When you plan your estate, you work with an estate planning attorney to devise a strategy for transferring your assets after you pass away. However, if you want to be comprehensively prepared for the future, you should consider the eventualities of aging. For many, Medicaid planning is part of the equation. Living Assistance It can be hard to imagine a time when you will be unable to handle your activities of daily living, but the statistics are quite eye-catching. Seven out of every 10 people who are turning 65 are going to need long-term care eventually, according to a government agency. Medicare is not set up to absorb long-term care costs. If you need in-home care, nursing home care, or outside-of-the-home living assistance, you can t count on Medicare to help with the expenses. Long-term care is very expensive, and these costs could decimate your savings. Medicaid Planning Medicaid will pay for living assistance, and it is the long-term care solution for a very significant percen
Living trusts are useful for a wide range of people who are not necessarily wealthy. With a living trust, you control the assets while you are living. After you die, a trustee that you choose distributes assets to your beneficiaries. These distributions are not subject to the probate process. Probate is the legal process that an estate passes through when a last will is utilized to distribute personal property. This process can be quite time-consuming, and the heirs to the estate do not receive their inheritances until after it has run its course. Probate expenses are another concern. Various different probate costs accumulate, and money spent during probate is money that could have otherwise gone to the heirs to the estate. Married Couples & Living Trusts If you are married, you and your spouse could create a joint living trust. This would be a logical choice if you own most of your valuable property together, and you intend to leave your portion of shared property to your spouse. Wh
When you think about estate planning, you probably think about arranging for future asset transfers. This is certainly something that you must take care of when you are planning your estate. However, at the same time, you should think practically and consider the period of time that will precede your passing. Advance Directives for Health Care Your estate plan should include advance directives for health care. You execute these documents to account for the possibility of incapacity late in life. One advance directive that should be executed is a living will. Everyone has heard of the last will or last will and testament. A last will is used to state your final wishes regarding the transfer of your financial assets. A living will has nothing to do with the financial end of things. You use a living will to record your wishes regarding the use of life-support measures. If you were unable to communicate while in a terminal condition with no hope of recovery, would you want to be kept aliv
They say that you should not answer a question with another question. However, this is irresistible when you are talking about do-it-yourself estate planning. Can you just plan your own estate? Technically, anyone can try to execute estate planning documents, but the real question is this: should you try to plan your own estate? DIY Estate Planning There are Internet marketers who sell do-it-yourself legal documents, including estate planning documents like last wills and living trusts. They contend that anyone can execute legally binding documents if they purchase certain downloads or worksheets. Before you buy into these so-called easy answers, you may want to consider some facts. First, we should highlight a study that was conducted by the highly respected magazine Consumer Reports back in 2012. They were wondering if do-it-yourself estate planning is truly effective, and they decided to do some research. Staffers from the magazine used online tools that are offered by three of the
In this post we will look at the role of the revocable living trust successor trustee, but we should first explain the value of these trusts. A Few Words About Wills and Probate If you are not extraordinarily wealthy, you may assume that you should use a last will to facilitate future asset transfers. You can go this route, but you should probably consider alternatives so that you can make an informed decision. Last wills are not as simple as they may seem to be on the surface. When you create a last will, you choose an executor to administer the estate. The executor cannot immediately distribute assets to the heirs right after you pass away. The last will must be admitted to probate before the heirs can receive their inheritances. Probate is a legal process, and it can be time-consuming. The process can also be expensive. Revocable Living Trusts: Retention of Control When you create a revocable living trust, you do not surrender control of the assets while you are alive and of sound
