for his medical care should he not be able to make a decision, as well what is important to him at the end-of-life. Using the same document, it is important that a senior adult identifies a person who has the legal authorization to make decisions regarding the senior adult’s medical care.