Tag Archive for: beneficiary

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“There Are No Easy Answers, But There Are Simple Answers.”

“We Must Have The Courage To Do What We Know Is Morally Right.”

The Truth:
Why Your Trust Will Fail, Almost Always

1. Wrong Goals. You want to avoid probate, save taxes, make it easy for the kids. Everyone accepts the sales job. Everyone thinks these are the correct, popular, attractive goals. That’s why probate is never going away. The tax situation you leave is a mess. And the kids will be at each other’s throat.

2. Wrong Tools. Beneficiary designations, living trusts, pour-over wills, ladybird deeds. All intended to accomplish the Wrong Goals. No use when reality strikes.

3. Wrong Process. If you are using the Wrong Tools to achieve the Wrong Goals, is it any surprise that the Process is wrong too? Almost universally, so- called estate planners take the easy way out. They avoid the hard work, the follow-through that leads to success. The job is left half-done. You take the fall. And the blame.

4. Simple, But Not Easy. Ronald Reagan said, “There Are No Easy Answers, But There Are Simple Answers.” Effective planning, LifePlanning™ is not easy. But LifePlanning™ is simple.

5. Correct Goals + Correct Tools + Correct Process = Success. Is it wrong to focus on the real threats to your security and well-being? Is it foolish to use legal tools that have been proven thousands of times over the last thirty-three years? Is it worth spending a little more time and money now for lasting, lifetime success? Or do you wish to join the Probate Parade? Deceive yourself and your family? Invite Nursing Home Poverty? It is your choice, isn’t it?

Job #1: Avoid Nursing Home Poverty

People get old. Keep breathing in and out and you’ll see. It just happens. You are not as young as you used to be. Sixty is the new fifty. Yeah, but 80 is still 80. At least 90 is the new 80, right?

You cared for your parents. Folks in the neighborhood, the lady from church, nieces and nephews, other younger people could be hired to help. But today?

America is aging. We are, on average, getting older. We did not have as many kids as our parents. There are fewer young people. Fewer people to provide long- term care.

More old people. More demand for services. Fewer young people. Less supply of services.

What happens when there is increasing demand and decreasing supply?

What happened to the price of infant formula when the biggest factory shut down?

What happened to the price of oil when oil exploration leases were cancelled?

What happened to the price of gas when pipelines were shut down?

What happened to the price of eggs when avian flu hit the chicken coops?

What happened to the price of imported goods when the ports and harbors were clogged?

What happened to the price of electricity when somebody discovered that solar panels don’t work without the sun and there’s this thing called “night” that follows “day”? Or when the same somebody discovered that wind does not always blow?

What happens when supplies have already been taken by somebody else?

What if there were an unnamed virus of unknown origin that made people sick? And what if people believed that a certain type of respiratory mask would help avoid sickness? What if there were not enough “masks” to go around? What if someone looked ahead and got a supply of “masks”? If someone had planned ahead, what would the consequences be?

Every time you get behind the wheel of your automobile, you have a chance of dying in a car crash. Every single time. Americans do die in car crashes. One American dies for every 70,000,000 vehicle miles (that’s SEVENTY MILLION miles!) traveled. The average car trip is about 10 miles. So, you have a one in 7 million chance of dying each and every time you get into your car. (“Thank you” to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and the Bureau of Transportation Statistics for these numbers – your tax dollars at work!) Americans drive a lot. We drive so much that over the course of our lives, we have an almost 1% chance of dying in that crash. Thank goodness for air bags, crumple zones, and seat belts!

Another branch of our beloved federal government (Department of Health and Human Services) says that at age 65, you have a 70% chance of needing an average of 3 years of skilled care. A big chunk of us, 20%, will need more than five (5!) years of care. Skilled care can come from family members, friends, paid help, long-term care facilities.

Let us recap. Less than 1% chance of flaming car crash death like in the movies. Greater than 70% chance of long-term care. Which one do you care about? Which bad result do you strive mightily to avoid? Which unhappy ending do you simply accept?

Motor vehicle mayhem is bad! Somebody ought to do something! And you do. Drive safely. Buckle up. Hands on the wheel. You know the drill.

Nursing Home Poverty is bad! So let’s ignore it? Let’s pretend it happens to somebody else. Anybody else. Even though the reality is that Americans hardly ever die in car crashes and almost all need long-term care. Care that is harder to get and more expensive by the day. If you can get it at all.

How To Avoid Nursing Home Poverty

Hang Onto Your Money and Stuff While Qualifying for Benefits. You are a taxpaying, conscientious, charitable, forward-thinking, God-fearing American. You pay into the system. You expect some payback from the system. Safe roads. Clean water. Food that is not poisonous. Protection from bad countries that want to make war on us. Not so long ago, we also expected the police to stop shoplifters and vagrants. That was back when we also expected that our national borders counted for something. Remember? Good times, good times.

Social Security. Regular folks who go to work each day also expect that they will have a minimum sort of income when they can no longer work. We call this: “Social Security.” Payroll taxes go in, monthly payments come out. You, the American taxpayer, pay for Social Security. You get payback for your pay in. You don’t have to be broke to get the Social Security you have earned and paid for.

Medicare. Regular folks who go to work each day also expect that they will have a minimum sort of health care when they can no longer work. We call this: “Medicare.” Payroll taxes go in, Medicare taxes/ premiums go in, medical payments come out. You, the American taxpayer, pay for Medicare. You get some payback for your pay in. You don’t have to be broke to get the Medicare you have earned and paid for.

