How Family Dysfunction Can Wreck Your Estate Plan

In this video recorded a few months ago, Cindy discusses some of the ways family dysfunction can torpedo the best-laid estate plans.

Other articles/videos you may find interesting:

Why is This Probate Taking So Long?

4 DIY Estate Planning Fails

***Want to learn more about how to protect your family from the government, lawsuits, accidental disinheritance, or nursing homes? Click THIS LINK to book a seat at one of our upcoming fun and educational workshops.***

Everything You Eat, Drink, Do, Don’t Do, and Are May or May Not Cause Dementia

Don’t waste time worrying about dementia; live life, control what you can control, plan for the worst, and hope for the best.

Like most people, dementia fascinates and terrifies me. I read everything I can about it, and have shared many articles about dementia studies on our Manasota Elder Law Facebook page and Twitter account. But I’m seriously considering discontinuing that practice because I realized today that most of the articles about the studies provides no actual value, and may cause people to believe something that hasn’t been definitively proven to be true.

I pulled up a bunch of recent dementia-related articles on Google recently and this is what I saw:

Do you see a common theme? I do: No one actually knows what causes dementia – it’s all still a guessing game.

Who can say for sure that the people in the aluminum and fluoride study didn’t also have belly fat or gum disease? Or that maybe people with hearing or visual impairment have high fluoride levels? Apparently black people disproportionately suffer from high blood pressure and diabetes, which are alleged to be correlated to dementia. But perhaps there’s a link between belly fat, high blood pressure and diabetes?

I don’t know. I’m not a doctor or scientist. And neither are most of you. But I do know how to think critically and I also know there’s a huge difference between correlation and causation.

So, perhaps, until someone can absolutely prove that something always CAUSES dementia – not just that there’s a CORRELATION – we should stop worrying about things we can’t control and live the best, happiest and healthiest lives we can. And part of that is planning for the worst while hoping for the best.

So, when you see articles purporting to show a link between something and dementia, take it with a grain of salt. And maybe a shot of tequila. 🙂

Other articles you may find interesting:

Can I Protect My Daughter’s Inheritance from Her Loser Husband?

Free Legal Advice – Worth Every Penny

Would you like to learn more about estate planning, elder law, asset protection planning, probate, and Medicaid planning in an informal, no-obligation setting?

To sign up for one of our free, educational workshops CLICK HERE.

NFA Firearms: Why You Should Name a Florida Executor or Trustee

In this video, Cindy discusses what actually happens when you die in Florida while owning NFA firearms, and you named an out-of state executor or trustee.

Other articles/videos you may find interesting:

Want Prison Time? Make an NFA Firearm Without ATF Approval

Gun Trusts Gone Bad

***Want to learn more about how to protect your family from the government, lawsuits, accidental disinheritance, or nursing homes? Click THIS LINK to book a seat at one of our upcoming fun and educational workshops.***

Long-Term Care: Plan Before It’s Too Late

long-term care
Planning for long-term care while you’re young and healthy opens up many more options than you’ll have if you wait.

You should start thinking about your own long-term care when you’re in your 50s and 60s. By the time you’re 70, some options could be gone. With the national median annual cost of a private room in a nursing facility coming in at more than $100,000, not having a plan can become one of the most expensive mistakes of your financial life. The article “Four steps you can take to safeguard your retirement savings from this risk” from CNBC says that even if care is provided in your own home, the annual median national cost of in-home skilled nursing is $87.50 per visit.

There are fewer and fewer insurance companies that offer long-term care insurance policies, and, even with a policy, there are many out-of-pocket costs. However, there are options to traditional long-term care-only policies you should consider, such as life insurance and annuities with long term care benefits.

People also often fail to prepare for the indirect cost of caregiving, which primarily impacts working women who are taking care of older, infirm male spouses and aging parents. More than 34 million Americans provided unpaid care to older adults in 2015, with an economic value of $522 billion per year.

There’s also the stress of caring for loved ones, watching them decline, and needing increasingly more help from other sources.

The best time to start planning for long-term care is around age 60. By that time, most people have experienced their parent’s aging and understand the planning and conversations with loved ones that need to happen.