If you are going to be admitting a parent into a nursing home, you may wonder if you could potentially be held responsible for your parent s nursing home bills. The answer is a resounding maybe. In most cases, you would not be held responsible for your parent s nursing home bills, but there are exceptions. When you are agreeing to act as a responsible party, you may have certain contractual obligations. The contract may state that you must take reasonable actions on behalf of your parent to make sure that the bills are paid. A couple of years ago a Connecticut court found in favor of a nursing home that was seeking satisfaction from the child of a resident. The nursing home contended that the child did not honor her contractual obligation to make sure that the nursing homes got paid. The individual in question, Judy Andrien, signed a contract that required her to use her mother s resources to pay any unpaid nursing home bills that may exist, and she was further required to do everythi
The federal estate tax can be an issue for high net worth individuals. There is a federal estate tax credit or exclusion. If your assets do not exceed this exclusion amount, you do not have to worry about the estate tax. Those who are exposed to the estate tax must file a federal estate tax return. In 2014, the amount of the federal estate tax exclusion is $5.34 million. The maximum rate of the tax is 40 percent. IRS Form 706 If the estate tax is applicable, a representative of the estate must file Internal Revenue Service Form 706 within nine months of the decedent s passing. The taxes that are due must be paid within this time frame as well. However, you can get an automatic six-month extension if you need more time. To request the extension, you would file IRS Form 4768. The form must be filed if there are taxes due, but there can be other reasons to file Form 706. Estate Tax Exclusion Portability The estate tax was repealed during the 2010 calendar year due to provisions contained
In an estate planning context, the acronym QDOT stands for a qualified domestic trust. This type of trust can be valuable if you are a wealthy United States citizen who is married to a citizen of another country. Before we provide details about QDOTs, we should examine the estate tax parameters. Federal Estate Tax Parameters There is an estate tax on the federal level, and a number of the states levy state-level estate taxes. Our firm practices in the state of Iowa. Here in Iowa, there is no state-level estate tax, but Iowa citizens are potentially subject to the federal estate tax. Everyone is not exposed to the federal estate tax because there is a credit or exclusion. Your estate is not taxable if its value does not exceed the amount of this exclusion. During the current calendar year, the amount of the estate tax exclusion is $5.34 million. There is an unlimited federal estate tax marital deduction. You can bequeath unlimited assets to your spouse free of the estate tax. You do no
In the field of estate planning there are numerous different types of trusts that can be utilized. There is no one-size-fits-all trust. If a trust is called for, the optimal choice will depend on the circumstances. Revocable Living Trusts The revocable living trust is a commonly utilized estate planning device. This type of trust can be revoked or rescinded. You could dissolve the trust, and you could walk away in direct personal possession of the property that had been conveyed into it. As the creator of the trust you are referred to as the grantor. The grantor of a revocable living trust can act as the beneficiary and the trustee at first. You would name successors to assume these roles after you die. Since you can revoke the trust and control its assets while it is in place, you are retaining incidents of ownership. Because of this, assets that are being held in a revocable living trust would be counted by the Medicaid program if you are were to seek eligibility. Many elders who ne
Many people are remiss when it comes to estate planning. Researchers typically find that most of the people in the United States do not have a last will. This is disturbing, because everyone needs a last will or some other vehicle of asset transfer. Younger Adults Estate planning is important for younger adults. The average life span is 78 years, but this does not mean you don t need a last will until you are 75. You never know what the future holds. People of all ages pass away in accidents every day, and catastrophic illnesses sometimes strike younger people. You should certainly have a last will in place directing the desired transfer of your assets. Once you become a parent, the need for an estate plan exponentially increases. You have a spouse who is probably relying on your income, and you also have children to think about. If you are going through life without an estate plan as a young parent, you are taking quite a risk. You should certainly make sure that there will be financ
Everyone should have an incapacity component embedded within a broader estate plan. In this post we will look at the importance of incapacity planning. Aging of the Population People are living longer and longer lives. The average life span is 78 years, but it becomes likely that you will live into your eighties if you reach the age of 65. The United States Census Bureau tells us that the age group comprised of people between 85 and 94 years of age grew faster than any other group between the last two censuses. Alzheimer s Disease and Dementia If you are pragmatically looking ahead toward the contingencies that you may face toward the end of your life, you should know some facts about Alzheimer s disease. The Alzheimer s Association website is a very useful online resource if you are looking for information about this disease According to the Alzheimer s Association, 40 to 45 percent of people who are 85 years of age and older are suffering from Alzheimer s. People who are suffering f
