An estate plan can be as simple as having your will drawn up. However, for most people, that is not enough. An incomplete estate plan can have unintended consequences for your loved ones, such as the delays and costs of having to put your entire estate through probate.
Taking a little time now to do comprehensive estate planning can save your executor and heirs a lot of frustration and help them enjoy more of the assets you leave behind. It can also make your golden years more comfortable and help you protect yourself from theft. Everyone’s particular needs are unique, but common elements of a strong estate plan include:
- Trusts. Placing some or all of your significant assets into a trust can significantly reduce the amount of time your estate spends in probate court, and help you minimize estate taxes, as well as other costs.
- Medicaid planning. Besides explaining how you want to happen to your wealth after you pass away, your estate plan can also help you while you are alive. Living in a nursing home or similar long-term care facility can be very expensive. Medicaid can pay for this, but only if you qualify financially. Medicaid planning is a process that can help you qualify for this aid without completely impoverishing yourself.
- Powers of attorney. You can also use estate planning to make sure your finances and health in trustworthy hands, if you are ever incapacitated. In Louisiana, you can designate separate individuals to have power of attorney over your financial affairs and your medical decisions. These can be relatives or friends you trust, or professionals.
Your estate plan can be custom-made to suit your goals, needs and family. Working with an attorney who is experienced with estate planning law can make this possible. Your estate plan will be complete and legally enforceable.