Identifying Your Assets

Estate planning may seem a daunting task, better left for the very rich or the savvy investor. An asset, however, can be anything—from a simple family home to an insurance policy—things that any average American may possess. Upon your death, what happens to your assets will be determined by the court if you don't make your wishes known beforehand. To do this, you'll first need to identify your assets and take stock of them. According to CNN Money Magazine, "these include your investments, retirement accounts, insurance policies, real estate, and any business interests." 

Deciding where they will go upon your death is the next step. That is, you need to decide to whom you'll like your assets to go—only then can you begin to put framework in place to ensure that this happens. Your children? Your spouse? Begin by making a list of people you trust, and assigning them to various holdings. "Once you decide what kinds of bequests you wish to make, be sure to discuss your plans with your heirs," according to CNN Money Magazine. "The sooner and more distinctly you outline your intentions to your family and friends, the less chance there will be for disagreements when you're gone."

Remember that your first draft doesn't have to be set in stone. Be open to what your family wishes as well, and factor in personal attributes when deciding who'd be best to handle which assets. If your child is a real estate broker, he might be best to handle the home. If a younger sibling is an insurance agent, she might be a shoe-in to distribute any money incurred through insurance policies.

Identifying your assets is just one of the many facets of estate planning. Don't go through it alone. Contact an experienced estate planning attorney today.

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When Planning Your Estate, Don't Fall off Fiscal Cliff

The Southern Business Journal recently posted an article giving advice on planning for the second half of your life in a way that will avoid serious financial troubles.

We've all heard of the infamous fiscal cliff and the always-increasing intensity about the impending doom the United States will face if the deficit and debt are not reduced immediately and without regard to the promises we have made to our retirees, veterans, elderly, etc.

If long-term care insurance companies have their way, you or your loved one may soon fall off your own personal fiscal cliff.  Lobbyists have been bombarding Congress with the idea of dismantling the social and medical safety nets currently available to eligible seniors, veterans, and disabled persons through the federal Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and VA programs.

Long-term care insurance does make a lot of sense when you understand certain facts.  According to various reports:

  • For a couple turning 65, there is a 70 percent chance that one will need long-term care.  Single persons are at a greater risk because they often have no one to help.
  • For persons older than 75, 65 percent already need long-term care.
  • By the time a person reaches 85, 97 percent need long-term care.
  • The average stay in a nursing home is three years.
  • The average cost of a semi-private room in a Southern Illinois nursing home in 2012 was $4,560 per month, while the cost of a private room could reach more than $10,800 per month.
  • The cost of assisted living in Southern Illinois in 2012 ranged from $2,675 per month to $5,300 per month.

LaraEssentially, if you can qualify medically and afford long-term care insurance, you should probably have it.  Unfortunately, many people in Southern Illinois cannot afford the high prices of the monthly premiums. It is also true that many people often wait until it is too late, often due to medical conditions they did not have at earlier ages.

All of this is why you need to understand what long-term care insurance industry lobbyists are up to.  They have caused the introduction of a bill that would require the state and federal governments to "reduce the number of middle-income individuals who rely on Medicaid to finance their long-term care needs by (forcing persons to purchase long-term care insurance policies."  This also means that premiums would go up.

If you have found yourself in financial trouble, especially when dealing with long-term care insurance, it would be in your best interest to hire an experienced and dedicated Illinois attorney as soon as possible.