Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Today's Elder Care / Senior Care Q&A for Wednesday, 12/30/2015

QUESTION: What are some tips that we can use to pay off credit card debt?


Answered by:
Credit Card Debt

E. Dennis Bridges, CPA

Atlanta, Georgia
An ElderCare Matters Partner


ANSWER: The average credit card balance for an American household as of August of this year was $7,529, which is an increase over years previous and not something that any of us really would like to see increase further. And that counts the households that carry no debt, so the figure for those who *do* is even worse.


So, you may be in a better situation … it may also be worse. So, to answer the questions we often get around here from clients facing tough times, I’ve put together a step-by-step process which we often help people work through.


1. First, pay more than the minimums
If you only pay the minimum payment each month, your credit card debt could continue to INCREASE, even if you completely stop using your card. This is called “negative amortization”–where you think you are paying on your debt but the additional fees and finance charges are more than the minimum payment. The bottom line is: Pay more than your minimum or you will eventually be in debt over your head.


2. Create an automated system
With online banking and automatic payment options, there are GREAT tools for ensuring you don’t mess up because of administrative chaos. If you feel you can’t manage all your bills by pen and paper, there are several good software programs available for keeping track of your financial records.


In fact, I recommend that you automate a payment ABOVE the minimum monthly payment, just to be certain that you start getting ahead of the game. Those minimum payments are rigged against you, and the only way to get ahead is to … get ahead. I have some more thoughts on automation in a moment.


3. Yes, you can negotiate
No, you do not need to be an attorney or other professional to negotiate with your credit card company (negotiating with the IRS, on the other hand, is a very different story!). The rising amount of consumer debt in this country has made creditors realize that they need to be more understanding of their customers — if they hope to get any money back. If you file bankruptcy they are only going to get pennies on the dollar, so they are willing to make deals.


4. Proactively contact your creditors — in writing
Open communication always helps. Usually credit card companies get ignored and end up sending delinquent files to a collections agency. So they’ll actually appreciate your openness in contacting them and may be more understanding of your situation. Proactively dealing with your credit card debt rather than hiding will not only help your financial problem, but will make you feel better about yourself as well.


5. Develop a simple tracking system
If you are not able to pay the full amount of your credit each month, you still should still pay something to stay on top of it. You should work off a written budget so you know exactly where you stand. Some experts suggest that you divide your monthly debt budget by the percentage each bill makes of the total and pay that amount.


Here’s an example: If you owe a total of $1,000, and one credit card is $800 and the other is $200, and you only have $100 available to pay for that month… You should pay $80 on the $800 balance, and $20 on the $200 balance. This way you are reducing each debt by the same percentage.


6. Do NOT be intimidated
No matter how forthcoming and honest you are, some creditors have been taught to be mean and downright nasty. Hang in there and don’t let this tactic intimidate you.


Lastly–don’t let the IRS be one of those creditors. Let us help you this tax season, and THAT will be one less creditor to worry about, I assure you!


21 “Mobile Friendly” Elder Care / Senior Care Directories


If you need help in planning for and/or dealing with this issue or with any Elder Care / Senior Care matter, you can find the professional help you need in one of the following 21Mobile Friendly” Elder Care / Senior Care Directories. These Elder Care / Senior Care – specific Directories are sponsored by the National ElderCare Matters Alliance, an organization of thousands of America’s TOP Elder Care / Senior Care Professsionals who help families plan for and deal with a wide range of Elder Care Matters.




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Today"s Elder Care / Senior Care Q&A for Wednesday, 12/30/2015

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

This Week's Elder Care / Senior Care Article

TITLE: The Formal Probate Administration Process


Written by:
Probate

I. Michael Tucker, Esq.

Law Office of I. Michael Tucker, P.L.C.

Altamonte Springs, Florida
An ElderCare Matters Partner


If someone dies owning assets in his or her name alone (“probatable assets”), there must be

a probate court proceeding to determine who is to receive the assets. In other words, the Will

is given effect through the probate court proceedings. Even if no Will exists a probate

proceeding is necessary.


Probate means “prove.” One must prove to the probate court that the Will is valid, that the

maker was competent and not forced to make the Will, that the heirs and representatives are

proper, that all creditors have been paid and that all persons are getting their just due. Only

after the proofs are made may an heir receive his or her inheritance.


The most common probate proceeding is called the FORMAL PROBATE ADMINISTRATION

proceeding. The following must be done to start and prosecute the proceeding:


STEP ONE: You need to furnish your attorney with the following information and

documents:


1. Original copy of Will or proof that no Will exists;

2. Certified copy of Death Certificate (without cause of death listed);

3. A general description of the kind and value of probatable assets;

4. Names and addresses of all persons named in Will. If any are under the age 18, state so

and give names and addresses of their parents or guardians;

5. Names and addresses of all of the decedent’s following relatives who are named in the

Will (if any are under the age of 18, state so and give names and addresses of their parents or

guardians);

a) Decedent’s parents

b) Decedent’s spouse

c) Decedent’s children

d) Children of deceased children

e) If none of the above exist, then:

i) brothers and sisters of decedent

ii) children of deceased brothers and sisters.

