Massachusetts Estate Planning & Asset Protection Blog

Dennis Sullivan & Associates

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Signing Documents During the Covid-19 Crisis

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Thu, Apr 02, 2020

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We’re writing this in the midst of a public health emergency the likes of which the world hasn’t seen in over 100 years. The shutdown of nonessential businesses, and the stay at home order by Governor Charlie Baker has caused widespread interruptions, disruptions and has affected everyone in the Commonwealth. 

Given the nature of our practice, we are receiving calls from concerned clients and family members.  We hear from home who have  loved ones in facilities but can’t visit them and are concerned about the spread of the virus there.  We are talking to many each day that are prioritizing long term care and estate planning.   

As we always explain to clients and prospects, the basic legal tools that we use to help clients begin with legal documents: a power of attorney, health care directive, will and often trusts.  The signing of these documents must conform to certain legal requirements.  Most documents require signing in the presence of a notary public, while the will requires two witness and a notary public  (The health care directive can be signed before two witnesses).  

For the overwhelming majority of our clients the signings occur in our office.  On occasion we visit clients at home or in the facilities where they reside if they cannot come to us.  

When Governor Baker signed an executive order directing citizens to stay home and President Trump directed citizens to practice social distancing, we could not conduct these signings in the normal way.  As a result, we temporarily postponed some signing appointments that had been scheduled already, and made alternate “social distancing signings” for others who felt that signing immediately was critical.  This past week, Attorney Greta Atchinson conducted a no-touch signing in the parking lot, with the client in her car, the trustee in another car, and witnesses in yet another car (Greta had an umbrella and her notary stamp). Adding to the difficulty, was the cold, pouring rain. Greta hopes this is the last of the parking lot signings she has to perform in this pandemic. It was critical to our client that she sign her estate plan, and we’re committed to helping our clients.

For the time being we have severely restricted in person meetings.  This is a must for the safety of our clients and employees and in compliance with the law.  But for how much longer?  As I write this President Trump has extended the social distancing requirement for another 30 days until April 30 and Governor Bakers’s order has been extended until May.  Medical experts believe we have not reached the peak of the pandemic yet and this could take us through the summer and beyond.

We do know, unfortunately, that the spread of Covid-19 does not mean that the need for long term care stops.  Our clients and their families still have to solve the problem of getting care for loved ones and paying for it.  Which leads me back to the issue of document signing.  We do not know how long it will take to get back to “business as usual” so we must look for an alternative so we can help clients navigate the long term care process.

Governor Cuomo has temporarily modified New York’s law to permit signing of legal documents to be done via video conferencing.  A bill  “An Act Relative to Remote Notarization During COVID-19 State of Emergency” has been proposed in Massachusetts in both houses of the legislature to allow video conferencing and notarization, but it has not yet been passed.  We ask that you contact your representatives and urge them to pass Bill SD 2882 and HD 4999.  Find your legislator here: https://malegislature.gov/search/findmylegislator and let them know you support remote notarization during this difficult time. 

We are hopeful that the legislature will take action in the next week to pass these bills so that people can safely update and establish vital legal documents.

Questions or Concerns? Email Education@DSullivan.com. We are here to help you and your family.

Please click here to view our latest update on Covid-19 Emergency Life, Health and Estate Planning Decisions to make right now. 

 

REGISTER NOW for our FREE discovery webinar:

Life and Estate Planning during the Covid-19 Pandemic  

Call 1-800-964-4295 or click here to register online.

 

*** Attention members of our Lifetime and Legacy Protection Plan, we will be in touch soon with the schedule for our upcoming exclusive series:

Unpacking your Core Values and Creating your Legacy.
What it can mean for you, your life, estate and legacy plan and your Family for generations     
- featuring Dr. Nancy Gaulin, PsyD MBA

 

Tags: technology, power of attorney, trust, Wills, in home, health, medical, proposed changes, new regulations, healthcare proxy, HIPPA release, covid-19

C19 UPDATE: EMERGENCY LIFE, HEALTH & ESTATE PLANNING DECISIONS TO MAKE RIGHT NOW

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Tue, Mar 31, 2020

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C19 UPDATE: Emergency Decisions to Make Right Now: 

Though it may be hard not to panic when the grocery store shelves are empty, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 keeps rising, and we see sobering statistics across the globe … we will not overcome this challenge with a panicked response.

