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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:

ONGOING ACCESS AND COMMUNICATION

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 DOCUMENTS UPDATED

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.

DISCOUNTED ESTATE SETTLEMENT PROGRAM FEES

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.

ASSET ALIGNMENT

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.

FAMILY MEETING

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.

CLIENT EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES

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.

AND MORE

  • 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.

Listen

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.

Conclusion

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

Also, read one of our previous Blogs here:

When Do I Need an Elder Law Attorney?

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.

 

 

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:

KNOW THE LAWS THAT PROTECT YOUR CHILD WITH SPECIAL NEEDS

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.

Halloween Estate Plan

“Witch” Estate Plan is Right for Me and my Family?

Happy Halloween everyone!

Why not Treat your Family with an Estate Plan?

We here at Legacy Planning Law Group have several to choose from.

“Witch” one is right for you?

Estate Planning is not something to be taken lightly. If you are not careful it can be more of a “Trick” than a “Treat”

Let our experienced Attorney, Bill O’Leary help you decide.

Believe it or not, you have an estate. In fact, nearly everyone does. Your estate is comprised of everything you own— your car, home, other real estate, checking and savings accounts, investments, life insurance, furniture, personal possessions. No matter how large or how modest, everyone has an estate and something in common—you can’t take it with you when you die.

When that happens—and it is a “when” and not an “if”—you probably want to control how those things are given to the people or organizations you care most about. To ensure your wishes are carried out, you need to provide instructions stating whom you want to receive something of yours, what you want them to receive, and when they are to receive it. You will, of course, want this to happen with the least amount of paid taxes, legal fees, and court costs.Ref: https://www.legacyplanninglawgroup.com/why-everyone-needs-an-estate-plan/

One of the “Tricks” of Estate Planning is improper Trust Funding or Asset Alignment. We here at Legacy Planning Law Group have an Asset Alignment Coordinator dedicated to helping you align your assets into your Trust. Nearly all our plan’s include Trust Funding/Asset Alignment free of charge. It is what supersedes other Law Firms who do not offer or include this service.

Call us today at 904-880-5554 to speak with an experienced team member about your personalized situation. Or e-mail us at: [email protected] .

We can book a 15-minute discovery call to ascertain your unique circumstances and set up an appointment with our attorney, Bill O’Leary who, with his over 30 years of Estate Planning experience, can help individualize an Estate Plan perfectly unique to you and your family!

 

Don’t have time to call?

Then click here and set up a complimentary 15-minute phone call on a day and time you choose, that is most convenient for you:

https://www.legacyplanninglawgroup.com/book-a-call/

Visit our website and see what we are all about:

https://www.legacyplanninglawgroup.com/

Watch/hear some true-life horror stories?

https://www.legacyplanninglawgroup.com/webinar-registration/

 

Don’t get “Tricked” this Halloween, Treat your family to the best treat ever: Your Legacy!

Have a great Monday everyone, and Happy Halloween!!

From Team Legacy.

 

Read more related articles here:

Estate Planning Needs for Every Stage

The Estate Planning Essentials That Will Help Protect You, Your Family, and Your Asset’s!

Also, read another of our previous Blogs here:

Estate Planning for Blended Families – (Hint: It’s not a very Brady world.)

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

 

 

CPA

The Role of a CPA in Estate Planning

The Role of a CPA in Estate Planning

Undoubtedly, just about every individual should create an estate plan as soon as feasibly possible. Many people harbor the misconception that an estate plan is only necessary for the rich or individuals with significant assets. As a result of this misconception, many people end up overlooking the assets they actually do possess because they believe that they don’t have an estate. All people, with very few exceptions, possess an estate and accordingly need an estate plan. If you’re creating an estate plan, here is some information about the role of a CPA in the estate planning process.

What Is a CPA?

