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Estate Planning is NOT Just About Death Planning

Most people, when thinking about estate planning, are focusing on what happens when they die.

This is one of the biggest mistakes you can make.

There are many legal tools that can be used to enhance the quality of your life and to reduce the burden to your family when disability – which is inevitable for most of us – happens.  It is also important to understand that the right kind of estate planning may be a necessary component in ensuring that your spouse or children “left behind” are not left in poverty or overwhelmed. 

The first step in estate planning is education. One of the biggest challenges I face as an attorney is making people understand that things they “think they know” aren’t necessarily true.  When it comes to estate planning – What you don’t know can hurt you.

Provided within the Family & Aging Law Center Blog, we're looking at some aspects of how estate planning works. Hopefully,...

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Powers of Attorney - The Facts

POWERS OF ATTORNEY

The Facts...

 

If you become sick or disabled, either temporarily or permanently, who will make decisions for you?

  • A Power of Attorney allows you to appoint someone you trust to handle your affairs if you cannot do so. 
  • If you are unable to do it yourself, your family will be prevented from paying bills, getting records, helping you get treatment, pay doctors or qualify for Medicaid, or making other important decisions on your behalf, if you do not have comprehensive, well written, and specific Powers of Attorney in place.
  • Without comprehensive, well written and specific Powers of Attorney, your family may have to file a court proceeding, seeking guardianship of you (for health care decisions) or seeking conservatorship (for financial decisions). This process involves the Court, several lawyers and usually at least $4,000 to $50,000. A Power of Attorney might cost $200 - $500.
  • There are two main types of Powers of Attorney:  financial and health...
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Discharged From Rehab: Is Your Loved One Really Ready?

One of the things that we hear (a lot) from clients is how panicked they are when a loved one that has been in rehab is being suddenly discharged - but the family doesn't think they're really ready to go home - or, even worse, the family is told that their loved one is being discharged but needs 24/7 care or supervision.

Very few families are ready for this. The logistics of getting care for a person in a home environment may seem easy (just hire someone!), but most families, when faced with the cost, realize that this is not a long-term solution. That's when the questions start:nursing home medicaid

  • Should you quit your job, to care for your loved one?
  • Should you hire someone anyway, even if you (or they) can't afford it long-term?
  • What benefits might be available to pay for care?
  • How long will it take for benefits to kick in?
  • What happens if benefits aren't enough - or if there are no benefits available?

Timing: Seeking Answers Before Your Loved One Is Discharged From Rehab Is Crucial

It is...

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Medicaid Planning - Things to Remember

Get The Help (and Protection) That You Deserve. 

Though there are many complexities to Medicaid planning, it’s important to understand Medicaid is there to help families like yours. Medicaid planning is the best way to ensure you receive the benefits to assure you protect as much of your hard-earned assets as the law allows, and to receive the care you need.

It is also important to understand that Medicaid planning may be a necessary component in ensuring that the spouse “left behind” is not left in poverty. The first step in Medicaid planning is education. The more you know about how Medicaid works, the better you will be able to look out for the interests of your family.

For more detailed information, it’s best to consult with a qualified legal advisor. So think of this as an introduction.

Things to Remember... 

It’s NEVER Too Late

Medicaid planning can begin anytime, even if your loved one is already living in a skilled care facility....

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VA Pension Benefits - The Facts

VA Pension Benefits

The Facts...

VA Pension is a benefit that many veterans just are not aware of, or are often told that they don’t qualify for, even if they can become qualified. If you are a Veteran or a Widow of a Veteran, you may be able to obtain tax free income from the VA to help pay for the cost of home health care, assisted living care, and nursing home care. The benefit is called “Improved Pension.” In addition to the Pension, a person who is housebound or in need of the assistance of another person with activities of daily living may receive additional pay called Housebound Benefits or Aid and Attendance Benefits, which is s supplement to the Pension.

All of the following criteria must be met before a veteran or widow(er) of a veteran can receive Improved Pension benefits:

  • The veteran must have served at least 90 days of active service with at least one day of service during a wartime period.
  • The veteran must have received a discharge that is other...
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Medicaid Planning - The Facts

MEDICAID PLANNING

The Facts...

