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Terry Douglas, Maryland Elder Law Attorney
Estate and Life Care Planning
Douglas Law Office

Estate and Life Care Planning

If you own a home or have children, it's time to prepare a plan for your future.

A power of attorney and an advance health care directive allow you to designate someone to follow your instructions and wishes while you are alive, but not well.

Only 38% of adults have a health care directive designating someone to carry out their instructions if they become incapacitated.

What planning steps can you take now?

Provide for future health care and financial decisions. Your family estate plan should protect you and your spouse if the time comes when either of you cannot make decisions. Your estate planning attorney can make sure you have a health care directive, a will, and a power of attorney in place.

Plan now to fund nursing home care. Sadly, many people think the only way they can pay for their nursing home care is by spending down their estate. But, in fact, you can fund your long-term care in ways that do not require that you spend down your estate. Plan for the worst and hope for the best. Don't wait until it's too late to decide how to fund your nursing home care. Do it now, long before you need it.

Create your plan now, while everyone involved is competent to make decisions. Adult children or aging seniors often come to our office seeking help only to learn that they are too late to correct a terrible situation. We feel awful when we must tell them that the much-needed planning should have been done two, five or ten years earlier. Don't wait until you need help to create your plan.

Review your plan at least once a year. Every time your circumstances or your goals change, you should review your estate plan. If your plan is not up to date, the unintended consequences to you and your family could be disastrous. Make an appointment at least every year to meet with your estate planning attorney. Then, you can go over your plan and discuss any changes in your life circumstances.

Keep the lines of communication open within your family. If one of your children will be managing your finances, you should take specific steps to help him or her avoid conflict within your family. You can do this by adding this instruction to your Trust or Financial Power of

Attorney. By doing this, you keep everyone in the loop; so, feelings of distrust are eliminated, and you reduce the risks of financial abuse.

In sum, a will alone is totally ineffective until death, and, therefore, does nothing to help you through incapacity and disability. Your family or friends may have to go to Court to start costly guardianship proceedings.

Start the conversation today. You can get the tough questions asked and answered through an experienced attorney.

Can you really continue to wait any longer?

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