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May Home of National Elder Law Month

May 23, 2016

Filed under: Baby Boomer Generation — Tags: , — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

Since 1963, the month of May has been a time to focus on issues impacting older individuals. In 2016, this focus is on elder law and how an elder law attorney can help the growing numbers of senior citizens accomplish their estate planning goals. elder law attorney NJ

Elder law attorneys serve a crucial role by helping you or your loved ones plan for the future. This, of course, will encompass estate planning for what happens after you pass away, but it also frequently involves planning for your life, too. This is because a growing number of individuals face the risk of incapacity due to disability or a severe illness.

Given that so many elderly individuals are coping with at least one chronic condition, it is important to think about having the right documentation to allow someone else to make decisions on your behalf and to talk in greater detail about your financial plan for long-term care.

One of the most commonly misunderstood aspects of elder law has to do with Medicaid. Small missteps in your Medicaid planning can cause problems down the line, so it’s a good idea to consult with an experienced New Jersey elder law attorney now to develop goals and plans. In the event that you sustain a serious injury or contract a chronic illness requiring long-term care, knowing your options ahead of time and having a contingency plan can minimize the stress you experience during this time.

You can take the important first step this May by setting up a meeting with an elder law attorney to discuss your future steps. Adult children who have baby boomer parents, too, can work on their own plan and talk about options for Mom and Dad as well. Before heading into the busy summer and vacation season, make sure you can cross this project off your “must do” list. You’ll have peace of mind about your long-term plan by doing so.

 

What Are the Advantages of Working with an Elder Law and Special Needs Attorney?

May 9, 2016

Filed under: Elder Law — Tags: , , — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

When you work with an elder law attorney, you get the benefit of knowing that this individual is well aware of the laws impacting you and your loved one and is committed to helping you apply them correctly. There are clear policy guidelines associated with agencies who administer programs for individuals with disabilities and the elderly. shutterstock_250299895

An experienced elder law attorney can help you evaluate all the potential issues associated with your loved ones and to determine the appropriate strategies for assisting and protecting you well into the future. There are many common mistakes that individuals might make in the process of handling an elder law concern and this can be catastrophic as it relates to qualification from Medicaid and other aspects of long-term care.

Consulting with someone well in advance helps to address issues down the road but it can also be beneficial to form a relationship with an elder law attorney after an issue has arisen. Speaking with someone who is knowledgeable about the law and helps other clients with similar cases gives you the peace of mind that you are working with a true professional. Do not hesitate to contact an experienced elder law planning attorney in New Jersey today to learn more.

Guardianship for a family member with Alzheimer’s

May 29, 2014

Filed under: Aging In Place — Tags: , , , , — Neel Shah @ 12:51 pm

May was celebrated as Elder Law Month, and as the baby boomer generation ages, guardianship of an elder may be a growing concern. Although guardianship is most often discussed regarding minor children, it can be a helpful tool for older family members, too.

Guardianship for a family member with Alzheimers
(Photo Credit: medcitynews.com)

One in three people age 65 or older will contract some form of simple disability (cognition, vision or hearing impairment, the inability to get around without assistance, etc.). A diagnosis of such a disability may highlight the difficulty that individual faces in daily living. More difficult than basic aging or simple disability is the presence of Alzheimer’s; according to the Alzheimer’s Association five million are living with it presently, at a cost in 2013 amounting to $203 billion.

Being watchful for thesigns of Alzheimer’s can be an important step in recognizing the need to consider guardianship: among them, memory loss affecting daily living; the inability to complete familiar tasks; misplacing things; confusion over either time or place.

If the elder person does not have a power of attorney or advance directive, you can go into court and seek a declaration of incompetence. Subsequent appointment as a guardian will mean assuming decision-making for living arrangements, the management of finances and medical choices–the last two critical as out-of-pocket costs for older Americans have jumped 46 percent since the year 2000.The guardian has the legal duty to act in the best interest of the ward, and only in those areas permitted by the court. Those looking into guardianship for older parents may want to evaluate their own estate plans at the same time.

Difficulties may extend or render contentious the achieving of a guardianship role. If other family members cannot agree on the need, or on the proper person, the process can be lengthy. Further, the elder individual has the legal right to contest, and the determination of the court will only follow upon extensive expert evidence. Planning for your needs in advance can be extremely helpful for reducing family conflict. To learn more about applying for guardianship in New Jersey or planning to avoid the need, reach out to us at info@lawesq.net or contact us via phone at 732-521-9455.

Preventing End of Life Costs from Destroying Your Estate

May 19, 2014

Filed under: Asset Protection Planning,Elder Law,Long Term Care,Medicaid,Nursing Homes — Tags: , , , , , — Neel Shah @ 9:58 pm

It’s very rare that anybody has covered all possible risks in terms of their wealth management when it comes to income and cash flow, guaranteed income, cash, investments, and the connection between long term care and your estate. If you skip planning for long term care expenses, you may find that your other wealth management tools and strategies don’t hold up to the rising cost of healthcare.

Preventing End of Life Costs from Destroying Your Estate
(Photo Credit: colourbox.com)

The average cost per month for a long-term care facility is over $7,000. That’s why long term care planning is so essential. When a long-term care insurance policy is too expensive or not an option because you do not qualify.

There are alternatives, however. Structuring your estate in a particular manner can help you guard against the cost of long term care. Two common strategies are eliminating assets through trusts and transfers. This means that down the road, if you need to reduce your assets for Medicaid eligibility, you’ve already done most of the work. If you are confronted with a long-term care event before you have done this, you could find yourself having to “spend down” your assets anyways before government assistance kicks in, depleting your savings and forcing you to do it rapidly, which is rarely in your best interest. However, if you do it incorrectly, it has the potential to have a severely negative impact on eligibility and penalty periods. To learn more about trust planning, gifting, and other strategies to mitigate risk in estate planning, email info@lawesq.net or contact us via phone at 732-521-9455.

