Providing care to an elderly, sick or injured person is a life changing commitment. The medical and personal demands are constant and unwavering. The financial and physical impact adds to the strains and must be faced as each presents itself.
Planning ahead is possible to some degree within each of these areas. I’d like to share with you an area of preparation that can be done prior to needing care and available to everyone.
It is into the world of legal matters that most of us treadly lightly and with trepidation. We don’t want to make the wrong decision and we fear losing control. Both of these are valid. The cost and accompanying confusion often make it easier to simply procrastinate.
While these emotions are valid, shown by the statistic that close to two-thirds of adults have not done any planning, they are not a reason nor excuse to ignore a simple process that turns uncertainties into certainties, a plan that ultimately helps keep control in your hands.
The legal documents each of us need at a time of illness, accident or death, are a power of attorney for medical, a power of attorney for financial, a living will or medical directive and a Will or a Trust. Other documents may be suggested by your legal advisor.
The decision between a Will or a Trust is often based upon specific and unique needs and the size of a person’s estate. Each state has an estate threshold which is a good starting point. If a person has a home and a family, avoiding probate can be a good idea. A will is used in the probate process, the one you acquired or the one provided by the state, if you never got around to it. A trust helps a family avoid probate, if it’s set up and properly maintained.
Acquiring the right document (a will) or setting up the right entity (a trust) is the important first step. While we consider these options for our parents, having them completed for ourselves and our children is a wise idea. There is no magic age when we are free from accident, illness or death, and leaving a legal plan in place is a gift to all.
The second, and just as important part of this planning, along with the correct documents, is enlisting the services of an organization that can be with you along the way and your loved ones when the time comes to execute the plan. A service company, is the generic term for such an arrangement. More specifically, a Trust Service Company, since a trust is more of a living document that can be altered and changed by the people who set it up, as opposed to a will that sits in a drawer until someone passes.
A trust service company, should provide regular visits to assure that the estate and the trust are in synch, offering changes and updates as life changes and updates. Most importantly is the assistance that is provided to those we love, when it comes time to exercise the rights laid out by the documents.
There are a number of other benefits and drawbacks to each of these choices. There is also plenty to read, and much that can seem confusing. My suggestion is to do some research and then make a decision. Having done nothing is not the legacy you want to leave behind.