Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

NJ Clears 1st Hurdle to Make Assisted Suicide Legal

RighttodieThe Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee in New Jersey voted 6-3 last Thursday in favor of the Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act. The Act would allow doctors to prescribe life-ending medications to adult patients who have six months or less to live. It still must pass both house of the Legislature and be signed into law by Governor Phil Murphy.

An opponent of the bill claims that there were a limited number of people against the bill actually allowed to speak. Dr. T. Brian Callister says that the hearing was "irregular" and that apart from him, only one other physician was allowed to make comments. Dr. Callister said that he attended the hearing “in hopes of educating legislators about the perverse incentives and negative unintended consequences that physician-assisted suicide carries with it.”

Currently California, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and Washington, D.C. have passed laws that allow for assisted suicide. Montana also provides physicians a legal defense or immunity from prosecution under a court ruling.

See Frank Miles, NJ Clears 1st Hurdle to Make Assisted Suicide Legal; Opposition Calls Hearing a 'Charade,' Fox News, February 7, 2019.

February 13, 2019 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Death Event Planning, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Study Offers Hint of Hope for Staving Off Dementia in Some People

AlzA new study presents evidence that people with hypertension who received intensive treatment to lower their blood pressure were less likely than those receiving standard blood pressure treatment to develop minor memory and thinking problems. Often these type of problems develop into dementia and Alzheimer's disease later in life. This large study started in 2010 and involved over 9,000 racially and ethnically diverse patients, but all that had hypertension.

Though the study only showed these positive results in patients age 50 or older who had elevated blood pressure and who did not have diabetes or a history of stroke, this actually extends to a large number of people. 75% of people over 65 have hypertension. Dr. Kristine Yaffe, a professor of psychiatry and neurology at University of California San Francisco, said “I think it actually is very exciting because it tells us that by improving vascular health in a comprehensive way, we could actually have an effect on brain health.” Dr. Yaffe did not participate in the study.

The main goal of the study was to determine how much lower blood pressure levels would decrease with intensive treatment rather than standard treatment. The cognitive arm of the study continued to follow the participants for three more years. Those in the intensively treated group had a 19% lower risk of mild cognitive impairment. Because dementia may develop over many years, Alzheimer’s Association said it would fund two more years of the study.

See Pam Belluck, Study Offers Hint of Hope for Staving Off Dementia in Some People, New York Times, January 28, 2019.

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

February 5, 2019 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Disability Planning - Health Care, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 4, 2019

Warning: Many Face Nearly Impossible Financing 30 Years Of Retirement With 40 Years Of Work

OlderTwo economists from the National Bureau of Research say that many workers are attempting an impossible challenge of attempting to finance 30 years of retirement with 40 years of work. Robert Clark and John Shoven reported their findings to a Brookings Institute symposium on the elderly in the workplace.

In their report, the economists stated that the proportion of the labor force age 55 and over rose from 11.9% in 1994 to 21.7% in 2018, and they expect it to increase to almost 25% by 2024. Also, the share of persons 55 and older working rose from 30.1% in 1994 to 40.0% in 2014. Roughly 16% of seniors over age 65 are self-employed—over twice the rate of prime-age workers.

People 60 and above in the labor market has increased substantially, though participation in their 70s still remains low. "The single best way to ensure that today’s workers can enjoy a secure retirement is to persuade them to stay in the labor force longer and convince employers to hire and retain them,” Center For Retirement Research at Boston College Director Alicia Munnell said at the symposium.

See Ted Knutson, Warning: Many Face Nearly Impossible Financing 30 Years Of Retirement With 40 Years Of Work, Forbes, January 24, 2019.

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

February 4, 2019 in Current Affairs, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 1, 2019

CLE on How Trusts Affect Medicaid Eligibility and Estate Recovery

CLEThe National Business Institute is holding a webinar entitled, How Trusts Affect Medicaid Eligibility and Estate Recovery, on Wednesday, March 20, 2019, at 10:00 AM - 1:15 PM Central. Provided below is a description of the event.

Program Description

Don't Let Your Wealth Planning Practices Harm Your Client

Medicaid eligibility and estate recovery rules are complicated, and it's not always clear what impact planning techniques may have on a client's benefits and interests in the long run. In this legal program, our knowledgeable faculty will teach you how various trusts and other planning tools impact Medicaid eligibility and estate recovery so you can confidently safeguard your client's assets without fear of accidentally disqualifying them for Medicaid or putting their assets at risk of recovery. Register today!
Know the eligibility requirements for Medicaid - and which services and assets are subject to estate recovery.
Learn how you can capitalize on the benefits of revocable trusts - and other trusts - without interfering with your client's Medicaid eligibility.
Examine the advantages and disadvantages of gifting, life insurance and other alternatives to trusts in wealth planning.

