Friday, December 16, 2016

Elder Care Law: Long-Term Care

Elder law attorney Randall Kaiden is working to ensure that seniors have the opportunity to live out their lives, their way. For the last decade, about 10,000 people have turned 65 each day, and according to Kaiden, this trend should continue for the next decade as well. In regards to the aging population, the best place for seniors to live is often in their own homes. Kaiden often asks his clients, “Who’s the most famous person you know, who had full-blown Alzheimer’s, never left his home and stayed there for the rest of his life?” The answer is Ronald Reagan.

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Monday, December 5, 2016

Passing Your Home to Your Children Tax-Free

Giving your house to your children can have tax consequences, but there are ways to accomplish it tax-free. The best method to use will depend on your individual circumstances and needs. The simplest way to give your house to your children is to leave it to them in your will. As long as the total amount of your estate is under $5.45 million (in 2016), your estate will not pay estate taxes. In addition, when your children inherit property, it reduces the amount of capital gains taxes they will have to pay if they sell the property.

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Jewish Post: Estate planning and elder law benefit all

If a trip abroad were in your future, you’d undoubtedly make careful plans, from financial arrangements to who’ll take care of your house and dependents during your absence. But despite the realities of aging and death, many of us are less proactive when it comes to estate planning or the ways elder law may affect our daily lives. Life can change in moments. Estate planning and elder law attorneys agree that everyone needs three documents:

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Friday, October 7, 2016

Updating your estate plan

If you are 18 and mentally competent, at a minimum, you should have a will, a financial power of attorney and a health care power of attorney. I have reviewed many estate plans that do not even include these three basic documents. If you are missing any of these three documents in your estate plan, then your estate plan is in serious need of updating. Even when you have a trust, you still need a will, a financial power of attorney and a health care power of attorney as part of your estate plan. A trust without any of these three basic documents results in serious gaps in your estate plan, which would need to be reviewed and updated.

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Estate Plan - Getting Started

For some people, the prospect of a consultation with an elder law estate planning attorney is stressful and emotional, bringing up fears of talking about uncomfortable subjects such as death and disability. Many don’t know what to expect. In reality, the first consultation is more like a “getting-to-know you” session, covering specific topics to help the lawyer give correct advice. Generally, you complete a form ahead of time and bring copies of materials requested on the form. You will be considering decisions that affect your assets and your loved ones, possibly for generations to come.

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Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Two Estate Planning Lawyers Better Than One?

An estate planning lawyer usually serves clients alone, without involving any other lawyers in the estate planning process. In some cases involving married couples, however, one lawyer cannot do the whole job alone because the lawyer’s ethical obligations prohibit the lawyer from serving both the husband and the wife. Sometimes, a lawyer needs to insist on representing only one spouse, and insist that the other spouse hire a separate lawyer for estate planning.

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Estate Planning benefits

One of the hardest times for any family is when a major pillar of the household has fallen through demise or being incapacitated. This may lead to squabbles among family members who each feel entitled to a part of the cake and so it is crucial that proper estate planning is done using a very good lawyer. This is perhaps the most important aspect of estate planning, something that a good lawyer well insists on. Ensuring that you have planned your wealth when it comes to inheritance ensures that you not only have a peace of mind but that there is peace in your family.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Do only high net worth individuals need a will?

Traditionally, the answer to that question has been “Yes” — particularly if you have a spouse and child. Lately, though, some financial advisers have been saying that many Americans might not need a will. “Certainly the simpler you are, the less of a complex estate plan you need,” says attorney Jeffrey Greener. “But very few people are simple. If you have minor children, only a will names a guardian for those children. A will or a trust will allow you to name someone to watch over assets for a disabled or elderly family member or someone who may not have the financial sophistication to manage those assets.”