Assets in a Revocable Living Trust are not protected and must be used to pay for the costs of long term care.

If you are married, your home is exempt and cannot be taken when applying for Medicaid.  If you are single or widowed, your home is exempt up to $552,000 (2015). If you transfer your home to your children, not only will it result in immediate ineligibility for Medicaid, but it could also:

  • Trigger a gift tax,
  • Result in the loss of your homestead tax exemption, and,
  • Result in your child’s spouse (the in-laws) inheriting your home. 

Giving your assets away means losing control. It’s not safe even if you “trust” who you give it to. If that person divorces, goes bankrupt or is sued, all of the money you transferred is at risk. There are asset protection trusts that permit you to keep 100% control of your assets without the risk of losing them if long-term care is needed.

You do not have to wait 60 months to...

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Irrevocable Trusts - The Facts

IRREVOCABLE TRUSTS...

The Facts...

A trust is a contract between the Grantor (the person who creates the trust), the Trustee (one who controls the trust) and the beneficiaries (those entitled to benefit from the trust). You, as Grantor, determine how the trust will be operated by the Trustee and who benefits, how and when.

While a Revocable Living Trust permits you to maintain full control (as Trustee) and have access to all your assets (as beneficiary), an Irrevocable Trust, once created, may prohibit your right to control the trust (as Trustee) or have access to your assets, but you get to decide to what extent.

It is a common misconception that irrevocable trusts, once created, cannot be changed. While that is true of many irrevocable trusts created to avoid taxes (tax reduction or avoidance trusts), it is not true of all irrevocable trusts. An irrevocable trust is a trust you create for the benefit of yourself or others and once created, you, as Grantor, must give up your right...

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Long-Term Care - What About Private Long-Term Care Insurance?

Today we'll be taking a brief look at some aspects of long-term care. For more detailed information, it’s best to consult with a qualified legal advisor. So think of this as an introduction.

There are many complexities to long-term care planning, it’s important to understand that there are options, and programs intended to help families like yours. Long-term care planning is the best way to ensure you protect as much of your hard-earned assets as the law allows, and to receive the care you need.

Let’s Get Started…

What About Private Long-Term Care Insurance?

Most Americans will not be able to self-insure for Long-Term Care.  Therefore, based upon the current condition of health care, long-term care and Medicaid, if you are insurable and long-term care insurance premiums are affordable, such a policy should be integrated into your estate plan to provide protection without the need for transferring assets. 

Long-term care (LTC) insurance has...

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Long-Term Care - What About Paying Your Own Long-Term Care Expenses?

Today we'll be taking a brief look at some aspects of long-term care. For more detailed information, it’s best to consult with a qualified legal advisor. So think of this as an introduction.

There are many complexities to long-term care planning, it’s important to understand that there are options, and programs intended to help families like yours. Long-term care planning is the best way to ensure you protect as much of your hard-earned assets as the law allows, and to receive the care you need.

Let’s Get Started…

What About Paying Your Own Long-Term Care Expenses?

A. Self – Insuring

“Self-insuring,” or paying your own way, may be an option.  However, you can expect to pay approximately $88,000 per year for base nursing home care, and more for better facilities (in Southeast Michigan, generally closer to $100,000/year). Home care can be even more expensive, with 24/7 care costing in excess of $150,000 - $200,000 per year....

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Do You Need To Avoid Probate?

What is Probate?  This is Our Definition & the True Reality -

“Probate is a lawsuit you file against yourself, with your own money, on behalf of your creditors.”

The Facts...

Probate is the legal process of presenting your Will to the Court after your death to authenticate it, and appoint your Executor/Personal Representative. Your Executor/Personal Representative must be appointed by the Court in order to collect and distribute your assets as stated in your Will. However, because it is a legal process, there are many steps that must be followed before your Executor can be appointed.

 

 

  • The probate process requires a Personal Representative be appointed - even in simple and/or uncontested cases.  
  • The Personal Representative must file numerous forms, follow an extensive and somewhat complicated process, and pay attention to deadlines and criteria throughout the entire process.  Most people find this to be exhausting, confusing, and a...
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