Who Should Attend
This essential program is for attorneys. Accountants, financial planners, nursing home administrators, trust administrators/officers, and paralegals may also benefit.

Course Content
Who is Eligible for Medicaid?
Revocable vs. Irrevocable Trust Considerations
How Revocable Trusts Can Interfere with Medicaid Eligibility
Income-Only Trusts in Medicaid Planning
Special Needs Trusts
Medicaid Estate Recovery Summary and Trust Recoverability

February 1, 2019 in Conferences & CLE, Current Affairs, Disability Planning - Health Care, Disability Planning - Property Management, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 31, 2019

The ‘Golden Girls’ Trend Could be a Golden Opportunity for Retirees Facing Isolation

GoldengirlsInstead of living with their younger family members such as children and grandchildren, retirees are deciding to become roommates with fellow individuals in similar circumstances. "I found myself getting increasingly depressed because I didn’t have any contact with people my own age,” Jane Callahan-Moore, 69, said after she moved in with Stefanie Clark, 75.

The neighborhood they reside in has easily accessible restaurants and stores, so the fact that neither own a car is no issue. As older people lose the ability to drive, many find themselves trapped in their homes, unable to run errands or meet with friends. This unfortunate situation can lead to isolation, loneliness, and depression.

Living with a roommate or housemate can also lower the burden of bills while on a fixed income. “In the broader population, shared living in the last decade has exploded, especially in cities where housing costs are quite high,” said Gary Painter, professor in the University of Southern California’s Sol Price School of Public Policy. With the older population growing rapidly, so is the number of older individuals sharing homes. According to Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies this number increased by an amazing 88%, making the 'Golden Girls' lifestyle more and more commonplace. 

See Adina Solomon, The ‘Golden Girls’ Trend Could be a Golden Opportunity for Retirees Facing Isolation, Washington Post, January 24, 2019.

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

January 31, 2019 in Current Affairs, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

A Neuropsychologist’s Take on Mental Capacity Evaluation [California]

AlzJonathan Canick, Ph.D., who spoke last year at the Sacramento Estate Planning Council on the subject of “Aging, Cognition and Capacity," has practiced neuropsychology for over 30 years. He has assisted attorneys and family members when there is an issue of a person's mental and testamentary capacity, even when the assessment is performed posthumously.

Dr. Canick says that, contrary to popular belief, " significant changes in cognitive and mental functioning are not a normal part of aging." If a change or decline does occur, it usually involves the beginnings of a disorder or disease or other negative influence. Though instances of dementia increase once a person is past their seventh decade, it has been noted that those that live into their 90s do not suffer from major cognitive disorders. "Aging is not a neurodegenerative disease," and the ability to generate new brain cells and learn new things occur throughout a person's life.

The California Probate Code specifies that determination of mental capacity does not rest solely on a diagnosis, but on the amount of ability a person has for effective information processing. Thus, a person with a diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer's may still retain testamentary capacity while a person without a diagnosis does not have that capacity. A neuropsychological evaluation can identify deficits and strengths in mental functioning and helps determine whether a person has or lacks sufficient cognitive function to perform a given act.

See Jeffrey S. Galvin, A Neuropsychologist’s Take on Mental Capacity Evaluation, Trust on Trial, January 22, 2019.

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

January 30, 2019 in Current Affairs, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Science, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 28, 2019

Article on Don't Forget About Pets When Planning for Disability and Death

PetsGerry W. Beyer and Barry Seltzer published an Article entitled, Don't Forget About Pets When Planning for Disability and Death, Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law eJournal (2018). Provided below is an abstract of the Article.

Dogs, cats, parrots, and other pet animals play significant roles in the lives of many individuals. The bond between a pet owner and his or her companion is strong, and recent studies show that this bond can be even deeper with older owners. Accordingly, it is of vital importance to include pets when a pet owner, especially an older one, makes plans for disability and death. This article provides an overview of the techniques a pet owner should consider when planning his or her estate.

January 28, 2019 in Articles, Current Affairs, Disability Planning - Property Management, Elder Law, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Why Long-Term Care Policy Premiums are Rising so Sharply

LongtermcareConsumers around the country have seen steep increases in their premiums on long-term care policies in recent years.  Regulators approved rate increases of 40% or more on about half the requests that insurers made according to a 2016 survey conducted by the consulting firm Milliman. A little more than a quarter of their requests secured premium increases of 20 to 39%. The 26 respondents of the survey had annual premiums that represented 73% of the long-term care industry.

Each state's agency of insurance regulators determines whether insurers can adjust and increase the premiums. Many agencies also govern whether the companies are entitled to a rate increase and it cannot merely to increase their profit margins. "An insurer must justify its request by identifying which of its original pricing assumptions were inaccurate, and by demonstrating how they developed the new premium based on revised projections," says California Department of Insurance spokesperson Allison Castro.