Medicaid. Regular folks expect that there will be no provisions whatsoever for long-term care. We call this the triumph of hope over experience. You pay until you are flat broke. You can keep your house, but have no money for upkeep, taxes, insurance, or utilities. When you are flat broke, you must pay almost all your income to the nursing home or residential care facility. After you are flat broke (except for $2K).

How is long-term health care different than short-term health care? Or income? Or basic income support? It all comes from your tax dollars. You paid for all of it. Why should you go broke? Why shouldn’t you have choices? How is any of this fair? And it gets worse…

What if you were not the penny-saving, bill-paying, overtime-taking, money-for-a-rainy-day-type person that you are? What if payday meant casino-day? What if you were a consistent over-spender? What if your bankruptcy lawyer was on your Christmas card list? Well, then that long-term care is free, free, free. You are in debt to your eyebrows? Come on down!

It is only the responsible people who suffer from the current long-term care situation. People who planned ahead for themselves and their families. People who believed that they had “saved enough” to take care of it. People who believed their so-called “estate planners.” Whoops!

How Do You Protect Yourself And Your Loved Ones By Protecting Your Stuff?

Simple Answer. Get long-term care benefits without going broke. Medicaid wants you broke. But you do not have to accept what Medicaid wants. You can protect what you have earned. Here’s how:

How Medicaid Works

1. What If You Give Away Your Stuff?

What if you give away your stuff and then apply for Medicaid benefits? Medicaid will say, “We will not help you. You had stuff and gave it away. And so we will not pay.” This is called the “Penalty Period.” Medicaid will excuse itself for a period of time. The more you gave away, the longer Medicaid will not pay. Right now, for every $10,000 you give away, Medicaid will not pay for a month. Give away $120,000, Medicaid will not pay for an entire year! But then Medicaid will pay.

In the meantime, while Medicaid is not paying, the nursing home is suing you. And your kids. And your friends, And your first-grade teacher. And anyone else you gave stuff to. You thought you could keep the house? Ha-ha. You thought you could keep an automobile. Yuk-yuk. Whoops!

Funny thing, though. What if you gave away your stuff more than five (5) years ago? What if sixty-one (61) months ago you gave all that stuff away? Then you applied for Medicaid? Things are different. Now Medicaid does not care that you ever had that stuff at all. Does not matter.

So perhaps you should give all your stuff away. Right now. To the kids. Your neighbors. Your first-grade teacher. Then wait for five (5) years. And if you ever need long-term care after that, no problem! Medicaid does not care that you had that stuff and gave it away. Great Plan!

By now, the sharpest knives in the drawer have spotted the problem with this brilliant approach, right? If you give your stuff away, then you have no stuff. And you like your stuff. What to do?

2. What If You Give Away Your Stuff Without Giving Away Your Stuff?

How can you give away your stuff without giving away your stuff? By using a particular kind of trust, that’s how. For Medicaid purposes, you gave your stuff away. For federal tax purposes, state tax purposes, common sense purposes, you did not give your stuff away.

The IRS doesn’t think you did anything when you put your assets in this type of trust. Medicaid says you “divested” those assets. Medicaid says you gave those assets away. Medicaid starts the Five-Year Clock. Five (5) years after putting those assets into that trust, Medicaid will not count those assets as yours. And you will qualify for the Medicaid benefits you have paid for. Without sacrificing your lifesavings, cottage, other stuff.

3. Why Should You Want To Qualify For Medicaid Benefits And Keep Your Stuff?

Why? Do you like paying for the same thing twice? Are you opposed to getting any return on your tax dollars? Does the government know what to do with your money better than you do? Would it be a bad thing to get the government benefits you’ve paid for and have additional lifesavings to purchase additional goods and services? Is it wrong to get the same deal from the government that irresponsible folks get? Would it be better to be flat, busted broke and forced to go to a nursing home than to supplement at-home Medicaid with lifesavings to remain at home? Are your kids and grandchildren so undeserving and ungrateful that you’d rather give your money to the government?

4. This Is Too Good To Be True! Tricksy Stuff Like This Never Works For Regular Folks! Plus It Must Be Wrong Or Immoral Or Something Else That’s Bad Or My Planners Would Have Told Me All About It! And What If I Move Out Of State? And Give Me A Minute And I’ll Think Of Something Else…

On February 8, 2006, Congress overhauled the Medicaid system. Congress replaced 50 states going in 50 different directions with some general principles that apply to everybody. Seventeen years ago, I was shocked when this happened. The Medicaid landscape was rewritten, much to the distress of our long-term care clients. Tools and techniques that had been proven reliable were wiped out. But there was a silver lining to this dark cloud of Medicaid reform.

No longer did it make sense to wait-and-see. The environment was different. Now we had some assurance that a Michigan plan could work in Florida. Or Texas. Or South Carolina. But not California, nothing works in California.

Not only did we have a legal structure that worked from coast to coast, we could rely on that structure to be stable. And so it has proved. Over the last 17 years, thousands of these LifePlanning™ trusts have been implemented by regular folks. And they have worked. Every time. Saving millions of dollars. For regular folks. To maintain dignity. To preserve families. To keep the promise that hard work, saving, planning, and doing the right things will have good consequences for you, your spouse, your family.

For every Medicaid application involving these trusts, we submit a full copy of the trust and all the supporting documents. Total disclosure. Candid honesty. Written evidence. Full documentation. This stuff works because we scrupulously, thoroughly, exhaustively comply with every law, rule, precept, and policy.

Going broke is a choice. Your choice. It is not chance, bad luck, or misfortune.

 


 

Why Don’t You Deserve A Little Payback For All The Taxes You Paid In?

