avoid nursing home poverty

As 2016 Comes To a Close . . . 6 Reasons Why Louisiana Families Should Get Their Estate Planning Legal Affairs in Order

Now that we are entering the final quarter of 2016, let's take a look at the most popular reasons Louisiana families, from Houma to Baton Rouge to Lake Charles to Shreveport, engage lawyers to arrange their estate legal affairs.

1. Simplify the Estate Settlement for Loved Ones. No one wants to leave their surviving spouse, children, or other loved ones a legal mess once they are gone. Arranging your estate's legal affairs in a way that makes it easier for those in charge when you pass can be a true gift to your survivors.

2. Designate the Appropriate People to Be in Charge. I worked with a couple recently who wanted to make sure their daughter handled their estate when they were gone. Just as important was to make sure that their son would not be the one to handle their estate. If you don't designate someone in your estate legadel documents to be in charge when you die or become incapable, a judge will select someone to manage your estate. No one knows better than you who should manage your estate when you die or if you become incapable.

3. Avoid Probate. Since it's simple to avoid, many families want to arrange their financial and legal affairs so that their surviving family members can avoid a court-supervised estate settlement. Those individuals who have been through a messy probate in the past are typically the first people in line at our door to set up their estate legal documents to avoid probate by typically, creating a revocable living trust to own their "probate assets," avoiding the freezing of accounts and real estate when they die, and appointing a family member/Successor Trustee to be in charge of distributing trust assets outside of the Louisiana Succession.

4. Specific Asset Distribution. I worked with a couple recently that wanted certain pieces of real estate to go to particular children. If you want to provide that certain assets be passed to along to certain heirs, you have to arrange your estate legal documents to do just that.

5. Avoid Nursing Home Poverty. It's a shame how many people wait to late to protect assets from nursing home expenses that can wipe you out. You MUST engage a qualified estate planning attorney at least five years before you or your loved one enters a nursing home. Otherwise, you may lose your life savings to the nursing home or to Medicaid. Don't dilly-dally around if avoiding nursing home poverty is a top priority.

6. Avoiding Taxes. It's smart to act NOW to arrange your estate legal affairs to avoid tax which can consume a large chunk of your estate when you die.

The bottom line is that everyone has different estate planning priorities but you all know that it's critical to have everything in order. Whether your primary issue involves avoiding probate, avoiding nursing home poverty, protecting minor or irresponsible children, avoiding taxes, putting the right family member in charge, or disinheriting a son-in-law, take action now to get all in order because you never know when your number might be called.

Four New Client Matters Yesterday - Your Concerns May Be Similar

From time to time I will provide a summary of the issues that I deal with on a certain day so that you can perhaps comment on them, or at least get a feel for what kind of issues we deal with so that you will know that perhaps you are not alone in the kinds of issues that are important to you and your family. Yesterday, I had four new client meetings. Without revealing any confidentialities, the following are four separate summaries of new client meetings that I had with new estate planning clients.

  1. Friend Needs Estate Planning Legal Work. The first discussion I had was with a friend who owns a successful business. He said he was working with some financial advisors from out of state. His goal was to set up an estate plan for he and his wife so that after they both passed away, their business and other assets would transition the right way to his kids. We discussed business ownership, estate tax, irrevocable life insurance trusts, and updating all of his estate planning legal documents which were prepared by another attorney more than 15 years ago when his kids were very young. We'll be meeting again in the coming days or weeks ahead to finalize an estate planning legal program for him.
  2. Couple Wants Each Child To Receive A Certain Piece of Property. My second meeting was with a couple who wanted to avoid probate and make matters simple for the kids. Even though the husband made most of the big financial decisions for the family, it was the wife who really wanted to have everything simple because she was worried that her husband might die first. The couple also had two pieces of real estate - their home and another piece of property. For specific reasons that they indicated, they wanted one piece to go to one child, and another piece to go to another child, and the rest of their estate to be divided equally among the two children. Assets we addressed included: avoiding probate, estate tax avoidance, avoiding capital gains tax on the sale of property, who to designate to handle matters when they die, income tax aspects of inheriting an IRA and a stock portfolio, the wife's need to rely on their CPA if the husband dies first.
  3. Surviving Spouse Wants To Simplify Complex Estate. We worked with a family that had in the past set up some complex trusts for their children and grandchildren. The surviving spouse now wanted to simplify the surviving spouse's estate, leave it to the children, and then ultimately let the children inherit it and figure out how they can provide for their children. Issues we addressed included: estate and gift tax avoidance; lifetime charitable giving; giving to charity at death; naming an executor of a Will; updating prior estate planning legal documents.
  4. Avoid Probate and Avoid Nursing Home Poverty. My final new client meeting of the day was with a couple that was very clear from the outset of the discussion. The husband had been through a nightmare probate in recent years and he was very clear that he wanted his family to avoid the two probates that they would otherwise have to go through after he and his wife died, and they did not want to lose assets due to their possible future nursing home expenses. Issues we addressed included: Medicaid Planning; IRAs and SEP-IRAs; avoiding probate; how to handle bank accounts and CDs; Irrevocable Trusts for Medicaid Planning; how to title boats and vehicles to avoid probate.

