August, 2015 | Shah & Associates, P.C. Estate Planning & Business Law Blog
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Rights of the Elderly in Nursing Homes

August 31, 2015

Filed under: Estate Planning — Neel Shah @ 1:02 pm

Abuse and neglect of elderly individuals in nursing homes is an issue that has been drawing more attention recently as family members and other loved ones discover unfortunate situations. A clear understanding of elderly rights can help to address any concerns your family might be facing with regard to cost and quality of care for the elderly.  shutterstock_225427774

The 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, along with specific state laws on these issues, help to set standards. These standards are supplemented by certifications and accreditations that can tell you more about a particular nursing home.

Among the basic patient rights, you should expect that your loved one has a right to property, receiving information about care, refusing care, and visitation. Nursing homes should also respect privacy and allow patients to be free from constraint (in both physical or mental terms). The starting point for a family beginning the research process is to look at the facility online and to visit it in person. Learning more about how a facility operates can ease some of your fears about your loved one living there.

Estate Planning Tips for Artists

August 28, 2015

Filed under: Estate Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

A working artist has the potential to create hundreds of unique pieces over the course of a lifetime. Determining what you want your legacy to be and what you want to happen to your art can be a difficult question, but it is one that is better addressed sooner rather than later. shutterstock_262339691

One of the most important steps you can take in this process is to document and organize your collection as an artist. This helps to increase public appreciation of who you are and why you make the art that you do. Organizing it properly can also increase the interest that a collector has in your art.

Important questions to consider in this process are:

  • How have you signed your art? Consider that works that are signed and clearly linked to a particular creator have higher values, but they also connect that piece with your overall collection for estate planning purposes.
  • Have you created a master list of all the pieces you have created, ideally with a title, photo, and the year of creation? Doing so can make it easier for your heirs if you plan to pass the collection along, but it also can be important for collectors or potential museum interest in your work.
  • How have you stored your art? As a general rule of thumb, do not throw anything away as you organize your art.

Asset Protection Planning: Just How Needed Are Savings?

August 26, 2015

Filed under: Estate Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

One of the most important questions that retirees are considering is whether it is necessary to access retirement savings or whether outside income can help pay for some living expenses. With people living longer, there are many genuine concerns about outliving your savings. This has prompted many individuals with retirement in sight to see just how realistic their current savings plans are for the long run.

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Retirement savings plans are certainly an important component of funding a modest retirement, but there is a delicate balance between planning ahead for other generations and making sure you have enough set aside for yourself. The use of trusts and identifying all accounts where a beneficiary must be named is one route to planning ahead, as well as considering whether life insurance policies could pay out during your life, too.

Make sure you set aside some time with your financial advisor to discuss your retirement planning and how that actually translates to what your retired life will look like. Understanding typical monthly expenses and how longevity may affect your plans can help you course correct or identify other options, if necessary.

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How to Start the Discussion on Succession Planning

August 25, 2015

Filed under: Business Planning,Business Succession Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

In order to plan ahead for the future and reduce the possibility of problems down the line, you need to think about what you want to happen to your business. The most difficult part of this process is planning the initial conversation and avoiding any excuses or reasons to put this off. Business Succession0915

When you set aside the time to talk with relevant family members or stakeholders, do not let anyone convince you that the conversation should be pushed off or dealt with later. Once you make the commitment to think about the future of the company, stick to it.

It’s essential, though, that you do have buy-in from the people at the top of the company. Your current leaders should already be assuming key roles within the company and that they participate in the process of identifying additional talent and building the structures for the company to exchange hands in the future.

Finally, be sure to hold yourself accountable. As the figurehead, the responsibilities should trickle down to your other employees, but you must be willing to show that this is your commitment instead of just saying that it is. Outlining your goals in an official statement or your company’s strategic documents helps keep you on track with this. Ready to get started but not sure how? Contact us: info@lawesq.net.

Fast Facts on Guardianship and Conservatorship

August 24, 2015

Filed under: Estate Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

As you grow older or as your parents grow elder, the need to be proactive with your planning becomes all the more important. At the very minimum, this means providing a trusted individual with your power of attorney. A more comprehensive estate plan will, of course, have many more elements in place, but this is a good starting position. POA

Not having a power of attorney can present legal problems if someone does need assistance with making decision. If there are behavioral issues with an elderly individual, a conservatorship proceeding will happen, likely meaning that all relevant parties come with their own legal representation. This can be very expensive for everyone involved.

If the issues are medical as opposed to behavioral, without a power of attorney family members are looking at a guardianship proceeding. This involves situations in which a loved one or friend attempts to convince the court that a guardian is indeed necessary and that he or she is the best person for the job.
If you would like to plan ahead so that your family members are not facing this difficult task alone, contact an experienced elder law attorney for more information.

