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right of survivorship

What Does Right of Survivorship Mean?

What Does Right of Survivorship Mean?

What Does Right of Survivorship Mean?  It is a right granted to joint property owners that ensures the transfer of one owner’s stake to the remaining property owner(s) in the case of his or her death.The best way for owners to gain this right is by specifying that they want to be joint tenants with right of survivorship (JTWROS) either when initially registering a land title or when transferring a land title with a Survivorship Deed.

What are the benefits?

Depending on your circumstances, it can benefit you and your joint tenant(s) because it ensures that:
  • Surviving tenants automatically acquire property: When you and your joint tenant(s) own a property with rights of survivorship and one of you passes away, the property can skip the probate process because the surviving tenant(s) automatically acquire the deceased’s portion.
  • Tenants can’t transfer their interest in the joint tenancy: When you and your joint tenant(s) each own an equal interest in a property, you can’t transfer your interest to someone else and leave the joint tenancy intact. As a joint tenant, if you sell your interest, the joint tenancy ends and the property is owned as a tenancy in common.

What does it apply to?

Generally, the right of survivorship only applies to residential or commercial property held in joint tenancy with a right of survivorship. A joint tenant may benefit from holding the right of survivorship on a property, such as a:
  • Single-family house
  • Townhouse
  • Duplex
  • Condo
  • Apartment
  • Piece of land
  • Farm

How does the it work?

You and your joint tenant, such as your spouse, can each establish the right of survivorship when initially purchasing a piece of property by including the correct terms in your land title. In most states, you can ensure the right of survivorship for all joint tenants by including JTWROS on the title after your names.
However, if you already own a property and want to transfer partial ownership to another party, you can use a Survivorship Deed to establish the right of survivorship.

Does it override a Last Will?

Yes. Generally, the right of survivorship will take precedence over a Last Will and Testament if the jointly-owned property is distributed wrongfully in someone’s estate plans. Therefore, you shouldn’t list any property in your Will that you and another person(s) jointly own with the right of survivorship.
Once there is one surviving owner with sole ownership of the property, that owner has the right to distribute or pass on the property through a Last Will. At this point, they are no longer a joint tenant and can distribute the property as they desire through their Will.
The laws surrounding the right of survivorship may depend on your state. Check with your local laws to confirm how the right of survivorship impacts your Last Will and property.

What is the difference between joint tenants with the right of survivorship and tenants in common?

Joint tenants with the right of survivorship are two or more people who own an equal interest in a property. When one person dies their interest passes automatically to the surviving joint tenant(s).
In contrast, tenants in common can own unequal shares in a property and have no right of survivorship. If one owner dies, their interest in the property is distributed according to their Last Will and doesn’t automatically transfer to the other owners of the property. Tenants in common can transfer their interest in the property to an heir after their passing.

Who grants it?

The grantor is the person (or persons) who transfers a property title and grants the right of survivorship. If you already own a property and want to transfer equal ownership and the right of survivorship to another person, such as a spouse, you are both a grantor and a grantee. In this instance, your spouse is only a grantee.
Conversely, if you purchase real estate or property with someone and become joint tenants with the right of survivorship at the beginning of your tenancy, you have effectively given each other this right.
Read more related articles at:

What Are Joint Tenants With Right of Survivorship

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at:

Avoiding Probate in Florida

Click here to check out our On Demand Video about Estate Planning.

Click here for a short informative video from our own Attorney Bill O’Leary.

Child Trust

7 Tips For Setting Up A Trust For Your Children

7 Tips For Setting Up A Trust For Your Children

When creating trusts, parents are faced with tough decisions about how to leave their assets to their children. While each person needs to consider their own situation and unique children, there are a few general issues that everyone should consider.

Assets of minor children should always be held in trust. You do not want children under 18 inheriting assets. While they are under 18, their guardian or conservator will control the money for them. If you’ve already decided that your sister Sally will be a wonderful guardian for your children because she has a great relationship with your kids and a cozy home, think carefully about if she will also be a strong guardian of their money. If her afternoons are spent shopping and her finances are in disarray, it is best to leave the kids’ inheritance in the hands of a more qualified trustee.

Being 18 is not easy. In most states, the guardian has to turn over control of the assets to the children once they turn 18. When you are 18, an inheritance of $3 million seems like it will last a lifetime. And it can, if you are prudent and live frugally. But most 18-year-olds will use up the trust money on a lifestyle that they cannot afford. Flash forward 20 years and the 18-year-old is now approaching 40, with little money left and no means to support himself.

Consider a lifetime trust. Another important issue is whether you should distribute the monies to the children outright when they reach a certain age. First, if you give your children the right to withdraw trust money, it becomes their own money and is subject to their creditors as well as their divorcing spouse. Keeping the monies in trust for the child’s lifetime will provide better liability protection. The trustee would have discretion to distribute money, but the child would never have a right to demand chunks of cash. This is the best approach if you are concerned that a child has creditors or may divorce in the future. For example, if your child receives a $5 million inheritance and has no prenuptial agreement, that money will be a marital asset subject to division.

Protect your “problem” child. Giving a large sum of money to a child with a substance abuse problem (drug addiction, gambling, etc.) could have fatal consequences. The only way to protect a child from himself is with a lifetime trust.

Giving your kids a longer leash. If you are confident your child could handle the money and want to turn it over to her at a certain age, the best practice is to distribute it in stages. A typically scenario is giving the child one quarter of the assets at age 25, one half of the remainder at age 30 and the rest at age 35. This distribution could comprise any ages or percentages you choose. Another suggestion is to bring the child on a as co-trustee at age 25 so he gets used to managing the trust money.

Planning for a child’s death. What happens to the trust money if the child dies and there are still monies held in trust? You can direct that the monies go to her children, if any, or to your remaining children. Some people will give their children special powers to direct where the money goes when the child dies. These are called “powers of appointment.” The thought is that after you are long gone, your child should have flexibility to alter the distribution of the trust money among the child’s own children. After all, your grandchildren may end up with some of the same issues you considered in planning for your children – creditors, divorcing spouses and addictive behavior. Your child should have the flexibility to change the trust distribution if needed. You can also give your child the ability to leave the trust money to his spouse. Some people feel strongly against this, but if your child has a loving spouse and they are living prudently, perhaps you would want her to be able to live in the same lifestyle she enjoyed when your child was alive.

There is a lot to consider when leaving assets in trust for children. Don’t let the considerations overwhelm you or keep you from planning. You can always defer to your attorney’s suggestion and then make adjustments to the trust over time as your decisions solidify.

Read more related articles at:

How to Create a Trust for a Child

How Trust Funds Can Safeguard Your Children

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at:



Elder Abuse

Elder Abuse, Neglect, and Financial Exploitation.

Elder Abuse Neglect and Financial Exploitation

How to Report Elder Abuse in Florida

To report elder abuse by phone, call the Florida Department of Elder Affairs 24/7 at 1.800.962.2873 (800.96.ABUSE). Press 2 to report suspected neglect, exploitation, or abuse of the elderly.

To report elder abuse online, click “Report Abuse Online NOW

You will be asked to provide details on the alleged incidents, people involved, and other relevant information.

Reporting elder abuse can be done completely confidentially.

