Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Friday, July 24, 2015

Special Needs Trust Fairness Act Reintroduced In Congress

CapitolAfter failing to pass in the last legislature, the Special Needs Trust Fairness Act was reintroduced by a bipartisan group of Congressman. Specifically, the act applies to first-party special needs trusts which are trusts that are established using the incapacitated person's own assets to provide additional financial support while they are receiving certain government benefits. Current law requires that the first-party trust be requested by guardians or the court with the new legislation seeking to allow an otherwise mentally competent individual to set up a first-party trust without the intervention of any other party. Proponents of the bill argue that forcing a person to seek a family member or court to set up this type of trust imposes an unnecessary burden without any benefit.

See David H. Lenok, Spotlight: The Special Needs Trust Fairness Act of 2015, Wealth Management, July 22, 2015.

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

July 24, 2015 in Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Planning - Generally, New Legislation, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Ten Retirement Mistakes People Should Avoid

BlundersAs the United States population average life expectancy continues to rise more people will need to plan ahead for retirement.  Here are ten retirement mistakes that people should avoid making:

  1. Not planning ahead. Failing to have a retirement plan in place is a common mistake people often make. 
  2. Discounting inflation.  When putting together a financial plan for retirement it is important to factor in inflation.
  3. Not having enough saved up.  Make sure you have enough money saved up to last for a long time. 
  4. Dipping into retirement accounts too early.  People should avoid raiding their retirement early, keep the money in the accounts so that it can accumulate. 
  5. Making rash investment decisions.  It is important to be cautious and not overly emotional when making investment decisions. 
  6. Being too cautious with investments. Although it is true that people should not be overly rash when making investment decisions.  It is still a good idea to take some reasonable risks with investments.
  7. Forgetting about employer 401(k) match.   Avoid making the mistake of missing out on employer matching funds. 
  8. Allowing all retirement income to be taxable.   People should consider putting money into a Roth IRA to receive tax benefits. 
  9. Not preparing for health care expenses.  Plan ahead for the unexpected expenses of long term health care. 
  10. Filing for Social Security early.  While people can start getting benefits at the age of 62, it is a good idea to wait for the full retirement age to file for social security benefits. 

See Maryalene LaPonsie, 10 Big Retirement Blunders, U.S. News, July 23, 2015.

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

July 23, 2015 in Disability Planning - Health Care, Disability Planning - Property Management, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Important Things To Remember When Making An Estate Plan

Estate planning 2Putting together an estate plan is a very important task that many people often neglect to do.  This column includes a 14-point checklist of important things people need to remember when making an estate plan.  One of the most important things a person should do is seek out assistance from a competent and honest financial adviser who can help put together an estate plan that can accomplish the client’s goals.  The checklist includes things people need to do to plan ahead for the distribution of their estate and to determine who will have power of attorney and guardianship in the event something happens.  Going through this checklist will help people identify the important details that they need to remember when speaking with an adviser.  This column will hopefully provide more people with the tools they need to make better financial planning decisions. 

See Art Koff, Review your estate plan against this 14-point checklist, Market Watch, July 20, 2015.

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

July 22, 2015 in Disability Planning - Health Care, Disability Planning - Property Management, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Guardianship, Income Tax, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Lawmakers Reintroduce Special Needs Trust Fairness Act

2capital A bi-partisan team of congress members have re-introduced the Special Needs Trust Fairness Act of 2015.  The bill would make the process of creating a first-party special needs trust easier for people with disabilities.  “The current law governing first-party special needs trusts states that a trust must be created by the beneficiary's parent, grandparent, or guardian or by a court, even if the beneficiary is mentally competent.”  Congressmen Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA) and Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ) have proposed this new legislation that would give individuals with disabilities the same right to create a special needs trust as a “parent, grandparent, guardian, or court.”  The full bill can be read here.

See Special Needs Trust Fairness Act Reintroduced in Congress, Special Needs Answers, June 30, 2015.

July 21, 2015 in Current Affairs, Disability Planning - Health Care, Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 13, 2015

What Happens When A Person Has To Stop Working?

