Massachusetts Estate Planning & Asset Protection Blog

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

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

10 Family Caregiver Facts You Probably Did Not Know

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Sun, Nov 24, 2019

P42.Sullivan.NovBlog2November is National Family Caregiving Awareness Month, and there is plenty to learn and celebrate. A family caregiver, sometimes called an informal caregiver, is an unpaid relative of a dependent person, such as a parent, adult child or spouse. They can also be friends, neighbors, and other compassionate care providers of dependent people, young and old. Their immense social contributions first sparked the month-long awareness campaign in 1994, and every U.S. president since has embraced them.


In honor of family caregivers around the country, let us share 10 facts you should know this November, and throughout the year.

 

  1. There were nearly 44 million Americans who provided unpaid care to a dependent loved one over the past 12 months.

 

  1. Family caregivers account for a critical social safety net for millions of vulnerable people worth an estimated $470 billion in economic value every year.

 

  1. Even with access to hospitals and social welfare programs, families typically bear the brunt of providing everyday care to those in need.

 

  1. About 75 percent of all family caregivers are female, and they spend as much as 50 percent more time providing care than male caregivers.

 

  1. The average age of a family caregiver is 49 years old.

 

  1. The average duration of a family caregiver’s role is about 4 years, although a quarter of all caregivers provide dependent care for more than 5 years.

 

  1. On average, family caregivers spend about 24 hours per week providing care, and nearly 1 in 4 caregivers spends at least 41 hours providing dependent care.

 

  1. Forty-six percent of family caregivers perform medical and nursing tasks.

 

  1. Ninety-six percent of caregivers help with daily living activities, such as personal hygiene, dressing and bathing, as well as so-called instrumental activities like administering medicines, grocery shopping and transportation. 

 

Surveys show unpaid caregivers suffer, on average, a 26 percent reduction in positive activities in their daily lives as a result of their caregiving responsibilities, and the effect is three times greater in their personal lives than in their professional lives.

Caring for a dependent loved one is an act of sacrifice and compassion. There are resources and options available for caregivers who need support. Do not wait to attend a seminar to learn more information on how we can help you at this time.

Tags: Estate Planning, non-family caregivers, family, Estate Planning Tip, caretaker, care costs

The Ins and Outs of VA Pension

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Sat, Nov 23, 2019

P42.Sullivan.NovBlog1Did you know there have been significant revisions to the non-service connected pension rules? The Department of Veterans Affairs has issued new rule changes regarding the eligibility for a wartime veteran and his or her surviving spouse’s non-service connected pension. The new rules apply if the veteran had 90 days or more of active duty, one day of which was during wartime. 

These new rules began October 18, 2018. The new rules provide that the claimant and his or her spouse cannot have countable assets in excess of $126,420. An exception is if the claimant’s primary residence does not exceed two acres, unless the additional acreage is not marketable. It does not matter that the claimant is not residing in his or her primary residence or is renting the primary residence. The rental income, however, will be counted for IVAC purposes. 

The new rules also impose a 36 month look-back period for transferred assets. The transfer of a countable asset during the 36 month period before applying for assistance will trigger a penalty period up to 5 years. In calculating the length of the penalty period, the value of the covered asset is divided by the annual pension rate for a veteran in need of aid and attendance with one dependent and divided by 12. 

The penalty period begins on the first day of the month that follows the date of the transfer. The penalty period can last up to five years. Fortunately, the new rule provides that if some or all of the claimant’s countable assets are returned to the claimant before the date of the claim for VA assistance or within 60 days after the date of the disqualification notice, then the VA will recalculate or eliminate the penalty period. 

Further, the purchase of an annuity after October 18, 2018, within 36 months of the date of the application for VA assistance will give rise to this penalty period. Certain purchased annuities that can be liquidated are not considered a transfer that will be penalized. In addition, the pension benefit is reduced to $90 a month if the veteran is in a nursing home and is being provided Medicaid services.

This is an important resource that is available to servicemen and women, as well as their dependents. To learn more about Veterans' Benefits, nursing home coverage and community-based care, sign up for a free seminar Today.  Do not wait to learn more with Dennis Sullivan & Associates to discover how you may be able to help you and your loved ones.