Elder Abuse: The Role of DCF

The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF)Division of Adult Protective Services screens and investigates all reports of elder abuse (1-800-96-ABUSE or 1-800-962-2873). Click on the link for multiple ways to report elder abuse. While almost 20% of Florida’s population is over the age of 65, DCF investigates claims of abuse of caregivers too, not only, vulnerable adults, but all those with special needs as well (e.g. autism, intellectual disabilities, blindness, ambulatory difficulties, traumatic brain injury victims and others who are unable to fully take care of themselves).

‍Important Elder Abuse Definitions

In fact, Florida statutes define a “vulnerable adult” as a person age 18+ whose ability to perform normal activities of daily living and/or to provide for his/her own care or protection or are impaired due to a mental, emotional, sensory long term physical or developmental disability or brain damage, or due to the infirmities of aging.

Florida Statutes defines “caregiver” as a person who has been entrusted with or assumed responsibility for frequent and regular care of or services to a vulnerable adult (on a temporary or permanent basis) who has a commitment, agreement, or understanding with that person that a caregiver role exists.

So there needs to be some kind of relationship between a “caregiver” and “vulnerable adult” in order for DCF to investigate the claim for elder abuse. For example, if someone randomly pushes a vulnerable adult in a parking lot; that would not meet the caregiver’s definition and DCF would not investigate that kind of “elder abuse” (rather, the police should be involved).

Elder Abuse Laws in Florida

Florida Statutes, Chapter 415, is the Adult Protective Services Act. This statute mandates that the Florida Department of Children and Families commence an investigation within 24 hours of being reported if just the allegations warrant so.  If the report is serious enough the statute provides for immediate onsite protective investigation. An investigation into the allegations may not take longer than 60 days.

Florida Statues, Chapter 825 provides that aggravated abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult is a 1st-degree felony. Neglect that causes significant bodily harm, disfigurement, or disability is a 2nd-degree felony.

Elder Abuse Prevention Coordinators have been established by statute and can be contacted at the following locations:

Miami Alliance for Aging | 305.670.6500 | 760 NW 107th Avenue, Suite 214, Miami, FL 33172

Aging & Disability Resource Center of Broward County | 954.745.9567 | 5300 Hiatus Road, Sunrise, FL 33351

The Florida Department of Elder Affairs has a legal hotline to provide free legal advice to eligible seniors over 60 years old: 888.895.7873.

‍Elder Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation

Abuse: any willful or threatened act by a relative, caregiver, or household member, which causes or is likely to cause significant impairment to a vulnerable adult’s physical or emotional health. Abuse includes omissions.

Neglect: failure or omission on part of the caregiver or vulnerable adult (self-neglect should also be reported)to provide care, supervision, and services necessary to maintain the physical and mental health of the vulnerable adult. Importantly, no “intent to harm” is required to meet this definition. The caregiver reported to DCF doesn’t always have the intent to harm; sometimes they are in over their heads and need help. DCF will refer such caregivers to the potential services available to them to assist in caring for the vulnerable adult.

Exploitation: knowingly, or by deception or intimidation, obtaining or using (or attempting to obtain o ruse) the vulnerable adult’s funds, assets, or property for the benefit of someone other than the vulnerable adult. The exploiter is usually someone in a position of trust and confidence and one who knew or should know that the vulnerable adult lacks the capacity to consent.

‍Who commits the crime of elder abuse?

According to DCF reporting, the majority of elder abusers are relatives of the vulnerable older adult! Almost 30% of these cases involve the children of the senior citizen. But a significant portion, about 20% of reported elder-abuse cases occur in an institutional setting.

The Florida Department of Elder Affairs has produced some materials discussing ways to understand the signs of, and protect against, various types of elder abuse. Elder abuse includes physical abuse (whether in the form of violence or neglect), emotional abuse, identity theft, and financial exploitation.

Elder abuse can also come in the form of nursing home negligence – especially in the case of bedsores/decubitus ulcers. If you suspect nursing home negligence, resulting in serious injury, contact our office.

Elder Law Attorney Resources

To check on reviews and reports of elder abuse for a particular nursing home or assisted living facility, click here: http://www.floridahealthfinder.gov/facilitylocator/facloc.aspx

To check complaints, regulatory actions, and disciplinary history of a financial advisor, click here: http://brokercheck.finra.org/

Adult Protective Services Investigation Process

Dial the number (or click the link) above to be able to report elder abuse online. The report will be screened to see if the allegations, if true, would satisfy DCF’s definition of elder abuse. If so, a formal investigation is commenced within 24 hours of the initial report/call.

If the reporter is told that what they are reporting does not meet criteria, and they truly believe that elder abuse is happening, they should ask to speak with a supervisor.

Most elder abuse victims are visited, in person, by a DCF investigator within that initial 24 hour period. The investigator is looking for signs of abuse, neglect, or exploitation and will refer to services if necessary. The investigator is assessing risk for harm or risk of future harm. For example, if a bank blocked a questionable transaction ad reported the possible financial elder abuse, while the potential abuser’s attempt to steal money was unsuccessful (as the bank blocked the transaction), the “risk of future harm” is great.

All elder abuse investigations must be complete within 60 days.

The Adult Protective Services investigator will conduct a background check into the alleged victim and abuser (looking for patterns of, or a propensity towards, similar abuse) and determine if other agencies need to be involved or if law enforcement should accompany the investigator to visit with the victim.

When they visit the victim they will always conduct at least part of the investigation by speaking with the victim in private if there are other residents or caretakers in the same household.

The investigator will also speak to other sources of information(banker, primary care physician, neighbors, other caregivers, prior caregivers, family, etc…)

The investigator will determine if any other services are needed and available to the victim while assessing the risk for future harm. If DCF believes that a vulnerable adult has been abused, neglected, or exploited and is in need of protective services but lacks the capacity to consent to protective services, DCF can petition the court for an order authorizing the provision of services. Fla.Stat. 415.1051. They can also remove from the premises and arrange for transportation to an appropriate medical or protective services facility.  An emergency petition for protective services must be heard by the court within four days of filing the petition.

But if there are assets, it would be better for a family member or friend to file for emergency temporary guardianship because a guardian can do so much more than DCF.

‍What to Report when Reporting Elder Abuse

While one can report elder abuse anonymously, doing so can make it difficult for the investigator to follow up and ask important questions about the abuse. Prepare to provide as much of the following details as possible:

1.      Name, age, sex, physical and behavioral description, and location of the abuse victim.

2.      Names, addresses, phone numbers of victim’s family members.

3.      Names, addresses, phone numbers of each alleged perpetrator and the alleged abuser’s relationship to the victim.

4.      Names, addresses, phone numbers of the victim’s caregiver (if different than the alleged abuser).

5.      Description of physical and/or psychological injuries involved or signs of harm.

6.      Who else might have information related to the alleged abuse.

7.      Any other information the reporter feels is relevant.

Anonymity is revealed only if a false report is made(because that is illegal, not to mention a waste of the state’s resources that could have been put towards a case with merit) or if the reporter provides permission.

‍Criminal and Civil Consequences of Elder Abuse

Fla.Stat. 772 provides treble damages for civil theft.

There is a violation of Fla. Stat. 825.103(1)(A) if:

·        Victim is elderly, the suspect is in a position of trust/confidence/has a business relationship, and suspect obtained funds/assets/property.

