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Will Electronic Wills Be the New Normal?
More and more transactions are done digitally, but estate planning has lagged behind technology. That may be changing, though. Even before the coronavirus pandemic made social distancing necessary, electronic wills were gaining legitimacy.
June 17, 2021
The Ins and Outs of Guardianship and Conservatorship
Every adult is assumed to be capable of making his or her own decisions unless a court determines otherwise. If an adult becomes incapable of making responsible decisions, the court will appoint a substitute decision-maker, usually called a "guardian," but called a "conservator" or another term in some states.
June 17, 2021
The Hazards of Do-it-Yourself Estate Planning
Many websites offer customized, do-it-yourself wills and other estate planning documents. Although such products are convenient, using them could create serious and expensive legal problems for heirs.
June 17, 2021
The Film 'I Care a Lot' Highlights Vulnerabilities in the Guardianship System
Netflix’s popular new movie, I Care a Lot, may be far-fetched in a lot of ways, but it does highlight some real weaknesses in the guardianship system.
June 17, 2021
What Is a Directed Trust and What Are Its Benefits?
Directed trusts can be a useful estate planning tool, allowing you to place your family’s assets in a trust but benefit from the expertise of an advisor who knows more about the handling of certain trust functions than you may.
June 17, 2021
Watch Out for These Potential Problems with Life Estates
Life estates can be an excellent tool for Medicaid planning, probate avoidance and tax efficiency, but there are potential problems to look out for.
June 17, 2021
The Attorney's Role in Medicaid Planning
Do you need an attorney for even "simple" Medicaid planning? This depends on your situation, but in most cases, the prudent answer would be "yes."
June 17, 2021
Medicare's Limited Nursing Home Coverage
Many people believe that Medicare covers nursing home stays. In fact, Medicare's coverage of nursing home care is quite limited.
June 17, 2021
How to Create an Estate Plan That Includes Your Pet
Pets are members of the family, so it is important to consider how to provide for them in your estate plan just as you would the human family members.
June 9, 2021
Using Life Insurance as Part of Your Estate Plan
Life insurance can play a few key roles in an estate plan, depending on your age and situation in life.
June 9, 2021
Moving to a New State? Be Sure to Update Your Estate Plan
While legally you may not need all-new estate planning documents if you move to a different state, you should have your documents reviewed by a local attorney in your new home.
June 9, 2021
Married Couples Need an Estate Plan
Don’t assume your estate will automatically go to your spouse when you die. If you don’t have an estate plan, your spouse may have to share your estate with other family members.
June 9, 2021
Biden Administration May Spell Changes to Estate Tax and Stepped-Up Basis Rule
A new administration usually means that tax code changes are coming. While it remains unclear exactly what tax changes President Biden’s administration will usher in, two possibilities are that it will propose lowering the estate tax exemption and eliminating the stepped-up basis on death.
June 9, 2021
What You Can’t Do With a Will
While a will is one of the most important estate planning documents you can have, there are things that it won’t cover. A will is just one part of a comprehensive estate plan.
June 9, 2021
You Can Stretch the Gift Tax Limit by Paying for Education or Health Care
If you want to make a gift to family members but have exceeded the annual gifting limit, there is another way. Payments for a family member’s education or health care expenses are exempt from the gift tax.
June 9, 2021
Senators Propose Sweeping Changes to the Taxation of Estates and Inherited Gains
Vermont senator Bernie Sanders (D) has introduced legislation that would require more estates to pay estate tax and that raises the amounts they would pay. Another proposed law would eliminate the step-up in basis that inherited assets currently enjoy.
June 9, 2021
How an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust Can Be Used to Avoid or Reduce the Estate Tax
With the federal estate tax exemption possibly about to be lowered, it may be time to think about steps you can take to keep your estate from being taxed. An irrevocable life insurance trust allows you to pass on money to your heirs while avoiding both the federal estate tax, as well as any applicable state estate tax.
June 9, 2021
Court Case Illustrates the Danger of Using an Online Power of Attorney Form
A recent court case involving a power of attorney demonstrates the problem with using online estate planning forms instead of hiring an attorney who can make sure your documents are tailored to your needs.
June 9, 2021
Younger Adults Now More Likely to Have a Will, According to Survey
A new survey has found that motivated in part by the coronavirus pandemic, younger adults are now more likely to have a will than middle-aged adults. Nevertheless, the overall percentage of Americans with a will has dropped over the past several years.
June 9, 2021
President Biden Proposes Billions in Increased Funding for Home Health Care
President Biden has introduced a plan to spend $400 billion over eight years on home and community-based care for the elderly and people with disabilities. The money would go to expand access to care and support higher-paying caregiving jobs.
June 8, 2021
Non-Borrowing Spouses of Reverse Mortgage Holders Receive Expanded Protections
The federal government has expanded access to protections for spouses of reverse mortgage holders who are not named in the loan document, allowing more such spouses the ability to stay in their home if the borrowing spouse dies or moves to a care facility.
June 8, 2021
How You Can End Up in Medicare’s Donut Hole, and How You Get Out
Medicare prescription drug (Part D) plans can have a coverage gap—called the "donut hole"--which limits how much Medicare will pay for your drugs until you pay a certain amount out of pocket.
June 8, 2021
Saying Medicaid Estate Recovery Keeps Families in Poverty, Advocacy Groups Call for Abolishing It
To qualify for Medicaid coverage of long-term care, you must satisfy very complicated financial eligibility rules—rules that often can be traps for the unwary. One of the most significant traps is Medicaid's right to recover its expenses from your estate after you die – a practice known as “estate recovery.”
June 8, 2021
Latest John Oliver Rant Details Failings of Our Long-Term Care System
In a profanity-laced episode of his HBO show that is by turns hilarious and deeply disturbing, comedian John Oliver delivers one of his trademark rants, this one exposing the “abuse and neglect” that he says is all-too-prevalent in our system of long-term care.
February 21, 2019
IRS Announces That Face Masks and Related Purchases Are Tax Deductible
If you have significant medical expenses, you may be able to deduct them from your taxes.
February 21, 2019
Medicaid Recipients Have a Little More Time to Spend Down Their Stimulus Money
The one-year deadline for nursing home residents on Medicaid to spend down their first round of stimulus checks is here, but they may have a little extra time.
February 21, 2019
Why an Irrevocable Trust May Be Superior to Gifting
Parents and other family members who want to pass on assets during their lifetimes may be tempted to gift the assets. Although setting up an irrevocable trust lacks the simplicity of giving a gift, it may be a better way to preserve assets for the future.
February 21, 2019
How the $1.9 Trillion COVID-19 Relief Bill Aids Seniors
President Biden has signed the latest COVID-19 relief bill which provides assistance to seniors in a number of ways.
February 21, 2019
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