Reason 1: The pitfalls of not getting legal advice from an attorney can cause your estate plan to be defective because of wrong heirs, wasteful spending, and worthless investments

Arguably one of the biggest reasons why online estate planning documents can devastate your family’s estate plan and leave them in financial ruin is because you don’t get legal advice with do-it-yourself documents. What most people don’t realize is that the value of an estate plan isn’t just in the documents—it’s in the advice and counsel you get from your estate planning lawyer. An estate planning lawyer can identify issues that are unique to your financial and personal life that will affect your estate plan. Some of those issues might include: blended families, predeceased beneficiaries, family drug/alcohol problems, problems with the in-laws, careless spending, worthless investments and Medicaid planning opportunities. Part I and Part II of this series addressed the concerns you might have if the wrong heirs inherited your estate, as well as with concerns you might have with wasteful spending and worthless investments. This blog addresses how online documents miss planning opportunities for unforeseen circumstances in your life, such as nursing home care. 

Part III. Does your Estate Plan Address Unforeseen Circumstances? Don’t outlive your money!

If you’re a baby boomer, Social Security suggests that you will likely live between ages 83 and 90. If you do live that long, you should be concerned that you might outlive your money. The No. 1 fear of baby boomers is outliving their money during retirement due to unforeseen circumstances. Such unforeseen circumstances include rising medical costs and the costs of long-term care. If you ultimately need nursing home care, be prepared to deplete your hard-earned assets before Medicaid will help pay for your care. If you are married and you need to enter the nursing home, the most you and your spouse can keep is between approximately $23,000 and $120,000 (excluding your home) depending on the size of your estate before you will qualify for Medicaid. That figure drops to $1,500 if you’re single. Medicaid also only lets you keep $50/month from your monthly income. Do you think you can live comfortably off $50 a month?

Unfortunately there is no crystal ball to predict if you or your spouse will need nursing home care. All you can do is plan for the worst and expect the best. Depending on your age, health and wealth, it might be appropriate to consider advanced planning for Medicaid. A good estate planning attorney can assess your situation and determine if Medicaid planning is appropriate for you. Most people incorrectly assume that their assets are protected from Medicaid and the nursing home when their assets are placed in a simple revocable trust. Such revocable trusts are typically the ones that online document providers provide. Although these types of trusts may be sufficient for some estate plans, it may not work for yours. Online estate planning documents cannot provide you with a customized plan that will properly carry out your wishes as well as safeguard your assets from rising nursing home costs.

In estate planning, one size does not fit all. Over the years, I have found that no two families are alike. Each family has unique issues and online documents typically cannot address those issues. If your issues are overlooked or ignored, your estate plan will probably not work the way you intended. If you have concerns about outliving your money and unforeseen circumstances, an estate planning attorney can help you budget your retirement and mold your estate plan to fit your specific needs. 

Bill Hesch is an attorney, CPA and PFS (Personal Financial Specialist) who is licensed in Ohio and Kentucky and helps clients get peace of mind with their tax, financial, and estate planning. He focuses his practice in the areas of elder law, corporate law, Medicaid planning, tax law, estate planning and probate in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky areas. His practice area includes Hamilton, Butler, Warren and Clermont counties in Ohio, and Campbell, Kenton and Boone counties in Kentucky.Legal Disclaimer: Bill Hesch submits this blog to provide general information about the firm and its services. Information in this blog is not intended as legal advice, and any person receiving information on this page should not act on it without consulting professional legal counsel. While at times Bill Hesch may render an opinion, Bill Hesch does not offer legal advice through this blog. Bill Hesch does not enter into an attorney-client relationship with any online reader via online contact.