There is a violation of Fla. Stat. 825.103(1)(B) if:

·        Victim is elderly, victim lacks the capacity to consent, suspect obtained (or endeavored to obtain) funds/assets/property to benefit someone other than the victim, and suspect knew or had reason to know that victim lacked capacity.

There is a violation of Fla. Stat. 825.103(1)(C) if:

·        Victim is elderly, the suspect is guardian/trustee/agent under POA, suspect breached fiduciary responsibility which resulted in unauthorized sale/transfer/misappropriation of victim’s property.

There is a violation of Fla. Stat. 825.103(1)(D) if:

·        Victim is elderly, suspect misappropriated, misused, or transferred (without authorization) money from a personal, joint, or convenience bank account.

o  Fla.Stat. 825.103(1)(d) defines exploitation as the misappropriation, misusing, or transferring without authorization money belonging to an elderly person from an account in which the elderly person placed the funds, owned the funds, and was the sole contributor or payee of the funds.

o  This is so a joint account holder (who contributes nothing to the account), who perhaps starts off only paying bills of the elderly owner but then decides to withdraw funds and buy a Ferrari for themselves, can still be charged for exploitation.

There is a violation of Fla. Stat. 825.103(1)(E) if:

·        Victim is elderly, suspect stands in the position of trust or is a caregiver, suspect intentionally or negligently failed to effectively use victim’s income or assets for the necessities required for the victim’s support or maintenance.

Fla. Stat. 825.103(2) presumes exploitation when there is a transfer of money over $10,000 by a person 65 years old or older to a non-relative whom the transferor knew for fewer than two years before the first transfer and for which the transferor did not receive the reasonably equivalent financial value in goods or services.

Fla. Stat. 825.103(4): Asset Seizure: if a person is charged with financial exploitation for more than $5,000 and property believing to the victim is seized from the defendant pursuant to a search warrant, the court will hold an evidentiary hearing to determine whether the older adult’s property was unlawfully obtained. If so, the court may order it returned to the victim for restitution purposes before trial.

‍Elder Abuse Statistics

DCF investigated 52,858 reports of elder abuse in the 2015-2016 fiscal year.

·        18.7K involved self-neglect

·        17.2K involved inadequate supervision

·        11.2K involved exploitation

·        9.5K involved physical injury

Most common forms of elder abuse in an institutionalized setting

Not surprisingly, the largest category of nursing home/ALF abusers come from the employees of the institution.

·        3.7K involved inadequate supervision

·        2.9K involved physical injury

·        1.4K involved medical neglect

·        1K involved environmental hazards

·        .3K involved exploitation

Most common forms of elder abuse while the elder is living at home

Perhaps more surprisingly is that the senior citizen’s own child is most likely to be the alleged abuser.

·        5.7K involve self-neglect

·        5.7K involve exploitation

·        5.7K involve inadequate supervision

Read more related articles at:

Elder Protection Programs

Adult Protective Services

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at:


Click here to check out our On Demand Video about Estate Planning.

Click here for a short informative video from our own Attorney Bill O’Leary.



Make Your Estate Creditor-Proof.

Make Your Estate Creditor-Proof.

Here’s how to ensure assets go to your heirs.

Ensure your assets go to directly to your loved ones instead of through probate.

When you pass away, the tax man isn’t the only one who can take a bite out of the assets that you leave behind for your loved ones.

Whether it is cash, real estate, retirement money or other funds, inherited assets can suddenly come up for grabs in a number of scenarios when creditors and others come calling.

Experts say you can often make your estate creditor-proof by avoiding probate, which is designed to pay off creditors. Here’s a primer on four ways to avoid probate and prevent outsiders from snatching the money you’ve left for your heirs. These measures protect your relatives if they ever get sued, file for bankruptcy or go through a nasty divorce after you’ve died.

1. Create a trust

Establishing a trust is not only a key way to skip probate court, it can also prevent the assets you’ve spent a lifetime accumulating from going to predators who might slap your heirs with lawsuits.

Scenario: A 77-year-old man died of cancer. He had a will that left $250,000 to his 26-year-old granddaughter, whom he intended to help buy her first home. Two years after her grandfather’s death, the granddaughter got into a minor car accident. The other driver wasn’t hurt but sued anyway, eventually winning a big chunk of the young woman’s $250,000 inheritance.

“The trust can specify that the money only be used for certain purposes, like the education, care or support of a specific beneficiary. This way, there can be no payout to creditors,” Gross says.

In some states, such as Florida,living trusts are commonly used. These trusts are called “revocable” because you control them and can change them at any time while you are alive. Once you die, however, your living trust becomes irrevocable (since you aren’t alive to revoke it), and the trust is a separate legal entity.

In New York and New Jersey, people typically create testamentary trusts, Gross says. This type of trust is created by the terms of a will, and the trust only takes effect upon a person’s death.

Both types of trusts can contain specific language and provisions that prevent your beneficiaries’ creditors from seizing any trust assets.

Unlike wills, “trusts are not a matter of public record. They’re a tool for maintaining privacy,” says Reid Abedeen, a partner at Safeguard Investment Advisory Group LLC. “In addition, trusts are much more difficult to contest than a will.”

A final advantage of a trust over a will is that a will has to go through probate, which is expensive and time-consuming. Probate costs can eat up more than 3 percent of an estate. So if you bequeath $1 million through your will, your heirs could pay more than $30,000 in probate expenses and wait a year or more for their inheritances.

2. Handle retirement assets appropriately

Be careful with how you pass along retirement assets such as IRAs and 401k plans. Creditors can sometimes go after those monies if one of your loved ones winds up in bankruptcy court.

Scenario: A 62-year-old mom died of diabetes and left her $100,000 IRA to her only daughter. Five years after receiving the inheritance, the daughter ran up a lot of credit card debt and filed for bankruptcy. She claimed the inherited IRA was exempt from her creditors, but the bankruptcy court disagreed and that money was used to pay off the debt.

How to prevent this: Leave IRAs to beneficiaries in a separate IRA trust to keep the funds away from creditors.

“The Supreme Court ruled in 2014 that any time a child or grandchild inherits an IRA, it’s no longer protected from creditors,” says Pat Simasko, head of Simasko Law and Simasko Financial in Mount Clemens, Mich.

By creating a stand-alone IRA trust for children or grandchildren to inherit an IRA, your offspring “will have access to the money, but creditors won’t,” he says.

Fortunately, married couples don’t have to worry about this problem. Under current law, if Mom dies with an IRA, Dad is allowed to receive her IRA assets as a “spousal rollover” and the funds are protected from outsiders.

3. Safeguard life insurance proceeds

Money held in a life insurance policy is protected from creditors, so any death benefit or cash value is protected and will go directly only to the individuals or organizations you name as beneficiaries.

But once life insurance proceeds are distributed as cash to your beneficiaries, the funds are open to attack from anyone, including your child’s conniving ex-spouse.

Scenario: A couple in their mid-80s has spent a lifetime together working hard and saving money. They have $1.5 million in life insurance and have told their three sons that each of them will receive $500,000 in insurance payouts. The youngest of the three sons is going through a bitter divorce with his estranged wife. The soon-to-be ex-wife has already told her lawyer about her spouse’s anticipated inheritance, and she feels entitled to a piece of it.

How to prevent this: To thwart a bitter ex from trying to lay claim to your kid’s inheritance, safeguard the life insurance by putting it an irrevocable life insurance trust (ILIT).

