Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Friday, December 27, 2019

Alzheimer’s Tests Soon May Be Common. Should You Get One?

AlzThough doctors could determine that a person had Alzheimer's disease by particular symptoms, a formal diagnosis could not be performed until examining the brain during an autopsy. This may be a thing of the past, with two diagnostics tests on the horizon - a blood test that can detect the protein beta amyloid and a brain scan that can detect the protein tau.

These types of diagnostic testing may become more widespread, and with proteins developing on a person's brain before symptoms of the disease appear, a diagnosis can be formed before a patient develops Alzheimer's most feared symptom - dementia. A positive test could help a person get their affairs in order and form a plan for their future. And a drug company, Biogen, claims to have the first treatment that may slow the course of the disease if begun early enough. But how would knowing that one day you may not recognize any of your loved ones affect your choices today? Medical insurance companies are banned from denying coverage for patients with Alzheimer's diagnoses, but nothing is stopping long-term care insurers or even life insurers from denying them.

Dr. Daniel Gibbs, 68, a neurologist in Portland, noticed little slip ups in his memory and decided to get brain scans for beta amyloid and partake in cognitive tests. He was diagnosed as being in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, and now has severe worries about his future, going so far as telling his family that if he gets something like pneumonia, they should withhold treatment. 

See Gina Kolata, Alzheimer’s Tests Soon May Be Common. Should You Get One?, New York Times, December 20, 2019.

Special thanks to Lewis Saret (Attorney, Washington, D.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.

December 27, 2019 in Current Affairs, Disability Planning - Health Care, Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Planning - Generally, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 26, 2019

CLE on Effective Use of IRA Assets in Tax and Estate Planning After the Secure Act (Includes IRS Compliance Issues)

CLESeymour Goldberg is presenting a seminar entitled, Effective Use of IRA Assets in Tax and Estate Planning After the Secure Act (Includes IRS Compliance Issues), on Wednesday, January 29, 2020 at Melville Corporate Center III, Master Conference Room, at 324 South Service Road, Melville, NY. Provided below is a description of the event.

Many taxpayers have accumulated a considerable amount of assets in their retirement accounts. These assets may be in their 401(k), another type of qualified plan, a 403(b) arrangement, a 457 governmental plan, a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA.

Estate and income tax planning are more important than ever, especially under the Secure Act, when advising a client that has substantial retirement type assets. This program covers many of the rules that you need to know when implementing an estate plan for the client that has substantial retirement assets. IRS Compliance is now a major issue in retirement distribution planning for IRA owners and IRA beneficiaries.

Some topics included in this program:

    • Brand new world of retirement distribution planning
    • Effective date of changes in the rules
    • Transition rules and partial retroactive rule provisions
    • Retroactive effect on IRA trusts throughout the United States that have not been amended or redone
    • No grandfather rule for IRA trusts for IRA owners who pass away on or after January 1, 2020
    • Effective use of Roth IRA trusts going forward to save the day
    • New required beginning date o Special rules for special categories of beneficiaries
    • Use of 10 year trusts for designated beneficiaries
    • Use of a life expectancy trust plus 10 year bonus payout period for eligible designated beneficiaries
    • The 10 year rule versus the life expectancy rule plus the 10 year bonus rule (without trusts)
    • Repeal of maximum age rule for making traditional IRA contributions
    • The federal age of majority rule for children
    • Potential massive IRS penalties for not tracking the new rules
    • Need for new practitioner specialty (IRA Compliance Specialist)
    • Default beneficiary issues

For more information on how to attend the event, see here.

December 26, 2019 in Conferences & CLE, Current Events, Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 2, 2019

Article on How Reliant are Older Americans on State and Local Government Pensions?

PensionPhilip Armour, Michael Hurd, &Susann Rohwedder  recently published an Article entitled, How Reliant are Older Americans on State and Local Government Pensions?, Elder Law eJournal (2019). Provided below is an abstract of the Article.