A ” Certified Public Accountant”” or CPA is the title of qualified accountants in the United States. In order to become a CPA, an individual must pass the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination and meet state experience and education requirements. CPAs are responsible for consulting individuals, businesses, government agencies, financial institutions, and nonprofit organizations. While CPAs mostly act as advisors when it comes to taxes and financial goals, they can also provide help and advice related to the estate planning process.

What Is the Role of a CPA in Estate Planning?

Without a doubt, estate planning is best done with the help of a team of professionals working together. Some key players for an estate planning team include attorneys, investment advisors, insurance agents, bank trust officers, and CPAs.

Tax Knowledge

A CPA can bring his or her knowledge of taxes to the table to ensure you create a proper estate plan. Thanks to this intricate knowledge of taxes, a CPA will be able to tell you the tax implications of every decision you make. This will help you ensure that your estate plan minimizes the taxes and maximizes the portion of your estate that will be passed down to your beneficiaries.

Due to the incredibly high rates of taxation and inflation, it is now more important than ever to have a CPA by your side to make preserving your estate as simple as possible. You need sound estate planning to preserve the estate and wealth you worked so hard to attain. Even if you are young, you need to start planning the disposition of property as soon as possible so that your heirs receive everything entitled to them when the time comes.

Future Expectations

Another way a CPA will be able to help you with the estate planning process is giving you reasonable future expectations for your estate. As stated above, many people don’t see the need of creating an estate plan because they don’t believe they have a sizable estate. However, it is possible that an estate of modest value today could become very significant by the time you die. A CPA can use their knowledge of market trends and finances to predict whether the value of your estate will increase, decrease, or stay the same a few decades down the line.

Of course, you can’t expect the predictions of a CPA to be 100 percent accurate. However, in many cases, these predictions will be very close. Thanks to these predictions, you will be able to make informed decisions now and when you make modifications to your estate plan in the future.

An estate plan is one of those things that you should do sooner rather than later. The fact that an individual can die at any time is a sobering but true fact. If you want to learn more about the importance of CPA estate planning, contact us here at Larry Bertsch. We offer a full range of accounting (including  forensic accounting), tax preparation, and small business bookkeeping services at affordable fees.

Read more related articles at:

Preparing for Your Estate Planning Meeting: What You Need to Know

CPAs’ Evolving Role in Estate Planning

Also, read one of our previous blogs at:

How Do Key Professionals Factor Into My Estate Plan?

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.

financial advisor

Can a Financial Advisor Help With Estate Planning?

Can a Financial Advisor Help With Estate Planning?

Estate planning may conjure images of a lawyer’s office and mountains of paperwork. While your estate planning attorney is an essential professional, your financial advisor can also play a significant role in helping you create an estate plan that truly reflects your resources, goals, values, and legacy. The estate planning process comes with many moving pieces: legal liabilities, tax considerations, and financial elements. This makes it essential that you, your advisor, attorney, and tax professional are all on the same page. Coordination in estate planning is key!

Your Financial planner should play a central role in crafting your estate plan. They can help you understand your financial goals and wishes and empower you to build a plan that lets your legacy shine. Today, we’ll explore five essential ways your financial planner can help you with your estate plan.

Help You Build A Foundation

Let’s face it, the legal system is far from simple. Sometimes it can be difficult to make the association between a legal estate planning document and your specific plan. Your advisor can help you make those valuable connections each step of the way. Since an estate plan is one part of your total wealth strategy, it makes sense to have a comprehensive financial advisor involved to ensure consistency with your financial plan. An estate attorney may not consider your investments, and a life insurance agent may not think about taxes, for example. When you work with a comprehensive financial advisor, such as Covenant Wealth Advisors, the financial and personal impact on other important areas like taxes and insurance are considered with the investments as one integrated picture. Having an advisor in your corner will establish a foundation that you can build the rest of your plan on.

