“Our nation owes a debt to its fallen heroes that we can never fully repay.” – President Barack Obama
Memorial Day is upon us, and it is important to remember those who have served our country. On this day, we are also reminded of the importance of legacies. Sandoval Legacy Group’s commitment extends not only to our friends and families, but also to our communities and society as a whole.
This time of year is a good opportunity for military members and their families to set up – or revise – an estate plan. Planning your estate is an important first step in leaving a legacy, whether you are a veteran or new to the military. Regardless of your financial situation, proper planning is important. It may be even more important if your estate is smaller, as final expenses could have a much greater impact on those left behind. Your loved ones may suffer from a lack of financial resources if you waste even a single asset.
Estate planning can be relatively simple and inexpensive–such as preparing a will to distribute basic accounts and assets, or naming beneficiaries for life insurance and retirement accounts. However, your estate planning process may be more complex and expensive if your estate is large or you have more extensive assets.
The estate planning needs of military families are different from those of other families, especially when one or more family members are deployed overseas. Additionally, members of the military can access special benefits and resources through the Department of Veteran Affairs after they separate from service. If you are a military family, you should seek special help because this situation can become complicated.
Factors to Consider
It is important to tailor your estate plan to your specific circumstances. Below are key considerations for your estate planning needs, regardless of whether you are just starting out in the military, a veteran, or a surviving spouse of a veteran:
- You own real estate, especially if you own property in different states
- You have minor children or children with special needs
- You are married
- You intend to contribute to charity
- Your estate might be subject to estate tax
- You become disabled or incapacitated and are unable to manage your financial affairs
Estate Planning for Veterans in California
California offers several veteran benefits to consider in estate planning. These benefits aim to provide financial assistance and support to veterans and their families. Here are some key areas to consider:
Veterans’ Homes: California operates a system of veterans’ homes that provide long-term care services–including skilled nursing care, residential care, and independent living options for eligible veterans. These homes can be considered as a part of estate planning if the veteran or their spouse may require such services in the future.
CalVet Home Loans: The California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) offers home loans to eligible veterans and their spouses to help them purchase homes. Including any outstanding CalVet home loans in the estate plan ensures the appropriate allocation or discharge of the loan in the event of the veteran’s passing.
Property Tax Exemptions: Disabled veterans in California may be eligible for property tax exemptions. These exemptions can significantly reduce property tax obligations. When estate planning, it’s important to consider the potential impact of property tax exemptions and how they may affect the distribution of assets.
Burial Benefits: California provides certain burial benefits for eligible veterans, including burial in a military cemetery. If a veteran wishes to be buried in a military cemetery, it can be included in the estate plan to ensure their wishes are fulfilled.
Military Life Insurance: Active duty service members and veterans may have military life insurance policies through the Service Members’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) or Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI) programs. These policies should be reviewed as part of estate planning to ensure proper beneficiary designations and coordination with other estate planning documents.
Survivor Benefits: If the veteran is eligible for survivor benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), such as Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), these benefits should be considered in the estate plan to provide for surviving spouses or dependents.
Additional benefits: Survivors of veterans and service members who die on active duty are entitled to burial in a national, state, or military installation cemetery (including spouses and dependent children), a memorial plaque provided by the government, a burial flag, and a reimbursement for a portion of burial expenses.
Life itself is built upon legacies. We are grateful for the impact our service members have on our nation and communities. It’s important to consult with an estate planning attorney or a professional with expertise in veterans’ benefits to ensure that all applicable benefits are properly addressed in the estate plan. The specific eligibility criteria and requirements for each benefit program may vary, so it’s essential to understand the details and implications before incorporating them into the estate planning process.
Contact a Veteran’s Aid and Attendance Attorney Today
If you, or a spouse, served your country, it is now time for your country to help take care of you. The benefits provided by Veteran’s Aid and Attendance can make a huge difference every month if you are living on a fixed income. Let our experienced and knowledgeable Southern California Veteran’s Aid and Attendance attorneys help ensure that you receive the benefits to which you are entitled.
Elder Law Attorney Dennis M. Sandoval specializes in assisting veterans and widows/widowers of veterans in qualifying for Aid and Attendance Compensation. To qualify for this benefit, the veteran must have served during a time of war, meet certain income and asset standards, and need assistance in paying for caregiving services for the elderly and disabled (such as in-home care and assisted living). We also assist veterans with obtaining other benefits or we can put the veteran in touch with attorneys and other advocates who can assist him or her.
Thank you to the brave men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.
Contact Us for Personalized Estate Planning in Southern California
We know discussing end-of-life plans can be difficult, but we approach this delicate conversation with respect and dignity. Our estate planning services cover all areas of elder law and probate based on your specific financial & health situation. If you have questions or concerns regarding your estate plan, probate, special needs planning, or elder law, attorney Dennis M. Sandoval and the Sandoval Legacy Group team are ready to assist you.
Southern California’s Premier Estate Planning Law Firm
With thirty-plus years of experience as an estate planning law firm in Southern California, you will have the most experienced legal minds to guide you. The trusted estate planning lawyers at the Sandoval Legacy Group, a division of Holstrom Block & Parke, A Professional Law Corporation, have offices located throughout Southern California in Orange, Riverside, San Diego, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles counties. If you have questions or concerns regarding your estate plan, special needs planning, elder law, conservatorships, advanced tax planning, or probate, contact us or give us a call at (888) 502-2881 to schedule a complimentary consultation.