Living Transitions. Do you want to remain at home as long as is practicable, or would you rather move to a continuing care retirement community? If you’re planning on aging in place in your home, what changes will need to be made to your home to ensure that you can live there safely? How will you protect yourself from loneliness if you plan on staying at home?

Driving Transitions. Knowing when to turn in your car keys is a big issue for seniors. How will you get around if and when you’re no longer able to drive safely? What transportation alternatives are available in your community?

Financial Caretaking. Cognitive decline can start as early as your 50s, leading people to make mistakes that cost them dearly. Forgetting to pay bills, paying some bills twice, or forgetting about some accounts, are signs that you may need some help with your financial affairs. Consider simplifying things by having one checking account, one savings account, and three credit cards: one for public use, one for automatic bill-paying, and a third for online purchases.

Healthcare Transitions. If you don’t already have an advance directive, you need to have one created as part of your overall estate plan. This allows you to state, in writing, how you want to receive care if you’re not able to communicate your wishes. Not having this document may mean that you’re kept alive by “heroic” or extraordinary means (machines) when you’d prefer to die naturally. You’ll also need a Health Care Power of Attorney/Designation of Health Care Surrogate so you can authorize a person to make medical decisions on your behalf when you cannot. This person doesn’t have to be a spouse or an adult child—sometimes it’s best to have a trusted friend who will follow your directions. Make sure this person is willing to serve, even if your documented wishes may be challenged.

Reference: CNBC (Jan. 31, 2020) “Four steps you can take to safeguard your retirement savings from this risk”

Other articles you may find interesting:

Simple Safety Tips for Seniors

Will my Illinois Will Work When I Move to Florida?

Would you like to learn more about estate planning, elder law, asset protection planning, probate, and Medicaid planning in an informal, no-obligation setting?

Sign up for one of our free, educational workshops here.

What is an ABLE Account?

In this video, Cindy explains what an ABLE Account is and how it may help your disabled loved ones.

Other articles/videos you may find interesting:

Administering a Special Needs Trust

Naming a Family Member as Successor Trustee: Pros & Cons

***Want to learn more about how to protect your family from the government, lawsuits, accidental disinheritance, or nursing homes? Click THIS LINK to book a seat at one of our upcoming fun and educational workshops.***

Unique Veterans Benefits in Your State – 2020

  • Post category:Veterans
Veterans benefits
Okay, so maybe this doesn’t have much to do with veterans benefits, but I love the statue and he is a veteran. 🙂

I’m a U.S. veteran and so is my husband and two of our children. We have lots of veteran friends and I have a very large number of veteran clients. But I’m constantly surprised at the sheer number and variety of benefits available to veterans – if they know to look for them.

I won’t pretend to know all the benefits provided to Florida veterans, but if you’re interested in learning more for yourself or a loved one, start with this article in which each state mentions their newest or most unique veteran benefit. Then just keep following the links you find in each article to discover more and more…

Other articles you may find interesting:

Will my Illinois Will Work When I Move to Florida?

Simple Safety Tips for Seniors

Would you like to learn more about estate planning, elder law, asset protection planning, probate, and Medicaid planning in an informal, no-obligation setting?

Sign up for one of our free, educational workshops here.

What Happens When a Beneficiary Form Doesn’t Match the Will or Trust?

beneficiary form
Your beneficiary designation forms may booby-trap your estate plan.

What happens when a beneficiary form – whether it’s on a TOD account, an IRA, life insurance, or an annuity – is different from what Mom or Dad wrote in their Will or Revocable Living Trust? Unfortunately, this often isn’t discovered until after Mom or Dad is dead. As this article mentions, generally, what’s on the beneficiary designation form trumps the Will or Trust, even if that wasn’t the intention.

I often hear Mom say “I just put my oldest daughter on my bank/investment account as a beneficiary because I know she’ll split it with the other kids.” Bad juju there. Maybe she would, but as soon as Mom’s dead, that money is legally 100% hers. She could buy a new house, put in a pool, travel to Italy and there’s nothing her siblings could do about it. Maybe she’s incapacitated and her husband is now controlling all of her assets as the Agent on her Durable Power of Attorney and he decides to (legally) use the money to buy a new car, fix the house, etc. Bye, bye inheritance. Or, she’s hit with divorce papers shortly after Mom dies. Oops, if she deposited that money into their joint bank account, it’s now a marital asset that will subject to the divorce.