Ensure Beneficiaries and Titles Are Updated

Estate beneficiary designations must be kept current. As major life events unfold (e.g. divorce, remarriage, death of a previous beneficiary), updates to beneficiaries are needed. Your advisor will help identify the accounts that are affected and can help make the appropriate changes to support your plan. Changes to account titles and updated tax identification may be called for as well. It’s vital to keep accounts up to date because any named beneficiaries on the account paperwork will supersede directions provided in your will. Failure to update can lead to undesired outcomes, such as former spouses receiving inheritances when accounts aren’t changed after a divorce. That’s a rough surprise for a grieving spouse! Your advisor can also help ensure that you have considered a plan for your health care long-term. That likely means drawing up a power of attorney for your medical care known as a medical directive. This is a document that authorizes a person to make medical decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated. It’s also important to establish a power of attorney for your finances. This document gives a person of your choice the ability to make financial decisions on your behalf like paying taxes, debts, investments, and more if you become incapacitated. These powers of attorney have a great deal of responsibility and are essential parts of your estate and retirement plans.

Map Out Avenues for Wealth Transfer

Your advisor can help you understand the various paths available to you for passing assets on to family members, friends, and charities. There are benefits and efficiencies, as well as pitfalls to avoid, as you consider the transfer of various types of assets and accounts to different kinds of beneficiaries.

  • Should you establish a trust (living trust, revocable/irrevocable trust, etc.), and if so, what kind will best suit your needs?
  • What are your options for leaving an IRA to a non-spouse beneficiary? Does it make sense to take a different strategy after the elimination of the “stretch” provision?

  • Are you planning to leave a Roth IRA or other retirement accounts?

  • Where does your life insurance policy fit into your estate plan?

  • Do you have a living will?

  • Have you made a plan for distributing personal property?

  • Do you plan to pass on real estate or other property?

  • Are there important considerations regarding how and when children receive inheritances?

  • Do you have minor children? Who will care for them (guardian) and oversee their financial situation (trustee)

  • Would you like your estate to have a charitable component?

While it will take an attorney to draft the legal documents, we can work through different scenarios to determine the best strategies for wealth transfer so you know what your options are.  Your financial assets should have a clearly documented plan. You’ve worked hard to secure this financial future and it should be considered with diligence and care. We can also ensure that your estate plan is integrated into your complete wealth management strategy, so no stone is left unturned.

Consider Tax Implications

Of course, taxes are an immense part of estate planning. Tax planning is our bread and butter. We work closely with your tax professional to build a tax-efficient estate plan to make sure more of your money goes to loved ones and charities as opposed to the government. Considerations include optimizing estate tax exemptions, gifting during life, using trusts as appropriate and leaving certain assets for heirs while using others for income in retirement. We will consider the total tax impact across your entire finances across multiple years, and not just the immediate impact of isolated choices. We know what to look for as we review your complete financial picture, and make recommendations that will provide you and your heirs with the best possible solution for accomplishing your goals with minimum taxes.

Build a Legacy You Love

The technical aspects of estate planning are important, but they aren’t the only consideration. Think about the legacy you want to leave. Legacy planning and estate planning are intimately linked.

Ask yourself:

  • How can your estate be an extension and reflection of your goals, values, and priorities?
  • How can your legacy live on for generations to come?

  • What does “legacy” mean to you?

Maybe you want to leave money to a cause you care about or leave it to your grandkids so they won’t have to worry about paying for college.  When you develop your estate plan with your legacy goals in mind, you’ll be better able to maximize the impact you make.

Read more related articles here: 

HERE’S WHY FINANCIAL ADVISORS ARE IMPORTANT TO AN ESTATE PLAN

How Does a Financial Advisor Help with Estate Planning?

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at:

Why you should have a Financial Advisor help with your Estate Plan.

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.

 

Sibling Rivalry POA

How to Handle Sibling Disputes Over a Power of Attorney

How to Handle Sibling Disputes Over a Power of Attorney

A power of attorney is one of the most important estate planning documents, but when one sibling is named in a power of attorney, there is the potential for disputes with other siblings. No matter which side you are on, it is important to know your rights and limitations.

