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Alzheimer's blood Test

Is it Alzheimer’s? Families want to know, and blood tests may offer answers.

Is it Alzheimer’s? Families want to know, and blood tests may offer answers. Alzheimer’s afflicts 6.5 million Americans, and for many years, the only way to get confirmation of diagnoses was through a spinal tap. Simple blood tests have now hit the market and represent a powerful tool in finding a diagnosis. The blood test can detect small amounts of abnormal proteins, including a sticky version called amyloid beta. This determines whether pathological hallmarks of Alzheimer’s are present in the brain.

“If you had asked me five years ago if we would have a blood test that could reliably detect plaques and tangles in the brain, I would have said it was unlikely,” said Gil Rabinovici, a neurologist at the University of California at San Francisco. “I am glad I was wrong about that.”

The blood tests bring hope that a transformation of Alzheimer’s research and treatment could be on the way. While the tests are primarily being used in clinical trials, they are already contributing to expedited research.  However, they are not immune to stirring controversy, leaving some doctors skeptical, debating ethical questions like, who should get the test? When is the right time? How accurate are they? Do people really want to know they have Alzheimer’s?

Biogen Inc. and Eisai Co. have partnered together on experimental drug, lecanemab, which they say significantly slowed symptoms of Alzheimer’s. This makes it the first medicine to blunt progression of dementia in a largely definitive study, which has bolstered hope for treatments that could remove amyloid plaques from the brain. If the FDA approves these treatments, the demand for these blood tests could skyrocket.

For more information see Laurie McGinley “Is it Alzheimers? Families want to know, and blood tests may offer answers”, The Washington Post, November 17, 2022

Read more related articles here:

How Is Alzheimer’s Disease Diagnosed?

Blood Testing & Genetic Testing for Alzheimer’s and / or Dementia

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at:

Alzheimer’s Progression Slowed by Drug in Major Trial

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.

Rule from the Grave

Is It OK to Rule From the Grave?

Imposing reasonable conditions on your loved ones during estate planning is smart, but overly burdensome ones can have disastrous results.

Homework must be done right after school. Multivitamins must be consumed daily. Dinner is family time (translation: put electronics away). These are sensible rules you’ve set for your loved ones that have helped promote health and harmony. So, does it make sense to impose conditions in your estate plan? In short, it depends. Read on to learn some of the ways people can effectively set guidelines in their plan to make carrying out their wishes simpler for their loved ones and also some mistakes you’ll want to avoid.

Conditions on Serving as a Representative

being an executor or a trustee is a big responsibility, so nominating people for these roles is an important decision in planning your estate. Parents commonly name one or more of their children with the expectation that they’ll rise to the occasion.

I nominate my child, Jane, as my executor; provided they have attained the age of 22. If they have not, then I nominate my sibling, Sally, as my executor, to serve until my child, Jane, attains the age of 22 at which time I nominate my said child.

This is sensible for a number of reasons. First, as a general rule, the law requires that the representatives of your estate be legal adults, which, in many states, means 18 or older. Second, this condition is measurable. Third, it’s practical: Wanting your child to be comfortable handling money makes sense. They will have to make financial decisions when it comes to estate assets and may need to hire an advisor for help.

You could also modify the above condition:

I nominate my child, Jane, as a co-Trustee of the Jane Trust; provided they have attained the age of 22. If they have not, then I nominate my sibling, Sally, as the sole Trustee, to serve until my child, Jane, attains the age of 22 at which time I nominate my said child as a co-Trustee. Thereafter, when my child, Jane, attains the age of 35, I nominate my said child as the sole Trustee of the Jane Trust.

This provision is a bit more complex, but it actually checks off the same boxes: You want your child to ultimately assume control over their trust, but recognize they may need a bit of guidance before they’re fully prepared to handle things on their own. Assuming your child and sibling get along relatively well, your child could learn a lot from a trusted mentor, better preparing them to fly solo.

But what about this one:

I nominate my child, Jane, as my executor; provided that they have completed at least one year of college with above a 3.8 GPA. If not, then I nominate my sibling, Sally, as my executor, to serve until my child, Jane, completes at least one year of college with above a 3.8 GPA at which time I nominate my said child.

Here’s where it starts getting tricky. At first blush, these conditions seem to make sense. After all, you told your child that college is important to their future.

But what if your child decides to attend a trade school or enlist in military service? Or what if your child does attend college, but chooses a competitive school or a difficult major, where attaining high marks is harder to come by? You may have taken your child out of the running for serving an important role in managing your estate.

Conditions on Receiving Property

Many will-makers also want to set ground rules about what purposes estate or trust assets can be used for. What if your impressionable child depletes their trust fund immediately, only to wish they had the funds later in life to help with the down payment on a first house?

For example:

Distributions can be made to my child, Bob, for their health, education, maintenance, and support.

The HEMS standard is actually one of the most common standards of Trust distributions.  It’s widely considered to be relatively clear, measurable and practical. So when the child beneficiary requests funds for, say, shoulder surgery, the trustee is almost certain to oblige. On the other hand, if they request funds to upgrade their new and expensive vehicle to a more expensive vintage drive, there’s greater assurance this will be subject to scrutiny.

4 Tax-Smart Ways to share the Wealth with Kids

Some will-makers may want to be extra cautious to ensure funds are there for emergencies. For example:

Distributions can be made to my child, Bob, for their urgent health needs.

Unless your child is independently wealthy, you’re likely to do more harm than good by imposing such a restrictive standard. After all, there are probably a number of purposes your child could use the funds for that you would have supported. Also, what if your child has no urgent health needs for many years? Is it really your intention to leave funds sitting while your child goes through important life milestones, like marriage or the birth of a child, without you contributing to those memories?

Finally, what about a trust with conditions like:

Distributions can be made to my child, Luna, if they graduate from an Ivy League school.

Distributions can be made to my child, Borris, if they secure a job in finance.

Distributions can be made to my child, Katherine, after they have their first child.

You’ve probably guessed it: While graduating from an Ivy League school, securing a job in finance and having children are life events worth celebrating and supporting, your beneficiary may not meet these requirements. What if Luna loves Boston College, Borris wants to be a doctor, or Katy becomes a stepmother to three loving children and decides not to have their own children? Your conditions are likely to then be seen as punishing your beneficiaries for being their authentic selves, rather than supporting them.