Tips for Planning With Bitcoin Assets

August 21, 2015

Filed under: Estate Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

As of this writing, the IRS views bitcoins as property. The digital currency has gained enough traction that the IRS has started to pay attention. Now, owners of bitcoin are responsible for recognizing loss or gain and filling out taxes and W-2s where necessary as a result. Money

To include bitcoins in your planning, follow these steps:

  1. If the value has experienced any “step up” since you have acquired it, holding on to the bitcoins could help to cover tax consequences upon a sale. If the value has decline, an immediate sale might be the best approach for handling the loss.
  2. Discuss the existence of any bitcoin assets with your beneficiaries; without a conversation, some might not even realize it exists!
  3. Just as you have shared the existence information with your loved ones, you should also communicate how this can be accessed. Share those details with your executor. A power of attorney might be necessary to aid the executor with access, so look into that with your estate planning attorney.

As with all digital assets, it pays to be educated about how the asset is treated and what options you have for passing it along. Work with a law firm that understands the changing landscape of digital assets and currency so that you can feel confident in your planning.

The Downside of Reverse Mortgages

August 20, 2015

Filed under: Estate Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

These mortgages are marketed quite heavily to the target market- individuals over the age of 62. These provide the ability to borrow against home equity, but not understanding how these work could leave heirs at risk of losing a family home. Mortgage

On a national level, debt has risen quite quickly for those aged 65-74. It is expected that about 13 percent of reverse mortgages are underwater, and many lenders in these situations push for immediate foreclosure action.

Even though the number of reverse mortgages has decreased by about two-thirds in recent years, the number of them in default has quadrupled. One of the main concerns with this is that a home can be purchased for 95 percent of the current value. Any shortfall could be covered by a federal insurance fund, allowing an involved person up to 30 days to determine the best course of action in addition to six months to secure financing.

If you’re curious about reverse mortgages and how it could impact your estate planning, make sure you consult with a knowledgeable attorney who can help you get your affairs in order.

A Real Look at Predators and Lawsuits

August 19, 2015

Filed under: Estate Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

Most people are aware of how devastating one lawsuit can be, even if they have never been victims of one. Despite this, many people are under the assumption that it could never happen to them, leaving them exposed to major risks in the form of litigation. Predators

There are 20 million lawsuits filed in the U.S. each year, and it’s unnerving to think that an investor or owner of a company can work upwards of 2000 per year only to have a few hours set them back financially for life. Bear in mind that not all of these cases will go to litigation. In fact, 95 percent of them are settled out of court. This means that your asset protection plan should include a goal of putting yourself in the best possible position for a settlement.

The key to doing this is to make legitimate legal barriers that are difficult or uncomfortable to surmount. Some common approaches to this might include an offshore account, a Domestic Asset Protection Trust, or even retitling assets. Make sure you discuss what will work best for you with your estate planning attorney.

Probing Questions for Succession Planning

August 18, 2015

Filed under: Business Planning,Business Succession Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

The prospect of planning ahead for retirement and the possible sale or transfer of a business raises a lot of questions. It is important to consider not only how succession planning affects you, but also how it will affect other stakeholders in the business and any future owners. Review these questions before putting together your business succession plan:

  • Can the business be continued with family members or other employees, with power gradually being given over to them?
  • Are there any other assets in place to help fund retirement outside of the sale of the business?
  • If there are other assets in place, how could the sale of the business supplement and contribute towards those?
  • If there are no other assets in place, is the business in a position to be sold? Do the analytics of the business indicate that there may be interested buyers or positive financial forecasts?
  • If the business will be sold, would the proceeds be sufficient enough to cover your retirement for the remainder of your life? i6CvhRaSJJpF9tl0uUGXDEtGNRFU5shuxQnMJSSZ4LM

All of these questions are important and worthwhile in your approach to business succession planning. Ready to get some help with this? Contact info@lawesq.net.

Proactive versus reactive approaches in elder law planning

August 17, 2015

Filed under: Aging In Place,Baby Boomer Generation — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

Although it is certainly possible to achieve a fair amount with reactive planning in an elder law crisis, it is much easier to plan in advance. An elder crisis with no prior planning might leave invested parties with only a will or a will and power of attorney to review. Even if these documents are clear, they might be just part of the puzzle when it comes to elder law planning. If a will or power of attorney is all you have in place, your loved ones might struggle to answer pertinent questions down the line if something happens to you. CZwBoPsXAxqmnWRu0IcQzBOq-zBKlJ3es7lZfGpfZsA

Being proactive with elder law planning can help to reduce stress, but it can also be important for saving money. For example, buying long-term care insurance can help to protect your assets even in the event a crisis that requires nursing home care or other advanced medical assistance. Planning can also help to address the potential of where you would like to live when you are older. You should never assume that your family members are clear about your plans or that they are all on the same page with regard to your care. If you have desires about medical treatment in the future, they should be communicated early.

Ready to get ahead on the planning process? Contact us today to get started.

