June, 2020 | Shah & Associates, P.C. Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog
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What Is a Psychiatric Advanced Directive?

June 29, 2020

Filed under: Advanced Directives — Laura Pennington @ 12:41 pm

Much like a health care power of attorney or a medical advanced directive, a psychiatric advanced directive is a legal document that is completed to provide instructions regarding the services or treatment that a person wants to have or wants to refuse to have during a mental health crisis.

These choices could significantly influence the type of psychiatric care available to the patient but this becomes very important when a mental health crisis emerges and the patient is no longer able to speak up for themselves.

Anyone who is potentially hospitalized for a mental health condition could become too sick to stay in charge of their treatment and make informed decisions about what they do and don’t want. During these times, doctors and other medical professionals will turn to advanced directives to help get inside about specific wishes that the patient made in advance of this particular health crisis. 

This document can be used to spell out your individual wishes about what type of services, assistance, and treatments you want to have access to when you are sick or those that you do not want used for your treatment if you are no longer able to make decisions in your care. 

This directive provides a clear statement about your instructions and your medical treatment preferences and can also be used to grant legal decision-making authority to another person who serves as your health care agent and advocate until the mental health crisis is over. For more information about how to use advanced directives and other tools and documents to help you plan ahead, schedule a consultation with an estate planning attorney today.     

A Post-65 Estate Planning Primer

June 26, 2020

Filed under: Aging In Place — Laura Pennington @ 1:38 pm

Estate planning is not just for the elderly. It’s not even just for those who see retirement on the horizon. Estate planning makes sense for people of all ages, but it does become especially important the closer you get to age 65.

There are several important things you should be thinking about as you approach and pass the age of 65. This has long been heralded as the primary age for retirement although many people are continuing to work past these years and looking to generate additional assets or simply because they enjoy the experience of working. There are legal risks associated with aging that you should take into account prior to reaching age 65 but this milestone is important for thinking about some of the other dangers that you might face as you continue to age. 

Increasing longevity numbers mean that anyone who has already reached age 65 should be thinking about the possibility of living for several decades longer. From concerns about paying for long term care to protecting your assets, planning to avoid guardianship, and qualifying for Medicaid, you might need an elder law attorney to help you identify all of the potential risks and to craft a strategic plan around protecting yourself from these risks and dangers. Schedule a consultation with an attorney who has extensive experience in the realm of elder law planning.     

New Study Holds Promise for Seniors in Long Term Care

June 25, 2020

Filed under: Nursing Homes — Laura Pennington @ 1:34 pm

A recent research study from Simon Fraser University has important implications for one of the most common injuries that happen inside nursing homes: falls. Slip and fall injuries can be catastrophic for the elderly and are some of the most commonly reported injuries that happen in nursing homes across the country.

Falls in fact cause more than 95% of hip fractures in older adults and recovery can be very challenging or impossible. This most recent study was published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research and involved researchers looking at more than 2,300 falls experienced by over 600 residents. Only 30 of those total falls led to hip fracture. While that number seems relatively low, the average resident in a long-term care facility falls up to three times per year and the cumulative impact of those injuries can be significant. 

If you are researching nursing homes and long-term care options for an elderly loved one, make sure that you have considered plans for incapacity and the medical care wishes of the resident. Putting these statements into existing estate planning documents can ensure that your loved one has the necessary care he or she needs when they need it most.   

Choosing a nursing home is a difficult prospect, but it’s also one that should prompt you and your loved ones to talk through care options and decide what you really need to do when protecting your loved one. Speaking with an experienced lawyer can help you and your family members get on the same page about next steps. Contact our office today to get support working through these challenges.     

What 0.6% Interest Rates Mean for Your Estate Planning

June 24, 2020

Filed under: Estate Planning — Laura Pennington @ 1:27 pm

 When interest rates adjust, you need to have in the back of your mind that it might be time to sit down and look at your retirement accounts and also your estate plans. As circumstances in the market and broader world are updated and adapt, you need to ensure your plan is in line with being updated, too.

Interest rates have hit historic lows across June and July 2020, meaning that there is some opportunity to discuss with your financial and estate planning professionals how to address this. 

One of the most important things to keep in mind is a grantor retained annuity trust which is an excellent way to ensure that most or all of the income from a property that is quickly appreciating and has high yields can be transferred to a child or another person with minimal impacts from estate or gift tax. 