Focus on Clear, Measurable, Practical Guidelines

You’ve worked hard to not only acquire property and financial assets, but to guide children or loved ones in smart decision-making. When conditions are complex or overly limiting, it can make settling your estate more time-consuming and expensive and lead to resentment that can take generations to heal.

When should your children get their inheritance?

Setting clear, measurable and practical guidelines in your estate plan can both protect your plan and your beneficiaries when you’re no longer here.

Read more related articles here:

Trying to Control Your Heirs’ Behavior From the Grave Often Backfires

Rule from the grave or guide from the grave?

Also, read one of our previous Blogs here:

How Much Control from the Grave Can Parents Have?

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.

Gifting and estate planning

Tis The Season To Give, An Estate Plan Can Be A Smart And Unique Way.

Tis The Season To Give, An Estate Plan Can Be A Smart And Unique Way.

Tis The Season To Give, An Estate Plan Can Be A Smart And Unique Way.When you’re young and in your prime earning years, your financial strategy tends to be focused on growth: building and preserving wealth as best you can. Through short-term goals like saving money for a wedding or a house, and long-term goals like setting aside funds for higher education for the kids or for your own retirement, we all follow the same overall pattern: Earn what you can, spend what you have to, invest the difference well, and see what you can build over the course of a lifetime. As you move toward your retirement years, however, that familiar pattern gets turned on its head. Your earning power diminishes, you can see the outlines of what your wealth will look like in retirement, and the focus starts to shift from growth to distribution. You need to take care of yourself, and make sure you’re enjoying your retirement, and not stress TOO much about your kids and grandchildren. But if you’re as thoughtful now as you’ve been along the way, it’s time to make some decisions around exactly what you want to happen after you’re gone. This is estate planning, and it’s a whole new ballgame.

You’ve worked hard to create wealth all your life. Estate planning is all about carefully documenting your wishes so that the fruits of your labor go exactly where you want them to go, even after you’re gone. It’s about transferring wealth without incurring any more taxes than you have to, and with safeguards that help ensure it’ll be spent responsibly. It’s about managing end-of-life healthcare costs and decisions, so your family understands what you want and has a clear path to making the right decisions should you become incapacitated. And it’s about making careful allocation and empowerment choices so your wealth can benefit your family, possibly for multiple generations.

There are a world of options at your disposal—as well as state and federal laws, tax implications, and other complicating factors. It can be helpful to have an experienced attorney help you through the process. Here are some of the basics, to get your thought process rolling.

Consideration 1: Estate Planning Goals

Proper estate planning starts with the creation of three main documents, ideally written by a lawyer: an updated Will, a power of Attorney; and a Medical Directive. Generally speaking:

  • A Will goes into force when you pass away, and provides instructions for distributing any assets that are personally in your name, and appoints guardians for your children. Before this happens, wills first need to be “probated,” a time-consuming process that validates the will, makes its terms enforceable, and becomes a public record. We normally advise each client to have their will written by a lawyer—the issues can be complex.
  • A Power of Attorney gives a particular person the right to make financial and legal (but not medical) decisions for you while you are still alive. The document is best developed while you’re still in good health and sound mind, and have a firm idea of whom you can trust to make key decisions on your behalf. This way, if something unexpected happens, that person can step seamlessly in, with no family members or others challenging what you “would have wanted.”
  • A Medical Directive (it may be called something different in your state of residence) empowers a particular person to make medical decisions for you when you can’t make them for yourself. Medical Directives are often confused with DNRs (Do Not Resuscitate orders), which simply state that you wish not to be resuscitated under certain conditions, e.g. when you’re unlikely to recover from a coma. The Medical Directive is a broader document that gives a trusted individual the ability to make all kinds of medical decisions on your behalf, including a DNR if that’s your wish, when you can’t make them yourself.

These three documents themselves may be relatively simple, but the decision-making behind them calls for a lot of careful forethought. Before talking to a lawyer or any other advisor, write down the four or five most important things that matter to you in the estate-planning process. Once you understand the “What am I trying to achieve?” it’ll be easier to ask your team, “How do I get these specific things done?”

Choose your team carefully. You’re about to shift control of everything you’ve worked for to a set of documents and newly empowered people, so accuracy is paramount: Make sure you’re comfortable with the skillset of those drawing up the documents, even if the cost of the legal work is higher than you might otherwise envision. And don’t think of these as one-time decisions. The tax laws covering estates change often (they’re often used in negotiations between political parties, and can be revised with every election cycle). Wills, in particular, should be written in a flexible manner, and reviewed at least once every 10 years or with any big change in your life, such as marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, or the purchase or sale of a big financial asset. Your financial team, including a lawyer, can help you determine when it’s time to update your will, Power of Attorney and/or medical directive.

Once the documents are drawn up and you have obtained a stamped copy from the attorneys, make sure to share them with the people who will be responsible for making your wishes happen. The beauty of the documents is that they eliminate uncertainty, and ease the burden on loved ones trying to understand your wishes. So even though your inclination may be to protect your privacy, hiding the documents in a proverbial closet will only complicate matters when they’re needed.

It’s about making careful allocation and empowerment choices so your wealth can benefit your family for generations.

Consideration 2: Trusts

A trust is a fiduciary arrangement that allows a 3rd party, called a “trustee,” to hold assets on behalf of beneficiaries. Many people ask us whether or not they should create one or more trusts to complement their wills, and the answer is that it depends on individual circumstances, because trusts aren’t right for everybody.

Trusts can provide several positive things: They can control how wealth is distributed, assist with tax planning, and provide privacy and probate savings. With the federal estate-tax exemption currently at historically high levels, this estate-planning technique may not be as useful as it has been in the past. But trusts can still be valuable, especially in states using a lower estate-tax threshold than the federal government. They allow you to place money in investments that can spin off income for beneficiaries, and to put off the disposition of an asset to a minor child until a later date. And in the case of second marriages, a trust can ensure that children from previous marriages are provided for.

Give some thought as to whom you intend to name as trustee, as they’ll have control over the trust’s funds and decisions. Make sure you’ve thoroughly explored and confidently determined the individual you want to name, particularly if you have a family at odds with one another—these things can get amazingly contentious. As with wills, it’s best that a trust be written flexibly, by a lawyer, so as not to place too stringent conditions on a particular inheritance.

