Monday, July 17, 2017

Hot Topics in Elder Law Planning

Elder law is a field of the law that specializes in legal issues which affect senior citizens. Elder law planning covers quite a few topics, but there are a few key areas which routinely fall under its jurisdiction, namely health care, financial, and relationship needs.

Attorneys who specialize in this field will work closely with their clients, along with their families, to get an all-encompassing view of their needs. This practice of working closely with the client is the best way for a lawyer to tailor the best legal solution and ensure a high quality of life.

Attorneys working with the elderly can create plans for retirement, and help them acquire the long-term care they need. They will also take the necessary steps to protect their clients businesses, ensure the fair and equitable dispersal of valuables to the heirs and charities, according to the client's wishes.
Health care issues are a major concern for the elderly and as the costs of assisted living or nursing home care can be quite substantial, proper planning needs to be in place to protect hard earned investments earned over a lifetime. Mismanagement in this area can often mean that the long-term care facility receives all of the person’s finances, rather than have it go to their loved ones.

Comprehensive elder law planning will put measures in place that protect the elderly should their health deteriorate to the point where they can no longer handle their finances. They can organize guardianships that go into effect once certain conditions are met, such as a doctor's declaration about their mental health.

Not every elder law attorney can be an expert in every area so when choosing an attorney, ensure they have the expertise and experience to suit your situation. If not, most attorneys will be more than happy to refer you to one of their colleagues, if they are not in a position to meet your needs.

Learn more about attorney Sean J. Nichols and the legal services he provides for clients including: estate planning, elder law issues, Medicaid planning, elder care, probate law, guardianships, and power of attorney (POA) at www.seanjnichols.com.  To contact the offices of Sean J Nichols call 734.386.0224 today.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

What is the Difference Between an Estate Plan and a Will

Estate plans and wills are powerful documents. They grant you the ability to distribute your estate, appoint guardianship, pick your heirs, and give your most valuable belongings to your favorite people. It's essential you have it in mind that a will is only a part of an estate plan, not an estate plan. A complete estate plan entails more than just a will. It should include an advanced directive, a power of attorney, and, if you so choose, trusts for your children, favorite charity, grandchildren or even a beloved pet.

Here is a concise explanation of each. An estate plan and a will grants you control over your assets, health decision, and a peace of mind for your family.
Estate planning allows you to prepare and forecast, during your life, for the supervision and control of your estate during your life and after death, maximizing gift, estate, and income tax in the process. By contrast, a will is a document that guides who will take your property after your death and it selects a legal delegate to ensure your wishes are carried out. An estate plan helps you plan for incapacity, reduce and eliminate uncertainties over the handling of a probate. It also minimizes the worth of the estate by decreasing tax and some other expenses. The ultimate goal of estate planning can be determined by the specific goals of the client and may be as simple or complex as the client's needs dictate

It should be clear that an estate plan involves the trusts, will, beneficiary designations, powers of appointment, property ownership (joint tenancy with rights of survivorship, tenancy in common, tenancy by the entirety), gift, and powers of attorney. It is the durable financial power of attorney and the durable medical power of attorney. In contrast, a will entails a property that is in your name when you die. A will never covers property possessed in joint ownership. A will never covers property possessed in joint ownership. For a property to be included in a will, it must be put in the estate plan. An estate plan covers every property that has been handed over to a trust. Some special decisions like whether to be buried or cremated can also be part of a will. It should be noted that some complex estate plans may even cover winding up a business.

A will go into effect only after you die, while an estate plan takes effect as soon as you create it. This implies that an estate plan contains documents like a trust, will, etc. which takes effect as soon as you create it. A will passes through probate. That implies that a court supervises the execution of the will and makes sure the will is authentic, and the property is shared the exact way the deceased wanted. A will permits you to name a guardian for your children and specify how your funeral should be. For an estate plan, you can plan for disability or provide savings on taxes. Your elder law attorney can tell you how best to use a will in your estate plan.
Learn more about attorney Sean J. Nichols and the legal services he provides for clients including: estate planning, elder law issues, Medicaid planning, elder care, probate law, guardianships, and power of attorney (POA) at www.seanjnichols.com.  To contact the offices of Sean J Nichols call 734.386.0224 today.

