8335 Gayfer Road Extension, Fairhope, Alabama, 36532
Counties Served: Alabama - Baldwin, MobileElder Law
Elder Law - Plan to provide for future needs and preserve your legacy.
Planning for the future and ensuring that your wishes will be carried out doesnt have to keep you up at night. If you or your loved one is 60+, now is a good time to plan your legal strategies to receive care in your home as you desire and if you may need expensive long-term care. If you have plans in place, we will review them with you and suggest modifications or additions, if any, for you to accomplish your goals.
Elder law and estate planning serve two different, but equally vital, functions. The main difference is that elder law is focused on ensuring your care and preserving your assets during your lifetime, while estate planning concentrates on what happens to your assets after you die.
Elder law planning is concerned with ensuring that seniors live long, healthy, and financially secure lives. It usually involves anticipating future medical needs, including long-term care. Elder law services include planning for the expected and the unexpected: pre-need planning and crisis planning. Planning is tailored to each clients concerns, goals, family dynamics, and immediate or potential future care needs and may include planning tools such as:
Elder law planning also includes your instructions about living arrangements and priorities when it comes to care, which benefits your entire family. Whats more, it can ensure that you are protected from elder abuse or exploitation when you get older or become incapacitated. For seniors, this means resting assured that you will not be a burden to your children, siblings, or other family members if/when you are not able to care for yourselves. For other family members, your planning manifests your love for them, providing peace of mind and the tools needed to ensure care is provided as planned.
Finally, elder law covers assistance with guardianship and conservatorship, if needed. Guardianship and/or conservatorship may be necessary to protect and provide for individuals who are unable to care for themselves or live independently, who are unable to understand or manage money and assets, and who may be at risk of abuse and exploitation. Supported Decision Making may be an alternative to guardianship/conservatorship for individuals with limited abilities to retain their decision-making capacity by choosing supporters to help them make choices.
When planning proactively, Ashley Day Law works with you to determine your priorities and what future needs must be met and put together the best course of action based on your income and assets to protect your quality of life and reduce unnecessary stress within the family.
When crisis planning, our caring and comprehensive approach can help guide you through a difficult process and relieve you of some of your worries.
Having to place a loved one in a skilled nursing facility can be an emotionally wrenching experience. To make matters worse, confusion often reigns supreme when determining how to best use income and assets and when navigating the Medicaid application process. Well-meaning family, friends, and even professional advisers may give conflicting or incomplete advice causing families needlessly to lose their property and assets. At Ashley Day Law, we will help you plan for future care needs and how to pay for them, prepare documents for you to enact your plan, and assist with the administration to ensure plans are implemented and assets distributed as instructed.
You want to do what is best for the people you love throughout your lifetime and ensure they are taken care of after you are gone. Give us a call.
SPECIAL NEEDS PLANNINGParents of children with special needs often worry about how their children would survive and be cared for when their parents are no longer alive to support them. If one of your loved ones is living with a disability, you make sure that all their needs are met daily. But what would happen if you were gone?Also, over the years, parents are required to make many decisions in their childrens best interests, and those decisions are only amplified for parents with special needs children. Often, parents of special needs children dont know what questions to ask and are unaware of the many questions that inevitably will come their way. For the greatest success in securing your childrens futures, its important for parents and other family members to be prepared before its too late. Thats the role of special needs planning.Special Needs Planning involves preparing for the current and future care needs of children and adults with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities, neurocognitive disorders, and/or psychiatric illnesses. It is the best way for a parent, grandparent, and/or guardian to proactively protect and provide for children and grandchildren with disabilities both in the near and not-so-near future for care, housing, and quality of life should something unexpectedly happen to you; for 18th birthdays (automatic transfer of parental rights); for eligibility for government benefits; for change in life circumstances; planning for your childs quality of life, and for your peace of mind.Our special needs planning services include:Special (Supplemental) Needs TrustsRevocable Living Trusts with Special (Supplemental) Needs Trust ProvisionsWills with Special Needs & Spousal Trust ProvisionsGuardianships and ConservatorshipsPlanning for Age 18Planning for Eligibility for Government Benefits (SSI, Medicaid, etc.)Government Benefits AdvisementSchool Law/AdvocacyGuardianship/Conservatorship AdministrationSpecial (Supplemental) Needs Trust AdministrationSpecial needs