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World Elder Abuse Awareness Day – June 15, 2015

The elderly population in the United States has been growing at an unprecedented rate over the last several decades, and experts predict it will continue to grow in the decades to come. Unfortunately, the rate at which the elderly are abused and neglected is growing as well. This June 15th, the 9th annual “World Elder Abuse Awareness Day” will be held in the U.S. and around the world in an effort to educate the public about the issue of elder abuse and neglect. According to the sponsors of Elder Abuse Awareness Day, the purpose is to “raise the visibility of elder abuse by sharing information about abuse, neglect, and exploitation in later life and promoting the resources and services that work to increase victim safety and improve offender accountability.” The National Center on Elder Abuse, or NCEA, has been gearing up for WEAAD since the beginning of April this year with webinars, seminars, and the proliferation of relevant information on social media sites such as Facebook
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Do You Need an Incapacity Plan?

Hopefully, you realize the need to have a comprehensive estate plan in place; however, do you also know that you need to include an incapacity plan in your estate plan? Like many people, you may think of old age related diseases such as Alzheimer’s when you think of the possibility of becoming incapacitated. While Alzheimer’s, or another similar condition, could render you incapacitated later on in life you could also suffer a period of temporary or permanent incapacity at any time during your life before you reach old age. Therefore, you should include incapacity planning in your overall estate plan to ensure that you and your assets are protected should incapacity strike. Statistically speaking you stand a one in five chance of becoming incapacitated, at least temporarily, before you reach retirement age. A catastrophic motor vehicle accident, a debilitating disease or illness, or even a workplace injury could all lead to incapacity at any time. Should that happen, who will take
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Top Five Reasons to Review and Revise Your Estate Plan Now

If you already have a comprehensive estate plan in place you are ahead of the majority of the people in the United States with regard to protecting yourself, your loved ones, and your assets; however, you cannot “rest on your laurels” if you want to be certain everyone and everything is protected. In fact, your estate plan can actually cause more problems than it solves if you fail to review and revise your plan on a regular basis and when intervening events prompt the need for an update. So how do you know when your estate plan needs to be reviewed? Consider the following top five reasons to review ad revise your estate plan: You have not done so in over three to eight years. There is no hard and fast rule about how often you should review your estate plan in the regular course of events; however, a good rule of thumb is every three to five years while you are still in your working years and five to eight years during your “Golden Years.” There has been a marriage or divorce
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“I Just Found Out I Was Named As the Trustee of a Trust – What Should I Do?”

When a trust is created the maker of the trust must make a number of important decisions. One of the most important decisions is who to appoint as Trustee of the trust. Though it is always wise to discuss the appointment with the intended Trustee before making the appointment final, there is no requirement that a maker do so. As a result, it is possible to be named as the Trustee of a trust agreement and only find out about it after the death of the maker of the trust. If you just found out that you were named as the Trustee of a trust, what should you do? A trust agreement allows the maker of the trust to place assets under the management and control of a Trustee to be used for the benefit of a third party (the “beneficiary”). Trusts are divided into two broad categories – testamentary trusts and living trusts. A living trust is one that takes effect during the lifetime of the maker while a testamentary trust only takes effect upon the maker’s death. Sometimes, the maker of a
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Mistakes to Avoid in a Power of Attorney

A power of attorney is one of the most commonly used legal documents, particularly in the area of estate planning. As such, there is a very good chance that at some point in your life you will wish to create a power of attorney, or POA. As with all legal documents, the best way to ensure that your POA accomplishes what you intend it to accomplish and is error-free is to have your  estate planning attorney draft the document, or at the very least review one you are considering using. Although a POS may appear to be a relatively simple enough document to draft, consider the following mistakes to avoid in a power of attorney: Granting too much power – without a doubt, the most common – and most detrimental – mistake when creating a POA is granting too much power to the Agent. A general power of attorney gives your agent virtually limitless power to act on your behalf, meaning your Agent also has access to most of your assets, money, and property. Always use a limited, or special,
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How to Start a Discussion about Your Estate Plan with Loved Ones

If you are like most people, sitting down and thinking about your own death or incapacity was difficult enough, though it was necessary in order to create your comprehensive estate plan. The idea of sitting down once again and discussing that plan with loved ones may not sound all that appealing; however, there are several reasons why it is a good idea to do so. If you have decided to share your estate plan with interested parties, consider the following tips on how to start a discussion about your estate plan with loved ones:
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Veterans Administration Benefits, Nursing Homes, and Other Elder Care Options

Qualified veterans can take advantage of several different programs if they need to stay in a nursing home, elder care center, or require other forms of long-term care. Many veterans aren’t aware that the Veterans Administration provides nursing home care benefits, while many others have difficulty trying to find helpful information about applying. Let’s take a look at what kinds of nursing home care benefits are offered to veterans through the VA. Nursing Home Programs The Veterans Administration provides veterans with extended care in nursing homes through three separate national programs: the VA Community Living Centers (CLC) program, the contract community nursing home program, and the state veteran’s homes program. Community Living Centers (CLC). When veterans need rehabilitation or short-term care, community living centers are a good option. The centers not only provide rehabilitative, short-term care to veterans, but also provide care to those who have a chronic but stabl
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What Is the Difference between SSDI and SSI?