Consideration 3: Gifting

There are two main reasons why people gift: for tax savings and to benefit others, typically either loved ones or charities. In either case, while you can stipulate your gifts in a will, gifting while you are alive lets you enjoy the gift—see your loved one benefit from your generosity, or watch your favorite charitable organization use your funds in a beneficial way, and help create a legacy for the future.

Let’s start with the loved ones. To avoid having their estates shrunk by estate taxes immediately upon their demise, many families protect their family wealth by gifting to family members (and others) each year, within limits set by the government, reducing the size of their taxable estate upon death. You and your spouse, if married, can each give to multiple family members every year, as long as you stay below the annual federal gift tax exclusion for each recipient (currently $15,000 for 2021) as well as the lifetime exclusion (currently $11.7 million per person).

In other words, if you are married with five children, you and your spouse could together gift $30,000 to each child, shielding $150,000 each year. The recipients aren’t taxed on the money they receive, and can invest or spend it as they see fit.

Another option is gifting to a registered and eligible charity. Gifting to a qualified charity is doubly beneficial, because the charity does not have to pay any taxes on the gift, AND you get a tax deduction when you make the gift. People often donate highly appreciated stock to charities, maximizing the gift by directly gifting the stock instead of accruing a large taxable gain by selling the stock and donating the cash.

An increasingly popular way to give to charity is to use something called a Donor Advised Fund, or DAF. With a DAF, donors can make a charitable contribution, receive an immediate tax break, and recommend grants that are distributed from those funds over time.

Estate planning decisions can be tricky conversations to have with loved ones.

Consideration 4: Investments

Thoughtful estate planning should include a continual review of your investments, and possibly a shift to a more conservative strategy. A younger investor with years ahead of them to weather occasional financial setbacks can often accept a higher level of investment risk in exchange for higher rates of return. But as you get closer to “flipping the switch” and beginning to draw income from your retirement funds, it’s natural to place more emphasis on capital preservation—let’s be honest, most people become more risk-averse as they get older—to ensure you have enough money when you need it. For many, this is the perfect time to begin shifting assets gradually into a more risk-averse, income-producing portfolio.

Putting It All Together

Estate planning and end-of-life decisions are easy to defer, and can be tricky conversations to have with loved ones. But they’re just too important to put off. You’ve worked your whole life to create wealth for your family—now it’s time to make sure your legacy benefits them in all the specific ways you’d like it to. McRae Capital Management can work with you to understand these issues and tackle them at an early stage, to help you create and file the documents, name responsible parties, and generally ensure your wealth goes where it’s supposed to and that your wishes are carried out long after you’re gone. That way, you can relax and enjoy your retirement, knowing that the fruits of your labor will continue to benefit your family for many years to come.

End of Life Decisions (Don’t wait until your health is compromised or your competence is in question.)

You’re approaching the retirement you’ve worked and planned for; you’re set financially and your estate’s in good working order. But there’s still one wild card left: late-in-life health care. After all, the last thing you want is to be a burden to your family, with uncovered costs or unclear directives. Thankfully, there are concrete steps you can take to make sure this doesn’t happen. This can include a Medical Directive, which is a document that can state your wishes and appoint trusted individuals to make medical decisions on your behalf should you become unable to.

The person that the Medical Directive authorizes can be the same person named in your financial Power of Attorney document, but it doesn’t have to be. (Someone who is financially savvy may not be the right person to make tricky medical decisions for you, and vice versa.) This will capture your intentions regarding being kept alive by mechanical means, should you find yourself in a position where you can’t communicate your desires.

Depending on your health trajectory, you may ultimately spend months or years living at home with a home health aide, or in an assisted-living facility or nursing home, the costs of which vary widely. Generally speaking, the average nursing-home stay at the end of life is 2.5 years*, but it’s difficult to know exactly what you’ll need. You’ll want to consult with your financial advisor about identifying assets for whatever Medicare doesn’t cover, and re-confirm this as the years go on and your situation clarifies.

Finally, many people want to specifically address end-of-life expenses, and specific wishes for their funeral, to relieve their grieving family of the guesswork and stress. These can include whether you wish to be buried or cremated, what kind of service you’d like and where it should be held, and even what kind of music to play for attendees. These wishes can be placed into your will, for convenience.

 

Read more related articles here:

Giving a gift through estate planning

How to Use Gift Planning in an Estate Plan

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at:

Estate Planning Techniques for Gifting

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.

medicaid qit

Things You Need to Know About Qualified Income Trusts

Things You Need to Know About Qualified Income Trusts

 

When it comes to achieving eligibility for Medicaid, some clients may not realize that in addition to certain resource limitations, they may also need to comply with income restrictions as well. These income cap restrictions could result in your client being required to establish a Qualified Income Trust.

1. When is a QIT needed?

A Qualified Income Trust (QIT) is required in those states that impose an income cap on a Medicaid applicant’s monthly income. These states require that any amount of the applicant’s monthly income that exceeds the established income cap, must pass through the QIT. For 2022, that standard figure is $2,523.00 in most states.

Map of QIT states

2. What is a QIT?

The QIT, or sometimes referred to as a Miller Trust, is an irrevocable, income-only trust that holds the income of the Medicaid applicant. The trust functions as a flow-through entity allowing the applicant’s income that exceeds the income cap, to be deposited into the QIT and used for allowable medical expenses.

3. How does the QIT work?

Once the Medicaid recipient’s monthly income has been deposited into the trust, the trustee can then withdraw those funds to pay for the recipient’s medical expenses and allowable deductions.

QIT Flowchart

4. Who are the parties to the QIT?

In order to be accepted by Medicaid, the QIT must designate the appropriate individual as each respective party to the trust as follows:

  • Settlor/Grantor
  • Trustee
  • Lifetime Beneficiary
  • Primary Beneficiary
  • Secondary Beneficiary

5. Where do I establish the QIT account?

Following the signing and execution of the trust documents, you will need to establish a trust checking account with your local bank in order to fund the QIT. The trust checking account should typically be titled similarly to the name of the trust itself such as “Qualified Income Trust of [recipient’s name].”

Once the trust checking account has been established, you will need to submit a copy of the properly executed trust document, trust checking account information and proof that arrangements have been made to deposit income into the trust on a monthly basis to Medicaid. We recommend working with an elder law attorney to submit the Medicaid application and supporting documentation.

Read more related articles here:

Qualified Income Trust Information Sheet

Florida Medicaid Income Trust

Also, read one of our previous Blogs, here:

Things to Know About a Qualified Income 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.

