January 20th, 2021
This time last year, we were celebrating the beginning of 2020 and likely pondering our resolutions for the New Year. There was some talk of a new virus developing throughout the world, but overall life continued as normal. By the time March rolled around, our world looked very different than just a few months before. A new year full of hope and goals was quickly replaced with anxiety and uncertainty. As we reflect on this past year full of difficulties, we are reminded of what we did learn this year, and how we can lay the foundation for a fresh start in 2021.
It is easy to take for granted simple tasks like going to the store or the office, or even travelling to visit loved ones. While we have been able to adapt to working from home, online ordering, and video calls to keep in touch, it is difficult to truly replace face to face time with the ones we love. Given the nature of our work, many of our clients or their loved ones reside in nursing facilities. The toll the pandemic has taken on the elderly population is especially heartbreaking to us. We know that we will not take for granted the ability to hug our aging parents when this is all over.
As estate planners, we are grateful to provide financial peace of mind for their loved ones’ care through asset protection and crisis planning when everything else has turned upside down. While pre-planning is ideal, crisis planning allows us to still preserve 40-60% of assets for a single person and most to all of a married person’s assets in the event of an unexpected admittance to a long-term care facility. It is always a difficult decision when someone you love needs care in a facility but even more so during this time.
If you are healthy now, it is a good idea to discuss planning tools like an irrevocable Medicaid asset protection trust with your estate planning attorney. Having this trust in place and funded 5 years in advance lays the foundation for when you do need care and will streamlining the process for your family in what will inevitably be a stressful time. If 2020 has taught us nothing else, it certainly taught us to be prepared for everything from empty shelves at the store to an unexpected health crisis.
The motto in our office is “it’s never too early to plan.” Those who are younger and healthy may now feel more motivated to create an estate plan than ever before. It is important to have both medical and financial powers of attorney in place to state who can manage your decisions for you if you become unable. The process to obtain a guardianship and conservatorship through the courts without these documents can be a lengthy process, especially with COVID related delays that have affected many aspects of life in recent months.
As we look to 2021, I think we all know there are still challenges ahead. Despite knowing did not end at the stroke of midnight on January 1st, so many of us crave the fresh start that a new year brings. Our resolutions may look different than last year as we reflect on the lessons of the past year, but whatever your goals are for this year we encourage you to add estate planning to your list. Whether it’s time to review an existing plan that may be outdated or you just haven’t gotten around to it, the final lesson I know we have all learned from 2020 is that our time is limited and we want to make the most of it. What better way to do that than providing peace of mind for you and your loved ones? To all those who have had a tough year either financially or because of illness, our hearts go out to you from Seamon Law and we wish you a resilient and happy 2021.