A power of attorney (POA) allows someone to appoint another person — an “attorney-in-fact” or “agent” — to act in place of him or her — the “principal” — if the principal ever becomes incapacitated.

There are two types of powers of attorney: financial and medical. Financial powers of attorney usually include the right to open bank accounts, withdraw funds from bank accounts, trade stock, pay bills, and cash checks. They could also include the right to give gifts.

Medical powers of attorney allow the agent to make health care decisions. In all of these tasks, the agent is required to act in the best interests of the principal. The POA document explains the specific duties of the agent.

When a parent names only one child to be the agent under a POA it can cause bad feelings and distrust. If you are dealing with a sibling who has been named agent under a POA or if you have been named agent under a power of attorney over your siblings, the following are some things to keep in mind:

  • Right to information. Your parent doesn’t have to tell you whom he or she chose as the agent. In addition, the agent under the power of attorney isn’t required to provide information about the parent to other family members.
  • Access to the parent. An agent under a financial power of attorney should not have the right to bar a sibling from seeing their parent. A medical power of attorney may give the agent the right to prevent access to a parent if the agent believes the visit would be detrimental to the parent’s health.
  • Revoking a power of attorney. As long as the parent is competent, he or she can revoke a power of attorney at any time for any reason. The parent should put the revocation in writing and inform the old agent.
  • Removing an agent under power of attorney. Once a parent is no longer competent, he or she cannot revoke the power of attorney. If the agent is acting improperly, family members can file a petition in court challenging the agent. If the court finds the agent is not acting in the principal’s best interest, the court can revoke the power of attorney and appoint a guardian.
  • The power of attorney ends at death. If the principal under the power of attorney dies, the agent no longer has any power over the principal’s estate. The court will need to appoint an executor or personal representative to manage the decedent’s property.

If you are drafting a POA document and want to avoid the potential for conflicts, there are some options. You can name co-agents in the document. You need to be careful how this is worded or it could cause more problems. The best way to name two co-agents is to let the agents act separately.

Another option is to steer clear of family members and name a professional fudiciary..

Sibling disputes over how to provide care or where a parent will live can escalate into a guardianship battle that can cost the family thousands of dollars. Drafting a formal sibling agreement (also called a family care agreement) is a way to give guidance to the agent under the power of attorney and provide for consequences if the agreement isn’t followed.

Even if you don’t draft a formal agreement, openly talking about the areas of potential disagreement can help. If necessary, a mediator can help families come to an agreement on care.

Read more related articles here:

Avoiding Family Feuds over Power of Attorney

When Family Members Feud Over Power of Attorney

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at:

Can You Amend a Power of Attorney?

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.

Elder scams

The Top 5 Financial Scams Targeting Seniors.

The Top 5 Financial Scams Targeting Seniors.

By: The National Council On Aging

Key Takeaways

  • Scams targeting older adults are on the rise. In 2021, there were 92,371 older victims of fraud resulting in $1.7 billion in losses.
  • The most common financial scams targeting older people include government impersonation scams, sweepstakes scams, and robocall scams.
  • Financial crimes against older adults can be devastating, often leaving victims with no way to recoup their losses. Learn how to identify and stop the top 5 financial scams targeting seniors.

Financial scams targeting older adults are costly, widespread, and on the rise. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), in 2021 there were 92,371 older victims of fraud resulting in $1.7 billion in losses. This was a 74% increase in losses compared to 2020.1

Why do financial scammers target seniors?

Fraudsters and con artists tend to go after older adults because they believe this population has plenty of money in the bank. But it’s not just wealthy older Americans who are targeted. Older adults with low income are also at risk for fraud.

Financial scams often go unreported or can be tough to prosecute, so they’re viewed as a “low-risk” crime. However, they’re devastating to many older adults and can leave them in a vulnerable position, with limited ability to recover their losses.