An ILIT is a tool specifically designed to own life insurance. Just like other trusts, the ILIT has a trustee, beneficiaries and precise terms for distributions.

“You can add protective provisions, like a spendthrift clause and a discretionary distribution clause, to keep the insurance proceeds from your beneficiaries’ creditors,” Gross says.

A spendthrift clause prohibits the trustee from transferring trust assets to anyone other than the beneficiaries. That includes an ex-spouse, creditors or even the IRS. “A spendthrift clause also says no beneficiary is permitted to assign, pledge or sell any interest in the trust — whether trust principal or income,” Gross adds.

If the trustee believes the distribution would be wasted or claimed by the beneficiaries’ creditors, a discretionary distribution clause gives your trustee the right to withhold income and principal distributions that would otherwise be payable to the beneficiaries.

4. Title bank accounts and assets properly

If you own joint assets or name beneficiaries on your accounts and assets, a creditor cannot seize what you leave behind after you die. Instead, the money will go directly to the person(s) listed on the accounts. But for the unsuspecting who haven’t titled their assets properly, there are pitfalls.

Scenario: A 58-year-old married traveling salesman died of a sudden heart attack. There was an $80,000 bank account in his name alone that had to be probated. His wife later discovered a $60,000 credit card balance, about which she knew nothing. It turns out the husband had a girlfriend on the side. After he died and the bank account went through probate, the wife was forced to use those bank funds to pay off the credit card bills.

How to prevent this: Make sure the spouse is named as a beneficiary on the bank account, which keeps the asset from having to go through probate. “If Dad dies and Mom is on the [bank] account, it’s hers,” Simasko says.

Adding beneficiaries to financial accounts is another creditor-busting move, since those assets avoid probate upon the death of the first account owner. But in this instance, it’s the deceased person’s creditors that won’t get access to the money, not the creditors of the beneficiaries.

Instead of having a joint owner listed on the title of certain accounts, a variation on this technique is to have a named beneficiary listed on your accounts, such as a 529 plan that may be for the benefit of a grandchild’s college education.

Another way to bypass probate and pass along the money to your heirs is to choose a payable-on-death (POD) or transfer-on-death (TOD) account designation. This differs from a joint tenant or co-owner arrangement because your heirs only have access to the fund after your death. Joint tenant and co-owners have access to the funds while you are alive.

“You deserve the peace of mind in knowing that your life’s economic work will be executed as specified, and your family will be grateful to you for not leaving them with the headache of trying to sort out your estate,” Abedeen says.

Read more related articles here:

How To Protect Your Assets From Lawsuits Or Creditors

The 2022 Florida Statues: Notice to Creditors. Filing of Claims.

Also, read one of our Previous Blogs here:

How Can I Protect Assets from Creditors?

Click here to check out our On Demand Video about Estate Planning.

Click here for a short informative video from our own Attorney Bill O’Leary.

generationn skipping trust

Passing Assets to Grandchildren Through a Generation-Skipping Trust

Passing Assets to Grandchildren Through a Generation-Skipping Trust

Passing assets to your grandchildren can be a great way to ensure their future is provided for, and a generation-skipping trust can help you accomplish this goal while reducing estate taxes and also providing for your children.

A generation-skipping trust allows you to “skip” over the generation directly below you and pass your assets to the succeeding generation. While this type of trust is most commonly used for family, you can designate anyone who is at least 37.5 younger than you as the beneficiary (except a spouse or ex-spouse).

One purpose of a generation-skipping trust is to minimize estate taxes.  Estates worth more than $12.06 (in 2022) have to pay a federal estate tax. Twelve states also impose their own estate tax, which in some states applies to smaller estates. When someone passes on an estate to their child and the child then passes the estate to their children, the estate taxes would be assessed twice—each time the estate is passed down. The generation-skipping trust avoids one of these transfers and estate tax assessments.

While your children cannot touch the assets in the trust, they can receive any income generated by the trust. The trust can also be set up to allow them to have some say in the rights and interests of future beneficiaries. Once your children pass on, the beneficiaries will have access to the assets.

Note however, that a generation-skipping trust is subject to the  generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax. This tax applies to transfers from grandparents to grandchildren, even in a trust. The GST tax has tracked the estate tax rate and exemption amounts, so the current GST exemption amount is $12.06 million (in 2022). If you transfer more than that, the tax rate is 40 percent.

The trust can be structured to take advantage of the GST tax exemption by transferring assets to the trust that fall under the exemption amount. If the assets increase in value, the proceeds can be allocated to the beneficiaries of the trust. And because the trust is irrevocable, your estate won’t have to pay the GST tax even if the value of the assets increases over the exemption amount.

Generation-skipping trusts are complicated documents. Consult with your attorney to determine if one would be right for your family.

Read more related articles here:

Generation-skipping tax: How it can affect your estate plan

Generation-Skipping Trust

Also, read one of our previous blogs here:

What is a generation-skipping trust?

Click here to check out our On Demand Video about Estate Planning.

Click here for a short informative video from our own Attorney Bill O’Leary.


Aaron Carter

Tragically Aaron Carter ‘died without a will’ leaving the state to decide who will inherit his assets.

Tragic Aaron Carter ‘died without a will’ leaving the state to decide who will inherit his assets including his $800,000 house which he had put on the market shortly before his deathSinger did not write a will, meaning California will decide who inherits estate
Sources say Carter was not in strong financial health at the time of his death
His $800,000 Lancaster house had been put up for sale but is now off market

Aaron Carter died without leaving a will meaning the state of California will decide who will inherit his assets, it has been revealed.

The 34-year-old, who passed away earlier this month, had been advised by his attorney to make a will, particularly after the birth of his 11-month-old son Prince.

The singer shared Prince with his on-again, off-again fiancée Melanie Martin, who started their rocky relationship in 2020.

The LA County Department of Children and Family Services were forced to get involved because of the domestic disputes between the tumultuous couple, and removed Prince from their home.

He has been living with Martin’s mother since September, reports TMZ.

The star had put his Lancaster home up for sale for around $800,000 in the weeks prior to his death but it has now been taken off the market

In California, the child normally inherits their single parent’s estate if they die without a will.

But sources said Carter was not in a strong financial position when he was found dead in his home on November 5.

If a sale goes ahead, Prince would likely have security in any equity it brings.

Last week, Martin was seen moving her stuff out of his home.

Since January 2020, Carter and Martin had a rocky relationship leading up to the birth of their son on November 22, 2021.

The singer told DailyMail.com in August that the two weren’t together and were done for good.

It’s unclear what the relationship status of the pair was leading up to Carter’s death was – but Martin released a statement and called him her ‘fiancée.’

The couple were on and off in their relationship. Carter had split from fiancée Martin just one week after they welcomed their first child together in 2021
Martin could be seen crying outside Carter’s California home after he was found dead
She wrote: ‘My fiancée Aaron Carter has passed away. I love Aaron with all my heart and it’s going to be a journey to raise a son without a father.

‘Please respect the privacy of my family as we come to terms with the loss of someone we love greatly.

‘We are still in the process of accepting this unfortunate reality. Your thoughts and prayers are greatly appreciated.’

Carter filed custody of their son and a petition for protection at the Antelope Valley Courthouse in Los Angeles County earlier this year.