At some point in your life, you or someone you love may become disabled. A disability often creates a financial hardship along with the emotional and physical toll the disability takes on the victim. Fortunately, there are two federal assistance programs that may be able to help ease the financial burden that frequently accompanies a disability. Those programs are Social Security Disability Income, or SSDI, and the Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, program. Though both provide financial assistance to eligible recipients, there are some significant differences between the two programs that you will need to know. For both the SSDI and the SSI program you must meet the Social Security Administration’s definition of “disabled”. According to the SSA, you are disabled if: You cannot do work that you did before; We decide that you cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition(s); and Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or to resul
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Must a Third Party Honor a Power of Attorney in Missouri?

A power of attorney is one of the most commonly used legal documents in large part because almost everyone has need for one at some point. Not only is it likely that you will create power of attorney, or POA, at some point in your life but you may also be named as an Agent in someone else’s POA at some time. As an Agent you may have a number of questions that relate to exercising your powers under the POA. The most important question may be “Must a third party honor a power of attorney in Missouri? ” As a general rule, a third party is required to honor your power as an Agent. Missouri Revised Statute 404.710.9 addresses how  the law in the State of Missouri views  the power of an Agent under a POA, stating in pertinent part as follows: “It is the policy of this state that an attorney in fact acting pursuant to the provisions of a power of attorney granting general powers shall be accorded the same rights and privileges with respect to the personal welfare, property and busi
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How Can I Protect My Spouse When Applying for Medicaid?

Unless you are fortunate enough to be able to pay out of pocket, during your retirement years there is good chance that you will need to qualify for Medicaid benefits to help cover the high cost of long-term care. You may have heard stories about how applying for Medicaid can negatively affect a spouse who is not in need of long-term care, leading you to ask “ How can I protect My spouse when applying for Medicaid? The best way to protect both you and your spouse is to include Medicaid planning in your estate plan early on in life; however, all is not lost if you failed to do that . When you enter your “golden years” you stand a 50 percent chance of needing long-term care at some point in your life before you die. At age 85 that probability jumps to 75 percent. With an average yearly cost of around $80,000 and an average length of stay of two years, the average person cannot pay for long-term care out of pocket. Moreover, neither Medicare nor most private health insurance polici
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Bill Gates Doesn’t Believe in Giving Kids Large Sums of Money – Should You?

If you are fortunate enough to have a large estate, and you have children, at some point you will have to decide how you plan to distribute your wealth in your estate plan. Specifically, you will need to decide how much of your wealth to leave your children. Your first instinct may be to leave everything to your children. After all, it is likely for them that you worked hard and invested wisely in order to amass the fortune in the first place right? You may, however, wish to reconsider that train of thought and instead consider what Bill Gates said about leaving money to kids “I definitely think leaving kids massive amounts of money is not a favor to them.” It’s difficult to find someone who doesn’t know who Bill Gates is. Microsoft’s Chairman has reportedly amassed a fortune valued in excess of $65 billion, yet he says he will only leave his children $10 million each.  While most of us would be thrilled to inherit $10 million, if your father was worth $65 billion you might
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What Assets Are Left Outside My Trust?

Trust agreements are now commonly included in the average person’s estate plan, predominantly because of the variety of estate planning goals that can be accomplished with a trust agreement. If you have never created a trust agreement before you likely have a number of questions and concerns about including one in your estate plan. For example, you may be wondering “ what assets are left outside my trust? ” The simple answer to that question is that the assets left outside of your trust agreement are decided by you. When you create a trust agreement you decide which assets to use to fund the trust. Almost any type of assets can be used to fund a trust agreement, including cash, life insurance proceeds, securities, real property, even collectibles and other personal property. You may decide to transfer all your assets into a trust agreement or only a select few assets. Which assets you use will largely be decided by the purpose of the trust. For example, if the purpose of your tr
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Understanding the Probate Process in Missouri

