Maintaining Control

Control over your life is essential to being who you are; making choices for yourself defines who you are.   While we may devote ourselves to God or our family, the power of that devotion is determined by our everyday choices.  No one willingly gives up control over their own lives.  Seniors, as they grow older, because of frailty, or forgetfulness, or serious health issues, or financial worries, or just fear of the future for themselves or their loved ones, have particular issues over how to keep control over their lives.  People want to maintain control over their assets as well as the authority to make decisions for themselves as they grow older.  Control is a big deal.

Our clients want to make their own decisions while they are alive and well, and they want to control the decisions and the decision makers if they become disabled—and when they die they want to be able to leave their property and their legacy to their loved ones by controlling who ultimately enjoys the inheritance as well as when they receive it, and how they receive it; at the same time they want to avoid unnecessary taxes, and save as much as possible on administrative costs and professional fees.  Seniors, in particular, want to make sure that they keep control over their lives and their assets as they grow older, especially when they start needing help from others.  Control is a big deal.

Good planning ensures that we are covered during the bad times, as well as the good times, as life does not always happen as we hope it will.  A variety of bad things befall families, such as: 1) a tragic death or disability  2) health crisis 3) the loss of financial resources   4) divorce 5) or long-term care needs.

Good planning will help you stay in control.  First, you should create a broad and encompassing life plan for yourself and family for your banking, investments, real estate, retirement accounts, insurance, and business based upon your hopes and dreams, with a dose of fear for realistic crisis.  While this seems like common sense, it is something that very few families actually do.  Your plan should be anchored with a well drafted estate plan that incorporate your hopes, dreams and fears—think life plan; not death plan.  And it is essential that all of your property and resources be titled in a way that will allow your unique plan to work.  Again, this seems like common sense, but most families never do it.  Your legal documents should blend estate planning with asset protection, and if appropriate, elder law.  Properly drafted legal documents can help you maintain control when life is good and when tragedy strikes.

Unless you are rich enough to self-insure any catastrophe, you should have appropriate insurance (property, liability, life, health, and long-term care).  The kind of insurance and the amount of insurance will depend upon your unique circumstances.  While most people don’t think about long term care insurance until they start feeling their mortality in their 50’s or 60’s, the earlier you buy that insurance, the better.  Today people are living longer than ever before; some babies born today will live to be over 120 years old.  It is scary to know that most of us will need long term care assistance and very few of us will be able to secure public assistance to help us financially—even if those costs deplete all our savings and we are become financially destitute.  Hence, we need long term care insurance to see us through.

Every family is unique, and it is silly to believe that boilerplate planning or pre-packaged documents will keep you in control; they don’t.  Good planning requires professional counsel with unique legal documents, beneficiary designations for life insurance and retirement accounts, and the titling of your securities, accounts and other assets so that it all works together to do what you really want for yourself and your loved ones.  Good planning keeps you in control.

Don’t procrastinate; planning now is far less time-consuming than the stress and time involved later when your loved ones must face these issues under pressure.  Contact an experienced attorney today to help you maintain control over your life by implementing your unique plan with proper documents.  W.G. Alexander & Associates focuses on a unique blend of Elder Law, Estate Planning, and Asset Protection for our clients; we believe that every family needs all three to get the best planning available.  Contact us today!

Attorney Bill Alexander discussed these issues and more this past Tuesday on W.G. Alexander & Associates’ radio program, “Asset Protection Today,” on TalkRadio 850 WPTK (AM). Be sure to listen every Tuesday morning from 9:00-10:00 AM.  To listen to this week’s show, please visit WPTF’s on demand show blog by clicking here.