Nonetheless, there are certain things we all need to be doing right now – and your public health officials are the best resource on how to stay personally safe and help prevent the virus from spreading.

When it comes to the seriousness of this outbreak, however, there also are some critical estate planning decisions you should make – or review – right now.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Who will make medical decisions for me should I become severely ill and unable to make these decisions myself?
  2. Who will make my financial decisions in that same situation — for example, who will be authorized to sign my income tax return, write checks or pay my bills online?
  3. Who is authorized to take care of my minor children in the event of my severe illness? What decisions are they authorized to make? How will they absorb the financial burden?
  4. If the unthinkable happens – what arrangements have I made for the care of my minor children, any family members with special needs, my pets or other vulnerable loved ones?
  5. How will my business continue if I were to become seriously ill and unable to work, even remotely … or in the event of my death?
  6. How can I protect my home, spouse and life savings if I needed a nursing home? 

These are the most personal decisions to make right now to protect yourself and your loved ones during this emergency. Now is also a good time to ask yourself if you have plans in place for the smooth transfer of your assets and preservation of your legacy.

We are here for clients as well as friends, family, neighbors and the community in which we live and serve to help you discover where problems exist now as well as your opportunities for improvement. With our unique counseling you will understand the ramifications of your choices, so you are confident to sign your critical life, disability, estate, elder law and asset protection plans with the mandatory legal documents.

ALL OF OUR clients receive a wallet card for 24/7 emergency health care access for who to call in and emergency as well as the electronic 24/7 access to the required legal documents for EMTs and emergency health workers to speak with them on you’re and your family’s behalf. This applies to any one 18 years of age and older. We are currently providing BOTH remote education and counseling discovery sessions conferences for your convenience. Schedule a call now and let us help you make the right choices for yourself and your loved ones.

We are ready to help walk you through these decisions, understand the ramifications of your choices, and memorialize your plans in binding legal documents. We are currently providing BOTH remote discovery education and counseling sessions for your convenience. Schedule your unique 19-point discovery and personal counseling session now.

It is our goal to provide our clients with the highest level of legal services in the areas of Last Will and Testaments, Living Trusts, Protective Trusts, Irrevocable Trusts, Estate Planning, Probate, Asset Protection, and complete Business Planning. If you or someone you know needs information on Massachusetts Estate, Elder Law and Asset Protection Planning, please register today for your personalized discovery and review counseling  sessions at 800-964-4295 or on line at DSullivan.com. Now is the time   to gain control and peace of mind with your unique 19 Point Trust Estate and Asset Protection Review Discovery Counseling and Protection Process. You will even be eligible for our Lifetime Protection Program, developed and improved over 14 years of service for Massachusetts and Metro West families helping them protect their home, spouse, family, legacy and life savings for generations.

Tags: Estate Planning, Elder Law, Elder Law Attorney, Estate Planning Attorney, covid-19

Reinvesting Your Wealth: 9 Ways to Use Your Tax Refund

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Tue, Mar 10, 2020

With tax season here, many individuals are looking forward to receiving a tax refund soon. However, while it is nice to spend the extra funds on vacations and material things, reinvesting your wealth into your retirement savings, contributing to your bills, or updating important legal documents might be the more important route. Here are a few suggestions on what to do with this money:

1. PREPAY MORTGAGES AND LOANS. This might seem like a huge commitment in the beginning, but it can be worth it in the end, depending on what your needs are. In this case, it is best to consider where you stand financially. If you have recently downsized to a smaller home with your spouse, you may want to use your tax refund to get a head start on paying off your mortgage, which may be one of the largest expenses you owe every month. In addition, think about any outstanding loans you have.