Tags: veterans benefits, wartime veteran, Veteran, Estate Planning Tip, Massachusetts, Estate Planning Recommendations, Dennis Sullivan

5 Questions to Ask When Updating Your Estate Plan in the New Year 2019

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Mon, Jan 07, 2019

P42.Sullivan.Blog.Dec1Creating a personalized estate plan may be the single most important thing you can do to make sure your decisions are honored if you become incapacitated or when you pass away. If you do not have an estate plan right now, or it has been years since you reviewed it, the new year may be the right time to ensure you are able to protect yourself and those you love most.

Much of estate planning deals with protecting and distributing property. A Last Will and Testament, for example, provides instructions for how a deceased person’s possessions should be distributed. Similarly, a Revocable Trust can direct the distribution of assets upon one’s death, although it can also manage the creator’s assets while he or she is alive.

There is much more to estate planning than Wills and Trusts, however, and your estate planning attorney can provide plenty of guidance. Let us share five questions to ask not only when you are considering crafting an estate plan but if you are updating an existing plan in the new year.

 

  1. Did you move to a different state? Every state has its own laws governing estate planning. Some features in an existing plan will be unaffected, while some key items may need to be revised. Do not wait to review with an estate planning attorney in your new state to ensure your plans can be fulfilled as you originally wanted them to be.

 

  1. Do any of your beneficiaries have special needs? If a special needs loved one is named in your estate plan, then it is worth exploring ways of specifically providing for them, especially after you are gone. Unfortunately, without planning that contemplates the needs of your disabled loved one, he or she may be at risk of losing valuable government benefits.

 

  1. Do you need to update a power of attorney? A power of attorney document gives someone else the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf. The document can be tailored to meet your specific needs, or provide for general decision making authority. Talk to your attorney to ensure there is a durability provision to cover the possibility of your incapacitation.

 

  1. Have you considered advanced healthcare directives? Advanced healthcare directives, including tools such as the living will, are legal documents in which a person specifies what actions are to be taken regarding his or her health if he or she is no longer able to make decisions. You may want to review any existing plans to ensure you have the right person named to make your healthcare decisions.

 

  1. Do you want to change beneficiaries? A marriage, a death in the family, a divorce, or the birth of new child or grandchild, are only a few reasons to update beneficiary designations in estate planning documents. You may also want to add a charity or a cause you care about. The new year is a great time to do so.

 Do not wait to think about the estate planning you need to protect yourself and your loved ones. Although the new year can be a great time to get things in order, remember, there is never a “wrong” time to ensure you have the planning you need. Do not wait to contact us with your questions and to schedule your attendance at one of our free Trust, Estate and Asset Protection Workshops.

Tags: asset protection, long term care, Retirement, Estate Planning, Baby Boomers, Elder Law, HIPAA, durable power of attorney, Health Care, health care proxy, seniors, estate tax, family, New Year's Resolutions, Estate Planning Tip, 2019

Understanding Long Term Care Planning

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Fri, Jan 19, 2018

Facing the enormity of long term care, whether it is the financial, healthcare, emotional or psychological issues, it is so overwhelming. 

It's needs a team effort!  With the help of family, friends and our team here at Dennis Sullivan and Associates you can make the enormity of long term care manageable 

 

What exactly is "Long Term Care Planning" ? 

Here's one way to look at long term care planning: 

In today’s world, the question is no longer only, “What happens when I die?, but now we need to plan for “What happens if I live?” An estate plan covers the scenario of, What happens when I die.  But long term care covers a large variety of other factors and scenarios that sometime families forget to consider such as what happens if I live but am not healthy and have increased health-care costs and need to rely on others for assistance, either temporarily or on a permanent basis. The estate plan does not address this need. An estate plan can help you answer the first question, but a long-term care plan can help you answer both the first and second questions. Let’s put it another way. An estate plan insures that if you have assets when you die they will be passed in the manner you wish. The key word is “if.” The plan will not, however, guarantee that there will be anything left at that time to pass. Your assets could be mostly or entirely wiped out by a lengthy illness, hospital, and/or nursing home stay, leaving your spouse and other heirs with nothing.

 long Term Care and Medicaid:

