Elder Needs Should Be Discussed

It is very important that elderly people talk to their younger family members about what their needs are and what they might be in the future. Too many people are not having those conversations.

Most people who live long enough, will at some point reach a stage in life when they are no longer able to adequately or safely care solely for themselves. Some people will face physical problems for which they will require help.  Others will face mental problems that make things difficult. Some people will face both physical and mental problems.

Most of the time it is up to younger family members to help their elderly loved ones who face these problems. However, if the younger people do not know what to do and what the elderly person wants done, then the best help is difficult to provide.

For younger people to know that, they need to have conversations with their elderly relatives long before any help is needed. Americans are not having those types of conversations, according to a new survey as WLNS reports in “Conversations About Elder Needs Aren’t Happening, According to Wells Fargo Survey.”

Conversations about what will happen when we get older and are no longer able to care for ourselves are not always comfortable, but these conversations are important. They do not have to be too difficult. Younger family members just need to know some basics about what their elderly relatives want, such as whether or not they would prefer to live at home as long as they can. Younger people also need to know where to find any important legal papers and what their responsibilities might be.

Contact a qualified estate planning attorney to help facilitate this important conversation.

Reference: WLNS (May 8, 2018) “Conversations About Elder Needs Aren’t Happening, According to Wells Fargo Survey.”

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Reviewing Your Last Will and Testament

From time to time, you need to review your last will to make sure that it is still a good one for your family.

After you meet with an estate planning attorney and the last will is drafted and executed, the attorney is likely to tell you to make sure that you review your documents, when changes occur in your life.

Most people just take the attorney’s statement at face value and leave it at that. Other people want to know what kind of things would make changing a last will necessary.

There are a few common things that can happen. They can be listed as the Huntsville Item does in “When should you review your will?” The problem with making specific lists, is that people take them as exclusive, instead of as examples. People think only those things listed would require changing a will, when those things are just some of the common examples.

A last will should be reviewed and changed, anytime there is a significant change in your life that would make you want to dispose of your estate differently. You do not need to think too hard about what counts as a significant change. It just needs to be something you find significant.

One way you can avoid having to think about when to review your last will, is to just go ahead and review it every few years. Read through it and if it no longer does what you want the way you want, then schedule another appointment with the estate planning attorney, so changes can be made.

Reference: The Huntsville Item (May 7, 2018) “When should you review your will?

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Digital Asset Complications

You need to make sure that no one else can access your digital accounts now.  However, you also need to plan, so that someone else can have access to them, after you pass away.

If someone else gains access to one of your digital accounts, it can cause severe problems. The account does not even need to be a financial account. Someone hacking into a social media account can also cause a lot of damage. For this reason, people often go to great lengths to secure their accounts as well as they can from anyone else gaining access to them.

After we pass away, we may want someone to have access to those accounts, so they can wind them down or preserve any information in them. This creates a conflict that can be difficult to resolve.

There are three basic complications when it comes to planning for someone else to access your digital accounts after you pass away, as the New York Law Journal discusses in “Protecting Digital Assets in a Digital Age,” including:

  • Passwords — You probably do not want to give anyone else the passwords to your accounts now. However, someone else will need them, after you pass away. This requires having a secure plan.
  • Encryption — Increasingly, many digital accounts have heavy encryption. Someone who knows how to work with encryption is, therefore, required to handle your accounts, after you pass away.
  • Criminal Law — It is a federal crime (and a state level crime in most places) to obtain unauthorized access to someone’s digital accounts. What often counts as “authorized”, is determined by the terms of use of a website. In the absence of state laws that grant certain people access after you pass away, someone who accesses your accounts could be breaking the law. For this reason, it is important to talk to an estate planning attorney to make sure that does not happen.

Work with a qualified estate planning attorney to make sure you cover all the bases.

Reference: New York Law Journal (May 4, 2018) “Protecting Digital Assets in a Digital Age.”

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Plan for the End

It might not be the most comfortable thing to do, but seniors who plan for the last years of their lives often are comforted by doing so.

We spend our lives making and following plans. Even the most spontaneous people cannot help  making plans from time to time. We all must make plans for work, as well as for our personal lives.

People who retire must make plans, too. The last thing many retirees want to do now, is to keep making and following plans. They would like to be done with it. That is understandable, but it is not a good idea.

Even those in retirement need to make plans and, unfortunately, the plans seniors need to make are some of the least comfortable plans for people at any age to make. They are plans for their very final years, as the Dothan Eagle discusses in “Seniors need to plan for their final years.”

Seniors need to plan for where they would like to live in their final years. If the answer is at home, arrangements need to be made to make sure that home is safe. If people would prefer to live in a nursing home, they should see an elder law attorney as soon as possible to discuss how they are going to pay for the nursing home.

An elder law attorney can also help them with other plans, such as creating powers of attorney and a living will. These are essential documents to have, in case seniors are not able to care for themselves in their final years.

Reference: Dothan Eagle (April 28, 2018) “Seniors need to plan for their final years.”

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Lost Retirement Accounts

Many elderly Americans are entitled to a lot of money that they may have forgotten about or do not know how to locate, because they have lost track of old retirement and pension plan information.

It makes sense when you retire to ensure access to all funds to which you are entitled. Unfortunately, too many people are not aware of retirement funds to which they are entitled.

It is quite common for people to have a retirement account through an old employer that they have forgotten about. When you leave a job that had a 401(k) plan, for example, you are still entitled to your funds through that plan. This is true, even if you never did anything with the retirement funds after you left that job.

Even when people do remember these old accounts, they have trouble locating any information about them. Why? Because their old employers have closed, changed names or merged with some other company.

In total, this problem costs Americans some $150 billion that they are owed as Kiplinger reports in “Missing Retirement Accounts Cost Retirees Billions.”

There is a bipartisan piece of legislation in the Senate that would make things easier for people to find the money they are owed. It would require the creation of a central database, so people could search for their own accounts.

However, this legislation is being opposed by the industry, since it would increase their costs. It might be a good idea to let your Senator know your opinion, so you can determine whether you are owed money that you do not know about.

Reference: Kiplinger (April 27, 2018) “Missing Retirement Accounts Cost Retirees Billions.”

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