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How do I navigate costs for care as I get older and need more support?
We work hard for financial assets built over a lifetime and may not want those assets drained by long-term care costs or medical bills. Proper planning (including Trusts and other estate planning documents) allows you to maximize benefits, like Medicare and VA, to ensure your family home and other assets are not subject to recovery by the government.
What happens when I can no longer make medical and financial decisions?
While we hope to always be involved in medical and financial decision-making, sometimes that is not possible. If the power to make decisions is ever not your own, ensure you have nominated the right people for this role through Powers of Attorney. When someone has not done so court proceedings determine who will step in to make decisions for you. Understanding how the process works and what your rights and responsibilities are is critical.
Do I really need an Estate Plan?
Everyone needs proper documentation in place that shares your wishes. How do you want your assets distributed? Are there special considerations like disabilities or beneficiaries who need more support? Can I protect assets and beneficiaries, so nothing is wasted, stolen, or used unwisely? You can also determine who makes decisions for you while you are alive and after you pass away.
Why should I have Powers of Attorney?
These documents allow you to nominate someone to make decisions for you while you are still alive, for both medical and financial situations, making that person legally responsible for acting on your behalf. You can make the decision, not a court proceeding.
Can I really avoid Probate?
Probate is the court procedure by which your assets are transferred after you die to those you name in your Will, or to the people listed in the inheritance statutes of Colorado. Probate is public and it can take 8 to 12 months or more to resolve everything, even in the simplest of cases. A Living Trust can help avoid probate, simplifying the process for your loved ones.
Editor’s Note: This article was submitted by Andrew P. Stone, Esq.
Andrew is the principle attorney with Stone Law, LLC and may be reached at 877-897-6591 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
What Are Elder Law and Special Needs Planning?Elder law and special needs planning involve preparing for expected and unexpected life circumstances, including the possibility of becoming incapacitated as well as protecting and providing for future needs of loved ones with disabilities.At its core, Elder Law focuses on the unique needs of older persons and practice areas that address issues of concern for aging adults, adults with disabilities/incapacity, their families and caregivers. Unlike traditional estate planning, Elder Law begins by assisting you with issues associated with a long and healthy life, rather than simply planning for death. It mixes legal and practical issues such as being able to continue residing in your home if you had a chronic condition, having someone help in managing your finances, and not becoming a victim of financial abuse in the process. Elder law endeavors to help you solve the problem of not knowing what you dont know.Special Needs Law focuses on solving legal problems for individuals with special needs and their caregivers. Although there is no uniform definition of special needs, the phrase describes individuals with a wide variety of physical or mental conditions who require assistance with personal care needs, activities of daily living, paying bills, managing finances, etc., who may be vulnerable to and need protection from exploitation or abuse, and who may need access to public benefits or any number of other types of assistance. If you currently provide care for a child or loved one with special needs (such as mental or physical disabilities), you must have contemplated what may happen to him or her when you are no longer able to serve as the caregiver. Frequently, parents and grandparents are concerned about how their children and grandchildren will be cared for after the parents or grandparents deaths and want to plan in advance to protect their special needs loved one. Elder Law and Special Needs Planning encompass many different fields of law, including, for example: Disability planning, durable powers of attorney, living trusts, advance directives, other tools to delegate management and decision-making to another in case of incompetency or incapacity Estate planning, including the management of finances and assets during life and disposition on death using trusts, wills, and other instruments Special/Supplemental Needs Trusts Conservatorships and guardianships Long-term care planning and placements Trust and probate/estate administration Elder abuse and financial exploitation Medicaid planning Retirement and Social Security planningWhen each day seems to present a new challenge, thinking about the future can be overwhelming. A plan can help break things down into achievable pieces. No matter what age or stage, it is getting started that counts.This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice.This article was submitted by Ashley Day, Esq., A Day Law, LLC. Reach her at 251-277-3377.
Lets chat about Powers of Attorney. While the information contained in this post might be applicable to you, it might also be applicable to your elderly relatives, so, read this with them in mind.You may be asking yourself (i) what is a Power of Attorney, and (ii) why would I need it? A Power of Attorney is a document that gives a person authority to act on your behalf, thus becoming your Attorney-in-Fact. The Power of Attorney document can be very specific or very broad. You can give your Attorney-in-Fact the power to handle your bank accounts, sell your real property, run your business or apply for public benefits. Or you can give them the specific power to sell one piece of property.Why do you need one? Because its a simple tool that allows your Attorney-in-Fact to handle your financial matters without entering into more complicated agreements, like a Trust. The Power of Attorney helps eliminate the need for a guardian or conservator. You should pick someone you trust to hold the legal authority to make decisions should you experience an unforeseen event like a stroke or car accident.There are four types of Powers of Attorney: A General Power of Attorney: allows the Attorney-in-Fact to act as you in dealing with financial accounts and managing personal finances. However, it is terminated upon your incapacitation. It can also be revoked. A Durable Power of Attorney: allows the Attorney-in-Fact to act on your behalf and includes a durability clause that keeps the Power of Attorney in place after you become incapacitated. A Special or Limited Power of Attorney: this is when you have given the Attorney-in-Fact very specific powers which limit their authority and responsibility.A Springing Durable Power of Attorney: this only becomes effective upon your incapacitation. In Utah, a Power of Attorney is considered durable unless it expressly states that it terminates upon your incapacitation. As is so whenever you write a legal document, you have choices to make. So, you need to be clear about what you truly want your Power of Attorney to do for you. Some additional important points about Powers of Attorney are:The power must be given, it is not something you can obtain over someone on your own.In order to create one, you must have the legal capacity to understand the authority that you are assigning to someone.The Attorney-in-Fact only has the authority to do those things that are designated in the document.The appointed person must make decisions the way you want. They cannot follow their own desires when representing you.Once again, while you could certainly benefit from a Power of Attorney, there might be someone in your life who needs one right now. Whether you would like to have a Power of Attorney ready for use in the future, or whether you have a loved one who could benefit from one right now, call us today to set up your free consultation.