I had a conversation last week with a married couple for whom we are preparing a Medicaid application. John is in a nursing home, and Mary is healthy and living at home. I explained to them that Mary can keep half of their countable assets, in their case $75,000, but that they must spend down to below that dollar amount by the last day of the month directly preceding the month we want to qualify John for Medicaid. I have had this conversation numerous times with clients in John and Mary’s situation, and know all too well that this simple instruction is not always followed. The largest part of most spend downs typically goes to the nursing home. But, as most people do, myself included, we wait until we get a bill before we pay it. If I owe you money, I’m not going to chase after you for a bill. Whenever you get around to it and invoice me, then I’ll pay it. The longer the money stays in my bank account, the happier I am. However, this can get you into big trouble and cost you tens of thousands of dollars if you wait for the nursing home bill. If we want John to be eligible for Medicaid next month and we know that he owes the nursing home $20,000 for the past two months of care, but the nursing home hasn’t yet presented Mary with a bill, it does not matter that Mary and John legitimately owe the facility the money. If that $20,000 is still sitting in their bank account next month, causing their account balance to exceed $75,000, John cannot qualify for Medicaid. Even worse than that, he can’t even qualify for next month. He has to wait until the following month, which means they will owe the facility another $10,000, leaving Mary with $65,000 to live on.


So Much to Discuss

For more information on Long Term Care Planning we encourage you attend one of our free educational workshops, call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy. January sessions are filling up fast call or register on line to reserve your seat today.  

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we help people and their families protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones.  We provide clients with a unique educational and counseling so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future. 


Click Here to Register For Our Trust, Estate & Asset  Protection Workshop

Tags: Retirement, Estate Planning, Baby Boomers, Elder Law, Attorney, GST tax, Massacusetts Estate Tax, Financial Planning, taxes, coverage, tax liability, tax exemption, Tax Savings, tax deductions, tax reform, New estate tax law, IRS, federal, Estate Planning Tip, Massachusetts, senior, Estate Planning Recommendations, Dennis Sullivan, tax, Capital Gains Tax, new regulations, New Tax Bill, Tax Bill, 2018 Tax Bill

New Tax Bill: What you need to know

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Fri, Jan 05, 2018

How does the new tax bill affect you and your family now and in the future?

The new tax bill has officially been passed by Congress and signed by President Trump, what does this mean for us?  The answer to this depends on many variables discussed here. 

 

First of all, these changes don’t apply until you file your 2018 taxes, meaning that you won’t have to worry about the new law when filing your 2017 income tax returns this spring.  That being said, still we will be experiencing the greatest overhaul of the tax laws in more than 30 years.  The last major changes having been made under President Reagan in 1986. 

One change you can expect to see is that both corporate tax rates and personal income tax rates will drop.  There are also other changes which limit or eliminate personal deductions.   The changes that affect corporate tax rates are permanent, and the changes that affect individual tax rates and deductions are not.

Also in the new tax bill you will find a “sunset” provision, meaning that the new law – as it applies to individuals – will expire on December 31, 2025.   That is, unless Congress agrees to extend the law.  That, of course, will depend on the political and economic climate 8 years from now, including whether the economy responds the way Republicans say it will

       Now let’s take a look at the changes that are likely to affect the average senior.  Good news, the tax rates have been lowered a bit.  There are still 7 tax brackets but the rates have changed with the top rate lowered from 39.6% to 37% and the threshold at which each rate is reached has been altered. (The corporate rate reduction is much greater, from 37% to 21%).

       Some of the most significant changes relate to deductions.  The standard deduction has been doubled to $12,000 for a single person and $24,000 for married couples but personal exemptions have been eliminated.  The deduction for state and local taxes will be capped at $10,000, something that could hurt many Massachusetts residents and especially homeowners because we have high real estate and state income taxes.  


So Much to Discuss:

For the first time in decades major overhauls to the tax system are happening! This is an enormous change that can affect your estate planning and asset protection as well. Be sure to stay tuned as we will discuss more about this new tax bill in our next blog post!    

For more information we encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops, call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy. January sessions are filling up fast call or register on line to reserve your seat today.  

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we help people and their families protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones.  We provide clients with a unique educational and counseling so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future. 