6. Names and addresses of person(s) nominated as personal representatives (executors) in

the Will; and

7. Retainer for fees and costs.


TIME FRAME FOR STEP ONE: 30 days


STEP TWO: Once that information is furnished to the attorney he can commence the

work:


1. Prepares petition for nominated Personal Representative (PR) to sign, listing the same

information as noted above. Obtain signatures.

2. Prepares oath of office and designation of agent for service of process for signature of

nominated PR. Obtain signature.

3. Prepares proposed orders for court to sign.

4. Files original Will, certified copy of death certificate, petition, oath of office and

designation of agent for service of process and proposed orders with Court. Pays court fees.

5. Prepares waivers for heirs and other interested persons to sign.

6. Sends copies of Will, petition and waivers to each heir and interested party by certified

mail, return receipt requested. Recipients have 20 days after receipt of those papers to file

objections to the proceedings, to the Will or to the appointment of the nominated PR. If

addresses are unknown, attorney will have a newspaper publish notices of the proceeding to

notify heirs and interested parties.

Assuming there are no objections filed the Court will grant two (2) orders: one, admitting

the Will for probate and, two, giving Letters of Administration (certificate of appointment) to

PR. If there are objections filed, then hearings will be held.


TIME FRAME FOR STEP TWO: Generally 2 to 3 weeks

STEP THREE: The attorney will pay for and obtain certified copies of the orders and then

commences to do the following work:


1. Causes a notice to be published for two weeks in a newspaper in the county wherein

proceedings are held. Creditors have ninety (90) days after publication to file claims.

2. Asks PR to give the following information:

a) names and addresses of known creditors.

b) detail listing of probatable assets and values thereof.

3. Sends notice to known creditors who then have thirty (30) days to file claims after their

receipt of notice.

4. Prepares an inventory of assets and values for signature.

5. Sends inventory copy to all heirs and interested persons and files same with court.

6. Aids PR in obtaining assets with use of Letters of Administration and to sell real estate

and obtain bank accounts, etc. Note that if attorney handles real estate sale an additional fee

will be due over and above that incurred for probate proceedings.

7. If decedent owned real estate, a tax return must be filed with the State to remove any

estate tax lien thereon. There will be no estate taxes to be paid if the estate is under

$5.43million in value (2015). If estate is over $5.43 million in value, an accountant must be

hired to do federal and state estate tax returns.

8. All cash proceeds and cash assets to be held by PR in bank accounts created in estate

name.

9. PR commences to pay all bills and can make partial distributions to heirs, saving some

funds to cover unknown creditors. Attorney obtains receipts from heirs and files same with

the court.
TIME FRAME FOR STEP THREE: 100 Days (or 9 months if federal estate tax
return necessary).


STEP FOUR: Final Procedures


1. PR furnishes attorney with detailed information as to:

a) Value and nature of estate originally held as per Inventory filed earlier

b) Additions or deletions therefrom

c) Expenses paid

d) Amounts remaining

e) Distributions made

2. Attorney prepares Final Accounting for Court, obtaining PR signature.

3. Attorney prepares petition for discharge for Court. Obtains PR signature.

4. Attorney prepares proposed court order for distribution and discharge.

5. Attorney files Final Accounting, petition and proposed order with court and sends same

to heirs and interested parties. (This is usually waived by family members and they sign a

waiver and acknowledgement of their receipt of their share of the estate) Others have 20 days

after receipt of same to file objections (usually charities, etc.).

6. Attorney obtains certified copy of discharge order from court after objection period

ends.
TIME FRAME FOR STEP FOUR: 40 days


*Note that all time frames are estimates. Much depends on how quick and accurate

information and signatures are forthcoming from the personal representatives, heirs

and other interested persons. Much time will be spent, additional to that noted above, if

objections or creditors’ claims are involved.


Thus, about 185 days (6 months or so) are usually necessary to process a FORMAL

ADMINISTRATION probate proceeding. However, most times, heirs could start receiving

their due after 45-60 days. Due to government funding cuts and staffing cuts over the past

several years, additional delays occur.


21 “Mobile Friendly” Elder Care / Senior Care Directories


If you need help with a probate matter or with any Elder Care / Senior Care issue, you can find the professional help you need in one of the following 21Mobile Friendly” Elder Care / Senior Care Directories. These Elder Care / Senior Care – specific Directories are sponsored by the National ElderCare Matters Alliance, an organization of thousands of America’s TOP Elder Care / Senior Care Professsionals who help families plan for and deal with a wide range of Elder Care Matters.


  1. ElderCareMatters.com

  2. ElderCareMattersBlog.com

  3. ElderCareWebsites.com

  4. ElderCareAnswers.us

  5. ElderCareArticles.us

  6. ElderCareProfessionals.us

  7. ElderLawAttorneys.us

  8. EstatePlanningAttorneys.us

  9. FindDailyMoneyManagers.net

  10. FindElderCareMediators.net

  11. FindElderLawAttorneys.net

  12. FindEstatePlanningAttorneys.net

  13. FindGeriatricCareManagers.net

  14. FindHomeCareProviders.net

  15. FindLongTermCareInsurance.net

  16. FindMedicaidAttorneys.net

  17. FindProbateAttorneys.net

  18. FindSeniorLivingCommunities.net

  19. FindSeniorMoveManagers.net

  20. FindSpecialNeedsAttorneys.net

  21. FindVAAccreditedAttorneys.net

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This Week"s Elder Care / Senior Care Article

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Today's Elder Care / Senior Care Q&A for Thursday, 12/17/2015

QUESTION:  What is Life Care Planning?