Castro explained that large increases are currently being allowed for insurers because where long-term care insurance was introduced in the 1990s, the companies looked at consumer behavior with other insurance products when predicting how many would purchase the plans and eventually make claims. These predictions ended up being far too optimistic according to Castro, and "most companies' long-term care rates were too low to keep up with the cost of claims that were made years later." Life expectancies are longer and claims are higher than expected, and the original assumptions can no longer keep up.

See Cathie Anderson, Why Long-Term Care Policy Premiums are Rising so Sharply, Sacramento Bee, January 24, 2019.

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

January 26, 2019 in Current Affairs, Disability Planning - Health Care, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 25, 2019

Book on Effective Use of IRA Assets in Estate Planning

IrabookSeymour Goldberg published a Book entitled Effective Use of IRA Assets in Estate Planning (includes IRS Compliance Issues and Asset Protection Planning) (2018). Provided below is an excerpt from the book. 

Advantages of the trust as a beneficiary:

1. If the IRA death benefits are payable directly to a designated beneficiary, then the death benefits may be accelerated at any time by the designated beneficiary.

2. If the IRA death benefits are significant and payable to the trust, then a knowledgeable trustee may take advantage of the extended payout period if the IRS trust documentation requirements are timely satisfied with the IRA institution. The IRS trust documentation requirements must be satisfied by October 31st of the calendar year following the IRA owner’s year of death.

3. A mature trustee will control the investments while the assets are in the IRA.

4. If IRA death benefits are payable to a trust they may be protected from the creditors of the designated beneficiary under state law or in a divorce proceeding.

5. If IRA death benefits are payable to a spendthrift trust they generally should be protected if the designated beneficiary declares bankruptcy provided that the spendthrift trust is recognized under state law. Most jurisdictions recognize spendthrift trusts.

6. If IRA death benefits are payable to a trust for the benefit of a minor, it avoids the jurisdiction of the probate court or a similar court that has jurisdiction over the minor’s assets.

7. If IRA death benefits are payable directly to minor, then the probate court or a similar court is involved. The probate court or a similar court may not go along with an extended payout period of the IRA distributions.

8. A client should consider making provisions in his/her will and/or other legal documents that exonerate nonprobate assets such an IRA from the payment of the IRA’s share of the estate tax liability provided that there are sufficient other assets and that this provision is consistent with the client’s estate plan.

Exonerating the IRA and other retirement assets from any estate tax liability will permit more tax deferred growth of the IRA and other retirement assets and the tax exempt growth of Roth IRAs. However, this exoneration approach is at the expense of other beneficiaries of the estate.

9. A trust for adult child may be necessary if the adult child cannot handle money or would not otherwise reimburse the executor of the estate for the estate tax liability attributable to the IRA on a voluntary basis.

10. The life expectancy of child or grandchild will generally result in a greater deferral of income then if the surviving spouse was the designated beneficiary of the IRA.

11. The children or grandchildren benefit from growth of IRA instead of the surviving spouse. This should save a considerable amount of estate taxes on the subsequent death of the spouse.

12. The trust may be used as an exemption trust for estate tax purposes.

13. As a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act effective January 1, 2018, significant income tax savings may be available if IRA assets are payable to trusts for the benefit of children or grandchildren.

14. As a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act effective January 1, 2018 significant estate tax savings may be available if the IRA assets are payable to trusts for the benefit of children or grandchildren.

January 25, 2019 in Books, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Could an Alzheimer's Vaccine be on the Horizon?

AdvaccineCompanies struggling to conquer Alzheimer's have been hindered by the side effects to patients even when there have been promising results. A start-up out of Dublin may be on the right path though they are hesitant to claim that they have solved the mystery of the disease.

United Neuroscience Inc. reports results from a small clinical, Phase II trial that show a 96% response from patients given the vaccine and without any serious side effects. The trial consisted of 42 individuals with mild cognitive impairments and believed to by in the early stages of Alzheimer's. The patients that were administered the vaccine currently called UB-311 by the company demonstrated improved brain function and showed a reduction in the protein plaque gumming up their neurons. Chief Executive Officer Mei Mei Hu says that there were improvements across the board compared to the placebo.

No one quite knows what causes Alzheimer's nor what exacerbates the disease, but the possible suspects are a couple families of proteins, amyloid and tau, that build up and then clump together and attack the brain. United’s vaccine stimulates the patient’s own immune system to attack amyloid, which many assume is the primary perpetrator. The vaccine's goal is to lessen and slow the clumping and possibly reverse some damage and restore brain function. 

The small number of participating patients may not allow United to draw any major statistical conclusions, the company is encourage enough to move forward with development of the vaccine, possibly with a larger partner, according to Hu.

See Ashlee Vance, United Neuroscience’s Alzheimer Vaccine Just Might Work, Bloomberg, January 16, 2019.

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

January 22, 2019 in Current Events, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Science, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)