In the wake of the changes to federal tax law at the beginning of the year, many of our Michigan readers may have seen previous posts here about updating an estate plan to account for the differences from previous years. There is no doubt that tax planning is an important part of protecting assets, which in turn is one of the primary goals of estate planning. However, there is more to an estate plan than simply designating property distribution upon death. People in America are living longer, and as such many people, including many Michigan residents, will probably need to start thinking about long-term planning and retirement when they consider their estate plans. A recent article discussed many of these considerations.
So, what is "long-term planning"? Well, it is the part of an estate plan which accounts for the fact that many people, as they grow into their elder years, will probably need some form of long-term care. As the recent article noted, this can include long-term nursing home care, or perhaps significant surgical operations to maintain a steady and healthy quality of life.
Determining how these types of costs will factor into an estate plan can be a huge part of finding out what a person needs to live out their retirement years as they want, as well as allowing a person to figure out which of their assets will still be left to pass on to their designated beneficiaries. Some people will also need to determine whether or not government benefits will be part of the plan.
Although readers familiar with previous posts here probably know that a will is usually the bedrock of an estate plan, changes in America's demographics are making it clear that long-term planning will continue to grow in significance. Taking long-term care planning seriously when developing an estate plan could be crucial if the need arises later in life.
Source: thetimesherald.com, "Matt Wallace: There's more to estate planning than death and taxes," Matt Wallace, March 30, 2013