Why Do You Want To Spend Your Last Nickel On Long-Term Care?

Why Shouldn’t The Government Spend Your Money For You?

Traditional estate planning is concerned with avoiding probate, saving taxes, and dumping your leftover stuff on your beneficiaries. After you die. Nobody cares what happens to you while you are alive. How does that help anyone? Stupid.

Traditional estate planning fails because the overwhelming majority of us will need long-term skilled care. 70% of us. For an average of 3 years. And we will go broke paying for it.

Is it surprising that thousands of recreation properties: cottages, cabins, hunting land, are lost to pay for long- term care? Why is your estate planner hurting you and your family? It is evil intent? Or stupidity?

LifePlanning™ defeats Nursing Home Poverty. Keep your stuff. Get the care you have already paid for. Good for you. Good for your family. Good example for society.

When my mother suffered from the dementia which led to her death, over 10 years ago, their estate plan preserved their lifesavings. Mom’s months in the nursing home did not mean Dad’s impoverishment. Dad spent the last years with security and peace of mind.

Is Now A Bad Time For A Real Solution?

Perhaps you think you already have an answer to this problem. Maybe you do not see this as a problem at all.

It is possible that you do not believe in the passage of time or its effects on you.

Peace of mind and financial security are waiting for everyone who practices LifePlanning™. You know that peace only begins with financial security. Are legal documents the most important? Is avoiding probate the best you can do for yourself or your loved ones? Is family about inheritance? Or are these things only significant to support the foundation of your family?

Do you think finding the best care is easy? Do you want to get lost in the overwhelming flood of claims and promises? Or would you like straight answers?

Well, here you are. Now you know. No excuses. Get information, insight, inspiration. It is your turn. Ignore the message? Invite poverty? Or get the freely offered information. To make wise decisions. For you. For your loved ones.

The LifePlan™ Workshop has been the first step on the path to security and peace for thousands of families. Why not your family?

NO POVERTY. NO CHARITY. NO WASTE.
It is not chance. It is choice. Your choice.

Get Information Now. (800) 317-2812

Read the Print Version

He Was A Tight-Fisted Hand At The Grindstone…

(Warning: Typos Intact, Not Legal Advice)
(Copyright Notice: All Headlines Are Quoted From Dickens’ A Christmas Carol)

There Never Was Such A Goose.

Can my sister refuse to show me rent, bill receipts, and bank statements?
Both me and sister were appointed co-administrators of our deceased parents estate. My sister is collecting and holding the rent. She refuses to give any receipts or show me bank statements.

It’s Enough For A Man
To Understand His Own Business,
And Not To Interfere With Other People’s

Simple Answer. No. Sister got bad advice somewhere. Why is she withholding information from her co-administrator? Plus, brother is probably co-beneficiary. Brother needs the information to carry out his responsibility as administrator of the estate. Brother is NOT free to let sister get away with this. Brother is duty-bound to challenge sister, in court if need be. Brother literally owes it to mom and dad to find out what is going on and to carry out their intention.

Interesting Note: Sister embezzles, and brother does not find out. He does not want to find out. He does not want to fight sister. He does not want to know. Brother lets it slide. Isn’t brother an accessory to elder financial abuse? Isn’t brother in big trouble?

Bottom Line: When you agree to act as trustee, agent, personal representative, patient advocate, or other fiduciary, you are taking on a big job. You must fully perform that big job. Sorry if you don’t like it, you agreed. If you did not want the job, you should not have taken it. You should have said “No.” or “NO!” Or no way, no how, not in a thousand million years.

Observation: It is no big deal to get a person to act as Trustee or Executor. The First Time. But it is damn near impossible to get that same person to do it a second time. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

*************

I Have Seen Your Nobler Aspirations Fall Off One By One, Until The Master-Passion, Gain, Engrosses You.
Have I Not?
Our Contract Is An Old One. It Was Made When We Were Both Poor And Content To Be So, Until, In Good Season, We Could Improve Our Worldly Fortune. You Are Changed. When It Was Made, You Were Another Man.

Should I sign a post-nuptual?
My husband and I bought a house almost 3 years ago. My husband put the down payment, a portion of which his parents gave him.
I am equally responsible for the loan and my name is on the deed. I contribute to the household expenses every paycheck. We renovated the basement, to which we both contributed, my husband much more than I. He is insisting that I sign a post nup saying that he would get back every penny of the money he has put into the house
should we get divorced. He wanted to renovate the entire second level, but wants all that money back if we divorce. I have refused, stating that we are married and therefore equal owners. He has subsequently taken all of his parents assets (his father passed early this year) and placed it in a trust controlled by him and only for his family, including our children. I am excluded because I am not a blood relative. He has made it a point to tell me he owns nothing except our house, because he has put everything in this trust. He believes our house is more his than ours, and wants to split the equity only after he gets back all his money. Is this reasonable??

Should You Sign A Post-Nuptial? No. No you should not.

Is This Reasonable? No, No, it does not seem reasonable to me. His actions are not illegal. In fact, the law excludes inheritances from marital property.. So maintaining his family inheritance for his family is well grounded. But is that how you wish to live?

On the Other Hand: Do you recognize your dearly beloved in Dickens’ description of Scrooge?

Oh! but he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster. The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shriveled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice. A frosty rime was on his head, and on his eyebrows, and his wiry chin. He carried his own low temperature always about with him; he iced his office in the dog-days and didn’t thaw it one degree at Christmas.

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee! Is this how you wish to live your life? The Law does not have all the Answers. Some you have to figure out on your own. This is one of those questions. Wasn’t that easy?