Answered by:
Life Care Planning

Shana Siegel, Esq., CELA

WanderPolo & Siegel, Counselors at Law, LLC

Upper Montclair, New Jersey
An ElderCare Matters Partner

ANSWER: Estate planning is merely one piece of the puzzle for our clients. Life care planning focuses on ensuring a continued quality of life, maintaining independence for as long as possible, and maximizing benefits and community resources. We work with care managers, financial planners, insurance agents, accountants and families to develop a comprehensive plan that is customized to meet your needs. We then coordinate that plan providing you with information and support so you can focus on living your life and have the peace of mind that you are equipped to handle inevitable life challenges.

One of the important differences in life care planning is that elder law attorneys work hand-in-hand with care managers to ensure the client’s medical and psycho-social needs, as well as family dynamics are properly addressed.

21 “Mobile Friendly” Elder Care / Senior Care Directories


If you need help in planning for and/or dealing with this issue or with any Elder Care / Senior Care matter, you can find the professional help you need in one of the following 21Mobile Friendly” Elder Care / Senior Care Directories. These Elder Care / Senior Care – specific Directories are sponsored by the National ElderCare Matters Alliance, an organization of thousands of America’s TOP Elder Care / Senior Care Professsionals who help families plan for and deal with a wide range of Elder Care Matters.



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Today"s Elder Care / Senior Care Q&A for Thursday, 12/17/2015

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Today's Elder Care / Senior Care Q&A for Wednesday, 12/16/215

QUESTION:  What are the 2016 Estate and Gift Tax Limits, as set by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)?


Answered by:
Estate and Gift Tax

Patrick C. Smith, Jr., Esq.

The Smith Law Firm, P.C.

Augusta, Georgia
An ElderCare Matters Partner

ANSWER:  The IRS has announced that the basic estate tax exclusion amount for the estates of decedents dying during calendar year 2016 will be $5.45 million, up from $5.43 million for calendar year 2015.  This figure is in line with earlier projections.  The annual gift tax exclusion will remain at $14,000 for 2016.

Also, if the executor chooses to use the special use valuation method for qualified real property, the aggregate decrease in the value of the property resulting from the choice cannot exceed $1,110,000, up from $1,100,000 for 2015.

The increase in the estate tax exclusion means that the lifetime tax exclusion for gifts should also rise to $5.45 million, as will the generation-skipping transfer tax exemption.

21 “Mobile Friendly” Elder Care / Senior Care Directories


If you need help in planning for and/or dealing with this issue or with any Elder Care / Senior Care matter, you can find the professional help you need in one of the following 21Mobile Friendly” Elder Care / Senior Care Directories. These Elder Care / Senior Care – specific Directories are sponsored by the National ElderCare Matters Alliance, an organization of thousands of America’s TOP Elder Care / Senior Care Professsionals who help families plan for and deal with a wide range of Elder Care Matters.



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Today"s Elder Care / Senior Care Q&A for Wednesday, 12/16/215

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

This Week's Elder Care / Senior Care Article

TITLE: The Perils and Pitfalls of Doing Asset Protection Planning on Your Own


Written by:
Asset Protection Planning

Robert M. Slutsky, Esq.

Robert Slutsky Associates

Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania
An ElderCare Matters Partner


Dealing with long term care planning, and especially asset protection planning, is a daunting process. Very complicated state and federal Medicaid laws and regulations present many pitfalls for those who try to engage in that process on their own without working with a competent elder law attorney. A recent Medicaid case from New Jersey is an example of a family that tried to go through the process on their own and are now dealing with some pretty nasty consequences. See C.W. v. New Jersey Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services, NO. A-02352-13T2 (NJ Sup. Ct. App. Aug. 31, 2015).


The facts are as follows: “C.W.” was a 90 year old New Jersey resident who moved into a skilled nursing facility in 2007. The following year, she transferred her home and $540,000 in assets to her children, which together were worth approximately $864,000. The following year C.W. applied for Medicaid benefits. Not surprisingly, the state Medicaid authorities imposed a penalty of 10 years and 4 months before they were willing to begin paying her nursing home costs. At that point, her children tried to fix the problem. They returned $235,000 to C.W. who in turn paid that amount to her nursing home. Then, her children returned the home to her, which was then sold. Oddly enough, the sale proceeds were then deposited into an account in the children’s names, not in C.W.’s name, with the children executing a written agreement to transfer the amount of C.W.’s care cost to her each month. C.W. then reapplied for Medicaid and was again denied as before.


Let’s consider each of the many mistakes made by C.W.’s family and also consider how the results may have been different. Under the Medicaid rules, when a Medicaid penalty period is assessed, it takes the form of a time period before which benefits will be paid. The simple mathematical formula takes the total gifted amount and divides it by the average monthly cost of private-paid skilled nursing home in that state. As of July 1, 2015 in Pennsylvania, that divisor amount is now $8916.65. Dividing $864,000 by $8916.65 would result in a penalty period of roughly 97 months.


What were some of C.W’s mistakes?