planning is critical because individuals with special needs often are unable to make appropriate financial decisions for themselves and/or are at risk of financial exploitation by others. Equally important is to maintain eligibility for public benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid and enable children with special needs to have fulfilling lives.SSI is used to pay for food and housing (primary needs), but it is not nearly enough to live on. Medicaid waiver programs enable access to beneficial services and programs not accessible absent Medicaid eligibility. Generally, beneficiaries of SSI or Medicaid can have little income and, at most, $2,000 in assets. Leaving money to loved ones directly to provide for their care would jeopardize their ability to receive any help from these means-tested government programs. On top of that, the money left to them would have to be spent down to pay for primary needs previously covered by SSI instead of being used to improve the care provided and quality of life. A Special (Supplemental) Needs Trust (SNT) manages resources while also maintaining the beneficiarys eligibility for public assistance benefits.For most families, a third-party irrevocable Special SNT is the most effective way to set aside assets and funds to help the person with special needs. Cash, investment accounts, real estate, or proceeds from a life insurance policy are common ways to fund the trust. The trust can provide for the beneficiary during the parents lifetimes and will provide for the beneficiary when parents are no longer around to care for the beneficiary. Because the SNT owns the assets instead of the beneficiary, the assets are excluded from asset limit tests for SSI or Medicaid. Meanwhile, trust funds can be used to pay for quality-of-life improvements for the beneficiary, such as a phone, an iPad, computer games, trips, travel to visit family, entertainment events, and other activities. The SNT also ensures that funds are used for the benefit of your vulnerable family member and that other relatives, such as siblings, are not left with the responsibility and costs of care.Special needs planning can be a complex and confusing area of the law. Ashley Day Law, LLC will work with you to construct a comprehensive plan customized to your situation and provide you with the tools and information necessary to make sure your loved one is protected, so you have peace of mind knowing your loved one will be taken care of just as you wish.How well you do or dont plan for a special needs family member can have tremendous consequences. Give us a call. Let us help you get it right.
Estate Planning - Ashley Day Law provides comprehensive planning ot individuals and families.We help our clients prepare for unexpected incapacity or death, to ensure both that their family and loved ones have the ability to care for them and that their assets are transferred at their passing in accordance with their goals and wishes. We design and create proper estate plans for our clients, review beneficiary designations, and advise our clients to ensure trusts are funded.Establishing your estate plan is one of the most important steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones during your lifetime, in case of disability, and at your death. A well-thought-out and comprehensive estate plan can prevent the need for someone to obtain guardianship in the future, lessen administrative costs associated with the transfer of assets at death, and help smooth familial relations.Our estate planning services include:Forming Living, Irrevocable Protection TrustsAssisting with Beneficiary Designations and Other Non-Probate TransfersDrafting Wills, Living Trusts, Healthcare Directives, Powers of Attorney, and Other Planning DocumentsAdvising Executors, Administrators, Trustees, and GuardiansDeveloping Caregiver Agreements and Other Family AgreementsPost-Mortem PlanningWhile estate planning often includes a variety of items among those listed above, foundational estate planning includes, at least, wills, durable powers of attorney, advance healthcare directives, HIPAA authorizations, and a stand-alone or testamentary supplemental needs trust if you have a loved one with special needs. These instruments are critical to ensure your wishes are followed. A properly designed and implemented estate plan also can help you accomplish additional goals, such as:Providing financial security for your familyEnsuring your property is preserved and passed on to your beneficiariesAvoiding disputes among family members, business owners, or with third parties (such as the IRS)Providing for your childrens or grandchildrens educationProviding for your favorite charityMaintaining control over or ensuring the competent management of your property in case of incapacityMinimizing tax consequences and other costsAvoiding probateProviding adequate liquidity for the settlement of your estateTransferring ownership of your business to your beneficiariesPassing on your values, sense of responsibility, and work ethic to heirsEvery family situation is unique. We work with you and your other professional advisors, including financial planners, accountants, and/or other attorneys who are familiar with your goals and concerns to determine what options work best for you and your family and ensure their implementation.By protecting your estate and yourself, you are protecting your family and sparing them the expense, delay, and frustration that occurs when family members fail to plan. No estate plan is one size fits all. As priorities change, plans can be modified. Its never too early or too late to plan. Give us a call. Were here to help.
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.
