Some of these articles have been written by our law firm and other articles are written by the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys and compliments of our law firm. Any feedback or questions about the articles can be addressed by contacting our office.
Like most seniors, you probably own at least one life insurance policy. Will that policy interfere with your eligibility for Medicaid benefits if you need them down the road? If you are unsure, now is the time to learn how Medicaid evaluates life insurance policies.
You likely worked hard, saved wisely, and invested prudently to acquire the assets you now have. Now, all you need to do is to protect those assets. To accomplish that goal, you need to understand how and why your assets might be at risk as well as learn more about asset protection tools and strategies.
The longer you live, the better the odds are you will one day need long-term care (LTC). For the average person, the cost of that care can be prohibitive. Moreover, you cannot count on Medicare nor your basic health insurance to cover costs associated with LTC
If you are a member of the United States military, you likely have more important things on your mind than taxes and retirement planning. You should, however, take a moment to learn how your combat pay is treated by Uncle Sam to ensure you receive the benefits to which you are entitled for your service to your country.
The Baby Boomers are reaching retirement. Some of them are financially ready for retirement; however, many are not. Even more have failed to plan their estate. No one likes to dwell on their own mortality, but failing to plan for it can have a significant financial impact on the next generation.
Nursing home costs can deplete a nest egg very quickly. Planning ahead to ensure you qualify for Medicaid can help immensely. However, do not make the mistake of assuming that Medicaid will cover your entire long-term care bill. Instead, be prepared for a share of cost.
Ideally, retirement planning should begin early in your life and should be part of your overall estate plan. Like many people, you may consider including an IRA in your retirement plan. However, is a Traditional IRA or a Roth IRA more appropriate for you? To make an informed decision, you need to know more about both types of IRAs.
There is a very good chance that you, or your spouse, will need long-term care at some point down the road. To help pay for that care you may need to qualify for Medicaid. There is a right way, and a wrong way, to approach Medicaid planning in anticipation of qualifying. The wrong way could land you in prison. Proper planning can protect your assets without jeopardizing your eligibility for Medicaid.
Caring for a spouse with Alzheimer’s takes both an emotional and a physical toll on the caregiver. It can also deplete the nest egg that took you a lifetime to save in a very short period of time. The Medicaid Home and Community Based Services waiver program may be able to help.
You have worked hard to make your small business a success. Will all your hard work go down the drain if you (or your spouse) need to qualify for Medicaid? The good news is that you will likely be able to keep your small business and still qualify for Medicaid.
Here are just a few of the common misconceptions surrounding gifting and Medicaid eligibility… I can just give away my assets and tell Medicaid I don’t have any. My spouse will end up without anything if I need Medicaid to help pay for my nursing home care! I waited too long and now Medicaid planning can’t help me
If you are not sure about Medicaid spend-down requirements, now is the time to find out! Waiting until the last minute could result in losing your property. Check today to know what real property is exempt in order to start receiving your Medicaid benefits as soon as possible.
Did you just find out you are the Trustee of a Trust? If so, you are probably feeling honored, and maybe a bit intimidated if this is your first time acting as a Trustee. In this article, find out what a Trustee’s role is within the Trust as well as the duties and responsibilities of a Trustee.
While you may not be able to physically lend a hand, one of the ways you can help a cause at home or overseas is through gifting. However, choosing to donate to a reputable charity or foundation is just the first decision. Find out more about charitable gift giving, including how to structure your gifts in such a way that not only helps you save taxes but allows you to provide for your loved ones and contribute to a greater cause.
Sometimes, the unusual or unconventional actions of famous people provide more than just fodder for the gossip magazines. In fact, many of us can learn valuable lessons from the public mistakes others make. Such is the case with the estate of Washington Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke.
Many people put off estate planning because of the uncertainty of what it means and what it encompasses. It’s not an overwhelming or time-stealing process, though it is crucial for ourselves and our families.
It is not uncommon that a loved one is being cared for by a spouse close in age, so it is important to ensure they will continue receiving care even after their spouse is gone. An estate planning attorney can advise and assist with taking the necessary step to secure the future of your loved ones, especially those in need of special care and assistance.
