Massachusetts Estate Planning & Asset Protection Blog

6 tips you and your loved ones need on how to plan forward to afford long-term care outside the home

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Fri, Jun 28, 2019

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None of us want to consider leaving our family home. This holds especially true as we consider the potential need to leave the home in order to secure the long-term care support we need as we age. Unfortunately, this is a reality that more and more Massachusetts seniors are facing. In fact, research tells us that over fifty percent of the seniors who turn 65 this year will need long-term care support during their lifetime.

We know this can be a difficult topic for you and your loved ones to discuss. When we begin to talk about long-term care needs, either immediately or in the future, the discussion raises a number of questions. We want to help you plan forward for this potential cost of care outside the home by sharing six tips you may not have yet considered. These are the same tips that we
tell our clients, friends, and family, as well as the professionals we work with on a daily basis.

1. Learn your options early. Not all long-term care is the same. Learn now, before you need it, what levels of care are as well as what is available in our local community.
2. Talk to your doctor about your future. Although none of us want to need long-term care in the future, it could become a reality for you and your loved ones. Discuss your options early with your primary doctor or specialists to determine if there is a type of care you are more likely to need in the future.
3. Update your estate planning. What will you do in a crisis? Have you named a decision maker who is able to act for you? Do not forget to ensure that your agent under your durable power of attorney not only has the ability to make long-term care decisions for you but can also engage in the planning you may need.
4. Learn what care costs in your community. Long-term care costs different amounts based on what you need. For example, in Massachusetts, the state average for an assisted living facility was $5,495 per month, while a semi-private room in a skilled nursing facility cost $12,015; BUT in MetroWest Boston the prices are much higher, with assisted living facilities ranging costing upwards of $9,000 per month and nursing home rooms running $16,000 per month and higher.You can learn more about these average costs and learn more about your area in the Genworth Cost of Care Survey.
5. Discuss your choices with your family. Do not leave your family in a position where they need to wonder about what you want for the future. Talk to them while you can about what you want for yourself.
6. Talk to your attorney and develop a plan. Your elder law attorney is uniquely positioned to be able to assist you in creating a plan that meets your needs. This can be done well in advance of a health care crisis, or during that crisis. What many do not realize, however, is that there are more options available when you choose to plan forward and not wait until an emergency.

We know this article may raise more questions that it answers. Discussing a future that may include the need for long-term care is never easy. We encourage you not to wait to contact us to schedule a meeting. For more information, you may also download a free preview of our book, Senior & Boomers Guide to Health Care Reform & Avoiding Nursing Home Poverty Reveals Little Known Secrets Seniors & Boomers Can Use to Save Hundreds of Thousands on Long-Term Care.

 

Tags: Nursing Home Costs, long term care

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

Is your Planning Stuck in Limbo? (part 2)

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Tue, Aug 01, 2017

How does the debate over health care reform affect you and your estate plan?

35274856603_c2af85ca10_b.jpg In our last post we discussed the importance of keeping up with the constant changes happening in health care reform. We will continue to examine how the on-going deliberations in Washington may affect you, your future health care and your estate.  We at Dennis Sullivan & Associates are keeping up to date on all the changes, and making sure you stay informed on all the important details.  For more information on the current law of the land, you can download our Report: Senior & Boomers Guide to Health Care Reform.   

The Senate has dealt a devastating setback to Republican efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare, defeating a GOP "skinny repeal" bill early Friday morning. With the "skinny repeal" bill off the table, lawmakers are unsure of where the health care debate is headed. 

Senate Majority Leader McConnell and his staff are trying to find a balance between conservative Republicans, who want a full repeal of ObamaCare and a replacement that has lower health care costs, and more moderate Republicans who want to preserve its more popular benefits.

The deal-making process is in full swing, with the additions of opioid funding and allowing health savings accounts to be used to pay for insurance premiums. Some Senators are for potentially leaving in some taxes to pay for more generous benefits, after weeks of being criticized by Democrats for offering “tax cuts for the rich and Medicaid cuts for the poor.” Conservatives want to cut more from the regulations and many from Medicaid expansion states are uneasy about future cuts to Medicaid.

