Aiken Senior Men’s Club President Jack Simon found that there were costly surprises when his wife became seriously ill, accodring to Aiken.
Prompted by his experience and wanting to share his knowledge with others, Linda Knapp, an attorney specializing in elder law and estate preservation issues, was invited to speak to the Senior Men’s Club of Aiken at its April meeting.
Knapp has been in practice since 1991 following her graduation from USC School of Law.
She is a longtime member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, has trained other attorneys regarding Social Security appeals and ethical marketing, and was on the Family and Elder Law Committees of the S.C. Bar.
Knapp also writes the column ”Boomer Briefings” in the Aiken Standard’s Mature Times monthly magazine.
Among those needing an asset protection plan, Knapp said, are men who are retirees who don’t have years to re-earn and rebuild a fragile nest egg, people with special needs or are permanently disabled, those who will need long-term healthcare in their later years and all families who are planning to pass along an estate to children.
“Asset protection is not just for the ultra-rich,” Knapp said.
“Middle-income and even low-income families can benefit from planning to structure their assets to reduce taxes at the time of death. Insurance may not be sufficient. Most people don’t have adequate insurance. When should you do this planning? Do it now when you intentionally make time for a planning opportunity while having full mental capacities.”
Start by protecting your personal assets, she said.
Title deeds with right of survivorship will avoid probate taxes when the first spouse dies, Knapp said.
Mobile homes should read “Mr. Jones or Mrs. Jones” not “Mr. Jones and Mrs. Jones” to create a joint title with right of survivorship interest.
Estate planning using a trust or pre-nuptial agreement will better assure your wishes are carried out for the next generation. Assets can be given outright or in trust.
A person can be gifted $14,000 per year per person under present tax laws.
Knapp also said financial planning with a family member or someone who is trusted by utilizing a financial power of attorney can provide peace of mind.
A healthcare power of attorney is a broader document than a living will, Knapp said.
Each family must plan for unforeseen events, she said.
“When should legal documents be reviewed? When a person goes to a nursing home, when the people named in the documents change, or when there are major changes in the estate laws effecting inheritances and the related tax impacts,” Knapp said.
Knapp also addressed Medicaid application and requirements and also Veterans Aid and Attendance rules.
“It is better to have a plan to protect your assets than to be surprised by rising health care costs that could materially impact the quality of retirement living,” she said.
“Also it would be wise to select a financial planner or attorney to assist in formulating a plan who is up to date on all the issues that are involved in a changing world of tax law.”