Education is one of the most important aspects of estate planning. Families come to us with many questions about “what’s next,” or they simply want to know where to begin when it comes to estate planning.

One of the biggest things we educate our clients on is the importance of updating their estate plan. This is particularly important after a major life change, such a change to family (birth, marriage, divorce, or death), a change to the money, or a change in health. Even a change in their real estate situation (buying, selling, etc.) may warrant changes to the estate plan. These changes, at minimum, warrant a family discussion.

With respect to money, make sure your beneficiaries are set up in a way that’s consistent with your estate plan. A financial or insurance review can be helpful in this case. It’s also prudent to make sure your beneficiaries are accurate — especially if you’ve changed financial institutions or financial advisors between the last time you updated your plan and now.

Another major thing we strive to educate our clients on is the law regarding long-term care planning. These laws are always changing, and, as a result, they can be difficult to understand and keep track of. We want to make sure you and your family do understand so you can make informed decisions about longterm care, such as at-home care, assisted living, or nursing home care.

A lot of people are put off by long-term care insurance (LTCI). They find it doesn’t quite work with their situation or goals. However, we encourage folks to consider hybrid LTCI (also called “asset-based long-term care”). It has many of the benefits of traditional LTCI, as well as death benefits. If the hybrid LTCI doesn’t get used, it goes back to your loved ones. Plus, premiums never increase.

When it comes to long-term care there are a lot of options out there and you want the best care for yourself or loved ones. The best care isn’t just about the care you receive, it’s also about protecting your assets or benefits you may be receiving, such as pension payments or veteran’s benefits.

And when it comes to veteran’s benefits specifically, there have been a number of changes since last year. If you or a loved one is a veteran, consider looking at those benefits to make sure everything is in order and that you’re getting the full benefits you’re entitled to.

If you have questions about any of these topics, including hybrid LTCI, we are happy to sit down with you and your family to answer any questions or concerns you may have. Again, education is key. We’re here to be the experts on estate planning so you don’t have to!

And on the topic of education, I recently wrote two new books: “You’re Not Alone: Living with Alzheimer’s Disease” and “You’re Not Alone: Living as an Alzheimer’s Caregiver.” I wrote these books to serve as guidance for those who were recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or for anyone serving as a caregiver for someone with this disease. You can request your own copy of one or both of these books by giving us a call or stopping by our office. We’ll even mail you a copy if you can’t make it to the office — just let us know! —Glenn Matecun

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