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas has offered an amendment called the “Consumer Freedom Option” that would allow insurance companies to sell any health coverage plan they wish as long as they provide one plan that satisfies the “essential benefits” mandates of Obamacare. While the Cruz amendment appeals to conservatives who want to provide consumers with lower cost options, moderates are concerned it could negatively impact those with pre-existing conditions. Supporters have suggested that federal subsidies could help ensure that premiums don’t increase for those who are seriously ill. The CBO is currently scoring this amendment.  

President Trump, along with Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, has even offered to repeal ObamaCare for now and replace it later.

Of course, no one is going to get everything they want so there must be compromises. Majority Leader McConnell has said that if the Senate is not able to pass a bill soon, Congress will have to pass a bipartisan measure to shore up the imploding health insurance markets.

And so, the Civics lesson continues. The process is at work.  As we see here the process can be long, unstable and worrisome.  Luckily for you your estate planning doesn’t have be. We at Dennis Sullivan and Associates make your estate planning and asset protection worry and stress free.  Once you have a plan in place you will feel confident knowing it will protect you, your family and your life savings.  You can enjoy life to the fullest knowing you and your family are protected no matter what unknowns lay ahead. 

 

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.

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: long term care, Medicare, Medicaid, life-care plan, Retirement, Estate Planning, Elder Law, Announcements, elder care journey, Health Care, seniors, elder care, health Care act, Financial Planning, enrollment, Affordable Health Care Act, coverage, coverages, medical expenses, unreimbured medical expenses, Medicaid penalties, Health Care Ruling, federal, Affordable Health Care, Obamacare, senior, medicaid qualification, health, care, disenrollment, proposed changes, care costs, applying for medicare

An Explanation of Palliative Care and How it Affects You

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Fri, Mar 25, 2016

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     Human life expectancy in the past 100 years has been substantially lengthened as a result of advances in medical science.  However, as we know, the quality of an extended life span isn’t always great.  Many people live with serious illnesses such as COPD, Heart Disease, Cancer, Parkinson’s Disease etc. for many years, often spending those years suffering extreme physical and emotional pain.

     While the medical community continues to focus on finding cures for these illnesses and conditions, an important part of administering medical care is easing a patient’s pain.  This is what is known as palliative care and only recently – within the last 10 years or so – has palliative care become a new discipline of medicine.

     What is palliative care?  It is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses.  It focuses on providing patients with relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness.  The goal of palliative care is to improve the quality of life for both the patient and the patient’s family.

     Palliative care is provided by a specially trained team of doctors, nurses and other specialists such as social workers and chaplains, who work together with a patient’s other doctors to provide extra support.  Palliative care specialists undergo additional training and certification in order to provide palliative care services.

     Palliative care is often coupled with hospice care, however, they are not the same.  Hospice care is for patients who are terminally ill, and have an expected lifespan of less than six months.  Palliative care is available for any patient with a serious or advanced disease who needs the added support that it care can provide.

     Palliative care specialists can play an important role in helping patients and their families discuss and make important and difficult decisions about their medical care.  That could include evaluating the different treatment options presented to the patient, weighing the pros and cons of each.  They can also assist in focusing on the future, on what the patient may or may not want as his/her condition declines.

     The palliative care team can facilitate this discussion well ahead of an acute medical crisis.  Knowing what the patient wants or doesn’t want helps to reduce the stress level of all involved when that medical crisis does arrive.

     Navigating the waters of palliative care and hospice care can feel overwhelming.  Let us help you to make that trip easier with a Health Care Proxy and Living Will and a Release of Protected Health Information (HIPAA, commonly).

     Learning more about Estate Planning and Asset Protection can protect you now and in the future. Call us or register for one of our workshops today to make your life a little easier down the road.  

