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)

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

What Are The Alternatives To File And Suspend?

AgingThe popular file and suspend filing strategy for Social Security has been done away with by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015.  “The file and suspend option expired after Friday, April 29, 2016, and those who elect to delay receiving their retirement benefits will also no longer be able to request a lump-sum payment of delayed benefits if they elect to stop deferring their benefits.”  This article discusses some of the alternative claiming strategies that are still available for senior citizen couples wishing to begin or delay collecting Social Security benefits.  One strategy that still exists which this article discusses is the restricted application, but this will be phased out eight years from now and is only available to those who were at least 62 years old by the end of 2015. 

See Mark P. Cussen, Alternative Strategies to File and Suspend, Investopedia, May 18, 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 18, 2016 in Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Non-Probate Assets | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 16, 2016

Choosing Between A Roth And A Traditional 401(k)

AgingThere are a lot of things that people need to consider when choosing between a Roth IRA and a traditional 401(k).  One advantage that a Roth 401(k) might have for high income earners that there are no income limits pertaining to Roth IRAs.  “Additionally, even for those who fall within the income requirements, the annual contribution limits of $5,500 ($6,500 for those 50 and over) on a Roth IRA can be an issue.”  It is important for people to consider what their tax situation will be when they retire because the tax consequences are different for these two types of retirement investment vehicles.  People need to think about their estate planning and tax diversification options when making these decisions.  It is a good idea to seek out the assistance of an experienced estate planning professional. 

See Roger Wohlner, How To Choose Between a Roth or Traditional 401(k), Investopedia, May 16, 2016.

May 16, 2016 in Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Retirement Problems That Baby Boomers Face

Check writingThe baby boomer generation started going into retirement at the beginning of this decade and there are more and more exiting the work force each day.  This article discusses some of the financial problems that many baby boomers are probably going to face.  There are many baby boomers who rely heavily on Social Security benefits for survival, and this could be a problem in the future as the Social Security system continues to face financial strains and the government has to make reforms that could change the rules for receiving benefits.  Sadly, there are many senior citizens who have neglected to properly save ahead for retirement and many people have to postpone their retirements to keep up with expenses.  Debt is another problem that many baby boomers are having to deal with.  It is important for people to develop a game plan for dealing with their retirement.

See Baby Boomers’ Retirement Woes Summed Up in 5 Statistics, Fox Business, May 15, 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 15, 2016 in Current Affairs, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, May 14, 2016

How Medicare Impacts People Who Turn Sixty-Five?

Medicare EnrollmentPeople become eligible for Medicare when they turn sixty-five, and there are a number of different factors that impact the process of enrollment.  There are some people who meet certain criteria that will automatically be enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B.  Medicare Part A is hospital insurance while Medicare Part B is medical insurance, and this article lists out the criteria that a person has to meet before being automatically enrolled in these programs.  If a person who reaches the age of sixty-five is not automatically enrolled for Medicare, then this article explains when and how they need to sign up for it. It also discusses what happens if a person is already covered by an employer’s health insurance plan.  People should remember to apply for Medicare during their initial enrollment period. 

See Matthew Frankel, Do I Get Medicare When I Turn 65?, The Motley Fool, May 14, 2016.

May 14, 2016 in Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

How People Can Boost Their Credit Scores In Retirement

Credit scoreHaving good credit is just as important in retirement as it is in other stages of life, and this article discusses ways that retirees can improve their credit scores.  One of the most important factors determining a person’s overall credit score is their ability to pay their bills on time.  People should study their credit reports and strive to keep their finances organized and to make sure to make necessary payments.  It is also a good idea to try to pay of many of the smaller debts.  This article also discusses ways people can ask for more credit without using it.  People should also hang onto at least one credit card account that they had for years.  These are some of the techniques that senior citizens can use to improve their credit scores while they are in retirement. 

See Maurie Backman, 5 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score In Retirement, The Motley Fool, May 13, 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 14, 2016 in Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Nursing Home Care Costs Increased Slightly In 2016

ElderlyIn 2016 there was a slight increase in the cost of nursing home care.  “The median cost of a private nursing home room in the United States has increased slightly to $92,378 a year, up 1.24 percent from 2015, according to Genworth's 2016 Cost of Care survey, which the insurer conducts annually.  Genworth reports that the median cost of a semi-private room in a nursing home is $82,125, up 2.27 percent from 2015. The rise in prices is modest compared to the 4.2 percent and 3.8 percent gains, respectively, in 2015.”  According to this article Alaska remains the costliest state for nursing home care while Oklahoma is the most affordable state.  Nursing home care is an important expense to factor into estate planning because statistics show that the average life expectancy is going to continue to increase. 

See Nursing Home Care Costs Are Only Slightly Higher in 2016, Elder Law Answers, May 12, 2016.

May 12, 2016 in Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

How Purposeful Aging Creates Health Benefits

Fullfilling lifeIn this column Richard Eisenberg discusses the impressions he came away with after attending the Milken Center for the Future of Aging’s Purposeful Aging Summit.  He discusses how there is a growing body of scientific research showing the health benefits of purposeful aging.  One of the ways that senior citizens can get a sense of purpose in their life is through volunteer work.  People do not need to have a new career to lead a purposeful life and volunteer work can pay dividends.  “The need is great, the Summit panelists agreed, to get the word out about programs like Experience Corps and Senior Corps.”  This column discusses a need to spark a volunteer movement to help senior citizens gain a sense of purpose and fulfillment for their lives.

See Richard Eisenberg, The Secret To Living A Longer, Healthier Life, Forbes, May 11, 2016.

May 11, 2016 in Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Dwindling Elder’s Estate with Court-Appointed Guardian

Guardianship-attorneysImagine spending over $50,000 on a court-appointed guardian in just three months! This is the situation that 94-year-old Betty Winstanley faces. She was appointed a guardian when the court wrongly determined that she was incapacitated. Betty is concerned because her estate is being unreasonably distributed to guardianship fees instead of her future heirs.

Betty also continues her battle in court to get permission to move closer to her children. Unfortunately, the judge continues to delay this request because it would mean that Betty’s money moves elsewhere. With Betty’s struggle, it is easy to see how our legal system is mocking the laws created to protect our elderly.

See Diane Dimond, Plundering Grandma’s Estate Via Court-Ordered Guardianships, Rockland County Times, May 6, 2016.

May 10, 2016 in Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Guardianship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Outdated Social Security Rules Affecting Seniors’ Retirement Income

Social SecurityToday, 90% of seniors rely on Social Security to provide them with expenses for their retirement. There is a big concern, however, that not enough people are entering the workforce to cover the new payroll tax revenue.

The biggest issue concerning the system for the past 33 years is the taxation of Social Security benefits based on income thresholds. In 1983, Congress passed an amendment allowing Social Security benefits to be taxed up to 50% for those with an annual income of more than $25,000. This amendment was relative at the time but has since lost reasonableness due to unchanged tax income thresholds.

One way seniors can solve this problem and be proactive in their retirement planning is by having a withdrawal plan. This plan allows seniors to strategize how they will receive their distributions ahead of time, which could avoid bumping them into the higher tax bracket and ultimately save them money.

See Sean Williams, This 33-Year-Old Social Security Rule Is Wreaking Havoc on Seniors’ Retirement Income, The Motley Fool, May 8, 2016.

May 10, 2016 in Current Affairs, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Income Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)