 

Property Distribution

How to Divide Up Personal Possessions Without Dividing the Family.

How to Divide Up Personal Possessions Without Dividing the Family

Allocating your personal possessions can be one of the most difficult tasks when creating an estate plan. To avoid family feuds after you are gone, it is important to have a plan and make your wishes clear.

When passing on possessions to your heirs, savings and investments are easy to divide up, since they can be turned into cash. Real estate can also be turned into cash or co-owners can share it. The most difficult items to divvy up are personal possessions—silverware, dishes, artwork, furniture, tools, jewelry — items that are unique and don’t have a set resale value. In legal speak, these are known as “tangible personal property” and can become the focus of family fights. Often one or more children claim that a parent had promised them a particular item. Things may disappear from a house or an apartment shortly before or after a parent’s death, or a child may claim that her 90-year-old somewhat-demented mother “gave” her a cherished diamond ring during life. These types of situations can create great suspicion and irrevocably split families. Siblings may stop communicating due to their anger and distrust.

Clarity about one’s wishes can go a long way toward avoiding these difficulties. Also, it’s important that the personal representative of an estate (also called an executor) secure the deceased person’s residence as soon as possible after death to make sure items don’t disappear. Here are a few steps you or the personal representative of your estate can take to make sure splitting up your stuff doesn’t split up your family:

  • List the most important or valuable items in your will. While your will could get very long if you tried to list all of your possessions, you may have a few family heirlooms or valuable artworks that you want to stay in the family. It may be easier for all concerned if you say who should get what. But talk with your children or other family members first to determine who values which items most.
  • Direct that certain items be sold. If you have one or more possessions that have much greater value than others, it can be difficult to make your distributions equal. It may make more sense to sell the items of greatest value and distribute the proceeds. For example, in a family whose parents were able to save one painting by a famous artist when they fled Europe during the Holocaust, the children sold the painting and split the proceeds equally, since it would not have been fair for any one of them to have received the painting and none had the resources to buy out the other two. The painting was auctioned at Christie’s and they were all quite happy with the results.
  • Write a memorandum. You can write a list of who should receive what item. If your will references the list, it will be enforceable. Be careful about how you describe each item so that there is no confusion. Unlike your will, this list can be as long as you like, and you can change it without having to go back and redo your will. Send a copy to your lawyer as well as any updates as they occur to ensure the list doesn’t get lost or ignored when the time comes.
  • Give everything away now. Well, perhaps not everything, but the more you disburse during life, the less that will have to be dealt with at death. When you make gifts, make sure that everyone knows about it so that the person receiving the gift is not suspected of having pilfered your jewelry box, for instance. There may be items that you would like to give away, but still want in your house. This is especially true of artwork and furniture. As long as the new owner is agreeable, you can keep these items around. You might want to tape a note to the back or underside explaining that the Rembrandt, for instance, belongs to your daughter, Jane. (Of course, if it is a Rembrandt, you will need to file a gift tax return and a transfer document.) Be aware that for highly-appreciated property, for tax reasons, it may be better not to make gifts during life because they’ll lose the step-up in basis. So check with your estate planning attorney or tax accountant first.
  • Get an appraisal. For the tax reasons referenced above and to guide you in deciding who should get what, it can be useful to know the monetary value of the items you’re giving away, whether during life or at death. This can also be very important for your personal representative and for your heirs in making their decisions.
  • Use a lottery. If you do not made choices regarding your estate plan, your personal representative may want to set up a lottery system for distributing the tangible assets. The representative can put names or numbers into a hat and someone can draw them out to determine the order in which the family members or other heirs will choose items. In order to inform the process, the personal representative should create a list of the most valuable items, including their appraisal value if one has been obtained. If everyone is in the same location at the same time, they can simply take turns. If that’s not possible, the personal representative can add pictures to the list to help identify the items and the beneficiaries can choose online, informing the personal representative of their choices as their turns come up. The order of who chooses can change each round, whether reversing or moving along progressively. Here’s the distinction between these two alternatives:

Reversing: 1,2,3,4,5; 5,4,3,2,1; 1,2,3,4,5
Progressive: 1,2,3,4,5; 2,3,4,5,1; 3,4,5,1,2

  • Bidding. A more complicated structure would be to provide all of the heirs the same number of tokens or points that they can use to bid on the various items. For instance, someone who really wants one painting or photo album more than anything else could put all the tokens on that. Someone who doesn’t care as much would bid fewer tokens. The complication in this approach is what happens after an item is gone. Certainly, anyone who used up his or her tokens “winning” an item in the first round is out, but can those who lost reallocate their tokens to other items? A variation on this theme would be for everyone to rank the items by preference. When there’s no competition, everyone who chose an item first would get that one. When more than one person chose an item as their first choice, they might draw straws, with those losing getting to choose again.

Online systems like FairSplit.com also provide a way to create a private family account, list the tangible personal property and divide things using systems similar to those described above. When meeting or traveling to divide isn’t possible or ideal, an online option like this may help.

The more you decide who gets what rather than leaving the decisions to your family, the less likely the distribution process will create family strife.

Read more related articles at:

Having an Estate Plan Can Help Split Assets Without Dividing Siblings

How to Divide the Estate Fairly and Happily

Also, Read one of our previous Blogs at:

Estate Battles Over Personal Property Distribution

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.

Representative payee

Representative Payee: Not a Job to Be Taken Lightly

Representative Payee: Not a Job to Be Taken Lightly

The Social Security Administration (SSA) manages the two largest government benefit programs for people with special needs, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Many of the people with special needs who receive these benefits are qualified to manage their own money and can make other financial decisions for themselves. The SSA sends these people their own benefit check each month.

However, when a person with special needs cannot make important financial decisions, either because of her disability or because she has not reached the age of majority, the SSA sends the benefits directly to a third party, known as a representative payee, who is charged with managing the funds for the beneficiary. When a parent or caregiver signs up to be a representative payee, they often do not take the time to truly explore what they are getting into, which could lead to trouble down the road. Here are a few key things to remember about being a representative payee.

It’s Not Your Money

The funds you receive are the beneficiary’s funds, not yours. When you agree to be a representative payee, you are responsible for managing the beneficiary’s money for their benefit, not yours. In almost all cases, this means that you are not allowed to charge a fee to be a representative payee. It’s easy to lose track of the beneficiary’s funds, especially when family finances are mixed together. As a representative payee, you must ensure that the monthly payments get to, and are used for, the beneficiary and no one else.

