When you think about the priorities in your estate plan, you likely think about the need to ensure that your loved ones are provided for in your absence. That causes you to focus on creating a plan to distribute your estate assets according to your wishes. While it is always important to focus on how your estate assets will be passed down to loved ones, it is equally important to incorporate tools and strategies in your estate plan that help to protect those assets while you are alive. Many of the basic asset protection concepts apply to anyone who wishes to protect their assets. The Annapolis elder law attorneys at Sinclair Prosser Gasior explain tools and strategies that seniors may wish to use to protect their assets.
How Might Your Assets Be at Risk?
If you are enjoying your retirement years, it means that you have already spent a significant portion of your life building up your assets through work and/or investing. You may already be aware of some of the more obvious threats to your assets; however, to keep your retirement nest egg safe, and ensure that there is something left to pass down to loved ones, you need to be even more vigilant during this phase of your life. As a senior, your assets might be at risk in several ways you have not thought of, including:
- Spendthrift beneficiaries – just about every family has a spendthrift – that family member who simply isn’t good with money. Many families have also dealt with a family member who has an addiction problem. Whatever the concern, it is crucial that you are honest with yourself when considering your beneficiaries and their level of responsibility with money. If you are concerned that a beneficiary might squander any assets you leave him/her, it may be wise to utilize a trust instead of handing that beneficiary a lump sum. The Trustee, appointed by you, can manage the beneficiary’s inheritance and the trust terms allow you to maintain a certain degree of control over how the assets are used.
- Elder financial exploitation – sadly, financial exploitation is at the top of the list of potential threats to your assets. Each year, there are over 5 million instances of financial exploitation with a senior victim and over 90 percent of the perpetrators are family members. As difficult as it may be to think of family members or other loved ones as a threat to your assets, it is imperative that you do so. People take advantage of seniors in a variety of ways and for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it is because of an underlying addiction problem or because of their own financial struggles. The bottom line, however, is that seniors are disproportionately victimized in financial scams and crimes. With that in mind, it is crucial that you guard yourself and your assets. Do not give anyone access to your bank accounts or other assets. Consult with your attorney if someone asks you to sign a power of attorney. Resist the urge to help everyone who asks you for financial assistance. Never send money to someone you do not know and always confirm the identity and story of anyone claiming to be calling for a loved one in trouble.
- Long-term care expenses – by far one of the biggest threats to your retirement nest egg is the high cost of long-term care. If you are already in your retirement years, you stand a 50-75 percent chance of eventually needing some type of LTC services, as does your spouse if you are married. Nationwide, the average yearly cost of LTC for 2020 was just over $100,000. Because neither Medicare nor most health insurance plans cover LTC expenses, you could be forced to pay out of pocket if you do not plan for the possibility of needing LTC. Medicaid will cover LTC costs; however, you must qualify for benefits. By incorporating Medicaid planning into your overall estate plan, you can protect your assets and ensure that you qualify for Medicaid if you need it in the future.
Contact an Annapolis Elder Law Attorney
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE WEBINAR. If you have additional questions or concerns about senior asset protection, contact an experienced Annapolis elder law attorney at Sinclair Prosser Gasior by calling (410) 573-4818 to schedule an appointment.