Category Archives: Asset Protection

CAREGIVER EXPO – A Must For Caregivers!

Caregivers – Don’t miss out!  Take advantage of the  “Solutions for Family Caregivers Expo” tomorrow (Saturday, October 14) from 9 to 2 at the Suburban Collection Showplace located in Novi, MI.  This is a once-a-year event, and only every other year in Oakland county.

I will be there alongside Jim Schuster, Elder Law Attorney, for the afternoon session called “Elder Law Mini-Course for Caregivers.” Drop by our booth. I’d love to see you and personally give you resource materials that will help you be a more informed and effective caregiver.

At no charge, you have access to many experts in seminars on topics such as: maximizing Medicare benefits, caregiver health, hospice, protecting assets, dealing with dementia, grief recovery, getting quality medical care, and elder law.  You’ll also have access to an exhibit hall stuffed with businesses providing support services to caregivers.  Thousands will attend this event.

Here’s the link for more information about the breakout sessions, times and directions: Caregiver Expo

 

I hope to see you tomorrow!

Virtual Currency Shouldn’t be Overlooked when Putting Together Estate Planning Documents

Gene Richards_8x10@300Virtual currency may not show up in portfolios of many senior adults, but it shouldn’t be overlooked when putting together wills, trusts and powers of attorney. Not surprisingly, a national survey on consumer use of virtual currencies found that among those 65 or older, 75 percent said they were “very unlikely” to purchase Bitcoins. However, some seniors are trendy and tech savvy and might have a virtual currency “wallet.” Here’s a well written blog article on the importance of addressing bitcoin and other virtual currencies in the estate planning process. I’ll add that it is also critical to identify all assets and resources when trying to qualify for Medicaid and VA assistance to pay for long-term care.  Without adequate planning a legal representative, whether agent under power of attorney, personal representative (a/k/a executor) of a will, or trustee of a trust will have difficulty dealing with unique property, such as virtual currency, if the owner is incapacitated or has died.

The elder law and estate planning attorneys at Cummings, McClorey, Davis & Acho, P.L.C. (CMDA) regularly assist clients in planning with unique assets, such as virtual currency.  Even if it is too late to plan, the CMDA attorneys can still help by petitioning for the appointment a conservator in the local probate courts.  Gene Richards may be reached at (734) 261-2400 or nrichards@cmda-law.com. 

Property and Health Care Decision-Making Agents for MS Client

Video 4 ImageWe want to share a series of videos (5 total) that demonstrate how Elder Law attorneys can help those with MS.  The forth video focuses on Property and Health Care Decision-Making Agents.  When an individual is diagnosed with MS, preparing for medical and financial decision-making by other people is a necessity. The video outlines what legal documents must be in place to ensure wishes regarding financial management and healthcare will be honored.

These videos were produced through the collaborative efforts of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and Stetson University College of Law.  The videos will be posted on successive days.  Or you can go directly here to watch them all at once.

The elder law team at CMDA is experienced in helping vulnerable clients of every age.  We are available to assist younger individuals dealing with a disability or debilitating illness such as MS.  We help our clients maintain quality of life and preserving independence for as long as possible. We hope you find value from these videos.  We also welcome your feedback.  Contact Gene at CMDA’s Livonia office by calling (734) 261-2400 or by email at nrichards@cmda-law.com.

The Five Most Common Mistakes an Elder Law Attorney Sees

Jim Schuster is a Certified Elder Law Attorney and a colleague of the CMDA Elder Law team.  He is a welcome guest contributor to our elder law blog.

Everybody knows of the problems of aging adults, however few give it the serious attention it needs.  The failure to address these issues appropriately can result in serious financial distress and/or a loss of independence.  I have outlined five common mistakes made by aging adults and tips on how to avoid making them.

First Mistake: Doing nothing
If you do nothing to deal with aging you have a good chance of lifetime probate. That means the probate court must appoint a guardian or conservator to handle your affairs.  One study found that the number one cause of probate guardianship was the need for emergency medical treatment when the patient cannot give consent.

The cost of probate over your lifetime can be enormous and you lose control over your life.   It’s like being a child again.

Second Mistake: Only planning for death
Many people think they are “all set” if they have a will. A will is only effective at death.  We are talking about lifetime issues, not what happens after we die. For example, in a hospital or a nursing home an empowered advocate can mean the difference between life and death.