Don’t Commingle

The best way to ensure that the beneficiary’s funds are used for their benefit is to segregate the funds in a separate bank account. This account should reflect the beneficiary’s ownership of the funds and should not be a joint account with the representative payee as the other owner. Instead, the bank account should be titled in the name of the beneficiary, with the representative payee noted on the account, i.e., “Your name, as representative payee for your child’s name.” Obviously, this can be difficult when you are serving as the representative payee for a minor child who lives with you. In these cases, the SSA says that the child should have his own savings account, even if most of his benefits are being spent out of the family’s checking account. The Representative Payee Portal is a central gateway for individual representative payees with a my Social Security account to conduct their own business or manage direct deposit, wage reporting, and annual reporting for their beneficiaries.

File Your Representative Payee Report

The SSA requires that a representative payee file an annual accounting called the Representative Payee Report. This report details what you, as the representative payee, have done with the beneficiary’s funds during the previous year. If you have kept accurate records of the beneficiary’s funds over the course of the year, the report will be very easy to fill out. Commingling funds, or not keeping accurate records of expenditures, can lead to an incredible headache when it comes time to file the report. Not filing the report, on the other hand, could lead to your removal as representative payee.

Certain payees are exempt from the annual accounting requirement, including the following:

  • Natural or adoptive parents or legal guardians of a minor child beneficiary who primarily reside in the same household as the child
  • Natural or adoptive parents of a disabled adult beneficiary who primarily reside in the same household with the beneficiary
  • Spouse of a beneficiary

Know the SSI Rules

If you are serving as a representative payee for a person receiving SSI benefits, your job is made even more difficult by the SSI program’s stringent income and asset rules. For instance, SSI beneficiaries can have only $2,000 in their name in order to be eligible for benefits. As representative payee, you must make sure that you know the rules regarding asset accumulation and their effect on the beneficiary. You must also deal with any lump-sum payments that the beneficiary may receive as “past due” SSI benefits, which have their own set of rules. In a worse-case scenario, not knowing the rules can lead to loss of benefits and the possibility of overpayments that the beneficiary must repay from her own funds.

Get Help

As you can see, being a representative payee is a difficult job that should not be undertaken lightly. The SSA offers a guide for representative payees here, but the best way to make sure that you have a handle on your duties is to speak with your special needs planner, who can explain the intricacies of the system and give you tips that fit your particular family member.

Read more  related articles at:

REPRESENTATIVE PAYEE PROGRAM

Understanding the Role of Social Security Representative Payee

Also read one of our previous Blogs at:

What Can You Do to Help Support the Seniors You Love Right Now?

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.

 

Single

Single? You Still Need an Estate Plan

Single? You Still Need an Estate Plan

Many people believe that if they are single, they don’t need a will or other estate planning documents. But estate planning is just as important for single people as it is for couples and families.

Estate planning allows you to ensure that your property will go to the people you want, in the way you want, and when you want. If you do not have an estate plan, the state will decide who gets your property and who will make decisions for you should you become incapacitated, and these aren’t necessarily the choices you would have wanted. An estate plan can also help you save on estate taxes and on court costs for your loved ones.

The most basic estate planning document is a Will. If you do not have a will directing who will inherit your assets, your estate will be distributed according to state law. If you are single, most states provide that your estate will go to your children or to other living relatives if you don’t have children. If you have absolutely no living relatives, then your estate will go to the state. You may not want to leave your entire estate to relatives — you may have close friends or charities that you feel should get something. Without a will, you have no way of directing where your property goes.

The next most important document is a Durable Power of Attorney. A power of attorney allows a person you appoint — your “attorney-in-fact” or “agent” — to act in your place for financial purposes if and when you ever become incapacitated. In that case, the person you choose will be able to step in and take care of your financial affairs. Without a durable power of attorney, no one can represent you unless a court appoints a conservator or guardian. That court process takes time, costs money, and the judge may not choose the person you would prefer.

In addition, you should have a Healthcare Surrogate Designation. Similar to a healthcare power of attorney or health care proxy, a Healthcare Surrogate Designation allows an individual to appoint someone else to act as their agent, but for medical, as opposed to financial, decisions. Unlike married individuals, unmarried partners or friends usually can’t make decisions for each other without signed authorization.

If you are planning to give away a lot of your money, there are ways to do that efficiently through the annual gift tax exclusion and charitable remainder trusts. Other estate planning documents to consider are a Revocable Living Trust and a Living Will.

Finally, for singles who are unmarried but have a partner, an estate plan is arguably even more important than for married couples because without one, unmarried couples won’t be able to make end-of-life decisions or inherit from each other. 

Don’t think that because you are single, you don’t need an estate plan.

Read more related articles here:

Estate planning for singles

The Unique Estate Planning Needs Of The Unmarried

Also, read one of our previous Blogs here:

A Single Parent’s Guide To Estate Planning

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.

marital trust

What is A Marital Trust?

 

What Is a Marital Trust? If you’re married, you may be wondering what happens to your assets once you or your spouse passes. The answer to that question depends on various factors, including whether or not you have a marital trust.

Marital trusts have multiple benefits for beneficiaries, including asset allocation and tax benefits, and are worth considering in your estate plan.

A marital trust is an irrevocable trust that lets you transfer a deceased spouse’s assets to the surviving spouse without incurring any taxes. The trust also protects assets from creditors and future spouses the surviving spouse may encounter.

Additionally, when the surviving spouse dies, the assets in the trust are not included as part of their estate—which will keep the taxes on their estate lower.

Similar to other trusts, there are three parties involved in setting up, maintaining and ultimately passing along the trust, including a:

  • Grantor. The person who establishes the trust
  • Trustee. The person or organization that manages the trust and its assets
  • Beneficiary. The person who will eventually receive the assets in the trust once the grantor dies

A marital trust also involves the principal, which refers to the assets initially put into the trust. These assets can be investment products that generate income for the beneficiary over time.

It is a useful tool that minimizes tax implications for married couples who are high-net-worth individuals .

Using a marital trust essentially doubles the couple’s estate tax exemption limit. Estate tax refers to the federal tax that must be paid on someone’s estate after they die. The estate tax limit refers to how much of an estate will be tax free.