At the time, he accused Martin of ’emotional distress, anguish, shoving, & scratching’, and claimed she used the threat of suicide to abuse him ’emotionally.’

One of the last people he texted was his manager Taylor Helgeson, telling him he was optimistic about the future and the release of his new music.

Helgeson recalled his final conversation with the I Want Candy singer the night before he died – and his thrill about the release of his new album he planned on recording in Los Angeles this month.

‘He was so excited, he was extremely optimistic,’ Helgeson told The US Sun. ‘It was a few years since we released Love, and he felt ready to do another one… it was the first time in a while that I’ve seen him so excited. He had more [to give], and he didn’t quit.’

Taylor Helgeson, Aaron Carter’s manager, revealed the singer last texted him on November 4 about his excitement to record his new album.
The night before Carter died, he had invited a friend to his home to begin recording for his new album – but the friend never made it
In one of Carter’s final messages to Helgeson on November 4, he had texted his manager to check in.

Helgeson said he asked the singer how he was doing. To which he responded: ‘I’m just headed back to the house. I was in L.A. All good though. Things are looking up.’

Carter later looked over the songs for his new album and added: ‘Holy s****! The new album, what the f***? This is definitely a Grammy!’

The manager responded: ‘Yeah, and you deserve it.’

‘Huge! Our best work yet,’ Carter last said at 6.32pm, Helgeson told The Sun.

Carter would later call Helgeson – but he was unable to answer because he was on a plane. The singer then called another friend and invited him over to his Lancaster home to begin recording vocals for the album.

‘From what I heard, that was around 9.30pm,’ Helgeson said. ‘But he never made it to the house.’

The singer was set to record his new album this month with Denmark producers.

Carter was set to record the album that he called Grammy material alongside producers from Denmark in Los Angeles this month

Carter began acting out of character leading up to his death, including missing important meetings

Helgeson said Carter felt as if he could handle all the issues in his life.

‘This album was going to be him owning everything,’ Helgeson said. ‘He was going to take accountability, and he felt that was going to be the best way to do it.’

‘He wouldn’t miss a show for anything if he could help it,’ Helgeson told the news outlet. ‘In the last few weeks, he missed some things, and that was so uncharacteristic of him, and I was upset.’

At the time, Helgeson presented Carter with an intense, custom-built rehab program as he began to fall off the wagon. He even confronted Carter when the star went on Instagram live stream and was seen ‘huffing.’

Carter previously admitted to having a huffing addiction but told Helgeson that it wasn’t real.

In a previous interview with DailyMail.com, his public relations aide Holly Davidson revealed the pop star wanted to resolve his children’s custody battle before he went to rehab.

‘I want to be better and I am trying to be better, but I cannot do it now,’ he told Davidson, of ITC PR.

‘He set his priorities as trying to deal with the courts over his son, the new music and life,’ the aide told DailyMail.com. ‘Then he wanted to go to rehab.’

Carter had been in a long-running custody battle with on-again/off-again girlfriend Melanie Martin, the mother of his 11-month-old son Prince.

The rehab plan was devised with addiction consultant Brenden Borrowman, co-founder of Utah drug treatment center ReBoot. According to its website, ReBoot uses ‘time-proven military behavioral science’ to develop self-worth and positive behavior.

Borrowman said that Aaron was ‘savable’. ‘I truly believe that,’ he previously told DailyMail.com.

Read more related articles at:

Aaron Carter ‘died without a will’ – leaving decision on who gets his house & inheritance up to the state


Also, read one of our previous Blogs here:


Click here to check out our On Demand Video about Estate Planning.

Click here for a short informative video from our own Attorney Bill O’Leary.


Chicago man’s $11 million estate to be divided among 119 distant cousins who never knew him

Chicago man’s $11 million estate to be divided among 119 distant cousins who never knew him


This may be the largest unclaimed U.S. estate ever, attorney tells Block Club Chicago. Here’s how to dig for an inheritance that might be waiting for you.

Joseph Stancak lived a quiet life in his Chicago bungalow, and on his boat named “Easy.” Stancak — who never married or had children and had no close relatives — died in 2016 at age 87, according to Block Club Chicago. Now, after a long hunt by estate attorneys, an $11 million inheritance will be divided among 119 distant relatives who never knew Stancak.

Now, as reported by local news site Block Club Chicago, a team of lawyers is preparing to distribute Joseph Stancak’s estate among 119 relatives, some in North America and some in Europe, and all of them distant cousins. After taxes, each heir will get around $60,000, the news report said. Not a single one had ever heard of Stancak until the estate lawyers consolidated scores of accounts, filled in his family tree and tracked down dozens of surprised relatives.

Rudy Quinn, president of Linking Assets Inc., a company that finds unclaimed money, told Block Club he believes this is the largest unclaimed estate in U.S. history.

Although Quinn told Block Club it’s not entirely clear how Stancak grew his nest egg, the Illinois Treasurer’s office told the news outlet that mutual-fund investments SPX, 4.29% were a significant part of the mix. Stancak, who was 87 when he died, did spend some of his money during his lifetime, including on a boat named “Easy.”

According to the report, Stancak’s six siblings had all died before him, and none of them had living children. In the end, the family tree that the attorneys put together went “five generations deep.”

The 119 heirs to Stancak’s millions are in Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Germany, the United Kingdom and Canada. Stateside, they reside in the Chicago area, as well as Iowa, Minnesota, New Jersey and New York.

Many people think that estate and will planning is only for the elite. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you have an asset — and that can be anything from a bike to a private airplane — you need to create a will. Stancak, whom neighbors in Gage Park, near Midway Airport, described for the Block Club report as having lived a “quiet life,” may have felt he had no one to leave his fortune to, and he apparently made no plans to bequeath money to a charity or any special causes.

For most people, “not making a will is a sure way to tarnish your memory, unleash family conflict and waste money on lawyers and taxes that would have gone to your heirs,”

Relatives — whether close or distant — may also have to contend with various federal and state laws if they’re left to disentangle an inheritance.

A person who dies without a will is said to have died intestate, and the intestacy laws of the state where the person resided will decide how bank accounts, real estate, securities and other assets will be divided. Real estate located in a different state than where the deceased person resided is handled according to the intestacy laws of the state where it is located.

‘Not making a will is a sure way to tarnish your memory, unleash family conflict and waste money on lawyers and taxes that would have gone to your heirs.’

— Morey Stettner

If the court cannot identify a rightful heir or heirs, assets and property are absorbed by the state.

Currently, states, federal agencies and other entities collectively hold more than $58 billion in unclaimed cash and benefits. That’s roughly $186 for every U.S. resident, although not all that money can be directly linked to estates.

Wondering if you might have a claim to a relative’s estate?

If you think you might have a claim to a deceased relative’s estate, a good place to begin your search is at Unclaimed.org, the website of the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA). This free site contains information about unclaimed property held by each state. You can search every state where a loved one lived or worked to see if anything shows up.

MissingMoney.com also has a multistate database, which you can search by just entering your name.

And the federal government offers this free resource, with links to governmental and other entities that you can explore if you believe you have money coming from an estate or have claims to other property or benefits.

If you hit a dead end with these searches but still believe you are entitled to an inheritance, hiring an attorney familiar with the process in the state where the deceased person lived may prove beneficial.