Choosing a Trustee for a Special Needs TrustWhen handled appropriately, special needs trusts can protect your loved ones assets and provide for their needs over time while allowing them to receive government benefits. As the trustee plays an invaluable role in managing the beneficiarys finances, protecting your loved ones interests, and maintaining your loved ones eligibility for benefits programs, selecting the correct trustee is crucial.When establishing a special needs trust, consider the following:Dependable family members or other trusted individuals can serve as trustees, as they know the beneficiary and can protect the beneficiarys interests.An independent trustee, such as a bank or trust company, can also manage the trust, lending specific financial knowledge.Special needs trusts can have co-trustees. Two family members can be co-trustees. A family member and an independent trustee can also collaborate, balancing personal connections and expertise.When a financial institution serves as a trustee, a family member can be a protector or advisor. Although this individual has no legal authority over the trust, the protector can advise the trustee about the beneficiarys needs.Choosing the Best CandidateGiven the power they will have to control your loved ones funds and look after their well-being, the trustee you select must be honest and reliable. Although the law imposes a fiduciary duty on trustees to act ethically, there is little court oversight, leaving beneficiaries vulnerable to dishonest actors. To ensure unselfish decisions, the person should have no conflicts of interest and should not receive personal funds from the trust.Understanding public benefits programs, such as Medicaid and Social Security, can help the trustee provide for the beneficiarys needs while preserving eligibility for these programs. Few family members will come into the role completely understanding public benefits regulations. Those without experience with Medicaid or Social Security should be willing to learn how these rules will affect the beneficiary and how to manage the trust to ensure the beneficiary maintains eligibility. A special needs planning lawyer can explain the law and provide guidance.In addition to solid ethics and a willingness to learn about public benefits programs, the trustee should be responsible, organized, and financially savvy. Handling investments, reports, records, and tax returns are part of the trustees role.The right trustee will also understand and respect the beneficiarys needs. The trustee should recognize the beneficiarys autonomy and strive to allocate funds to support independence while protecting your loved ones interests.Before you or your loved one appoints a trustee, talk to the person you have in mind and ensure that the proposed trustee wants to and can take on the role. Consider the persons health and life expectancy. The ideal trustee should be able to take on the rule for the duration of the beneficiarys life.Including another trusted individual as a successor trustee can protect the beneficiary if the first trustee passes away or can no longer manage the trust.Ashley Day is an Elder Law, Special Needs, Trust and Estate attorney. Contact Ashley Day to learn more about selecting the best trustee for a special needs trust. Call 251-277-3377 for more information.
For nearly a decade, people with disabilities have had the option to accumulate savings in a special tax-free account without risking their means-tested public benefits. In 2024, the annual limit on how much money one can deposit into these savings vehicles, known as ABLE accounts, will rise, allowing individuals to add up to $18,000 per year.What Is an ABLE Account?Many people across the disability community rely on such government assistance as Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Yet having too many assets to their name can disqualify them from receiving these often critical benefits. For example, in most states, the resource limit to qualify for Medicaid is just $2,000. In 2014, Congress signed the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act into law to help address this issue.Individuals with an ABLE account can save up to a total of $100,000, tax-free, while remaining eligible for public assistance programs. Family members, friends, and others can make contributions to the account, too. The disabled person can then use these funds to help maintain their independence by spending them on disability-related expenses, including assistive technologies, education, transportation needs, vacations, legal fees, and health care.Unlike a special needs trust (SNT), an ABLE account can be opened by the individual with the disability. This offers them considerably more control over the account funds compared with an SNT. Starting in 2024, the annual limit on contributions to ABLE accounts will be $18,000, up from $17,000 in 2023. Through the end of 2025, ABLE account owners who work can contribute their employment income to these savings vehicles even beyond the per-year deposit limit. (Learn more about these rules under the ABLE to Work Act.)The idea for these accounts derived from the concept of a 529 college savings plan. Similar to a 529 plan, funds in an ABLE account grow tax-deferred over time. In addition, each state administers its own ABLE account program.To qualify, you must meet the Social Security Administrations strict definition of disabled. You also must have incurred your disability before age 26. (Note that the age cutoff will shift to age 46 come 2026. According to estimates, this age adjustment will result in roughly 6 million more individuals becoming eligible to open these types of savings accounts.)Why Open an ABLE Account?People with disabilities are among those most at risk for financial disaster. According to research, just 10 percent of people of working age who are living with a disability are financially healthy.ABLE Accounts, or 529A accounts, can serve as a form of future financial support for these individuals. Yet the vast majority of those who could benefit from these accounts remain unaware of them. As of 2022, 8 million people were eligible for this type of account, yet a mere 120,000 had one in place.Get Support With ABLE Accounts To learn more about setting up this type of savings account, consult with Ashley Day Special Needs & Elderly Law at 251-277-3377.