Click here for more information on  Estate Planning and Asset Protection

Tags: long term care, Estate Planning, palliative, hospice

Understanding Long-Term Care Costs and Alzheimer's I Massachusetts Alzheimer's Attorney

Posted by Massachusetts Alzheimer's Attorney Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Fri, Mar 18, 2016

Alzheimer's and Long Term Care

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Alzheimer's is growing at an alarming rate. Alzheimer's increased by 46.1% as a cause of death between 2000 and 2006, while causes of death from prostate cancer, breast cancer, heart disease and HIV all declined during that same time period.

The 2015 Alzheimer's Association annual report titled, “Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures” explores different types of dementia, causes and risk factors, and the cost involved in providing health care, among other areas. This report contains some eye-opening statistics:

  • An estimated 5.3 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer's disease. This figure includes 5.1 million people aged 65 and older and 200,000 individuals under age 65 who have early-onset Alzheimer's.
  • One in nine people age 65 and older (11 percent) has Alzheimer’s disease.
  • About one-third of people age 85 and older have Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Eighty-one percent of people who have Alzheimer’s disease are age 75 or older. The number of people aged 65 and older with Alzheimer's disease is estimated to reach 7.7 million in 2030 - more than a 50% increase from the 5.1 million aged 65 and older currently affected.
  • Every 67 seconds, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s. Thus, approximately 473,000 people age 65 or older developed Alzheimer’s disease in the United States in 2015.
  • By 2050, the number of individuals aged 65 and older with Alzheimer's is projected to number between 11 million and 16 million - unless medical breakthroughs identify ways to prevent or more effectively treat the disease.

Currently long-term care costs for dementia and Alzheimer's patients are about 80% higher than any other long-term care need. This is because dementia and Alzheimer's patients require more “caregiving” in terms of help with basic daily functions. Things that many of us take for granted to be able to do for ourselves, even when we are sick, such as bathing, dressing, toileting, and eating, are all activities many dementia patients require assistance with as the disease progresses. In addition, dementia patients often need someone with them just to protect them from themselves. Many dementia patients wander or harm themselves. Therefore, constant oversight of them is necessary.

Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, or any other type of dementia. There are treatments that may help slow the progression of the disease. There are also theories related to diet that may help prevention or stave off the development of dementia. However, there are no surefire ways to beat this disease right now. Advocating for the recognition of the costs associated with the disease as well as the heartbreaking effect on friends and family of the patient, is the best way to raise awareness to support the finding of a cure and prevention of dementia. We can all look forward to a day that this disease is a thing of the past because a cure, and/or prevention, has been found.

Click here to get a FREE copy of our book "The Senior and Boomer's Guide to Health care Reform and Avoiding Nursing Home Poverty"

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we provide a unique education and counseling process which includes our original 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. Attend a free workshop to discover where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as you implement plans for a protected future.

You may register now for a free educational workshop - call 800-964-4295 or click the button below, to register and learn more about what youcan do to protect your spouse, your home, and your life savings.

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

Tags: long term care, Elder Law, seniors, elder care, long term care insurance, dementia, alzheimers, boomers, care costs, alzheimers care

Underestimating the Risk of Long Term Disability: The Importance of Being Prepared I Massachusetts Elder Law Attorney

Posted by Wellesley Estate Planning Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Fri, Mar 11, 2016

Underestimating the Risk of Long Term Disability:
The Importance of Being Prepared

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Most Individuals Will Face At Least a Temporary Disability
Study after study confirms that nearly everyone will face at least a temporary disability sometime during their lifetime. More specifically, one in three Americans will face at least a 90-day disability before reaching age 65 and, according to the definitive study in this area, depending upon their ages, up to 44% of Americans will face a disability of up to 4.7 years. On the whole, Americans are up to 3.5 times more likely to become disabled than die in any given year.

Many People Will Face a Long Term Disability
For many Americans, the disability will not be short-lived. According to the 2007 National Home and Hospice Care Survey, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control's National Center for Health Statistics, over 1.46 million Americans received long term home health care services at any given time in 2007 (the most recent year this information is available). Three-fourths of these patients received skilled care, the highest level of in-home care, and 51% needed help with at least one "activity of daily living" (such as eating, bathing, getting dressed, or the kind of care needed for a severe cognitive impairment like Alzheimer's disease).