State and local government pension plans cover about 19.5 million participants, and many participants are heavily reliant on these pensions for retirement income. Most of these plans, however, are underfunded. Based on data from the Health and Retirement Study, we examined the lifetime work histories of those observed at ages 67 to 72 in 2004, 2008, or 2014. Seventy-seven percent of single persons and 61 percent of couple households had never worked for state or local (S&L) government. Among those single and couple households who did work for S&L government, we found that they have on average more years of education and more economic resources. Among currently retired and near-retirement households, we compared economic preparation for retirement according to their lifetime employment in the S&L sector, and we examined how economic preparation would be affected if pension benefits were cut. Based on stochastic simulations, which account for uncertainty about length of life and out-of-pocket medical expenditures, we found that economic preparation for retirement among those with S&L government work histories would only be modestly reduced if their pension income were cut. Under a 50 percent cut to all pension income of households with any S&L sector work, only an additional three to four percent of these households would no longer be prepared for retirement. The change is modest because households with S&L employment have better preparation than other households; some of the cuts are paid for by reduced taxes; and the affected households will bequeath less.

December 2, 2019 in Articles, Current Affairs, Disability Planning - Health Care, Disability Planning - Property Management, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Article on Supported Decision-Making: A New Approach for Older Clients with Cognitive Impairment

BrainscanMargaret Castles published an Article entitled, Supported Decision-Making: A New Approach for Older Clients with Cognitive Impairment, Elder Law eJournal (2018). Provided below is the abstract to the Article.

There has been a flurry of law reform activity around elder rights in the last few years. In 2017 the Australian Law Reform Commission’s Report “Elder Abuse – a National Legal Response” made far reaching recommendations. Earlier this year the Commonwealth Government published the results of its Inquiry into the Quality of Residential Aged Care in Australia, and has recently announced a Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

 

November 30, 2019 in Articles, Current Affairs, Disability Planning - Health Care, Disability Planning - Property Management, Elder Law, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Professional Responsibility | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 21, 2019

Get Your Digital Accounts Ready in Case of Death

Black bookBefore our inevitable demise, it would be a gift to our loved ones if we packaged all of our social media account passwords, email passwords, and any other digital account information together to make final arrangements and settling our affairs simpler for them. Here’s how to set up a digital “little black book” for easy and secure information sharing with family members and trusted friends.

  • Share your account logins and other secure information with a password manager
    •  A password manager is a software application that securely and conveniently stores all your account logins as well as notes you want to keep safe. These usually cost a small annual fee, but are well worth it.
  • Record and save emergency info
    •  These can include funeral plans, living will wishes, safe or even smart phone combinations or codes, important contacts - including your attorney and/or financial advisor, locations of valuables and critical papers, recurring bill information (so nothing goes into default), and any other financial information that may be needed immediately upon your death.
  • Set up dead-man switches and assign custody for your digital accounts
    •  Some accounts allow you to designate a person that can gain access upon your death or even simply after an extended period of inactivity.
  • Drill practice — teach your loved ones how to survive without you
    •  Do not surprise your family with these wishes! Make sure they accept any designations, download any necessary applications, and remember to update your information on a yearly basis.

See Melanie Pinola, Get Your Digital Accounts Ready in Case of Death, New York Times, October 3, 2019.

Special thanks to Lewis Saret (Attorney, Washington, D.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.

October 21, 2019 in Current Affairs, Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Non-Probate Assets, Technology, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

California Legislature Cracks Down on Caregivers Who Marry Dependent Adults

AnnaCalifornia Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill 328 on June 26, 2019 and will be effective on January 1, 2020, which hopes to close loopholes that allow scheming caregivers to marry the adults that are dependent on them. The Legislation creates a rebuttable presumption of undue influence in two scenarios: transfers to care custodians who Marry dependent adults and care custodians who make "omitted spouse" claims.

