December, 2019 | Shah & Associates, P.C. Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog
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Don’t Forget Your HIPAA Authorizations in Estate Planning

December 9, 2019

Filed under: Estate Planning — Laura Pennington @ 2:46 pm

In the event that you become incapacitated, it will be important for anyone you have named as a power of attorney agent to be able to make decisions on your behalf.

If you are incapacitated, you are unable to make these decisions for yourself, but without appropriate estate planning documents, appointing someone else to do this, this can create confusion, chaos or even court hearings for your family members.

It’s important to also think about how the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act known as HIPAA limits disclosure, release or use of any individually identifiable health information.

Power of attorney agents and a legal heir could be eligible to get access to this information in order to use it to act on your behalf. However, even though there might be other people that you want to be informed about your current health status, it is important to include these people in your estate planning process.

For example, if you have a significant other to whom you are not married, that person is not necessarily entitled to automatically receive information about your health status. If your parents are approved to receive information about your health status, but do not have a good relationship with your significant other or are unlikely to inform your significant other about current condition, this can generate problems.

Make sure that you think about who else should be included as a power of attorney agent when establishing your estate planning documents.          

Are Your Retirement Plan Contributions Up to Par?

December 4, 2019

Filed under: Estate Planning — Laura Pennington @ 9:15 am

The end of the year will quickly be here upon us. Many people have already started their holiday planning, but you can’t afford to neglect the opportunities that come with the burst of momentum to knock things off your to-do list and plan ahead for a successful 2020.

Yearend financial planning sets you up for success throughout the entire next year. Now is an excellent opportunity to review all of your key beneficiary designation forms and other documents in line with your estate plan. But don’t neglect the opportunity to establish a better and deeper understanding of what’s going on with your retirement contributions.

Now is a great time to evaluate whether or not you’re on track to max out your retirement contributions for the year. Whether you have an SEP IRA, a 401(k) or a 403(b), you might need to change how much you contribute if your plan allows for it. Think about any holiday bonuses that you might receive and these might be put into the plan as well. The contribution limit for your IRA for 2019 is $6000, but this jumps to $7000 if you are aged 50 or older.

This could be a good time to sit down with your financial professional to discuss setting up a Roth IRA by transferring your traditional IRA funds. All qualified withdrawals and future gains would be tax free even though you would pay taxes on the amount that you do convert.

For more information about getting ahead of your planning and tackling your financial goals before the end of the year, don’t neglect the opportunity to sit down with your estate planning attorney.      

Leveraging Your Charitable Giving Before and After You Retire

December 3, 2019

Filed under: Estate Planning — Laura Pennington @ 1:53 pm

There’s a good chance that if you’ve been active with philanthropy and charitable giving, that it’s been a part of your life for as long as you can remember. But it might be time to adjust that strategy before and after retirement after speaking with a knowledgeable and experienced estate planning attorney.

An estate planning attorney can help you to navigate this process and ensure that you have the information you need to leave a lasting impact on the charities of your choice.

Making the most of charitable gifting and giving can require some advanced strategy and the best way to give to charity in a tax intelligent way might depend on your age.

Effective tax planning can also give you peace of mind that a bigger portion of your donation has gone towards supporting the philanthropic goals and priorities that are most important to your family.

Many more families today are taking the standard deduction than ever before as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. This means that fewer families are eligible to qualify for tax benefits from cash donations to charity. These strategies will depend on whether or not you’re required to take distributions from an employer sponsored 401(k) or an individual retirement account.

For those donors younger than age 70 and a half, appreciated securities can be a powerful way to support the charities you care about. Once you have reached age 70 and a half, under the new standard deduction, one of the best strategies is to gift a portion of your RMD or all of it to a charitable organization as a qualified charitable distribution. QCDs cannot be greater than $100,000 but can still be very powerful strategies for gifting to a charity you care about. Schedule a consultation with an experienced estate planning attorney today to learn more.       

Keep a Formal Will Even as Electronic Wills Are Coming

December 2, 2019

Filed under: Estate Planning — Laura Pennington @ 9:15 am

Most of your organization today is probably digitized. There’s a good chance you own a scanner and have taken every effort to store what you can online.

Signing Last Will and Testament document

But even though electronic wills might be a wave of the future in estate planning, they’re not here in full yet since most states don’t have a method for electronic will filing.

A true electronic will is one that can be drafted, reviewed, and validated all in electronic form. As of right now, e-wills don’t eliminate the current need for a traditional will. Over time, however, state legislatures might review the requirements for electronic wills to provide insight about how this might work.

It’s very likely that future versions of an electronic will still require the formal creation of the document as well as signatures by witnesses. Some state courts have already begun to analyze and recognition electronic wills, but those circumstances are limited up to this point.

Recently, the Uniform Law Commission has accepted an e-wills act known as the Uniform Electronic Wills Act. This organization is a group of legal professors and practitioners who are often the first voice of change in various practice areas. Many states tend to adopt similar laws after the ULC releases information about laws they’ve accepted.  

If you’d like to talk about how to create a will that works for your life circumstances now and in the future, set up a time to speak with an experienced and dedicated estate planning lawyer. A lawyer can guide you through how to incorporate the most appropriate estate planning strategies for your needs and your family.