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Sacramento Estate Planning Blog

Estate planning, long-term care and home healthcare

A few weeks ago on the blog we discussed the importance of Medicaid planning when it comes to planning for the potential need for long-term care. Many Californians neglect to address this issue because they simply don't think that they will need long-term care. However, many individuals find themselves inflicted with serious medical conditions that disallow them from taking care of themselves. Although some individuals are able to rely on family and friends for their care, this can prove to either be impossible or overly burdensome. This is where long-term care can come into play.

For many elderly individuals, it is of the utmost importance that they remain in their house as they age. Most people don't want to wind up in a nursing home. Home healthcare can be made available to these individuals, but it will take advance planning to ensure that this is a viable option. This often means careful consideration of any existing medical conditions and how that may impose limitations on one's physical abilities.

Medicaid and the special needs trust

When deciding how you want to distribute your assets upon your passing, you can make the process as simple or as complex as you wish. The key is to utilizing whatever tools and processes make your vision of the future come true. For many Californians, this means creating a simple will to leave assets to those identified loved ones.

The idea of creating a will is simple enough, but even these simple documents can be scrutinized under a powerful legal lens. For example, one issue that arises with regard to wills is competency. A will is only deemed valid if the individual who created and signed it was of sound mind at the time. If he or she was not, then the will can be deemed void. This means that any directions contained within the document will be ignored.

Medicaid and the special needs trust

Estate planning is often viewed as the process through which a plan is devised to address property distribution upon one's death. While this certainly makes up a large portion of estate planning, dealing with assets is not the only matter that needs to be addressed. As part of their estate plan, California residents should also think about what they need to do in order to ensure that they can afford long-term care costs, should the need arise.

Long-term care planning often involves piecing together long-term care insurance, Medicaid and other investments and benefits programs to cover projected costs. Unfortunately, many California residents find that they don't qualify for government benefits, such as Medicaid or Supplemental Security Insurance, which puts them at risk of financial hardship. However, there are certain steps that can be taken to better ensure that people qualify to receive benefits.

The "Old Man" from "Pawn Stars" leaves child out of will

The purpose of an estate plan is to ensure that property is dispersed in accordance with one's wishes upon death. Most of the time this means that estate property is left to spouses and children, oftentimes with an even split when multiple individuals are involved. However, although that may be the default when it comes to considering estate planning, it is by no means the only way that estate planning can play out.

Instead, estate plans can be custom-tailored to fit an individual's wishes. This even means that people can be entirely left out of an estate plan. This was the scenario in Richard Harrison's case. The "Old Man," as he was called, was well-known for his appearance on "Pawn Stars." He recently passed away leaving a will that specifically excluded one of his three children from receiving any property. In addition, the man's will, which had been amended in 2017, specified that the children of the child who was written out of the will would not receive anything from the estate.

We help Californians with wills, estate plans and modifications

Last week on the blog we discussed the tragic passing of Anthony Bourdain and some of the more particular issues he addressed through his will. It highlights an important concept: estate plans can be custom-tailored to meet an individual's desires. This means that if an individual wants to leave assets to particular people or in a particular way, he or she can do so in a way that is legally enforceable. Also, by being clear and thorough in one's estate plan, he or she can avoid confusion and the costly process of probate and probate litigation.

Of course, the only way you can ensure that you utilize the estate planning tools necessary to meet your needs is to fully understand those options. Most Californians have a basic understanding of the most elementary estate planning tools, but even these can be fraught with unexpected complexities. Dealing with other documents, like trusts and powers of attorney can be even more detail-oriented.

Anthony Bourdain's estate plan addressed flyer rewards

Many people were shocked to hear the news that celebrity travel guru and chef Anthony Bourdain passed away recently. The man, who was open and honest about having to live paycheck-to-paycheck well into his 40s, became famous by exposing the secrets of the kitchen and cultures, thereby allowing many to expand their cultural literacy. While there are certainly lessons to be learned from Bourdain's passing and his legacy, one interesting aspect of his life is the way in which he drafted his estate plan.

On its face, Bourdain's will seems pretty simple. The vast majority of his $1.2 million dollar estate will go to his daughter. Yet, even this provision is missed by some, as up to 60 percent of Americans don't have an estate plan at all. Nearly 80 percent of millennials don't have a plan for how their assets will be distributed upon their passing, which could put them at risk of unintended outcomes.

The two types of conservatorships

Previously on this blog we discussed the role of a conservator in California and how he or she can play an important role in estate planning matters. As a quick recap, a conservator is an individual who is appointed by the court to care for an individual's daily care and health needs or the individual's financial matters when that individual is incapable of handling such matters on his or her own.

There are two types of conservatorships. The first is conservatorship over an individual, where an appointed conservator provides personal care for an individual who is incapacitated. This means that a conservator in this situation will be responsible for ensuring that the incapacitated individual has adequate food, health care, clothing and shelter. This type of conservatorship can carry great responsibilities, including making medical decisions that can have a profound impact on the incapacitated individual's life.

Health care directives as a part of estate planning

When most Californians think about estate planning, they think about how money is going to be passed down to their family and friends upon their death. While this is true to a certain extent, estate planning has a much broader reach. For example, estate planning can include how important financial and health care decisions will be made in the event that an individual becomes incapacitated and, as a result, unable to make those decisions on their own.

This is why one important estate planning tool is the health care directive. This document can spell out how one wants his or health to be treated when he or she becomes unable to make those decisions. But they can raise an important question: to what extent do medical professionals have to follow a health care directive?

Stan Lee's health may be affecting his estate plan

Estate planning and the various issues that can arise from it can affect people of all walks of life. Although many in California may think that estate planning is mainly meant for the rich, this simply isn't the case. It can be beneficial, however, to look at how estate planning issues affect the wealthy, as it can have direct correlations with the average person.

As an example, let us look at Stan Lee, the co-creator of many popular comic book characters, including Spider Man and the Hulk. The 95-year-old, whose estate may be worth as much as $50 million, currently suffers from a multitude of health problems, including hearing, vision and memory issues. These issues may be putting his estate at risk. How? According to some individuals, Lee's health problems make him susceptible to undue influence.

The interplay of estate planning and prenuptial agreements

Those in California who engage in estate planning usually do so for the sole purpose of ensuring that their hard-earned assets are protected and preserved for those who they identify as their heirs and beneficiaries. As we have discussed at length on this blog, there are a number of ways to ensure that one's estate plan is thorough, legally valid and created in a way that allows for distribution of assets in accordance with one's wishes.

However, there are certain circumstances that can threaten an estate plan as initially drafted. One of these scenarios is when an adult child decides to get married. While a marriage may be something to celebrate, it does mean that divorce could loom in the future. Therefore, some parents try to talk their children into entering into prenuptial agreements.

My Sacramento law practice, Michael A. Sawamura, Attorney at Law, focuses on wills, trusts and estate planning law in addition to business law and corporate defense services. My clients include professionals, government employees, small businesses, blue-collar workers and national corporations.

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