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Monday, September 26, 2016

Early planning pays off for Medicaid & Insurance

Long-term care can be expensive and is often an out-of-pocket expense. Medicare, a federal program for people older than 65 and those who have certain disabilities, doesn't generally pay for long-term care. Medicaid, a joint state-federal program designed for people who meet certain income requirements, might be an option for adults who have limited assets. Who's eligible for Medicaid and which services are covered varies by state. If you don't expect your savings to cover the cost of long-term care, you might be able to finance care through long-term care insurance. In exchange for monthly premiums, long-term care insurance covers nursing home care or other services. Premiums increase with the person's age, and coverage benefits vary. If you're considering long-term care insurance, make sure the policy covers any pre-existing conditions as well as conditions that could develop later, such as dementia.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Medicaid and Seniors

It’s often confusing to seniors what state and federal programs they may be eligible for and how the government programs differ. For instance, I recently met with a client who had been living at home until about three years ago. At that time, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and, anticipating the need for greater care down the road, he made gifts to his children totaling about $200,000. This left him with about $40,000 in assets. He moved into a HUD Housing Community and he qualified for assistance and lived there for about a year.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

What constitutes elder abuse?

Exploitation, painful or harmful mistreatment, and neglect of anyone 65 or older may be classified as elder abuse. While many associate elder abuse with caregivers, it can be carried out by a scam home repair outfit, a phony lottery, or a telemarketing rip-off. Elder abuse also can involve the wrongful taking of a senior’s money. 

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Sunday, September 11, 2016

Estate Plan Need Updating?

Should estate plan be re-written every few years to keep up to date? There’s not really any one thing that tells a person that their estate plan needs to be updated, a person has to keep track of their estate plan all on their own. Fortunately, that’s not as tough as it sounds as long as you look for the signs. One of the easiest signs to watch for is simply when a person has changed their mind. If your will says John is to receive the home after your death and now you want it to go to Jane, it’s time to make a change.

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Monday, September 5, 2016

Finding an estate planning attorney to develop estate plan

Most of you put tremendous effort into saving and investing for the future but neglect estate plans. It can be uncomfortable and awkward to work on your estate plan, but the failure to plan for the thoughtful distribution of your assets can be disastrous. Your estate plan is a significant part of your financial plan and needs to be accurate and thorough to cover most contingencies. I encourage most individuals to work with an estate planning attorney to develop or maintain a plan. To select an attorney ask friends, colleagues and professionals for a referral. Speak with at least three attorneys to find one you feel comfortable with, who provides the services you need. If you have a complicated situation, select an attorney who is proficient with complex estate planning.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Power of Attorney in Elder Law

While drafting power of attorney is a relatively “small” affair, the language of the document can have significant long-term negative impact. The power of attorney is generally signed in advance of a person’s onset of a disability in order to name someone to “stand in her shoes” in order to manage all daily financial decisions should the principal become incapacitated. That’s where the agent — the person named to handle the affairs — steps in and takes command of a variety of business and daily transactions. The issue is that no one knows when he or she suddenly may become incapacitated. Failure to have the document in place prior to the disability renders the principal unable to execute a document when it’s most needed.

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Friday, August 26, 2016

How elder law attorney can help seniors

Here's a familiar scenario: A husband or wife has an immediate need for a nursing home. They are financially unprepared and have no one to guide them on their options when a loved one needs long-term care. Too often they believe they have no choice but to sell their largest asset, their home, to pay for that care. When potential clients in this situation call me, the first thing I ask is whether they have consulted an elder law attorney. Too often, their answer is no, as 55 percent of Americans die without a will or an estate plan. An experienced agent should immediately let you know that an elder law attorney could be the key to protecting your family’s health and financial well being, including the assets such as the family home you worked so hard for.

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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Why You May Need a Revocable Living Trust

As an estate planning and elder law attorney, clients often ask they should have a revocable living trust. With the increased expense of probate and the overuse of the court system, a revocable living trust can be a good estate planning option. In addition to avoiding probate, there are many benefits to holding your assets in a revocable living trust. 1. Providing for You if You Become Incompetent. If you are competent, you will generally be your own trustee. However, if you are unable to make decisions for yourself, your trustee or successor trustee has a fiduciary obligation to act in your best interest.

