Estate Planning

Estate Planning

Believe it or not, you have an estate. 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, 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 paid in taxes, legal fees, and court costs. That is estate planning—making a plan in advance and naming whom you want to receive the things you own after you die. However, good estate planning is much more than that. It should also: * Include instructions for passing your values (religion, education, hard work, etc.) in addition to your valuables * Include instructions for your care if you become disabled before you die. * Name a guardian and an inheritance manager for minor children. * Provide for family members with special needs without disrupting government benefits. * Provide for loved ones who might be irresponsible with money or who may need future protection from creditors or divorce. * Include life insurance to provide for your family at your death, disability income insurance to replace your income if you cannot work due to illness or injury, and long-term care insurance to help pay for your care in case of an extended illness or injury. * Provide for the transfer of your business at your retirement, disability, or death. * Minimize taxes, court costs, and unnecessary legal fees. * Be an ongoing process, not a one-time event. Your plan should be reviewed and updated as your family and financial situations (and laws) change over your lifetime.

Recent Answers

Estate Planning Attorney

It is never too early to proactively talk about estate planning. I have family meetings with my clients and their children while my clients are in their 50s, so they are young and healthy still. It is always hard to talk about these things when we are in a crisis mode and stress levels as high. If... (more)

It is never too early to proactively talk about estate planning. I have family meetings with my clients and their children while my clients are in their 50s, so they are young and healthy still. It is always hard to talk about these things when we are in a crisis mode and stress levels as high. If you have done some estate planning of your own, that is a great place to start to bring up the subject. 

Here are some topics to consider:

  • Do they have a power of attorney
  • Do they have an advance health care directive
  • What are their wishes regarding end of life decisions 
  • To they have a trust or will
  • Are they willing to share a 'location list' of where they have accounts and/or important documents. 

This is a good start!

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Private Fiduciary, Trustee,Conservator, Financial Advisor

The right time is NOW!  Why are you waiting?

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Private Fiduciary, Trustee,Conservator, Financial Advisor

If you are legally married, then all money is both of yours as far as Medicaid is concerned.  While the nursing home nor the government can "access" this account, if you refuse to pay the nursing home bills and your husband is not otherwise qualified for Medicaid, then he will be evicted and you... (more)

If you are legally married, then all money is both of yours as far as Medicaid is concerned.  While the nursing home nor the government can "access" this account, if you refuse to pay the nursing home bills and your husband is not otherwise qualified for Medicaid, then he will be evicted and you could face criminal charges for neglect. Get legal advice now in the state your husband lives in and the state you live in.

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Estate Planning Attorney

Typically Medicaid rules, which vary state to state, allow the well spouse to maintain an amount of what would otherwise be available assets for qualification purposes at the time you apply for Medicaid. Assets acquired after the spouse is institutionalized are not protected and will be counted at... (more)

Typically Medicaid rules, which vary state to state, allow the well spouse to maintain an amount of what would otherwise be available assets for qualification purposes at the time you apply for Medicaid. Assets acquired after the spouse is institutionalized are not protected and will be counted at the time of the application. You would want to see what amount is allowed in your state.  Since it sounds like your husband is not yet institutionalized, at least a portion, if not all, should be protected. 

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Estate Planning Attorney

This is a great opportunity to be proactive. There are a couple essential documents to start with. The first two deal with incapacity: the power of attorney and advance health care directive. Each nominates a person or persons to handle your parents' financial and medical decisions during periods on... (more)

This is a great opportunity to be proactive. There are a couple essential documents to start with. The first two deal with incapacity: the power of attorney and advance health care directive. Each nominates a person or persons to handle your parents' financial and medical decisions during periods on incapacity. If your parents already have these documents, they should be updated every 5 years or so to ensure they are not outdated. I just reviewed a power of attorney that only went into effect upon incapacity and incapacity was defined by not one but two doctors and the children had to agree. Practically this would be difficult and could lead to delays. So it is important to review the terms. 

The second two are a Will or a Trust and three documents would deal with a passing. Depending on what types of assets your parents own and other factors, one or the other might be more appropriate. It helps to discuss these options with an estate planning attorney. 

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Private Fiduciary, Trustee,Conservator, Financial Advisor

As I always ask "have you done your planning?"  If you haven't done yours, then you can't expect your parents to do theirs.  Lead by example.  Show your mom and dad you Will, Trust and Powers of Attorney for financial and health care matters.  Show them you have and are saving for your retirement... (more)

As I always ask "have you done your planning?"  If you haven't done yours, then you can't expect your parents to do theirs.  Lead by example.  Show your mom and dad you Will, Trust and Powers of Attorney for financial and health care matters.  Show them you have and are saving for your retirement.  Then ask them what they have done?  Then you can discuss what their unique financial picture can provide them if they need care in the future.