Click Here to Register For Our Trust, Estate & Asset  Protection Workshop

Tags: Retirement, Estate Planning, Baby Boomers, Elder Law, Attorney, GST tax, Massacusetts Estate Tax, Financial Planning, taxes, coverage, tax liability, tax exemption, Tax Savings, tax deductions, tax reform, New estate tax law, IRS, federal, Estate Planning Tip, Massachusetts, senior, Estate Planning Recommendations, Dennis Sullivan, tax, Capital Gains Tax, new regulations, New Tax Bill, Tax Bill, 2018 Tax Bill

Is your Planning Stuck in Limbo?

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Thu, Jul 27, 2017

How does the debate over Health Care Reform affect you and your estate plan?

Everyone is talking about health care reform: whether it’s the House bill, Repeal & Replace, Skinny Repeal, it can make your head spin.  One question on everyone’s mind is how changes to health care will affect them.  We at Dennis Sullivan & Associates are keeping up to date on all the changes, and will cover the process through a series of blogs to explain where health care reform is now, how it affects you and what the future may hold.  For more information on the current law of the land, you can download our Report: Senior & Boomers Guide to Health Care Reform

 


Senate pic-1.jpg

Eventually, both the House and Senate must vote on the same bill.

The battle continues in Washington over the repeal or replacement of the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) and as we are witnessing; this can be a messy process. 

Why Republicans are trying so hard to repeal and replace ObamaCare and how they are going about it:

ObamaCare, you may remember, was passed by the Democrats in 2010 with no Republican support. Ever since, Republicans have campaigned on repealing the program, which was unpopular with many Americans. “Repeal and Replace” was their rallying cry to voters to help them win back control of the House in 2012, then the Senate in 2014, and finally the Presidency in 2016. If the Republicans are not able to fulfill this major promise, some may be in danger of losing their seats in the next election, as they would likely be blamed for the problems with ObamaCare if they don’t fix them. These are the political reasons.

Democrats admit that ObamaCare has problems and needs a major fix to survive. But they are not on board with repeal and replace of such a signature piece of legislation, while Republicans try to find a way to pass new legislation.

The Legislative process:

The normal legislative process is that a bill begins in the House, where it is written, discussed and approved by a committee before the House votes on it. If it passes the House, it is then sent to the Senate. The Senate can vote on the same bill, make amendments to the House bill, or create its own bill. Eventually, both the House and Senate must vote on the same bill, so if there are differences, members of both the House and Senate meet in committee to resolve them. Once a bill passes both the House and Senate, it is then sent to the President who can sign it into law or veto it.

Right now, there is a House bill on health care that has passed the House, and a Senate bill that has not passed the Senate. Discussions and amendments are still occurring with the Senate bill in hopes it will pass soon. The public posture is that this messy legislative process is making the bill better.

Further complicating this process is that while the Republicans have a majority in both the House and the Senate, they only have 52 Republican Senators. 60 votes are required to overcome the filibusters and pass new legislation, so they are attempting to pass health care legislation through the Budget Reconciliation process. It only requires 51 votes, but it limits the legislation to budget-related items only. They would not be able to include provisions some Republicans want in a full repeal and replace bill—for example, letting insurance companies sell across state lines to increase competition, lower prices and create better plans; and allowing the government to negotiate lower drug prices. Issues like these would have to be voted on later.

For the Senate bill to pass in Reconciliation, 50 Republicans must vote for the bill, since no Democrat or Independent is expected to vote for the bill. Vice-President Pence would break the tie if needed.

So far:

The Senate rejected a proposal from Republican lawmakers to repeal Obamacare on Wednesday July 26, 2017, marking a significant milestone in the Republican Party's years-long political crusade to gut former President Barack Obama's legacy health care law.

 

What does the future hold?

We aren’t sure what the future American Health Care Act is going to look like, not sure anyone does, but luckily protecting yourself and your loved ones from expensive long term care doesn’t have to be so uncertain.  With asset based long term care products, there are ways to insure your control over your future long term care and insure you have something left over for your spouse, children and loved ones. Don’t let your long term care plan sit in limbo. Stay tuned we will discuss more about what the future looks like in our next blog post.

 Click here for more information on  Estate Planning and Asset Protection

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we help people and their families protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones.  We provide clients with a unique educational and counseling so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.