Long Term Care Costs Can Be Staggering
Not only will many individuals and families face prolonged long term care, in-home care and nursing home costs continue to rise. According to the Genworth 2015 Cost of Care Survey, the Median Annual Cost for a Private Room in Massachusetts during 2015 was $114,026.

Perhaps most importantly, despite overwhelming and compelling statistics; most Americans grossly underestimate the risk of disability to themselves and to their loved ones. According to the Council on Disability Awareness 2010 survey:

  • 64% of wage earners believe they have a 2% or less chance of being disabled for 3 months or more during their working career; the actual odds for a worker entering the workforce today are closer to 25%.
  • Most working Americans estimate that their own chances of experiencing a long term disability are substantially lower than the average worker’s.

Given the high costs of care, this underestimation often leaves Americans ill prepared to pay for the costs of long term care.

All Planning Should Thoroughly Address Disability
When a person becomes disabled; he or she is often unable to make personal and/or financial decisions. If the disabled person cannot make these decisions, someone must have the legal authority to do so. Otherwise, the family must apply to the court for appointment of a guardian over the person or property, or both. Those who are old enough to remember the public guardianship proceedings for Groucho Marx recognize the need to avoid a guardianship proceeding if at all possible.

At a minimum, seniors need broad powers of attorney that will allow agents to handle all of their property upon disability as well as the appointment of a decision-maker for health care. We recommend that our clients have both a Health Care Proxy and a HIPPAA to make this transition smoothly. Alternatively, a fully funded revocable trust can ensure that the senior's person and property will be cared for as desired, pursuant to the highest duty under the law - that of a trustee.

Click here to view our Free Consumer Report on "The Plain Truth About Alzheimer's."

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we even 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. Attend a free workshop to discover where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as you implement plans for a protected future.

You may register now for a free educational workshop - call 800-964-4295 or click the button below, to register and learn more about what youcan do to protect your spouse, your home, and your life savings.Click Here to Register For Our Trust, Estate & Asset  Protection Workshop

Tags: long term care, HIPAA, elder care, Estate Planning Recommendations, health, medical

VA is Proposing a 3 Year Look Back Together with a Penalty of Up To 10 Years

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Mon, Feb 23, 2015

VA is Proposing a 3 Year Look Back Together with a Penalty of Up To 10 Years | Massachusetts Elder Law Attorney

 

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On January 23, 2015, the VA took the initiative in proposing new regulations that would hit wartime veterans and their spouses with a penalty of up to 10 years for making gifts, if they wish to qualify for the VA’s Aid and Attendance program.

As readers of this blog know, the Aid and Attendance program is a non-service connected pension can provide as much as $2,120 per month in tax free income to help pay the cost of long term care.  This program is means tested with an asset limit of about $80,000.  Currently, there is no look back period like Medicaid has, so that transfers for less than fair value to individuals or trusts do not result in a waiting or penalty period for benefits.

Federal legislators have introduced two bills since 2012 seeking to impose a 3 year look back. Neither bill has managed to pass both houses of Congress yet though. The VA however, is sick of waiting and is trying to take matters into its own hands.  They have proposed a penalty of up to 10 years that would result from uncompensated transfers. The penalty itself would be calculated by dividing the amount of the transfer by the claimant’s pension rate. 

Other changes include a net worth standard of $119,220 including annual income. In other words, an applicant would need to have no more than $119,220 in assets and annual income combined in order to qualify.  The higher the applicant’s income, the lower the amount of assets they can keep.

Under the proposal, expenses related to independent living facilities would not count as care costs.  This would mean that veterans with dementia, or other degenerative diseases who can no longer safely live in their own homes but who don’t yet need assistance with the activities of daily living will not be able to include the cost of that facility in an effort to qualify for the VA benefit. Daily living activities are things like such as bathing, dressing, eating, toileting and transferring. Finally, the applicant’s home will remain an exempt asset towards the net worth limitation only if the lot on which it sits is less than 2 acres.