*************

And Therefore, Uncle Scrooge, Though Christmas Has Never Put A Scrap Of Gold Or Silver In My Pocket, I Believe That It Has Done Me Good, And Will Do Me Good; And I Say, God Bless It!

Must a Successor Trustee make a Distribution-in-Kind of gold coins left in a trust?
My wife’s parents Trust left every thing to their two daughters to be divided equally. Her sister does not want half of the coins, my wife does.
My concern is if the coins which are all identical are are taken in kind that the tax liability may be different than a direct inheritance of the coins. The coins are documented as in the Trust. The cost of valuing the coins is a concern as well. This is in the hands of a 3rd party fiduciary as the daughters don’t get along.

Death and Taxes. Inherited property, like these gold coins, get a special tax benefit. When the property is sold by the trust or transferred to the beneficiary, there is no tax. And property is treated, for tax purposes, as though the beneficiary owner paid fair market value for it on the date of Dad’s death.

Dad Sells His Coins: Dad paid $5 for each gold coin. While alive, Dad sells a gold coin for $10. Now Dad has $5 of profit. Therefore, Dad must pay tax on the profit. Also known as capital gains.

Daughters’ Doubloons. When the trust sells the coins, the trust also has no profit, no capital gain. No tax. Because the trust is treated as if it had paid full fair market value for the coins. The coins were then sold for fair market value. There is no profit. There is no tax. And the tax-free money goes to the daughter who did not want the coins.

Your wife, the other daughter, wants to keep the coins. That’s just fine. No problem and no tax problem. While valuing coins is difficult, it must be done. Write down the value. Get a written appraisal. At some point, your wife will decide that rather than the gold, she would rather have green, folding money.

When she sells, she is treated as if she paid fair market value, back when the last parent died. Even if the value has continued to increase, your wife still pays much less tax.

Dad paid $5 for each coin. Dad dies.

At his death, the coins are worth $10. Daughter (your wife) sells a coin. For $20.

Daughter’s profit is not $15. Daughter is treated as if she had paid $10 for each coin (the value on Dad’s date of death).

Yes, it is complicated. But did you think the government would make it easy for you to keep any part of your stuff? Of course not…

And It Was Always Said Of Him, That He Knew How To Keep Christmas Well, If Any Man Alive Possessed The Knowledge. May That Be Truly Said Of Us, And All Of Us!
And So, As Tiny Tim Observed, God Bless Us, Every One!

 


 

Bah,” Said Scrooge, “Humbug.” Why Don’t You Deserve A Little Payback For All The Taxes You Paid In?

Why Do You Want To Spend Your Last Nickel On Long-Term Care?

Why Shouldn’t The Government Spend Your Money For You?

Traditional estate planning is concerned with avoiding probate, saving taxes, and dumping your leftover stuff on your beneficiaries. After you die. Nobody cares what happens to you while you are alive. How does that help anyone? Stupid.

Traditional estate planning fails because the overwhelming majority of us will need long-term skilled care. 70% of us. For an average of 3 years. And we will go broke paying for it.

Is it surprising that thousands of recreation properties: cottages, cabins, hunting land, are lost to pay for long-term care? Why is your estate planner hurting you and your family? It is evil intent? Or stupidity?

LifePlanning™ defeats Nursing Home Poverty. Keep your stuff. Get the care you have already paid for. Good for you. Good for your family. Good example for society.

When my mother suffered from the dementia which led to her death, over 10 years ago, their estate plan preserved their lifesavings. Mom’s months in the nursing home did not mean Dad’s impoverishment. Dad spent the last years with security and peace of mind.

Is Now A Bad Time For A Real Solution?

Perhaps you think you already have an answer to this problem. Maybe you do not see this as a problem at all. It is possible that you do not believe in the passage of time or its effects on you.

Peace of mind and financial security are waiting for everyone who practices LifePlanning™. You know that peace only begins with financial security. Are legal documents the most important? Is avoiding probate the best you can do for yourself or your loved ones? Is family about inheritance? Or are these things only significant to support the foundation of your family?

Do you think finding the best care is easy? Do you want to get lost in the overwhelming flood of claims and promises? Or would you like straight answers?

Well, here you are. Now you know. No excuses. Get the information, insight, inspiration. It is your turn. Ignore the message? Invite poverty? Or get the freely offered information. To make wise decisions. For you. For your loved ones.

The LifePlan™ Workshop has been the first step on the path to security and peace for thousands of families. Why not your family?

NO POVERTY. NO CHARITY. NO WASTE.
It is not chance. It is choice. Your choice.

Get Information Now. (800) 317-2812

Read the Print Version

Truth Stranger Than Fiction

Terrifying Typos – Slaughtered Syntax – Painful Punctuation – Obviously Original
And Still Not Legal Advice!!

Do Not Spoil Your Golden Anniversary Or Opportunity

IS IT POSSIBLE FOR A MARRIED WOMAN TO HAVE A TRUST IN ONLY HER NAME OR MUST HER HUSBAND BE ON IT TOO?

I had an inheritance trust in my name only but when we moved to Mi and wanted to change to the new assets, I was told my husband and I had to both be on it. This has been no problem, we’ve been married almost 50 yrs and all is well except he is showing the very first stages of dementia and I would like to keep him from damaging our retirement fund. Can I have the trust in my name and my son’s name. He will take care of the trust when we die.

Short Answer: Possible for a married woman to have her own trust? Yes. Of course. This isn’t Russia. (Is this Russia? No!) So yes of course you can have your own trust. And eat it too!