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Senior Advisor

I applaud you for being proactive!  You are touching on multiple topics with this question.  I reached out to a very special person, Chris Cooper to help answer this.  Chris is the owner and founder of Chris Cooper & Company, a financial planning firm working with people who own small businesses... (more)

I applaud you for being proactive!  You are touching on multiple topics with this question.  I reached out to a very special person, Chris Cooper to help answer this.  Chris is the owner and founder of Chris Cooper & Company, a financial planning firm working with people who own small businesses, with persons preparing to retire, and very elderly persons. Chris provides counseling and guidance in the areas of investments, taxation, and estate preservation.  As you can see he is perfect to answer this question.  

Chris suggested that you start with your own preparation for getting older, then it will be easier to talk to your parents about theirs.  First, take stock of where you are now; assets and liabilities, income from what sources, risk management tools such as insurance policies for life, health, Disability Income & Long Term Care,  home, car, and liability, Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney for financial and health care matters.  Then make an appointment to see a comprehensive fee only financial planner and an estate planning attorney.  

As you are going through the process, you will see what things you think may be lacking in your parent’s planning, and then you get show them you are “all grown up” and are taking responsibility for your own aging, and wanted to ask Mom and Dad, “What planning have you done?”

Thank you Chris for answering this!


Chris Cooper MSFS, CFP®, EA

California Licensed Professional Fiduciary #615

4080 Centre Street, Suite 202

San Diego, CA  92103

EMAIL: chris@chriscooper.com

VOICE: (800) 352-7674

ChrisCooper.com

Baby Boomers Guide to Aging

Elder Care Advocates

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Private Fiduciary, Trustee,Conservator, Financial Advisor

The same legal documents  YOU and anyone over the age of 18 needs: Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney for business matters, Health Care directives.  Do you have yours?

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Estate Planning Attorney

This is a great opportunity to be proactive. There are two essential documents anyone should have that relate to legal and medical issues if one becomes incapacitated: power of attorney for finance: this document names a person or persons to make financial decisions for you in the event you are... (more)

This is a great opportunity to be proactive. There are two essential documents anyone should have that relate to legal and medical issues if one becomes incapacitated:

  • power of attorney for finance: this document names a person or persons to make financial decisions for you in the event you are unable.
  • advance healthcare directive: names a person or agent to make medical decisions for you if you are unable. It can also address what kids of decision you want that person to make. In this way, the agent named has authority to make medical decisions AND knows what decisions to make. Along with the advance healthcare directive, one might consider having a Living Will, which addresses end of life decisions, specifically, if in an irreversible vegetative state, whether you would want to continue to be on live support or have it removed. Finally, there is one other medical document to consider called a Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment or POLST, which used to be called a Do No Resuscitate Order or DNR. This document would address end of life questions as well. Your mom would discuss this particular document with her doctor.
There are two other documents to consider that cover the time period after one passes away and how assets would be distributed and who would be in charge of this. This would be either a Will or a Trust. Depending on the state your mother resides in and the assets she has, either a Will or a Trust might be appropriate. It is a good idea to see a estate planning or elder law attorney to discuss these documents. 

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Estate Planning Attorney

I am so sorry to hear about your grandmother, but from  a legal standpoint, you would want to find out if your grandma has a Advance Health Care Directive (AHCD), which is a legal document that names an agent to make medical decisions on her behalf. You would want to discuss her wishes regarding... (more)

I am so sorry to hear about your grandmother, but from  a legal standpoint, you would want to find out if your grandma has a Advance Health Care Directive (AHCD), which is a legal document that names an agent to make medical decisions on her behalf. You would want to discuss her wishes regarding life support and CPR. The documents that would memorialize her wishes regarding end of life decisions would be a DNR (now called POLST) and a Living Will. 

On the financial side, I'd consider whether she has a durable power of attorney nominating someone to manage her finances. However, because a durable Power of Attorney is null and void once someone passes away, she would also need to consider having a Will or a Trust. Depending on state laws a Will may not be sufficient to avoid a court process when she passes so you might want to consider speaking to an attorney near you about that. 

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Private Fiduciary, Trustee,Conservator, Financial Advisor

Help to give away her possessions while she is living so there is less fighting over them after she passes.  Also, make sure her Will, Trust, and health care orders for Do Not Resuscitate are in order under your state's laws and you know where these documents are.