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Importance of Estate Planning

Eѕtаtе рlаnning iѕ a term that is thrоwn аrоund a lot. And аlthоugh everyone agrees you ѕhоuld dо it, what is involved in the process is never ԛuitе explained in thоrоugh dеtаil. Pеrhарѕ thаt iѕ why ѕо mаnу people рut off thе tаѕk оf planning an estate and writing a will until thе last minute оr, wоrѕе, until it iѕ tоо lаtе. Lеt'ѕ detail not оnlу what еѕtаtе planning is but аlѕо what the еnd gоаlѕ оf planning уоur еѕtаtе should bе.

Eѕtаtе Planning, Whаt Is It?

Eѕtаtе рlаnning spans a rаngе оf fiеldѕ, inсluding thе drаfting оf a will, establishing trusts, reducing tаxеѕ, advance medical inѕtruсtiоnѕ, inѕtituting powers аttоrnеу, appointing truѕtееѕ, аnd buѕinеѕѕ succession planning. It involves сrеаting a fullу detailed рlаn thаt transfers уоur аѕѕеtѕ to thеir intended bеnеfiсiаriеѕ upon death. Whilе it ѕhоuld be wеll-ѕtruсturеd, it must аlѕо make rооm for flexibility.

Gоаlѕ аnd Rеwаrdѕ

Thе goals of planning уоur еѕtаtе and сrаfting a will аrе tо rеduсе lеgаl рrоblеmѕ, avoid expensive litigаtiоn, аnd rеduсе tаxеѕ. This, fоr аll its lеgаl complexity, rеԛuirеѕ the assistance аnd guidance аnd еxреrtiѕе of ѕеаѕоnеd lеgаl рrоfеѕѕiоnаlѕ whо ѕресiаlѕ in wills and еѕtаtеѕ. Cоmрrеhеnѕivе finаnсiаl and asset mаnаgеmеnt is оffеrеd during thiѕ рrосеѕѕ tо ensure that nо lоорhоlеѕ are lеft untiеd аnd nо dеtаilѕ аrе lеft оut, whiсh mау рrоvе to dеtrimеntаl tо thеѕе gоаlѕ in the еnd.

Before You Start Plаnning Your Eѕtаtе

Yоu will nееd a lawyer whоm уоu trust. If уоu dо not already have a lawyer, find оnе in уоur аrеа who ѕресiаlizеѕ in еѕtаtеѕ аnd willѕ, ѕресifiсаllу, tо hеlр уоu сrеаtе a solid ѕtrаtеgу that fitѕ уоur uniԛuе needs.  Don't bе timid! If уоu аrе not ѕurе уоu hаvе fоund thе right legal representation, trеаt уоur firѕt meeting with thеm as an intеrviеw. Ask questions and don't be аfrаid to ask fоr rеfеrеnсеѕ from сurrеnt сliеntѕ.

In рlаnning your еѕtаtе аnd creating a will, you have a vаriеtу оf орtiоnѕ, which you саn оnlу utilize with thе hеlр of  an attorney specializing in estate planning. It is wise tо соntасt legal rерrеѕеntаtiоn in your area as they will have the best understanding of  local laws that need to be recognized. Find a lаwуеr who ѕресiаlizеd in the аrеа оf willѕ and estate planning as they can guide you through the lоорhоlеѕ thаt саn еithеr nеgаtivеlу оr positively imрасt your efforts аnd gоаlѕ. A great lаwуеr will hеlр you tо dеviѕе a ѕtrаtеgу thаt is fullу in уоur fаvor and tаkеѕ full advantage оf аll estate lаwѕ.

In our next installment on estate planning we will go more in depth into the process and how it will affect your heirs and probate as it affects your end goal of transferring your assets.