Longer Answer: Your deceased relative was uncommonly on the ball! Almost all estate planners overlook the charming opportunities presented by death. Sorrowfully, most simply dump assets on beneficiaries. Such laziness would be malpractice, except everybody’s doing it. Because monkey see/ monkey do is a pretty good defense against malpractice.

Also know as the “generally accepted standard of care”. Poor standard of care, poor results… but not malpractice. Why isn’t the standard: “best practices”? Don’t know.

Shouldn’t the test be, did you do the best thing? Hmmm. Let’s dig up that corpse next Halloween.

She: You Only Love Me For My Trust!
He: Yeah So?

The Good: Your relative left you assets in trust. Hurrah! Of course, we do not know the terms of the “inheritance trust,” but let us (charitably) assume the best. Let’s guess that your “inheritance trust” was structured as a third-party supplemental needs/discretionary trust. Done properly, the inherited assets are protected from lawsuits and long-term care. And protected immediately!

Your aged relative, R.I.P. was aware (we hope) that even 50-year golden anniversary marriages occasionally hit the skids. State law says inheritances don’t count in divorce. As a practical matter, everyone knows inheritances do “count.” When assets are dumped from an estate, the first inclination is to put the money in a joint account.

You know it’s true! Then, like a dervish demon from the fiery furnace, the inheritance dollars flee, fly, flit away to get divvied up… But put those assets in a well-constructed trust and you have driven a stake through the heart of the nefarious vampire divorce lawyer seeking plunder!

Perhaps aged relative was also familiar with the “very first stages of dementia beginning to show.” Wise old bird! Relative knew that you would soon be face-to- face with the original Punisher:

Medicaid. Done properly however, your inheritance trust assets are secure from Medicaid’s ghastly, ghoulish, grim, gruesome, grisly, grasping grip. [See what you can do with a thesaurus?] Bottom Line: you are not going broke when hubby needs help because your inheritance trust assets are protected.

The Bad: “When [you] moved to Mi… [you] wanted to change to the new assets…” Probably you just changed financial advisors or re- arranged your investment portfolio.

Dealing with assets already in the inheritance trust does not affect the validity of the trust. If by “new assets” you simply mean replacement investments for stuff that is already in the trust, it is hard to see how your husband could be involved. At all.

On the other hand… What if you and your husband got the awful, terrible, no-good, very bad advice to add your own assets to the trust? That would be ill-advised. It would expose the trust to potential claims. By your husband. By your creditors. By Medicaid. Risky! Unnecessary! Foolish! Typical. Sad. Do not do that thing!

Leave inheritance trust assets alone in the inheritance trust. Manage them, change ‘em out, develop new portfolio strategies. That is all good. But. Do not commingle inheritance trust assets with your household, marital assets. Do not ruin a good thing.

By the way: With LifePlanning™, you will always protect your beneficiaries with an inheritance trust. Because why wouldn’t you?

The Ugly: This guy is ugly. Thank you, Universal Studios.

Show Me The Money!
Whaddaya Mean None For Me?!

My grandmother passed away almost a year ago and I need to know if she left money for me? Want to see if my grandmother left me money from her will

Simple Answer: Go to the probate court in the county where grandmother died. Ask if there has been a will filed for her. Ask if there has been a probate estate opened for her. If yes or yes, get a copy of the Will. Read it. Now you know.

Not-So-Simple Answer: If there was a will or trust and the will or trust is being administered and if you were a named beneficiary, then you should already have received notice. But you have not. That suggests a few possibilities:

1. Grandmother was dead broke when she died.
2. Grandmother had all beneficiary designations on her accounts.
3. Grandmother had leftovers and a will, but no one has probated the will and the stuff is just sitting there.
4. Grandmother had a trust. And you are not a beneficiary.
5. Grandmother had a will. Probate is humming along. And you are not a beneficiary.

There are more possibilities, but these are the most likely. Why not ask your mom or dad? Aunt or uncle? If you cannot get straight answers, you may wish to hire an attorney to help you out. Beware, these things get expensive quickly. And ruin family relationships.

Both are bad.

Home Mortgage Interest Rates Break The 7% Barrier

A few choice quotes from Freddie Mac:

“Mortgage interest rates have increased at the fastest rate since the early 1980s.”
“However, in 1980 and 1981, rates
averaged 16% and 18%”

Mortgage rates “have more than doubled in the past year. Mortgage rates have never doubled in a year before.”

“Kong Save Down Payment! Now Interest Rate Triple! Cannot Afford Bungalow! How Break News To Wife?!”

mortgage rates october 27, 2022

 


 

Trick Or Treat!

Did You Want Your Estate Plan To Be A Nasty Trick?
Is It Wrong To Leave Your Family A Treat?

Why Should The Government Get All Your Halloween Candy?

Why Estate Planning Fails And How To Be A Winner

Traditional estate planning is concerned with avoiding probate, saving taxes, and dumping your leftover stuff on your beneficiaries. After you die. Nobody cares what happens to you while you are alive. How does that help anyone? Stupid.

Traditional estate planning fails because the overwhelming majority of us will need long-term skilled care. 70% of us. For an average of 3 years. And we will go broke paying for it.

Is it surprising that thousands of recreation properties: cottages, cabins, hunting land, are lost to pay for long-term care? Why is your estate planner hurting you and your family? It is evil intent? Or stupidity?

LifePlanning™ defeats Nursing Home Poverty. Keep your stuff. Get the care you have already paid for. Good for you. Good for your family. Good example for society.