The search may not be as “Easy” as Stancak’s boat suggests, but it could well be worth it.

Read more related articles at:

Chicago Man Secretly Dies with $11 Million in His Estate — 119 Distant Relatives Share His Riches

A Chicago Man Quietly Left Behind $11 Million — The Largest Unclaimed Estate In American History

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at:


Click here to check out our On Demand Video about Estate Planning.

Click here for a short informative video from our own Attorney Bill O’Leary.

EP Update

Reviewing & Updating Your Estate Plan. Does Your Plan Come With A Client Care Program?

Reviewing & Updating Your Estate Plan

Once you have established your estate plan, make sure it stays sound by revisiting it at regular intervals or at key life events.

Many people review their estate plan at a regular frequency, often when they review their whole financial plan. This can be done annually, semi-annually, or quarterly; for estate planning specifically, the general recommendation is at least every three to five years or when there is a life event. You may want to get your attorney or tax advisor’s help.
In addition to regular reviews, it’s a good idea to review and update your plan at life events like the following:

  • The birth or adoption of a new child or grandchild
  • When a child or grandchild becomes an adult
  • When a child or grandchild needs educational funding
  • Death or change in circumstances of the guardian named in your will for minor children
  • Changes in your number of dependents, such as the addition of caring for an adult
  • Change in your or your spouse’s financial or other goals
  • Marriage or divorce
  • Illness or disability of your spouse
  • Change in your life or long-term care insurance coverage
  • Purchasing a home or other large asset
  • Borrowing a large amount of money or taking on liability for any other reason
  • Large increases or decreases in the value of assets, such as investments
  • If you or your spouse receives a large inheritance or gift
  • Changes in federal or state laws covering taxes and investments
  • If any family member passes away, becomes ill, or becomes disabled
  • Death or change in circumstance of your executor or trustee
  • Career changes, such as a new job, promotion, or if you start or close a business

Reviewing your plan at regular intervals in addition to major life events will help ensure that your legacy, both financial and otherwise, is passed on in accordance with your wishes and that your beneficiaries receive their benefits as smoothly as possible.

Legacy Planning Law Group has an established Client Care Program which comes with a complimentary 12 month enrollment with most of our Trust Plans.

Here are some of the benefits of enrollment:


Our team members are available to answer your questions or concerns. Reasonable access and communication is available during regular working hours by phone, email or in-person as appropriate, all without fear of getting a bill. We strive for 24-hour response time (except weekends and holidays).


Estate planning is a process, not a transaction. Our firm regularly monitors your estate plan. The only way to ensure that your plan carries out your wishes is to realize there will be changes in your life and the law. Our updating program will make sure that your plan stays current and consistent with your goals when changes occur. You will have peace of mind knowing that your plan is up-to-date. Client Care Program members receive free word processing changes, a 50% discount on amendments and restatements, and a 25% discount on any new planning work or other legal work that is implemented.


Our unique Estate Settlement Program will be available to your family and loved ones at a 25% discount off our fees in effect at your death.


Your assets are aligned with your trust when the estate plan is executed. After that, we regularly review ownership of your assets and provide you with an annual report to ensure that your assets are properly aligned with your trust, which includes either funding assets into your trust or aligning beneficiary designations with your trust. These reviews can be coordinated with your financial advisor.


The Family Meeting is an opportunity for you to meet with your trusted family members and advisors and explain your plan. You are able to tell your family the how and why of your plan. This provides a forum to address questions and discuss any potential issues. This allows you to set expectations among the next generation which leads to family harmony.


Complimentary workshops on estate and elder planning topics are offered to keep you informed on the latest legal updates. We encourage your family members to attend too. We provide eNewsletters and blogs on topics of interest. We also offer complimentary consultations with your successor trustees to educate them on their duties.


  • Digital Asset Planning – Complimentary subscription to a cloud-based digital asset management platform which maintains a list of your digital assets and assigns directions for how you want those assets handled after you die or become incapacitated
  • Cloud Access to Estate Planning Documents – Complimentary subscription to our proprietary client portal for cloud storage of your estate planning documents. Your family is given 24/7 access to your important documents. You also get a healthcare directive ID card.
  • Counsel You on Other Legal Matters – If you have another type of legal matter, we will find another attorney who specializes in that area of law.
  • Collaboration with Your Trusted Professional Advisors – Collaboration with your professional advisors to integrate your estate plan with your life so everyone is working together as a team with the mutual goals of taking care of your family.

Read more related articles at:

When You Need To Update Your Estate Plan: You’re Probably Past Due!

Is it time to update your estate plan?

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at:

When it comes to a will or estate plan, don’t just set it and forget it. You need to keep them updated.

Click here to check out our On Demand Video about Estate Planning.

Click here for a short informative video from our own Attorney Bill O’Leary.





Elderly orphans

Elder Orphans. What Happens If An Elderly Person Has No One To Take Care Of Them?

What Happens If An Elderly Person Has No One To Care Of Them?

When an elderly person has no one to take care of them, they may opt to take care of themselves and continue living in their own home. Programs for seniors without family are available, as are nursing homes and assisted living. Some states will enlist a guardian for seniors who can no longer keep up with daily tasks of living or make decisions for themselves.

We have a lot to unpack in this article as we explore a senior’s options when they’re old, their physical health is declining, or they have dementia or memory loss, but they have no family (and possibly no money as well). Make sure you keep reading for lots of helpful information!

What Happens To Elderly Living Alone?

According to a 2013 report from AARP called The Aging of the Baby Boom and the Growing Care Gap: A Look at Future Declines in the Availability of Family Caregivers, the AARP estimated that by 2030, a whopping 16 percent of women up to 84 years old will have never had children.

For others – well, it’s hard enough losing the people we love as we get older. But for some seniors, they may lose family members or become estranged from those who were closest to them in their younger years – their spouse, their kids, and their friends.

For other seniors, it could be that they are close to family, but their loved ones have moved to another part of the world.

Either way, these “elder orphans” only have themselves to rely on. It can be a really tough situation to be in, but there are ways to cope.

Here is what can happen to them.

They Continue Living Alone

No rule says an aging senior has to change their lifestyle just because they’re getting older.

They should consider their care options, but due to fear of the unknown or stubbornness, they might decide to continue caring for themselves like nothing is wrong.

This can be highly dangerous, as we’re sure we don’t have to tell you. If an elderly person living alone slips and falls and is not wearing a medical alert device and is out of reach of the phone, then they have no way to call for help.

NOTE: if you don’t want to wear a medical alert device, a voice-activated Amazon Echo Dot or a smart watch, such as an Apple watch, can be used instead. There is even medical alert jewelry that looks like a regular necklace.

Without anyone checking in on them, the senior would have to force themselves to get to a phone or risk being stranded.

This happened to my mom – she fell and broke her shoulder and could not get up to reach the phone that was on the counter just above her. Thankfully my dad came home and found her after a couple of hours, but I still shudder to think about what would have happened if she had lived by herself.

Sadly, many older people will go through this trauma alone (and, in some cases, their quality of life will be severely impacted or they will not survive).


They Move Into An Assisted Living Facility Or A Nursing Home

After a drastic change in their physical condition, such as one slip and fall without anyone to help them, a senior might change their tune and decide that they need assistance in their day-to-day lives.

They could move into an assisted living community or even a nursing home.