If you would like more information on Medicaid, the Affordable Care, or the impact of new health care laws on your planning, request your free preview of our guide, the Senior & Boomers’ Guide to Health Care Reform & Avoiding Nursing Home Poverty. 

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops, call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.Click Here to Register For Our Trust, Estate & Asset  Protection Workshop

Tags: Medicare, Medicaid, Retirement, Estate Planning, Elder Law, Announcements, Health Care, elder care, Financial Planning, surviving spouse, Affordable Health Care Act, coverage, coverages, unreimbured medical expenses, Medicaid penalties, Health Care Ruling, Obama, Obamacare, Estate Planning Tip, senior, Estate Planning Recommendations, Dennis Sullivan, care costs, applying for medicare

Ten Estate Planning Success Tips

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Mon, Oct 20, 2014

Ten Estate Planning Success Tips

grandparentstrust 

 

Have You Planned for the Future Yet?

So you’re worried about the future, you want to make sure that not only your spouse, family and property is taken care of when you pass, but you want to make sure you’re taken care of while you’re still here. There is a lot of information out there to sort through, some of it is conflicting, and all of it is confusing. Here are some basic tips to help you get started: 

  1. Update your documents regularly. We honestly cannot stress this one enough. Keep your legal residence address, marital status, children and their potential guardians, and other documents updated. 
  1. Keep track of beneficiaries for all of your IRAs, qualified plans and insurance policies. Do you know who your beneficiaries are for these assets? If you don't, they may be going to someone you no longer wish to receive them, such as an ex-spouse. You can easily change the name of the person who will receive their benefits by filling out a form and submitting it. 
  1. Maximize the liquidity of your estate. Liquidity is defined as the ability to quickly turn assets into cash. Without sufficient cash to pay taxes, funeral, and other expenses, your family may have to sell illiquid assets - such as a family business or other property - at an inopportune time, and for less than full value. 
  1. Maintain an Appropriate Mix of Investment Risk. It's not the best idea to have too much money allocated to risk in stocks or mutual funds, as you age. Over time, more risky investments should be moved into safe and stable investments such as Annuities to ensure you are leaving an inheritance. 
  1. Name a dependable executor and/or trustee. Executors are called upon to collect assets, pay obligations, and distribute your assets. Your trustee must enforce all the provisions of any trusts you created. Choose someone who will have the knowledge, integrity and stamina to fulfil these obligations in the face of pressure from family members and lawsuits. 
  1. If you have minor children, consider naming one guardian for your minor children and another for the property you've left to support them, this will help ensure that your child will receive the full amount you’ve left them when they come of age. 
  1. Estate planning for your spouse or other sole survivor scenarios. If your net worth is high enough, your estate may be subject to taxes. A simple estate plan using trusts can save some individuals hundreds of thousands of dollars in estate taxes. 
  1. Make sure you are leaving the right assets to the right people with the right protections and provisions. If your child or other dependent has special needs or has been irresponsible with money in the past, you may not leave wish to leave them with the money to handle on their own. Make sure any minors receive much needed management assistance along with the cash. 
  1. Planning is even more difficult for business owners, who must plan for the succession and/or the buy-out of their business after they pass. Make sure any preparations that are needed for a smooth transition are taken care of. 
  2. Consult a professional. This may seem obvious, but we do have to say it. Estate Planning is a complex and difficult subject for most people to take care of on their own, and simple mistakes can cost you and your family tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

But Wait, There’s More!

Got all those taken care of? Well don’t relax just yet; there are still dozens of other questions you need to take care of before you’re done. Have you protected your assets from all unnecessary taxes? Have you established trusts that will be safe from predatory lawsuits? Are your documents up to date with the ongoing changes in laws, policies and eligibilities? Have you made sure to secure a portion of your assets in case you need nursing home care or are you planning to try and give everything away beforehand? These are things you need to take care of before your planning is truly complete.

 

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we provide a unique education and counseling process which includes our unique 19 Point Trust, Estate and Asset Protection Review to help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones, click here for more information. We provide clients with a unique approach so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops, call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.

