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)

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)

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Special-Needs Heirs Lead To Unique Estate Planning Concerns

TrustFor those with loved ones faced with special-needs, concern over their future welfare creates special considerations when planning an estate. The extra cost that care incurs is often the driving factor when planning and can result in unequal distributions to cover the extra cost which could lead to problems among heirs that would otherwise share equally. Another common problem is that special-needs heirs are often receiving government benefits such as social security or medicaid. These benefits are usually means tested and would be lost if a recipient was to come into money as a result of an inheritance. However, there are ways around these problems including taking out life insurance specifically for the special-needs heir, and splitting the estate equally, and using trusts to hold an inheritance avoid losing benefits. But every situation is different so if faced with this situation be sure to consult with an advisor to formulate the best plan to protect a vulnerable loved one.

See Henry E. Klosowski, Estate Planning When You Have a Special-Needs Child, The Wall Street Journal, March 27, 2016.

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

March 29, 2016 in Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 25, 2016

Proposed Legislation Would Modify Certain ABLE ACT Provisions

ABLEThere have recently been three different pieces of legislation introduced on March 17, 2016, that would modify some of the Achieving A Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act provisions.  This article provides a brief summary of each of the proposed changes.  Under the current rules eligibility for the creation of ABLE accounts is limited to those with disabilities who became disabled before turning 26.  One of the proposed changes known as H.R. 4813 would raise that eligibility age from 26 to 46.  There is another proposed change called H.R. 4794 that would permit rollovers between 529 accounts and ABLE accounts.  “Finally, H.R. 4795 would permit individuals with disabilities to save additional monies to an ABLE account above the annual maximum ($14,000.00) now in place.” 

See Catherine F. Scott Murray, ABLE Act- Proposed Legislation Will Modify Certain Provisions, The National Law Review, March 23, 2016.

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

March 25, 2016 in Current Affairs, Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Planning - Generally, Non-Probate Assets, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Hoarding Can Be A Serious Problem For Elderly Retirees

ArticlePictureHoarding is often viewed as something of a joke since the problem is based around the inability to dispose of excess possessions which, to most, seems like no problem at all. But for those suffering from the disorder, which was first recognized a few years ago in the DSM-V, it can be debilitating particularly when the person is older and the buildup creates problems. Be it the risk of falling due to an inability to easily move through a home to fire hazards it is a serious condition that must be rectified when it reaches a certain point. But how to confront the issue? The first step is to have an honest conversation with the hoarder and express to them, in a nonjudgmental manner, the worry about the situation while pointing out the risks that are being accrued. If that does not work, then professional assistance might be needed ranging from traditional physiological counseling to professionals that are dedicated to helping hoarders make the difficult choice on what to get rid of. But keep in mind that it is always imperative to treat the person suffering from the disorder with respect and dignity as a prerequisite to finding a solution.

See Rosanna Fay, The Painful Costs of Elder Hoarding, Next Avenue, March 23, 2016.

March 24, 2016 in Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)