Usually, adult children or other family members would encourage this decision for the elderly, but not in this case.

They Enter A Conservatorship

Of course, we should note that both assisted living and nursing home care are anything but cheap.

According to Where You Live Matters, a resource for seniors, as of 2018, the yearly cost of assisted living was $48,000. We’re sure the costs have only continued to climb in the years since that data was released.

Senior Living.org states that, as of 2021, the monthly cost of nursing home care is $7,756 for a semi-private room and $8,821 for a private room. The costs would be between $93,072 and $105,852 a year.

Keep in mind too that Medicare doesn’t often pay for these services, which means a senior would have to rely on different insurance or other financial means.

That’s a lot of money to ask of anyone, let alone an elderly person who likely hasn’t worked in decades.

So what happens when a senior can’t afford to live in a facility and they have no family who can step in and help?

Well, in some states, such as California, a senior could receive assistance. The state could offer a conservatorship where someone is assigned the role of the senior’s guardian.

They likely wouldn’t know the guardian, but the guardian still makes financial, health, and medical decisions for the senior.

Usually, this only happens if a senior is unable to make decisions for themselves.

Not every state offers conservatorship services though, and even for the ones that do, it’s not easy to obtain these services. The conservators who step in on a senior’s behalf are doing so on a volunteer basis, after all.

How Do You Plan For Old Age With No Family?

Aging is inevitable. Even with a full support system of beloved family, aging can be scary. Once you remove that network, the prospect of facing old age alone is daunting.

We don’t recommend an elderly individual does it alone, for their own health, safety, and mental well being.

Instead, these should be the pillars of planning as a senior determines how they’ll proceed through the years without a spouse, partner, or adult children.

Put Your Affairs In Order

One of the best things you can do for yourself is to make sure your legal and financial affairs are in order before you have a health problem or cognitive decline. You’ll make better decisions when you aren’t under stress.

If you live alone, this is especially important, as there may be no one else who knows your wishes or how to access your accounts.

Good legal planning with the help of an elder care lawyer is an important part of ensuring that your wishes are carried out in the event that you are unable to make or communicate decisions on your own behalf.

Here are some key elements of legal planning to keep in mind:

  • First, take inventory of existing legal documents, such as your will, power of attorney, and health care directive. Review these documents and make any necessary updates.
  • Second, make legal plans for your finances and property. For example, you may want to consider establishing a trust or setting up a beneficiary designation.
  • Third, put plans in place for enacting your future health care and long-term care preferences. This may include making decisions about end-of-life care, guardianship, and long-term care insurance.
  • Finally, name another person to make decisions on your behalf when you no longer can. This person, known as your agent or proxy, will be responsible for carrying out your wishes according to the terms of your legal documents. In order to do this, start by designating someone you trust as your power of attorney. This person will be able to make financial decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.

Many people don’t think about appointing a power of attorney until it’s too late.

Whether you’re dealing with an illness, injury, or just the natural aging process, there may come a time when you can no longer make your own decisions. That’s why it’s so important to have a power of attorney document in place.

This document allows you to appoint someone you trust to handle your financial and other affairs if you’re ever unable to do so yourself. You can also name successor agents in case your original choice is unavailable or unwilling to serve.

And it’s important to remember that power of attorney does not give the person you appoint complete control over your life. You still have the right to make your own decisions, as long as you have the legal capacity to do so.

So don’t put off appoint a power of attorney – it could be one of the most important decisions you ever make.

You should also write a will or talk to an attorney who can help with estate planning to outline how you would like your assets to be distributed after your death.

While these may not be pleasant topics to think about, making these plans now will give you peace of mind knowing that your affairs are in order.

End Of Life Wishes

Many people choose to avoid thinking about end-of-life care or funeral arrangements, but it’s an important topic to consider. End-of-life care can encompass a wide range of issues, from medical treatment to funeral arrangements.

Ideally, it’s best to express your wishes now while you are able to make decisions for yourself.

Addressing your wishes with your care team or a legal professional will ensure that your expressed requests will be followed when appropriate.

By taking the time to plan ahead, you can ensure that your wishes will be respected and that others will not have to make difficult decisions on your behalf.

Build Social Bonds

If you thought it was hard to find friends after college, it can be even more difficult in one’s senior years, but it has to be done!

A senior can find new friends in all sorts of places, from the doctor’s office waiting room to the post office.

Talk to neighbors, too, especially younger neighbors or neighbors with families. Explain the situation to them.

The point of being sociable is to build a support network. A senior should have people around them who will notice if they don’t pick up their phone. They need someone or several people who know the senior’s routine and can thus determine if they’re not following it.

These people will check in on the senior so that if, goodness forbid, a situation transpires where a senior has fallen and can’t get help or is otherwise unresponsive, the support network can step in and get the senior the proper medical care they need.

Mail carriers are also helpful if you ask them to keep an eye out for trouble. There are plenty of stories about mail carriers who asked for a home welfare check after someone who regularly picked up their mail stopped doing so. You can actually register to get this service.

Move Into A Joint Household

Assisted living can be expensive, but an informal joint household is usually a lot more affordable.

What is a joint household? This housing arrangement includes friends or extended family members of the senior who live under one roof. Collectively, they provide care for the senior.

This is a win-win-win situation. A senior doesn’t have to deal with the isolation of living alone, they’re surrounded by people they love, and they’re receiving care.

Find Other Family

Families are often bigger than we give them credit for and sometimes just need to reconnect. A senior should look into their family lineage if they’re fearing the years ahead without any care.

They just may have extended family in the area that they never realized were so close! For example, when I moved to Colorado, I was able to reunite with an elderly uncle who had been estranged from the family for several years.

Programs For Seniors Without Family

Another option for an older person is to seek the assistance of social services and programs designed for seniors without families. Here are some programs to look into.

Senior Centers

According to the National Council On Aging, a senior center serves “as a gateway to the nation’s aging network—connecting older adults to vital community services that can help them stay healthy and independent.”

They can put you in touch with your local Area Agency On Aging for things like meal delivery, financial assistance and help with personal needs.

AmeriCorps Senior Companion Program

The AmeriCorps Senior Companion Program provides companionship to nearby seniors living on their own. The companion program is about building friendships between volunteers and the elderly.

The goal is to “keep seniors independent longer.”

No Wrong Door

No Wrong Door in association with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Veterans Health Administration, and the Administration for Community Living offers seniors and others in need community-based support.

Equality Conversion Mortgage

The Home Equality Conversion Mortgage or HECM  through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development allows a senior to use some of their home equity, none of which accrues interest or has to be repaid as long as they live in their home.

To be eligible for the HECM program, a senior must be at least 62 years old and have significant equity.

What Happens To Dementia Patients With No Family

After a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or other dementia, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed. Suddenly, there are a lot of decisions to be made and new challenges to face.

If you have dementia, or are caring for someone with the condition, you may be worried about what will happen if you have no family members who can help you if you can no longer care for yourself.

After all, you may be able to manage perfectly well in the mild / beginning stages of the disease, but dementia is a progressive condition and it can lead to a decline in physical and mental abilities over time.

This can make it difficult to do everyday tasks and may eventually make it impossible for you to continue to live independently.

If you don’t have any family or friends who are able to help you, there are still options available to you. There are also many support services available for people with dementia.

