1. Doing Nothing at All
Instead of seeking an estate planning lawyer, many individuals make the mistake of doing nothing at all to protect their assets. As long as you have assets, they need to be protected, so speak to an experienced elder law attorney to get the protection you and your loved ones need.
2. Transferring the Entirety of Assets to Children or Loved Ones
While the intentions are honorable, this is imprudent estate planning. Tax consequences can be horrendous, and you can even be ineligible for Medicaid or other forms of assistance due to the legal complications involved in such a massive assets transfer. Avoid such behavior at all costs.
3. Poor Gift Planning
Transfers to donees of a gift should be done carefully, which entails proper planning and structure. An estate planning lawyer will develop a strategy for maximum asset control and protection.
4. Putting All Your Faith in a Living Trust or Will
Wills take effect only after death, and living trusts do not protect assets from Medicaid and nursing homes. Simply put, don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.
5. Thinking It’s Mandatory to Sell the Family Home for Nursing Care
When transitioning to a nursing home, many people still erroneously think they have to sell the family home. This is not true, so avoid that trap if you want to keep the home within the family.
6. Forgetting to Take Advantage of State Law Exemptions
Every state differs with respect to their statutory exemptions, but it pays to know them. A Massachusetts estate planning lawyer will work with you to determine the extent of your exemptions under Massachusetts law. IRAs, annuities, life insurance and other classes of assets may be exempt, and attorneys will consider all of this when estate planning.
7. Not Seeking Out a Seasoned Elder Law Attorney for Elder Law Legal Advice
When it comes to asset planning and protection, elder law legal advice is imperative. Not all attorneys know the laws that vary from state to state, which is why a seasoned elder law attorney is essential for you to protect your assets in the best way possible.
8. Ignoring the Possibility of Medicaid Estate Recovery
Too many people view Medicaid recovery as a threat that rarely happens. It does happen, and more often than you think. An elder law attorney will help you prepare for this possibility.
9. Using a Guardianship
This form of planning for a person’s incapacity is costly and wasteful since it can get bogged down in the courts. The best elder law legal advice on this issue comes from attorneys that help you plan without resorting to the hassles of a guardianship.
10. Involving Family Members with Joint Ownership
Joint ownership increases the likelihood of time-consuming disqualification periods, so this is undesirable for the same reasons as an entire assets transfer. Worse, it may not even protect your assets, so this is another estate planning idea that is best avoided.