“Hope for the Best, Expect the Worst” is the theme song for Mel Brooks’ 1970 movie “The Twelve Chairs.” The movie is about a family fortune stashed in one of a dozen chairs that went missing during the Russian Revolution.
“The Twelve Chairs” is a comedy. There’s nothing funny, though, about a family fortune being lost. That is, as Brooks says, why you should hope for the best, expect the worst – and plan accordingly.
Contacting an elder law attorney is a good place to start if planning for your family’s long-term financial well-being is on your to-do list, even if you haven’t finished building your family or your family fortune yet.
What Is an Elder Law Attorney, and Do I Need One Yet?
An elder law attorney knows the legal issues that arise with aging and how to prepare you for them. These lawyers are skilled at estate planning and experienced at handling important issues such as guardianship, asset protection, trust administration, disability, long-term care, VA benefits, and Medicaid.
As to when you will need one: You are never too young to plan for the future. Let’s say you are a couple in your 20s and have a newborn. Is it too soon to plan for what will happen to your child should something happen to you? An elder law attorney can begin the estate planning process for you with a will that addresses guardianship.
So, who should hire an elder law attorney? Pretty much anyone who hopes to age as painlessly as possible.
Again, hope for the best, expect the worst – and plan accordingly.
Why Plan Now? You Just Never Know.
Planning is the key. An elder law attorney will review your circumstances and help you craft a long-term strategy designed to make your life as easy as possible in difficult times.
Imagine yourself in this scenario, one where time spent now with an elder law attorney could help your loved ones avoid the worst later:
You are a single parent of means and have two minor children. One is a special-needs child who will never be able to fully care for himself. You die in a tragic accident, but because you worked with an elder law attorney:
- The health care surrogate you chose was able to see that your wishes were carried out during your final days in the hospital. Your will is ironclad and left nothing to chance, including your funeral arrangements.
- You have set up trusts that put your assets under the stewardship of a successor trustee until your children are ready to assume control. No probate. No hassles for friends and family.
- Guardianship of your minor children has been addressed, with a person you trust chosen to take them in. There won’t be a custody battle to make a hard time even harder for the kids.
- Your business is under the control of the person you chose, and a succession plan has been crafted for when your oldest child can take over – if that’s what he wants.
- Trusts have been established to ensure that your special-needs child will never face financial hardship, and a long-term guardianship plan is in place.
Every estate plan is different because every family is different. One constant since 1973 has been the excellent service the law firm of Chiumento Selis Dwyer P.L. has provided for Florida families. With offices in Palm Coast, Ormond Beach, and DeLand, the firm has put decades of experience to work helping families prepare for and get through difficult times.
Elder Law Covers a Lot of Ground
There are countless ways an elder law attorney can assist you as you plan for your future and the future of your family. A good attorney brings a lot of skills to the table in key areas such as estate planning, planning for incapacitation, and long-term care planning.
Estate Planning: The focus here is on deciding what will happen to your assets when you die, including the nitty gritty of distributing those assets. Along with helping your family avoid a lengthy probate process after you die, an elder law attorney’s goal is to reduce estate taxes, protect your estate from unexpected creditors, and see to the needs and inheritance of your heirs.
Asset protection tools include trusts, from revocable trusts that allow you to access and modify them while you are alive to irrevocable spendthrift trusts that allow you to shield assets for a dependent who isn’t responsible enough to manage the money. You can even create a trust to provide care for a beloved pet once you are gone.
Incapacity Planning: This is about the what-ifs, or expecting the worst. Perhaps you have a family history of a condition that makes incapacitation a probability. An elder law attorney can help you put a plan in place to handle your affairs in case you no longer can. This includes:
- Providing durable power of attorney to a trusted individual who can make financial decisions for you
- Designating a health care surrogate to make medical decisions (according to your wishes) in case you cannot communicate them
- Ensuring that you have designated a guardian for your children in the tragic event that you can no longer care for them
Long-Term Care Planning: Although it’s rarely a pressing thought for most young people, making arrangements for care in a nursing home or assisted-living facility is a necessary part of aging. Few people can manage that expense out-of-pocket.
The Florida Health Care Association estimates it costs about $90,000 a year to keep someone in a nursing home. An extended stay could eat up all your assets and become a financial burden on loved ones. Our skilled elder law attorneys can help you devise a plan to prepare for long-term care expenses so your family is not left to carry the load unexpectedly.
Do You Have Questions for an Elder Law Attorney?
People throughout Flagler and Volusia counties have come to trust the law firm of Chiumento Selis Dwyer to help plan for their families’ future. Our elder law attorneys know how to shield your loved ones from unnecessary financial and emotional distress.
The bottom line is that it’s not enough to just hope for the best, because you never know what’s to come. Contact us today to discuss what our elder law attorneys can do for you and your family.