Housing Options

One option is to move into a dementia-specific care facility. These facilities provide 24-hour care and support, and the various programs in this type of community can help to delay the progression of the condition.

The goal is to receive in-home support. This can include help with cooking, cleaning, and personal care.

Financial Considerations

The sooner you start planning, the more control you will have over your finances and the less stress you will feel. There are a few key things to keep in mind when financial planning with dementia.

Begin by collecting all of your important financial documents in one place. This should include bank statements, investment accounts, insurance policies, and wills or trusts.

Once you have gathered everything together, sit down with a trusted friend or accountant to review your finances and make a plan for the future. It may seem daunting at first, but taking these steps will help to ease your anxiety during an uncertain time.

Financially, consider the cost of the type of care you may need for memory care issues (such as home health aides or nursing home care) which can be extremely high. Even informal care, such as help from friends, can come with a significant financial cost, as it often requires hiring outside help to cover regular tasks like cooking or cleaning.

To help ease the financial burden:

  • Investigate any long-term care insurance that may be in place.
  • Also, if you are a veteran, you may be eligible for benefits that can help.
  • If you are younger than age 65, SSI (Supplemental Social Security) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) may be able to help.
  • You may also qualify to get help from Medicaid (there are income and asset qualifications to meet).
  • If you own a home, a reverse mortgage may be of assistance.

Put A Care Team Into Place

A care team is the group of people who you’ll partner with and rely on to provide you help, care, support and connection throughout the course of the disease.

The team may include your friends, co-workers or trusted neighbors. It also may include your doctor, nurses, social workers, geriatric care managers, clergy or therapist.

The goal of the care team is to provide physical, emotional and spiritual support. The care team also can provide important practical assistance, such as transportation to doctor’s appointments or help with household chores.

Begin to assemble a care team by making a list of everyone you can think of who may be willing to help.

Then, tell them about your diagnosis and let them know what you might need in the future (transportation to the grocery store or medical appointments, help preparing food, etc).

If they agree to help, add their names and contact information to your care team list.

Legal Paperwork

Put legal paperwork into place so that your wishes are carried out for both medical care and end of life care.

It is crucial to do this before you begin to experience cognitive decline, so if you have a family history of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, it’s a good idea to put plans into place “just in case” you are ever diagnosed.

Regardless of a dementia diagnosis, you’ll need to appoint a power of attorney for both your financial and medical needs.

A power of attorney is a document that allows you to appoint someone to make decisions on your behalf. This can be useful in a variety of situations, such as if you become incapacitated or are unable to make decisions for yourself.

The person you appoint is called an attorney-in-fact or agent. It’s important to choose someone you trust, as they will have a lot of responsibility.

You should also name a successor agent, in case the person you originally choose is unable or unwilling to serve.

Keep in mind that even though you are giving the person you designate as your power of attorney the authority to make decisions, you still have the final say. They are there to help you, not override your decisions.

Power of attorney is a valuable tool that can give you peace of mind knowing that your affairs are in good hands.

How Do You Help An Elderly Person Who Lives Alone?

It can be tough for elderly people to get by without any family nearby. They might not have anyone to help them with yard work, grocery shopping, or even just keeping the house clean. And if they live alone, it can be easy for them to become isolated and lonely.

But there are some things you can do to help.

Check On Them

Just a quick check-in every now and then can make a world of difference in their lives. Something as simple as a phone call, a cup of coffee, or even simply waving to them from the sidewalk can help them feel connected and valued.

Checking in also gives you an opportunity to make sure that they are safe and comfortable. If you notice any problems, you can alert the proper authorities or provide assistance yourself.

Help Them Out

You could also offer to help out with practical tasks like grocery shopping or yard work.

If they don’t have transportation, you could give them a ride to appointments, social events, grocery shopping or medical appointments.

Visit Often

Solo seniors who struggle with mobility or age-related conditions like dementia probably don’t have the biggest social circle. They may not see or speak to anyone for days especially if they’re living alone.

By visiting the senior several times per week and spending companionable hours with them, you could improve their mental health and well being just through your presence.


Considering that a senior who lives alone might not have many people to talk to, they likely will have a lot to say when you two talk.

Sometimes, the senior may use you as a sounding board whereas other times, they’ll want to have an everyday conversation.

Let the senior talk, as this could be their only opportunity. Listen to them and respond thoughtfully and helpfully if you can.

Do Activities Together

Making your time together meaningful will have a senior looking forward to seeing you again.

You can engage in senior-friendly arts and crafts, watch old films or listen to old music together (which can invoke memories for dementia patients), or even get outside and take a walk if the senior is able to leave the house while under your care.


More seniors today are facing the prospect of getting older with no one to care for them.

Whether they never married and are childless, or divorced and childless, or their family moved away, or a tragic loss occurred, these seniors have to go through their most difficult years without family.

This never means that a senior is alone though. Through programs, conservatorships, community volunteers, friends and neighbors, and even long-distance family, a senior can almost always find a way to have someone looking out for them!

Read  more related articles here:

‘Elder orphans,’ without kids or spouses, face old age alone.

Elder Orphans Hiding in Plain Sight: A Growing Vulnerable Population

The Rise of Elder Orphans: What You Should Know

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When Do I Need an Elder Law Attorney?

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The Special Needs Trust (SNT) Improvement Act of 2022.

The Special Needs Trust (SNT) Improvement Act of 2022.

Newly introduced legislation may soon alleviate a challenge families sometimes face when planning for a loved one living with disabilities. In general, any funds left to such a beneficiary should be left in a special needs trust. This can get a bit complicated when the funds to be passed on include an IRA or other form of retirement plan, especially for those families who may wish to name the charitable organization that provides services for their loved one as a second beneficiary to such a trust.

Under the rules for retirement plans and trusts, if charities are named as beneficiaries the retirement plans must be liquidated and taxes paid within the five years following the death of the original owners. For retirement plans passing to most individuals, the time period for such liquidation is ten years following the death of the original owner.

However, the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act, which became law in 2019, carved out an exception for beneficiaries with disabilities or chronic illness. They can stretch the distributions over their lifetimes, postponing the payment of taxes.

Trusts can be written to preserve this longer withdrawal schedule, but not if they name a charity as a beneficiary. The Special Needs Trust (SNT) Improvement Act of 2022, intended to close this gap, would provide families the opportunity to name a charitable organization as a remainder beneficiary. The bill recently received bipartisan support from the Senate Financial Committee.

Among the entities in support of the SNT Improvement Act are the Special Needs Alliance, a national organization of attorneys advocating for people living with special needs and disabilities, the elderly, and their families.

“Individuals and families want to ensure that they can contribute to organizations that are providing essential services that are heavily relied upon by so many,” said Special Needs Alliance President Mary O’Byrne in a recent news release. “This act provides individuals and their familiar the ability to ensure that … services [for people with disabilities] can be supported in the future without a higher tax cost during the life of the special needs trust beneficiary.”

Read more related articles here:

Young, Hassan Introduce Bill to Improve Special Needs Trusts

Schneider, Walorski Introduce Bipartisan Special Needs Trust Act

The Bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to modify rules relating to beneficiaries of charitable remainder trusts.

Also read one of our previous Blogs at:


Click here to check out our On Demand Video about Estate Planning.

Click here for a short informative video from our own Attorney Bill O’Leary.

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