Things ain't like they used to be
By James Miskell, Attorney at Law
In previous generations, folks lived—and then they died—in close proximity to family. With advances in technology and medical care, people are now living longer. While there is still no miracle cure for aging—no fountain of youth— on average, we live longer and have access to greater resources that increase quality of life. Rather than an abrupt end, more of us will face some period of gradual decline requiring skilled care.
We can expect to live on our own with increasing levels of assistance, followed by some period of disability or illness before we die. In the past, when the time came, most people were cared for by immediate family at home.
That model, however, is not the reality many of us will face. Families don't stay in one place the way they used to. Children and siblings are likely to live in different towns and often different states. Even when family members are local, the length and level of care required is likely to be beyond what they can provide.
As a result of these changes, traditional estate planning—what happens to your possessions when you die—is no longer adequate. Modern estate planning should also address long term care needs - what happens to you as you age and require assistance. Finally, modern estate planning should include asset protection planning - protecting what you have earned from predators now and in the future.
In preparing for the future, here are some questions you should be asking yourself:
If your (or your spouse’s) health fails, does your family know what to do?
Does your family know what your wishes are for health care?
How will you pay for long term care? Can you pay out of pocket? Do you have long term care insurance?
What part can government benefits play? What about VA benefits? How does qualifying for Medicaid work? Do you qualify for Medicaid? Is it in your best interest to qualify for Medicaid?
How can your assets be protected from losses and other general predators? How can you protect your assets without losing the benefit of them while you’re still alive?
How do you answer these questions?
When it comes to planning for the future, you may hear opinions from a lot of sources – from friends, co-workers and family—each with their own specific factual circumstances and experiences. You never know what YOU need until you have your particular circumstances assessed and have an opportunity to express your wishes. The only way to know is to find out--by working with qualified professionals to maximize your resources to benefit you and your family.
James M. Miskell received his law degree from the University of Georgia in 1993. His Asset Protection and Estate Planning Law practice is located in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He offers free educational workshops and consultations to assist clients as well as fellow professionals in creating individualized solutions.