If youre part of a blended family (meaning you are married with children from a prior marriage in the mix), youre no stranger to the extra considerations and planning it takes to keep your familys life running smoothly from which parent your children will be with for the holidays to figuring out the schedule for a much-needed family vacation. Youve also probably given some thought to what you want to happen to your assets and your family if something happens to you. But what you might not have realized is this: If you dont create a plan for your assets before you die, the law has its own plan for you that might not reflect your wishes for your assets, especially your retirement assets. And if youre in a blended family, this can have a significant financial impact on the ones you love and even create expensive, long-term conflict.This week, we explain how the law affects retirement distributions for married couples, and why you need to be extra careful with your retirement planning if youre in a blended family to ensure your retirement account assets go to the right people in the right amounts after youre gone.Be Aware of How ERISA Affects 401K DistributionsIf youve remarried, you and your new spouse have probably talked about updating the beneficiary designations on your retirement accounts to reflect your blended family arrangement. (If you havent talked about it, you need to talk about it ASAP). Sometimes, people who are remarried decide to leave their retirement funds to their children from a prior marriage and leave other assets like their house and savings accounts to their current spouse. You may do this to avoid future conflict between your spouse and your children over your assets.But even if you want to leave your retirement for just your children, if youre married and your retirement account is a work-sponsored account, your children wont inherit the entire account even if you name them as the sole beneficiaries. Thats because the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) governs most employer-sponsored pensions and retirement accounts. Under ERISA, if youre married at the time of your death, your spouse is automatically entitled to receive 50 percent of the value of your employer-sponsored plan even if your beneficiary designations say otherwise.The only time that your surviving spouse would not inherit half of your ERISA-governed retirement account is if your spouse signs an official Spousal Waiver saying they are affirmatively waiving their right to inherit 50 percent of the account, or if the account beneficiary is a Trust of which your spouse is a primary beneficiary. IRAs Have Different Rules Than 401KsIf you want your children to inherit more than 50 percent of your work-sponsored retirement benefits, and completing a Spousal Waiver isnt an option, consider rolling the account into a personal IRA instead.In contrast to 401(k)s and similar employer-sponsored plans, IRAs are controlled by state law instead of ERISA. That means that your spouse is not automatically entitled to any part of your IRA. When you roll a 401(k) into an IRA, you gain the flexibility to name anyone you choose as the designated beneficiary, with or without your spouses consent. On the other hand, if you want to ensure your spouse receives half of your retirement savings, make sure to include them as a 50 percent beneficiary or better yet, have your individual retirement account payout to a Trust instead. With a Trust, you can:Document exactly how much of your retirement you want each of your loved ones to receiveControl when they receive the funds outrightEasily update and change the terms of your Trust without having to remember to update your financial accounts.Beneficiary Designations Always Trump Your WillWhether you have an employer-sponsored 401K or an IRA you manage yourself, there is one critical rule that everyone needs to know: beneficiary designations trump your Will.A Will is an important estate planning tool, but most people dont know that beneficiary designations override whatever your Will says about a particular asset. For example, if your Will states that you want your retirement account to be passed on to your brother, but the beneficiary designation on the account says you want it to go to your sister, your sister will inherit the account, even though your Will says otherwise.Similarly, lets imagine that you get divorced and as part of your divorce decree your ex-spouse agrees that they will not have any right to your retirement fund. However, after the divorce, you forget to take their name off of the beneficiary designation for the account. If you die before updating the beneficiary designation, your former spouse will inherit your retirement account. If you forget to update your ERISA-controlled account and have remarried, your current spouse would receive half of the account and your former spouse would receive the other half. Thats why its so important to work with an estate planning attorney who can make sure your accounts are set up with the proper beneficiary designations and ensure that your assets are passed on according to your wishes.Work With An Attorney Who Makes Sure All Your Assets Will Be Passed On How You Want Them ToUnderstanding how the law affects different types of assets is essential to creating an estate plan. But theres more to it than just having a lawyer you need an attorney who takes the time to really understand your family and your assets so they can design a custom plan that achieves your goals for your assets and your legacy. Thats why we help our clients create an inventory of all of their assets to ensure that every asset they hold is accounted for and passed on to their loved ones exactly as they want it to.Contact Entrusted Legacy Law at 412-347-1731.
At Stone Law, LLC we support you and your family with any aging and disability concerns. We can help make sure you have a solid plan for these and other 'what ifs' to give you peace of mind. Our primary goal is to advocate for the elderly so no one can take advantage or manipulate a situation to their benefit. We aim to make sure your needs and wishes are met. We will always be sensitive to your needs and emotions as you age. We also recognize that issues and concerns are broader than simply addressing legal needs and can facilitate partnerships with other helpful agencies. At Stone Law, we get to know you and your family so we can help you create a customized estate plan that will pass along your estate exactly the way you want it.
At Stone Law, LLC we support you and your family with any aging and disability concerns. We can help make sure you have a solid plan for these and other 'what ifs' to give you peace of mind. Our primary goal is to advocate for the elderly so no one can take advantage or manipulate a situation to their benefit. We aim to make sure your needs and wishes are met. We will always be sensitive to your needs and emotions. We also recognize that issues and concerns are broader than simply addressing legal needs and can facilitate partnerships with other helpful agencies. At Stone Law, we get to know you and your family so we can help you create a customized plan that helps everyone be on the same page.