The holiday season tends to remind us of our blessings. When we count our blessings, we often include certain actions or events that were fortuitous if only because they worked out for us.
For example, we might consider how “lucky” we were that a certain business deal was successful or that the hospital could quickly find our healthcare power of attorney after an accident, which meant that a loved one could decide our medical treatment rather than the hospital itself. Likewise, we may consider how fortunate we are that we had just enough money to survive the unforeseen, large financial setback that we experienced earlier in the year. We might even thank God for the unanticipated inheritance we received after a loved one passed away.
Famous agriculture television and radio personality Ed Johnson once told me that luck and fortune favor those who are prepared.
Often, our blessings, luck and fortunes turn on how prepared we are, and many times that preparation includes legal preparation. Good legal preparation seldom involves a form from the internet.
Attorneys can help increase the likelihood of accomplishing goals, protect assets from excessive taxation and minimize the financially devastating cost of long-term nursing home care. Similarly, legal steps taken now can maximize inheritances to heirs, limit liability in a business and avoid future disputes concerning people’s memories of “unwritten” agreements.
Sometimes, you can approach your lawyer with a list of items you want, based upon conversations with friends or family or by reading articles or investigating through the internet. However, it is crucial to keep an open mind. Each client’s legal needs are as unique as his or her DNA.
To increase blessings that will decrease your family’s stress if you get sick, consider preparation of a durable general power of attorney, a durable healthcare power of attorney and a living will.
To increase your family’s eventual fortunes, consider protecting them from excessive taxation, time and expense with a will or revocable living trust.
To experience the blessing of not having to liquidate your life savings to pay for long-term care, consider conferencing with an attorney with experience or passion in Medicaid planning, in which an attorney can analyze whether one or a combination of Medicaid planning tools are appropriate for you.
If you own a business or co-own property with someone else, consider investigating whether an LLC might be appropriate for you.
Of course, every agreement with anyone concerning property use, shared responsibilities or “how we know things will be worked out later” should be set forth in writing. Sometimes that written agreement can consist of a paragraph or two, just to clarify the most important aspects of the arrangement. People’s memories (intentionally or unintentionally) tend to change over time, and figuring out what people agreed upon in the past becomes immensely more difficult (and unfair) after one or the other of the people has passed away.
Legal preparation alone obviously does not guarantee anything. However, legal preparation can certainly increase the likelihood of more blessings, luck and good fortunes.
Lee R. Schroeder is an Ohio licensed attorney at Schroeder Law LLC in Putnam County. He limits his practice to business, real estate, estate planning and agriculture issues in northwest Ohio. He can be reached at Lee@LeeSchroeder.com or at 419-659-2058. This article is not intended to serve as legal advice, and specific advice should be sought from the licensed attorney of your choice based upon the specific facts and circumstances that you face.