Learn more about attorney Sean J. Nichols and the legal services he provides for clients including: estate planning, elder law issues, Medicaid planning, elder care, probate law, guardianships, and power of attorney (POA) at www.seanjnichols.com.  To contact the offices of Sean J Nichols call 734.386.0224 today.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Planning your estate when you've got no children or heirs

Having no heirs or surviving spouse can make estate-planning decisions more difficult. Appropriately directing assets involves naming beneficiaries on financial accounts such as 401(k) plans and life insurance policies. Whom to appoint as a trustworthy health-care proxy or power of attorney is also tricky. Certified financial planner Mike Keeler has a client, a retired teacher, who saved diligently for her golden years and will leave behind a sizable estate when she passes away. Her estate-planning challenge, though, is that she has no children. It's a situation financial advisors come across frequently: Childless clients who are unsure what should happen to assets they leave behind or whom to appoint as their proxy decision-maker. "Sometimes there is no close family, and the person doesn't know who to leave their estate to," said Keeler, CEO of Peak Financial Solutions. "They also don't know who to name as executor of their will or who they trust to make decisions for them if they are [incapacitated while still living]. These can be tough decisions." While specific data on estate planning among the childless is hard to come by, studies show that most people fail to put in place even the most basic part of estate planning: a will. For instance, a 2016 Rocket Lawyer study conducted by Harris Poll shows that 64 percent of Americans lack that basic document. The problem with having no will (called dying intestate) is that your state's court system decides who gets your assets. And on top of property-related considerations are other important estate-planning components, regardless of marital or parental status. But decisions that can be hard enough for people with family ties or close friends become harder for those without those relationships. When that's the case, advisors start by encouraging people to focus on their interests and tie them to charitable giving. "I find out what they're passionate about," Keeler said. "When they start thinking about the possibilities and the gears start turning in their heads, it can be a fun conversation." Keeler's client, the retired teacher, decided to establish a foundation to award scholarships to college-bound kids who attended the at-risk middle school where she was a teacher. The scholarships will come with certain stipulations, all determined by the client. Keeler encouraged her to immediately establish her legacy so she can enjoy it while still living. The plan, Keeler said, is for the foundation to award its first scholarship this year. "I told her if you start gifting money now, you get to see the fruits of your labor," Keeler said. "People don't have to wait until they're gone to do this." Part of appropriately directing assets involves naming beneficiaries on financial accounts such as 401(k) plans and life insurance policies. Be aware that those accounts do not pass through the will. For instance, if you named your ex-husband as the beneficiary on your 401(k) plan and never updated that information, he will get that money even if your will names your new spouse as your only heir. An even trickier task than asset considerations can be choosing someone to have medical power of attorney. That designation lets the chosen person make important health-care decisions if you cannot. Get this delivered to your inbox, and more info about about our products and service. Privacy Policy. Married couples typically name each other as their health-care proxy. But after the death of one party to the marriage, the living spouse with no children faces the challenge of naming someone else. Same goes for childless singles who have never married. "They might feel like they are putting someone in a really difficult position," said Justin Halverson, co-founder of Great Waters Financial. "Or they don't know who they would trust to make such an intimate decision" when it comes to medical-care choices, he said. Another helpful tool is a living will, which states your wishes if you are on life support or suffer from a terminal condition. This helps guide your proxy's decision-making. In addition to a health-care power of attorney, it's important to give someone durable power of attorney to act as your agent if you become unable to tend to your finances. Advisors say many clients name different people to handle each health-care and financial decision. Additionally, naming an executor for your estate — regardless of its size — can be challenging. "Doing something is better than doing nothing. Don't let the fact that you don't know the perfect way ... make you do nothing at all." -Justin Halverson, co-founder of Great Waters Financial Sometimes called a personal representative, the executor is the person legally charged with handling your estate. Duties can range from filing a will with the court to selling your house, paying your debts and distributing assets as directed. That individual will be asked to take on the responsibility no matter what else is going on in his or her life. This should be someone you not only trust, but a person with the capacity to handle the responsibility. Halverson said that if you struggle with naming someone, it's worth talking to your bank's trust division to explore naming the bank as executor or setting up a trust. Be aware that while family members or friends typically serve as executor for free, banks will charge a fee. The good news is that once you make these decisions, you don't have to think about your estate plan too often. Advisors say you should check it every three to five years unless you face a major life change. "The important thing is to document what you want to happen and review it periodically," said CFP Kevin Meehan, regional president of Wealth Enhancement Group. "Relationships with people and charities can change." Here are 10 financial terms everyone should know Özgür Donmaz | E+ | Getty Images For instance, one of Meehan's clients initially planned to leave a good chunk of her assets to nieces and nephews. But, he said, she recently changed her will. "That relationship has changed over time, and as [the nieces and nephews] are less interested in her, she's become less interested in giving her assets to them," Meehan said. While estate planning might be about as appealing as a root canal, advisors say that putting a plan in place gives you control that you otherwise won't have. "Doing something is better than doing nothing," said Halverson of Great Waters Financial. "Don't let the fact that you don't know the perfect way to do [an estate plan] make you do nothing at all." — By Sarah O'Brien, special to CNBC.com Original source: http://www.cnbc.com/2017/05/31/estate-planning-when-youve-got-no-children-or-heirs.html Original Author: Sarah O'Brien Original Date: May 31 2017

