Category Archives: Estate Planning

How does a living trust help me to avoid probate?

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Answer:  Once you have created your living trust, you can avoid probate on all of the assets that are transferred into the trust.  By transferring your assets into the trust, your assets are then held by you as trustee of your trust and upon your death, the trust operates to provide for the distribution of those assets to your beneficiaries pursuant to your instructions to your successor trustee.

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DISCLAIMER – Every case is different because every case is different. This blog does not give legal advice. This blog does not create an attorney client relationship. You are not permitted to rely on anything in this blog for any reason. This blog is an entirely personal endeavor. Every person’s situation is different and requires an attorney to review the situation personally with you.
No attorney-client relationship is created by this site.

The use of the Internet, this blog or email for communication with this firm or any individual member of this firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Before we represent any client, the client and the attorney will sign a written retainer agreement.
If you do not have a written, signed retainer agreement with us, we are not representing you and will not be taking any action on your behalf.

 

If I create my own trust, does a bank or trust company have to be involved?

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Answer:  Absolutely not.  Most people who create their own trusts choose to be their own trustee while they are healthy and select a child as a “successor trustee” in the event that they become incapacitated or die.  However, if you create your own trust you can also name a bank or trust company to be trustee of your trust and to manage your financial affairs in accordance with the provisions of your trust.  Normally banks charge a fee for this service as a percentage of the assets in your trust.  If you have created your own trust and do elect to have a special corporate trustee, you, or your successor trustee can also remove or select a new special corporate trustee should you or your successor trustee feel that the special corporate trustee is not acting in your best interests.  Be cautious where parties such as banks or trust companies offer to “assist you” in setting up your trust since they will normally insert the bank or trust company as a present or future trustee in such a way that you or your children cannot change.

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DISCLAIMER – Every case is different because every case is different. This blog does not give legal advice. This blog does not create an attorney client relationship. You are not permitted to rely on anything in this blog for any reason. This blog is an entirely personal endeavor. Every person’s situation is different and requires an attorney to review the situation personally with you.
No attorney-client relationship is created by this site.

The use of the Internet, this blog or email for communication with this firm or any individual member of this firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Before we represent any client, the client and the attorney will sign a written retainer agreement.
If you do not have a written, signed retainer agreement with us, we are not representing you and will not be taking any action on your behalf.

 

Can my successor trustee make changes to my living trust?

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 Answer:  No.  Once the individual(s) who created the trust (i.e., Settlors) have died or become incapacitated, no changes are permitted in the trust.

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DISCLAIMER – Every case is different because every case is different. This blog does not give legal advice. This blog does not create an attorney client relationship. You are not permitted to rely on anything in this blog for any reason. This blog is an entirely personal endeavor. Every person’s situation is different and requires an attorney to review the situation personally with you.
No attorney-client relationship is created by this site.

The use of the Internet, this blog or email for communication with this firm or any individual member of this firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Before we represent any client, the client and the attorney will sign a written retainer agreement.
If you do not have a written, signed retainer agreement with us, we are not representing you and will not be taking any action on your behalf.

 

Another Reason to Have a Trust

By Attorney Dan Vu

There are many benefits to having a trust. There are plenty of blogs on this website that tout the major benefits which, depending on what type of trust you have, can run from avoiding probate or achieving tax savings to protecting assets from the cost of long term care. However, there are some relatively unknown benefits that trusts also have. These benefits, in the right situation, can be a major help.

For example, did you know that your bank accounts can be FDIC insured to a higher maximum amount if they are owned by a trust? Normally, the FDIC will insure an owner up to $250,000. Consider this: If you have $300,000 in a bank account titled to you alone, $50,000 will not be insured in the event your bank cannot honor your deposits (that is, if they go under). On the other hand, if your trust is the owner of your bank account, FDIC insurance is based on the number of beneficiaries you named in the trust. So, with our example of a $300,000 bank account, FDIC insurance is calculated by multiply $250,000 by the number of beneficiaries you named. For example, if you are single individual, and your trust has named your three children as the death beneficiaries, the FDIC will cover your bank account up to $750,000 (3 X $250,000). So even though your death beneficiaries have zero ownership over the trust during your life, the FDIC will insure you in consideration for their future interest.