Medicare will help with your medical expenses when you reach the age of eligibility if you qualify, but the program will not pay for long-term care. This is a problem for most people, because long-term care is quite expensive. The average stay could cost over $200,000 in many areas of the country. Medicaid is the fallback plan for many people. This program pays for the majority of the long-term care that seniors receive. There are asset and income limits that you must stay within to qualify for Medicaid. People who retire with some resources typically engage in a Medicaid spend down to qualify for the program. A Medicaid spend down is a divestiture of assets. You could decide to give your children their inheritances in advance before you apply for Medicaid coverage. You could give direct gifts to your children, but you could alternately spend down by conveying assets into a Medicaid trust. Irrevocable vs. Revocable You may have heard of revocable living trusts. These trusts are popula
Everyone should take estate planning seriously, because it addresses something that is definitely going to happen to all of us. In spite of the inevitability factor, a significant percentage of people go through life without a plan. What would happen to your assets if you passed away without a last will? Let s look at the multifaceted answer to this question. The Condition of Intestacy If you don t have a last will and you don t have a trust, the condition of intestacy will result. Under these circumstances, the probate court would get involved. Before we look at the intestate succession laws of the state of Iowa, we should point out the fact that assets could be transferred outside of the probate process, even if you die without a last will or trust. Joint tenancy would facilitate the transfer of property outside of probate. A joint tenant is a co-owner of property. Let s say that you own your own home. You could make your daughter the joint tenant. She would then own half of the hom
Long-term care costs are a major elder law concern. According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, 70 percent of people turning 65 will need living assistance eventually. If you need help with your activities of daily living, the care is looked upon as custodial care rather than medical care or convalescent care. Medicare does not cover long-term custodial care. Long-term care is extremely expensive, and it is impossible for many people to comfortably pay out-of-pocket. We practice law in the state of Iowa. Genworth Financial tells us that the median annual cost for a private room in a nursing home in Iowa is $67,525 at the present time. Medicaid Solution Medicaid is the solution for many seniors who need long-term care. Though it is a need-based program, people often divest themselves of assets prior to applying for coverage. This practice is referred to as a Medicaid spend down. Levels of Care There are different levels of care that you may require when yo
There are some things that you should understand about a last will before you decide that this is the right vehicle of asset transfer for you. The Process of Probate If you use a will to transfer your assets, you name an executor. This is the estate administrator. When you maintain sole and direct personal possession of your property and arrange for its transfer through the terms of a will, the executor must admit the will to probate after your passing. The people that are named in your will as inheritors can t receive their inheritances until after the estate has been probated and closed by the court. This is a process that does not run its course overnight. The exact duration of probate will vary depending on the jurisdiction. It will take a number of months at minimum, and there are probate cases that can take years. Clearly, you want your loved ones to receive their inheritances in a timely manner, so this is a drawback. In addition to the time consumption, there is another major
One of the most important estate planning considerations for high net worth individuals is the potential impact of the federal estate tax. The tax carries a top rate of 40 percent, so we are talking about a very significant bite. At the current time, the estate tax credit or exclusion stands at $5.34 million. Anything that you want to transfer that exceeds this amount is potentially subject to taxation. Those who are exposed to the estate tax must take steps to gain estate tax efficiency. There are a number of strategies that can be implemented effectively. One of them is the zeroed out grantor retained annuity trust strategy. Let s look at the details. Highly Volatile Assets When you fund a grantor retained annuity trust, you are removing those assets from your estate for estate tax purposes. However, you name a beneficiary when you create the trust. The beneficiary would assume ownership of any remainder that is left in the trust after its term expires. Because a beneficiary may be