2. REINVEST IN YOUR HOME BY MAKING HOME IMPROVEMENTS.This is a great step to take if you are aiming to sell your home in the near future. After all, remodeling can increase your resale value if done correctly. Also, keep in mind that certain home improvements can be tax-deductible, so consider this as you begin to plan which changes you want to make.

3.INVEST IN YOUR CHILD OR GRANDCHILD’S EDUCATION. Although paying off your own expenses is nice, you might also want to think about contributing to your child or grandchild’s college fund while you have the ability to do so. One of the tax planning strategies we suggest to our clients is utilizing a tax-advantaged 529 plan, which will give you the ability to pre-fund an education with $70,000. With a 529 plan, your money can also grow tax-free as long as the money is used for tuition. Keep in mind that if your child or grandchild chooses not to pursue a college education, you still have control of these funds.

4. PAY OFF HIGH CREDIT CARD DEBT. The U.S. credit card debt has reached $930 billion, and many individuals are having a difficult time meeting their payments. With that being said, consider using your tax refund to help pay off some of your debt, especially if your card has a high-interest rate. If you own multiple cards, spend time going through each one to see what you owe. It is incredibly important that you have a plan on how to pay off this debt instead of letting it sit for months and months.

5.PUT MONEY AWAY FOR EMERGENCIES. If you are still working, you are probably already taking advantage of an emergency fund. If not, make this a priority! Increase your dollars in this area by utilizing some of the money you received from your tax refund. It is better to be prepared now for an emergency than to worry later.

6.INCREASE YOUR 401 (K) CONTRIBUTION.As you may already know, contributions made to a 401 (k) are all done on a pre-tax basis. This is also true of pensions, IRA’s, 457 plans, 403 (b) accounts, and profit-sharing accounts. Because the money in a 401 (k) account is contributed on a pre-tax basis, your taxable income is reduced. Furthermore, you should contribute as much as you can to this retirement savings account. This year, you can contribute up to $19,500. With that being said, discuss with your employer what percentage of your salary they will match, and try to meet this amount. If, for good reason, you have reached the contribution limit, consider investing your tax refund into your IRA or another retirement savings account.

7.CONTRIBUTE TO YOUR IRA. According to a 2020 TD Ameritrade report, one out of five Americans in their 70’s has less than $50,000 saved for retirement. While it is recommended that you contribute what you can to your individual retirement account (IRA) every month through earned income, some individuals may find this to be challenging, especially if you have outstanding balances that require your attention. With your next tax refund, think about using it to fund your retirement.

8.CONTRIBUTE TO YOUR HEALTH SAVINGS ACCOUNT. A health savings account (HSA) is an excellent way to put aside your funds (pre-tax) in order to pay for your medical bills. Knowing how expensive hospital visits and doctors’ appointments are, this could be a great option. If you currently invest in one, consider adding some of your funds here. According to healthcare.gov, for the 2020 year, the maximum amount of money you can contribute is $3,500 for self-only coverage, and a maximum of $7,000 for family coverage.

9.CREATE OR UPDATE YOUR LEGAL DOCUMENTS.Surprisingly, only 47.9% of adults age 55 or older have estate planning documents. With that being said cost may play a factor; there is often a hefty fee associated with updating or establishing essential legal documents such as a living will, power of attorney, and medical directives. For example, if you are creating a will for the first time with the help of a lawyer, you may be paying between $300 and $1,000. If you have the extra funds to spare from your tax return, consider making this a priority. These documents are not only beneficial for you to have, but they are also beneficial for your family.Stay open-minded. With that being said, these six points are just a few common suggestions, so do not only stick with these if you have other ideas for how to utilize your tax return funds. Everyone has different needs, and it is important that you consider this when it comes to helping yourself and your family. Let us know what you think about these tips in the comments below. Also, how have you reinvested your tax-return before? What advice would you share with others when it comes to this topic? If you have further questions about how to protect your home, spouse, and life savings… attend a FREE discovery workshop by calling 1-800-964-4295 (24/7) or visit DSullivan.com – Reservations Required.