As a warning, the rules get complex if you start changing the type of ownership and the amount of beneficiaries. The easiest way to determine your FDIC insured amount is to use their calculator.

They call it the EDIE Estimator. Use this calculator to determine your FDIC insurance. You can find the link here: https://www.fdic.gov/edie/calculator.html

DISCLAIMER – Every case is different because every case is different. This blog does not give legal advice. This blog does not create an attorney client relationship. You are not permitted to rely on anything in this blog for any reason. This blog is an entirely personal endeavor. Every person's situation is different and requires an attorney to review the situation personally with you. No attorney-client relationship is created by this site. The use of the Internet, this blog or email for communication with this firm or any individual member of this firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Before we represent any client, the client and the attorney will sign a written retainer agreement. If you do not have a written, signed retainer agreement with us, we are not representing you and will not be taking any action on your behalf.

 

Is my Bank Secure?

 

By Kathy Cooper
 
Do you have a reason to worry about the security of your money in your bank?  Let's look at the facts:

In a recent posting, Fivecentnickle.com projected that about 10-20 banks will fail 2013. Geographically, you are more likely to see a failed bank if your bank was in Illinois, California or Florida as you can see in this map. Tennessee, Montana and a few other states had no bank failures since 2008. This map shows the distribution across the US from 2008 – 2011.

 

So, in reality, your chances of having to worry about a failed bank are 10 or 20 in 7,053 of the FDIC-insured institutions in the US. Even if you did invest in a failed bank, you only have to worry if your account was more than the FDIC limit in any one bank. Here are some FAQs about FDIC insurance:

 

What is covered by FDIC? Savings, money market deposit accounts and certificates of deposit (CDs)

How much is covered? Up to 100% of the insured amount, including principal and interest

How can I tell if my bank is covered by FDIC? You can call the FDIC at 877-275-3342 or search for your bank at http://www.fdic.gov/deposit/

How much of my deposit is insured? Up to $250,000 per depositor, per insured bank. You may find it easier to go to the FDIC estimator, EDIE, which you can find on-line at EDIE that calculates approximately how much is protected based on how your assets are titled.

What if my money is in a Credit Union? Credit Unions are insured by the NCUSIF, a federal fund similar to the FDIC.

What do you need to do to protect yourself if you are a senior (or you are taking care of the finances for a senior)? Here are a few tips from Attorney Thom Cooper, the found of Cooper, Adel and Associates:

  • Spread them across different types of investments and institutions. How much should you invest in each? That depends on your overall estate plan goals, your health and your family situation.

  • Consider insurance or annuities. Insurance companies have insurance in each state similar to FDIC and NCUSIF for annuities and insurance policies. For more information, see NOHLGA which is the nation information site for these funds.

  • Remember that stock, bonds and mutual funds do not have these types of guarantees. If holding on to your assets is your main concern, these may not be the best investments for you. Seek professional advice.

  • Be careful about the way in which you title your assets. How your assets are titled can make a difference in how much is protected from probate or from a catastrophic healthcare event that requires long term care.

  • Be careful about the way you set up your beneficiaries for your assets. Most of us do not want to pay more estate (death) taxes that we must. Your beneficiary designations can make a big difference.

Whatever you do, make a plan and make that plan with a trusted team of professionals. At Cooper, Adel & Associates, we believe that the best way set up your plan is to work with an elder law attorney as the lead on your team of professionals. As Thom always says, “If you don't have a plan, Uncle Sam has a plan for you and it will probably not be a plan you want!”

 

 

DISCLAIMER – Every case is different because every case is different. This blog does not give legal advice. This blog does not create an attorney client relationship. You are not permitted to rely on anything in this blog for any reason. This blog is an entirely personal endeavor. Every person’s situation is different and requires an attorney to review the situation personally with you.
No attorney-client relationship is created by this site.

