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Caregivers

Eldercare and Paid Family Leave: Love and the Bottom Line

Eldercare and Paid Family Leave: Love and the Bottom Line

Article Originated from: standard.com

 

 

Growing Older — Help Wanted

Here’s a snapshot of current and future caregiving needs for the elderly:

  • The average care recipient is 69.4 years old — a member of the 80-million-member baby boom generation.
  • About 66% of older adults with disabilities get all their care and assistance from their family members.
  • Half of Americans who reach 65 will need long-term care, typically for two years, according to government projections.

These statistics and others paint a picture of a crisis that’s unfolding fast — even though many boomers are still rock ‘n’ rolling. Overall, they’re healthier than previous generations. And advances in medical treatments may help them live longer.

But as they reach their 80s, 90s and beyond, boomers are seeing more medical problems and frailty, and may require more care.

Weighing Workers Down — Career and Income Impacts

The impacts of this demographic shift are already falling heavily on mid-life adults, especially women. You may see them as co-workers, employees or neighbors — but they also serve as nurses, cooks, drivers, organizers and more for their loved ones.

These competing demands can have devastating effects on working caregivers’ careers and earnings. Studies show that 70% suffer work-related difficulties due to their dual roles.4 And about six out of 10 workers experience at least one change in their employment due to caregiving. Negative impacts include rearranging work schedules, cutting back hours, taking a leave of absence or receiving a warning about performance or attendance.

Employee Challenges and Costs

  • 40% of caregivers for elderly relatives work in inflexible environments and have been forced to reduce their work hours or quit.
  • Only 53% of employers offer flexible work hours or paid sick days.
  • Only 22% allow telecommuting regardless of employee caregiving burden.

Adding to Employer Costs — Lost Time and Talent

Paychecks or Parents?

That’s a choice millions of people have to make when an elderly parent or relative becomes dependent. Whether it’s dementia, an injury or just “old age,” parents’ needs can put their adult children’s careers and lives on hold.

What happens when someone drops out of the workforce and loses two, five or even 10 years of experience and earnings? Their own health and financial security may be at risk.

Why Aren’t More Women Working? They’re Caring for Parents, New York Times, Aug. 29, 2019, nytimes.com

Caregiver absenteeism costs the U.S. economy an estimated $25.2 billion in lost productivity, according to a 2011 report. That’s based on an average of 6.6 workdays missed per working caregiver per year, averaging $200 in lost productivity per day.

The costs of losing talent add up, too. Among workers who provide care for an elderly relative, seven in 10 have had to cut back on hours — and wages — or drop out of the workforce altogether.15 In another study, one-third reported leaving a job during their careers due to caregiving responsibilities.12 That can create a high turnover rate. And as HR managers know, hiring and training new people can be a big expense!

Eldercare is also unpredictable, even more so than child care. Parents can plan for constant child care in the early years and less as children grow more independent. With the elderly, it’s the opposite. Their needs tend to be intermittent, changing and increasing. That unpredictability can put a big strain on employees and their managers.

Looking Up — New Awareness and Resources

While news articles tend to focus on the lack of support for eldercare, a positive shift is underway. In the last decade, the share of employers providing eldercare resources and referral services increased from 29% in 2005 to 46% in 2016. What’s more, 78% of employers say that they provide paid or unpaid time off for employees to provide eldercare — without putting their jobs at risk.

There’s also growing awareness coming from the top down. More and more CEOs and organizational leaders are struggling to care for aging parents. That gives them the first-hand experience, perspective and incentive to help employees manage these challenges. Forward-thinking employers understand that the costs of losing talent and productivity can outweigh the costs of support for caregivers.

Paying It Off — Benefits of Paid Family Leave, Including Caregiving

Here’s a rare consensus: Most Americans agree that paid family leave is a good thing. When asked what the consequences would be if all Americans had access to paid leave for family or medical reasons, about 90% say it would have a very or somewhat positive impact on families, women and men. And about two-thirds (65%) think the impact on the economy would be positive as well.

What’s the track record for PFL? One study of paid leave in California found that giving workers some time off increases the likelihood that workers — particularly if they’re low-income — will stay in the labor force following personal and family health events.

In most other states, Paid Family and Medical Leave laws are relatively new, not in force yet or nonexistent, so stay tuned for future results.

Interested in more information on caregiving and the aging population? Check out this post that answers the question: Why Is Paid Family Leave So Important for All Generations?

It’s also important to us at The Standard, both as a leading insurance carrier and as a national employer with offices across the country. Helping families take care of their loved ones is at the core of what we do.

Read more related articles at:

The Importance of Paid Leave for Caregivers

Older Adults & Family Caregiver Need Paid Family and Medical Leave

Also, Read One of our previous Blogs at:

CAREGIVERS MAY BE ELIGIBLE FOR PAID SICK LEAVE UNDER CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE ACT

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

 

fuduciary

Must an Agent Spend all of the Principal’s Assets on Care?

Must an Agent Spend all of the Principal’s Assets on Care?

Must an Agent Spend all of the Principal’s Assets on Care? When an agent steps into the shoes of a principal, does that require the agent to ensure every cent belonging to the principal go towards the principal’s care? What if the agent instead gifts that money to family? Is that fraudulent? This issue was explored in a recent case out of the United States Bankruptcy Court, District of Massachusetts, Eastern Division.