Tags: Tax Bill, 2020

What ‘Legacy’ Means in 2020

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Tue, Feb 25, 2020

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What ‘Legacy’ Means in 2020

 

The concept of legacy can take on a lot of different meanings.

On one level, it can be seen as a purely financial concern. The assets and capital you have worked so hard to accumulate and save over a lifetime. For much of the 20th century, that’s how legacy was defined in this country. It was the funds you were able to pass down to your children and grandchildren.

But that definition is changing, in part as the American definition of retirement is changing as well.

Think about this: At the turn of the 20th century, the average life expectancy at birth was about 47 years. Today, it has nearly doubled. That means the average American retirement is now over 20 years. Great news for all of us, to be sure, but longer lives present us with more challenges and transitions in during our lifetimes than those who came before us. Because of this, we need to plan and prepare a life plan for a successful life and legacy. This is why we developed our Lifetime and Legacy Protection Program.

A modest retirement account was, not too long ago, enough to support a retiree who might need to live 5-10 years on that savings. But what happens when we need resources to live for 15, 20, even 30 years or more? That’s a new kind of life planning and saving challenge.

This becomes especially challenging when you understand financially or economically, depending on your perspective, that all this is happening at the same time that retirement funding is moving from employer pensions and other defined-benefit plans to a system based instead on Individual Retirement Accounts, 401(k)s and other forms of personal savings, as well as spiraling medical and long-term care costs. We also know that the state, federal and local laws continue to change, along with personal and family changes at an ever increasing pace. Most people do not even realize that the new SECURE Act accelerates taxes on inherited IRA and retirement plans.

Not to mentioning the increasing size of student loans due to the funding required for advanced educations as well as the national, state and local  debt service costs being passed on to our children and grandchildren. Perhaps it’s the RIGHT TIME NOW to take stock of your American Values to pass on to the future generations who very much will need to embrace the values that got you and your family and friends to where they are today. It has been said that life, nature, stock markets experience cycles. As we all look ahead, we should ask what can we do for our family our communities, country and world in which we and our children and generations to follow will live in the years, decades and centuries to come?

There are many challenges that affect your financial, legal and personal life and legacy. Your legacy responsibilities are expanding to include a number of new considerations that may well have been ignored as recently as a generation ago, as explained in our new collaborative   resource, “Your American Legacy.” This new resource will be available in March for members of our Legacy and Lifetime Protection Program. We will be also hosting a member only event ”Unpacking  your Core Values and Creating your Legacy What it can Mean for you, your life, estate and legacy plan and your Family for Generations” at 10 AM and 2 PM on March 19th at the Estate Planning and Asset  Protection  Center in Wellesley, located  next door to the new Boston Sports Institute.

The important chapters include – probate planning, saving on taxes and establish the base of the pyramid revealed, both legally and financially – combines everything that our clients and other soon-to-be retirees need to know, making it an invaluable resource for helping people protect their home, spouse, family, communities and life savings. The Estate Planning Asset Protection Law Center of Dennis Sullivan & Associates is proud to provide, “Your American Legacy”. In addition, you will discover the core values important to you and ensure they are reflected in your life, estate and legacy plan.  This is an important resource to help discover and prevent problems which result in 86% of all trust and estate plans being out of date!

You don’t need to be an entrepreneur or an attorney or CPA to have something important to pass on. The modern definition of legacy, as defined in, “Your American Legacy”, includes:

Personal Values:We help people to focus on and prioritize their core personal values, in their legacy plans. Your personal legacy includes how you’ve lived your life and the lessons that you would like to pass on to family, friends, and those you care about.  Whether it be on the financial side, an investment, education, thrift or getting along with family, we can help you accomplish your goals and highlight your values.  