The use of the Internet, this blog or email for communication with this firm or any individual member of this firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Before we represent any client, the client and the attorney will sign a written retainer agreement.
If you do not have a written, signed retainer agreement with us, we are not representing you and will not be taking any action on your behalf.

 

“Do it Yourself” Advice is Cheaper now, but More Expensive Later…

 

By Attorney Mitch Adel

For years, I have been a subscriber of Real Simple magazine. I love the short quick reads that offer advice on how to solve everyday problems that come up in life and around the house. Nothing beats a simple “fix it” or input from another reader about how to solve common problems in ways you might not of thought of yourself. I seen an article that is related to what I do everyday, but that all changed this month. In the March 2013 issue there is an extremely useful article on “5 tough parental talks.” As it says in the tagline of the article, it is not easy to discuss death and dying with your folks but it's important all the same. The topics in the article are written as questions and are terrific, but please BE CAREFUL, some of the cost- cutting advice can have the opposite effect.

The second question in the article, an important one, asks “Do you have a Power of Attorney?” This is an extremely important document, and the advice on how to start the process with someone's parent is spot on. The author and her source explain that the best option is to contact an elder law attorney. Now, if you have read some of our elder law firm's blogs in the past, I can see how you might think my writing about this article is self serving, but in addition I want to share with you the reasons why.

The first question asks “Do you have a will?”, again a great question and a document that everyone should have, but be careful about the advice that is given. The author's source explains that not having a will means that the probate court judge will divide the assets and this process can cost thousands of dollars. Depending on the complexity of the assets that the deceased person had this can be true, but please also understand that even if you have a Last Will and Testament, your family may still have a costly probate experience. In fact, if you rely solely on a will for an estate plan, your estate will go through probate. This answer to the first question, again ends with the advice of how to start the process and shares that an attorney is the preferred option, but the scariest part is next. Their advice is to offer a cheaper alternative – a “do it yourself” (DIY) website. In the writer's defense they do acknowledge that using the DIY method should only be used if you have no property and few or no investments. My worry here is that some people will only see this as a cheaper solution and again, if not used properly a “simple” will can have the opposite effect.

The most hair-raising question in this article is “Do you have an authorized user on your bank and investment accounts?” Again, great question and putting the financial institution on notice of the above mentioned power of attorney is the best answer. However, in the article it says that families should meet with their bank or brokerage house to fill out the appropriate paperwork to have another family member listed as a co-owner and then list the account joint with rights of survivorship. This will allow the other family member (child) to withdraw funds and close accounts if the parent becomes incapacitated or passes away. While both the ability to access the funds and close accounts outside of the probate court are true, the article fails to mention that if the child, while the parent is still alive, has any creditor issues such as a car accident that leads to a lawsuit, a divorce or a bankruptcy, all of the money in the parent's account is exposed to that co-owner's (child's) creditors. In order to avoid having the children's problems affect the parent's assets, families should rely on a properly drafted power of attorney to access the funds while the parent is alive and a beneficiary designation on the account or a revocable living trust to avoid the probate court's involvement at death.

Every year the number of “do it yourself” (DIY) websites increases and with it an increasing amount of information available to you without your having to leave your couch. I cannot stress enough the importance of being extremely careful with how you utilize that information, no matter how reputable the source. You should never replace professional legal advice with something you read online or even in a magazine. If you have any questions or would like to discuss your individual situation please call our office 800-798-5297 to schedule a free one hour consultation.

DISCLAIMER – Every case is different because every case is different. This blog does not give legal advice. This blog does not create an attorney client relationship. You are not permitted to rely on anything in this blog for any reason. This blog is an entirely personal endeavor. Every person’s situation is different and requires an attorney to review the situation personally with you.
No attorney-client relationship is created by this site.

The use of the Internet, this blog or email for communication with this firm or any individual member of this firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Before we represent any client, the client and the attorney will sign a written retainer agreement.
If you do not have a written, signed retainer agreement with us, we are not representing you and will not be taking any action on your behalf.