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Friday, August 19, 2016

Wills, trusts - when planning for estate

Wills and revocable living trusts are both common terms in estate planning. Both apply to distributing assets, but although the two are sometimes related, they serve very different purposes. A will provides instructions about distributing property after a person’s death. Most living trusts are “revocable” because they can be changed along with circumstances or wishes, and they are “living” because they are established while a person is alive. A will only goes into effect when you die, while a trust takes effect as soon as you create it. Whether you need one or the other depends on many individual factors that are best sorted out by an estate planning professional. Stephen Lane, an estate and trust attorney, says there is no simple estate. “Everybody has complexity,” he says.

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Thursday, August 18, 2016

Estate Planning with an Attorney

Many jurisdictions prevent spouses from being disinherited, so a court could void provisions in a will that leaves everything to children from a prior marriage. Remarriage also doesn’t revoke a will. Sometimes a surviving spouse has a right to take an “elective share” of the deceased spouse’s estate regardless of the language in a will. This is typically one-third or one-half of the estate. Your estate can include almost all your property. This may result in your children receiving less. Be sure to discuss this situation with your estate planning attorney so the proper language in your will can be drafted. This is a good time to discuss all your estate planning documents including your durable power of attorney, advance medical directives, trust provision, and your beneficiary designations.

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Estate Plan - for digital assets

From bank accounts to Paypal, a good percentage of our personal and financial lives are online. If you fail to account for those digital assets in your estate plan, you risk burying your family or friends in red tape as they try to get access to and deal with your online accounts that may have sentimental, practical or monetary value. One potential problem with failing to plan for these assets is that your executor will have a hard time tracking everything down. That could mean some of your assets are simply lost.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

New York Elder law attorney learned from her aging parents

I had a wide-ranging interview with Menzies about her job as an elder law attorney, her interest in creating a center on aging in Western New York and what it was like as the primary caregiver to her elderly parents during the last four years of their lives. The topic of the last years of someone’s life – and the importance of planning for them – is so vast, and Menzies’ comments were so illuminating. 

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Elder Law Attorney on Medicaid

In most states, a house that is a person’s primary residence is exempt for purposes of Medicaid eligibility. But there are conditions for exemption. The net value of the house can’t exceed $500,000. (States have an option to increase that to $750,000, but only a few have done so.) And the owner needs to sign a form stating her intent to return to the house, even if that seems an unlikely prospect and she remains in a nursing home.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Elder Law Attorney may help aging parents talk finances

Lots of people don't like to talk about their finances. It can be especially difficult with seniors because the conversation is often about more than just money. Speaking about money with family makes some seniors very uncomfortable, said Jerry Lynch, a certified financial planner with JFL Total Wealth Management in Boonton, New Jersey. Discussing finances could also create a situation where someone feels you're trying to trying to control and take your parents' money, he said. To avoid that, if possible, bring in help from the outside. A financial planner, estate attorney or Certified Public Account can be more objective and less threatening, Lynch said.

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Estate Planning Lawyer comes to your home

Many people know they need to have a will, but they just have a hard time getting around to it. Plus, who wants to cart around a box of all the necessary documents you’ve dredged up, and then wait around in an attorney’s office? Florida Attorney Anne Moore has solved that problem with her business, Florida Wills on Wheels. Having an attorney come to your home is usually an expensive proposition. Ms. Moore uses technology to offset those costs. “There are a lot of attorneys who will go to a client’s home and meet with them and do their estate planning,” she says. “But that costs more money because of the attorney’s time and traveling, and the attorney is conducting the entire interview. 

