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April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month Get Your Estate Plan in Order NOW!

Every month of April, the global Parkinson’s community engages to support awareness of Parkinson’s disease (PD), a disease whose cause remains largely unknown although treatment options exist. This year the Parkinson’s Foundation campaign theme is #KnowMorePD. The goal of raising awareness can help make lives better for people with Parkinson’s disease, generate ideas to improve care, educate, and fundraise to help advance research toward finding a cure.

Effectively, Parkinson’s is a disease where nerve cells that normally deliver the neurotransmitter dopamine to other cells experience a reduction in numbers. The more cell death spreads to larger areas of the brain, the greater the body is affected. Symptoms of Parkinson’s typically develop slowly throughout the years, with symptom progressions varying from person to person because of the diversity of the disease. The neurodegenerative disorder can manifest itself through tremors, bradykinesia (slowness of movement), limb rigidity, and gait and balance problems. Dopamine reduction can also produce nonmotor symptoms, often preceding a PD diagnosis. These symptoms can include REM sleep behavioral disorder, automatic dysfunction, depressions, visual impairment, attention deficit, reduced sense of smell, and difficulties planning and acting on ordinary tasks. Parkinson’s disease is not in itself fatal; however, disease complications can be serious.

The PD Foundation website has offerings by state. Local impact, education, and support are hallmarks of the foundation’s work. Individuals can plug in their zip code on the website Parkinson’s Foundation in your area for their closest PD chapter to become involved. Whether your interest is in exercise classes, therapy services, research trials, or caregiving support, visiting a local PD website in any state can point you in the direction you need.

California’s large and diverse population makes it an ideal state to study and expand our understanding of Parkinson’s disease. The state’s Department of Health has a chronic disease surveillance and research branch (CDSRB) that collects data to measure PD’s incidence and prevalence. This research brings awareness to the disease through the California Parkinson’s Disease Registry. Statistics about how the disease is distributed among different population groups and whether the disease patterns are changing over time may lead to insights about PD about which we know surprisingly little.

In 2021, about one million people live with Parkinson’s disease, with approximately 600,000 receiving a PD diagnosis each year, with men 1.5 times more likely to have Parkinson’s than women. Estimates are that direct and indirect costs of Parkinson’s, including treatment, lost income, and social security payments account for nearly 52 billion in US expenditure annually. Just the medication averages about 2,500 dollars per year, and the cost of therapeutic surgery can be upwards of 100,000 dollars per individual.

The terms incidence (new cases arising in a population over a given time) and prevalence (a measure of all individuals affected by the disease at a particular time) are often cited when discussing who suffers from Parkinson’s disease. Does prevalence vary by study, population group, and geography? Statistics generated by studying larger and more diverse populations can address these questions. Considering the last major prevalence study was in 1978, Parkinson’s disease studies are long overdue.

The statistics matter as the Parkinson’s Foundation continues to attract state and federal government and the pharmaceutical industry to address the urgent, growing need to understand and hopefully prevent PD. As a nation, we need to understand better who develops Parkinson’s and why. Much of the research focuses on ways to identify PD biomarkers, leading to earlier diagnosis and tailored treatments to slow down the disease process. While all current therapies can slow the process and improve symptoms, they do not slow or halt the disease progression. Idiopathic Parkinson’s disease progression tends to be variable and slow, making research all the more difficult, particularly when comorbidities are present.

On social media platforms and other online forums such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Reddit, Linkedin, WhatsApp, and more, #KnowMorePD for this April’s Parkinson’s Awareness theme helps to promote the foundation’s campaign cross-platform. The goal is to have conversations among loved ones, family, friends, neighbors, care teams, and the community will lead to more education, action, funding, and understanding of Parkinson’s disease.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Parkinsons’ disease, there are a number of ways we can help. For example, we can create a comprehensive legal plan to make sure you or your loved one has the proper documents in place to cover care decisions, financial decisions, and what to do in the event of a disability. We welcome the opportunity to speak with you in a confidential setting to determine how we might help.

Read more related articles at:

Exercise May Slow Cognitive Decline in At-Risk Patients With Parkinson Disease

Exercise May Slow Cognitive Decline in Some With Early Parkinson Disease

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.

Charitable Trust

How Does a Charitable Trust Work?

How Does a Charitable Trust Work?

A charitable trust can provide an alternative to meeting your wishes for charities and your loved ones, while serving to minimize tax liabilities. There are pros and cons to consider, according to a recent article titled “Here’s how to create a charitable trust as part of an estate plan” from CNBC. Many families are considering their tax planning for the next few years, aware that the individual income tax provisions of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will expire after 2025.

Creating a charitable trust may work to achieve wishes for charities, as well as loved ones.

A charitable trust is a set of assets, usually liquid, that a donor signs over to or uses to create a charitable foundation. The assets are then managed by the charity for a specific period of time, with some or all of the interest the assets produce benefitting the charity.

When the period of time ends, the assets, now called the remainder, can go to heirs, or can be donated to the charity (although they are usually returned to heirs).

There are pros and cons to Charitable Remainder Trusts and Charitable Lead Trusts. Your estate planning attorney will determine which one, if any, is appropriate for you and your family.

A charitable trust allows you to give generously to an organization that has meaning to you, while providing an equally generous tax break for you and your heirs. However, to achieve this, the charitable trust must be irrevocable, so you can’t change your mind once it’s set in place.

