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Caring for the Caregivers

Caring For Yourself with the Right Estate Planning Prescription

To my daughter, (Nicole) sister (Yulette Newman, RN), my sister-in-law (Tonya Adams, MD), my wife's staff member (LaRoya Huff), and all the front-line and “essential” workers: Thank you for all of your hard work—day in and day out (and often evenings, nights, and weekends). You tirelessly give of yourself to care for and serve some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Whether you are caring for patients in a hospital, therapy room, or their home, delivering meals daily to homebound seniors, or managing a property so everyone can safely and comfortably "stay at home" during this pandemic, you are there to protect, serve, and comfort people to feel better about today and hopefully, gain a better tomorrow.

However, one important question remains. What have you done to prepare for your own care? Working together, we can craft the best possible estate planning prescription that will protect you today, tomorrow, and well into the future using the best legal tools available.

A revocable living trust is an excellent way to manage and protect your money and property. Contrary to what some may think, you do not have to have lots of money and property to benefit from a trust. The two major players involved in a trust are the trustee and the beneficiary. During your lifetime, as long as you are able and choose to do so, you can act as the trustee and can control all money and property in the trust. When you are managing the money and property, however, you are now doing so as the trustee and not as the individual owner. In addition to serving as the initial trustee, you are also the beneficiary. This means that although you have transferred your money and property into the trust, you are still the one receiving the benefits of that money and property.

In the event you are unable to act (i.e., you become incapacitated) or pass away, the individual you have named as your successor trustee will step in and manage the money and property according to the instructions you have included in the written trust agreement. Even if you are still alive when the successor takes over, it will be the successor trustee’s responsibility to manage and use the money and property for your benefit. Then, upon your passing, the successor trustee is required to hold or distribute the money and property in the trust according to the instructions in the trust instrument. This transition of trusteeship between you and your successor trustee happens without court involvement, making it quick and private.