Doris named her son, Jonathan, as agent under a financial power of attorney. Doris’ health was failing and she entered into a nursing home, Pleasant Bay. The private pay rate for Pleasant Bay was nearly $8,000 per month. Doris did not have enough income to pay for her stay at Pleasant Bay, so Jonathan sold her condominium.

With the proceeds, Jonathan paid some of the outstanding debt to Pleasant Bay but also engaged in gifting to himself and other family members. Jonathan applied for Medicaid benefits for Doris, but was denied due to the gifting. After accruing more debt with Pleasant Bay, Doris moved to another facility.

Pleasant Bay sued Jonathan for Doris’ balance owed; he agreed to a judgment against him. Jonathan proceeded to file bankruptcy, and listed the Pleasant Bay debt on his bankruptcy schedules. Pleasant Bay gave two arguments as to why the debt should not be dischargeable. The first argument was that Jonathan incurred the debt by false representations and he should have used all of his mother’s assets to pay for her care. The second argument was that Jonathan breached his fiduciary duty by spending his mother’s assets on something other than her care. As a third-party beneficiary of that fiduciary relationship, Pleasant Bay argues that they have standing and suffered a financial loss. Jonathan, in turn, argued that he did not agree to spend all of Doris’ money on her care. He said that he spent the proceeds of the home sale in accordance with what Doris’ would have wished.

Pleasant Bay’s first argument hinges on 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(2)(A), which states that a debt cannot be discharged in bankruptcy if it was obtained by “false pretenses, a false representation, or actual fraud…”. In the opinion, the court lays out the elements to meet this standard. In order to prevail, the plaintiff must prove that the debtor “1) made a knowingly false representation or made one in reckless disregard for the truth, or made an implied misrepresentation or created a false impression by his conduct, 2) intended to deceive, 3) intended to induce the creditor’s reliance; and the creditor 4) actually relied upon the misrepresentation or false pretense, 5) relied justifiably, and 6) suffered damage as a result.”

Pleasant Bay’s second argument hinges on 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(4), which states that a debt cannot be discharged in bankruptcy if it was “for fraud or defalcation while acting in a fiduciary capacity, embezzlement, or larceny”. The court notes defalcation is akin to extreme recklessness and that “not every breach of fiduciary duty amounts to defalcation.” Notably, to meet this requirement, the fiduciary must have had culpable intent or knowledge of the improper conduct.

The court here first looked to the terms of the contract that Jonathan had signed with Pleasant Bay. The terms of the agreement did not justify a reading that said that every cent of Doris’ would be given to Pleasant Bay. Instead, the court found that Jonathan had intended that Pleasant Bay would be paid by Medicaid. Jonathan did not understand prior to his gifting that Doris’ Medicaid application would be adversely affected by his actions and ultimately denied.

The court did state that after Jonathan received notice that Doris’ Medicaid application was denied, he should have then given Doris’ monthly income to Pleasant Bay. But not doing so did not rise to the level of fraud, misrepresentation, or false pretenses. However, the court said, if Jonathan’s conduct had resulted in Doris not being able to get care, then an argument might be made that Jonathan’s spending of his mother’s funds rose to the level of defalcation. But that did not happen in this case.

As for the § 523(a)(4) claim, the court quoted Follett Higher Educ. Grp., Inc. v. Berman (In re Berman), 629 F.3d 761, 767 (7th Cir. 2011), which stated “Not all persons treated as fiduciaries under state law are considered to act in a fiduciary capacity for purposes of federal bankruptcy law.” Instead, what matters is if the debtor is acting as a fiduciary under federal law, which would require an express or technical trust. This is an elevated level of duty and creates a Trustee relationship. The court here examined the power of attorney document and did not see where this elevated duty was created. As such, Pleasant Bay’s claim failed on this count.

In the end, Pleasant Bay lost their case and Jonathan was able to discharge the debt in bankruptcy. However, Jonathan could have likely prevented the whole situation and obtained a better outcome had he sought legal advice from an elder law attorney when it was clear his mother needed long-term care. An elder law attorney could have planned properly so that Doris received the needed care, Jonathan fulfilled his obligations as agent, and Doris’ assets were best preserved for her loved ones. Instead, Jonathan spent his time, energy, and money on the back-end, defending his actions in bankruptcy court. This is why the question is raised: Must an Agent Spend all of the Principal’s Assets on Care?

Read more related articles at:

A Guide to Power of Attorney for Elderly Parents

Managing someone else’s money: Help for agents under a power of attorney

Also read one of our previous Blogs at:

What Is a Fiduciary and a Fiduciary Duty?

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

 

conservatorship, guardianship

Conservatorship vs. Guardianship: What’s the Difference?

Conservatorship vs. Guardianship: What’s the Difference?

Conservatorship vs. Guardianship: What’s the Difference? The needs of the ward will determine which role is appropriate When an individual is in need of care to the extent that they become a ward of the court, the court will appoint a guardian or conservator to help. A guardian assumes responsibility for the basic care and daily needs of a child or of an individual who has been determined to be mentally or physically incapacitated, while a conservator is appointed when a minor or incapacitated adult is in need of an adult to manage their property and assets. The duties of guardians and conservators can overlap, and sometimes the same person is appointed to both roles, but their roles are very different.

What’s the Difference Between Conservatorship and Guardianship?