These changes will dramatically reduce the ability of many veterans to qualify for this important benefit.  The new regulations have been submitted for public comment.  To fight these changes, everyone who cares about veterans must respond no later than March 24, 2015.  You can send your comments through http://www.regulations.gov or by mail to Director, Regulation Policy and Management (02REG), Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Ave. NW., Room 1068, Washington, DC 20420 or by fax to (202) 273-9026.  Comments should include that they are in response to “RIN 2900-AO73, Net Worth, Asset Transfers and Income Exclusions for Needs-Based Benefits”.

 

Click here to access our free report on Aid and Attendance Benefits.

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

Tags: long term care, Nursing Homes, veterans benefits, Nursing Home, wartime veteran, Veteran, federal, look-back, VA benefits, penalty, 2015

For Those Left Behind

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Fri, Oct 24, 2014

Estate Planning Is for Those Left Behind | Massachusetts Estate Planning Attorney

 
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One of Life’s Two Certainties

Many people put off creating their estate plans because of the discomfort they feel when thinking about death. This is a basic trait most people have across almost every culture, and it’s true that preparing a Will or buying life insurance forces us to contemplate our own mortality. Not thinking about it won’t make it go away, and one way or another, the things that we own must pass on to others after our deaths.

 

So What Can You Do About It?

We can plan for that transition, and try to see that it happens in as much of a positive and beneficial manner for those left behind as we can. Or you can ignore planning ahead, live self-indulgently now and let chaos take its toll when you pass. You’ll be gone so really, what does it matter?

Well, that depends on how much you care. If there is no one and nothing that you care about that will still be here after you’re gone, then it doesn’t really matter. However, if you do care (and if you’re reading this I can guess that you do), then you’ve got some planning to do. The problem is that if we do care, then you need to recognize that your death has the potential to do serious harm to the people you who survive you.

 

The First Step In Estate Planning

Our Wills are documents we prepare for our surviving loved ones, not for ourselves. But having an up-to-date Will is just one of the critically important things we can do to protect, care for, and provide for the people we care about the most. A Will is an important document, but by itself it is vulnerable to lawsuits and disputes. That is why we always recommend establishing trusts to safeguard your assets and make sure the right people get what you meant them too.

If you have children, your Will provides you with an opportunity to name a guardian to care for them if they are still minors. You can also appoint a trustee to protect their inheritances, even if they are already adults. If you die without naming a guardian in your Will, the courts will appoint one without the benefit of your knowledge and judgment or approval. Without a trust, inheritances may soon be lost to our heirs' improvidence, divorce or even predatory lawsuits.  

You Must Choose Wisely

After deciding to make your Will, you must next select someone to be the executor. The executor is the person or institution who will be in charge of finalizing your affairs and distributing your estate per your wishes outlined in your Will. It can be a burdensome job since executors must collect your assets, arranges for payment of debts and taxes, and then distributes what is left to your designated beneficiaries. This will be a difficult task, so we recommend making sure that your executor is someone who can withstand the pressures of court, lawyers and grieving family members.

If you die without a Will, the courts will appoint someone to perform these functions, and they may be a total stranger with very little interest in fulfilling your wishes. Without a Will, the identity of our beneficiaries and the amounts they inherit will all be determined by state laws without any input from you. 

Using proper estate planning, including Wills and Trusts, we can take steps to limit (or even eliminate) the taxes that our heirs will have to pay on their inheritance. You can also leave instructions with your trusts to ensure that the right people, get the right inheritances, at the right times. By providing for distribution of our assets in a clear and thoughtful manner, we can avoid the potential for delays and family disputes that can be so hurtful to the people we care about. 

A Will Alone Isn’t Enough
A Will is the keystone of most estate plans, but it is not the only planning we need. You most likely own assets that will pass to others without regard to the provisions of your Will. Life insurance policies, IRAs and other retirement plan accounts, annuities, and the like, will be distributed based upon their beneficiary designations, not your Will. These designations may have been created decades ago, and need to reviewed and updated as appropriate. Assets that we own jointly with another may pass "by right of survivorship" to the joint owner. 