The Bill applies to “dependent adults,” who are defined as an adult of any age who cannot provide properly for his or her basic needs or who has difficulty managing his or her financial resources or resisting fraud or undue influence. If a donative transfer of property occurs or an instrument that does so is executed within six months of a caregiver marrying or cohabitating with a dependent adult, the caregiver must through clear and convincing evidence that there was no fraud or undue influence.

If there is no donative transfer or the newly minted spouse is not mentioned in the will, the caregiver was once allowed to claim an omitted spouse share of the decedent's estate. California law states that if a decedent does not update a will after a marriage, the omitted spouse is entitled to a third of the estate under California Probate Code section 21610 and section 21611. The Bill amends section 21611 so that care custodians who marry dependent adults cannot make “omitted spouse” claims if the dependent adult dies less than six months after the marriage occurred.

See Jeffrey S. Gavin, California Legislature Cracks Down on Caregivers Who Marry Dependent Adults, September 16, 2019.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.

October 8, 2019 in Current Events, Disability Planning - Property Management, Elder Law, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, New Legislation, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 7, 2019

CLE on Changing/Repurposing Old Trusts to Work Under the New Tax Rules

CLEThe National Business Institute is holding a webcast entitled, Changing/Repurposing Old Trusts to Work Under the New Tax Rules, on Monday, October 21, 2019 from 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM Central. Provided below is a description of the event.

Program Description

Learn How and When to Modify a Trust

New tax rules are in effect, and your clients may be wondering what impact these major changes have had on their trusts. Whether to qualify for government benefits, minimize tax exposure or to take advantage of new incentives, there may be good reason to amend or restructure the trust. Do you have the knowledge and skills you need to make this happen? Our experienced faculty will walk you through the legal process of modifying a trust, offering solutions to specific trust issues in the new tax law and equipping you with the tools you'll need to respond to future changes. Register today!

    • Help your clients identify when a trust should be modified.
    • Understand who has the legal authority to make a change to the trust.
    • Gain insight into the legal process involved with modifying an existing trust.
    • Determine what to do with old credit shelter trusts.
    • Learn how to build modification provisions into the trust and receive other helpful drafting tips.
    • Discover what has changed as a result of the new tax rules, what stayed the same, and what still works.

Who Should Attend

This course is designed for attorneys. It will also benefit financial planners, accountants and CPAs, tax preparers, trust officers, and paralegals.

Course Content

    • What Still Works
    • When Should the Irrevocable Trust be Modified?
    • Mechanisms for Making the Change
    • What to Do With Old Credit Shelter Trusts
    • Specific Solutions to New Trust Tax Problems and Opportunities
    • Qualifying Trusts for the New Pass-Through Entity Deduction
    • Drafting for Flexibility to Respond to Future Tax Law Changes
    • Legal Ethics

October 7, 2019 in Conferences & CLE, Current Affairs, Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, New Legislation, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 29, 2019

CLE on Medicaid: Maximizing Excluded Assets

CLEThe National Business Institute is holding a webcast entitled, Medicaid: Maximizing Excluded Assets, on Wednesday, November 6, 2019 at 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM Central. Provided below is a description of the event.

Effective Approaches to Medicaid Eligibility Planning
Satisfying the spenddown requirement to ensure your client qualifies for Medicaid is a tough balancing act. One of the most effective levers in this planning is to maximize excluded assets. This practical guide will give you the knowledge and skills you'll need to ensure your clients use all the tactics at their disposal to qualify for Medicaid as early as needed, without excessive burden on their families. From simple approaches like gifting to the more complex Medicaid trusts - learn what works and get sample documents to ensure all your approaches are implemented impeccably. Register today!

 

    • Get an updated overview of Medicaid resource and transfer eligibility.
    • Evaluate common planning techniques and when they are most (and least) effective.
    • Maximize purchase and prepayment methods without undue hardship for your clients.
    • Save drafting time with sample Medicaid trust provisions.
    • Review the application and appeals process to ensure compliance and maximize chances of success.
    • Gain effective asset transfer tactics when time is of the essence.

