Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

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)

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Struggles Of Living With Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzeimer'sThis is an emotional first person account from patient-advocate Greg O’Brien about the struggles of living with Alzheimer’s disease.  Around five million Americans currently suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, and that number is expected to double within the next 20 years as baby boomers continue to age.  The cost of treating Alzheimer’s patients is currently more than $200 billion per year, and that number could surpass $1 trillion by 2050.  In this column Greg O’Brien documents his own personal struggle with the disease and the impact it is having on his relationship with his family.  This account personalizes a struggle that is impacting millions of people.  Alzheimer’s disease also has an impact on estate planning as families struggle to adapt to the changing circumstances.  Planning ahead for diseases like Alzheimer’s is always important for any estate planning.

See Greg O’Brien, I’m documenting my own Alzheimer’s disease while I still can, The Washington Post, April 13, 2016.

Special thanks to Naomi Cahn (Harold H. Greene Professor of Law, George Washington University School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.

April 18, 2016 in Disability Planning - Health Care, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Science, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Why It Is Uncommon For Americans To Have Advanced Directives?

AgingAn advanced directive is a tool that enables people to have control over their future and what type of end-of-life care they will receive.  This article discusses how uncommon it is for Americans to use this estate planning tool.  The two forms of directives that are discussed in this article are instruction directives and proxy directives.  It explains the requirements for each of these two directives and the process that people have to go through to create an advanced directive.  Making decisions about end-of-life care can be stressful for people, but it is important to tackle these issues now so that people can have control over their lives.  People who put these decisions off might end up having these decisions made for them.  Advanced directives can protect patients when they are most vulnerable. 

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

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

April 18, 2016 in Disability Planning - Health Care, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Guardianship, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 8, 2016

The Importance Of Putting Things In Writing

Putting in writingAs people age they should realize the importance of drafting a living will.  A living will is intended to provide guidelines to certain individuals including health care proxies.  It is important for people drafting a living will to clearly express their intentions in writing.  When a person loses mental capacity they lose the ability to have control over the decisions they make for themselves.  If people want to have influence over what type of medical treatment they will receive after losing capacity they need to take steps to plan ahead by drafting a living will.  It is also important to draft other essential legal documents like a durable power of attorney for both financial and health care related issues.  Taking steps to plan for these difficult issues ahead of time can prevent future problems.

See Robin Marantz Henig, Putting It in Writing, Psychology Today, April 7, 2016.

April 8, 2016 in Disability Planning - Health Care, Elder Law, Wills | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Guidelines Issued By Department Of Labor For Employing Home Care Workers

CaregiverThe Fair Labor Standards Act has very strict wage and hour requirements for people who employ a home care worker who provides services for a family member with disabilities. “These requirements changed as of January 1, 2016, and under the new rules, most home care workers must be paid at least federal minimum wage, and overtime.”  There is a guide provided by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) called Paying Minimum Wage and Overtime to Home Care Workers: A Guide for Consumers and Their Families to the Fair Labor Standards Act that offers practical advice to families about compensating home care workers.  Caregivers are not independent contractors and families who hire them are subject to the requirements of federal labor law. 

See Department of Labor Issues Guide for Employing Home Care Workers, Special Needs Answers, April 5, 2016.

April 6, 2016 in Disability Planning - Health Care, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)