The author Brigitte von Weiss of VON WEISS LAW OFFICE is an estate planning and elder law attorney in Easton, MA. She is often asked about common estate planning errors.
A common estate planning error is not realizing that one may spend a significant amount of one’s assets on long-term care. Having been an elder law and estate planning attorney for over 20 years, I have seen many clients spend enormous sums on in-home, assisted living, and nursing home care. For example, let me tell the story about Mrs. Smith. In 2010, when we first met, her net worth (including her condominium) was approximately $900,000. As she was 92 and living in her home, Mrs. Smith was convinced that she would have a significant amount of assets at her death and thus put a lot of time and energy into deciding which relatives, friends, and charities would be the beneficiaries of her estate. Prior to 2010, she had executed a life estate deed whereby her son owned the remainder interest. In 2012, Mrs. Smith moved into an assisted living facility and, in 2016, she fell and fractured bones in her neck. Because of the fractures, she required 24-hour care, the cost of which was $5,500 per week. She received 24-hour care for over a year. Her son became concerned about her running out of money and, fortunately, was able to find for her a private room in a nursing home. She moved to the nursing home, spent down her assets to $2,000 and became a recipient of MassHealth long-term-care benefits. Luckily, when Mrs. Smith’s condominium was sold, her son kept his share of the proceeds from the sale of the condominium in an account solely in his name. He is spending his share of the proceeds supplementing the care provided by the nursing home
In sum, it is important to realize that one may spend a significant amount of one’s assets on long-term care and plan accordingly. Long-term-care insurance is an important planning tool as it is a means of passing on some of the potential exposure to an insurance company. For those who decide against long-term-care insurance, there are other options such as outright gifting, testamentary trusts, and life estate deeds. Please visit http://www.vonweisslaw.com/
Nothing in this article should be considered legal advice as this is a complicated area of the law.
Elder Law and Estate Planning services are offered to the residents of Canton MA and surrounding areas.
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