As a Michigan elder law attorney, I continue to see clients come in debating whether to put together a will or a living trust for their heirs. The decision on this is sometimes complicated, though it ultimately comes down to how fast you want your heirs to have access to your finances when you die, become ill, or incapacitated. While different circumstances happen in either scenario, you don’t want delays when you want your next of kin to have immediate access to your money and other assets.
This is especially important lately to Baby Boomers who are starting to age and worry about their own futures. Their children are at the stage in life where they have their own concerns about career, money, and caring for their children.
It’s an ongoing process for every generation to worry about the welfare of their heirs and even costs of health care when they can’t take care of themselves. These concerns only grow as the complexities of health care costs continue to grow more troublesome and expensive.
During times of death or incapacitation, you also don’t want financial delays for your heirs if you can help it. In that regard, a living trust is possibly the greatest thing you can do for your family. The reason is a living trust doesn’t go through probate like wills do. This is important for a number of reasons, especially if you have debts to pay after death.
Paying Off Health Care Debts Immediately
LegalZoom points out the immediate benefits of living trusts based on the prospect that your heirs gain access to your assets in weeks rather than months or years with wills. Generally, more complex estates benefit greatly from living trusts because it distributes your assets to your beneficiaries quicker so you avoid court costs on probate. You simply choose a successor trustee who you have faith in to distribute your assets.
This places your immediate children or your other beneficiaries at an advantage to pay off your debts to clear your good name. It’s possible you were having elder care in an assisted living facility for years where you couldn’t afford all the payments. This might have created a debt problem, as well as unpaid hospital bills for any medical treatments.
While next of kin are responsible for your debts, you want your good name cleared. All your financial resources that were possibly locked up before are accessible so those debts get paid. In this regard, you can consider a living trust part of elder law, which is our legal focal point here at The Elder Care Firm.
What makes your living trust even more valuable is nobody in your family can contest it. It’s revocable, so you’re in control of it while alive, and your trustee is the only one controlling it after your death. This also saves court costs since contesting could go on for months or years, creating a massive legal bill.
But what about when you become ill or incapacitated? Is the living trust any good in a scenario where you’re alive, yet can’t communicate?
Taking Control of Your Assets During Incapacitation
Certain scenarios like suffering a stroke could place you in a situation where you’re alive, yet can’t speak for communicating on dealing with your estate. In most scenarios, having a durable power of attorney helps if you don’t have a living trust. Regardless, a living trust gives you complete power in this case so a trustee can handle your assets if you can’t. If you can still communicate in some way, you also wield power over who’s really in control.
The best thing is all financial concerns are easily ironed out through your trustee, even if you’re unable to do anything. After suffering a health event, this gives you peace of mind rather than stress during a time when you need to recover from illness.
Contact us here at The Elder Care Firm and we’ll work with you on putting together a living trust. It does take some time depending on how many financial accounts you have, yet it sets up your future for the welfare of your family.
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