What are your New Year’s resolutions this year? Ever thought about adding estate planning to the list? You should; and here’s how to do it.
Qualifying for Medicaid to help cover nursing home expenses means losing your nest egg, right? Wrong. You might actually be able to keep your nest egg and get help covering the high cost of long-term care using the Medicaid Spousal Impoverishment rules.
Are you torn between passing down assets to your children and caring for your spouse in a nursing home? Are you worried about how to continue to provide care for your spouse after you are gone without jeopardizing your spouse’s Medicaid eligibility? The good news is that it is possible to provide continued care to your spouse after you are gone, pass down assets to your children, and not jeopardize your spouse’s eligibility for Medicaid.
How can someone with $100,000 in assets qualify for Medicaid without having to spend-down those assets? One way is to purchase an irrevocable, income producing, annuity.
Amy and David both need nursing home care as well as Medicaid’s help paying for that care; however, they have assets that exceed the program limit. The couple also wants to continue to provide financial assistance to their disabled adult son. However, they are concerned that the Medicaid asset transfer rules will prohibit them from doing so. The good news is they can continue to provide for their son and qualify for Medicaid immediately.
Nursing homes have historically resisted the concept of Medicaid planning based on the assumption that patients who engaged in Medicaid planning were trying to avoid paying their bills. In recent years, many nursing homes have started to rethink that position as they realize that Medicaid planning is often in their best interest as well as the patient’s.
Do the Medicaid gifting rules and asset transfer penalties have you confused? If so, you are not alone! Unfortunately, failing to understand the rules and penalties could result in your ineligibility for benefits right when you need them the most. The answers to several common questions may help you gain a better understanding of Medicaid’s rules and penalties.
Who are your designated beneficiaries? Not sure? If so, you are not alone; it’s not uncommon to select designated beneficiaries without considering your overall estate plan. However, the failure to coordinate them could wreak havoc on your overall estate. Read on to learn how.
Your farm or ranch has been in your family for generations. Are there obstacles which may prevent a smooth transition of values and assets to the next generation? If so, how can an effective estate plan can help you overcome those obstacles?
Estate planning was never intended to be accomplished in a single Monday afternoon meeting with your attorney. Your estate plan must be updated to reflect important changes in your life.
As parents, one of the challenges we face is ensuring our children feel as though they’re treated fairly and loved equally. What many may not realize, however, is that sometimes accomplishing this doesn’t include equal divisions, especially after they’ve reached adulthood. This is also sometimes the case with Estate Planning. While it’s designed to efficiently distribute your assets after your death, it’s also meant to see your final wishes implemented. The challenge is making sure your children understand that after assessing the dynamics and factors associated with your family and the needs of each family member, your final wishes may appear to be unfair, even though your goal was always to address the needs of each child versus the collective family.
Incorporate gifting to your loved ones as a way of reducing your overall annual tax burden, but be sure you do it in such a way that it maximizes your goals.
Legacy planning goes beyond typical estate planning and focuses on protecting not only a family’s assets but their personal legacy, such as family values, stories and heirlooms.
There are few things more precious than the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren. Be sure you leave them with more than just memories. Proper estate planning is a great way to make the most of your gifting efforts.
We always hear that planning is crucial. No truer is that sentiment than when it comes to caring for our aging parents. Proper planning can mean the difference of an enjoyable retirement or one that’s riddled with problems.
Today’s estate planning tools provide families a host of financial and legal vehicles that can help ensure a family’s legacy easily pass to the next generation. In fact, we have more options now than our grandparents had in their own efforts of passing down the values and wealth.
Many who go through a divorce are confident the legalities are behind them once they sign their divorce papers. The reality is there are other important legal tasks that can affect your future, including making changes to your estate plan, retirement beneficiary forms and even banking information. As you prepare for the next chapter in life, be sure those chapters you’ve closed won’t affect your happy ending!
While creating a Trust is an important step, it’s just the first step in securing your legacy. Has your Trust been properly funded? Find out why you should follow up with a good estate planning attorney to ensure your assets are properly protected.