Professional Legacy: We don’t spend 30-40 plus years in the “Professional” workforce just to let all of that experience and learning disappear when we die. For many, there is significant value in passing down your values and approach to work, life, education, and the dedication to hard work and sacrifice to those just coming up. For example, the real workforce starts for some at age 5 or 6 helping grandparents and others in the neighborhood. You may wish to obtain a copy of The Millionaire Next Door by Dr. Thomas Stanley for yourself and or people you care about.

Community Impact: Every one of us is part of something bigger than ourselves. It may just be our family, but it can also be our neighborhood, our town, our city, our country and more. The point is, we all have community. Our place in our communities is part of our legacy as well.

Truth is, there is far more opportunity and responsibility to legacy today than just dollars and cents. And that is why we do what we do. Our team provides a unique education and counseling approach including helpful resources to help people to protect and pass on their entire legacy as well for the future of their lifetime, their families, and generations to come, not just the financial and tax consideration of “legacy”.

We hope this is helpful. If you or others need help and guidance that is what our team at the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center of Dennis Sullivan & Associates is here for.

In order to discover more about protecting your home, spouse, family, lifesavings and legacy for your lifetime and beyond, please call 800-964-4295 to learn more how you can apply these lessons to your own lifetime and legacy plan. We look forward to helping you and your family and thank you for your trust and consideration.

Tags: legacy, 2020

Does My Living Trust and Estate Plan Need to be Fixed?

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Thu, Feb 06, 2020

Final Sullivan Newsletter Prospects 1-20202

From the Files of the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center of Dennis Sullivan & Associates
A couple from the  Metro West, concerned about all the tax and health care changes taking place in 2020, put together the following list for us to review: Safeguards for incapacity; Protection for children’s inheritance from creditors and/or divorce; New tax provisions for married couples resulting in completely avoidable taxes; and Unprotected IRA’s & retirement accounts.
Our clients do not have to question if their Estate & Asset Protection Plan is viable, they know it is! Our clients have peace of mind knowing we continually monitor their plans throughout the years to identify when updates are needed. Our unique “19 Point Trust Estate and Asset Protection Review” allows us to identify and monitor these updates. Everyone with a home, life savings, a cause they care about, and/or people they want to protect, love our exclusive “Lifetime Protection Program”. Our Law Center has over 42 years of experience both as Estate and Asset Protection Attorneys and also as Certified Public Accountants. We have been providing the “Lifetime Protection Program” for many clients for more than a decade since inception. This program gives continual guidance and protection for families, spouses, children and grandchildren for generations.
 
The Estate Planning and Asset Protection Law Center of Dennis Sullivan & Associates is a proud member of The Wealth Counsel, Elder Counsel, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Massachusetts Society of CPAs, and we have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. We possess the knowledge, tools, contacts, and expertise to grant you peace of mind for a lifetime.
 
Retirement Benefit Income tax acceleration with recent law changes. Our federal estate tax applicable exclusion is at $11.58 million up from $11.4 million in 2019. In Massachusetts we have plenty of couples paying estate tax on every dollar over $1 million resulting in excess avoidable taxes on children, grandchildren and those you care about. It comes down to this question. Would you rather leave a legacy of excess avoidable taxes, OR contribute to the well-being of your spouse, children and causes you hold dearest?
 
ATTENTION: If Your Living Trust is 3+ Years old it May be Outdated!
 
Contact us about a personalized complimentary discovery review session (normally $750)
To schedule your family’s Trust, Estate and Asset Protection Review Call 800-964-4295 or visit DSullivan.com to register online.
Question: How do you take control of the situation and protect a lifetime of hard work and savings for you and your family?
Answer(s):
 
-Register online or call to attend a live workshop and discover how your plan stacks up. You will even obtain guidance to get you and your family on track now and remain protected in the years ahead!
-Request a copy of our proprietary “19 Point Trust Estate and Asset Protection Guide” along with a companion DVD. We have developed a unique education and counseling process that helps families now and for generations to follow.
Call 800-964- 4295 (24/7) or visit DSullivan.com now to protect your home, spouse, family and life savings.