How common are financial scams targeting older adults?

In the five-year period ending December 31, 2020, the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging Fraud Hotline received more than 8,000 complaints nationwide.

The five scams outlined below made up more than 65% of these complaints.2

1. Government impersonation scams

In government impersonation scams (also known as government imposter scams), scammers call unsuspecting older adults and pretend to be from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Social Security Administration, or Medicare. They may say the victim has unpaid taxes and threaten arrest or deportation if they don’t pay up immediately. Or they may say Social Security or Medicare benefits will be cut off if the victim doesn’t provide personal identifying information. This information can then be used to commit identity theft.

Government imposters may demand specific forms of payment, such as a prepaid debit card, cash, or wire transfer. Using special technology, they often “spoof” the actual phone number of a government agency or call from the same zip code (202 for Washington, D.C., for example). This can trick some people into thinking the caller is from a valid source.

2.  Sweepstakes and lottery scams

The sweepstakes scam is one many people are familiar with. Here, scammers call an older adult to tell them they’ve won a lottery or prize of some kind. If they want to claim their winnings, the older adult must send money, cash, or gift cards up front—sometimes thousands of dollars’ worth—to cover supposed taxes and processing fees. Scammers may impersonate well-known sweepstakes organizations (like Publishers Clearing House) to build trust among their victims. Of course, no prize is ever delivered. Sometimes, fraudsters are able to convince the older adult to send even more money by telling them their winnings will arrive soon. Many continue to call their victims for months and even years after defrauding them out of an initial sum of money.

3. Robocalls and phone scams

One common robocall is the “Can you hear me?” call. When the older person says “yes,” the scammer records their voice and hangs up.Robocalls take advantage of sophisticated, automated phone technology to dial large numbers of households from anywhere in the world. While there are legal uses for this technology, robocalls can also be used to carry out a variety of scams on trusting older adults who answer the phone. Some robocalls may claim that a warranty is expiring on the victim’s car or electronic device, and payment is needed to renew it. Like with government impersonation calls, scammers often spoof the number from which they’re calling to make it appear as if the call is from a reputed organization.

One common robocall is the “Can you hear me?” call. When the older person says “yes,” the scammer records their voice and hangs up. The criminal then has a voice signature to authorize unwanted charges on items like stolen credit cards.

Yet another popular phone scam is the “impending lawsuit” scam. In this case, the victim receives an urgent, frightening call from someone claiming to be from a government or law enforcement agency (like the police). They are told if they don’t pay a fine by a certain deadline, they will be sued or arrested for some made-up offense.

4. Computer tech support scams

Technical support scams prey on older people’s lack of knowledge about computers and cybersecurity. A pop-up message or blank screen usually appears on a computer or phone, telling the victim their device is damaged and needs fixing. When they call the support number for help, the scammer may either request remote access to the older person’s computer and/or demand they pay a fee to have it repaired. In 2021, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) fielded 13,900 tech support fraud complaints from older victims who suffered nearly $238 million in losses.

“Tech support fraud is increasingly common and targets some of the most vulnerable individuals. Above all, remember that whether it’s a phone call or a website, legitimate tech support won’t ever proactively seek you out to fix an issue,” said Emma McGowan, a privacy and Security expert at Avast.

Behind the numbers are real people who have endured devastating losses at the hands of cybercriminals. In 2021, a man from Illinois lost his life savings to scammers pretending to be an employee of a known antivirus company. Under the guise of giving the man a refund for unused software, these scam artists gained remote access to his bank account and home equity line of credit. They ultimately made away with nearly $200,000—money that was never recovered.

If you’re wondering how to avoid tech support scams, there are a number of things you can do. Learn how to protect yourself and if you suspect you’ve been a victim, follow these steps from our partner Avast.