New Years is a common time for one to consider their plans for the future. It is also a time to make resolutions. This year, the best resolution may involve making important decisions about what will happen after your death. Too many people put off estate planning, leaving their family in a mess. Make a New Year’s resolution not to do this to your loved ones, but instead to think ahead with a comprehensive estate plan.
We typically have several companies or individuals who provide important services in our day-to-day life. Would your Trustee know who to contact in order to make sure everything from your home to your medical care continues to run smoothly if you were no longer able to? Find out what to consider when creating a list of important “service providers” when creating your estate plan.
It’s no secret that a business owner must face the reality of what will happen to their company upon their death. Are you prepared to consider the many factors of family business succession planning?
Poor estate planning can lead to disagreements among heirs and your legacy being lost. Don’t make the mistake of failing to plan properly, as these famous celebrities did. Ensure you have a good estate planning attorney helping you prepare for the future.
If you’ve already created your Will or Trust, chances are that most people think they’ll no longer need the advice of an estate planning attorney. However, even minor life changes may require attention in your plan. Find out why it’s absolutely essential to review your Will or Trust periodically with an experienced estate planning attorney.
Selecting your trustee is a critical decision because that person will be responsible for making sure your wishes are carried out in your estate plan. But what should you do if there’s tension between that person and other family members? Find out why relationships matter when selecting your trustee.
While many people plan out their vacations in great detail, they may be forgetting to address what to do if the unexpected happens while they're out of town. Find out how setting an estate plan in place, even a basic one, can minimize your worries about those “what if’s,” and enjoy that vacation you’ve been dreaming of.
Loaning Family Money – What You Need To Know Loaning Family Money – What You Need To Know Written By: The American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys People lend money to family members for a variety of reasons.
We all want to leave a lasting legacy for our children and grandchildren, but it can be easier said than done. In this article, find out how legacy wealth planning can go beyond basic estate planning to provide your loved ones with a true legacy, rather than a set of inheritances.
As a new parent, estate planning might be at the bottom of your long list, however, it can bring you immense peace of mind. Here's what you need to know.
It takes a team to make sure you have a fully functioning estate plan. Learn about the players, their roles, and - most important - how simple it is to assemble your estate planning team.
For most people, dying without an estate plan means burdening loved ones with added inconvenience, delay and expense. For same-sex couples, however, dying without an estate plan can spell disaster. Find out why and learn what you can do about it.
Who would make your medical decisions if you were terminally ill or get into an unexpected accident? Have you expressed your wishes to your family members and, just as importantly, have you formalized your wishes so that your doctors will follow them?
A little nervous about your first estate planning consultation? Don't be. Here's what to expect.
Women’s roles in society and within the family have shifted dramatically over the past several generations and women have more earning power than ever before, yet too many wives take a backseat to their husbands when the subject of estate planning comes up. Here are five things every woman should know when it comes to estate planning.
Estate planning is only for wealthy people who want to reduce their estate taxes, right? Wrong! Only a tiny percentage of Americans need to worry about estate taxes but every adult needs an estate plan. Find out why.
People tend to think of estate planning as something that only the wealthy or the elderly need to do. In truth, regardless of your age, your situation in life, or your level of wealth, estate planning accomplishes a few universal goals.
You might not realize the advantages a low interest rate environment can offer for estate tax planning. Let's take a look at just a few.
Sometimes, in an attempt to avoid thinking about the worst, we miss the opportunity to do the best for our loved ones. A comprehensive estate plan can help you confront your fears in a way that will ease your family’s responsibilities, should the unexpected happen.
Keeping your special needs child secure after you are gone takes special planning. The right techniques can ensure both your child’s well-being and your peace of mind.
Insurance has a number of uses as an estate planning tool. It helps protect and preserve your estate, giving you more to pass on to your loved ones. It also has special characteristics that allow you to position your estate for sophisticated estate planning. Learn about the basic categories of insurance and how they strengthen your estate plan.
The draft of your new Trust makes you wonder if your estate planning attorney gets paid by the word. Is all this verbiage really necessary? In fact, a good plan has many points to cover.