Click here for more information on  Estate Planning and Asset Protection

Tags: Estate Planning, probate, trusts, protection, Wills, Estate Planning Tip, 2014

The High Cost of Seniors Living Longer

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Fri, Sep 05, 2014

 

The Cost of Living Longer | Massachusetts Eldercare Attorney

 

 planning, estate, eldercare

 

A Pachyderm of Problems

Every day, we see clients for whom long-term care is the elephant in the room. They feel they can’t afford the costs, but they also feel they can’t afford not to have it either. So their solution is to pretend they don’t see the elephant and try to ignore the problem until it goes away on its own. This unfortunately often leads to our metaphorical elephant trampling their life savings and any future inheritance they are trying to leave behind. The older you are, the more expensive a long-term care policy gets and if you get sick before you have long-term care protection in place, it’s too late. Insurance companies are looking out for their bottom line, and an already ill senior will scare them off.

The costs for these policies are rising faster than inflation too. Therein lies the conundrum for Boomers and seniors: They’re living longer than their parents did but that means they need more money to make it through “old age”. Finding long-term care is a tough and complicated process. You’ll need to find a place that cares for people with your (or your loved one’s) circumstances. You need to find a place with the right facilities and staff, a place that leaves you with a good, safe feeling. And you have to be able to afford it too. This is not any sort of one-size-fits-all situation. Everyone has their own specific services and conditions that they or their loved ones will need met. Remember, what we call “long-term care” is a broad category, with options ranging from live-in facilities to your own home.

Lurking Complications With Long Term Care

The greatest threat to the financial security of Boomers and seniors is the cost of long-term care (and Obamacare will not assist with this). Assisted-living facilities are now climbing toward the $7,500-a-month mark. Many have started bundling more services together, rather than charging for each individually. Bundling might be a good idea from the nursing home’s perspective, but just like pre-packaged cable TV you will wind up paying for a lot of services you don’t need and don’t want. A private room at a nursing home will range from $500 - $600 a day.

The cost of home healthcare is rising, too. Some people choose independent-living apartments. These facilities typically don’t require lump-sum payments, and residents can contract with home health-services independently. Medicaid may be there for those who qualify but if you ever want to learn the true meaning of “jumping through hoops” just try qualifying! The best thing, of course, is long-term care insurance, but that’s getting more expensive too as companies raise their rates while cutting back on their coverage. In addition, this insurance is getting more complicated, now encompassing aspects such as protection of the surviving spouse, caregiver issues, scams/ID theft, and making sure you have an advocate to fight for your rights in a system that’s slanted against you.

In short, we’re living longer, and unlike previous generations, people are generally not living with or even near their children. Seniors are going to need more money for this longer life and for any unforeseen medical problems that may arise.

A Magic Trick No One Wants to See

Do you know the fastest way for a Boomer or senior couple to become an impoverished Boomer or senior couple is? Simple, one of them just needs to become ill before they get long-term care insurance. We see it every day, people who’ve worked hard and saved money all their lives are forced to see it wash away in a flood of medical bills as they age. It is truly heart-breaking, because, if you’ve managed to squirrel some money away, you could probably have afforded long-term care. 

The Downside to Living Longer

Our life expectancies are going up these days and so is the cost of healthcare, the distance seniors are living from their children and families, and the financial pressures on Medicare and Medicaid. The new Affordable Care Act, in fact, stipulates $500 billion in Medicare cuts over the next decade! Where do you turn if you or your spouse gets ill? Home health care? Adult day-care? Assisted-living? A nursing facility? Respite-care services, which allow the caregiver to drop off the senior for a limited period? Who’s going to pay for it? And for how long?  These are the questions to ask now, while you still have time to plan. If you haven’t purchased long-term care before you or your spouse become ill…forget about it. No one will insure you once you’re sick! If this happens to you, you’re going to be out of time, out of options, and very quickly out of money. And if you’ve planned to leave something for your heirs, there may be nothing left to leave to them other than a pile of bills. 

 

It’s an old (but true) cliché: those who fail to plan, are planning to fail. When it comes to healthcare expenses as you age, you fail to plan at the risk of yourself and those you love.  

 

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we provide a unique education and counseling process which includes our unique 19 Point Trust, Estate and Asset Protection Review to help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones, click here for more information. We provide clients with a unique approach so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops, call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.

Click Here to Register For Our Trust, Estate & Asset  Protection Workshop 

 

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