I also took a call from a potential Probate client, but I told them that I was not the attorney for them. The woman's attorney/friend referred her to me. Her mother had died but the daughter did not have a good relationship with her two step-siblings. The mother owned a home but died with a Will or with any estate planning legal documents in place. Since this was likely to be an adversarial matter between the parties that would likely last for years in the court system, and since these matters never work out well, I told them that I would respectfully decline their offer to have me represent them in the potentially hotly contested matter. I wish them well. 

Are You Sick and Tired of Worrying That You Will Lose Everything Because of a Nursing Home Stay?

     I want to tell you about a great family I was working with that lives close to our Lake Charles office.  The mom had come to two of my presentations.  She came to one with her friend and then after that, she told her children, “You need to come with me and hear what this guy has to say because I think I need to do something.”  So she came to a second presentation that I gave and she brought two of her children with her.  It was kind of funny because the children said, “She is never going to do anything.  She's going to procrastinate and put everything off to the last minute.”  Nonetheless, Mom took some initiative and said, “I have to do something.”

     So, Mom and one of her children came into the office and we started talking. Mom was really worried about the potential for losing everything to a nursing home and she did not like the idea of losing control.  She did like the idea of leaving a fairly significant amount of money in her name, perhaps her IRA and some of her savings accounts, so she could have a couple $100,000 to do whatever she wanted to with.  She wanted to move some of her assets that she really never planned to spend into a trust where she could control it and the kids wouldn't get it until she died.  It would be structured in a way that those trust assets could not be lost if Mom experienced a long-term care nursing home situation. Mom felt really good about it, she was ready to go, and the children felt good about it also.  They just wanted what was best for Mom.  Mom wanted to make sure that the children would be taken care of when she passed away and Mom didn’t want to put herself in a situation where she would lose it all.

     Many people structure things in a way so that they keep certain assets in their name and they protect other assets that they want to protect and pass along to their children.  So, no matter what happens, the person retains control over funds and funds are protected from a potential nursing home situation.  If that's a concern of yours, give us a call and we can have a talk.


Give Me 10 Minutes, I'll Give You an Estate Planning Tip About How to Avoid Nursing Home Poverty

     I was meeting with a family recently, the mom and her daughter came into the office. The family’s number one concern was making sure that mom didn't lose everything that she had saved if she had to go into a nursing home in the future. Mom's plan was to stay out of a nursing home and the children's plan was to keep her out of the nursing home.

But, you never know, and you have to prepare for the worst. So, we talked about all of the things that Mom owned and all of the things that she would lose if there was a nursing home situation. She had three different investment accounts, one was an IRA.  She had a couple of different pieces of property and because she was in her seventies, she was starting to transition control of the assets to one of her children. So, she and her child came in and the end result was that we set up an arrangement or a very particular type of trust, where that family out of Baton Rouge, is going to be able to protect everything they have. They were fortunate because they felt like they were doing it in a timely manner because they knew of the importance of taking this kind of legal action at least 5 years before entering a nursing home. So, things are being transitioned from everything being owned by Mom to everything in an arrangement that Mom and her child can oversee and it will be structured in a way that it’s protected, just in case mom goes into a nursing home in the future. Also, they like the secondary benefit which is when Mom passes away everything will just transition immediately to the three children equally, outside of any probate or court proceedings.  So, if you have a situation like this and you would like to talk to us about it, feel free to give us a call.   I'll be happy to chat with you about it.