Elderly persons are special group and often require quick and specialized attention. Many seniors have established estate plans, but due to a variety of circumstances, may require revisions to reflect new circumstances in their lives.
Married couples sometimes include trusts in their wills, or separately, for the benefit of a spouse, typically for two reasons: (a) taxes, and (b) property protection. Until recently, marital trusts were used to take advantage of estate tax exemptions, and such trusts may be needed in the future as the laws change. Marital trusts can also ensure that the trust property ultimately goes where it needs to go, e.g., a spouse with grown children from a previous marriage may let the new spouse use the property after the first one passes, but after the new spouse passes away, the trust property goes to the first spouse’s children.
Revocable living trusts are documents separate from wills, although they often work together with wills to implement the decedent’s wishes. RLTs are primarily used to avoid probate in states where probate is particularly cumbersome, although Washington has a fairly streamlined system in place. Another reason to use RLTs is when a person owns real estate in multiple states.
Irrevocable life insurance trusts can be used in order to move a person’s life insurance proceeds outside his or her estate for estate tax purposes.
Lies, Secrets, and Scams: How to Prevent Elder Abuse (Consumer Reports)
Key Medicaid Standards 10/16 (Columbia Legal Services)
Q & A on Medicaid for Nursing Home Residents (Columbia Legal Services)
Q & A on the COPES Program (Columbia Legal Services)