Here’s a secret (shhh…!): Estate planning attorneys are human. We are not perfect. Over a series of four blogs, we’ll look at some common mistakes. Are you making any of them?
In earlier blogs in this series, we looked at not coordinating the estate plan and not leaving assets the right way. In this blog we’ll look at the third mistake in estate planning: not discussing Medicaid and special needs planning.
When a client walks into an estate planning attorney’s office, they know their many concerns, but they may not think they are all relevant to their estate planning needs. For example, they know their child has special needs. But, they may not know such information is relevant to the estate plan being developed. As another example, clients may know that they are at risk for long-term care expenses in the future (like each of us). But, they may not know there are many options to consider in addressing those concerns. To address the former concern, you can talk with the client about leaving the assets for the special needs beneficiary in a special needs trust for their benefit. They might even want to set up such a trust during life. To address the latter concerns, you can talk about a range of options, depending upon their wealth and health.
If they are relatively wealthy and healthy, long-term care insurance is a good option to explore with them. If they are more middle class, you may want to discuss Medicaid planning options, like setting up an irrevocable Medicaid planning trust for their home or other assets.
A thorough exploration of the client’s needs includes exploring any special needs or Medicaid planning concerns. Stay tuned for the fourth in the series of blogs about mistakes in estate planning: not implementing or revisiting the plan.
Stephen C. Hartnett, J.D., LL.M.
Associate Director of Education
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (800) 846-1555