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Friday, August 12, 2016

Estate Plan's critical elements

Question: My children approached me about going to a lawyer and getting a “power of attorney.” They say it will help them care for me should I get ill. They make it sound pretty straightforward but I just want to do my homework. Answer: A power-of-attorney (POA) is a standard legal document that is an important part of any estate plan, it allows you to appoint a person (or organization) to manage your affairs. The person authorizing the other to act is referred to as the principal, grantor, or donor. The one authorized to act – likely one of your children – is the agent. The principal determines the amount of power given to the agent. This individual can be given authority to deal with only one particular issue, or to handle most of the principal’s personal and financial matters.

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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Questions for your estate planning attorney

You may think of estate planning as something simple. You may have seen the forms for the statutory will or patient advocate designation and thought, "I can fill that out." Or maybe you have seen the advertisements for the online do-it-yourself plans. In reality, estate planning is anything but simple. Estate planning is one of the most complex areas of the law. Think about it. You want to make sure that you are in control of your assets while you are alive and well. In the event of your mental disability, you want to provide for you and your loved ones. And when you are gone, you want to give what you have to whom you want, when you want and the way you want. You want to do this at the lowest overall cost to you and those you love. Planning for you and your estate, both during your lifetime and after your death, is the legal equivalent of heart surgery. This is going to require lots of instructions. To make the proper instructions, the estate planning attorney has to have a working knowledge of six areas of the law — estate planning, elder law, business, real estate, taxation and probate.
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When marriage needs an estate plan

You know that I rarely use the expressions “always” or “never.” My usual expression is “it depends.” However, I might break that rule regarding second (or subsequent) marriages and the need for an estate plan instead of just Wills. Wills affect only probate assets, those titled in your own name, not jointly titled, and have no beneficiary designation. An estate plan looks at the whole picture and considers who will receive what on your passing regardless how the assets are titled now. For second marriages, I might even go so far as to say that every second marriage needs an estate plan. Beginning with those least affected I will explain why.

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Sunday, August 7, 2016

Elder care law can cause intense family situations

Imagine this common scenario: Aging Parents are slowing down. Their adult children, concerned for their safety, want to move them into assisted living, but they insist they are doing just fine and will stay at home. Or this one: Aging parents are ready to move to a nursing home, but the children balk, fearing their inheritance will be consumed. Caring for and coping with aging parents are issues that will affect most families, often reviving sibling rivalries and recriminations as brothers and sisters struggle for control.

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Friday, August 5, 2016

Estate Planning for College Bound Children

If your child is not 18 yet, they will be soon. At that point, they are no longer a minor under your control. They are a legally independent and afforded all rights associated with achieving the age of majority – including a right to privacy and protection of assets. This can sometimes create a headache for parents wanting to provide and manage funds for the new student. Parents often want to help their children while allowing the child to have more independence. With a durable power of attorney (DPOA) you can provide funds to your child and manage those funds without owning the account. A DPOA is a legal document that gives a person the power to act in your place. In the case of a child in college, it allows a parent to set up an account in a child’s name, allow the child to be responsible for the account and begin to create a credit history

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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Estate planning advice from attorney

There is an old television commercial tag line that said “you can either pay now or pay later”. The “pay now” approach to estate planning means preparing in advance for a physical or mental incapacity and the disposition of your estate at death. The “pay later” approach means being unprepared by doing nothing or underprepared by relying on out-of-date or “do it yourself” documents which will force your loved ones to react to situations that happen. I always advise my clients that they have the same choice. The choice is between having an estate planning attorney draft the appropriate legal documents at a flat fee or paying substantially more in hourly fees to react to an incapacity or death in the family. Worse yet, if there is no plan or a bad plan in place it might cause family discord, disinheritance or wasting of assets.

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Elder Law Financial Advice on Aging

There’s an emergency room in your hospital and you’re judgment proof. Show up and demand treatment, but don’t breach the peace or you’ll end up in detention. Utilize your V. A. clinic, but don’t fib about your service. Apply for use of the Lincoln County indigent fund and see if you can get on Medicaid and food stamps at Income Support. Medicaid can pay some of your Medicare premium. Get your vaccines at Dept. of Health and utilize the local mental health center. Talk to friendly pharmacists about help from big pharma (all the little cards). Use senior center transportation and elder supplies, and Alzheimer’s Association care provider respite vouchers. Read the front section of the phone book; it’s full of things I’m not including.