Understanding the Probate Process in Missouri from Charlie Amen Probate is the legal process often required following the death of an individual. Learn more about the probate process in Missouri in this presentation.
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Protecting Your Non-Human Family Members in Your Estate Plan

In the United States, over 60 percent of all households include at least one pet. Collectively, we own over 160 million pets in the U.S.; although, if you ask a pet lover they will tell you they don’t “own” their pet. Instead, their pet is considered a non-human member of the family. If you are among the millions of pet lovers in the U.S. you undoubtedly want to protect your non-human family members in the event of your death or incapacity. The way to do that is to include your non-human family members in your estate plan. Have you ever considered what will happen to your dog, cat, or other family pet if something happens to you? Sadly, over 500,000 dogs and cats end up homeless, or worse, every year in the U.S. because something happened to their human owner. Whether they are intentionally abandoned or unintentionally overlooked, the bottom line is that all these dogs and cats were once part of a family; however, their human family members forgot to plan for them as they like
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You Just Found Out You Are the Executor of Your Recently Deceased Grandfather’s Estate. Now What?

The death of a close family member is usually a time full of grief for the entire family. Along with that grief, however, there are a number of practical considerations that must be addressed as well when anyone dies, including the probate of the decedent’s estate. What happens if you just found out you are the Executor of your recently deceased grandfather’s estate? Although every estate is unique, there are some steps that most Executors need to take as soon as possible after the death of the estate owner. Decide if you wish to accept the appointment. Just because your grandfather appointed you to be the Executor of his estate does not mean you are required to serve in the position. If you decline the appointment, the court will have to appoint someone else to serve. Secure estate assets. If you decide to accept the position as Executor, the next thing you need to do is to secure all assets owned by the decedent at the time of death. This may include anything from simply closing
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Estate Planning for Same-Sex Couples

Member of the LGBT community, and those who support them, know what a battle it has been (and continues to be) to try and gain the legal right to marry and share in all the numerous benefits legal marriage offers. In recent years, those efforts have finally begun to pay off as a number of states have enacted laws allowing same-sex marriage. In addition, the Supreme Court of the United States finally struck down the definition of marriage used in the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and in the process opened the door to an estimated 1000 plus benefits that were previous unavailable to same-sex married couples. While the progress is encouraging, there is still much to be done to bring members same-sex couples onto equal footing, legally speaking, with opposite sex married couples. In the meantime, estate planning for same-sex couples continues to take on a heightened importance. Creating a comprehensive estate plan is important for everyone. When you get married, the need for a thorough e
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Long-Term Care Costs – Can You Afford Them?

Like most people, you may not wish to dwell on the possibility that you could need long-term care at some point in your life. The thought of living in a nursing home is often not pleasant; however, ignoring the possibility may be far worse. Specifically, ignoring long-term care costs can put you, and your loved ones, in a very difficult position should the day come that you do actually need nursing home care. Planning ahead, and including Medicaid planning in your comprehensive estate plan, is the only sure way to prevent finding yourself in that difficult position. Long-term care in America is a big business. As the older population in the U.S. continues to grow—experts expect older Americans (age 65 and up) to outnumber their younger counterparts (age 21 and under) for the first time in history by the year 2050—the need for long-term care grows right along with them. The cost of that care can very quickly deplete lifetime worth of working hard, saving responsibility, and investi
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Is There a National Association of Elder Law Attorneys?

The elderly population is growing by leaps and bounds in the United States. By 2050, experts tell us that the number of older Americans (over age 65) will outnumber their younger counterparts (under age 21) for the first time in recorded history. The increase in the elderly population has led to an increase in the need for services catering to the elderly, including legal services. While older individuals face many of the same legal issues that younger people do, they also have some unique legal needs and concerns. With this in mind, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, or NAELA, was formed in the late 1980s as a way to better serve this growing segment of the population. Just five years after NAELA was created, the National Elder Law Foundation, or NELF, was formed. The non-profit NELF was created to help improve the professional skills of attorneys who choose to focus on elder law. NELF then developed a national certification program for attorneys as a way to ensure that att
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The Fight Over Sentimental Assets

Robin Williams first made his way into the hearts of the American public in his role as “Mork” on the hit television series “Mork & Mindy” during the late 1970s – and he never left. Williams went on to gain public applause for his hilarious comedic talents as well as critical acclaim for his dramatic roles in films such as Dead Poets Society and Awakenings. Sadly, the actor/comedian committed suicide in his home on August 11, 2014 after a long battle with depression. Given Williams’ financial success it should come as no surprise that his loved ones were in court several months after his death fighting over estate assets. What may be surprising though is the fact that the fight over sentimental assets is what landed them in court. At the time of his death Williams was married to his third wife, Susan Schneider. Although Williams and Schneider never had children, he had three from previous marriages one from his first marriage and two from his second marriage. The conflict
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Do My Assets Get a Step Up in Basis If They Are in My Trust When I Die?