Conservatorship  Guardianship
Primary responsibilities Managing ward’s financial affairs Managing ward’s personal care and daily living needs
Additional duties May extend to more substantial holdings and assets May extend to securing medical care, education, and minor financial duties
Checks on authority Fiduciary duty, power of attorney, yearly accounting Fiduciary duty, restricted to threshold below $24,000 per year

Primary Responsibilities

Conservatorship vs. Guardianship: What’s the Difference? A guardian is responsible for an elder or minor ward’s personal care, providing them with a place to live, and with ensuring their medical needs are met. Guardians make sure that their ward has a place to live, such as the guardian’s home, with a caretaker, or in an assisted living or full-care facility.

Conservators are appointed for those who are in need of having their financial affairs handled. In cases where wards have more substantial holdings, the conservator becomes responsible for determining whether assets such as real estate and tangible personal property should be bought, held, or sold.

The conservator will maintain ongoing contact with the ward’s financial institutions to ensure that everything is being managed appropriately. The order of conservatorship provided by the court gives the conservator the legal power to make financial decisions on the ward’s behalf.1

Additional Duties

Guardians are also required to make sure minor wards are receiving the education they require in addition to the formerly listed duties, and for receiving any training that the ward might require. Minor financial responsibilities, such as paying bills and purchasing daily necessities, are also tasks for a guardian. A guardian can often make medical decisions on behalf of the ward, although some states limit this power depending on the status of the ward.The conservator uses the ward’s finances to pay the bills, including medical and personal bills. They also make sure income taxes are filed and paid as needed. If a minor ward has liquid assets (able to be converted to cash quickly), a conservator can decide where the funds could be held and who would be responsible for overseeing their investment. The conservator might do this directly or enlist the help of a professional financial adviser. Celebrities who reached popularity while young tend to have some issues once they are able to access their own finances. It is not uncommon for courts to appoint a conservator to manage the young celebrity’s affairs. In rare cases, conservatorships can last much longer than state laws mandate (generally until 18 or 21 years of age).

Checks on Authority

Conservatorship vs. Guardianship: What’s the Difference?    Generally, the guideline of income or benefits of $24,000 per year is used to establish whether a person needs a guardian or a conservator.3 Conservators are used when wards have more financial holdings. A conservator is usually responsible for preparing an accounting of actions they’ve taken on the ward’s behalf, filing it with the court each year. Some states require that a conservatorship must begin with a full accounting of all the ward’s assets and debts at the time the conservatorship is established. The annual accounting typically includes how the ward’s assets have been bought, sold, or invested, and what has been spent on behalf of the ward during the previous year. The accounting should include a plan detailing the medical treatment and personal care received by the incapacitated ward in the previous year, as well as an outline of the plan for the ward’s medical and personal care for the next year. A court-appointed guardian or conservator must also typically file a final accounting of a minor’s assets when the minor reaches adulthood. A doctor’s report might be required from time to time, detailing the ward’s current mental and physical conditions, and can state whether a guardianship or conservatorship is still required.

Which Is Right for Your Situation?

A guardianship may be appropriate if:

  • The ward is a minor with no parents or relatives who can serve as daily caretakers
  • The ward is an adult who is not mentally or physically capable of taking care of themselves and their basic needs
  • The ward has special educational or medical needs that are not currently being provided

A conservatorship may be appropriate if:

  • The ward is an adult who has been deemed legally incompetent to make their own financial decisions, and does not have anyone serving as power of attorney
  • The ward is a minor who has inherited or been entrusted with a large sum of money that would benefit from professional management

When Court Approval Is Required

Guardians and conservators have many duties and responsibilities when given a ward to look after. Depending upon the laws of the state where the ward lives, some of these duties and responsibilities will require court approval, while others may not. Florida law requires that a conservator must get court approval before selling any of the ward’s real estate or personal property.5 Nebraska requires court approval before using the ward’s debit card for withdrawing funds from an account. In Massachusetts, a guardian can’t admit the ward to a long-term care facility or administer certain drugs without a special court order. If you have been granted the privilege of caring for someone as a guardian or conservator, make sure to familiarize yourself with your state’s laws and requirements.

The Bottom Line

A guardian or conservator is considered to be a fiduciary, someone who is legally bound to put the ward’s best interests before their own. Serving as a guardian may demand attention to a wide range of your ward’s needs that cover all aspects of life, or hiring the professionals and services needed so that they receive this care—it’s essentially like being a parent. Being a conservator may be less hands-on, but you will be expected to make sound and often high-stakes financial decisions. These can be very trying responsibilities, so if you have been asked to serve as a guardian or conservator, you’ll need to be sure you have the time, resources, and patience to put into them.

BY: Julie Garber

Updated July 09, 2021

 

Read more related articles at:

Is a Court-Appointed Conservator Personally Liable for Actions Taken?

The Ins and Outs of Guardianship and Conservatorship

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at:

Britney Spears’ Conservatorship Battle with Father Continues

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

 

quitclaim deed

Should I Entertain a Quitclaim Deed?

 

Should I Entertain a Quitclaim Deed?

Quitclaim deeds are often viewed as quick, easy mechanisms for transferring title in real property from one party to another. However, if the parties fail to properly consider all relevant issues, a quitclaim deed transaction may have undesirable consequences.  Fortunately, many of these consequences can be avoided by hiring an experienced estate planning attorney. Especially when it comes to seniors, you may want to get all the pros and cons before entertaining a Quitclaim  deed. Find an experienced Estate Planning or Elder Law Attorney to help answer your questions and see if a Quitclaim deed is right for you.

 

What is a Quitclaim Deed?