5. The grandparent scam

The grandparent scam is so simple and so devious because it uses one of older adults’ most reliable assets, their hearts. Scammers call a would-be grandparent and say something along the lines of: “Hi, Grandma, do you know who this is?” When the unaware grandparent guesses the name of the grandchild the scammer most sounds like, the scammer is able to instantly secure their trust. The fake grandchild then asks for money to solve some urgent financial problem (such as overdue rent, car repairs, or jail bond). They may beg the grandparent not to tell anyone. Since fraudsters often ask to be paid via gift cards or money transfer, which don’t always require identification to collect, the older adult may have no way of ever recovering their money.

In other versions of this scam, the caller claims to be an arresting police officer, doctor, or lawyer trying to help the grandchild. They then use high-pressure tactics that play on the emotions of their victim to get them to send cash as quickly as possible. There are even reports of scammers showing up at older adults’ homes, posing as a “courier” to pick up the money.

Other popular scams targeting older adults

Romance scams

As more people turn to online dating, con artists are seizing the opportunity. Romance scammers create elaborate fake profiles, often on social media, and exploit older adults’ loneliness to get money. In some cases, these scammers may be (or pretend to be) overseas. They may request money to pay for visas, medical emergencies, and travel expenses to come visit the U.S. Since they tend to drag on for a long time, romance scams (also called sweetheart scams) can bilk an older person out of substantial funds. The FTC found that in 2020 alone, older adults lost $304 million to romance scams.3 Get tips for avoiding sweetheart scams.

COVID-19 scams

By June 2021, the FTC had already logged more than 500,000 consumer complaints related to COVID-19 and stimulus payments. Seventy-three percent of those complaints involved fraud and identity theft.2 Examples of COVID-19 scams include:

  • So-called miracle cures: Some companies have fraudulently marketed products as a “cure” to COVID-19 infection. These products are not backed by medical evidence nor are they FDA-approved.
  • Vaccines: Scammers may call older people to offer vaccination in exchange for money or personal information. Please keep in mind that you can get vaccinated against COVID-19 at no cost and without providing your banking information. Learn how to avoid COVID vaccine scams.
  • COVID-19 testing: Some older adults have reported offers of “free” COVID-19 tests or supplies from people claiming to be from Medicare or the Department of Health and Human Services. These fraudsters then use the victim’s Medicare information to submit false health care claims.

Investment scams

This type of scam involves the illegal or alleged sale of financial instruments that typically offer the victim low risk and guaranteed returns. Investment schemes were responsible for more than $239 million in losses suffered by people age 60 and older in 2021. The use of cryptocurrency (digital assets, such as Bitcoin) is common in investment scams. In 2021, cryptocurrency was the basis for more than 5,100 fraud complaints received by IC3.1

Medicare and health insurance scams

Every U.S. citizen or permanent resident over age 65 qualifies for Medicare, making the program a prime tool for fraud. In Medicare scams, con artists may pose as a Medicare representative to get older adults to share their personal information. Scammers might also provide bogus services for older people at makeshift mobile clinics, then bill Medicare and pocket the money. Medicare scams often follow the latest trends in medical research, such as genetic testing and COVID-19 vaccines.

Internet and email fraud

The slower rate of technology adoption among some older people makes them easier targets for internet and email scams. Pop-up browser windows that look like anti-virus software can fool victims into either downloading a fake anti-virus program (at a substantial cost) or an actual virus that exposes information on the user’s computer to scammers. Their unfamiliarity with the less visible aspects of browsing the web (firewalls and built-in virus protection, for example) makes older adults especially vulnerable to such traps.

Phishing emails and text messages may appear to be from a well-known bank, credit card company, or online store. They request an older adult’s personal data, such as a log-in or Social Security number, to verify that person’s account, or they ask the older adult to update their credit card info. Then, they use that information to steal money or more personal information. Find out how to protect yourself against phishing scams.