In 2022, the estate tax limit is $12.06 million, which means utilizing a marital trust would essentially double that amount to $24.12 million. Essentially, about $24 million of a couple’s net worth would be shielded from estate taxes by taking advantage of a marital trust.

Suppose a grantor passes $5 million to a surviving spouse through a marital trust, for example. The surviving spouse can pass an additional $19 million to the couple’s children through the same trust—tax free—because of the doubled estate tax limit benefit of using a marital trust.

A marital trust is also beneficial since it can provide income to the surviving spouse, tax free. However, the grantor may set a limit on how much can be withdrawn from the trust over time. Only a surviving spouse can be a beneficiary of a marital trust; once the surviving spouse dies, the trust will then be passed on to whomever the first spouse’s will governs.

When Should You Consider a Marital Trust?

If keeping wealth within your family after you pass is important to you, then a marital trust is an estate planning tool that will ensure individuals outside of your family do not have access to the wealth. You can put a variety of assets into a marital trust, including property, retirement accounts and investment accounts.

There are other types of spousal trusts, including a qualified terminable interest property trust (QTIP), bypass trust and spousal lifetime access trust. These different trusts have varying tax benefits and require the assets to be used in certain ways. Consult with an estate planner and certified public accountant to learn more about these different types of spousal trusts.

Pros and Cons of a Marital Trust

There are multiple advantages to using a one, including that they:

  • Double your estate tax exemption amount to $24.12 million
  • Provide income and financial stability to the surviving spouse
  • Keep assets within the family
  • Protect assets from creditors and potential new spouses
  • Can provide financial stability to the remaining beneficiaries once the surviving spouse dies

Like any financial tool, however, there are also downsides of using a one. Those downsides include that they:

  • Are irrevocable trusts, meaning once they are established, it’s extremely difficult to dissolve them or change their terms
  • Only offer up to $24.12 million in estate tax exemption
  • Require transferring assets into the trust, which can be a lengthy process

How to Create a Marital Trust

A marital trust is a complex estate planning tool and should be crafted carefully. Due to the nature of its tax benefits, you should work closely with not only an estate planner but a certified public accountant to ensure the marital trust is established properly.

After finding the appropriate professionals to work with, you will have to create a trust document. This document will lay out the grantor (you), trustee (who will manage the trust) and the beneficiaries. They are irrevocable, which means once they’re created, they cannot be dissolved. Be sure to keep this in mind as you create your marital trust.

Bottom Line

A marital trust is a beneficial estate planning tool that will take care of your surviving spouse after you’re gone. By using this strategic tool, you can essentially double the amount of your estate that won’t be taxed at a federal level. You can also ensure that your wealth stays within your family by transferring assets into a marital trust.

They require extensive tax and asset planning, so be sure to consult with a certified public accountant in addition to an estate planner when creating one.

baby boomers

As Gen X and Boomers age, they confront living alone

As Gen X and Boomers age, they confront living alone

 

As Gen X and Boomers age, they confront living alone. In 1960, just 13% of American households had a single occupant. But that figure has risen steadily, and today it is approaching 30%. For households headed by someone 50 or older, that figure is 36%.

Jay Miles has lived his 52 years without marriage or children, which has suited his creative ambitions as a videographer in Connecticut and, he said, his mix of “independence and stubbornness.” But he worries about who will take care of him as he gets older.

Donna Selman, a 55-year-old college professor in Illinois, is mostly grateful to be single, she said, because her mother and aunts never had the financial and emotional autonomy that she enjoys.

Mary Felder, 65, raised her children, now grown, in her row house in Philadelphia. Her home has plenty of space for one person, but upkeep is expensive on the century-old house.
Felder, Miles and Selman are members of one of the country’s fastest-growing demographic groups: people 50 and older who live alone.

In 1960, just 13% of American households had a single occupant. But that figure has risen steadily, and today it is approaching 30%. For households headed by someone 50 or older, that figure is 36%.

Nearly 26 million Americans 50 or older now live alone, up from 15 million in 2000. Older people have always been more likely than others to live by themselves, and now that age group — baby boomers and Gen Xers — makes up a bigger share of the population than at any time in the nation’s history.

The trend has also been driven by deep changes in attitudes surrounding gender and marriage. People 50-plus today are more likely than earlier generations to be divorced, separated or never married.

Women in this category have had opportunities for professional advancement, homeownership and financial independence that were all but out of reach for previous generations of older women. More than 60% of older adults living by themselves are female.

“There is this huge, kind of explosive social and demographic change happening,” said Markus Schafer, a sociologist at Baylor University who studies older populations.

In interviews, many older adults said they feel positively about their lives.

But while many people in their 50s and 60s thrive living solo, research is unequivocal that people aging alone experience worse physical and mental health outcomes and shorter life spans.

And even with an active social and family life, people in this group are generally more lonely than those who live with others, according to Schafer’s research.

In many ways, the nation’s housing stock has grown out of sync with these shifting demographics. Many solo adults live in homes with at least three bedrooms, census data shows, but find that downsizing is not easy because of a shortage of smaller homes in their towns and neighborhoods.

Compounding the challenge of living solo, a growing share of older adults — about 1 in 6 Americans 55 and older — do not have children, raising questions about how elder care will be managed in the coming decades.

“What will happen to this cohort?” Schafer asked. “Can they continue to find other supports that compensate for living alone?”

Planning for the Future

For many solo adults, the pandemic highlighted the challenges of aging.

Selman, the 55-year-old professor, lived in Terre Haute, Indiana, when COVID-19 hit. Divorced for 17 years, she said she used the enforced isolation to establish new routines to stave off loneliness and depression. She quit drinking and began regularly calling a group of female friends.

This year, she got a new job and moved to Normal, Illinois, in part because she wanted to live in a state that better reflected her progressive politics. She has met new friends at a farmers’ market, she said, and is happier than she was before the pandemic, even though she occasionally wishes she had a romantic partner to take motorcycle rides with her or just to help carry laundry up and down the stairs of her three-bedroom home.

She regularly drives 12 hours round trip to care for her parents near Detroit, an obligation that has persuaded her to put away her retirement fantasy of living near the beach, and move someday closer to her daughter and grandson, who live in Louisville, Kentucky.

“I don’t want my daughter to stress out about me,” she said.