When my mother suffered from the dementia which led to her death, over 10 years ago, their estate plan preserved their lifesavings. Mom’s months in the nursing home did not mean Dad’s impoverishment. Dad spent the last years with security and peace of mind.

Is Now A Bad Time For A Real Solution?

Perhaps you think you already have an answer to this problem. Maybe you do not see this as a problem at all. It is possible that you do not believe in the passage of time or its effects on you.

Peace of mind and financial security are waiting for everyone who practices LifePlanning™. You know that peace only begins with financial security. Are legal documents the most important? Is avoiding probate the best you can do for yourself or your loved ones? Is family about inheritance? Or are these things only significant to support the foundation of your family?

Do you think finding the best care is easy? Do you want to get lost in the overwhelming flood of claims and promises? Or would you like straight answers?

Well, here you are. Now you know. No excuses. Get the information, insight, inspiration. It is your turn. Ignore the message? Invite poverty? Or get the freely offered information. To make wise decisions. For you. For your loved ones.

The LifePlan™ Workshop has been the first step on the path to security and peace for thousands of families. Why not your family?

NO POVERTY. NO CHARITY. NO WASTE.
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Can I have sole legal claim over my father’s home? I will have to move to Oklahoma. I will be responsible for paying mortgage, bills, and other living expenses. Along with caring for his medical needs. My two siblings will not be helping. The significant sacrifices have hurt me financially.

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Everyone helps at Christmastime! But that was last week. What about the rest of the year? Your father is blessed to have you. Many people do not have anyone willing to step up. But you must protect yourself to protect Dad.

Undue Influence

Basic Rule: Everyone can leave anything to anyone. It is Dad’s stuff. Dad decides who gets it. But. It gets tricky when the favored beneficiary also helps the giver.
Dad changes his plan to increase benefits to you. Here is what happens next:

Case #1: You are just one of the kids. The other kids can complain all day long. It is up to them to prove that you used “undue influence” on Dad. And that is almost impossible. You win!

BUT…

Case #2: Dad has special trust and confidence in you. Dad depends on you emotionally, medically, and financially. Dad gave you power of attorney. Dad made you his trustee.
Things are different. You are Dad’s “fiduciary.” Dad is dependent on you. Then dies. The other kids complain. Now the “burden of proof” shifts to you! You must prove that you did not use “undue influence on Dad. And that is almost impossible. You lose!

Solution!

Your friendly neighborhood elder law attorney has seen this movie before. Frequently. To avoid the hassle after Dad dies, prepare now. Several techniques are commonly used to protect Dad’s wishes. And you! We can help you determine the best strategy.

But please. Get this fixed now! Family strife hurts everyone. Save your family. Save your sanity. Save your inheritance.

Do I have to watch my mother’s spending before entering a nursing home? My mother is 95 and living in her home. She withdrawals $2000.00 cash every month for her groceries, eating out, clothing, house cleaning, lawn work etc. She has done this for at least the past 10 years. My question is, if she goes into a care home, will the home consider these withdrawals of money a concern, and prevent her from entering home?

Old Habits Die Hard

Today we have COVID. In the 1930’s it was the Great Depression. Cataclysmic events change the survivors. Like your mother. Depression Era folks never trusted banks again. Cash is king!
Your mother’s cash habit is very common. Social Security checks used to be mailed. Many retirees would immediately cash the check. And go walking around with the cash money. Nowadays, Social Security is Direct Deposit. No paper checks in the mail.

Undaunted, folks like your mother go to the bank and withdraw the cash, just like before. This can be a problem.

Prove You Did Not Give It Away!

Nursing home expenses break most middle-class folks. When broke, Medicaid may pay. But not if you gave your money away. When your mother applies for Medicaid, she must prove that she spent her money correctly. For the last five (5) years.

How can mother prove she did not give her money away? No receipts. No cancelled checks. No paper trails. If mother’s caseworker is a stickler, mother can be in trouble.
Nursing homes want to get paid. Mother has no money. Medicaid will not pay. Now what? Now the nursing home sues mother. Mother has no money. But mother has a house! Not for long…

Solution! Save The Homestead

Record mother’s spending now. Collect receipts. Write checks. Set up Direct Pay for utilities. Develop a track record. When the time comes, you can demonstrate that $2000 a month is mother’s routine spending. Your friendly neighborhood elder law attorney can help.

And Beyond!

Applying for benefits does not mean Nursing Home Poverty or silly Spend Down. Learn how to preserve your loved one’s lifesavings, business, cottage, life insurance. Thousands of middle-class families have learned and use these techniques. Why not yours?

Got Questions? Get Answers!

GET ANSWERS NOW… THE CALL THAT CHANGES YOUR LIFE…
COME TO A WORKSHOP… (800) 317-2812

by Bill Bereza, Associate Attorney

My dad was sure that he was going to live to 100. He was born the year after his parents bought the family farm, and he always talked about getting the farm into Michigan’s Centennial Farm Program. Planning for death or incapacity was never on his mind. When he was diagnosed with cancer, he kept on going as normal. He was still working on the farm the week before he went into hospice.

My dad refused to talk about death.

He never talked about what would or should happen with the farm if he became too ill to run it. He would never sign a will or a trust or a power of attorney, and he believed that insurance was a waste of money because “you’ll be dead” when the money comes in. As he came closer to the end, I learned that this was really because of his fear of death. He was still a young man when his father died. His father’s cancer wasn’t discussed until he was dying, so to my father, talking about the end of life meant death.

