Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Avoiding These Eight Red Flags in an Estate Plan

RED-FLAG-1A true estate planner is able to foster trustworthy relationships with their clients while serving them in the fullest capacity. If you notice a gap in an estate-planning document, realize this red flag and know how to solve it.

When creating an estate plan, one goal many clients have is to avoid probate; on the other hand, a lot of clients draft a properly written will. Make sure that your clients goals are met and fill any gap in this estate-planning document. If a trust is in the estate plan, make sure that there is proper funding. Also, protect your client’s assets from creditors by never leaving valuable assets exposed. Similarly, do not leave inheritances in the hands of uninformed beneficiaries who can expose their gifts to creditors as well. Another good idea is to appoint trustees in a manner that gets the job done; you do not want fighting or miscommunication to burden future heirs. Furthermore, a planner should make sure that all account beneficiaries are updated along with any estate-planning documents. Accordingly, life insurance should be right for your client’s situation, determining whether too little or too much insurance can pose a problem. Finally, emphasize to your clients that they need a long-term care arrangement, helping with any unforeseen medical expenditures.

See Eight Red Flags That Your Client’s Estate Plans Are Out of Whack, Wealth Management, August 5, 2016.

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

August 11, 2016 in Disability Planning - Health Care, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Professional Responsibility, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Retirement and Estate Planning for Alzheimer's

Alzheimers developA study shows that Americans fear developing Alzheimer’s more than any other life‑threatening disease. It also shows that Americans fear the inability to care for themselves if diagnosed. This fear is valid because the end-of-life care for Alzheimer’s patients is often underestimated and more expensive than cancer or heart disease. Insurance pays for a portion of these costs but not all, so it is important to appropriately plan a retirement and estate plan. Accordingly, you must identify family members to be included in financial plans and any projected costs that can be covered by government benefits.

See Art Koff, What to Know About Alzheimer’s and Retirement Planning, Market Watch, July 7, 2016.

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

August 6, 2016 in Disability Planning - Health Care, Disability Planning - Property Management, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Severely Ill Patients Express Their Thoughts on What Is Worse Than Dying

Worse than dyingFor patients with severe illnesses, dying is normally not the worst thing they face. A recent study reports that a majority of those patients think that bowel and urinary incontinence and having to rely on a breathing machine are worse than a looming death. A majority, however, agreed that being in a wheelchair, being at home all day, and being in moderate pain are much better than death. Studies also show that large percentages of healthy people consider severe dementia to be worse than death. Furthermore, researchers noted that these feared states might at some point become more tolerable once they are experienced. Ultimately, we know that further research is needed to improve patient outcomes.

See Sara G. Miller, What’s Worse Than Death? Dementia and Breathing Machines, Patients Say, Fox News Health, August 2, 2016.

August 4, 2016 in Disability Planning - Health Care, Elder Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

STABLE Accounts for Your Estate Plan

STABLE accountThe Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act of 2014 will soon permit individuals to establish STABLE accounts in their estate plan for disabled family members. These accounts will allow family members to save money to be used throughout life concurrently with other government benefit programs for disabled family members. The earnings in these accounts will grow tax-free as long as they are utilized for qualified expenses. In order to establish a STABLE account, the individual must have been disabled before 26 years old and entitled to benefits under the SSI or SSDI programs.

See James Contini, James Contini Column: The Use of STABLE Accounts for the Estate Planning for Disabled Individuals, Times Reporter, July 3, 2016.

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

July 5, 2016 in Disability Planning - Health Care, Estate Planning - Generally, Income Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 4, 2016

ABLE Accounts for People with Disabilities

ABLE accountsABLE accounts are now allowing people with disabilities to save money without jeopardizing their government benefits. These accounts make it possible for people to maintain their status for Social Security and other government benefits while saving money for individual expenses. Ohio is the first state to offer these accounts after the 2014 ABLE Act. In Ohio, you can establish your account through a website and deposit up to $14,000 per year. Other states will begin to follow as they pass their own legislation, making their programs unique.

See Michelle Diament, ABLE Accounts Make Debut, Disability Scoop, June 2, 2016.

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

June 4, 2016 in Current Events, Disability Planning - Health Care, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Survey Shows Many Have Poor Understanding Of Cost For Long-Term Care

MoneyLong-term care is one of the most expensive aspects of old age and requires special preparation in order to be ready for the expense. One of the key things to know in order to prepare is a proper understanding of the cost but a new survey shows that many Americans are way off in their estimates. For example, respondents estimated home health care to cost less than $500 per month but, in reality, has a median cost approaching $4000. One of the authors of the study speculated that the disparity between expectations and realities was the result of many people being unfamiliar with long-term care and the associated cost and impositions. In addition, many people undervalue the contributions that caregivers provide for the elderly based on their experience caring for other, younger people. However, having a good grasp on the cost realities of long-term care, be it in home or at a special facility, is imperative so that proper choices with as much relevant information as possible can made when the time comes.

