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Am I Too Young to Think About Estate Planning?
Never Too Young for Estate Planning

Am I Too Young to Think About Estate Planning?

It’s wise for younger generations to consider estate planning, advises The Cleveland Jewish News in the recent article “Younger generations should focus on estate planning, too.”

Don’t be fooled into thinking that an estate plan is only for older people or the ultra-wealthy. Many younger adults have been financially successful and also have experienced changes with marriage and families.

A young married couple should talk about their vision and goals for their legal affairs, in case something happens to one of them or within their family.

Estate plans provide some certainty into an otherwise uncertain life. There are many reasons to start early. One reason is that you never know what’s going to happen. You want to make certain that all of your assets are in place.

When creating an estate plan, there are a few things that younger people should consider, such as making sure all their accounts have named a beneficiary. This includes life insurance, retirement, and checking and savings accounts. These beneficiaries need to be updated for life and family changes.

Many youngers adults will be fine with a will and a health care power of attorney. However, marriage is a time when people have more complexity in their professional lives. This can include starting a business, becoming leaders at companies and needing more complex and protective plans.

While younger generations are known to be independent and to try to meet all their needs online, estate plans should be treated differently. There are numerous online tools or ‘do-it-yourself’ strategies, but professional legal assistance can make it an easier and a more thorough process.

Start as early as you can and set the foundation for more complex planning that will come in the future. This preparation will mean less stress for those left behind, after you pass away.

Learn how a trust can protect your kids.

Reference: Cleveland Jewish News (September 19, 2019) “Younger generations should focus on estate planning, too”

Must I Liquidate My IRA Before I Can Apply for Medicaid?
Medicaid Planning

Must I Liquidate My IRA Before I Can Apply for Medicaid?

Do the rules permit a nursing home to force a resident to liquidate an IRA and spend it down to pay for care, before they’re eligible for Medicaid? Likewise, can a nursing home make the spouse who’s not in a nursing home liquidate money in an IRA and spend it on care for the spouse?

The answer to these questions is based on the state in which you live, because Medicaid eligibility and spend-down rules vary by state. For example, in New Jersey, the answer to both of these questions is yes.

nj.com’s recent article “Can a nursing home make me spend down an IRA before applying to Medicaid?” says that there’s no protection in New Jersey for IRAs, when it comes to Medicaid. The same is true in Minnesota, Nevada, and Oregon. By contrast, in California and Florida, IRAs and other retirement plans are protected (non-countable).

While it’s not the nursing home that’s making this demand, it’s the Medicaid program itself that requires the spend-down. The nursing home is likely just doing what they’ve been told.

However, with the help of a Medicaid planning attorney, you can implement a strategy to preserve the spouse’s IRA up to a maximum of $126,420 for 2019. In addition, the nursing home resident’s IRA can, in some cases, be converted to a Medicaid annuity. Your Medicaid planning attorney will save you a significant amount of money, when compared to the legal fees. For the spouse remaining in the community, the attorney can make sure that she or he has sufficient money to live on.

While New Jersey is a very difficult state in which to qualify for Medicaid, there’s always the possibility that advance planning will shelter significant assets. Attorneys’ fees are typically paid from one of the assets that must be spent down to obtain Medicaid eligibility.

Whether Medicaid planning with an attorney is worth the expense, depends on how much could be saved or sheltered. If, for example, Medicaid planning will cost $10,000 but there is the opportunity to shelter $100,000 from long-term care expenses, it’s well worth doing for the $90,000 that would be protected. A $10,000 investment that returns $90,000 is a good investment, by anyone’s standards.

Talk to an estate planning or elder care attorney in your state, who can look at the specifics of your finances to see if you can benefit from their services.

Learn how an elder law attorney can help you plan for long-term care.

Reference: nj.com (September 18, 2019) “Can a nursing home make me spend down an IRA before applying to Medicaid?”

How Do I Find a Great Estate Planning Attorney?
Good Estate Planning Attorneys Provide Family Harmony

How Do I Find a Great Estate Planning Attorney?

Taking care of these important planning tasks will limit the potential for family fighting and possible legal battles, in the event you become incapacitated, as well as after your death. An estate planning attorney can help you avoid mistakes and missteps and assist you in adjusting your plans as your individual situation and the laws change.

Next Avenue’s recent article “How to Find a Good Estate Planner” offers a few tips for finding one:

Go with a Specialist. Not every lawyer specializes in estate planning, so look for one whose primary focus is estate and trust law in your area. After you’ve found a few possibilities, ask him or her for references. Speak to those clients to get a feel for what it will be like to work with this attorney, as well as the quality of his or her work.

Ask About Experience.  Ask about the attorney’s trusts-and-estates experience. Be sure your attorney can handle your situation, whether it is a complex business estate or a small businesses and family situation. If you have an aging parent, work with an elder law attorney.

Be Clear on Prices. The cost of your estate plan will depend on the complexity of your needs, your location and your attorney’s experience level. When interviewing potential candidates, ask them what they’d charge you and how you’d be charged. Some estate planning attorneys charge a flat fee. If you meet with a flat-fee attorney, ask exactly what the cost includes and ask if it’s based on a set number of visits or just a certain time period. You should also see which documents are covered by the fee and whether the fee includes the cost of any future updates. There are some estate-planning attorneys who charge by the hour.

It’s an Ongoing Relationship. See if you’re comfortable with the person you choose, because you’ll be sharing personal details of your life and concerns with them.

What makes a great estate planning attorney?

Reference: Next Avenue (September 10, 2019) “How to Find a Good Estate Planner”