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eCareDiary, an online web site for caregivers and people needing long term care, recently published a response by Lamson and Cutner partner David Cutner to the question — Is an Estate Attorney mandatory in setting up an Estate Plan? In his response, David discusses how financial assets can be transferred upon the death of the owner without needing to go through probate or administration in court. An account owner can designate a beneficiary or beneficiaries who will receive the assets directly upon the death of the owner. Also, he states, Real estate that is titled as joint tenants with right of survivorship (JTROS),’ or as tenancy by the entirety’ for married couples, will pass to the survivor directly.

David says that some families may be able to do effective estate planning without the need for an estate planning attorney. However, there are numerous situations in which an Elder Law attorney would be useful or even essential. Foremost among them is that simple strategies for distributing assets and avoiding probate upon death do not take into account the likely scenario in which a person needs expensive long term care well before he or she passes away. In addition, other types of assets may require going through probate, if not anticipated and prepared for in advance. Complicating factors such as beneficiaries who are minors or disabled, designating how to treat children from a prior marriage, or contentious family situations, would also make it advisable to engage an attorney.

Formulating and executing a plan for (a) how you will pay for long term care, in the likely situation that you need it, and for (b) the eventual disposition of your assets, is a very beneficial achievement. It can be the key to ensuring that you will receive the best care you can get while you are alive, and that you will have something to leave to your family or others upon your passing.

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