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Elder Law: About Medicare

Medicare is a federally program providing health insurance for people who are 65 or older, or for people who are under the age of 65 with certain disabilities. Medicare provides individual coverage only, and each spouse must be covered separately.To be eligible for Medicare one must be a U.S. citizen or a legal permanent resident of the U.S. for at least 5 continuous years, at least 65 years old, or if under age 65, receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits for at least 24 months, or have end stage renal disease (ESRD), or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. There are no income or asset requirements, so everyone who meets the eligibility requirements above is entitled to Medicare coverage.

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Sunday, July 31, 2016

DIY Estate Planning Drawbacks

Finding tips, guidance and assistance for estate planning has never been easier via the internet. Such do-it-yourself wealth management planning is relatively inexpensive, fast to find, and seemingly simple to pull off. Nevertheless, there is a risky downside to transferring hard-earned accumulated wealth to your heirs without professional guidance, sometimes resulting in unseen mistakes and unintended financial consequences, experts warn. “Oftentimes, it is a client’s loved one’s urging them to meet with me based on knowledge that the client drafted the estate plan themselves,” says Dana Rifai, an estate planning attorney with Burke, Costanza & Carberry in Merrillville. “Do-it-yourself estate planning clients want to ensure that the estate plan was done correctly and will be effective upon the client’s passing.”

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Estate Planning for Those Approaching Life's End

If you (or a loved one) are entering hospice or close to life's end, you may need to act quickly to prevent unnecessary legal, tax costs on your estate. Planning is also critical to provide peace of mind for both you and your family. Here are some of the key concerns to consider. Immediately effective durable powers of attorney for financial matters are needed to be sure that the plan can be implemented without the necessity of obtaining a doctor's letter later. The person handling your financial affairs under a power of attorney is called your attorney in fact. If you trust your attorney in fact to handle your affairs if you are incapacitated, then you should be confident in their actions while you are competent. Note that you can monitor your attorney in fact if you are competent. On the other hand, you cannot monitor them if you are incapacitated.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Asset Protection Trust State Comparison

Now more than ever with the federal government focusing on U.S. taxpayers moving money outside the country, the trend will be towards using domestic asset protection trusts—not offshore trusts—says Peter Gordon, a trust lawyer in Wilmington, Del. Understand that setting up a DAPT is a preemptive strategy. “If you’ve already got problems, setting up a DAPT isn’t going to fly; the idea is to do it before you have problems,” says Gordon. Interested? Here’s help in deciding what state to set one up in.

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Is Revocable Trust Protecting Your Assets?

Everyone should be concerned with asset protection, which involves taking legal steps to keep assets safe from creditors or civil judgments against you. It is especially important for the wealthy as they have more assets at risk and could be more frequent targets of large lawsuits. Unfortunately, in my experience, people tend to confuse certain tools used for estate planning — which is the process of determining what will happen with your assets when you die — with asset-protection tools. That can lead to large gaps in asset protection. The most commonly misunderstood tool is the revocable living trust.

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Monday, July 25, 2016

Why do estate planning?

Ask anyone why they do estate planning and you’re likely to get a variety of answers. But at its root, the answer to the question: “Why do estate planning?” was answered best by one of my partners who said, snickering: “If you love your family, do you really want to leave them with a mess?” Estate planning is one of the easiest and most desirable things to postpone. It’s an investment of time and money in something that’s generally intended to be relevant at a time in your life you’d rather not think about. Without judging our own importance too substantially, it’s still very fair to say that our passing will leave those we care about with a fair amount of adjustment. For some, it’s far worse — it can leave a devastating financial and emotional void for those who rely on us.