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Finding an Attorney Specializing in Estate Planning

In order to create a proper estate plan you need to have an understanding of not only your investments but also your personal possessions.  It is also crucial that you are aware of and working with an attorney knowledgeable of the local laws and regulations.   The entire process can seem quite overwhelming if you don’t have the right professionals working with you to create a flawless estate plan to help ensure your estate avoids probate upon your passing.
A qualified estate planning attorney is best equipped to help you through this complex spider web of organizing your assets and creating a solid plan of action in the event of your untimely passing.  It is important to recognize that there is a difference between the types of attorneys that can help you create an estate plan verse one that can get you out of a criminal charge, divorce, or other such legal matters.
In order to create a flawless estate plan it is important that you work directly with an attorney that specializes in estate planning and a variety of issues that come along with aging such as elder law, probate law, wills and trusts, and more.  In this installment on estate planning we will share with you three tips to help you in finding and utilizing an attorney specializing in creating estate plans.
  • Ask your family and friends for references to attorneys that they may have previously used to create their estate plans.  Working with an attorney in estate planning that you already have a remote connection to can generally start the process in the right direction.  The process of creating a plan for the transfer of your estate can be complex and complicated.  Working with a proven trust worthy attorney from the state can help.
  • Get professional references from your financial advisor. They have inside information when it comes to working with area attorneys.  Your financial advisor is incredibly familiar with your financial assets.  They have worked in conjunction with many area attorneys and can guide you to a reputable estate planning attorney from the start. It is beneficial that your attorney and financial advisor have a working relationship as well to ease future transactions with the estate.
  • Take time to spend researching the internet for not only estate planning attorney reviews but also information that is up to date on estate planning. The more you know about estate planning ahead of time the more prepared you will be.  Finding a local estate planning attorney is in your best interest as they will know the ins and outs of the estate regulations in your area.  The internet is a great source to get additional information to help make an educated decision.
As you start looking for an estate planning attorney remember to check for solid references from family, friends and trusted professionals.  To follow up recommendations and to gain more understanding of the process head to the internet for additional research.
Learn more about attorney Sean J. Nichols and the legal services he provides for clients including: estate planning, elder law issues, Medicaid planning, elder care, probate law, guardianships, and power of attorney (POA) at www.seanjnichols.com.  To contact the offices of Sean J Nichols call 734.386.0224 today.

