Monday, September 26, 2016

Tough Questions To Be Prepared For In Estate Planning

Just the words “estate planning” can be painful for some people to hear let alone participate in.  There are few people in the world ready to address their mental demise or mortality.  Facing these truths is difficult.  Even though it is difficult, it is important to address the issue with an estate planning attorney sooner rather than later.  Estate lawyers know the tough questions that need to be asked. Some of them may make you actually squirm in your seat.  Think about the following issues preparing for your estate planning meeting.
One of the toughest questions has to do with children.  If you have children it is important to come up with a detailed plan of who will be in charge of raising your children should both of you pass away.  Many people have been known to wait to plan their estate until their children were older just because it was too difficult to face the answers to that question.
If parents fail to assign a guardian then the court will be in charge of deeming the best interest of your child.  This is not ideal as you know your children and family arrangements better than the judge does.  When it comes to assigning guardianship to for your children don’t wait.  It is better to face the most difficult questions head on and pray that this part of the estate plan never needs to be executed.
Another issue that is hard to address when it comes to estate planning is preparing for where your estate will go if there is an unfortunate event in which the most important people in your life die with you.  If your spouse and children die with you where do you want your estate to go? Do you have siblings, parents or extended family to pass your estate to or should it go to a charitable cause?  What if you haven’t made time to develop relationships?  It is hard for some people to address the possibility that they have yet to establish relationships and in estate planning this can cause issues.
Estate planning attorneys will want to know about any family that is not mentioned in the estate.  It is crucial that the attorney drawing up your estate is aware of any and all potential objects of your bounty.   Any person that objects to the estate plan and is not addressed can wreak havoc on the plan that you have established.  It could cause additional emotional and financial issues with your family if they are not addressed accordingly in your estate plan.
Another hard issue that is hard to consider when drawing up an estate plan is the relationships that one may be having outside of their family unit.  Some spouses have been known to carry on extra marital relationships.  If assets have been purchased within the extra marital union there could be future complications that should be addressed.  There are certain legal obligations that come about with these relationships so it is important to address the issue with your attorney.  You won’t be able to establish the detailed plan you need to without addressing all issues that could present themselves upon your passing.
There are many uncomfortable issues that need to be addressed in estate planning.  It is difficult to process mortality but to address the nature of the relationships outside of our day to day when planning for the inevitable is even more difficult.  There are many situations that can be mediated before becoming bigger than they need to be if they are addressed ahead of time in legal documentation such as an estate plan.  This is one of the reasons it is so important to be sure that you meet with an attorney to go over a plan of action with your estate if you should become unable to make decisions on your own or you pass early.
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 to contact an estate attorney today.

Mistakes To Avoid With Medicaid and Nursing Homes

When it comes to understanding the federal laws surrounding Medicaid there are many provisions that are made to protect the applicant’s spouse.  Many are unknown and therefore couples fail to take advantage of them.  Without knowing these provisions couples can lose upwards of thousands of dollars unnecessarily putting themselves into poverty in order to pay for their spouses nursing home care.  In this installment we will discuss the mistakes to avoid with Medicaid and nursing homes.
Avoid purchasing assets that are exempt before admitting a spouse into a nursing home facility.  One of the protections for Medicaid applicants is known as the community spouse resource allowance or CSRA for short.  A community spouse is the term that Medicaid uses for the spouse of the applicant.  Exempt items include a couple’s residence, vehicles, household goods, medical equipment, jewelry and a few other specific items.
Non-exempt assets are items such as checking and savings accounts, CD’s, mutual funds, savings bonds and such.  These non-exempt items are subject to spend-down where as the exempt items are not.  To avoid issues from arising from this mistake it is important to wait until after a spouse has been admitted to a qualifying facility to buy any asset that is considered exempt.
Another common error make in Medicaid planning is failing to make use of the non-exempt assets to protect the spouse’s income.  Federal protection is in place to protect the community spouse that is known as the MMNA or monthly maintenance needs allowance.  Many spouses have an income below the MMNA.  It makes sense to use non-exempt assets to raise the community spouse’s income.  It is crucial that couples make it a goal to obtain and maintain income for the remaining spouse who could potentially live for another twenty plus years.
Before spending down assets it is important to meet with an elder law attorney that is experienced in Medicaid law and planning.  An elder law attorney can help couples determine how to use assets that might not otherwise be spent down to provide an income for the spouse.
It is a mistake to spend down Medicaid exempt resources such as an individual’s IRA.   If couples use these exempt funds to pay for care they are basically wasting funds that the other spouse could benefit from in the future.  A couple should never spend down assets without knowing for sure what is exempt and what is not.  Doing so could truly jeopardize the future of the spouse that is not seeking care from a nursing home facility.
Another mistake that can occur comes from having an insufficient power of attorney in place.  When couples who are married seek Medicaid approval they have up to ninety days to make transfers of money and property to the community spouse.  If a proper power of attorney is not in place at that time savings opportunities can be lost forever.
Speak to an elder law attorney specializing in Medicaid planning today.  This will help ensure that in future if something does occur with a loved one that all the proper steps are in place to be sure the process of getting Medicaid approval is quick and painless.  It will also help to guarantee the community spouse can remain living at their current standard of living without jeopardizing either spouse’s quality of life.
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 to contact an estate attorney today.