Who Should Attend

This Medicaid legal guide is designed for attorneys. It will also benefit accountants and paralegals.

Course Content

    • Medicaid Asset Eligibility: Commonly Overlooked Excluded Assets
    • Purchasing Excluded Assets, Prepayment of Future Expenses, and Converting Countable Assets: Top Tips and Techniques
    • Anticipating the Tax Consequences of Medicaid Planning
    • Addressing Assets in Application, Appeals, and Fair Hearings Process
    • Coordination with Other Asset-Based Benefits Eligibility
    • Using Trusts to Maximize Excluded Assets
    • Asset Transfers in Crisis Planning
    • Can You Prove to Medicaid that an Asset Transfer Should NOT be Penalized?
    • Legal Ethics in Medicaid Planning

September 29, 2019 in Conferences & CLE, Current Events, Disability Planning - Health Care, Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Old Estate Plans May be Harmful to Your Health

WillThe main reason that many people do not update their estate plan or will is because they believe that "nothing has changed" in their lives. The passing of time may seem monotonous, but it is still unlikely that an event has not occurred that alters some aspect of your life, no matter how small. Even if you still do not believe that anything has overtly changed in your realm, the tax laws may have still changed. If you have not looked at your estate plan since the 2017 Tax Cuts and Job Act overhaul, you may be shocked to see that "everything" may have changed.

Here are a few other things that may trigger a change in your estate plan, even if you did not think so on the face:

  • Marriage, either yours or an heir/beneficiary
  • Death of an heir/beneficiary or other person named in documents
  • Birth/adoption of a new child or grandchild
  • Move to a new state
  • Significant change in economic situation
  • Change in jobs (make bring changes in beneficiary designations)
  • Change in wishes
  • Health issues that are new, worsening or even getting better
  • Change in relationship with anyone named in documents
  • New lawsuit or resolution of a lawsuit
  • Change in life insurance policies
  • Change in state laws that could effect any aspect of your estate plan

See Martin Shenkman, Old Estate Plans May be Harmful to Your Health, Forbes, September 27, 2019.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.

September 29, 2019 in Current Affairs, Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Gift Tax, New Legislation, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

From Hobby to Investment: How to Plan for Collectibles in Your Estate

CollectiblecarCollectibles may start off as a hobby, then evolve into a passion that amasses quite the value. Here are a few tips to preserve your investment:

  • Avoid a Fire Sale: Don’t Let Taxes Catch Your Heirs by Surprise
    •  Talk with a estate planning professional to determine the best method of to reduce the tax burden of your collection, whether it be gifting during your life or at death.
  • Put It on Paper: What Do You Own, Where Is It, and How Much Is It Worth?
    •  It would be prudent to group authentication paperwork, records of purchases, and any information regarding the history of the item to establish its provenance (chain of ownership) altogether with your estate planning documents.
  • Have a Backup Plan: Who Will Protect Your Collection if You’re Not Able?
    • If you become incapacitated or otherwise unable to manage your own affairs, a power of attorney allows a designated person to act as your agent, ensuring your collection is handled according to your wishes
  • Share Your Passion: Does Your Family Know Why You Collect?
    •  Do not just pass along the collection itself - explain to your family why it is so important to you, why it is your passion.
  • Preserve Your Collection: Find an Executor Who Knows How to Maintain It
    •  Having an executor that understands the particulars of your collection is extremely important, especially since they may need to find experienced appraisers for the items.
  • Reduce Taxes: Leave Your Treasures in the Hands of a Deserving Charity
    • When loved ones simply do not share your enthusiasm for a collection, or it becomes impossible to divide it equitably, a better choice may be donating it to charity and leaving other assets to your heirs.
  • The Takeaway: To Preserve the Value of Your Collection, Think Ahead

See From Hobby to Investment: How to Plan for Collectibles in Your Estate, Fiduciary Trust, September 4, 2019.

Special thanks to Joel C. Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.

September 17, 2019 in Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Gift Tax, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)