Charitable trusts provide a way to ensure current or future distributions to you or to your loved ones, depending on your unique circumstances and goals.

A Charitable Remainder Trust, or CRT, provides an income stream either to you or to individuals you select for a set period of time, which is typically your lifetime, your spouse’s lifetime, or the lifetimes of your beneficiaries. The remaining assets are ultimately distributed to one or more charities.

By contrast, the Charitable Lead Trust (CLT) pays income to one or more charities for a set term, and the remaining assets pass to individuals, such as heirs.

For CRTs and CLTs, the annual distribution during the initial term can happen in two ways; a Unitrust (CRUT or CLUT) or an Annuity Trust (CRAT or CLAT).

In a Unitrust, the income distribution for the coming year is calculated at the end of each calendar year and it changes, as the value of the trust increases or decreases.

In an Annuity Trust, the distribution is a fixed annual distribution determined as a percentage of the initial funding value and does not change in future years.

Interest rates are a key element in determining whether to use a CLT or a CRT. Right now, with interest rates at historically low levels, a CRT yields minimal income.

The key benefits to a CRT include income tax deductions, avoidance of capital gains taxation, annual income and a wish to support nonprofit organizations.

Your estate planning attorney and a member of the development team from the charity can work together to ensure that your charitable strategy achieves your goals of supporting the charity and building your legacy.

Reference: CNBC (Dec. 22, 2020) “Here’s how to create a charitable trust as part of an estate plan”

Read more related articles at:

What Is a Charitable Trust?

What is a charitable trust and why would I need one?

Also read one of our previous Blogs at:

George Michael’s Charity Continues

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

Charitable giving

Charitable Giving and Your Estate Plan

Charitable Giving and Your Estate Plan. Americans are a country of generous people. We give to organizations that we feel connected to, and we give to charities that we feel are important. We also give to honor our loved ones, to make life better in our communities and to help when disaster strikes.

Most people don’t give to charity purely for the tax benefits, but charitable giving has long been a benefit of lowering income taxes during our lifetimes, as well as helping minimize estate taxes when we die, says the article “5 Ways to Incorporate Charitable Giving into Your Estate Plan” from Kiplinger. Therefore, if you are charitably minded, why not achieve the most tax-savings you can? Here are five ways to do this.

Appreciated Stock. Gifts of publicly traded stock that has grown or appreciated in value is a good way to support a charity while you are living. If you sell appreciated stock, you will need to pay capital gains tax on the appreciation. However, if you donate appreciated stock to a charity, you’ll receive a charitable income tax deduction equal to the full market value of the stock at the time of the gift. That avoids capital gains taxes. You get the benefit on the appreciated amount, without having to sell it. The charity can, if it wants, sell the stock without paying any capital gains taxes, because registered nonprofits are tax exempt.

Charitable Rollovers. If you are older than 70 ½, you may donate up to $100,000 per year to charities directly from your IRA. This is known as a Qualified Charitable Rollover, or a QCD. The QCD counts towards any Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) that you need to take from your IRA annually. Under the recently passed SECURE Act, in the future RMDs must be taken by December 31, 2020, after the account owner celebrates their 72nd birthday. Because RMDs are taxable income, they are taxed at ordinary income rates.

By donating through a QCD, you can support a charity, fulfill your RMD requirement and exclude the amount that you donate from your taxable income. For those who don’t need their RMDs, that’s a win-win situation.

Bequest by Will or Revocable Trust. A more traditional way to support a charity, is to leave an amount in your will or revocable trust. The bequest is language in your will or trust that states the amount you want to leave to the charity, clearly identifying the charity you want to receive the funds, and if you want, stating the purpose that you’d want the charity to use the funds. An important point: make sure that you use the legally accurate name of the charity to avoid any confusion. This is a common error that causes no many problems for charities.

Consider also giving a donation that can be used for a charity’s “general purpose.” This lets the charity decide where to best allocate your donation, rather than tying the money to a specific program. If you chose to list a specific purpose, meet with the development office or the executive director at the charity to ensure that they are able to fulfill that desire. Otherwise, the charity may need to refuse the bequest.

Name a Charity as the Beneficiary of Retirement Accounts. This can be done by naming the charity as a beneficiary on the account documents. Be sure to use the legally correct name of the charity. The charity will be able to withdraw funds from the retirement account without paying taxes. People who receive funds from retirement accounts pay income tax rates on distributions, but charities do not. You may want to donate retirement account funds to charities, and non-taxable assets to heirs.

Charitable Remainder Trusts. This is a way to help the charity and provide for heirs. Your estate planning attorney would create a Charitable Remainder Trust (CRT) and names the CRT as the beneficiary of an IRA. A CRT is a “split interest trust,” where a person receives annual payments for the CRT for a set period of time. When the person or charitable organization’s interest in the CRT ends, the remaining funds are distributed to the charity of your choosing. There are very strict rules about how CRTs are structured, including the percentages that the charity must receive. An estate planning attorney will be able to create this for you.

Reference: Kiplinger (March 2, 2020) “5 Ways to Incorporate Charitable Giving into Your Estate Plan”

Read more about Charitable giving at:

Charity/Fidelity

How To Incorporate Philanthropic Giving Into Your Estate Plan/Forbes

Also read our previous Blog about Charitable Giving at :

George Michael’s Charity Continues

 

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