Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

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)

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

How Electronic Records Can Help Protect End-Of-Life Documents

Digital ageWhen a person’s advanced directives go missing it can create a difficult problem when trying to determine what that person’s wishes were for end-of-life care.  In the era of paper records, it was common for advanced directives and other crucial estate planning documents to get lost when people needed them most.  This article also discusses the flaw many hospitals face when a patients’ advanced directives are spread out among many different systems.  There are researchers who are developing digital systems for storing advanced directives that will make it easier for health care providers to carry out a patients’ wishes.  Lawmakers in Congress have also expressed interest in making advanced health care directives “portable.”  Regulations on advanced directives current vary by state and people should obtain the services of an experienced attorney who guide them with drafting an advanced directive. 

See Shefali Luthra, Electronic Records Offer A Chance To Ensure Patients’ End-Of-Life Plans Aren’t Lost In Critical Moments, Kaiser Health News, March 23, 2016.

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

April 5, 2016 in Disability Planning - Health Care, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Technology, Web/Tech, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 2, 2016

A Detailed Guide Into Long-Term Care Insurance

ABLEThis article provides a detailed guide into long-term care insurance. As more people live longer lives the need for long-term health care is going to increase.  It is important for people to start thinking about planning for long-term care insurance as soon as possible.  This article provides a detailed explanation of the types of situations long-term care health insurance protects against and who should seek coverage.  The article examines the costs that people should expect when shopping for coverage and how they can find an affordable policy.  It examines what people should look for when choosing a long-term care policy and how they should use it.  People should start planning ahead for the possibility that they might need long-term care.  There are too many bad consequences that people might encounter if they put off taking precautions. 

See Amy Fontinelle, Your Complete Guide to Long-Term Care Insurance, Investopedia, April 1, 2016.

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

April 2, 2016 in Disability Planning - Health Care, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Non-Probate Assets | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Information About The Home-Sharing Economy

AgingThere are an increasing number of Americans who would like to stay in their own homes as they age and avoid living in an institutional nursing home for as long as possible. One interesting thing people are doing involves turning their houses into home-sharing operations or simply renting extra rooms they might have out to other senior citizens. “Home-sharing programs — often managed by nonprofits — match older homeowners (sometimes empty nesters) who could use extra income with older local people looking for a reduced rent, usually in exchange for helping around the house.” These types of operations can be a win-win for both the people wanting to keep their homes and those who are looking to save on rent. There is a lot of potential in these types of home-sharing operations and more businesses will likely get involved.

See Chris Farrell, How You Can Get In On The Home-Sharing Economy, Forbes, March 16, 2016.

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

March 16, 2016 in Disability Planning - Health Care, Disability Planning - Property Management, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)