Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Plan Ahead for Your Estate

Writing a willThe current number of those who do not have a will can be astonishing, especially knowing that they run the risk of letting the state decide what happens to their estate. Those who do have wills also often fail to update them after a change in circumstances. With a lot of important estate decisions, it is necessary to prep for your loved ones—spouses, significant others, children, and grandchildren alike. Issues like body disposition and organ donation are crucial steps to consider because if not, you leave your family members guessing as to what you would have wanted, which often leads to fights. Further, in our technology era, it will be essential to specify actions for your digital accounts. Ultimately, one must plan their estate so that the bureaucracy does not consume those we care about at the worst possible time.  

See Lisa Pollack, One Day It Will Be Curtains, so I’m Planning for It, Financial Times, January 17, 2017. 

Special thanks to Joel Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.

 

January 19, 2017 in Death Event Planning, Disability Planning - Health Care, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 16, 2017

Avoiding Financial Turmoil at Death

Estate planning earlyIt is hard enough dealing with the death of a spouse or partner, but it can become even more difficult when taking care of the financial issues of such a loss while grieving. Planning ahead can ease some avoidable financial sorrows. First, couples need to have an understanding of each individual’s assets and where they are located—life insurance policies, retirement plans, and beneficiary designations. Additionally, each partner should set up a durable power of attorney for health care and finances, with competent trustees. It will also be important to maintain openness and communication, so preparing an estate plan while you are healthy will be the best time. Ultimately, the goal is to protect the survivor and enable him or her to make informed decisions about the estate’s assets. 

See John F. Wasik, Death Is Inevitable. Financial Turmoil Afterward Isn’t., N.Y. Times, January 13, 2017. 

Special thanks to Joel Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.

 

January 16, 2017 in Death Event Planning, Disability Planning - Health Care, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Article on Undermining Medicaid Eligibility

Medicaid trustsLawrence A. Frolik & Bernard A. Krooks recently published an Article entitled, Beware of Undermining Medicaid Eligibility: Take a Close Look at Transfers of Assets, Especially to Trusts, Tr. & Est. 8 (Jan. 2017). Provided below is a summary of the Article:

Medicaid eligibility disputes continue to result in interesting court decisions. In several cases, individuals who transferred assets years ago undermined their attempt to qualify for Medicaid reimbursement of the cost of their nursing home care. In particular, Medicaid applicants discovered the perils of transferring assets to a trust. 

 

January 10, 2017 in Articles, Disability Planning - Health Care, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 9, 2017

Hospice Care Linked to Greater Family Satisfaction

Hospice careA recent study of families with terminally ill loved ones shows that they are more satisfied with end-of-life treatment if it involves hospice care. Hospice care was associated with better symptom management, attainment of pain-management goals, and quality end-of-life care. Further, hospice care is linked to a greater likelihood of dying in the location of choice and less distress for caregivers. Those families whose loved one received at least thirty days of hospice care reported higher quality of life outcomes. 

See Hospice Care Linked to Higher Family Satisfaction, Fox News, January 5, 2017. 

 

January 9, 2017 in Death Event Planning, Disability Planning - Health Care, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

How One Man Reimagined the Way We Die

Bj millerFor B.J. Miller, a triple amputee, life through his eyes was only uniquely difficult. Miller found his professional focus upon entering medical school and discovering palliative care—an approach that focuses on improving the quality of life for patients with serious illnesses and their families. Eventually, he would become the executive director of a pioneering hospice in San Francisco, the Zen Hospice Project, which originated at the height of the AIDS crisis. Now, the hospice is an independent nonprofit group that trains volunteers for a local public hospital as well as its own residential operation. The goal of Zen Hospice is to restore one’s end of life to a human experience rather than a medical one—or, as Miller puts it, to “de-pathologize death.” Miller sought to make the talk about death seem less scary, having known exactly how suffering can suspend you in a world of darkness. Miller, someone who imposes guilt on himself to live life to the fullest—a byproduct of his intimacy with mortality—selfishly ensured that his patients preserve their favorite part of themselves in their last moments. Shortly after an extreme personal experience with one of his patients, Miller stepped down as Zen Hospice’s executive director and now works on his own dream, something he calls the Center for Dying and Living, designing imaginative possibilities for palliative care. Read his full story for insight into how an amputee used his own experience to pioneer a new model of palliative care.   

See Jon Mooallem, One Man’s Quest to Change the Way We Die, N.Y. Times Magazine, January 3, 2017. 

