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Risks associated with Do-It-Yourself Medicaid estate planning

Individuals living in Clark, Nevada, can use the Internet to access a wealth of information. Like never before, people can communicate with each other, learn things from across the world and research complex ideas. Some individuals are using that ability to find information about how to do their own estate planning, but experts caution that do-it-yourself planning could lead to complications.

According to one expert, Medicaid planning can be especially problematic when done by an individual without complete understanding of all legal matters involved. Many times, individuals try to save a professional fee by doing the work themselves, but without proper planning, they could end up paying much more in the long run.

One expert compared the phenomenon to a story he heard on a talk radio show. A woman, trying to save money, purchased an aftermarket part for her car. The part would not work properly, and she was already out money and time. She ended up buying the car manufacturer's part anyway, and it would have been less expensive to do so in the first place.

According to the expert, some mistakes that individuals make during Medicaid planning include overly relying on advice from neighbors or friends and comparing a situation to something that was done for someone else. Medicaid and estate planning is an individual process, and what worked for one person may not work for everyone. It's important to have a good understanding of the details before moving forward.

The expert said individuals may sometimes try to hide assets in a misguided attempt to safeguard money. In fact, there are legal harbors such as trusts that protect assets without breaking laws. Individuals may also assume a living will is all they need to protect assets or not understand how moving from state to state can modify estate planning needs.

Although the Internet is a great place to begin estate research, there is information online that is incorrect. Taking extra steps to ensure accuracy and thoroughness in estate planning is the best way to protect heirs and assets.

Source: Southern Business Journal, "Estate, Medicaid planning: There are risks in doing it yourself" Richard Habiger, Jun. 03, 2014

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