By executing a quitclaim deed, the existing owner of real property conveys his interest in that property to the deed’s recipient.  Because the deed contains no covenants of title, the owner does not guarantee the property interest conveyed to the recipient is valid or free from encumbrances. Therefore, if problems with the title arise, the recipient has little recourse against the owner.

Factors Affecting Quitclaim Deed Transactions

To avoid undesirable consequences, a party contemplating a quitclaim deed transaction should consider the following issues:

1. No Property Interest

A seller who does not possess a valid interest in certain property cannot transfer an interest in that property by quitclaim deed.  In this situation, the purchaser risks paying for the property without receiving valid title to the property in return. While this situation seems easily avoidable, issues with the property’s title can be difficult to detect.

For example, in June Sand Co., the owner executed a quitclaim deed transferring his interest in certain property to a corporation. However, the corporation later discovered the State of Florida had repossessed the property because the previous owner had failed to pay property taxes.  The Florida Supreme Court held the corporation merely “stepped into the shoes” of the owner and thus, received no interest in the property.

2. Documentary Stamp Taxes

In Florida, documents that transfer an interest in real property are subject to documentary stamp taxes. Usually, the amount of the tax is based on the consideration paid for the property.  If no consideration was paid for the property, but the property was subject to a mortgage, the amount of the taxes is based on the mortgage balance.  Each party should independently determine whether the tax applies because both parties are liable for paying the tax.

3. Capital Gains Tax

When an owner sells certain property, he must pay capital gains taxes on any profits realized from the sale. Additionally, when an owner makes a gift of mortgaged property, the IRS may determine a sale occurred and require him to pay capital gains taxes.  In this situation, the amount of the tax is calculated by subtracting the owner’s adjusted basis in the property from the mortgage balance assumed by the gift’s recipient. To avoid penalties, the owner must determine whether a sale occurred and report this information to the IRS.

4. The Homestead Tax Exemption

When a homeowner’s property serves as his permanent residence, the property may qualify for Florida’s homestead exemption. This exemption can reduce the property’s assessed value by as much as $50,000.  If a quitclaim deed transaction results in a change of ownership, the exemption will be lost. However, some transactions allow the owner to transfer property without losing the exemption. For example, if only the existing owner claims the exemption before and after the transaction, the exemption will not be lost.

5. The Save Our Homes Cap

Once a home qualifies for a homestead exemption, the property appraiser will reassess the property’s value, annually, each January 1st.The Save Our Homes Cap prevents each annual reassessment from exceeding three percent of the previous year’s appraised value or the percentage change in the Consumer Price Index, whichever is lower.  Like the homestead exemption, a change of ownership will cause the home to lose its cap.

In Florida, a change in ownership is defined as any sale, foreclosure, or transfer of legal or beneficial title. Generally, if there is no change in beneficial ownership, the cap will not be lost. For example, transferring the home to the owner’s revocable trust or spouse will not cause the owner to lose the cap. In contrast, the cap will be lost when one of two unmarried joint owners dies and both have received the homestead exemption.

6. Gift Tax Consequences

An owner may use a quitclaim deed to gift property to another for less than full value. However, if the amount of the gift exceeds the annual exclusion amount, which is currently $15,000, the donor must report the gift to the IRS. If the donor retains some interest in the property, such as a life estate, the IRS will likely determine that a gift did not occur, and no taxes will be due. In this situation, the IRS may consider the donor’s retained property interest when calculating his gross estate for estate tax purposes.

7. Community Associations

Community associations often place ownership restrictions on properties they govern. For example, an association may require potential owners to pass a background check and obtain association approval prior to purchasing a property. If potential owners do not abide by these restrictions, the association may prevent the transaction from being consummated.

Conclusion

Quitclaim deeds can be a valuable resource for quick hitter, one-off real estate transactions. However, to hit a home run, one must properly consider the issues that may arise. If you are considering transferring property via a Quitclaim deed or challenging a wrongful transfer, contact  an experienced Estate Planning attorney to investigate these issues and ensure the transaction  results in a legally prudent outcome.

Read more related articles at:

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at:

What are My Taxes on a House I Inherited?

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

Why Estate Planning Is Crucial When Reaching End Of Life

Why Estate Planning Is Crucial When Reaching End Of Life

Why  is Estate Planning Crucial When Reaching End Of Life ? People would strive to look for high-paying jobs in order to provide a better life for their families. These people would continually invest time and effort to improve their skills and work for longer hours to ensure that their families can experience the best in life.

But earning a high salary from a stable job isn’t enough for you to achieve these goals. If you want to make sure that everything you’ve worked for actually goes to your family, include estate planning in your to-do list. Estate planning is important as this allows you to decide who will receive the things you’ve worked for the moment you die.

To paint a clearer picture of why estate planning is crucial when you’re reaching the end of life, consider the points below:

1.         Continually Provide For Your Family

No amount of exercise and diet can make you immortal. Even with a healthy and active lifestyle, you will still age and eventually die. This period can be very challenging for your family, especially if you’re the breadwinner. But estate planning can make a lot of difference.

When you work with professionals, to plan for your estate, you can have peace of mind because you know that can always provide for your family. Estate planning can ensure that your family will continue to get their benefits, and they’re getting it in the easiest way possible, even in your absence.

Since estate planning allows you to turn over all of your assets before you die, this process can save your family from experiencing any financial stress. None of your family members will have to worry about how they’re going to pay their bills or provide food on the table because you already arranged all of these things when you were still alive.