Third Mistake: Joint property with children
Many seniors think they are all set if they have a daughter or son on their bank accounts with them.  The thinking goes “that way they can pay the bills if I cannot.”  There are many problems with joint accounts.

The first is that it solves only one problem of aging: paying bills. Joint accounts give the child no ability to help the parent in any other way.  If the child calls the insurance company they will ask “Are you the insured?” The child will say “No. But, I’m joint on the bank account.” That goes nowhere.

The more serious problem is the risk of loss of life savings to a child who has financial bad luck.  The same can go for the house.  If a child is a joint owner, then if the child is sued, divorced or goes in bankruptcy so does your property.

And finally, joint accounts can be the source of probate battles after the death. What if a parent makes an account joint with one child? After the parent dies, will the child share it with the other children?  What if the parent’s will says to share equally?  Unfortunately there are no absolute legal rules and questions like these are often answered after a bitter battle in probate court.

Fourth Mistake: Paying employees under the table
People who perform personal services in the home are “employees.”  The recipient of the services is the employer, who is responsible for collecting and paying income, social security, Medicare, and unemployment taxes.

Let’s make it personal. Suppose the lady falls down the stairs carrying laundry.  She can file for workers’ compensation and have her medical bills and her wage loss paid by the employer – you.  If you “let her go” because daughter can now do it, the lady could file for unemployment.  And then you start hearing about back taxes, interest, and penalties

Fifth Mistake:  Not getting legal advice for “means tested” government benefits
Veterans “Aid and Attendance” and Medicaid nursing home benefits are very valuable to elders. But, they are “means tested.”   They have asset and income limits.  Few people know that these programs allow some common sense solutions to losing all your life savings before you get your earned benefits. Like the income tax you need to know what “deductions, credits and exemptions” the programs allow. When it comes to these government benefits get legal advice.

Conclusion: It is really easy to do it right
For the average person a “life care” plan is no more difficult than preparing for “death and taxes.”  All you have to do is identify your trusted assistants and give them legal authority to do what they will need to do – everything. And then make sure they know when to get professional advice.  Do that and you are 99% there to having aging go as smoothly as it can be.

Jim Schuster, a Certified Elder Law attorney, is an Of Counsel attorney at the law firm of Cummings, McClorey, Davis & Acho, P.L.C. He has been licensed to practice law since 1978 and practices entirely in the area of Elder Law. Mr. Schuster helps elders stay independent and in control and helps children of aging parents with the advice and legal documents they need to carry out their parents’ wishes and take care of their needs. Additionally, he assists clients with the complex Nursing Home Medicaid application process.

Attorneys in the Estate Planning and Elder Law practice group at Cummings, McClorey, Davis & Acho, P.L.C. are available to answer any questions about the five common mistakes outlined above.  We offer compassionate, common sense solutions for seniors worried about the future.  Contact us at (734) 261-2400 or www.cmda-law.com

New Tools for Asset Protection and Estate Planning

Asset Protection ImageIndividuals in Michigan seeking to protect assets from creditors no longer have to transfer their assets to Delaware, Nevada or Alaska.  Effective February 5, 2017, the Qualified Dispositions in Trust Act, Domestic Asset Protection Trusts, Public Act 330 of 2016, will allow the owner of trust assets to retain and protect his or her assets from creditors, while still retaining the power to direct investment decisions, the power to veto distribution

Read more

Estate Planning: A Continuous Process

Living Trust and Estate Plan ImageEstate planning is a continuous process and estate plan documents should be reviewed at least every decade and upon any major changes in lifestyle or family structure.

A basic estate plan includes a Will, a Medical Power of Attorney, and a Durable General Power of Attorney for financial matters.

A Will addresses the distribution of assets, paying debts and taxes, and providing guardians and conservators for any minor children.

Read more

Contributing to a Roth IRA through the Backdoor in 2017

Roth IRA ImageMany high income earners believe that they cannot contribute to a Roth IRA.  This is because they are unaware of the loophole they can use by contributing through the backdoor.

The income limitations imposed by the Internal Revenue Service create the perceived barrier.  For 2017, the income and contribution limits for a Roth IRA are as follows:

Read more