Before you can come up with an actual plan for your estate, you need to define what you want your future to look like.
You know where you are now, if you took the time to assess your current situation by identifying the items in the April 30, 2010 blog. This is your starting point – point “A” on your map of life. The next step requires you to create a powerful vision (goals) of where you want to go, now while life is good, and also in the bad days when death occurs, or should care be needed as you age. Once you are specific about your vision, Point “B”, it is possible to put together a plan to help you accomplish your goals.
So pull out your pad of paper again and title at least three different pages  The good days,  When I die, and  What if I need help as I age.
Most people become serious about estate planning when they approach or reach retirement age. Planning for the good days can include going back to school, paying for a grandchild’s education, volunteering, getting a part-time job, traveling, playing golf every day and endless other options. Next to each of the items you may want to write the estimated cost in dollars and time and if you need to have other people involved.
Next plan for your death. This will include the type of funeral you want. Choose who will handle your affairs when you die: a spouse, family, friends or a professional bank trust department. If you name an individual, decide on an alternate if the first person cannot do the job, due to illness or they predecease you. If you have people who are dependent on you, such as a minor or disabled person, what arrangements do you want to protect their future? If you have pets, who do you want to provide for their care? How do you want your assets distributed among your family, friends and charities? Do you have loved ones who will need to have their money managed for them? There are many more decisions that need to be made for handling your affairs after your death, but being able to answer the questions listed here is a good start.
Lastly, consider if you need care before you die. How do you want that to be provided for? Most people ignore this part of planning, even though there is a 70% chance of needing care before you die. Why do people need care: you just get old and no longer can live safely in your home, or you have a fall or have dementia. What type of care do you want? There are lots of choices: bring in caregivers to the home, move to a safer place such as a retirement home, assisted living or skilled nursing care facility. Who do you want to make health and financial decisions for you if you are not able to make these decisions? How do you plan to pay the expenses related to this care: out of pocket, long-term care insurance, Veteran’s benefits, Medicare or Medicaid?
Once you have accomplished these three additional steps of clarifying your vision of the future you want for yourself and your family, you have taken a significant step forward in planning your estate to protect your independence and assets.
We help retired people create security in their lives by protecting their assets and independence from excess taxes, health emergencies and the interferences of strangers, even if they are embarrassed to admit their retirement fears. Call for a FREE appointment with attorney, Susan Graham, to help create your security. Call before June 30, 2010 and we will send you FREE information on “General Qualifications for Non-Service Connected Veteran’s Aid and Attendance Benefits.”