When the retention period on a GRAT ends, assets inside the trust go to the named beneficiary known as the remainder. Any income or appreciation on the assets in excess of that retained annuity will pass on to your remainder beneficiaries tax free. GRATs can be especially complicated to put together but can accomplish a great deal of your estate planning and overall financial planning goals. 

To sit down and discuss whether or not a GRAT is appropriate for your situation, schedule a consultation with an estate planning attorney who can help you look at the inventory of all of your assets, your current estate planning strategies and tactics and how these can be updated or improved to reflect all of your needs.       

Our office is here to help you when changes in the market call for a change in your estate plan. Set up a time to speak with our estate planning lawyer today.

Update Your Planning If a Divorce Is on the Horizon

June 23, 2020

Filed under: Blended Families — Laura Pennington @ 1:20 pm

Have you recently filed for divorce or are you in the midst of the proceedings to legally end your marriage? It’s easy to feel like there are plenty of details to think about, but chief among them should be what happens to your existing estate plans. During the divorce is a good time to evaluate any joint accounts, policies, or paperwork that gives your soon-to-be former spouse any level of decision-making power over your future. 

Most people forget in the process of handling all of the paperwork and the life changes that come with a divorce, to update their estate plans accordingly. In fact, it could be weeks or months before you update this necessary paperwork and if something were to happen in between, there’s a good chance that your former spouse is still listed as the person eligible to receive assets or to make decisions on your behalf if you become unable to do so. 

There’s no doubt that this should be a top of mind priority as you approach getting closer to your divorce date. Many attorneys have reported that their office has been busier than usual with contacting questions about updating estate planning documents or getting estate planning done for the first time at all. 

These documents are not static and should remain living and breathing documents that should change just as often as your life does. Health care directives, powers of attorney and beneficiary forms are just a few examples of the documents that should be updated after you get divorced. To ensure that all necessary paperwork is updated with your new life, schedule a consultation with an estate planning attorney to walk through a checklist of what you can anticipate.       

Our law offices are still open and working with clients to ensure that all of your needs are addressed. If you need to set up a time to draft new wills, powers of attorney, or other documents, we’re here to help. 

Have You Discovered Gaps in Your Financial Plans?

June 22, 2020

Filed under: Finances — Laura Pennington @ 1:21 pm

If you’ve done any financial planning at all, it’s common to feel like it’s a bit overwhelming to keep track of all the things you need to do or feel like you should be doing. But don’t let that keep you from taking these important steps to protect your interests and even your family in the future. Now is the perfect time to take a deeper look at how you can incorporate holistic estate planning and financial plan into your future.

The pandemic has encouraged many people to take a deeper look at their financial plans and uncover potential problems. Some people might not have even looked at their financial and estate plans over the past ten years because there have not been significant changes in account value. However, since the impact of the pandemic, many account values decreased tremendously. 

The pandemic has brought forward a focus on end of life planning but other reviews of your estate plan can assist you with discovering ways that you need to alter your existing planning. For example, executives should be looking at opportunities to convert their traditional IRAs to Roths as long as they are considering the taxes that a client might have to pay for the conversion. 

A consultation with your estate planning lawyer can be especially valuable right now given the challenges that have been presented by the pandemic and the opportunity to align and update your estate planning materials to ensure that they have your best interests and your intentions for your family members in mind.       

Looking at the big picture financially, it’s good to have someone else review your existing retirement, asset protection, and estate plan. Another person’s insight can help you see some of the gaps where you need to step up your planning efforts. No matter where you’re at now, our lawyers can help you put together a plan that helps protect you into the future. 

Tips for Preventing Sibling Arguments Over Your Estate Plan

June 19, 2020

Filed under: Probate — Laura Pennington @ 1:42 pm

The last thing you want is for your loved ones to end up in court battling over the terms of your estate. In addition to piling on unnecessary stress and conflict during this period, issues like this can reduce the overall value of your estate, too.

You’ve thought carefully about your estate plan and what you hope to achieve with it and the assets you leave behind. You also have to think carefully about the message that you’ll be sending to your children when your estate plan is activated. 

Leaving behind unequal inheritances might make sense for your family but it can also pave the path for potential arguments and conflicts among the siblings who have received differing amounts. If you haven’t had the conversations about your decision to go this route, you need to think about your unique family dynamics. 