Beneficiary forms should be used very carefully and reviewed every couple of years because each institution’s rules about what happens if one of those named beneficiaries dies before inheriting is different. Never assume anything. And meet with an estate planning attorney to make sure you have an actual plan, not just a bunch of random documents that may work at cross purposes to each other.

Other articles you may find interesting:

What’s the Difference? Living Will, Health Care Surrogate, DNR

Can Medicaid Take Your Home?

Would you like to learn more about estate planning, elder law, asset protection planning, probate, and Medicaid planning in an informal, no-obligation setting?

Sign up for one of our free, educational workshops here.

Bad Things Happen to Young People, Too

In this video, Cindy discusses why younger people should be sure to have all the legal documents necessary to protect themselves and their loved ones in case something awful happens.

Other articles/videos you may find interesting:

4 Myths About Wills

Naming a Family Member as Successor Trustee: Pros & Cons

***Want to learn more about how to protect your family from the government, lawsuits, accidental disinheritance, or nursing homes? Click THIS LINK to book a seat at one of our upcoming fun and educational workshops.***

Why is This Probate Taking So Long?

Probate
There are many reasons a probate can take 9-24 months from start to finish.

After a loved one dies, her money and property must be distributed to the right people, either according to her Will or the state’s default distribution scheme (found in its “intestacy” statute). While most people want the settlement process to be done ASAP, probate can take between 9 and 24 months. Yes, you heard that right. The time delays create unnecessary stress, especially for families who need access to those accounts or property.

5 Reasons Probate Takes So Long

There are many reasons why the probate process takes so long. Here are five of the most common:
  1. Paperwork. Managing probate-required paperwork can be a monumental undertaking with structured timelines and court-imposed deadlines.
  2. Complexity. Estates with numerous or complicated accounts or property simply take longer to probate, as there are more items to be accounted for and valued.
  3. Probate court caseload. Most probate courts were dealing with high caseloads and limited staff before COVID-19, and it’s worse now.
  4. Challenges to the Will. Heirs, beneficiaries, and those who thought they’d be beneficiaries, can object to and challenge the Will’s instructions and legal requirements. While state law dictates the length of the time period during which they must object, Will challenges can add years to the probate process. Some of the most common challenges include assertions that the Will maker was:
    • Lacking testamentary capacity (i.e., lacking the legal or mental ability to make a Will)
    • Delusional
    • Subject to undue influence (wrongful pressure to do something they didn’t want to do)
    • A victim of fraud
  5. Creditor Notification. The deceased person’s creditors must be notified of the deceased person’s passing and the probating of her estate so they have time to submit any legal claims for debts. This time period also varies from state to state, but it is generally four to nine months (three months in Florida). The bottom line is that, while most state probate laws are designed to keep the process moving along in a timely manner, that’s more of a plan than a reality.

Simply Put, Avoiding Probate with a Trust Is Better

Simply put, had the deceased person created a trust to hold her accounts and property, the long, complicated probate process could have been avoided. By creating and funding a trust, those accounts and property would no longer be viewed as being owned by the deceased person and would not be subject to the supervision of the court. Their distribution would be controlled by the instructions left in the trust agreement. Administering a trust instead of a probate is usually quicker –meaning that beneficiaries receive assets more quickly, costs are reduced, and stress levels are kept to a minimum.

Take Action Now

First, if you need help settling a probate estate, we can help you move the process along and remove some of the burden so you can move on with your life. Second, we can help you make sure you never burden your loved ones the way you’ve been burdened. How? We’ll show you how to avoid probate with a trust. Give us a call today. As an added convenience to our clients, we’re able to meet via phone or video conferencing, if you prefer.

Other articles you may find interesting:

9-Step Guide for a Personal Representative

To Probate or Not to Probate?

Would you like to learn more about estate planning, elder law, asset protection planning, probate, and Medicaid planning in an informal, no-obligation setting?

Sign up for one of our free, educational workshops here.