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Tips to find a lawyer

Few people enjoy hiring lawyers. But when trouble strikes and a lawyer is actually needed, it can be difficult to pick the right one. The cost of legal services varies widely, from as little as $50 an hour to as much as $1,000 "or more." With such a wide range of prices to choose from, the first factor people should look at is price. Something closer to that $50 mark than to the $1,000, and as far away as possible from that ominous "or more." All other things being equal, though, what specific qualities should one look for when choosing between two lawyers charging equivalent prices for their services?

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Estate Plan And A Wealth Transfer Plan Differences

Unfortunately, only about 45% of adult Americans have estate-planning documents. Generally as one accumulates more assets as well as gets older, the probability of having estate-planning documents increases. When you die without a will or trust, the State where you reside has laws that determine to whom your assets will go. This may or may not be what you want. But since you did not have your wishes recorded properly, you do not get a choice.

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Monday, July 18, 2016

Talking to Parents about Wills and Estate Planning

Recent study surveyed more than 1,200 parents aged 55 and older, along with one of their adult children at least 25 years old, on topics that range from elder care, estate planning, and the ability to cover living expenses in retirement, to see if parents and kids were in agreement. This year, the survey included new questions about the role children play as parents get older, which revealed that four in 10 families "disagree on the role their child will play as parents age." Overall, while 93 percent of parents didn't find becoming financially dependent on their children acceptable, only 30 percent of children said the prospect of their parents becoming financially reliant on them was unacceptable. Communication about wills and estate planning was also lacking. More than 27 percent of the children that parents expected to be executor of their estate weren't aware of it. The study found that 55 percent of parents assumed that their oldest child would be their executor.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Financial planning is important for seniors who want to donate to Charity

It’s important for people who donate to charities to have a “joyful giving experience,” says Stephanie Bowers, CEO of Western Washington University Foundation. “People want to see their gifts make a difference, want to see something change,” she says. But questions arise. What makes charitable giving meaningful? How can people with limited resources make a significant impact? What will have the most effect when there are so many choices — not only of where to donate, but how and when? The answers involve more questions.

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Large Tax Bill? Consider Charitable Planning

When the thought of filing your income tax return brings you an intense feeling of dread, it may be time to consider leveraging charitable giving to purposefully mitigate your tax exposure during a high-income year. Charitable lead annuity trusts, private foundations, and donor advised funds are three legacy planning techniques which may help you to accomplish both your philanthropic and tax objectives. Charitable Lead Annuity Trust. A Charitable Lead Annuity Trust (CLAT) is an irrevocable trust that provides for a “lead” charitable interest in the form of an annuity payable to one or more charitable organizations, or a private foundation, for a fixed term of years.

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Thursday, July 7, 2016

Estate Planning can decrease expenses

Like so many things in life, leaving loose ends when it comes to your estate planning can lead to failure to achieve the desired end result—more money left to your family, friends or choice charities. It can cost your estate dearly, and sometimes no amount of time or money can rectify the problems left by half-hearted efforts. Here are some steps you can take to minimize your future estate costs. And if your estate attorney never discussed these topics, it might be time for a legal checkup or a second opinion. 1. Update your beneficiaries. At the time of your death, a lot of your estate may not pass by your will. With retirement plans, life insurance and transfer on death (TOD) accounts, you can name a beneficiary to receive these accounts once you pass away.

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Friday, July 1, 2016

Don't shed assets for Medicaid eligibility

Live long enough, and you may face a difficult transition: You need nursing home care, but your assets will run out long before your life ends. If you have no assets, Medicaid will pay for nursing care, but only once you’ve used up most of your own resources.

Scrambling to qualify for Medicaid can be difficult and leave your spouse or heirs with less than you had hoped. That’s why the best time to plan for the possibility you will outlive you assets is years or even decades before your money runs out.

Almost all Americans, regardless of income or assets, are eligible for Medicare to cover their health care in retirement. While Medicare covers doctor visits, treatments, hospitalization and drugs, it does not pay for long-term care. Medicare will cover a short-term stay in a nursing home for rehab, but it will not cover any type of long-term care.

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