Watching their own parents age seems to have had a profound effect on many members of Gen X, born between 1965 and 1980, who say they doubt that they can lean on the same supports that their parents did: long marriages, pensions, homes that sometimes skyrocketed in value.

When his mother died two years ago, Miles, the videographer, took comfort in moving some of her furniture into his house in New Haven, Connecticut.

“It was a coming home psychologically,” he said, allowing him to feel rooted after decades of cross-country moves and peripatetic career explorations, shifting from the music business to high school teaching to producing films for nonprofits and companies.

“I still feel pretty indestructible, foolishly or not,” he said.

Still, caring for his divorced mother made him think about his own future. She had a government pension, security he lacks. Nor does he have children.

“I can’t call my kid,” he added, “the way I used to go to my mom’s house to change light bulbs.”

His options for maintaining independence are “all terrible,” he said. “I’m totally freaked out by it.”

With Space to Spare

Living solo in homes with three or more bedrooms sounds like a luxury but, experts said, it is a trend driven less by personal choice than by the nation’s limited housing supply. Because of zoning and construction limitations in many cities and towns, there is a nationwide shortage of homes below 1,400 square feet, which has driven up the cost of the smaller units, according to research from Freddie Mac.

Forty years ago, units of less than 1,400 square feet made up about 40% of all new home construction; today, just 7% of new builds are smaller homes, despite the fact that the number of single-person households has surged.

This has made it more difficult for older Americans to downsize, as a large, aging house can often command less than what a single adult needs to establish a new, smaller home and pay for their living and health care expenses in retirement.

The constraints are especially severe for many older Black Americans, for whom the legacy of redlining and segregation has meant that homeownership has not generated as much wealth. The percentage of people living alone in large houses is highest in many low-income, historically Black neighborhoods. In those areas, many homes are owned by single, older women.

One of them is Felder of Strawberry Mansion, a neighborhood in Philadelphia. She and her ex-husband bought their two-story brick row house in the mid-1990s for a song after it was damaged in a fire.

While raising three children, Felder worked a series of jobs, including retail, hotel housekeeping and airport security. She retired in 2008 and has lived by herself for more than a decade, although her sisters, children and grandchildren live nearby.

But in September, living alone became harder.

While she was cleaning the trash out of a nearby alley with neighbors, a masked gunman looked her in the eyes and shot her twice in the legs.

Felder had no clue who shot her, and there has been no arrest. She recovered at her daughter’s home across town, where the ground floor has a bedroom and bathroom, unlike in her own house.

By late November, she was feeling much better — physically, if not mentally, she said. But she had not stayed overnight in her own home. She is still a little afraid.

“But I’m working on it,” she said. “I really love my house.”

Read more related articles at:

The 2030 Problem: Caring for Aging Baby Boomers

What years are Gen X? What about baby boomers? When each generation was born.

Also, read one of our previous Blogs here:

Keeping the “Boom” out of Baby Boomers’ Estate Planning

 

Step children

How Children in Blended Families Get Disinherited

How Children in Blended Families Get Disinherited

If you’re married, you probably understand the need for a will to take care of your spouse and children if something happens to you. Unfortunately in blended families, a will-based plan often turns into a disaster for your children if you die first. Estate planning is very important for blended families. This article and accompanying video cover how family members of blended families can be disinherited and what you can do now to prevent it.

Why Children Get Disinherited Under Will-Based Plans

Initially, partners’ wills are mirror images. You and your spouse give your entire estate to each other. When the second spouse passes, the property is distributed to the children and step-children of the surviving spouse. Unfortunately, under almost all will-based plans the biological children of the first spouse end up disinherited.

A typical will-based plan for blended families looks like this:

Wills are an expectancy, so the surviving spouse can change his or her will any time. Unless the wills are contractual, which is rare, your children have no legal right to inherit. Blended families may seem strong and cohesive for many years. But, time and changes to the surviving spouse’s personal circumstances frequently cause spouses to create a new will, cutting your children out.

Getting a New Spouse 

When you have children and marry someone who is not your children’s biological parent, there is a risk your children will be disinherited.

Spouses who are not your child’s biological parent may not cherish your children as much as you.

If they have their own children, your spouse’s concern, most likely, is for his or her own children’s futures.

Just as you care deeply for your children, so does the new spouse about his or her kids.

As you can see, it’s possible a surviving spouse will change their will and disinherit your children.

The Spendthrift Spouse

The thought of someone else enjoying your money while your children wait for their inheritance may not sit well with you.

Even if your spouse does not change their will, your children’s inheritance could be gone by the time your spouse passes.

The Child in Need 

It’s difficult to think about something tragic happening to your child. Unfortunately, accidents and illnesses occur.

If you have a will-based plan, do you know what happens if your child becomes disabled or has a medical emergency in the future? Will they have access to much-needed money?

Unfortunately, a will-based plan doesn’t allow your child to access any of the money, even under dire circumstances.

Lost Wills & No Right to Inheritance

What if your spouse never remarries, but the will is destroyed or lost? Under Colorado law, if the will was last seen in the possession of the decedent and can’t be found, the presumption is that he or she intended to destroy it.Overcoming the presumption is difficult and seldom accomplished, as was the case in re Estate of Perry, 33 P.3d 1235 (Colo. App. 2001).

In re Estate of Perry, the decedent’s will could not be found. The will’s proponent originally testified in local probate court the decedent kept the will in a desk drawer. The proponent also told the local court the decedent cleaned out the desk knowing the will was kept there.

The local probate court determined the decedent knowingly revoked the Last Will and Testament when it was thrown away during the cleaning. The court declined to enter a photocopy of the will for probate. The will’s proponent appealed.

The state appeals court affirmed the local probate court’s decision.

In the case of a missing or lost will, a court must be satisfied that a will has not been revoked by the testator before admitting the will to probate. Therefore, the court properly considered the issue here.
– Appeals Court Judge Janice B. Davidson

Under Colorado law, if a will can’t be found, then your spouse’s children inherit 100 percent and your children get nothing.

Changed Wills

Like minds, wills can change. Wills are generally not contracts. So that means the surviving spouse can change their Will and cut out their deceased spouse’s children.

Widowed spouses may their Will due to a new partner. Perhaps there is now a distance between the stepchildren and the surviving spouse. After several years it’s common for stepchildren to be disinherited.

Personal Property

A quickly-drafted or poorly-written will may not account for the emotional attachment to family heirlooms, pictures, and other sentimental items. If all personal property is left to the surviving spouse, as is typical in most wills, the decedent’s children may never receive family heirlooms or family history associated with their lineage.

