and Probate Law Firm
Estate Planning for Veterans
As a Portland estate planning lawyer, I sometimes work with military families to ensure that their estates are in order. Estate planning for veterans is a critical aspect of financial and personal planning. Veterans, like any individuals, should take steps to ensure their wishes are carried out, their assets are protected, and their loved ones are provided for in the event of their passing. Here are some key estate planning considerations for veterans:
- Will or Trust: Regardless of military service, everyone should have a will or living trust. These documents specify how your assets will be distributed after your death. A trust can be especially useful for avoiding probate and providing flexibility in distributing assets.
- Advanced Healthcare Directives: Consider drafting an Advance Directive or Living Will, which allows you to specify your medical treatment preferences if you become incapacitated. Veterans should ensure their VA healthcare and private healthcare providers have access to these documents.
- Durable Power of Attorney: Appoint a trusted individual to make financial and legal decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so. This can be especially important for veterans who may face service-related health issues. The most common choices are spouses and trusted family members or friends.
- Designate Beneficiaries: Ensure your retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and other financial assets have named beneficiaries. This can help these assets pass directly to your chosen beneficiaries without going through probate.
- Protect Your VA Benefits: Veterans who receive VA benefits should consider creating a trust to protect these benefits. Some VA benefits can affect your eligibility for other government programs, so it’s essential to structure your estate plan carefully.
- Guardianship for Dependent Children: If you have dependent children, consider naming a guardian in your estate planning documents to care for them if you and your spouse are unable to do so.
- VA Burial Benefits: Veterans may be eligible for specific burial and memorial benefits from the VA, such as burial in a national cemetery. Additionally, the rules and regulations are very specific, including whether the death was service or non-service related. Ensuring that your wishes are known and documented is important so that there is no ambiguity.
- Review and Update: Veterans should regularly review and update their estate plan, especially after major life events like retirement, marriage, divorce, or the birth of children or grandchildren.
- Consider Long-Term Care Planning: Veterans may need to consider long-term care planning, including VA benefits, Medicaid planning, or the use of long-term care insurance, to ensure they have access to necessary care without depleting their assets.
Remember that estate planning for veterans can be highly individualized, and the specific steps you need to take will depend on your unique circumstances, goals, and the benefits you receive. Consulting with a Portland attorney with experience in estate planning can be invaluable in ensuring your estate plan is well-crafted and appropriate for your needs. If you have any questions about estate planning for veterans, please contact Thapar Law at 503-295-9741 or send us a message.
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