Leaving unequal inheritances isn’t the only way to find yourself facing these challenges. In fact, some children who have contributed more or might see themselves as having more substantial financial needs could be frustrated by a strictly equal distribution of assets. One of the first steps that you can take is to define what fair looks like for your family that might not be the same as what it looks like for everyone else, but the more carefully that you can think about this for your individual purposes the easier it will be to approach estate planning with care.      

What’s the Appeal of Using a Trust?

June 18, 2020

Filed under: Asset Protection — Laura Pennington @ 1:48 pm

A YouGov study found that over three quarters of Americans recognize that estate planning is essential but only 40% of people within the country do have a plan in place. A trust is one of the easiest ways to add some more control and protection into your estate plan, but it’s often overlooked because people perceive them to be too difficult or only aligned with different estate planning needs and goals.

One of the most common strategies to protect your interests and ensure that you have thought about estate planning at the high level is the use of a trust. Trusts are an excellent resource to use for wealth preservation due to potentially favorable treatment for your heirs, a greater layer of privacy and control. 

The perceived complexity that a trust is very difficult to create and put together is one of the most common reasons that people don’t use this tool. While it is true that some trusts can be very complicated, it is the variety of different kinds of trusts available for use that make it more likely for someone to skip over this estate planning strategy altogether. 

A consultation with an attorney can provide a great deal of clarity around whether or not trusts do make sense for your situation and how to decide what assets should be placed inside the trust. A trust might not make sense for everybody’s individual estate planning needs but it’s a good idea to talk with a professional about whether or not this makes sense for you and your family.       

Have You Considered Your Chances of Disability?

June 17, 2020

Filed under: Incapacity Planning — Laura Pennington @ 12:55 pm

Many people think of those who live with disabilities as people in older years or those who have been diagnosed with a disability at birth or very young in their life. The truth is that a disability can happen to anyone at any time as a result of an illness or an accident.

If you end up suffering in an unexpected accident or coming down with an illness that renders you unable to work, this will impact your life and the life of your family members in multiple ways. To guard against making such a situation even more difficult, it’s important to take precautions to protect your interests ahead of time with an incapacity plan. Enabling the right people to act quickly in the manner you intend for someone else to help you can make a world of difference when there are already so many things to consider about how you adapt to your new life.

Many younger people in America expect that disabilities only affect others, but thousands of young people are seriously injured due to traumatic events every single year. Many critical medical conditions can also mean that a person suffers from disability very suddenly, such as a mental illness or cancer. These can affect people regardless of their age.

In fact, for 20-year olds in the United States, there is a 1 in 4 chance of becoming disabled prior to reaching retirement age. Therefore, it can be especially dangerous to ignore the opportunities with estate planning and incapacity planning in advance. You should not wait until something happens to you or a loved one to make the decision that you want to have, your care well thought out and appropriately addressed in advance. Schedule a consultation today with an incapacity planning lawyer to learn more.

 

Don’t Forget a Tax Strategy for Your Stock Options

June 9, 2020

Filed under: Asset Protection — Laura Pennington @ 1:41 pm

Executive compensation packages have increasingly included stock options in the last several years. This means that from an estate planning perspective, you must think carefully about how and when these might affect you. Do you know how to maximize, for example, your stock options with a tax strategy?stock-option-estate-planning

Option based executive pay fell out of favor in the last 20 years but there are signs that it might have made a comeback as the stock market continued to grow. One major reason for this is that C corporations have become more attractive because of a 21% tax rate. Understanding stock options is critical for your overall financial picture and for estate planning purposes.

Stock options are a form of incentive compensation that are given to retain or reward valued employees. Typically up to 25% of that stock grant will last every year as a method for keeping employees at the company for a minimum period of time. Executives must have a comprehensive strategy that takes into account many different elements, including their personal balance sheet, their perception of risk, the company’s overall outlook and the stage that person is at in their life and career.

Speaking with experienced financial professionals and estate planning attorneys is strongly recommended if you have received stock options. The two primary types of stock options are nonqualified stock options and incentive stock options. The vesting of a compensatory stock option and a grant usually have no financial or tax implications. However, you’ll need to discuss the specifics of this strategy with your estate planning lawyer.