2.         Save Your Family From Making Difficult Decisions

Your family will usually make tough decisions as you’re reaching the end of your life. When you’re in a coma, should they let you die naturally or spend money on equipment to let you live? What will they do with your body when you die? These are very difficult decisions to make because a lot of emotions are involved.

If you don’t want your family members to come up with answers for these challenging questions, plan your estate. Aside from deciding who will get what, estate planning also gives you the opportunity to choose disposal arrangements for your remains.

3.         Plan Better For Incapacity

It’s common for people to suffer from incapacity due to a severe accident or sudden medical issue. And when any of these happen, you won’t have the mental capacity to properly manage your financial affairs and turnover your assets.

With estate planning, you can better prepare for incapacity as this allows you to utilize the power of attorney in order to handle your healthcare and financial decisions. This will give you peace of mind knowing that even when you’re incapacitated, all of your assets are handled properly, and your demands are met accordingly.

4.         Protect Young Children

No single parent would want to leave their children alone, but death is unpredictable. As mentioned, accidents and chronic illnesses can happen in an instant and will force you to leave your children.

If you truly want your children to get the best in life, it’s best if you plan your estate as soon as possible. Estate planning allows you to name the guardians of your minor children the moment you die. This means that you get to decide who will look after your children if they haven’t reached 18 years old.

Without estate planning, the courts will have to step in, and they will decide who will raise your children after you’re gone.

5.         Easier Transition For The Business

Running your own business isn’t easy, but when handled properly, this endeavor can significantly improve your own and your family’s quality of life. A thriving business can be your ticket to earn a steady income and even expand your business opportunities.

But all of these can go to waste without estate planning. How can your business continue to operate if you die? Who will take your position and oversee the operations? Not having any answers to these questions can eventually put your business in trouble.

Estate planning is a necessity for small business owners. With estate planning, you can give your position to another person early and ensure that there is a proper transition in the business. Taking this step can guarantee that your business continues to operate even when you die or become disabled.

Ask Help From The Professionals

Contrary to popular belief, estate planning isn’t only for the rich; it’s basically for anyone who wants to turn over their investments to the right members of the family. Estate planning is also best if you want to enhance family values and protect assets for future generations of the family.

For you to effectively and easily plan for your estate, don’t hesitate to ask for help from the professionals. You can now hire lawyers who specialize in estate planning to ensure that all of your hard work won’t go down the drain even after you die.

Read more related articles at:

Not all end-of-life decisions are covered in a will. Here’s what else you need

Why having an end-of-life plan in your 30s makes sense

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at:

How Do I Plan for End-of-Life Measures for a Loved One?

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

Feud Siblings

Family Feud After The Death Of A Parent

Family Feud After The Death Of A Parent

The death of a parent is never easy. Each individual family member is forced to contend with the loss of the relationship they had with their mother or father, and the family unit may be impacted. Too often, at a time when the family could benefit from being close, differences and misunderstandings create distance. Carefully laid plans can help prevent sibling arguments from breaking out after the loss of a parent. Knowing the common triggers of family feuds and disagreements allow you to prepare your own family for loss. Here are a few of the most common reasons for fights between siblings after a parent dies:
 

Division of Property

Children and grandchildren alike often find themselves embroiled in battle over their deceased loved ones’ assets. Even with wills and trusts in place, tension can run incredibly high. That is why it is so important to discuss your estate plans with your loved ones as you make them. Explaining why you left your beloved lake house to your eldest daughter or favorite car to your youngest son can help your other children accept your decision well before the property is ever handed down.
 

Responsibilities and Resentment

Too often, an adult child or grandchild is singled out as the decision-maker and executor of the deceased parent’s estate. They’re left to handle funeral arrangements, distribute assets to heirs, and be the emotional rock for their family. This is often too much for a single person to shoulder on their own, leading to frustration and resentment. Careful advanced planning can eliminate much of the “to do” list that so often accompanies a loss.
 

Left Out and Overlooked

In some cases, a sibling might be passed over in the will for reasons that are not immediately clear. Some individuals are given a smaller share of their parent’s estate than their siblings. Either way, feelings of confusion and sadness are bound to follow. A will often represents how a person appreciated their relationship with their beneficiaries. It can be incredibly painful to see how your relationship stacks up in comparison to others. Loss can upend the dynamic of even the most loving families. The best way to avoid such fights is to talk about inheritance plans while you are still here. While such conversations can be uncomfortable, your loved ones deserve your reasons rather than make assumptions once you are gone.

Written by Kimberly Hegwood, an experienced Texas Elder Law and Estate Planning Attorney and the founder of the Hegwood Law Group, PLLC in Houston, Texas.  

 

Read more related articles at:

When Death Brings Out the Worst: Family Fighting After a Death

How to Avoid Family Conflicts after the Death of a Parent

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at:

How Can I Avoid Family Fighting in My Estate Planning?

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

 

Nursing home costs

Nursing Home Costs And Ways to Pay

Nursing Home Costs And Ways to Pay

 

By Merritt Whitley
June 7, 2021
Nursing Home Costs And Ways to Pay.  Your loved one is at a point in their life when they need help with day-to-day activities and functions, and you want to secure the best possible care to support their health and well-being.

Nursing homes — sometimes called skilled nursing facilities or convalescent homes — are one senior care option to explore. Nursing homes offer the highest level of care to adults who have chronic, debilitating physical or mental health conditions and require round-the-clock supervision. They provide more specialized resources than assisted living or memory care communities, typically administered by licensed professionals. These services include wound care, feeding assistance, injections, and physical therapy. In addition to meeting medical needs, nursing home staff also provide help with activities of daily living (ADLs), such as bathing and grooming, and activities to promote social interaction.