The first mistake was in not understanding the rules of Medicaid’s 60 month look back period. When you apply for Medicaid, the administrative authorities are allowed to do a complete financial audit of the Medicaid applicant’s financial activities over the previous 60 months. Whatever was done earlier than 60 months before the application is never considered and has no effect whatsoever on Medicaid eligibility.


There are situations where someone is fairly healthy when they engage in asset protection planning but then suffers unanticipated health issues that force a move to a nursing home much sooner than they ever thought they might need it. That is clearly not the case for C.W. as she was already in a nursing home when she started gifting away her assets. In C.W.’s case, applying for Medicaid in 2008, she would have had no problems if she did the exact same gifting of assets in 2003 or earlier. Alternatively, the family could have considered delaying the Medicaid application for a few years and instead, privately paying the nursing home from the gifted funds until the 60 month look back period elapsed.


The second mistake was in transferring C.W.’s home out of her name. When a single individual applies for Medicaid, their home may be considered an exempt asset if they have a reasonable expectation of returning to the home within a relatively short period of time (at least initially, but the rule might require the home to be sold later on depending on circumstances). As soon as C.W. transferred the home, it ceased to be an exempt asset for purposes of her eligibility. Then, after her children conveyed the house back to her, it was sold. Once the equity in the home is converted to cash, it ceases to be exempt. At that point we might also question why the sales proceeds were put into the children’s’ bank account, rather than staying in C.W.’s account, because she therefore ultimately re-gifted that amount back to the kids.


Also, it is important to note that for income tax purposes, once C.W. transferred the house to her children, the opportunity to claim an exemption from capital gains tax on the sale of the home could have been lost. If the house had been sold by the children instead of being transferred back to C.W. first, and assuming that the house sold for $324,000, and further assuming for our purposes that C.W. had paid approximately $150,000 for the house, then capital gain of $174,000 would have to recognized by the children upon the sale of the home. At a probable 15% capital gains tax rate, there would be $26,100 in capital gains tax due to the IRS because of the sale.


Clearly, good advice from a qualified elder law attorney could have made a big difference in the costs ultimately borne by C.W. and her family for her long-term care needs.


21 “Mobile Friendly” Elder Care / Senior Care Directories


If you need help with this elder care matter or with any Elder Care / Senior Care issue, you can find the help you need in one of the following 21Mobile Friendly” Elder Care / Senior Care Directories. These Elder Care / Senior Care – specific Directories are sponsored by the National ElderCare Matters Alliance, an organization of thousands of America’s TOP Elder Care / Senior Care Professsionals who help families plan for and deal with a wide range of Elder Care Matters.


  1. ElderCareMatters.com

  2. ElderCareMattersBlog.com

  3. ElderCareWebsites.com

  4. ElderCareAnswers.us

  5. ElderCareArticles.us

  6. ElderCareProfessionals.us

  7. ElderLawAttorneys.us

  8. EstatePlanningAttorneys.us

  9. FindDailyMoneyManagers.net

  10. FindElderCareMediators.net

  11. FindElderLawAttorneys.net

  12. FindEstatePlanningAttorneys.net

  13. FindGeriatricCareManagers.net

  14. FindHomeCareProviders.net

  15. FindLongTermCareInsurance.net

  16. FindMedicaidAttorneys.net

  17. FindProbateAttorneys.net

  18. FindSeniorLivingCommunities.net

  19. FindSeniorMoveManagers.net

  20. FindSpecialNeedsAttorneys.net

  21. FindVAAccreditedAttorneys.net

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This Week"s Elder Care / Senior Care Article

Monday, December 14, 2015

Today's Elder Care Question and Answer for Monday, 12/14/2015

QUESTION: What are some asset protection mistakes that ALL families should be aware of?


Answer Provided by:


Asset Protection


Kevin Pillion, Esq.

Life Planning Law Firm, P.A.

Sarasota, Florid
An ElderCare Matters Partner


Top 10 Asset Protection Mistakes


1. Relying solely on a will or a living trust


A Will takes effect only upon your death, and a Living Trust, although preferable in some cases, will not protect your assets from Medicaid Recovery and Nursing Homes.


2. Relying on Medicare or health insurance


Neither Medicare nor health insurance pays for the cost of long-term care in a nursing home. With the average cost exceeding $7,000 a month, without a Plan most families will quickly run through their life savings.


3. Transferring all assets to children or other relatives


This almost always results in lengthy, unnecessary periods of ineligibility when Medicaid or other public assistance is applied for. And the tax consequences can be devastating. Often, it’s wiser to do nothing.


4. Placing all assets into joint ownership with another family member


This is often regarded the same as a transfer and can result in lengthy disqualification periods. Or it may not shelter assets at all. It can also create unfortunate legal problems for families.


5. Selling the family home to pay for nursing home care


This is almost never required. Yet many still believe that a person must sell his home to pay the nursing home.


6. Not taking Medicaid estate recovery seriously


Medicaid can and does sell your home after your death to recoup benefits paid out on your behalf.


7. Applying for a guardianship


This court-supervised method of dealing with a person’s incapacity is time-consuming, costly, burdensome, and restrictive. With proper planning, you avoid the need to go to Court.


8. Relying on family members to “do the right thing” when critical health care and financial decisions need to be made


In the absence of a Plan to protect assets and other planning documents, this is an awful burden to place on the members of your family.


