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Generally speaking, Elder Law can be defined as the holistic application of general legal principles to the specific emotional, logistical and financial needs of mature Americans. Many of these Americans are concerned with two fundamental threats to their dignity:
- Becoming incapacitated, and thereby losing control to the court system over their personal, health care and financial decisions.
- Running out of money due to the catastrophic costs of long-term care. Fortunately, these threats may be minimised, or even avoided, through properly coordinated legal and financial planning.
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Understanding the Three P’s of Estate Planning
Who are the Important People in your life? Beginning with yourself, they also likely include your loved ones: your spouse if you are married, children and grandchildren if you have any, perhaps your parents, siblings, or other relatives. Beyond these, however, “Important People” also could include charities, special causes, colleges or universities, or churches to which you are committed. For some, “Important People” could even include pets. Spend some time thinking about the impact others have had on your life. Make a list and jot notes if you like. This is where the planning process truly begins.
By Property we mean your assets in general. Make a list of the assets you own or control. At this point, you do not need to identify insurance policy numbers and exact dollar values. Rather think through your assets in terms of their nature (cash, stocks, bonds, real estate, etc.); their value in thousands of dollars; and your ownership interest: Do you own assets in your name only, in joint tenancy with someone else, or through a trust agreement or some other arrangement? Be sure to include often-overlooked assets like life insurance (the death benefit, not the cash value), business interests, and any inheritance you may expect to receive.
After identifying the Important People in your life and your Property, the next step is to consider the plans you would make for those people (including yourself) and that Property in the event of your own incapacity or death.
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