See Richard Eisenberg, Americans' Estimates Of Long-Term Care Costs Are Wildly Off, Forbes, May 10, 2016.

Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.

May 11, 2016 in Disability Planning - Health Care, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Undesirable Residents Being Forced Out Of Care Facilities Through Eviction

Nursing HomeLong-term care facilities are in the business of taking in people that require high levels of assistance and providing them with a stable environment for their final years. However, not all patients are the same and a new trend has emerged which sees time intensive and high maintenance patients being evicted. This is done, in no small part, to open up beds for individuals who require less attention and, as a result, cost less money to care for. Those targeted for eviction tend to be suffering from disorders that require high levels of care such as dementia. In addition, residents with family members that are viewed as difficult also tend to be targeted since they often request additional service and attention compared to others. As a result of this eviction trend, advocacy groups are calling for overhauls to state and federal law which dictate the circumstances under which a patient may be forced out of a facility. Until then, however, long-term care facilities will continue to have great leeway when it comes to choosing who gets to stay and who needs to go.

See Matt Sedensky, Nursing homes turn to eviction to drop difficult patients, The Seattle Times, May 8, 2016.

May 10, 2016 in Disability Planning - Health Care, Disability Planning - Property Management, Elder Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Some Estate Planning Steps To Take With Special Needs Children

Piggy BankEstate planning for special needs children is particularly difficult since there are a number of special considerations that must be accounted not the least of which is the high cost that can be associated with care. Whether the child is a minor or an adult that is unable to care for themselves there is much that must be done in order to protect their interest. For starters, documents that outline the history, be it personal or medical, of the child such as letters of intent are worth drafting since they can impart much useful knowledge to any future caregiver. In addition, making arrangement for the financial stability of the child is paramount which is why executing a will or creating a special needs trust is key. A trust in particular is important since it can help provide for the care of the child while not interfering with the ability to receive public assistance. In any event, it is best to consult with a professional estate planner when preparing for the future of a child with special needs in order to maximize the quality of the future care and lifestyle.

See, Raising a Child With Special NeedsIdaho Estate Planning, April 28, 2016.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse for bringing this article to my attention.

May 3, 2016 in Disability Planning - Health Care, Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

New Case Concerning Inclusion of Estranged Spouse's Assets

GavelWhen Howard Johnson entered a nursing a home, he applied for Medicaid in order to help pay for the cost of his stay. However, his application was rejected due to be financially above his state's $2000 asset limit. He challenged the rejection administratively and in the courts arguing that it was the assets of his long estranged wife being included with his own that pushed him over the threshold of ineligibility. The administrative judge ruled that it was proper to include the wife's assets which prompted a suit in federal court. In Evangelical Good Samaritan Society v. Valenti, the district court punted on the issue concerning the inclusion of the assets of the estranged wife with Johnson's when determining his Medicaid eligibility. Instead, the court said the the issue was moot since his assets, even when considered alone, would make him unable to receive assistance from the program.

See, Medicaid Applicant Can't Protest Treatment of Separated Spouse's Assets When He Is Individually Over the Asset Limit, Elder Law Answers. April 24, 2016.

April 26, 2016 in Disability Planning - Health Care, Elder Law, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Advanced Directives Are A Great Way To Ensure Your Future Wishes Are Respected

Pen and PaperAs old age approaches, many people begin to consider what their last wishes will be particularly in regards to how their property and health will be managed in the event of incapacitation. However, while many think, few plan and largely allow their wishes to be forgotten or ignored since they take no affirmative action to legally bind others to their desires. This is where an advanced directive can come into play since they allow for instructions to be given about care which must be followed by later decision makers. In addition to instructions, the advanced directive can appoint a specific person to carry out the wishes of the directive's creator. An advanced directive can be supplemented by a living will which dictates what level of end of life care will be given under certain circumstances. But, despite the advantages of these documents, relatively few people take advantage of what they have to offer although greater education about the benefits is slowly pushing more people in the right direction.

See Jamie Zuckerman, Why Do So Few Americans Have Advance Directives?, Wealth Management, April 18, 2016.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse for bringing this article to my attention.

April 21, 2016 in Death Event Planning, Disability Planning - Health Care, Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)