Planning for Incapacity
Most people think of estate planning as death planning. However, if you become incapacitated, it is very important to ensure that you are taken care of in the manner you want, under the supervision and management of the person(s) you would want to take charge of your affairs if you become incapacitated.
When you meet with Ken about planning your estate, among the suggestions he will make is that you should explore long term care insurance with a qualified insurance professional. Unfortunately, the spouse or parents of some of Ken’s clients have not prepared themselves, either financially or through estate planning, for the devastation that dementia and other late-inlife diseases can bring. When a person does not have sufficient assets to pay for his or her own care at home, or requires skilled nursing care in a long term care or other similar facility, it sometimes is the case that the well spouse or children of the incapacitated person want to explore the public benefits available for long term care. Ken always suggests that, if possible, the family try to figure out a way to keep their loved one at home or in a private pay facility, but often that is not possible, so Ken assists clients in negotiating the maze of Medi-Cal for long term care.
Planning for Death
In addition to incapacity planning, estate planning includes planning for your estate upon your death. Unless you properly put your desires in writing, your assets may not be distributed after your death in the manner you wish. Moreover, once the surviving parent dies, children often start acting in ways their parents never would have anticipated without warning from an experienced attorney.
In addition, if you and your spouse have previously been married, or if one or both of you have children from a previous marriage, there are complex community/separate property and other issues even for modest estates. Unfortunately, even when the second (third, fourth, etc.) marriage has lasted for decades and the step-parent believes he or she has a great relationship with his or her step-children, when the biological parent dies, things change.
You are entitled to prepare a trust or will that will distribute your assets in the manner you consider most appropriate. Parents of young children can also ensure that a guardian is appointed in the event of their untimely deaths (though both parents of young child rarely die, it can happen and it should be addressed).
We can assist you in any estate planning matter including:
- Powers of Attorney
- Health Care Directives
- Guardianship Issues
- Pet Trusts
Estate Planning for Families with Pets
A new law in California is providing peace of mind for pet owners who want to ensure their dogs, cats, horses, etc. are taken care of after the owner’s death or incapacity. The new California Pet Trust law provides that pet care trusts are enforceable by persons named by the pet owner or by the courts, as well as animal care organizations and others interested in the welfare of the animal. Here are a few highlights of what the new California statute allows pet owners to do:
- Provide a place for a pet to live, including maintaining a home or ranch for the pet’s benefit
- Appoint a caretaker or other care mechanism to care for the pet, and an overseer to ensure that the care given is as directed in the trust
- Give direction about the pet’s care and routines, exercise, veterinary care, and whatever other directions could be of help to the pet
- Provide a source of funds for the pet’s care that can be managed and invested like any other trust
- Protect the money set aside to care for and/or house the pet by having a trustee manage the trust property
In creating your estate plan, Panitz & Kossoff, LLP will seek to ensure that your testamentary documents are designed to preserve your assets, minimize taxes, and reflect your desires and family dynamics.
If you need assistance in any of these areas, do not hesitate to call Ken at (818) 865-0766 or (805) 497-6299