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Senior Advisor

The steps you can take right now are to get as much education about this dreaded disease and also mentally prepare yourself.  I can help with the first part, but preparing yourself mentally is always a tough one.  I'll give you some advice on this as well.  I would start with the Alzheimer's... (more)

The steps you can take right now are to get as much education about this dreaded disease and also mentally prepare yourself.  I can help with the first part, but preparing yourself mentally is always a tough one.  I'll give you some advice on this as well.  I would start with the Alzheimer's Association and The Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA) websites.  They will keep you up-to-date on just about everything that is happening with this disease.  AFA provides you with finding local support groups (Link below).  This is where the mental preparation comes in. Talking to people, friends and family members that have gone through this as well as people like you that are going through this now will help you.  

http://www.alz.org/apps/we_can_help/support_groups.asp

Senior Helpers has a free DVD of their GEMS Program that you can request from their website. This DVD is designed for family members to better understand the disease and what they should expect as your grandfather progresses through the different stages.  (Link below)

 http://www.seniorhelpers.com/our-services/senior-gems

Now is the time to start a memory book(s) for your grandfather.  This will come in handy down the line when his memory gets worse.  It's always a calming effect to sit with him and look at book and discuss the past.  Include pictures from other family members that were taken with him.  Music is most important.  Start collecting the music he likes.  He will always have music to remember.  Another thing I like to suggest in the early stage is to interview him.  This isn't for everyone because it takes a lot of time.  If it is... ask him questions about his past and record it (audio or video).  This will give you an opportunity to research these things in more detail and then you can add them to the memory book.  People that did this told me that this was remarkable.  They learned things they never knew.   After all this... come back and let me know how it's going.   I'll suggest some other things.  

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Private Fiduciary, Trustee,Conservator, Financial Advisor

Get him to an elderlaw attorney NOW!!!!!!! and get his Power of Attorney, WIll and Health care directives updated, because once he becomes incapacitated then you cannot change any legal document nor create any for him.  Then, get a full financial assessment from a fee only financial planner who... (more)

Get him to an elderlaw attorney NOW!!!!!!! and get his Power of Attorney, WIll and Health care directives updated, because once he becomes incapacitated then you cannot change any legal document nor create any for him.  Then, get a full financial assessment from a fee only financial planner who specializes in eldercare.

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Estate Planning Attorney

An Elder Care Attorney can guide families through this process.  The process begins with a review of any Estate Planning Documents your grandfather may have (and if they don’t have any it is time to make sure they do). Estate planning documents would include Powers of attorney, medical directive, a... (more)

An Elder Care Attorney can guide families through this process.  The process begins with a review of any Estate Planning Documents your grandfather may have (and if they don’t have any it is time to make sure they do). Estate planning documents would include Powers of attorney, medical directive, a Will and a trust, if appropriate. It is important to update the documents to make sure that your grandfather has a plan for what happens when you don’t die but need long term care.  A long term care plan will prepare for the inevitable need for long term care, making sure plans are in place so that your grandfather can qualify for public benefits such as Medicaid and Veteran’s Benefits.  Long Term Planning is designed to leverage and protect assets.  The goal is to make sure that as the family travels this road that your grandfather is able to get the care they need and that their money lasts until the end of life.  The road can be long and there will be many choices along the way: Can grandfather stay at home with caregivers?  Which Assisted Living is best?  Does grandfather need Skilled Care? How can we pay for this?  What do we do next? An elder care/law attorney can help with these decisions and the choices are not the same for each family, which is why you would want to work with one that creates a relationship with the  clients and their families that starts with updating their planning while they can continue to provide advocacy and guidance along the way.

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Private Fiduciary, Trustee,Conservator, Financial Advisor

Yes, as long as it is from the allowance, and not from her income that must go to nursing home in order for Medicaid to pay for her care.

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Estate Planning Attorney

As you know, Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that helps with medical costs for some people with limited income and resources. Medicaid also offers benefits not normally covered by Medicare, like nursing home care and personal care services.  Each state has different rules about... (more)

As you know, Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that helps with medical costs for some people with limited income and resources. Medicaid also offers benefits not normally covered by Medicare, like nursing home care and personal care services. Each state has different rules about eligibility and applying for Medicaid. I would suggest calling your state Medicaid program to see if you qualify and learn how to apply and you might also consider consulting an elder law attorney in your state.

Under CT Title 19, if you are on Medicaid, you will probably have to spend your monthly pension, Social Security, or other income to pay for your nursing home. What is not clear from my initial reading of the statute is whether giving gifts is a permissible way to "spend down". Clearly medicial bills are, but what else? This what you need to find out. 

You are allowed to keep some money each month:

§  $60 for personal needs. (****I am not sure what the definition of personal needs is but perhaps, the elder could perhaps give gifts from this amount)

§  Support for your spouse or other dependent living at home.

§  Health costs that Medicaid does not cover.