Tags: 2020, living trusts

Leap Year Facts 2020

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Thu, Feb 06, 2020

Final Sullivan Newsletter Prospects 1-2020

The Julian calendar was devised by Julius Caesar and Greek astronomer Sosigenes of Alexandria. At this point in history, the traditional Roman calendar had fallen out of sync with the seasons. At Caesar’s request, Sosigenes reformed it. One major change was the implementation of leap years: Every fourth year, February would receive an extra day. This was meant to keep the new calendar in alignment with the Earth’s position relative to the Sun. Unfortunately, the whole system fell prey to a miscalculation and ended up including too many leap years.

By 1577, the Julian calendar had fallen 10 days out of alignment, meaning important Christian holidays weren’t being celebrated on the proper dates. This prompted Pope Gregory XIII to take action. A commission was established to modify the old calendar and upgrade the leap year system. Thus, the new and improved Gregorian calendar was born. It was first implemented in 1582, and we’re still using it today.

People born on the 29th of February are called leaplings or leapers. 

Anthony, Texas is the self-proclaimed "Leap Year Capital of the World". It holds a festival which includes a guided trip to Aztec Cave, "fun at the horse farm" and square dancing.

 

Tags: 2020

Critical Estate Planning Considerations In The New Year

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Thu, Feb 06, 2020

The New Year is an exciting time when we can come together with our loved ones and set our goals for the upcoming year. From healthy lifestyle changes and setting new financial goals to spending more time with family or planning for retirement, the New Year holds special meaning to each of us. As you already know, this year is special as this New Year marks not just the start of a new year, but the start of a new decade.
 
As you reflect on the resolutions you have set for yourself for 2020, we ask you how many of them, if any, focus on your estate planning? Unfortunately, we see year in and year out that many of our clients do not make their estate plans a priority. Instead, they treat their planning as a “one time” issue and do not revisit it each year to ensure that it reflects their goals.
There are significant issues with this type of thinking. While the goal is for your estate plan to help you through any and all circumstances, things change. These could be changes in your personal life or your financial planning, but they could also originate with both the federal and state laws that govern your planning. The key is to be proactive and frequently check in with your estate planning attorney to ensure that your goals for yourself, your loved ones, your business, and your legacy, may still be achieved.
In fact, you may not realize that over 86% of trust agreements do not work. You may find this to be a staggering statistic, and we would agree with you. What could, perhaps, be the bigger question is: Why do they fail? This New Year, we want you to make it a priority to learn the issues behind many trust agreements that we see. In fact, you may discover where problems typically exist and the opportunities you have to improve your planning with our free guide. Just click this link to access it right now, at no charge! www.estateplanandassetprotection.com/10-biggest-estate-and-asset-protection-make
 
We know this can be concerning to read. After all, when you worked with your estate planning attorney provides you with the ability to identify and fix hidden mistakes in existing planning. It may surprise you to learn that during this review, either on your own or with us in our office, we often find more than 9 mistakes!
If you do not have a plan, we will help you develop a plan based on your personal goals and objectives. The key is to not put off this critical planning this New Year. We do not just create trust documents. Instead, most importantly, we help people discover, review, and analyze estate plans to make sure that their existing plan can provide them with peace of mind and the level of protection that they would like for themselves and their family.
We even go one step further because we are committed to ensuring that you are protected in all circumstances. We provide Discovery Workshops that you may register for to learn more about our unique process and what you truly need. These are free workshops on trust, estate, and asset protection. You are welcome to register by calling 800-964-4295 or registering on www.DSullivan.com.
 
Do not let these opportunities pass you by. Start the New Year by taking control of your estate planning and your legacy and lifetime protections.

Tags: Estate Planning Tip, 2020

Tips for Visiting an Elder Loved One with Dementia at Their Nursing Home

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Sun, Jan 26, 2020

P42.Sullivan.Dec2Research tells us that nearly every American family today has been touched by dementia, including its most common form of Alzheimer’s Disease. Dementia cuts across every social and economic demographic, and currently impacts millions of seniors and their loved ones. It is characterized by severe memory loss, diminished communication skills, and poor judgment. Each of these issues can make family relationships more complicated and challenging. We know that this can cause additional frustration at all times throughout the year, but especially during the holiday season and winter.  