9. Not seeking the advice of a specialist in elder law and asset protection planning


Medicaid and other government benefits programs are a highly complex area of the law; the law varies from state to state and even within a particular state. Very few attorneys and advisors know and understand the laws and rules that apply.


10. Doing nothing


Unless you have no assets to protect or you are unconcerned about how decisions will be made in the event of your disability or incapacity, you should take steps now to protect yourself.


21 “Mobile Friendly” Elder Care / Senior Care Directories


If you need help in planning for and/or dealing with this issue or with any Elder Care / Senior Care matter, you can find the professional help you need in one of the following 21Mobile Friendly” Elder Care / Senior Care Directories. These Elder Care / Senior Care – specific Directories are sponsored by the National ElderCare Matters Alliance, an organization of thousands of America’s TOP Elder Care / Senior Care Professsionals who help families plan for and deal with a wide range of Elder Care Matters.




Today"s Elder Care Question and Answer for Monday, 12/14/2015

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Today's Elder Care Question and Answer for Thursday, December 10, 2015

QUESTION: What Documents are Needed to Apply for Medicaid?


Answer Provided by:


Medicaid Attorney


Nancy Burner, Esq., CELA

Nancy Burner & Associates, P.C.

East Setauket, New York
An ElderCare Matters Partner


ANSWER: In New York State, you do need to provide 5 years worth of financial documentation when you apply for chronic/nursing home Medicaid. The purpose of providing this documentation is to comply with the state’s requirements regarding a look back period to determine eligibility based on current asset levels and past transfers of assets.   Transfers that can trigger a penalty period for Medicaid are any that are done without compensation. There are certain persons to which you can transfer assets without triggering a penalty including, but not limited to, spouses and disabled children. Note that this look back period does not apply to community/home care Medicaid.


The documentation that you should keep on hand in preparation includes 5 full years of monthly bank statements. These statements must be provided for all accounts regardless of whether they are still open at the time of application and include all CDs, brokerage accounts, retirement accounts, checking accounts, annuities, and savings accounts. You must also provide canceled checks and/or withdrawal slips for all transactions over a certain threshold amount, which vary county to county.  Other items to maintain include 5 years of tax returns, copies of documents regarding any estate of a spouse or any other person of which you were a beneficiary, closing documents for the sale of a residence, and records of insurance policies, especially those with a cash value.  While, many of these items can be obtained after the fact if you do not have them on hand, it makes for less leg work at the time of application if you have been saving the documentation through the years.


Medicaid is a federal program that also has state funding but is administered by each individual county. Each county has differing rules and may require different documentation. Familiarity with each county’s ever-changing rules will ensure the smoothest possible application process.


Often more important than knowing what documents to keep on hand as you age, is to prepare your estate plan in a way that protects your assets if and when you need the assistance of the Medicaid program. The five year look back period has strict rules that must be complied with and it is the job of an elder law attorney to make certain you are dealing with your assets in a way that is consistent with these rules.


21 “Mobile Friendly” Elder Care / Senior Care Directories


If you need help in planning for and/or dealing with this issue or with any Elder Care / Senior Care matter, you can find the professional help you need in one of the following 21Mobile Friendly” Elder Care / Senior Care Directories. These Elder Care / Senior Care – specific Directories are sponsored by the National ElderCare Matters Alliance, an organization of thousands of America’s TOP Elder Care / Senior Care Professsionals who help families plan for and deal with a wide range of Elder Care Matters.




Today"s Elder Care Question and Answer for Thursday, December 10, 2015

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Today's Elder Care Question and Answer

Who may act as an agent under a Power of Attorney?


Answered by:
Power of Attorney

Stephen J. Bailey, Esq.

Bailey Law Firm

Birmingham, Alabama
An ElderCare Matters Partner


In general, an agent, or attorney in fact, under a Power of Attorney may be anyone who is legally competent and over the age of majority.  Most individuals select a close family member such as a spouse, sibling or adult child, but any person such as a friend or a professional with an outstanding reputation for honesty would be ideal.  You may appoint multiple agents to serve either simultaneously or separately.  Appointing more than one agent to serve simultaneously can be problematic because if any one of the agents is unavailable to sign, action may be delayed.  Confusion and disagreement between simultaneous agents can also lead to inaction.  Therefore, it is usually more prudent to appoint one individual as the primary agent and nominate additional individuals to serve as alternate agents if your first choice is unwilling or unable to serve.





21 “Mobile Friendly” Elder Care / Senior Care Directories


If you need help in planning for and/or dealing with this issue or with any Elder Care / Senior Care matter, you can find the professional help you need in one of the following 21 “Mobile Friendly” Elder Care / Senior Care Directories. These Elder Care / Senior Care – specific Directories are sponsored by the National ElderCare Matters Alliance, an organization of thousands of America’s TOP Elder Care / Senior Care Professsionals who help families plan for and deal with a wide range of Elder Care Matters.







Today"s Elder Care Question and Answer

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

This Week's Elder Care Article is about enjoying the Holidays with a Memory Impaired Loved One

Written by:


Dementia

Lauren Spiglanin

Family Connect Care

Rancho Palos Verdes, California
An ElderCare Matters Partner


Dashing through Dementia, Enjoying the Holidays with a Memory Impaired Loved One


If you have a loved one with Dementia who will be attending events that you are planning to host this holiday season for your family and friends, here are some tips to remember:


1) Be honest with family members and friends about your loved one’s disease.  Let them know what to expect before they visit.


