Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Article on Estate Planning for Vulnerable Clients

ShenkmanMartin M. Shenkman recently published an article entitled, Estate Planning for the Chronically Ill, Aging, and Otherwise Vulnerable or Isolated Client, ABA Probate & Property, May/June (2016). Provided below is a summary of the Article:        

        Attorneys routinely build flexibility into their documents to address the uncertainty of future tax laws. This same care can be applied to helping clients deal with the uncertainties aging and chronic disease may bring. Certain clients are more vulnerable to financial abuse and other gaps in their estate planning safety nets. This heightened risk may be because of the challenges of aging, chronic illness, and other similar circumstances. Those clients who require extra precautions in the planning process will be referred to as “vulnerable clients.” This article will explore four key points of planning for vulnerable clients: different approaches for planning, planning for those with chronic illness, enhancing traditional estate planning for vulnerable clients, and planning for isolated vulnerable clients.

May 21, 2016 in Articles, Disability Planning - Property Management, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 12, 2016

First ABLE Accounts Should Come Into Existence This Summer

ABLEIt has been more than a year and a half since legislation was passed that should make it easier for people with disabilities to save money without jeopardizing their federal benefits.  The first ABLE accounts are expected to become available this summer as a handful of states open up their ABLE programs.  The State of Nebraska was the first to announce a launch date of June 30, but Ohio could also offer ABLE accounts even sooner.  “The new offering was created by the federal Achieving a Better Life Ex perience, or ABLE, Act, which became law in 2014.”  The programs will be different in each state and it is important for people to be aware of the local rules and regulations.  If done right this program can be very beneficial for people who are disabled. 

See Michelle Diament, First ABLE Accounts Expected This Summer, disability scoop, May 10, 2016.

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

May 12, 2016 in Current Affairs, Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | 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)

Monday, April 25, 2016

Estate Planning When A Spouse Moves Into A Nursing Home Facility

ElderlyFinancial planning for retirement can be difficult, and it can be even more troublesome when dealing with the expenses of a spouse moving into a nursing home facility.  This article discusses the Medical Assistance qualified annuity which is a planning tool that can be useful to someone whose spouse is already in a nursing home facility.  This is a means-tested program in order for the institutionalized spouse to become eligible they may be required to spend down excess resources.  “A Medical Assistance qualified annuity is an immediate annuity that is basically a contract between an individual and an insurance company by which the individual pays a sum of money and the insurance company sends the individual a fixed monthly check for the rest of that individual’s life or for a period of time less than that individual’s life.”

See Julian Gray and Frank Petrich, Elder Law Guys: Planning finances when spouse moves to nursing facility, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 25, 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 25, 2016 in Disability Planning - Property Management, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | 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)

Friday, April 15, 2016

Important Considerations For People With ABLE Accounts

ABLE ActBack in December of 2014 President Obama signed the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act into law.  “The ABLE Act authorizes, at the state level, the establishment of programs allowing the families of eligible disabled individuals to open investment accounts for which earnings are tax-exempt and assets are exempt for Medicaid qualification purposes.”  An eligible person is someone who became disabled before reaching the age of 26 and who qualifies for supplemental social security benefits.  A majority of the states have enacted legislation establishing ABLE programs, but none have gone into effect yet.  This article discusses how an ABLE plan is different from a 529 Plans.  It is important for people to become fully aware about how these plans work when deciding which approach to take.  More opportunities will be available to families with disabled loved ones once these ABLE Act provisions are fully implemented. 

See Brian R. Selvin, ABLE Accounts for Families with Disabled Individuals: Important Considerations, Greenbaum Rowe Smith & Davis LLP, April 15, 2016.

April 15, 2016 in Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Planning - Generally, Non-Probate Assets, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Checking In On An Elderly Relation? Make Sure They Are Financially Safe As Well

Nursing HomeSadly, seniors are often the target of scams ranging from false IRS calls claiming back taxes are owed to late night phone calls imploring the person to give bail money for a relation supposedly in jail. That is why they are often in need of greater help from family and friends in order to fight off con-men who know how to play on the feelings of the elderly. Because of this, it is important to always to gently check up on older loved ones to get a feel if they are under threat. For example, asking about their week and if anything unusual or interesting happened may get them to reveal a suspicious person who is trying to take their money. However, some tact is required since many people do not like to be made to feel helpless or admit they are unable to take care of their own affairs. Alternatively, a talk can be had with the person in which they agree to run by any major financial transaction with someone they trust in order to provide another layer of protection. But whatever the method, making sure that an elderly person has contact with friends and family who can help them is the greatest way to foil would be scams.

See Michelle Singletary, When you look in on that senior, see about their financial security, too, The Washington Post, April 13, 2016.

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

April 15, 2016 in Disability Planning - Property Management, Elder Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

New Social Security Administration Policy On Special Needs Trusts

Special needs trustThere is a new Social Security Administration (SSA) policy that makes it easier for people to understand why their special needs trust was rejected.  “The Social Security Administration (SSA) recently issued an Emergency Message to all personnel requiring workers to specifically inform Supplemental Security Income (SSI) applicants or beneficiaries of the reasons a special needs trust has been rejected by the agency.”  When the SSA would reject a special needs trust in the past they would send out a notice to the applicant telling them that their assets exceeded their resource limit.  The problem with these notices that were sent out by SSA was that they would not explain the reason why they made this determination about the applicant’s assets.  This column explains how this new policy will help people better understand why their trust was rejected.

See New SSA Policy Makes It Easier to Understand Why Your Special Needs Trust Was Rejected, Special Needs Answer, April 5, 2016.

April 5, 2016 in Current Affairs, Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Planning - Generally, Non-Probate Assets, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 4, 2016

New Regulations For Reverse Mortgages Help Prevent Abuse

HouseReverse mortgages have been a popular source of money for retirees since the loan was introduction in the late 1980's. The ability to tap the equity in a person's home without the need to repay the balance during the owner's lifetime made the arrangement a perfect match for those looking to reinforce their nest egg. However predatory lenders and ill informed consumers eventually lead to large numbers of foreclosures which prompted action by the Department of Housing which regulates the industry. In the last few years new rules have been implemented which among other things, restrict how much can be borrowed in the first year of the loan, stricter requirements for investigations into the ability for the mortgagee to maintain the home, as well higher levels of protection for surviving spouses. While these new rules do not completely eliminate the potential for abuse, they represent a step in the right direction for protecting individuals from financial harm at a vulnerable age.

See Donna Rosato, Reforms Come to Reverse Mortgages, Consumer Reports, March 31, 2016.


April 4, 2016 in Disability Planning - Property Management, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)