It’s hard to say that it is fortunate that my dad died quickly. He didn’t spend years in a nursing home. He died at home in the very same bedroom he was born in. We were all spared the guilt of placing him in a nursing home, knowing that he hated being away from his farm. We didn’t need to worry about how to pay for his care; the farm was my parents’ only asset. We knew that the farm was safe, that it didn’t have to be broken up and sold off in pieces to pay for the care that he assumed he’d already been paying for with every paycheck of his working life.

We had luck, a painful kind of luck.


Since then, my mom has made a plan. She has a power of attorney, a patient advocate, a will, and a trust to make sure the farm stays in the family and isn’t lost to the chances of fortune. She knows that what she and dad spent a lifetime working on will be protected for herself and her kids and grandkids. She has shared with us her thoughts, her fears, and her desires. She has given us the gift of relief, from doubt, uncertainty, and guilt.

It’s hard to talk with your kids about death. Some parents may use their own experiences with death in their own lives as an opportunity to discuss mortality with their kids, or as a reason to avoid bringing up a painful experience. The death of a parent is usually the first real painful experience most people will deal with. Your children will have to deal with it whether you want them to or not.

We all know that death is inevitable. Many people decide that because it will happen no matter what they do, they may as well do nothing. Only 4 in 10 American adults have a Will, according to a 2018 Caring.com survey. Furthermore, the survey found that only 1/3 of parents with children under 18 have a Will.

A basic, comprehensive estate plan will include, at minimum, a Will, a Durable Power of Attorney for Finances, a Patient Advocate Designation, Advance Directives, and one or more Living Trusts.

Whether you have a plan – or realize you need one – talking to your kids about it is essential.

Talk about life, before talking about death

The first thing to remember is that we don’t live life in perfect physical and mental health right up until the minute we die. Nearly 70 percent of Americans die in a hospital, nursing home, or long-term care facility. Chances are, you’ll need someone to make medical and financial decisions for you. After a spouse, the kids are most often named in a Durable Power of Attorney and Patient Advocate Designation.

What kind of life do you want, if you’re no longer able to communicate those decisions for yourself? The benefit of starting with incapacity when talking to the kids is that it lets you talk about the things you like. Your favorite foods, books, tv shows; these are positive things to share. The way to share your life wishes is to share with your kids what matters to you.

An Advance Directive is a way to put those life wishes in writing. It’s also a way to relieve some of the stress from your kids. Any child who has had to make care decisions for their parent has probably had to deal with guilt and wonder whether they really are doing the right thing for their parents. By having the conversation with the kids and giving them a written plan, you can ease their burden.

Ask your kids what is important to them, before you plan

Parents often worry about trying to be “fair” to all the kids, trying to plan to avoid what they perceive could be a problem. If you know that one child really cares about your medical care, or another child doesn’t want to deal with finances, or if the children agree on who should inherit what, you can make estate planning decisions confidently and comfortably.

Again, this should be a focus on what matters to your life, and the lives of your kids.

Manage expectations

The conversations we avoid often lead to bigger problems later. If a child is disappointed or surprised by one thing in your estate plan, they are more likely to dispute everything in the plan. A serious problem can occur if, after your death, a child believes that you were forced or coerced into making an estate plan or weren’t competent when you planned. If you tell the kids the plan now, they may be less likely to object later.

Managing the differences

In every family, there are differences between the kids: how well they manage money, how much they need money, and any inherent legal risks in their lifestyle or profession. You may even consider who is the most likely to care for you as you age – due to ability and/or geography – and what sacrifices they’ll need to make to do that.

These considerations can all contribute to how you decide to distribute your estate – equal is not always fair. You may want to leave less to your daughter, because she doesn’t need it, or you may want to leave money to your son in a restricted trust because he can’t handle it. By talking about this with your kids now, you can address your decisions and their questions together, instead of leaving them to make assumptions after you’re gone. The worst situations are when kids are left feeling as if they were “loved less” due to the decisions by their parents. Unfortunately, we do see that now and then, but most often, the reality is that decisions are made from the utmost love and foresight for each child.

Prepare an asset inventory

Most estate planning attorneys will have you prepare a financial information packet detailing your assets. Think of this as a tool for your kids as well. Dealing with the death of a parent can be the most difficult thing that happens to many people. The burden of hunting down what the parent owned, where bank accounts exist, are burdens you can prevent by keeping the inventory with your estate plan.

In any situation after your death, whether it’s in probate court or with trust administration, preparing an inventory is often the first step for your trustee, executor, or personal representative. You can help get that first step done for them.

Your final wishes

The simple things after your death can cause the biggest heartache for the children left behind. You may not care about your funeral plans, the casket decorations, the type of urn, the music or scripture readings. For your kids, this can be an important part of their grieving process. You can help them by discussing those plans with them and putting them in writing. Children often spend a lot of time and money on funeral arrangements because they think “that’s what mom would want” when in fact you may be happy with a simple gathering. They won’t know if they aren’t told.

The next step

Life is full of risk, and life is full of stress. Death is an inevitability, and not talking about it won’t make it go away. If there’s some risk and stress in talking to your kids about this now, there is sure to be risk and stress after you’re gone if things are left unsaid. An estate plan should be a plan for life, and by talking to your kids now, you can craft a plan that will fulfill the needs of your life and the lives of your kids.

by Molly Black, Director of Legal Services

If a Michigan resident dies without a will, otherwise known as dying intestate, the intestacy laws under the Estates and Protected Individuals Code (“EPIC”) dictate who will inherit the property of the decedent. This provides for an inflexible pattern of distribution which may not distribute your assets according to your wishes. The highest priority is given to their surviving spouse, followed by their descendants (children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren), parents, and siblings. The amount that a spouse will inherit depends on several factors, including whether or not it was a blended family.

