New Year: New Estate Plan – Why Now is the Perfect Time To Get Your Estate Plan In Order
Stress tests are usually associated with cardiac patients and banks. The goal of a stress test is to see how a person or institution responds to a crisis, analyze the results and take action if the results are not satisfactory. 2021 was the ultimate stress test. It laid bare the good and bad in our relationships, health, work/life balance and finances. Pandemic policies, supply chains and inflation may be difficult to control, but individual planning changes can be implemented. Estate planning is our mechanism for taking charge of an unruly world.
The first step is to think about the people in your life. As a new year approaches, you may find that you have fresh perspectives on your loved ones. Their reactions and communications during difficult times may influence your thinking on how they will handle adversity should it arise in the future. Your advance directives such as Health Care Proxies and Powers of Attorney appoint certain people to make critical health and financial decisions. Trustees and Executors have to organize, manage and distribute assets effectively while maintaining good communications with beneficiaries. Did the events of 2021 reinforce your belief in your chosen people or are there concerns?
If you drive a car or……eat, you have noticed that prices have increased across the board. Income raises and higher investment returns are supposed to keep pace, but not every family is ahead of the curve. Estate planning is also an extended financial plan that is designed to preserve the lifestyle of a family. Higher education, new marriages, home purchases and starting a family are touchstones for the next generations. Those touchstones are also pretty expensive. Ensuring the viability of those life events may require adjustments to an existing estate plan. Coordinating a plan with a financial advisor and estate attorney is one new year’s resolution that should come about.
The health care and long-term care systems faced their own stress tests in 2021. Hospitals and medical practices are still contending with the pandemic. This means that complicated protocols continue to frustrate families trying to manage a loved one’s care. In long-term care, staffing shortages for home health aides is forcing families to find aide alternatives within their own network of family and friends. An estate plan that does not take health and long-term care into consideration is not complete. Educating oneself in the ins and outs of health insurance is vitally important. Understanding how health insurance companies handle claims and influence medication decisions is a great way to prepare for future health care concerns. Medicare, Medicare Supplemental Insurance and Medicaid have major roles to play as we age and require more care. Having the right insurance and gaining eligibility for Medicaid at the right time can save a family thousands of dollars. The end of 2021 and the start of 2022 will see new Medicaid rules implemented. Non-spousal asset transfers for Medicaid Home Care will be subject to a lookback and penalty period. Estate planning that adjusts to this new reality is a good idea.
Talk to the professionals at Sloan and Feller today to begin your New Year’s Estate Plan review.