Estate Plan: More Than Just a Will

An estate plan is more than just a will. Think of it this way: a will is like just having a bicycle as your only means of transportation in a big city. You shouldn’t depend only on your Schwinn or Huffy to pedal you around town. You have other options.

A will is a good start, but there’s much more to estate planning that drafting and signing a will. A will won’t necessarily preserve your assets for your loved ones after you pass, nor will it protect your assets for you and your family during your lifetime. There are several other tools that an experienced estate planning attorney will use. For example, there are various types of trusts that let you detail your wishes and preserve your assets for your spouse, children, and grandchildren.

Many people lose their homes to nursing care facilities. There are ways to avoid this. There are numerous rules and exceptions that make it difficult to lose a house if your stay in a long-term care facility is intended to be temporary. But the state may pursue a person’s assets after death to be reimbursed for the costs of your stay. When this happens, the decedent’s estate is depleted, leaving little or nothing to the heirs.

You don’t have to give assets away to have them protected. Actually, transferring your assets to your children or others may actually expose your assets to risk and subject them to the claims of their creditors. In addition, a transfer of assets may disqualify you and the recipient from certain government benefits.

Even if you move to a nursing home within less than five years after you implemented your estate plan, you typically can still protect a substantial part of your assets. Not everyone knows that making a transfer of assets within that period doesn’t necessarily disqualify you from Medicaid. It may merely result in a penalty.
Protect your assets before something happens. Take the steps necessary to protect your estate for your loved ones to ensure that they are cared for in the future if you are not here. Act today!

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Editor’s Note: This article was submitted by Milvidskiy Willis LLP, an elder law and estate planning firm. Their services cover Wills and Trusts, Asset Protection, Special Needs, Medicaid and VA Benefits, Guardianship, Probate and Trust Administration. With offices in Jersey City, Paramus, Morristown, Princeton, and Red Bank, they help clients in Northern and Central New Jersey. They can be reached at (201) 616-7667.