EZ Legal Services: Shortcut or Risk?

April 21, 2014

Filed under: Legacy Planning — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , — Neel Shah @ 6:10 pm

Despite the marketing that’s attempting to penetrate just about everywhere these days, there’s a lesson to be learned from online programs that make estate planning seem so easy. And the lesson isn’t that you can save money and time by putting it together yourself. Up front, you may very well save some money and time. Just don’t be surprised when those “plans” don’t hold up in court. Just ask the family of Ann Aldrich.

stables.com
(Photo Credit: staples.com)

Aldrich used one of these easy programs to put her will together back in 2004. In the will, neither of her two nieces were actually mentioned. Jump to the present and both those nieces were able to capitalize on their aunt’s poor planning. The Florida Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of the nieces because the will was missing the important residuary clause, allowing all money acquired by the aunt after 2004 to be distributed through intestacy (the same laws that govern property distribution for those who pass away without a will at all).

Aldrich’s will included statements leaving everything to her sister and then her brother. Since the sister died first, the brother argued that he was entitled to everything. Since the “oh so easy” legal form only accounted for listed items, nieces were able to argue their rights to assets not specifically outlined in the will. Although Aldrich’s intentions appear rather clear, her documentation was missing something that an estate planning attorney would have picked up at first glance. Unfortunately, this meant that her wishes were not carried out as she planned. This situation was entirely preventable with a little bit of planning. If you’d like to ensure that your estate planning documents carry out your wishes clearly, set up a consultation by calling 732-521-9455 or emailing info@lawesq.net

Showdown: Wills vs Trusts

April 15, 2014

Filed under: Trusts,Wills — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , — Neel Shah @ 4:13 pm

Depending on who you talk to, your estate planning specialist might recommend wills over trusts or trusts over wills. Let’s walk through some of the differences between these two planning tools to see if one might be a better fit for your needs.

Showdown Wills vs Trusts
(Photo Credit: blogs.dallasobserver.com)

If you are planning to use a will as your primary tool, bear in mind that your assets must first go through the probate process in order to be eventually received by your beneficiaries. Some states have lengthy and cumbersome probate processes, meaning that it could take your beneficiaries a while to actually receive the assets. Probate is also very public, meaning that details about your financial situation will be shared in a less-private forum. If you’re concerned about this, a trust might be a better option.

In comparison, trusts tend to pass by the court system for the majority of the administrative process. Since these are privacy documents, there’s less public scrutiny into your finances or your plans, and some clients prefer this confidential approach. Unlike wills, which become active on your death, a trust can be rendered effective immediately. Additionally, trusts can also be used for incapacity planning, adding another layer to their usefulness.

Both wills and trusts can do tax planning for credit shelter trusts. The bottom line is that it depends on your needs. If you are not concerned about the red tape of the probate process, there are still advantages (especially regarding privacy) for the establishment of a trust. We work with clients to create a customized plan for you since we recognize that each client is unique. To talk more about the kinds of trusts we can help you establish or to begin generation of your will, contact us today at 732-521-9455 or through e-mail at info@lawesq.net

Risky Do-It-Yourself: Wills

April 9, 2014

Filed under: Wills — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , — Neel Shah @ 2:39 pm

Software or online programs to help you plan your estate are popping up everywhere, but that doesn’t mean they are the best choice for your needs. Many of these programs lead you to believe that generating your will is easier than it truly is. Heirs might find out too late that your self-created will doesn’t really match up with your state laws or even your own intent.

rightscale.com
  (Photo Credit: rightscale.com)

When it comes to estate planning, intent is everything. Too often, the wishes of an individual don’t come across clearly in self-generated wills. Many modern court cases have focused on the determination of the testator’s intent, but judges are hesitant to cross certain lines to clear up confusion. As a result, your heirs may discover that your wishes aren’t carried out as you planned at all. Simply put, doing your will on your own can have big consequences.

Consider the Estate of George Zeevering. Last fall, a Pennsylvania appellate court was evaluating an unclear DIY will. Since the testator had not worked with a lawyer to generate the document, which was incomplete, it was difficult to determine the true intentions of Mr. Zeevering. In one aspect of the case, property had already been titled in the names of a son and a decedent as joint tenants. Mr. Zeevering stated that “the failure of this will to provide any distribution” to his daughters was done on purpose.

The case got sticky when the residuary and residuary estate totaled over $200,000 after debt payments were made. There was no provision within the DIY will for what should happen to those assets. In the end, the court determined that when a will doesn’t provide for the disposal of an entire estate and fails to include a residuary clause, the residuary estate must be divided under intestacy laws.

This case is but one example of where estate planning on your own can go wrong. Although it may not have been Mr. Zeevering’s intention to distribute the remainder of his estate under intestacy laws, that’s what happened. Despite his wishes, the law overrides an incomplete or improper will. While online and computer programs argue that wills and estate planning documents are easily done on your own, that minimizes the true complexity of document generation and estate laws.

Estate planning can be very complicated for an individual but it’s easily done under the guidance of an estate planning attorney. An added benefit of using a legal professional “in the know” is that he or she is clued into state and federal laws about estate planning, which always have the potential to change. An estate planning attorney is an excellent resource for all your questions as well as giving you the peace of mind that your estate will be carried out in the manner you wish. Cutting corners with a do it yourself tool is your choice, but do so at your own risk. If you want the assurance of totality and legality, contact an estate planning professional today.