Estate planningThere are many unexpected events that could happen in a person’s life that would make them have to stop working.  An individual might experience a sudden disability, have to care for a loved one, or they might lose employment through a lay off or downsizing.  It is important to plan ahead with budgeting, saving, and making extra payments on mortgages and automobiles.  Developing skills and maintaining networks is also essential.  A person should want to have a plan in place so that they can be secure if they unexpectedly lose their job. 

See Rodney Brooks, You may intend to keep working.  But life may say otherwise., The Washington Post, July 11, 2015.

Special thanks to Lewis Saret for bringing this article to my attention.

July 13, 2015 in Disability Planning - Health Care, Disability Planning - Property Management, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 4, 2015

New Laws Seek To Protect Dementia Sufferers

DementiaDementia has become increasingly common among the elderly with a staggering five million Americans having the disease. Unfortunately, many people seek to take advantage of a dementia patient's diminished capacity. Family members, or anyone else who is familiar with the dying person, are usually the perpetrator of any fraud but telemarketers and the like are also a threat. A few states have passed laws that require financial advisers and institutions to report suspicious activity around the account of vulnerable clients. This reporting requirement is not yet expected to be widely adopted but it is a good step to protect the finances of the impaired.

See Suzanne Barlyn, Protecting dementia sufferers from scammers gains ground in U.S., Reuters, July 1, 2015.

July 4, 2015 in Disability Planning - Health Care, Disability Planning - Property Management, Elder Law, Guardianship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The IRS Has Released Proposed ABLE Account Regulations

ABLE1The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has released proposed regulations that will serve the purpose of implementing a new law that authorizes states to offer ABLE accounts.  Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts are designed to help people with disabilities and their family save money while reducing or eliminating the tax burden.  This column explains some of the features of ABLE accounts and how they can be a benefit to people who are disabled.  The IRS regulations can be read here.  

See Lewis J. Saret, Guidance Under Section 529A: Qualified ABLE Programs, Wealth Strategies Journal, June 26, 2015.

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

June 30, 2015 in Current Affairs, Disability Planning - Health Care, Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 26, 2015

Life Settlement May Provide For Long Term Care Of Dementia Patient

Old WomenFull time, in house care for a person suffering from dementia or Alzheimer cost an astounding amount every year. Medicare does not cover long term care and Medicaid only applies to those with little or no money which often leaves the family to pay the cost. However, if a patient has a life insurance policy, they have the option to sell the policy on an open market to provide instant liquidity to pay for care. There is a downside though, the immediate payout will be for a percentage of the policies' face value and the seller must continue to make premium payments to maintain the coverage. But a family that needs money now should carefully explore a settlement as it offers, in certain circumstances, the best option to care for a loved one in their dying days without wrecking the survivor's finances.

See Jeff Hallman & Scott Thomas, Families of Alzheimer’s patients turn to life settlements, Life Health Pro, June 25, 2015.

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

June 26, 2015 in Death Event Planning, Disability Planning - Property Management, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

A Few Simple Moves To Make When A Client Shows Signs Of Dementia

Wheel ChairWhen a client starts to show signs of dementia or Alzheimer an estate planner may be put in a difficult position concerning what action to take. However, there are a few simple steps that every adviser should take in that situation.  First, always consult with company policies established for such an event and with supervisors who might be in a better position to take action. Planners should also have all key documents gathered together in advance so that any guardian that might be appointed will have access to all key financial information. These steps, taken along with others, should help ensure that the client is protected in their time of need.

See Dave Lindorff, What to Do When Clients Show Signs of Dementia, Financial Planning, May 19, 2015.

June 9, 2015 in Disability Planning - Property Management, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 5, 2015

Most Americans Have Little Emergency Savings And How To Fix It

Piggy BankThe sad truth is that most Americans do not have money saved to cover any emergency that might arise be it minor or major. While most people feel they are safe from serious injury or job loss, little consideration is given to the smaller problems that might crop up such as car repairs or a minor, but expensive, hurt. One tip for everyone is to keep savings in a money market account or similar instrument that pays a reliable interest rate and offers easy liquidity. Planners should also look at what liabilities exist, such as a car or house payment, and make sure those obligations are taken into account. In the end, the general rule of thumb is six months of savings enough to cover almost all household expenses.

See Jennifer Waters, Emergency Savings — Here’s What You Really Need, Market Watch, May 28, 2015.

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

June 5, 2015 in Disability Planning - Health Care, Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)