Keep this in mind: planning ahead is the best way to protect your assets from being completely exhausted by paying for long-term care expenses. If you can gain access to Medicaid, it will cover all of your medical and health expenses, including home care or nursing facility care. You’ll then have enough money to maintain your quality-of-life, and still have something to leave to family members after you pass on.
Good planning anticipates your long-term care needs, and provides for the distribution of your assets upon your death in accordance with your wishes. Since trusts are the “workhorses” of Elder Law planning, you gain three special benefits they offer, which Wills do not provide.
- 1.Avoid Probate: First, when you die, whatever cash, investments, or real property you have placed in certain kinds of trusts are not included in the probate of your estate. Probate is an involved legal process of collecting, accounting for and distributing a person’s money and property after death. It is time-consuming and expensive. Your children or other beneficiaries might not get the proceeds for months, or even years. With a trust, the trustee can make distributions quickly after you pass on. It’s very clean and efficient.
- 2.Stronger Protection against Lawsuits: If there are disgruntled relatives who disagree with your bequests and wish to pursue litigation, trusts afford greater protection than Wills. Trusts are harder to attack and dismantle. One of the main reasons most trusts provide a strong shield against future lawsuits is that the money or assets in them do not belong to you or the trustee. They’re owned by the trust, which legally is a separate and distinct entity. That means your wishes will likely be carried out without contest, and your family will avoid a dispute that could be costly and painful for all concerned.
- 3.Privacy: Trusts offer more privacy than Wills. Your wishes can be kept secret, and carried out without the knowledge of uninvolved parties. That’s because in most cases, you are not required to file trust documents with the courts, unless you have a Pourover Will that transfers your probate estate to the trust.