2) Plan visits for early in the day. Being respectful of your loved one’s routine during the holidays.  This may prevent symptoms of sundowning or fatigue.


3) Adjust your expectations. You don’t have to decorate like the Griswold’s from the movie Christmas Vacation.


4) Take time for you. Attend that holiday party. Drink eggnog and enjoy yourself.


5) Have time alone. Stop what you are doing and close your eyes for one minute. Take a few deep breaths in and exhale slowly, picture a place or an event where you were most happy. When you open your eyes you will feel much more relaxed.


6) Reminisce about holidays past. Looking at old photos, watching the holiday classic movies, listening to songs are a good way to share and create new memories.


7) Go ahead and cry. It is okay to feel sad during the holidays. Finding a friend or joining a support group is a good way to meet other caregivers in your community who understands how you feel can be a huge support to you.


8) Don’t have your loved one with dementia just watch you prepare for the holidays. Instead, have them participate as much as possible. Decorating the house, wrapping gifts, or making cookies are activities that will help your loved one feel useful. These are great sensory activities too!


Whether you’re hosting or attending a holiday party, help your loved one with dementia feel safe and comfortable by having a trusted friend or family member stay beside him or her to field questions from others as needed.


  • Encourage people to say their name and maintain eye contact when conversing with the person who has dementia. 

  • Make sure your loved one can come and go from the party as needed.  Create a quiet space where he or she can rest — or appoint a caring person to drive your loved one home when he/she tires of the festivities. 

  • Have a family photo album or a favorite magazine for them to look at. 

  • Choose background music that is familiar to them, music from their era played in a style they resonate with, such as Bing Crosby’s, White Christmas. 

  • If your loved one needs their food pureed or finely chopped, bring it to the party.  

  • When talking to your loved one, don’t correct or contradict them. If they’re time confused, don’t try to pull them into the current reality. Simply listen carefully and let them talk. Remember; never argue with someone who has a memory impairment. You will never win!

Appreciate your loved one for the person they are right now. You will have a much happier holiday season.


21 “Mobile Friendly” Elder Care / Senior Care Directories


If you need help with this elder care matter or with any Elder Care / Senior Care issue, you can find the help you need in one of the following 21Mobile Friendly” Elder Care / Senior Care Directories. These Elder Care / Senior Care – specific Directories are sponsored by the National ElderCare Matters Alliance, an organization of thousands of America’s TOP Elder Care / Senior Care Professsionals who help families plan for and deal with a wide range of Elder Care Matters.


  1. ElderCareMatters.com

  2. ElderCareMattersBlog.com

  3. ElderCareWebsites.com

  4. ElderCareAnswers.us

  5. ElderCareArticles.us

  6. ElderCareProfessionals.us

  7. ElderLawAttorneys.us

  8. EstatePlanningAttorneys.us

  9. FindDailyMoneyManagers.net

  10. FindElderCareMediators.net

  11. FindElderLawAttorneys.net

  12. FindEstatePlanningAttorneys.net

  13. FindGeriatricCareManagers.net

  14. FindHomeCareProviders.net

  15. FindLongTermCareInsurance.net

  16. FindMedicaidAttorneys.net

  17. FindProbateAttorneys.net

  18. FindSeniorLivingCommunities.net

  19. FindSeniorMoveManagers.net

  20. FindSpecialNeedsAttorneys.net

  21. FindVAAccreditedAttorneys.net

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This Week"s Elder Care Article is about enjoying the Holidays with a Memory Impaired Loved One

Monday, December 7, 2015

Today's Elder Care Q&A is about Incapacity Planning

What is Incapacity Planning?


Incapacity planning is a broad area of law that covers how you are cared for if you become physically or mentally unable to care for yourself. The type of care could range from simple tasks like buying groceries, paying bills, and handling financial matters to more important decisions such as selling real estate, gifting assets to your children, or making critical medical decisions.


Depending on the needs of the individual or family, incapacity planning could include a number of planning techniques such as Property Powers of Attorney, Health Care Powers of Attorney, Living Wills or Advance Health Care Directives or Guardianships/Conservatorships.


21 “Mobile Friendly” Elder Care / Senior Care Directories


If you need help in planning for and/or dealing with this issue or with any Elder Care / Senior Care matter, you can find the professional help you need in one of the following 21Mobile Friendly” Elder Care / Senior Care Directories. These Elder Care / Senior Care – specific Directories are sponsored by the National ElderCare Matters Alliance, an organization of thousands of America’s TOP Elder Care / Senior Care Professsionals who help families plan for and deal with a wide range of Elder Care Matters.




Today"s Elder Care Q&A is about Incapacity Planning

Thursday, December 3, 2015

VA Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit

What is the VA Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit?


If you or your spouse are a qualified war veteran, one or both of you may qualify for the VA Aid and Attendance Pension benefit. The purpose of this benefit it to assist to with the cost of long term care including in home care, assisted living and nursing homes.


To qualify for this benefit, the VA (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs) will look at the amount of your financial assets and whether or not you own a home. If you own a home but are no longer living there, you may need to transfer your home in to an irrevocable residence trust. This is required even if your home is owned by your revocable living trust. Once the home is transferred to the trust and assuming you qualify financially otherwise, you can start receiving tax free income from the VA in the amount of approximately $1,000.00 – $2,000.00 per month. Your financial assets can be placed in this trust as well and then will not count towards the resource limits.


