Elders are making plans for living out their retirement, how they'll manage their long-term and end of life care, and who will receive their assets after they pass. But without the proper provisions in place, their hard-earned assets over a lifetime can fall into the wrong hands because of the circumstances of their surviving children or other beneficiaries.
Protecting the Elder's Family From Divorce, Creditors, Addiction...
Consider this scenario: Martha was successful her entire adult life. She worked hard to provide for her 2 children during her working years, and to leave them something substantial when she was gone. Their father, Martha's husband, passed away many years ago and had no will or estate plan in place. Therefore, Martha was even more determined to make sure that she left all that she could to her children for the benefit of them and their own children.
Martha's daughter, Amanda, was happily married and pregnant with her first of 3 children when Martha established her estate plan. Her son, Jonathan, was a successful stockbroker making a good living. In establishing her trust and estate plans, Martha had no cause for concern that the money she intended to leave for her children would fall into unintended hands.
Seven years after Martha established these plans, however, she passed away. At that time, Amanda found herself embattled in a bitter and contentious divorce. In making her estate plans, Martha had made no provisions to keep her hard-earned money out of the hands of Amanda's ex-spouse should the two divorce. Now, Amanda's soon-to-be-ex-husband is trying to stake a claim in some of her mother's assets. Amanda will have to hire legal counsel to protect the monies, and this could ultimately end up costing her everything her mother had intended to leave to her.
Clearly, this isn't the scenario Martha envisioned when she completed her estate and trust planning with her elder law attorney. But these are the exact types of circumstances that make proper planning crucial from the beginning.
Special provisions in Martha's trust and estate plans and putting special protections in place would have protected Amanda from the situation she was facing. It can help protect the family money and keep it out of the hands of unintended recipients in the event of death.
These types of provisions can prevent the elder's assets from "creditors and predators, " or from:
- Benefitting their children or heirs divorcing spouses
- Supporting a child or beneficiary's drug or gambling addiction
- Benefitting opportunistic parties and/or litigators
At the Estate Planning Law Center, it is my job to make sure your assets are covered from circumstances such as those outlined above, and many others.