All too many people believe that estate planning requires nothing more than a last will and testament. This couldn’t be further from the truth, especially if you want to protect your financial assets and your family. We sat down with attorney Joseph Motta of The O’Brien Law Firm to better understand exactly how estate planning works, why its so important, and what some of the pitfalls are if you haven’t created a plan for what happens after your death.
“I help people protect their families because none of us can predict what’s going to happen in life,” Motta shared. “People die unexpectedly all the time. Someone can be involved in a major automobile accident, become incapacitated, have a stroke—all sorts of things can happen in life and, unfortunately, most people aren’t prepared to deal with those kinds of events. What I do is help people put a plan in place to prepare for events like that so that their family would be protected.”
Estate Planning 101
Most people don’t know what options are available to them, Motta asserted: “People are not aware of the options out there to protect their funds and protect their family. Most people know that they need a will and think that’s it… but actually estate planning is much more than that. It’s really about usingthe law to your advantage, taking advantage of the provisions in the law that allow you to protect your assets for your beneficiaries so that they can enjoy that money for the long term. You earned it; you built up this sum of cash because you want to provide for your family; now, let’s make sure that the family does the right thing and we can make that money last as long as possible.”
- Wills and Trusts: “Through the use of wills and trusts,” said Motta, “we help people plan for their death to make sure their family is financially protected, that their assets are not squandered, and that if they have minor children, those children have someone appointed as guardian.”
- Living Trusts: “We also help people plan for incapacity through the use of a living trust and power of attorney,” Motta shared. “So, in the case of a stroke or a major automobile accident or something that basically prohibits them from managing their own financial affairs, they have someone they trust who can step in and manage their affairs for them while they’re incapacitated.”
- Long-Term Care Benefits: “The population is getting older,” said Motta. “The Baby Boomers are approaching retirement age. We’re seeing more and more of a need for long-term care, and it’s very expensive. In-home care is anywhere from 16 – 24 dollars an hour, and nursing home care is about 8,000 – 9,000 dollars a month. Most people can’t afford to pay that kind of money on an ongoing basis. We help them to structure their assets in such a way that they may be able to qualify for some government benefits and still be able to protect some money to provide for their heirs.”
The Pitfalls of Not Having a Plan
We’ve all seen movies where someone pens a handwritten will and hopes for the best. Sadly, that is not something that will hold up legally upon your death, so consulting an attorney is really a must. Here are some of the pitfalls of not having a proper estate plan in place:
1. Legality: “There are formal legal requirements for a will to be effective,” Motta said. “You have to follow the statutory guidelines, you have to have two witnesses—you can’t just sit down at your desk and write out your last will and testament. This is something people should see a lawyer about.”
2. DIY Wills Don’t Cut It: “Unfortunately,” Motta said, “we live in a day and age where people think they can get all the information they need on the Internet. You can go and create a will online that will be legally effective, but it’s not going to be the most advantageous way of providing for your heirs.”
3. Losing Control: “In the case of people who die without a will,” Motta warned, “without an estate plan, the state of Ohio provides one for you and determines where your money will go. In that case, you have no control.”
Here at HandyPro, we make your well-being our priority. Our interview series goes hand-in-hand with that effort, and we hope you find it helpful! For more information on how we can help you make your home a home for life, visit us at www.StayAtHomeModificationsInc.com or call me (Brian Pritchard) at 216-212-7531!
If you would like to schedule a free initial consultation with Joseph Motta or attend one of his live information seminar events, call The O’Brien Law Firm at 216-472-1500, visit www.josephlmotta.com, or email Joseph directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTE: This interview and article do not constitute legal advice. Please speak with a lawyer directly about your particular situation.
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