Other benefits/characteristics of the trust in addition to qualifying for the Aid and Attendance Pension benefit include:


  • The home will be protected from the Medi-Cal Estate Recovery Lien

  • The low Prop 13 tax basis in your home will be preserved and can be passed to the children

  • The beneficiaries of the trust will get a stepped up basis in any inherited property from the trust. This will result in little, if any, capital gains taxes due upon the sale of the property. If the a trust is not used, the beneficiaries will receive a lower carry over basis in the property if the property is gifted to them while the parent is alive and thus would have to pay capital gains taxes upon the sale of the property.

  • Any real estate owned by the trust can be sold by the trust and the proceeds from the sale of the home will not affect the seniors financial qualifications for the VA Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit or for Medi-Cal (assuming the property was the primary residence of the senior).

21 “Mobile Friendly” Elder Care / Senior Care Directories


If you need help in planning for and/or dealing with this issue or with any Elder Care / Senior Care matter, you can find the professional help you need in one of the following 21Mobile Friendly” Elder Care / Senior Care Directories. These Elder Care / Senior Care – specific Directories are sponsored by the National ElderCare Matters Alliance, an organization of thousands of America’s TOP Elder Care / Senior Care Professsionals who help families plan for and deal with a wide range of Elder Care Matters.




VA Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

TOP 5 PROBLEMS WITH YOUR ESTATE PLAN

What are some unexpected problems that may arise when you leave money to your family upon your death?


  1. Heirs recklessly spend their inheritance: Failure to leave your estate to your heirs in a trust means that your family “wins the lottery” upon your death. Your spouse and/or children may recklessly spend their inheritance within months or years, which is what most lottery winners do. A trust can control what distributions are made to your surviving spouse and/or children after your death and also delay the distributions over a number of years.

  2. Wrong heirs inherit your estate: Failure to leave your estate to your heirs in a trust means that your surviving spouse or children own the assets outright and may choose to leave their inheritance to their second spouse, stepchildren or non-family friends instead of to your children or grandchildren upon their death. A trust can control who inherits what property upon the death of your surviving spouse and/or children and delay distributions so that your grandchildren inherit your estate after the death of your children.

  3. Heirs make bad investments decisions: Failure to leave your estate to your heirs in a trust means that your surviving spouse and/or children own the assets outright and may make bad investments and lose their inheritance within a matter of a few years. If a trust is set up properly with a trustee and successor trustees, you can control who makes the investment choices for the trust assets so that your family members do not end up like many lottery winners who go bankrupt as a result of bad investments.

  4. Heirs with drug/alcohol problems use your money to feed their addiction: Failure to leave your estate to your heirs in a trust means that family members who have a drug or alcohol problem may stop working or going to school and use their inheritance to fund their lifestyle of drugs and alcohol. A trust can be used to control distributions to your heirs and limit their access to trust money if their drug or alcohol problem causes them to stop working or going to school.

  5. Heirs lose inheritance to their creditors: Failure to leave your estate to your heirs in a trust means that family members own the assets outright and if they are subject to a lawsuit or the claims of their creditors, their inheritance may be lost to their creditors. A trust if properly set up can provide asset protection for your family members so that any assets held in trust for them are not subject to the claims of their creditors.

Solution: Each of these 5 problems identify why you need a trust in your estate plan. Don’t let these unexpected consequences hurt your family.


21 “Mobile Friendly” Elder Care / Senior Care Directories


If you need help in planning for and/or dealing with this legal matter or with any Elder Care / Senior Care issue, you can find the help you need in one of the following 21Mobile Friendly” Elder Care / Senior Care Directories. These Elder Care / Senior Care – specific Directories are sponsored by the National ElderCare Matters Alliance, an organization of thousands of America’s TOP Elder Care / Senior Care Professsionals who help families plan for and deal with a wide range of Elder Care Matters.




TOP 5 PROBLEMS WITH YOUR ESTATE PLAN

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Long Term Care Planning

What long term care planning tips can you pass along?


I got a lot of phone calls about long term care planning after an article on Medicaid planning I ran a month or so ago. There were common areas of concern from spouses, parents and children caring for loved ones about the nature and range of financial planning options for long term care so here goes my top five tips.


Tip #1 Long term care includes nursing home care, assisted living, adult day care, respite care, and home health care. By age 85 nearly 55% will require some form of long-term care and approximately 44% will require nursing home care after age 65. These numbers do not reflect the millions of younger disabled persons that need long-term care at some point in their life. Caregivers report endless frustration, severe emotional stress and lose billions of dollars a year in lost wages trying to deal with bureaucracy. A knowledgeable professional should be able to review everything in an hour or two and give you a solid plan that suits your family situation and personal needs. Working with a professional will give you peace of mind and you will spend much less up front and save tens of thousands of dollars and endless hours of trying to learn everything on your own.


Tip #2 Purchase long term care insurance, if you can afford it. Many policies use to be for only 3 years, now you will see five year plans and more affordable spousal options. Nevertheless, shorter plans can still be good deals and useful planning tools if you have family support for home care.