We need to consider the effects of all of these "non-probate" arrangements to make sure that our plan best meets our family’s unique circumstances. An estate planning and elder law lawyer can help make certain that we do not miss any important elements in preparing our estate plan. 

Even if we already have a Will, if our family situation has changed, or our planning has not been reviewed and updated in the last five years, we can do our loved ones a great kindness by taking care of this most important task.  

Although we don’t want to think about dying, Estate Planning is just too important to put off.  

I will now leave you with this quote:

“A man's dying is more the survivors' affair than his own.” ~Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain.

 

Research shows that 86% of trust & estate plans fail! In Our Newest book we reveal what the ten biggest estate and asset protection mistakes are and how to avoid them. Learn where problems may exist in your current plan, and where there may be hidden opportunities in your plan to protect your home, spouse family and life savings. Click here for more information.

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

Tags: long term care, Estate Planning, estate tax, surviving spouse

Sooner or later

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

Sooner or later, you’ll probably need long-term care – be prepared | Massachusetts Eldercare Attorney

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According to a recent article by George Morse in the AAA Membership newspaper

Sooner or later, you’re probably going to need some form of long term care.

Just look at the statistics:

About 70 percent of people turning 65 can expect to use such services during their lifetimes, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services, and their younger population isn’t immune. A 2003 study by Georgetown University’s Long-Term Care Financing Project reported slightly more than one-third of those with long-term care needs were younger than 65.

Long term care insurance is one way that individuals can ready themselves for covering the costs associated with this kind of need. While some may believe traditional health insurance or Medicare will address such an expense Doug Ross, AAA’s Expert on long-term care insurance, said those plans aren’t aimed at the same kind of services associated with long-term care.

“Health insurance is really good at paying for care that’s designed to make you get well again. Long-term care is care to help people with activities of daily living,” he said.

These activities include eating, bathing, dressing, toileting and transferring.

The primary government-support program for long-term care, Ross said, is Medicaid, though individuals must meet both income and asset requirements to qualify.

Your mid-40’s is a good time to start looking at long-term care insurance because coverage rates are age-based, and it’s less likely that a pre-existing medical condition will prevent you from getting coverage. Ross said some companies have even added blood work to their medical underwriting.

Long-term care policies can be crafted to fit an individual’s need and budget.

“One of the biggest challenges with it is that there are a lot of misconceptions. When you hear the words long-term care, the first thing you’re going to think of is your parents or a nursing home, things that have nothing to do with you. What we need is for people to understand it’s something to think about or look at when you’re young and healthy,” Ross said.

A major consideration when looking at a potential policy is to examine resources that could supplement the benefit, such as a means of receiving care at home instead of in a nursing facility.

An inflation protection rider can also be helpful, maintaining the policy’s value to keep pace with inflation.

 

For further information, take a look at our new book, The 10 Biggest Estate and Asset Protection Mistakes People Make and How To Avoid Them now including the special bonus chapter, The Biggest Long Term Care Planning Mistakes that goes more in-depth on your options, works and how to plan for your future.

 

 

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

Tags: long term care, elder care, long term care insurance, caretaker, AAA

To Give Or Not To Give? A Question of Taxes

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Fri, Sep 26, 2014

To Give Or Not To Give? A Question of Taxes
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What Do You Do?

You want to leave gifts for your heirs, but should you wait until you pass away? Or should you give some money to them now?

 

Caution: There Is A Lot of Confusion About Gifting

While gifts may make sense for taxes, they can also create a significant penalty for nursing home purposes. With all plans, you need to consider whether it makes more sense to preserve your benefits for nursing home purposes or to obtain tax breaks. As the old saying goes, “Don’t let the tax tail wag the dog.” For those who would like to protect their home, family and life savings with a trust based plan, they will also be able to continue to give gifts without triggering a penalty, but only if as the gifts are made from a qualifying trust. For more information on protecting your home, family, and life savings while also retaining gift giving privilege, take a look at our free report The Ten Biggest Estate Planning and Asset Protection Mistakes People Make and How to Avoid Them.

 

Gift Tax versus Estate Tax
Gift tax is the tax imposed by the federal government on any transfer of property to an individual without any compensation in return. "Property" in this sense includes both tangible property, like art or furniture, and intangible gifts like stocks and cash.