If you have worked hard all your life and plan to gift your hard earned assets to loved ones when you die it is always best to plan ahead by creating a comprehensive estate plan. When you gift assets to someone there are issues that need to be taken into account, such as the tax implications of your gift. Capital gains taxes, for instance, may apply when a beneficiary sells an asset received as a gift. The good news is that assets gifted at the time of death may get a “step up in basis”. You may wonder though “Do my assets get a step up in basis if they are in my trust when I die? ” Assets may be gifted outright in a Last Will and Testament at the time of your death or you may choose to put those assets in a trust and count on the terms of the trust to distribute those assets. The good news is that whether assets are gifted through your Will or passed down in a trust they will get to use a step-up-in-basis. The basis your assets may use is important because it will determine h
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Are County Nursing Homes O.K?

At some point in your life it is likely that you will be faced with the difficult decision to put a parent or other elderly loved one in a nursing home. Deciding it is time to start looking at facilities it never easy. Choosing the right facility is often even more difficult. Like most people you are likely working around a tight budget as well, making it even harder to find the right nursing home. During your search you may be wondering “ Are county nursing homes o.k.? The truth is that there is no universal answer to that question because not all county nursing home are good but not all are bad either. Unfortunately, elder abuse and neglect is on the rise across America due in large part to the simple fact that the elderly population in the United States is growing as well. By 2050 experts estimate that older Americans (65 and older) will outnumber their younger counterparts (21 and younger) for the first time in recorded history. With more people living well into their “golden
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What Should You Do If You Have a Bare-Bones Trust?

Unfortunately, not all estate planning tools are created equal. “Bare-bones” documents, for example, frequently do not accomplish what they were intended to accomplish. Worse still, they can actually have a costly negative impact on your estate plan instead of helping to achieve your estate planning goals and objectives. So what should you do if you have a bare-bones trust as part of your estate plan? The simple answer is to have an experienced Missouri estate planning attorney prepare a new trust agreement document for you to replace the bare-bones version you currently have. The term “bare-bones” refers to a legal document that is effectively a “fill-in-the-blank” document. Often these forms can be purchased at a local stationary store or downloaded off the internet for a small fee or even at no cost. Unfortunately for people who use them the old adage “you get what you pay for” often applies. Bare-bones forms often fail to achieve the desired purpose for several com
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Who Should Be the Successor Trustee of My Family Wealth Trust?

Creating a comprehensive estate plan typically involves the inclusion of a variety of estate planning tools and strategies. Exactly which of those tools and strategies you include in your plan will depend on what your individual goals and objectives are for your plan. If you choose to include a Family Wealth Trust, or FWT, in your estate plan you may find yourself asking “ Who should be the successor trustee of my Family Wealth Trust? ” Only you and your estate planning attorney can make the final decision regarding your successor trustee; however, a better understanding of the factors that should be considered when choosing your successor trustee is a good place to start. Trusts are an increasing popular part of any estate plan. Despite the name, you do not have to be wealthy to benefit from the addition of a Family Wealth Trust to your estate plan. Basically, a FWT is simply a revocable living trust into which you transfer the majority of your assets. Why place your assets into
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How Is Out of State Property Funded into a Trust?

For most people, creating a comprehensive estate plan involves drafting and executing a compilation of documents above and beyond just a Last Will and Testament. Over the last several decades, trust agreements have become one of the most popular additions to an estate plan, due in large part to the flexibility offered by a trust agreement. If you are considering the addition of a trust to your estate plan you may have several questions about how a trust is created and how one functions once established. For example, you may wonder “ How is out of state property funded into a trust? ” Trusts all fall into one of two categories – testamentary or living trusts. A testamentary trust is one that does not take effect until after your death while a living trust becomes effective as soon as all the formalities of creation are complete. If you create a living trust, one of the formalities is to sufficiently fund he trust. A trust can be funded with just about any type of asset, including
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Free Report: Understanding the Probate Process in Missouri

The overall purpose of probate is to ensure that all of the assets owned by the decedent at the time of death are accounted for and ultimately distributed to the intended beneficiaries or heirs of the estate. Topics covered in this whitepaper include: What is Probate? Testate vs. Intestate Estates Executor/Personal Representative Duties Small Estate Administration Avoiding Probate Click here to read the whole article or download the PDF.
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