Tips for Planning for Blended Families

August 14, 2015

Filed under: Estate Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

 

As a result of relatively high divorce rates and better longevity these days, blended families now outnumber traditional families. Divorce and remarriage has the tendency to increase the number of individuals involved in an estate, which can lend itself to complexity if not properly planned for.mfz9vP61ZQM4bSUBAAIjfz1Vp9eIVOHOZeeWOAfqE_Y

With more individuals at the table for an estate, there is also high potential for acrimony and suspicion. An individual who is remarrying needs to understand the importance of disinheriting a former spouse. If this is not done, that spouse’s rights can trump whatever it outlined in a will.

One way to protect a blended family is to use an LTD trust or a QTIP trust. An LTD trust is beneficial for protecting the inheritance of children, while a QTIP trust helps to provide lifetime income for the new spouse. After getting remarried, carefully review all of your beneficiary designations and set up a consultation with an attorney to get your questions answered.

Is There a Way to Protect Against a Dishonest Executor?

August 13, 2015

Filed under: Estate Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

An executor plays a very important role in carrying out an estate, and it can be nerve-wracking as well as frustrating if you suspect that an executor is not being completely prudent or truthful. Executors have a fiduciary duty to carry out their tasks with integrity and trust. If there is suspicion that something has been handled inappropriately, probate court can mandate a complete accounting of actions taken. 7OCYKpm4R5NAb4RW8sYzx2L9_VrKP1VwNBxyr6Kzlc4,aDNODmn8WhqqMBaz7Csw6Nvd5Xx2TZ60DxsdCaRTviw

If the executor appears to be dishonest, the court does maintain the power to remove and replace an individual in that position. In some states, individuals who have been negatively impacted by an executor might be able to pursue a lawsuit against him or her. What is on the line in these scenarios is the personal assets of the executor, which could be used to make the estate “whole”.

If you suspect that an individual in the role of executor is not managing the estate responsibly, you should contact a lawyer. This is a serious matter that should not be overlooked.

Using Life Insurance and Annuities for Asset Protection

August 12, 2015

Filed under: Estate Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

There are many asset protection tools out there- you can just ask your attorney to highlight some of the most popular ones for you. Asset protection tools often work together, complementing one another to give you peace of mind and confidence about the future. Two tools that work well in an overall plan include life insurance and annuities. rqxUYm2zcjBQFa6fFGK6Gp4pToC_fnQGY64B_LBQJNk

Outside of their general use in estate planning, both of these can be helpful for shielding assets, as long as any exemption limits at the state level are clearly understood.

Choosing to go with life insurance is one way to ensure that the assets in the policy transfer to beneficiaries very easily. You can determine a face amount that is line with the resources you are attempting to provide, such as mortgage payment replacement or funds for a college education.

When it comes to annuities, they share something with IRAs: the funds inside are not taxable until they are distributed. There are no caps on contributions here, either, so an annuity can be a good way to put some assets aside for future use.

To learn more about these tools, in conjunction with other legal avenues for protecting your assets, reach out to an asset protection attorney today. Contact us at info@lawesq.net.

How to Write a Business Succession Plan

August 11, 2015

Filed under: Estate Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

If you have gone through the legwork to think through a business succession plan, you are already ahead of most business owners. Knowing the basics of what you want to include in the plan is a good first step, but you need to document your plans in writing in order for them to be clear and valid.  BnfRilgx71ZEKzhYLJsewFw4WKBBSkHQXBowPB6oggE (1)

Remember that writing a plan is not about achieving perfection- it is about outlining a path to continuity. This continuity plan is one that 70 percent of business owners lack, and missing this could cause your company big problems down the road.

The core of developing a plan lies in knowing what the end goal is and enlisting experts (such as succession advisors, a CPA, and attorneys) to help you pull it all together. Make sure to include any designated successors in the process of putting it all together, as this is helpful in defining responsibilities, setting future goals, and dealing with any past errors. Circumstances might change over time, but documenting your desires now is the best way to ensure that business succession planning is on your radar.

Will Medicaid and Medicare Speak to the Future of the ACA?

August 10, 2015

Filed under: Estate Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

The question of whether existing government programs will influence the future of public policy for others is a hot topic right now as politicians on both sides of the aisles are considering what Medicaid and Medicare will look like down the road.

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Taking Medicaid and Medicare out of the picture seems unrealistic, but this basic idea ignores the fact that it took years for society to come to terms with the ongoing existence of either of these entitlement staples. Looking back at the history of these programs gives some credence to the idea that the ACA might fall into similar perception, although this is certainly still up for debate.

The landscape is similar for the enactment of both programs in terms of the politics in play before and after. Presidents Johnson and Obama both knew how to avoid the challenges of healthcare reform that their predecessors faced- in order to combat this, both presidents had to look carefully into cost controls.

There are, however, differences. For example, there was some existing GOP support for extending medical coverage to the poor and to seniors in 1965, and there was a greater approval for government programs in general during this time period, too. The fact that Medicare was built on the coattails of the Social Security program, too, helped. This popular program made it easier for the public to approve.

No matter what the future is for the Affordable Care Act, it is important for all individuals to think about their healthcare down the road. Whether it’s a living will or long-term care planning, healthcare is a primary concern for everyone in the U.S. right now. What planning steps have you already taken? Contact us at info@lawesq.net.