Tip #3 Professional long-term care planning tools include: personal dependency, medical deductions, home transfers after accounting for basis and capital gain issues, annuities, converting interest income, domestic help, sale of property, sale of the home, owner financing, purchasing a new home or condo, commercial and family held reverse mortgages, owner occupancy rules and using a Medicaid waiver on the back side, partial sales, gift tax rules, life estates, private pay using long-term care insurance and other options, Medicare, Veterans Benefits, Medicaid, dozens of spend-down strategies, promissory notes, student loan forgiveness, life insurance loans and cash ins, legal separations and divorce, QDROs, bankruptcy, income trusts, special needs trusts, housekeeping and caregiving contracts, and various asset transfer options including special consideration for IRAs, 401K, deferred pension plans and other retirement plans. One plan does not fit all situations. Be wary of the source of your legal information. I’ve had the family insurance man cost clients $8,000 on a preneed burial, an elder’s home sold when a lawyer gifted it to a son who then lost his job and declared bankruptcy, and an entire estate gobbled up by listening to the next door neighbor.


Tip #4 Consider a caregiver contract with children or others where you pay for necessary services. Such contracts need to be in writing and comply with all aspects of the law including state and federal earned income rules and mandatory withholdings.


Tip #5 Disability and long-term care needs can come at any age, this is not just a senior issue, and therefore having good legal documents is the foundation of any plan. All powers of attorneys and wills should be reviewed for adequacy. Often old documents or those prepared by non-elder law or estate planning specialists fail to include language to deal with the IRS, gifting, specifics on the description of real property that may be sold or financed that a title insurance company may prefer, and have accounting provisions to safeguard your financial assets.


21 “Mobile Friendly” Elder Care / Senior Care Directories


If you need help in planning for and/or dealing with this legal matter or with any Elder Care / Senior Care issue, you can find the help you need in one of the following 21Mobile Friendly” Elder Care / Senior Care Directories. These Elder Care / Senior Care – specific Directories are sponsored by the National ElderCare Matters Alliance, an organization of thousands of America’s TOP Elder Care / Senior Care Professsionals who help families plan for and deal with a wide range of Elder Care Matters.




Long Term Care Planning

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Pet Trusts - planning for your pets in your estate

Would you please provide some information about pet trusts?


Some animals are undoubtedly beloved pets. They provide us with love and companionship, while there are other animals that are more than pets. For example, horses are an investment, they are a partner in exercise, they help some children with therapy and a comrade to see the world with if you ever had the distinct pleasure of exploring the wilderness on horseback. Seeing eye dogs or other therapeutically trained animals are literal life savers in some cases. All of these animals are deserving of the full legal protections that you can provide to them. Pet trusts are not tools reserved for the rich and eccentric. As of 2012, 46 states (and the District of Columbia) have laws in effect that allow for pet trusts. In 1996, the New York legislature enacted NY EPTL § 7-8.1, which allows for the care of any pet or animal by way of a trust, which terminates when the beneficiary animal dies. In fact, pet trusts are so popular and well ingrained in the law, that there is a model, uniform law, found at Uniform Trust Code 402. Pet trusts are now practically commonplace.


WILL VERSUS TRUST


There are some distinct issues that you will need to address if planning for your pet. The first is whether you want to plan for your pet in your will or create a trust. If you address the matter in your will, it is generally more inexpensive and easier to plan for. Wills, however, dispose of property, they do not impose enforceable promises upon the caretaker. Wills are more likely to be invalidated by a Court and wills only fund for the caretaking of the pet one time. If you have an expensive animal, such as a horse, you may need to insure continued funding and care. Trusts generally require more planning and involvement in its creation, but allow a greater degree of peace of mind and assurance that your wishes will be carried out. Trusts allow for a stream of income over time. If the trustee or caretaker is unable to fulfill their obligation the law allows for a Court to appoint another trustee or caretaker. In addition, you do not need to wait for the trust to be administered as you do a will.


ISSUES TO ADDRESS


There are several issues that best practice dictate you should address, whether you choose a will or trust.


Ownership: Pets are property, hence the need for an owner. A trust document can still control even with a third party owning the pet.


Financing: Paying for a pet rabbit is easy. This issue rears itself for more expensive animals such as a horse or exotic animals. You should also take into account the medical care for the pet. Horse owners know that horses even have their own dentists. If you have an large animal, transportation is necessary. Additional insurance costs may be incurred to transport them. The caretaker’s homeowners policy may increase or require a separate liability policy.


Remainder beneficiary: If there is money left in the trust when the animal passes, who gets that money?


Income generated: If the pet is also an investment, such as allowing for stud fees, who receives the income?


Whatever your decision, it will require legal counsel to guide your decision every step of the way. Only an experienced estate planning attorney should be considered for these decisions.


21 “Mobile Friendly” Elder Care / Senior Care Directories


If you need help in planning for and/or dealing with this legal matter or with any Elder Care / Senior Care issue, you can find the help you need in one of the following 21Mobile Friendly” Elder Care / Senior Care Directories. These Elder Care / Senior Care – specific Directories are sponsored by the National ElderCare Matters Alliance, an organization of thousands of America’s TOP Elder Care / Senior Care Professsionals who help families plan for and deal with a wide range of Elder Care Matters.



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Pet Trusts - planning for your pets in your estate