What to do if you think you’ve been the victim of a scam

Scams are specially designed to catch us off guard, and they can happen to anyone. There’s nothing to be ashamed of if you think you’re a victim. Keep handy the phone numbers of resources that can help, including the local police, your bank (if money has been taken from your accounts), and Adult Protective Services. To obtain the contact information for Adult Protective Services in your area, call the Eldercare Locator, a government sponsored national resource line, at: 1-800-677-1116, or visit their website.

You can also report scams online to the FTC. Sharing your experience can help prevent it from happening to another older adult.

Read more related articles here:

Senior Scams: What to Watch Out for in 2022

Senior scam statistics 2022

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at:

How Do I Protect My Elderly Parent from Scams and Elder Abuse?

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.

 

Alzheimers

Alzheimer’s Progression Slowed by Drug in Major Trial

Alzheimer’s Progression Slowed by Drug in Major Trial

  • Biogen shares soar as much as 43% in New York; Eisai gains 17%
  • Lilly, Roche also rise; they have similar drugs in development
Biogen Inc. and partner Eisai Co. surged and led other drugmakers’ shares higher amid optimism about their breakthrough trial results on Alzheimer’s disease.

The two partners said their experimental drug lecanemab significantly slowed the debilitating brain disease, making it the first medicine to blunt progression of the most common form of dementia in a large definitive study.

Biogen climbed as much as 43% at the US open, its biggest intraday gain since June 2021, adding more than $10 billion in market value. Eisai shares closed up 17% in Tokyo, reaching the highest level in nine months. Eli Lilly & Co. and Roche Holding AG, which are developing similar drugs, also gained.

Biogen surges again on drug results

The findings mark a major milestone for researchers who have been trying in vain for decades to stop the inexorable decline tied to the disease. How much of a difference it will make for patients and families is less clear. While it appears to unambiguously slow the disease, the medicine doesn’t restore mental capacity or totally stop its loss.

The results bolster the so-called amyloid hypothesis: a long-held but controversial theory that the buildup of amyloid, a toxic protein that clutters the brain, is one of the main causes of the disease. It therefore raises hope for other anti-amyloid drugs in development, especially medicines in final-stage trials from Roche and Lilly. Lilly, which is developing donanemab for Alzheimer’s, gained as much as 8.3%, the most intraday since December.

Roche said it was encouraged to learn of the results. Data from two key studies on its own experimental medicine, called gantenerumab, will be released at an industry conference in November. The shares rose as much as 6.5% in Swiss trading.

Challenges Ahead

Biogen and Eisai said lecanemab reduced the pace of cognitive decline in people with early disease by 27% over 18 months when compared with a placebo. The benefit came with side effects, though, including brain swelling and bleeding, though severe cases were rare.

“We think the top-line data is as strong as can be, with high statistical significance across all endpoints — data doesn’t get much cleaner than this in biotech,” BMO Capital Markets analyst Evan Seigerman said in a note. The strength of the data reduces the chances that Medicare will deny the drug broad coverage, once it’s approved, he said.

The medicine was originally licensed from Sweden’s BioArctic AB, whose shares more than doubled on the news.

The Alzheimer’s Association welcomed the results, as did pharmaceutical and biotechnology analysts.

“We finally have what we believe to be a clean win in Alzheimer’s disease,” Evan David Seigerman, an analyst at BMO Capital Markets, wrote in a note to clients. “The top-line data are clear to us — lecanemab slows the rate of cognitive decline.”

The positive study isn’t the end of the challenges for Eisai and Biogen, who are collaborating on the drug that had some early controversy and will split the profits.

A previous medicine they developed together, called Aduhelm, was approved in the US in June 2021 despite contradictory trial results. While the amyloid-lowering antibody slowed the decline from Alzheimer’s modestly in one big trial, another showed no effect. Both were halted early. But Medicare refused to pay for a treatment that initially cost $56,000 a year outside of clinical trials, and the drug ended up a commercial failure.

