Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Monday, February 8, 2016

Making The Conversion From A Traditional IRA To A Roth

Estate planning changesThere are some financial advisers who are saying that now is a good time for savers to shift from a traditional IRA to a Roth account. Contributions into a traditional IRA are tax-free, but the withdrawals are not. With a Roth IRA the taxes are paid up-front, but the distributions made during retirement are tax-free. This column goes into some more detail describing the differences between traditional and Roth IRAs. There are many factors that financial planners will need to consider when deciding whether to recommend a traditional to Roth conversion to a client. This article points out the importance of being strategic with retirement planning. People that want to get more specific advice that applies to their own situation should schedule a meeting with an experienced estate planning adviser.

See Rebecca McClay, Converting Your Traditional IRA to a Roth: A Balancing Act, The Street, February 8, 2016.

February 8, 2016 in Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Non-Probate Assets, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Case On Nursing Home Arbitration Agreements In California

GavelIn 2012, Marjorie Fitzpatrick entered an assisted living center due to her advancing dementia and was sign in by her daughter Valerie acting as her mothers representative. However, in 2013, Marjorie suffered a fall outside the facility while unsupervised and was left on the ground for over half an hour and suffered numerous injuries which contributed to her death. Valerie, acting as a representative of Marjorie's estate, filed suit for wrongful death but the facility argued that Valerie and the estate was bound to the arbitration agreement that Valerie signed when she placed her mother in the facility. In Monschke v. Timber Ridge Assisted Living LLC, the appellate court affirmed the trial court and held that the estate was not bound by the agreement since the suit was brought on behalf of the children of Marjorie, rather than the decedent herself, and that they were not bound by the agreement.

Special thanks to Stacie Strong (Manley O. Hudson Professor of Law, University of Missouri School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.

February 8, 2016 in Elder Law, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Importance Of Planning Ahead For Long-Term Care

ABLEPlanning ahead for long-term care can be difficult because there are many ways it can impact different people. This column discusses some of the statistics that can provide people guidance with long-term care planning. It goes over the statistics on the age demographics of people needing nursing home care revealing that the odds are an individual will not need nursing home care until he or she is 80 or 85. Some of the key factors that go into determining whether a person will need long-term care include their family history, health and fitness level, and their current family situation. All these factors should be weighed together when planning ahead for the possibility of one day needing long-term care in an assisted living facility.

See Harry S. Margolis, Will You Need Long-Term Care?, Margolis & Bloom, LLP, February 2, 2016.

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

February 7, 2016 in Disability Planning - Health Care, Disability Planning - Property Management, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Non-Probate Assets | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 5, 2016

Avoiding Financial Mismanagement When Caring For An Aging Parent

AgingThis column discusses a common problem involving adult children with no financial management skills taking over the responsibility of caring for an aging parent with dementia. It is very important to make sure that the person who is named to have power of attorney over financial matters is competent and prepared to handle the complex responsibilities. The person who is named to be a guardian or to have a medical power of attorney also needs to be prepared. There can be terrible consequences for not making sure that the person who is named to handle these responsibilities is competent for the task. This article presents a situation where a person terribly mismanaged the financial affairs of a mother who had dementia. It is extremely important to plan ahead with a competent adviser.

See Carolyn Rosenblatt, Aging Parents And Loss Of Wealth In Widowhood, Forbes, February 5, 2016.

February 5, 2016 in Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Guardianship, Income Tax, Non-Probate Assets, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Mice Are Living Much Longer Lives, And Humans Could Be Next

Research mouseScientists have been able to increase the lifespan of mice by as much as 35 percent, and many researchers believe that this type of advanced medical technology could potentially help humans live much longer and healthier lives. “They discovered that senescent cells – cells that no longer replicate as organisms get older – build up with age, and contribute to age-related illnesses including cancer.” When these cells were removed from the mice they lived much longer lives. This column describes some of the scientific principles behind what the researchers are studying. Longer lifespans that will be made possible because of continued advances in medical research and technology will have a major impact on estate and retirement planning in the future. If the average human is living a much longer lifespan society may need to rethink its whole attitude about aging.

See Matt Atherton, Mice have been made to live 35% longer – and it could be humans next, say researchers, International Business Times, February 4, 2016.