Mistakes to Avoid in Estate Planning

When creating an estate plan it is important to ensure that you are incorporating all the features in the correct way.  This is the main reason that you always hire a professional estate planning attorney to assist.  There are several common mistakes that can be made when preparing an estate plan.  In this installment on estate planning we will discuss the most common mistakes in estate planning to help you avoid making them.
The number one mistake that is made when drawing up an estate plan is not appointing a guardian for your children.  You must appoint a clear cut guardian for your children, in writing, to avoid problems at a later date.  Children under eighteen years of age need to be cared for by a guardian.  When you take the time to talk with individuals in your life about this responsibility and make it official by stating your desired wishes in your estate plan it will be easier to ensure the children will be properly cared for until they are eighteen.  Otherwise, like everything else, guardianship of your children will be determined in probate by the court.
Another common mistake in estate planning is to think that once you have a plan in place that it will forever be current and doesn’t need updating.  Your estate plan must be updated regularly when changes occur.  The birth of a child, grandchild, purchase of estate, and new investments are all changes that will require your estate plan to need updating.  It is in your best interest to get in the routine of updating your estate plan every three years if not more often.  If a fall out occurs within the family but your estate plan was already erected the individuals still have legal rights to your estate.  It is crucial to keep your estate plan up to date and file with an attorney specializing in estate plans and probate law.
Another common issue that is overlooked is inheritance tax.  When you are giving something to someone it is crucial that you account for the taxes that they will be incurring.  There are ways to minimize tax liability to the recipient.  If there a large state of liability, you have to be sure that you are dividing up the tax liability among different individuals.  Doing so makes it easier to account for tax liability and do your best to minimize it.
Proper estate planning should be done in conjunction with an attorney specializing in probate law and estate planning to avoid future issues involved.  An estate plan should ensure that this transition in your life is predictable and non problematic for your heir’s.
Learn more about attorney Sean J. Nichols and the legal services he provides for clients including: estate planning, elder law issues, Medicaid planning, elder care, probate law, guardianships, and power of attorney (POA) at www.seanjnichols.com.  To contact the offices of Sean J Nichols call 734.386.0224 today.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Using Probate Law and the Steps To Follow

Estate planning is the process of anticipating and arranging, during a person's life, for the management and disposal of that person's estate during the person's life and at and after death, while minimizing gift, estate, generation skipping transfer, and income tax.
Believe it or not, you have an estate. In fact, nearly everyone does. Your estate is comprised of everything you own - your car, home, other real estate, checking and savings accounts, investments, life insurance, furniture, personal possessions. No matter how large or how modest, everyone has an estate and something in common - you can’t take it with you when you die but still you need estate planning and probate law.
An estate planning attorney helps and guides you in choosing the correct options for maintaining your estate after death or in case of incapacity. An experienced attorney seeks to fully understand your desires and goals regarding the maintenance of your estate and other property and suggests ways to achieve those wishes. Estate planning lawyers help people write instructions for the future handling of their property, finances, healthcare, and the future support and care of their loved ones.
When it comes to providing for your family’s financial future, estate planning/ Probate law is the most important step you can take to ensure your assets and their legal rights are protected.  Having a proper estate plan in place guarantees your assets will be properly divided and won’t fall into the hands of the court.
Probate law is the legal process whereby a will is proved in a court and accepted as a valid public document that is the true last testament of the deceased
The very first step in the granting of a probate is the legal process of properly overseeing the estate of a deceased person. It involves resolving all the claims and then distributing the property under the will of the property holder. But there is another scenario and that is if the person who passed away had any partnership or there was a co-owner of the business or property then there is no need for probate laws as the property will automatically and legally be owned by the co-owner for example if the deceased person owned bank accounts or property jointly with another person, the co-owner will now be the complete owner of these accounts.
When is probate law needed?
Probate may be needed in the following cases:
  • For transferring the title to the decedent’s assets (assets like bank accounts, real property, stock etc.)
  • For collecting debts owed to the deceased
  • For settling a dispute among all the people claiming to be the owners of the deceased’s property
  • Solving disputes about the validity of the deceased’s will
So one should definitely go for estate planning/Probate law services which are particularly focused on providing advice and direction on techniques and approaches for avoiding probate and related expenses, and the care of individuals who cannot care for themselves, whatever their age.
The Law Office of Sean J. Nichols is dedicated to assisting clients throughout legal issues that come with aging including: elder law, estate planning, probate law and more.  Check out the Law Office of Sean J. Nichols at http://www.seanjnichols.com to contact an estate attorney today.