Any jointly-owned property or accounts with named beneficiaries (commonly, life insurance policies and retirement accounts) will pass directly to the co-owner or beneficiary without going through the probate process.

There is also the question of who will administer the estate. A properly executed Will designates a Personal Representative to carry out your wishes after death. Without a Will, the probate court will appoint someone to administer the estate.

What problems could arise if you die without an estate plan?

The first problem your family could face after your death is determining who will make funeral arrangements. Without a legal document in place that appoints a funeral representative, a Michigan statute will dictate who has the authority to make decisions surrounding the funeral. This includes making decisions about burial vs. cremation, funeral location, and cemetery arrangements.

Secondly, without a Will, there is no guarantee that your property will pass to your intended recipients. Death doesn’t bring out the best in people and when money is involved, things can get ugly. This is especially true in blended families when your biological children and stepchildren don’t get along. You might have a better relationship with your stepchildren, but without a Will, they will not be treated as your own. This can also be devastating to unmarried couples. Intestacy laws only recognize your legal and blood relatives, so an unmarried partner will not inherit their deceased partner’s property if they die without a Will.

In addition to the disposition of property, parents also need to consider their minor children. If you pass away and leave a minor child behind who has no other legal parent or guardian, the court will select a guardian based on the best interests of the child. The court-appointed guardian may not be your first choice, so executing a Will allows you to appoint a guardian of your choosing.

What can you do now?

Planning ahead provides a road map for your family and provides reassurance that your property is passing to your desired beneficiaries. A properly executed estate plan will nominate a Personal Representative of your choosing to handle the administration process, provide clear distribution instructions and lessen the likelihood of family conflict. Everything from burial arrangements, to pet care, to guardianship for minors, to distribution instructions for your family heirlooms can be planned for by creating a comprehensive estate plan.

In addition to giving you peace of mind, having a plan in place can circumvent arguments among family members which will undoubtedly lead to wasted time, expense and family turmoil.

by Samantha Sprague, Attorney

CONGRATULATIONS! Becoming a parent is an amazing experience. One thing you should be accustomed to by now is asking questions. Sometimes you get a lot of ‘answers’ to questions you may not have even known to ask.

Whether you’re brand new to the parenting gig, or have several years under your belt, below are 3 common questions that every parent should consider.

1. What happens if I can’t make my own choices?

Self-care is important, to your sanity and to your health, and sets an important example for your little one. I meet with a number of parents who come in with the primary goal of taking care of their kids.

It doesn’t matter if the kids are 2, 22 or 55 – every good parent wants to make sure their kids are protected. However, the first thing any parenting book will preach is to make sure you take care of yourself.

Estate Planning is no different. Even before you bring your bundle of joy into the world, there are two documents you should have in place: (1) Healthcare Power of Attorney and (2) Financial Power of Attorney. This is the entry level of protection to make sure that if something awful occurs (e.g. car accident, stroke, medical procedure, etc.) you know who will be managing your assets and making medical decisions for you.

This is something that you should have in order before your little one arrives, but if they’re already here, there’s no time like the present to get started.

2. Who is going to take care of my child if I can’t?

No one person is invincible. You need a backup plan in case life goes drastically wrong and you are no longer able to care for your children.

What happens if you die?

Some people leave it up to chance and rely on the probate courts to pick someone to raise their kids. Generally, the courts will give preference to family members, but there are a lot of factors that are taken into account for something called “Judicial Discretion.”

Judicial Discretion means that where your kids end up is entirely in the hands of the probate judge, a person who has never met you, does not know your family, and is unaware of your wishes.

What can you do?

Every parent – regardless of how much money they have in the bank or what they own – should have a will. A will is where parents get to determine who is going to raise their kids if they cannot.

If a parent has guardianship and conservatorship language within their will, they get to choose who their child will live with and who will manage the stuff they leave behind for their child.

This does not eliminate parental rights if your child still has a surviving parent. However, if both parents should die or be incapacitated, the testamentary wishes (Will) outlined by the parents serve as guidance for the court.

There are other considerations that should be addressed with blended families, step-parent’s rights, and same-sex parents.

Each situation is unique and you should consult with an attorney on what your legal rights are and how you can make sure you are putting the right documents in place to provide surety that you decide who raises your kids.

3. How do I protect my kids with my Estate Planning?

As parents, we are hardwired to look out for our kids, to protect them, and to teach them to protect themselves when they are able to.

However, everyone approaches parenting a little differently.

There are helicopter parents trying to ‘bunk’ with their college-aged kiddo, and then there are those employing the sink-or-swim method my grandpa used to teach my mom how to swim in Lake Erie.

With your estate plan, you can put ‘safeguards’ in place for minor children, so the assets you leave are protected both FOR them and FROM them until they learn how to manage the money.

One way to ensure that anything you leave is protected is to create a Revocable Living Trust. This is a document that can be modified as your family grows and requires different types of protection.

A common practice within trusts is to put age restrictions in place. When you have multiple children of different ages you can ensure that minor children receive what they need while still allowing for a fair distribution.

If you are like many young parents, you may find that you are worth more dead than alive due to the low cost of life insurance. Making a trust the beneficiary of life insurance policies can ensure the money is protected for your kids.

There are numerous options for protecting assets for your kids. However, whatever you decide to put in place, it is important to remember that as your life changes and your kids grow, you should plan to update your documents. We recommend annual or semi-annual reviews to make sure your documents evolve along with your family.