Because nursing homes provide this high level of care, they tend to cost more than other senior care types. As of January 2021, the average cost of a shared room in a nursing home was $255 a day, or $7,650 a month, according to the American Council on Aging. If your loved one’s doctor has determined they require nursing home care, you’ll want to start planning how your family will cover nursing home costs.

 

Paying for nursing home care through federal and state programs

Who pays for nursing home care? While most families use a combination of personal savings, private insurance, and assets to cover senior living, some federal and state programs offer assistance to seniors paying for nursing homes. Resources vary by location, care needs, and financial eligibility.

Medicare. Nursing homes often offer short-term inpatient rehab in addition to longer-term senior housing and care. Medicare — a federal program that provides health coverage to seniors age 65 and older — covers short-term stays. It doesn’t cover long-term care.

This is helpful for older adults recovering from an injury or other health event, but it’s not a lifelong solution.

“Medicare pays full coverage for the first 20 days and partial payment for days 21 to 100,” says Michael Leitson, senior data manager at the American Health Care Association. “After day 100, they don’t pay anything.”

Learn more about Medicare’s coverage and some additional benefits of the program.

One of our expert Senior Living Advisors will be reaching out to support your search. Need urgent assistance? Call us at (866) 205-8671.

Most, but not all, nursing homes accept Medicaid. To learn more about how to pay for nursing home care with Medicaid benefits, contact your state’s Medicaid office.

VA benefits. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs does provide senior care to veterans who require long-term medical assistance. Senior living covered by the VA is often determined by a senior’s individual health care needs and may include paying for nursing homes. Veterans and their spouses must already be signed up for VA health care and meet enrollment and eligibility requirements based on income, disability level, and location. Learn more about how to secure nursing home payments through the VA here.

 

Paying for nursing home care with private pay options

In addition to state and federal programs, many families pay for nursing homes using personal resources. Consider the following options, and consult your loved one about their savings and funds.

Savings. Personal savings, or out-of-pocket payments, are the primary way seniors fund nursing home care, according to the National Institute on Aging.

Pensions. A pension is a sum of money paid monthly by a retiree’s former employer. Pension amounts are generally based on position, years of service, and age of retirement.

Retirement income. Retirement income can include social security benefits, benefits from annuities, retirement or profit sharing plans, insurance contracts, or IRAs. Retirement income is often taxable. Speak with an accountant about potential tax breaks and credits for using retirement income to pay for nursing home care.

Stocks. Stock portfolios can be sold to pay for nursing home care. Speak with your loved one’s portfolio advisor to determine the best course of action.

Read more related articles at:

Nursing Home Costs and Ways to Pay

How to Pay for Nursing Home Costs

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at:

Protect Your Estate from Nursing Home Costs

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

Baby Boomers

WILL BABY BOOMERS HAVE ANYTHING LEFT TO PASS DOWN?

WILL BABY BOOMERS HAVE ANYTHING LEFT TO PASS DOWN?

Written By: The American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys

The Baby Boomer generation – the largest generation in American history to date – is heading into retirement, but are they prepared? More importantly for their children and grandchildren – and possibly the economy as a whole – will there be anything left to bequeath when they pass away? It appears some Baby Boomers have planned for their retirement, however, estate planning is not a priority for many. As a result, this may be the first generation where the transfer of wealth cannot be predicted.

Boomers Begin to Retire

The oldest of the Baby Boomer generation began to retire just a few years ago, in 2011. It is estimated that just over 65 million Baby Boomers are currently in or heading for retirement. How they will fare during their “Golden Years” remains to be seen based on evidence that indicates many failed to plan ahead for their retirement years. Worse still, those who did plan for their retirement years may not have estate planning in place.

Why Didn’t Boomers Plan for Retirement?

The obvious question is why didn’t Baby Boomers focus as much on retirement planning as generations before them did? Several factors appear to have caused this lack of planning phenomenon, the first of which is the Boomers’ spending habits. The generation that gave birth to the Boomers, lived through the Great Depression, World War II, and the Korean War. Not only was the economy far from stable, but the entire world was frequently unstable for that generation. Consequently, they learned to be frugal, plan ahead, and depend only on themselves. By contrast, the Baby Boomers grew up during the Cold War, which was a time of relative peace and a more predictable economy. The result was what is often referred to as the “Me-Generation.” Boomers embraced the idea of spending on credit and, consequently, racked up mountains of debt that many are bringing with them into retirement. Instead of saving every dollar that wasn’t absolutely needed for necessities like the previous generation, the Boomers are notorious for spending now and worrying about saving later. The problem is that later, is now.

Another reason why many Baby Boomers did not save for retirement is they are counting on a sizeable inheritance that will create the cushion they need for their retirement years. Over 20 years ago, a study compiled by Robert Avery and Michael Rendall for Cornell University, concluded the generation that gave birth to the Boomers will pass on to their children and grandchildren an inheritance worth more than $10.4 trillion. That’s a sizeable amount, however, what if that inheritance doesn’t come through as expected? Poor estate planning, long-term care costs, or simply living longer than expected could all cause a long-awaited inheritance to dwindle to almost nothing by the time it gets passed down.