Read more related articles here:

Experimental Alzheimer’s drug shows benefits in phase 3 trial, company says

Experimental Alzheimer’s drug slows cognitive decline in trial, firms say

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at:

The Latest Treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease

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.

sad elderly couple

Estate Planning for People With No Heirs

Estate Planning for People With No Heirs

What to do with your estate when its inheritor isn’t obvious.
One of the most important parts of estate planning is determining how to divide your assets. But what if you don’t have a spouse, children, or other obvious heirs?“Those in this situation might genuinely wonder, What’s the point?” says Bob Barth, a Schwab wealth strategist based in Orlando, Florida. “But passing without a will or immediate heirs increases the odds your money will go to someone you’d rather it not.”

Inheritance hierarchy

While the process differs by state, the inheritance hierarchy usually goes like this: surviving spouse, followed by children, and then grandchildren. If none of those relatives can be identified, your assets could go to parents, grandparents, siblings, nephews, nieces—or even the state.

“With no will or next of kin, your assets become escheated—which is just a fancy way of saying the state lays claim to them,” Bob says. “In pretty much every case, it’s better to pick someone yourself.”

Alternative heirs

Rather than let the state decide, people without heirs may designate a beneficiary to inherit their assets. It can be a relative, friend, or charitable organization—anyone except the attorney who drafted your will.

If philanthropy appeals to you, you have several options, including:

  • Charitable remainder trusts: The donor receives an immediate charitable deduction based on the present value of the cash or other property that is transferred to this irrevocable trust. The donor also receives an income stream from the trust for years or for life, and a designated charity receives the remaining assets upon the donor’s death.
  • Donor-advised funds: The donor makes an irrevocable, tax-deductible contribution of cash, securities, or appreciated noncash assets; the donor can invest those funds for future potential growth and recommend grants to qualified 501(c)(3) charities at any time.
  • Private foundations: This type of charitable organization is typically founded by a family or an individual with an initial tax-deductible gift and is managed by a board of directors or trustees, who may be paid for their efforts and who control the disposition of all assets; grants are not limited to qualified 501(c)(3) charities.2

The choice between them comes down to personal factors, including how much oversight you want to have and whether other family members will be involved. Be sure to talk to your financial advisor and a tax professional with experience in charitable giving prior to implementing one of these giving strategies.

Beyond money

In addition to stipulating what to do with your financial assets, those without obvious heirs should designate a person who can make critical decisions in case of incapacitation:

  • A durable power of attorney for finances, for example, authorizes someone to handle your financial and legal affairs.
  • A durable power of attorney for health care authorizes someone to make medical decisions on your behalf.
  • A living will details the medical interventions you would and would not like to receive to keep you alive.

Without such legal documents and ironclad instructions, your next of kin (as determined by the state), even if a distant relation, may decide for you. “Many people have very strong preferences when it comes to these kinds of decisions,” Bob says. “Without these documents in place, it’s out of your hands.”

You’ll also want to name an estate administrator (a.k.a. executor or personal representative) to take over upon your death. An administrator will handle probate court proceedings, distribute your assets, manage the sale of your property, and notify your banks and credit card companies of your passing (which can help protect the deceased—and hence the estate—from identity theft). You could choose an accountant, an attorney, a financial planner, or even a professional executor, if available in your state.

“Not all aspects of estate planning have to do with money,” Bob says. “A few hours spent today can take a lot of uncertainty out of the future.”

Limitations on the tax deduction may apply based on the donor’s adjusted gross income and whether the donor itemizes her or his deductions. For additional information on private foundations, visit irs.gov/charities-non-profits/charitable-organizations/private-foundations.

Read more related articles here:

No children? Here’s how to plan your estate

Getting Older Without Family

Planning your estate when you’ve got no children or heirs

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at:

Planning Your Estate When You’ve Got No Children or Heirs

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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