~ by Kaki Zell
As the name implies, caregivers take care of others, often seniors or others who have a physical or cognitive issues that make it difficult for them to engage in everyday activities.
Michelle Beltrano, principal of Beltrano Law, was Michele Thomas’s guest on WGCH (1490 am) on Thursday, January 24. Michele Thomas is the Executive Vice President of Osborn Home Care.
Ms. Beltrano’s practice focuses on elder law, estate planning, probate matters, and estate administration. Like Osborn Home Care, the firm offers “Concierge Services,” meeting clients in their homes or the senior living communities in which they live. Ms. Beltrano holds degrees in both nursing and law which enables her to bring that combined experience and understanding to her clients. Ms. Beltrano is also President of the Board of Directors of At Home in Greenwich, an organization that offers programs and services which allow older adults to remain independent and stay in their own home.
Ms. Beltrano explained the importance of planning ahead to mitigate a lengthy probate process and unnecessary estate taxes. She said that it takes at least six months to settle a small (value less than $40,000) estate; larger, more complex estates can take much longer.
Although some people believe they can do estate planning themselves using online tools, they often learn that it’s more cost effective to hire a professional to do it correctly from the start.
“Many people are unprepared for the complexity of probate and estate administration,” she said. “They may not realize the extent of their assets beyond the obvious, real estate. These may include: life insurance, annuities, stocks and bonds, pensions.” Planning ahead can be as simple as making a list of account numbers and contact information, but more importantly, appointing fiduciary agents to act on your behalf.
There are a number of roles involved in planning and executing an estate. The person with Power of Attorney is involved in planning and plays an important role if you are physically or mentally unable to manage your affairs; the Executor is involved after a person passes away, filing probate court documents, taxes and paying probate fees.
Geographic proximity is important as some of the tasks can involve managing real estate, interacting with the bank or other financial institutions and meeting with family members.
“Most people don’t want their hard-earned money to go to unnecessary taxes. It’s good to be aware of the options. Some people put assets into trusts ahead of time,” said Ms. Beltrano. “Setting up co-joint bank accounts with the children allows some assets to transfer immediately. This can help pay for funeral expenses or maintaining property until it is sold.”
Ms. Beltrano told listeners that choosing the people to take on these roles requires careful consideration. “You want someone you are comfortable with, it doesn’t have to be a family member,” she said. “You want someone who has the experience to guide the family through an often complex and potentially costly process.”
For more information about Osborn Home Care, visit www.osbornhomecare.org. In Westchester County, New York, please call 888-813-6782. In Fairfield County, Connecticut, please call 888-594-0957. For more information about Beltrano Law, visit http://www.ctbeltranolaw.com or call (203) 340-2610.
~ by Kaki Zell
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