The Great Wealth Transfer

Despite the lack of retirement planning, Boomers are retiring in huge numbers. They will be passing down what is left of their estates over the next several decades. Financial experts are bracing for what they predict will be the largest transfer of wealth in history. Those same experts tell us that roughly $30 trillion will change hands over the next few decades as Baby Boomers pass down their estates to Gen-Xers and Millennials. The problem, however, is that while Baby Boomers took a somewhat lackadaisical approach to retirement planning, many of them ignored estate planning altogether. A recent article by Forbes magazine suggests that 51 percent of Americans aged 55-64 and 62 percent aged 45-54 don’t have Wills. Consequently, a significant portion of that wealth could be lost prior to, or during, the wealth transfer unless Boomers start focusing on their estate plans.

Why Is Estate Planning So Important for Baby Boomers?

One of the biggest factors affecting Baby Boomers and the transfer of their wealth, is the double-edged sword of longevity. Americans are living, on average, almost twice as long at the beginning of the 21st century as they did at the beginning of the 20th century. While a longer life is certainly something to look forward to, it also raises practical and financial concerns. Baby Boomers are expected to spend considerably more time and money in long-term care before they pass. Nationwide, the average cost of a month in long-term care is over $6,800 and the average length of stay is 2.5 years. Without a plan to pay for that care, a substantial portion of a retiree’s nest egg can be lost to nursing home costs. Boomers will also waste a considerable amount of money on probate if they continue to shrug off the need for comprehensive estate planning. The end result is that unless Boomers start to pay attention to the need for estate planning, the Great Wealth Transfer might not be so “Great” after all.

The Good News – It Isn’t Too Late for Baby Boomers to Focus on Estate Planning

Although it is always best to start estate planning early on in life, it is never too late to benefit from a well-thought-out estate plan. For Baby Boomers heading into retirement, there are several important ways in which estate planning can help them hold onto their wealth. Incorporating Medicaid planning into an estate plan is imperative for anyone who is close to, or in, retirement. When added into an estate plan far enough ahead of time, Medicaid planning can protect estate assets and ensure eligibility for Medicaid benefits that will help cover the cost of long-term care. Probate avoidance strategies can also save an estate both time and money. Using a Trust instead of a Will to transfer major assets can save fees and costs associated with probate and ensure that beneficiaries have access to assets immediately after death. A Trust is also a great way to prepare for incapacity, which affects most Americans during their lifetime.

For Baby Boomers, it is not too late to protect your assets and focus on estate planning. The key is to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney sooner rather than later.

Read more related articles at:

Baby Boomers May Be the First Generation Not to Pass Wealth On to Children, Survey Says.

Millions of baby boomers are getting caught in the country’s broken retirement system

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at:

The Aging of America: Will the Baby Boom Be Ready for Retirement?

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

What is Elder Law

What Is Elder Law?

What Is Elder Law?

Definition & Examples of Elder Law?

Elder law is a field of law dealing with the unique legal issues that affect older adults. Understand how elder law works through an example, what areas of law the field covers, and how to get a lawyer for your legal needs.

What Is Elder Law?

The broad definition of elder law is the specialized field of law that addresses the diverse legal needs of aging populations. It focuses on the legal issues affecting baby boomers and their elderly parents. Lawyers who are versed in these issues are known as elder law attorneys.

How Elder Law Works

Legal issues affecting seniors are governed by complex regulations and laws that vary by state. They’re also multifaceted, often requiring a unique understanding of the personal impacts of aging, which can make a person more physically, financially, and socially vulnerable. Elder law addresses the various life decisions and circumstances that arise during this time of life as well as how estate plans will be executed after your death. Elder law attorneys who focus their legal practice on these issues take a holistic approach when working with seniors and their family members, helping them navigate legal matters in conjunction with a network of professionals including health and social workers and psychologists. Many people erroneously assume that elder law is only a concern for those with complex life situations, such as a disability or special needs, a second marriage, a high-value estate, or financially reckless adult children. Although the field is of particular importance to seniors in such circumstances, it’s vital for all seniors to familiarize themselves with elder law and enlist an attorney when needed in order to protect themselves and their assets from what may befall them in their golden years and beyond. For example, let’s say that your health is waning or you expect it to as you approach your senior years. You can work with an elder law attorney who specializes in disability planning to complete an advance medical directive with a durable power of attorney for health care, a document that allows you to name a health care proxy to make medical decisions on your behalf when you can no longer do so. Doing so can avoid the need for health care providers to later administer treatments or make other decisions about your health that you may not agree with. Not all issues relating to aging require the expertise of an elder law attorney, and hiring one when you don’t need one can come with unnecessary and high costs. For example, interpersonal or health issues may call for a social worker, psychologist, or doctor instead. When in doubt, consult a family member, friend, clergyman, or your physician to help determine the scope of the concern and potential alternatives to a lawyer.

Types of Elder Law

Most elder law attorneys are not versed in all areas of the law, making it important to seek out the right type of elder law attorney when you or your family members need legal assistance. Major areas of elder law include:

  • Disability and special needs planning
  • Long-term care planning
  • Estate planning and settlement
  • Guardianship or conservatorship
  • Elder abuse1

Disability and Special Needs Planning

This area of elder law focuses on the support systems that the aging put in place to protect themselves in the event that they become physically or mentally incapacitated. There are some key legal documents that you may want to prepare in advance of such a scenario; these include a durable  power of attorney which allows you to appoint someone else as a legal agent to make certain financial decisions for you when you can’t, and an advance medical directive including a durable power of attorney for health care and a living will that sets out which treatments you do and don’t want.  Without these documents, the court may leave these decisions up to a guardian (discussed below) who may not be of your choosing. In many cases, individuals with disabilities or special needs and their family members will be eligible to receive government benefits (Social Security disability benefits, for example). But you’ll still need to do planning to ensure that the individual qualifies for and will receive adequate assistance for their needs.