No matter what memory issues your loved one is facing, there is no reason to avoid visiting an elder loved one with dementia at his or her nursing home. Know that seniors with dementia can still enjoy visits from family and friends in the moment, regardless of whether they will remember it later. The point is that spending quality time with them contributes to their well-being and offers you the opportunity to experience time with loved ones.

There are considerations, however, that you need to think about before visiting a loved one in a skilled facility. What are the hours for visiting? Are there restrictions to what you can bring? Are there triggers that can upset your loved one? Let us share several tips to consider when visiting.

First, plan ahead and coordinate with nursing home staff to not interrupt the elder person’s routine or activity time. Bring them thoughtful items, like flowers, pictures, familiar objects and even favorite foods, if the dietitian agrees. Introduce yourself to your loved one’s caregivers and announce your presence, “Hi Mom, it’s me, Mary.” If your loved one seems agitated, speak in soothing tones about the weather or other mundane topics to divert his or her attention and create rapport.

It can be helpful to pre-plan a list of things to talk about, as it is likely the elder adult won’t have much information to share. Introducing light activities can also keep the visit flowing smoothly. Consider taking them on a walk around the nursing home facility or sit on a bench in a garden, if the facility has one and it is safe for your loved one to go outside. Remember, some dementia patients are prone to wandering and they may need to remain in a safe environment.

Photo albums or Facebook pictures can stimulate conversation and spark memories. A visit is also an opportunity to gauge the elder loved one’s health and access potential warning signs of elder abuse. Unfortunately, seniors with dementia are particularly vulnerable to physical abuse, neglect, and theft because they are unlikely to remember or be believed. =

There is never a wrong time to visit loved ones in a skilled nursing facility. We know this article may raise more questions than it answers.

For more on nursing home, health care decision-making documents and planning for the future, attend one of our free Trust, Estate and Asset Protection Seminars.

Do not wait to schedule a meeting with our experienced long-term care team on any of the elder law questions you have. We are here for you to help you navigate this process.

Tags: assisted living, seniors, family, Skilled Care

Critical Estate Planning Considerations In The New Year

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Fri, Jan 24, 2020

P42.Sullivan.JanBlog1January is an exciting time when we can come together with our loved ones and set our goals for the upcoming year. From healthy lifestyle changes and setting new financial goals to spending more time with family or planning for retirement, the New Year holds special meaning to each of us. As you already know, this year is special as this New Year marks not just the start of a new year, but the start of a new decade. 

As you reflect on the resolutions you have set for yourself for 2020, we ask you how many of them, if any, focus on your estate planning? Unfortunately, we see year in and year out that many of our clients do not make their estate plans a priority. Instead, they treat their planning as a “one time” issue and do not revisit it each year to ensure that it reflects their goals.

There are significant issues with this type of thinking. While the goal is for your estate plan to help you through any and all circumstances, things change. These could be changes in your personal life or your financial planning, but they could also originate with both the federal and state laws that govern your planning. The key is to be proactive and frequently check in with your estate planning attorney to ensure that your goals for yourself, your loved ones, your business, and your legacy, may still be achieved.

In fact, you may not realize that over 86% of trust agreements do not work. You may find this to be a staggering statistic, and we would agree with you. What could, perhaps, be the bigger question is: Why do they fail? This New Year, we want you to make it a priority to learn the issues behind many trust agreements that we see. In fact, you may discover where problems typically exist and the opportunities you have to improve your planning with our free guide. Just click this link to access it right now, at no charge!

We know this can be concerning to read. After all, when you worked with your estate planning attorney you invested a significant amount of time and money to your plan. You want it to work, and to learn it may not is devastating. This is just one of the reasons why we have developed our own unique estate planning process that combines both education and counseling so that we may understand your planning goals and ensure your estate plan will not fail. You may contact us to schedule a meeting to speak with us personally about your goals and your estate plan.