There are numerous different ways to facilitate future asset transfers. The optimal course of action will vary on a case-by-case basis, because each family is unique. With this in mind, we will look at the legal device called the special needs trust in this post, and we will examine the costs involved. Need-Based Government Benefits You may have someone with special needs on your inheritance list. Many people with disabilities are unable to earn income, so they have very limited financial resources. As a result, they can qualify for need-based government benefits. Clearly, if you have a disability, you are probably going to require medical care and treatment. Medicaid is a health insurance plan that is jointly administered by the federal government along with each respective state government. This coverage is invaluable to many people with disabilities. Supplemental Security Income is another program that is relied upon by many people with special needs. SSI provides much-needed incom
When you are planning your estate you must inventory your assets. Clearly, you want to know exactly what you have to give to your loved ones, but there is an additional motivation. You should be aware of the value of your estate as it compares to the amount of the estate tax exclusion. The proceeds from life insurance policies that you personally own would be looked upon as part of your estate by the Internal Revenue Service. If you are exposed to the estate tax and you are in possession of valuable life insurance policies, you may want to consider the creation of an irrevocable life insurance trust. Because of the rather wordy name, this type of trust is often referred to as an ILIT. Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts There are revocable trusts, and there are irrevocable trusts. When you convey assets into an irrevocable trust you are surrendering direct control, because you cannot revoke or rescind the trust. Because you are giving up incidents of ownership, generally speaking assets
When you envision your senior years, you may think about your active retirement years when you will enjoy leisure activities and quality time with your family. This is certainly something to look forward to, but you should also be practical about the challenges that you may face during your twilight years. A high percentage of seniors become unable to handle all of their own activities of daily living at some point in time. This figure is 70 percent according to the United States Department of Health and Human Services. The need for future long-term care is not a remote possibility; it is a likelihood. Medicare does not pay for long-term custodial care, and the cost of care is very high. Medicaid will pay for custodial care. As a result, many seniors who were never financially needy ultimately rely on Medicaid to pay for living assistance. Medicaid Asset Limit Medicaid is a program that is available to people who can demonstrate financial need. There are parameters in place that are i
To be comprehensively, prepared for the eventualities of aging, you should consider the possibility of future incapacity. While this may not be the most pleasant subject to address, it is very important to take action to protect yourself, because incapacity is quite common among elder Americans. Topics in this report include: Understand the facts Hand-picked decision makers Adult guardianship Click here to read the whole article or download the PDF.
Guardianship could enter the picture on two different levels when you are talking about estate planning and elder law. A guardian could be appointed to care for a minor child if both parents were to pass away or otherwise become unable to care for the child. When you are planning your estate as the parent of a minor child, you could nominate someone to act as the guardian if a guardianship was to become necessary. If you don t do this, the state would make the decision without any input from the deceased parents. Most people would want to seize control of this decision, and you can do so when you plan your estate. Adult Guardianship and Conservatorship There is also the matter of adult guardianship and conservatorship. In Iowa, a guardian can be appointed by the court to handle the personal affairs of an incapacitated adult. A conservator would be appointed to act as a financial representative. The court would be petitioned to appoint a guardian and a conservator if people close to yo
As you get older, you are invariably going to have questions about the legal issues that seniors typically face. The best way to obtain answers would be to discuss everything in detail with a licensed elder law attorney. Elder law attorneys focus on legal matters that impact senior citizens. There are a number of pressing issues at the present time. One of them is the matter of long-term care. Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Communities When you look into the statistics, you find that most of the senior citizens in America will need living assistance eventually. If you ultimately reside in a nursing home or assisted living community, you are looking at some very big expenses. The majority of seniors will qualify for Medicare, but Medicare does not pay for long-term care. Elder law attorneys offer long-term care solutions. For many, Medicaid planning is the answer. Medicaid is a government health insurance program that will pay for long-term care. It is a need-based program, so there
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