Elder Law, Estate Planning, Healthcare

Estate Planning: Talking to Your Parents

One of the most challenging topics to discuss with our parents is estate planning. Even broaching the subject can seem daunting. Despite the challenging nature of this subject, it is one of the most important conversations we can have with our parents. Having a thorough estate plan in place can mitigate confusion and anxiety at the end of one’s life and avoid unnecessary legal fees, taxes, and delays in the dispersion of assets.

The first time our estate plans are likely to come into play will be near the end of our lives and involve decisions concerning our health and finances. These can include what type of medical treatment we want, how the elderly will pay for it, how long, or even if we want to be kept on a life support system. Financial decisions can include reducing taxes when our assets are transferred to our heirs.

After we have passed, our estate plans dictate funeral service arrangements, what will happen to our remains, and how our assets will be distributed. Some people want to leave clear instructions while others leave the decision-making up to relatives or close friends. The most important thing to remember is to choose people who are best suited for the tasks we ask them to carry out.

Preparing for your estate planning conversation with your parents will help you broach the subject and make the most of it. Here are some things to consider.

  • Being familiar with the primary estate plan documents and what they are for will allow you to help them create an outline of how they want their estate plan to function. One way to become familiar with the documents is to create an estate plan for yourself. Having your estate plan could also be an excellent way to encourage your parents to create theirs.
  • Involving other family members, such as your siblings, can create a more collaborative environment and help move the process forward more quickly.
  • Starting the estate planning conversation soon is key for ensuring the best plan is in place. If you are unsure how to get the conversation going, you may want to schedule an initial consultation with an estate planning attorney for your parents.

When you are ready to initiate the conversation with your parents, it may help to start by asking them if they already have any estate planning documents, then proceed in the order situations may arise. Some questions to consider are:

  • Do you have any estate plan documents? If so, where do you keep them?
  • Who do you want to make health care decisions for you? Do you want one person to serve as your health care agent at a time, or do you want two or more people to serve simultaneously?
  • What are your medical and end-of-life preferences?
  • After your death, how do you want your tangible and intangible assets distributed? Who do you want to oversee the distribution of your assets?

Since estate planning is a dynamic process and needs to evolve as conditions change, the estate planning conversation will need to be revisited if, for example, people named in the plan pass away or if a property is sold. Though talking about and creating estate plans can seem daunting, it is helpful to emphasize that one of the most valuable aspects of a thoughtful estate plan is that it gives all involved peace of mind as they move through the end of their loved one’s life.

This article offers a summary of aspects of estate planning law. It is not legal advice, and it does not create an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice, you should contact an attorney. If you have questions or would like to discuss your personal situation, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Please contact our Reno office by calling us at (775) 853-5700.

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Ten Military Benefits you May Not Know About

The US Department of Veterans, through Tricare and the GI Bill, offers numerous education and basic health care benefits to veterans. Even with these programs that help veterans and their families, other little-known services can improve their lives and ease the financial burden of medical care and other expenses. Check your veteran status to see if you qualify for the following ten benefits:

Long-term Care

It is well documented that long-term care is expensive, but it is often necessary to provide aging relatives. Through the Aid and Attendance program, many veterans can receive money that covers the cost of assisted living programs, nursing homes, and other long-term care facility options. Currently, couples can receive up to $25,020 annually, which can defray a significant portion of the costs associated with long-term care. A veteran’s surviving spouse is also eligible to receive up to $13,560 annually to cover their long-term care costs.

Caregiver Support

Suppose you decide to provide care for your ailing veteran at home, then check into the Veterans Affairs Caregiver Support program. While the program does not offer monetary support, it does give the caregivers a no-cost support line and a caregiver support coordinator who can provide invaluable information when navigating military benefits and learning stress-reducing techniques while caregiving.

Death Benefits

Burial benefits for veterans provide a family with a way to open and close the gravesite of their loved one in any of the 148 national cemeteries with available space and provide perpetual gravesite care at no cost. Additionally, the program provides a government headstone or marker, a burial flag, and a Presidential Memorial Certificate.

Non-College Degree Certificates and Programs

Many veterans are looking for jobs to increase their income or boost their retirement savings.  The GI bill can provide training certification courses and vocational training programs for emergency medical training, barber/beautician school, truck driving, HVAC repair, etc. The VET TEC program offers other non-college degree programs with accelerated learning in coding boot camps and other associated information science programs and software training. There are also free certification programs in information technology for qualifying veterans.

Free Tax Preparation Services

Veterans and their families can use the free tax preparation services available on military bases through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance offices. The tax preparers in these offices have expertise working with the complex nature of military-related tax issues.

GI Bill Credits Transfers

As a veteran, if you have unused credits through the GI Bill, you may transfer them to your spouse or dependents. If you qualify for the service limits, then you can transfer the benefits.

Life Insurance

Traditional life insurance can be difficult for a veteran to get; this is particularly true in sustaining an injury during their time of service. The Servicemembers’ and Veterans’ Group, Life Insurance Program, can provide up to $400,000 in life insurance and offer competitive premium rates. To learn more, visit the VA’s Group Life Insurance website for servicemembers and veterans.

Delinquent Mortgage Help

Repayment assistance is available for veterans having trouble making their mortgage payments. Some of the options available include special repayment plans, loan modification, and loan forbearance programs. There are also benefits for veterans with VA loans as well as for homeless veterans.

VA Foreclosures

Veterans can search the list of VA acquired properties and purchase these homes at a discount. The VA maintains this list of homes that are serviced through VA Home Loans and are in foreclosure. Although you do not have to be a veteran to search the property list, all qualify for VA financing.

American Corporate Partners

Veterans can connect their skill sets to job opportunities in top companies through American Corporate Partners. This service also provides one-on-one mentoring, interview coaching, resume assistance, and more. If you are looking to start a second career, this service can help you identify the best move for you.

Benefit opportunities for a veteran can make a big difference in lifestyle for themselves and their family members. Understanding the process of veteran qualification/eligibility and properly submitting paperwork for approval can be difficult to navigate. Identify the programs that can help your veteran and then contact an elder law attorney specializing in veterans’ benefits, like us. We’d be honored to help. If you have questions or would like to discuss your personal situation, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Please contact our Reno office by calling us at (775) 853-5700.