You do not have to wait, however, for your first meeting with us. You can get started right now. We can provide you with our unique, proven, 19-point analysis of your existing estate plan. Our unique 19-Point Trust, Estate and Asset Protection analysis provides you with the ability to identify and fix hidden mistakes in existing planning. It may surprise you to learn that during this review, either on your own or with us in our office, we often find more than 9 mistakes! 

If you do not have a plan, we will help you develop a plan based on your personal goals and objectives. The key is to not put off this critical planning this New Year. We do not just create trust documents. Instead, most importantly, we help people discover, review, and analyze estate plans to make sure that their existing plan can provide them with peace of mind and the level of protection that they would like for themselves and their family.

We even go one step further because we are committed to ensuring that you are protected in all circumstances. We provide Discovery Workshops that you may register for to learn more about our unique process and what you truly need. These are free workshops on trust, estate, and asset protection. You are welcome to register by calling 800-964-4295 or registering on www.DSullivan.com. 

Do not let these opportunities pass you by. Start the New Year by taking control of your estate planning and your legacy and lifetime protections.

Tags: Estate Planning, Elder Law, estate tax, New Year's Resolutions, Metro West Estate Plan, 2020

Key Considerations for Your Aging Parents in Their First Estate Planning Meeting

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Mon, Dec 16, 2019

P42.Sullivan.DecBlog1Is your parent’s estate plan current? Does it reflect their wishes for what they want for their person, their family, and their legacy, should they become incapacitated or pass away? Unfortunately, today, many estate plans for us, as well as our parents, are not frequently updated and, as a result, are not an accurate reflection of our wishes.

This can be a dangerous proposition. Perhaps even more concerning, however, is when your parents, or you, do not have any estate planning at all. Without planning your parents may be at risk of not being able to choose their decision makers for healthcare and financial decisions, or make plans that create the legacy they want to leave to those they love.

There are numerous reasons why your parents may not have completed their estate planning but we often find it is because people simply put off planning. They get busy, it is not a priority, and they do not realize they need it until it is too late. Our goal is to encourage you to work with your parents to create their estate plan with their attorney, and to address any concerns they may have about this first meeting early on.

The first question your parents may want to ask their attorney is his or her experience in estate planning for elderly clients. Many attorneys do not specialize in estate plans that are designed to meet the special legal needs of elderly couples. Let us share an example with you here.

For instance, the majority of your parents’ assets may be invested in separate Individual Retirement Accounts. If this is a second marriage for your parent, it may not be advisable for the parent to simply name the surviving spouse as the beneficiary of the IRAs. This is because the surviving spouse may not understand the need for naming all of the children of both marriages as the beneficiaries of the survivor’s IRA. Instead, the surviving parent may simply leave all of the first spouse’s IRA with the survivor’s IRA to his or her children as the beneficiary of the combined IRA’s.  Your parents need an attorney experienced in drafting specialized IRA trusts to protect all involved and to reach your parents’ goals.

The second question you parents may want to ask their attorney is about his or her specialized education and training in estate planning. How many years has the attorney specialized in estate planning? What does his or her practice focus on? What about his or her focus on elder law? While initially you may only think of estate planning, bear in mind, elder law encompasses the special needs of the elderly such as Medicaid planning for married couples.  

These are just a few of the questions and ideas we want to share with you as you work with your parents on their estate planning goals. There is never a wrong time to talk to your parents about these issues and the plan forward for the future.

At Dennis Sullivan & Associates we help family plan for the future, and with our lifetime protection program, and our Unique 19 point Trust, Estate & Asset Protection Analysis, we emphasize making sure the estate plan continues to meet the needs of all involved.

To discover what your estate planning options are, attend a free Trust, Estate and Asset Protection Seminar, and speak with one of our attorneys to discuss your goals for yourself, your loved ones, and for your parents.

Tags: Estate Planning, Lifetime Protection Program, Elder Law, seniors, family, trusts, Estate Planning Tip, estate

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