Estate Planning Solutions for Blended Families

The first step to solving this problem is to be clear with your spouse about what should happen after one of you dies. A frank conversation with your spouse, often done with the guidance of an estate lawyer, is needed to express these concerns.

You may have never had this conversation with your spouse. But these difficult conversations are necessary to avoid future conflict and prevent your kids from being disinherited.

An estate lawyer can help you develop a plan that outlines how biological children and the surviving spouse are financially protected. Your lawyer will be able to facilitate the conversation and provide solutions to problems commonly faced by blended families.

The Joint Pour Over Trust

One solution that allows each spouse to dictate the terms of their estate and protect the surviving spouse, as well as their biological children is the joint pour over trust. The joint pour over trust lets each spouse transfer assets where they want, when they want, to whom they want, and in the way that they want.

Under a joint pour over trust, one umbrella trust is created with a separate trust under the umbrella for each spouse. That means three trusts are created in one trust document.

Upon the first spouse’s death, the joint trust rolls its assets into two separate trusts based on an allocation the couple determines. The trust of the first spouse that dies often provides for the surviving spouse. Then, upon the surviving spouse’s death, the assets are distributed to the first spouse’s biological children

The joint trust pours over into the separate trust when the first spouse dies. Then, the income in the separate trust is paid to the survivor for life, followed by a distribution to the biological children when the second spouse passes.

It’s important to note that this is only one distribution pattern, and it is a simplified example.

You may desire a different distribution pattern. For example, you may want your spouse to access more than just income and receive principal payments as well. Or, perhaps you want your children to access the funds for their education or medical expenses while your spouse is still alive. Likewise, you may want your children to receive money outright on your death, or you may want to continue holding the money in a further trust for your children upon the second spouse’s passing.

What’s important to note is that each spouse gets to choose the distribution pattern for their trust.

More Benefits of a Joint Pour Over Trust:
  • The surviving spouse is provided for during their life, but they can’t change how the assets are distributed
  • Each spouse chooses how their portion of the estate is distributed to their children and ensures their wishes are followed
  • Each spouse picks their own fiduciaries, such as the trustee and personal representative
  • The funds are protected against your spouse’s and children’s creditors

Funding the Trust

A trust that is unfunded is useless. After all, we created the trust to put things in it. Far too many families have trusts that are never funded, which only ends up adding complexity after their death.

There are two ways to fund a trust:

  • You can directly state which assets go into which trust.
  • You can use a general assignment. (A general assignment simply says all of my property I did not specifically transfer to the trust should go to my trust.)

With a pour over trust, both spouses determine which of the three trusts we will transfer or assign the property to. We could assign the property to the joint trust or one of the separate trusts (or a mixture of the trusts).

For a marriage later in life, both spouses may wish to assign their separate property to their individual trusts. A younger couple may choose to assign the property to the joint trust.

Alternatively, it may serve the couple best by assigning any joint property to the joint trust, and the separate property to the separate trust.

Choosing Beneficiaries for Blended Families

For blended families, it is important to carefully choose the beneficiaries. You should avoid terms such as “to my descendants” or “to my children.” This kind of language is found in most wills. After all, whose descendants and children are we talking about? Your biological children, your stepchildren, or both?

Don’t invite disaster and litigation between your children and spouse by not clearly stating your beneficiaries.

Best practices include:
  • Identifying your spouse
  • Identifying your stepchildren
  • Identifying your biological children
  • Identifying any other beneficiaries
  • Specifically determining who gets items of sentimental value
  • Always using a mandatory distribution pattern in your trust.

Avoid disclaimer trusts, standard revocable trusts, marital trusts, and simple wills. These give too much flexibility and, therefore, are too easily abused.

Distribution Options

Not only must you choose beneficiaries, it is important to discuss who inherits and the timing of the inheritance.

  • What does the surviving spouse inherit and when?
  • Does the surviving spouse only have access for limited uses such as for their health, education, maintenance, support, or is the use unlimited?
  • After the second spouse passes, where do the funds go? To the biological children, stepchildren, or both?
  • Are the children entitled to any funds during the surviving spouse’s life?
  • Who will be the trustee? Will the trustee be independent or a corporate trustee?
  • Will the first spouse’s children from a previous marriage receive funds immediately?

If your beneficiary is your biological child, for example, you can determine items such as:

  • When the child should receive the trust’s funds
  • Provide for disability planning for the child
  • Provide for creditor protection for the child

The surviving spouse often has a right to receive income for a period of time. For example, the surviving spouse may receive payments or access to the funds until remarriage, a certain number of years, or their entire life.

Important Estate Planning Considerations for Blended Families

Because the joint trust is divided at the first spouse’s passing, you must determine the division of the joint trust, as well as the deceased spouse’s separate trust. The division is generally not driven by a formula.

Always use a mandatory division of the trust. Otherwise, the majority of the time one of the spouse’s children will be disinherited.

Because both the spouse and the biological children of the first spouse that passes may share assets of the same trust, you should carefully draft the trust to avoid a dispute over whether the assets are invested for current income (favoring the spouse) or long-term growth (favoring the children).

Unitrusts, which are outside the scope of this article, may help alleviate that problem.

Powers During Incapacity

Our goal is to protect both spouses, the disabled and non-disabled spouse, as well as the beneficiaries during incapacity. It’s important to ensure the non-disabled spouse does not dissipate the trust’s assets. But it is equally important to ensure the disabled spouse receives adequate care. These are important considerations when drafting a trust.

Likewise, we want to make sure the non-incapacitated spouse is taken care of during the incapacity, particularly if they are financially dependent on the disabled spouse. And, if the disabled spouse passes, the surviving spouse should have enough assets in the future.

Some concerns when drafting a trust for a disabled spouse include:

  • Should the power of attorney have the right to amend the trust?
  • Who gets primary consideration during incapacity?
    • The disabled spouse
    • The disabled spouse’s children
    • The non-disabled spouse
    • Someone else
  • Should the trustee have the right to gift from the trust to facilitate tax or disability planning?

Read more related articles here:

Two Stepchildren Disinherited from Family Trust

Stepchildren Fail to Prove Disinheritance From Family Trust Due to Undue Influence

Also, read one of our previous Blogs here:

How to Disinherit an Heir

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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