February 5, 2016 in Current Affairs, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Science, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Estate Planning For An Unplanned Early Retirement

Check writingPeople do not always retire when they plan on it, and an unplanned event that causes an early retirement will have estate planning implications. This article discusses the steps that people should take if they find themselves in a situation where they are unintentionally retired. Planning for a surprise retirement event should include making good choices with assets, developing a tax-smart withdrawal strategy, and developing a budget to plan on living within means. This article discusses things that retirees will need to know about health savings accounts and both traditional and Roth IRAs. There are many different circumstances that could cause a person to retire early that ranges from being laid-off or having to retire due to some type of medical disability. Each of these different situations will require a unique estate planning and retirement strategy.

See Unplanned Early Retirement?, Forbes, February 5, 2016.

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

February 5, 2016 in Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Income Tax, Non-Probate Assets | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Information About Elder Abuse Cases

ElderlyThis column provides a breakdown of elder abuse statistics in the State of Minnesota which has recently established an award-winning system that audits how court appointed handle the finances of people with dementia. Elder financial abuse is a growing problem as the American population continues to age. State governments will need to adopt policies to stay ahead of this problem. In this article is a chart that represents the number of audits that were done on conservatorship accounts “under the online Minnesota’s Conservator Account Auditing Program (CAAP).” This growing concern and awareness about the problem of elder financial abuse is not just going to be limited to the State of Minnesota but is instead an issue of national importance. Policy makers should consider crafting policies to tackle this issue so that vulnerable senior citizens can be protected.

See Jim Foster, Elder abuse cases, by the numbers, Star Tribune, January 30, 2016.

February 4, 2016 in Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Non-Probate Assets, Professional Responsibility | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Impact Aging Has On Financial Decision-Making

AgingAs people age their ability to manage financial decisions might decline. The likelihood and severity of that decline is different for each person and could depend on a large number of different variables. This article discusses the scientific research that has been done on the impact that the aging process has on people’s cognitive ability to make financial decisions. It is important to be able to anticipate any potential health problems that might come up in the future and carefully plan ahead. People need to think about the unpleasant possibility that they might one day face cognitive decline when putting together their own estate plan. It is also crucial to get the assistance of an estate planner who has experience with helping clients plan for the possibility of a future decline in cognitive abilities.

See Ted Beck, How Aging Affects Financial Decision-Making, Forbes, February 2, 2016.

February 2, 2016 in Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Guardianship, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Decisions People In Retirement Will Have To Make About Housing

For saleA very important aspect of estate planning for retirement involves planning for housing needs. Besides providing comfort and shelter, homes are also a major source of wealth for retirees. There are many expenses involved with maintaining a home that can add up to a major portion of the household budget. This article discusses the many important considerations that senior citizens will have to weigh when deciding whether to stay in their house or move. People will need to evaluate their own individual circumstances and chart out the goals that they are looking to accomplish. It is a good idea to meet with an experienced estate planner to discuss the issues that are mentioned in this article. Staying ahead of retirement planning will make things easier further down the road.

See Wade Pfau, Should I Stay or Should I Go? Housing Decisions In Retirement, Forbes, February 2, 2016.

February 2, 2016 in Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Income Tax, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Arizona Court Overturns Home Arbitration Agreement

GavelOne of the biggest changes when it comes to nursing homes in recent years has not been related to the care received but the agreement that gets someone into the facility. Arbitration agreements are now boiler plate language in nursing home contracts and severely constrict the ability of aggrieved residents or family from pursuing relief in court where the potential remedies are often more robust. But a recent Arizona case showed that the agreements are not ironclad. A man entered his mother into the home and signed the agreement on her behalf but had no power of attorney or other authority which the court held made the contract unenforceable. In addition, the court noted that agreements might be attacked using the doctrine of "contract of adhesion" which essentially means the term is void since a party to the contract has no choice but to sign with the offending term. However, the only surefire way to protect yourself from the arbitration agreement is to cross out the provision before signing which many agreements allow and an increasing number of states permit by law. But always make sure that the arbitration agreement can be waived before signing in order to avoid any unpleasant revelations down the line.

See Robert Fleming, Nursing Home Arbitration Provision Voided in Arizona Case, Fleming & Curti, February 1, 2016.


February 2, 2016 in Disability Planning - Health Care, Elder Law, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)