Special thanks to Joel Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) & Lewis Saret (Attorney, Washington, D.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.

 

January 9, 2017 in Death Event Planning, Disability Planning - Health Care | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Trump Policies Will Likely Affect the Elderly and Special Needs Populations

Special needs trumpWith the recent election of Donald Trump, the elderly and special needs populations are likely to see changes. The President-elect has claimed that Social Security and Medicare will remain intact and solvent. How he plans to make this happen is something that has younger generations worried about the preservation of the fiscal health. For those who rely on Medicaid, block grants could go into effect, which could create profound changes for individual states, creating uncertainty and concern for planning needs. Additionally, the block grants will potentially affect special needs trusts, reducing or eliminating the benefits they provide. These possible Medicaid changes could also see many older homeowners losing their homes, a legacy for future generations, if the Medicaid program cannot pay for the cost of skilled nursing, keeping them from selling their homes and moving into nursing homes. Ultimately, in the near future, families will become more insular and protective of one another, and there will be high demand for multi-generational planning.  

See Michael Gilfix, How Trump Policies Could Affect the Elderly and Those with Special Needs, Wealth Management, January 6, 2017. 

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.

 

January 8, 2017 in Current Events, Disability Planning - Health Care, Disability Planning - Property Management, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 23, 2016

ABLE Program Reaches Georgia

Able georgiaThere is a new federal program adopted in Georgia for the benefit of disabled beneficiaries—Achieving a Better Life Experience, or ABLE. The program is designed to help families save funds for maintaining and improving a disabled individual’s health, independence, and quality of life. The money in this account grows tax-free, and the money can be distributed at any time for a qualified withdrawal. Additionally, these ABLE funds will not affect the disabled individual’s eligibility for Medicaid and Supplemental Social Security benefits. ABLE accounts are becoming a state-by-state program, so it is now time to consider these accounts for a qualified beneficiary in your life.   

See George, ABLE Is Ready; Are You Willing?, Fox+Mattson, P.C., December 5, 2016. 

 

December 23, 2016 in Current Events, Disability Planning - Health Care, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Robotic Therapy Cats Aid Dementia Patients

Therapy catsThe Memory Care unit at a Bronx medical facility is utilizing robotic therapy pets to soothe those with varying degrees of dementia and Alzheimer’s. Agitation and anxiety often plague these types of patients, so nursing facilities are using furry robotic friends to reduce the stress and isolation that accompanies the disease. Companies, like Joy for All Companion Pets, are making robotic pets that come in various models and cost considerably less than previous years. Ideally, these robotic pets allow patients to exchange companionship and experience serenity. 

See Andy Newman, Therapy Cats for Dementia Patients, Batteries Included, N.Y. Times, December 15, 2016. 

Special thanks to Lewis Saret (Attorney, Washington, D.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.  

 

December 22, 2016 in Current Events, Disability Planning - Health Care, Elder Law, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 19, 2016

Special Needs Fairness Act Officially Becomes Law

Special needs lawOn December 13, 2016, President Obama signed the Special Needs Trust Fairness Act into law. By adding “the individual” to an existing statute, over two decades of unfair treatment to disabled individuals was ended by allowing them to create their own self-settled special needs trusts. This Act empowers capable disabled individuals, who no longer have immediate family members living, to make their own decisions and not be forced to rely on others for their advocacy. 

See Bernard A. Krooks & Amy C. O’Hara, Special Needs Trust Fairness Act Becomes Law, Wealth Management, December 16, 2016. 

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.

 

December 19, 2016 in Current Events, Disability Planning - Health Care, Estate Planning - Generally, New Legislation, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 9, 2016

The Special Needs Trust Fairness Act Has Passed

Special needs trustFirst Party Special Needs Trusts are established under 42 U.S.C. § 1396p(d)(4)(A). The prior federal statute only allowed the trusts to be set up by a disabled individual’s family member, not the person with the disability. The law presumed that individuals with disabilities lacked the mental capacity to establish a trust. The Special Needs Trust Fairness Act has now passed the House and Senate. This Act will allow a disabled individual to establish his or her own special needs trust. The President is expected to sign the bill soon.

See It Passed!: The Special Needs Trust Fairness Act Has Passed Both the House and the Senate and Is on Its Way to the President for Signature, The Interactive Legal Team, December 7, 2016.

Special thanks to Lewis Saret (Attorney, Washington, D.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.  

December 9, 2016 in Current Events, Disability Planning - Health Care, Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)