Long-Term Care Planning

This type of elder law focuses on the services that seniors often use to live safely when they cannot take care of themselves. These include nursing homes or assisted-living facilities and long-term health insurance, along with the means by which they get these benefits (Medicaid or the Department of Veterans Affairs, for example). Medicaid planning involves repositioning and transferring assets to qualify for Medicaid nursing-home benefits. Veterans benefits concerning elder law encompass providing for the long-term health care needs of veterans of the U.S. military.

Estate Planning and Settlement

Estate planning is the systematic approach to deciding who will receive your property after you die and who will be in charge of making sure your final wishes are carried out. It includes disability planning, as discussed above, as well as planning to avoid probate, minimize estate taxes,  and ensure that your beneficiaries are protected from bad decisions and outside influences. A comprehensive estate plan might include the last will, durable power of attorney, an advance medical directive, and if needed, a revocable living trust. Also known as a living trust, a revocable living trust allows you to appoint someone else to make decisions about assets held in a trust. Probate is the court-supervised process for settling a deceased persons estate, and it may or may not be necessary depending on how your assets are titled at the time of your death. If you have a revocable living trust, the estate may be settled without the supervision of a probate court.

Guardianship or Conservatorship

If a person becomes incapacitated and did not put in place durable power of attorney or advance medical directive, a family member, friend, or, in some cases, a stranger, will have to go to court and petition for a guardian or conservator be appointed on behalf of the incapacitated person.3 Guardianship, also referred to as conservatorship in some states, is sometimes referred to as “living probate” as it is the court-supervised process of administering an incapacitated person’s estate. In contrast, if the person took the time to create a disability plan with the help of an estate lawyer versed in guardianship, then he or she would have the right legal documents in place to dictate who will make financial and health care decisions on their behalf.

Elder Abuse

As people age, they, unfortunately, become more prone to personal or financial abuse. This mistreatment can range from Social Security fraud (for example, a non-spouse family member continues to receive benefits after the person has died) to the outright theft of assets. Financial elder abuse can also occur through the use of a durable power of attorney or by undue influence, such as wrongfully coercing an older adult to give away their assets or change their will or revocable living trust. Such abuse has led to this specialized area of litigation aimed at preserving, and, if needed, recovering, an older person’s assets. Watch out for elder abuse scams that dupe seniors out of their money through fake IRS calls or “gramma scams” involving desperate pleas for money from people pretending to be grandchildren.

How to Get a Lawyer Specializing In Elder Law

The best place to find a lawyer is through the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, a non-profit association founded in 1987 whose lawyers are trained and experienced in the nuances of elder law and adhere to a set of what it calls “aspirational standards” that hold them to a high bar of professional conduct. The “Find a Lawyer” page on their website allows you to search for an attorney by name, location, area of practice, or other criteria.

Read more related articles at:

6 Things an Elder Law Attorney Can Do to Help Family Caregivers

Elder Law: Elder Law in Florida

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at:

5 SMART TIPS FOR HIRING AN ELDER LAW ATTORNEY

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

Dying Intestate

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN SOMEONE DIES WITHOUT A WILL?

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN SOMEONE DIES WITHOUT A WILL?

A Will gives Seniors Peace of Mind

If your older adult wants to be sure that their assets and property will be given to certain people or organizations after they pass away, they must have a will.

A will is especially important if your older adult plans to give assets to their unmarried partner, close friends, or charities.

Otherwise, the court decides what happens to their property – and certain people or groups will be left out because of the current laws.

What is a will used for?

A will is a simple, inexpensive legal document that states someone’s final wishes.

It’s used by the county court to make sure those wishes are carried out.

Some people also use a will to:

  • Name an executor to carry out the terms of the will
  • Name someone to manage property left to minor children
  • Decide how debts and taxes will be paid
  • Provide for pets
  • Serve as a backup to a living trust

A will does not cover every situation,  but it’s much better than having nothing in place. Plus, a will saves family the headache and costs of a prolonged probate.

For more complex situations or to accomplish things that cannot be included in a will, it’s best to talk with a lawyer to see if a trust or estate plan would work better.

What happens when someone doesn’t have a will?

When someone dies without a will, it’s called dying “intestate.”

When that happens, none of the potential heirs has any say over who gets the estate (the assets and property).

When there’s no will, the estate goes into probate.

Probate is a legal process in which the probate court uses the laws of the state to decide who inherits what.

Probate can take anywhere from a few months to a few years, depending on how complicated the estate is.

Legal fees are paid out of the estate and it often gets expensive.

What happens when an estate without a will goes into probate?

The intestate succession laws that decide who will inherit are different in every state.

Usually, the estate will be split between the surviving spouse and children.

If someone is single with no kids, the state will decide which relatives will inherit. If no relatives can be found, the entire estate goes to the state.

Usually, only spouses, registered domestic partners, and blood relatives can inherit under intestate laws. Unmarried partners, friends, and charities get nothing.

Read more related articles at:

How Does Dying Intestate Affect Your Estate?

Inheritance Laws in Florida

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at:

What Does it Mean to Die Intestate?

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

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