Currently (under 2014 law), you are exempt from gift tax on lifetime donations up to $5.34 million. Once your donations go over that lifetime amount, they can be subject to taxes up to 40%.

However, it's essential to note that this is a lifetime exemption – meaning, that's your cap over the span of your life. The $5.34 million lifetime exemption is a well-known figure in the world of estate planning that's based on what's called the unified gift and estate tax credit.

In any particular year, you can also give a tax-free gift of up to $14,000 per recipient without dipping into the basic exclusion. This is known as the "annual exclusion." However, here's where it gets tricky because of the unified credit. This refers to the federal gift tax and estate tax, combined into one tax system. If you give more than the annual exclusion amount to any one recipient in any particular year, most people are eligible to use the unified credit so that the gift counts against your estate. For example, if you give $15,000 in 2014, $14,000 is eligible for the annual exclusion, and the remaining $1,000 is applied against your lifetime exemption, which also reduces the exemption for your estate when you die by the same amount.

Estate tax is the tax imposed by the federal government on any transfer of property (tangible or intangible) by your estate after you have passed away. It is calculated by figuring out your "gross estate" (all assets including real estate, cash and securities, business interests, etc.) and subtracting any deductions you may qualify for (such as funeral expenses and some charitable contributions). The net amount after these calculations is then added to any taxable gifts you have given that have used up your unified credit to generate your taxable amount.

 

There are definite pros and cons to either option; we’ll take a look at some below:

 

Giving Heirs the Money Now 
Here are some advantages to giving your heirs money while you're still alive.

  • You get to see them enjoy it. If you'd prefer to see your gifts in action, giving your heirs the money now gives you a chance to see the difference it makes in their lives.
  • You can advise how they spend it. If you'd prefer to see your gifts in action in a specific way, giving the money while you're still alive gives you a chance to let your heirs know how you'd prefer they spend it.
  • You can give the gift in the form of paying for something. If you really want to ensure the money is spent on the thing you want it to be spent on, you can pay for something rather than giving your heirs the money for it. For example, you can pay for their wedding, make a down payment on their dream house, or pay for their tuition (which, incidentally, can qualify for the educational exclusion from gift tax).
  • You can stop giving them money if you see them falling off the rails. If you plan to give your heirs free reign with their money, giving it to them now allows you to put a stop to the cash flow if you see them spending it unwisely (like buying a flashy car instead of paying for tuition or paying down their mortgage).
  • You can avoid taxes up to a certain amount. For 2014, the IRS allows you to exclude up to $14,000 in gifts per heir (or $28,000 per heir if the gift is given by you and your spouse jointly). This means you will not have to pay gift tax on gifts up to that amount. If you choose to give a gift beyond that, you'll need to claim the "unified credit" (and have it count against your estate's lifetime exemption) in order to avoid paying taxes on the gift.

 

Waiting Until You Pass Away

Conversely, here are some advantages to waiting until you pass away before bequeathing gifts to your heirs.

  • You may need the money later. What if you find that you need the money to pay for your own expenses during your lifetime? You might need more than you think in order to enjoy your hard-earned retirement, pay for medical expenses not covered by insurance, or cover other long-term care costs such as home health aides and nursing home care.
  • Ability to change your mind. At the moment, you might want to split your money equally among your children; but what happens if one of your children later makes poor decisions that make you want to disinherit that person? Conversely, what happens if one of your children gets into a major accident and requires more medical care, and therefore more financial support? You can always adjust your will to change the amount you'll be leaving heirs after you pass away, but you can't take back money you've already gifted. Waiting until you pass away gives you the opportunity to change your mind during your lifetime.
  • Your heirs might appreciate it more and spend it more wisely. By waiting until you've passed away, you give your heirs a chance to "make their own way in the world" at a younger age. Rather than relying on an annual cash infusion from you, your heirs will be older and more responsible when they receive the inheritance. This might cause them to appreciate the gift more, as they will have experienced the task of earning money.

 

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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