It can be a surprise to find yourself caring for elderly parents at the same time that you’re raising your own children. The emotional demands of these multiple roles are often coupled with financial challenges as well. That’s why it’s important to know when you can claim your aging or ill parent as a dependent for income tax purposes.
As Trusts gain popularity, a question comes up more and more often: who pays the income tax on a Trust? It seems like a simple inquiry, but the answer can be hard to pin down. So, who does pay income tax on a Trust? Here is the answer, in a nutshell.
You might have heard the word basis used in reference to taxes. Learn the definition of basis and how it can make a big difference in your estate plan.
The estate planning process presents a number of opportunities for using asset protection strategies to protect yourself and your loved ones. Learn about asset protection, and avoid these four common pitfalls.
Although your Will or Trust might be the last thing on your mind as you prepare to move, this is actually an ideal time to review and update your estate plan. Find out why.
Life is full of surprises. None of us have a crystal ball, and this means it is unreasonable to create an estate plan without flexibility regarding your long-term wishes for your loved ones. When you build flexibility into your estate plan with a power of appointment, you can empower your spouse or children to stand in your place and make decisions based on your family’s changed circumstances.
Could you be married and not even realize it? If you live in a state that recognizes common law marriage, you could be married even without a marriage license or an official ceremony. Find out how common law marriage affects your estate plan and what you can do about it.
Your estate plan is prepared. Your Living Trust is in place and properly funded, you have a Pour-Over Will just in case, and your incapacity plan is ready and waiting in the event you need it. Is it time to part ways with your attorney? Not at all! In fact, your relationship with your estate planning attorney has just started.
If your children have reached adulthood, you might assume it's best to leave them their inheritances outright, with no restrictions. However, you want to make sure your children enjoy flexibility in accessing and using their inheritances while minimizing the impact of taxes, divorce, lawsuits, and other threats. Therefore, it might be better to leave their inheritances in a Trust.
When you use a Will to plan your estate, much of your personal information becomes public after your death. A Trust can help you accomplish your estate planning goals while shielding your personal affairs from prying eyes.
If you want to leave a true legacy, a traditional estate plan is not enough. With Legacy Planning, you can pass on your values, wisdom, and family heritage along with your nest egg. You can also provide your children's inheritances with just the right amount of protection from the threats and challenges of life.
Your mom and dad have always been there to guide you through life's challenges. Now, the tables are turning. Learn some strategies for gently helping your parents plan for the challenges they're likely to face as they age.
Most of us have daydreamed about inheriting money, but the reality of inheriting often doesn't match our dreams. In the real world, an inheritance can bring with it a number of questions and worries. Here we address four common concerns about inheritances.
Estate planning is on everyone's "should do" list, but it rarely seems to make it to the top of the "to do" list. Perhaps this is because of all the myths surrounding the estate planning process. Here are five common estate planning myths, along with the truths behind them.
Choosing between a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA can have significant tax and estate planning consequences. Whether a Roth is the right option depends on a number of factors, including an account owner's current income, anticipated post-retirement income, and estate planning goals.
The U.S. Congress continually debates the estate tax, often considering whether or not it should be done away with entirely. Many people think this tax is a cornerstone of estate planning, so if it's eliminated, they don't need an estate plan. Nothing is further from the truth. This article explains why.
You've heard the maxim, "It's better to give than to receive." Americans take this aphorism to heart, especially as it relates to contributions to charity. Did you know that our tax laws actually encourage charitable giving? This article will explain gift-giving options from small to large, each with tax-savings implications.
Ranch life comes with its own particular challenges and rewards. Therefore, ranch families have even more need for professional advice than other families when it comes to finding the most effective means of passing on their assets, which may be more substantial than they suppose. This article explores various means that can be employed to create an estate plan which minimizes taxes and distributes assets equitably.
Time passes quickly. Life brings change. While these may seem like platitudes, they reflect the truth of most people's lives. This article will encourage you to recognize a new life stage as an opportunity to review and fine tune your estate plan.