§  $90 each month for a single war veteran or the spouse of a deceased war veteran.

§  Some expenses for your home if you will go back within 6 months, including rent or the mortgage.

Again, since each state's programs are different, I would suggest that you call your state Medicaid program and ask them for their definition of personal needs and see if gifting is included in personal needs.

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Senior Advisor

I know that most people want to live in their home for as long as one can...  Here are some things to remember about cost, housing, legal and home care.  It sounds like you are leaving your home to your guardian that is taking care of you.  Questions to consider is: Do you have the proper... (more)

I know that most people want to live in their home for as long as one can...  Here are some things to remember about cost, housing, legal and home care.  It sounds like you are leaving your home to your guardian that is taking care of you.  Questions to consider is: Do you have the proper documentation to do this? Do you have a will or trust?  

I don't want to answer the question of selling your home directly because it depends on a few things that I don't know about you and your situation.  I want to provide you information so you can make an educated decision.  Facilities cost money.  The type of facility you choose will also depend on how much that will cost.  There are a limited number of beds (in facilities) that are available for people that have lower income. There are two types of facilities that could take you depending on your conditions and income.  

1) A skilled nursing facility.  Skilled nursing facility (SNF) also known as nursing homes or convalescent home, offers short term rehabilitative care. They provide around the clock long-term medical care to seniors with serious health problems. To qualify for services, the person needing services needs to have been an inpatient at the hospital for 3 nights (stays in the emergency room does not count). Secondly, you will need a physician order to qualify need of services.  How do you pay for a skilled nursing facility?  Services are paid through Medicare, Medicaid, your private health insurance, or out of pocket. Check with your individual insurance plans for coverage. Medicare pays for the first 20 days of stay, afterwards a co-pay is usually required up until the 100th day. When the 100 days are up, the individual is responsible for all costs. Please check with your facility about co-pay costs.

2) An assisted living facility. Senior housing option for those who need a wide range of non-medical in-home support services to help with activities of daily living, coordination of services by outside health providers, and monitoring resident activities to ensure their health and safety.  How do you pay for this type of facility? Payment is monthly and usually paid out of pocket or Long Term Care insurance; but some states have special need based programs that pay for a portion of the monthly fees. Payment is monthly and usually paid out of pocket or Long Term Care insurance; but some states have special need based programs that pay for a portion of the monthly fees. 

My answer to your question will be unsaid... As you can see there could be a need for money to be at either of these facilities.  But here is my thoughts moving forward.  You may not need to go to a facility.  Most of the services needed to remain in your home can be provided there.  

Home Healthcare provides medical services in the patient's residence.  To qualify for this service you must get your doctor’s order and be home bound, which essentially means it is extremely difficult for the senior to get around and out of the house. This service is usually covered by insurance such as Medicare, Medicaid or other private health insurances.

Hospice care is known as end-of-life care, as life expectancy is less than six months. A team of health care professionals and volunteers provides the service. They give medical, psychological, and spiritual support. The goal of the care is to help people who are dying have peace, comfort, and dignity. The caregivers try to control pain and other symptoms so a person can remain as alert and comfortable as possible. Hospice programs also provide services to support a patient's family.  Hospice service is traditionally covered under Medicare Part A.

Should you need money, you can always secure a reverse mortgage on your home.  If you’re 62 or older – and looking for money to pay for healthcare expenses – you may consider a reverse mortgage. It’s a product that allows you to convert part of the equity in your home into cash without having to sell your home or pay additional monthly bills.


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Private Fiduciary, Trustee,Conservator, Financial Advisor

Yes, in some states you must list your home for sale and use the proceeds to pay for nursing home care.  In other states, you can keep your home, but no income to maintain it and the State will place a lein on it when you die to pay back Medicaid.   You are well served to contact an elderlaw... (more)

Yes, in some states you must list your home for sale and use the proceeds to pay for nursing home care.  In other states, you can keep your home, but no income to maintain it and the State will place a lein on it when you die to pay back Medicaid.   You are well served to contact an elderlaw attorney in your state, and to have an assessment by a care manager to help you plan your next steps in your life.

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Estate Planning Attorney

In California, you do not have to sell your home to qualify for Medicaid as long as you have an intent to return to the house. However, Medi-Cal (California's Medicaid program) can recover against your estate after you pass, including outing an estate claim against the equity in your home.  You will... (more)

In California, you do not have to sell your home to qualify for Medicaid as long as you have an intent to return to the house. However, Medi-Cal (California's Medicaid program) can recover against your estate after you pass, including outing an estate claim against the equity in your home. 

You will want to speak to an elder law attorney about your state's specific laws and legal ways (such as irrevocable trusts and irrevocable life estates) to protect the home after you pass. 

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