Who should you entrust with planning your estate? Unfortunately, the estate planning industry can be a mixed bag. Along with licensed, qualified attorneys there are unqualified, or even unlicensed, individuals producing cookie-cutter estate plans that may or may not work as intended. Find out why you should choose your estate planning practitioner wisely.
When you compare a do-it-yourself living trust with one that was prepared by a qualified estate planning attorney, one of the first things you’re likely to notice is that the attorney-prepared trust is long. And it might not be so easy to read. There’s a good reason for this. This article discusses the reasons why planning for contingencies with an attorney drafted estate plan is the better choice. When it comes to estate planning, there’s any number of contingencies to prepare for.
Estate planning is not just for the wealthy. The truth is, estate planning is about achieving some pretty common goals and taking care of basic responsibilities, regardless of how big or small our investment portfolio happens to be.
We’re all exposed to invasions of our privacy, large and small, during our lifetimes and even after death. These practical strategies make it easier to shield your family’s personal affairs from prying eyes.
When you really think about it, your true wealth is much more than just your accumulated assets or material possessions. With the right plan, you can protect and preserve your true wealth and create a legacy for your family that will last for generations to come.
When you are planning your estate, it is important to remember that circumstances rarely stay the same over long periods of time. A plan that worked for your family when the kids were little may very well be obsolete by the time they've started families of their own. This is why it's important to ensure that you build flexibility into your plan.
Increasingly, pet owners are not just worried about providing for our pets during our lifetimes, we want to ensure that they get all the love and care they need after we’re gone, too. This article discusses the estate planning benefits a Pet Trust can provide for your furry and feathered animal companions.
It's not something we often stop to think about, but attorneys experience life changes like anyone else. They may change careers or experience an illness or disability, or they may retire or even pass away. This article discusses the steps you should take if your estate planning lawyer no longer practices law.
The term "estate planning" usually calls to mind the process of creating a Will, establishing a Living Trust, or naming a guardian for young children. One piece of the estate planning puzzle that might not be readily apparent, though, is insurance. Learn how insurance in its many forms plays an important role in the estate planning process.
According to data collected in the 2010 census, 4.9 million children under age eighteen live in grandparent-headed households. If you are in this growing number of grandparents returning to your “parent” role again, one of the pressing responsibilities that accompany your job as caregiver is to make sure you have a plan for your grandchildren in the event that something happens to you. And because you’re older now than you were the first time around, planning becomes even more important. This article reviews why it is imperative to have an estate plan in place and what a basic plan should include.
At some point in our lives, we all dream of receiving an inheritance. We envision buying a new car, finally being able to afford private schools for the kids, or maybe even taking a trip around the world. But the reality of inheriting money or property often differs from our dreams. The process of settling an estate and distributing a deceased person’s assets can be time consuming. During this process you may have questions about taxes on various types of assets you may be inheriting, such as IRAs, valuable collectibles, and other property. This article provides a summary on what you can expect during this process if you’re anticipating an inheritance.
As a child, your parents were there to guide and support you as you faced life’s challenges and obstacles in your path growing up. Similarly, as your parents age, and become less independent, they will rely on you as they face new challenges in their twilight years. This article examines how planning well in advance is important to ensure that no matter what lies ahead, their care and financial affairs will be looked after. Regardless of their financial means, if they are wealthy or of more modest means, there is a plan that can meet the specific needs of your family.
Picture this… You’re at the end of your long, fulfilling life and you’re ready to say goodbye to your loved ones and leave this world in peace. And then… your family declares war on each other. This scenario plays out all too often even in the closest of families. This article examines helpful ways to plan and avoid divisive family disputes after you are gone.
An alarming 55% of American's don't have an estate plan in place. Procrastination is a common excuse. However, for many people it's a lack of knowledge about estate planning, including the benefits, their options and the protections it offers them and their families. This article reviews 10 essential estate planning facts that will arm with you with enough knowledge to cross estate planning off your "to do" list.
A Roth IRA has some important distinctions from a traditional IRA, and, depending on your tax bracket, your retirement needs, and your estate planning goals, a Roth could be a better choice for you. So, what's the difference between the two types of IRAs? This article explores how each IRA works and which option can best fit your personal needs and goals.