 

Elder Law Tips & News

 

Investopedia defines the term Laughing Heir as a distant relative who inherits assets from a person who dies, even though they have little or no personal relationship. Some states limit the rights of the Laughing Heir and the estate passes or escheats to the state to be disbursed as the state sees fit! How can you avoid this unfortunate situation? Make sure you have a will or trust or other beneficiary designation on all of your assets. Don't forget to include a back-up beneficiary, just in case. Make sure you get good legal advice to set up your heirs so none of them will be a Laughing Heir!

 

DISCLAIMER – Every case is different because every case is different. This blog does not give legal advice. This blog does not create an attorney client relationship. You are not permitted to rely on anything in this blog for any reason. This blog is an entirely personal endeavor. Every person’s situation is different and requires an attorney to review the situation personally with you.
No attorney-client relationship is created by this site.

The use of the Internet, this blog or email for communication with this firm or any individual member of this firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Before we represent any client, the client and the attorney will sign a written retainer agreement.
If you do not have a written, signed retainer agreement with us, we are not representing you and will not be taking any action on your behalf.

 

Common Retirement Planning Mistakes Made by Seniors

 

By: Roy Whited

This information was taken in part from a newsletter posted by Life Health Pro in November 2012. The content reminded me of certain issues that we see our clients facing almost every day.

Thinking only in terms of “me” and not “we”. At the death of the first spouse, the surviving spouse will lose a social security benefit, see a possible reduction in a pension income, and likely an increase in their tax bracket when going from a joint return to an individual return. Eighty percent of all men die married, while 80% of all women die single. Additionally, 75% of all women living in poverty were not poor before they were widowed. Early income and retirement planning decisions should be made with the survivor benefits in mind to ensure that both husband and wife are protected.

Not protecting your home. In addition to making the correct choice for income planning it is also very important to protect other assets such as the home. The home is many times one of the largest assets owned by a couple and can be used to create additional income if needed.

Remember, not all trusts are created equal. Not all trusts are designed to protect your home. In fact most are not designed to protect your home from being lost to the cost of your poor health.

Call the Cooper and Adel law firm and take advantage of a one hour free consultation to learn about how you can protect your home and other assets. 1-800-798-5297

DISCLAIMER – Every case is different because every case is different. This blog does not give legal advice. This blog does not create an attorney client relationship. You are not permitted to rely on anything in this blog for any reason. This blog is an entirely personal endeavor. Every person’s situation is different and requires an attorney to review the situation personally with you.
No attorney-client relationship is created by this site.

The use of the Internet, this blog or email for communication with this firm or any individual member of this firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Before we represent any client, the client and the attorney will sign a written retainer agreement.
If you do not have a written, signed retainer agreement with us, we are not representing you and will not be taking any action on your behalf.

 

If I have an estate plan, will I have to change it?

 

Answer:  Yes, most certainly.  You will need to change your plan including the various documents involved in the plan, such as a living trust, due to changes in your family, health, or finances.  Our firm’s mission is to work with clients on a continuing basis to continue to have their plan meet their needs.  This process of keeping current is usually not difficult, but it is extremely important.  The old adage a stitch in time saves nine certainly applies here.

DISCLAIMER – Every case is different because every case is different. This blog does not give legal advice. This blog does not create an attorney client relationship. You are not permitted to rely on anything in this blog for any reason. This blog is an entirely personal endeavor. Every person’s situation is different and requires an attorney to review the situation personally with you.
No attorney-client relationship is created by this site.

The use of the Internet, this blog or email for communication with this firm or any individual member of this firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Before we represent any client, the client and the attorney will sign a written retainer agreement.
If you do not have a written, signed retainer agreement with us, we are not representing you and will not be taking any action on your behalf.

 

Should everyone have nursing home insurance as part of their estate plan?

 

Answer:  That depends.  As an elder law attorney, I am an advocate of nursing home insurance as an important tool to cover the cost of long term nursing home care.  Furthermore, most long-term care insurance policies today are excellent products for seniors irrespective of the company.  However, I find of the people who come to our office, nursing home insurance only works as an appropriate tool for a limited number of clients for the following reasons: 1) the individual is not able to qualify for health reasons, 2) the individual’s income is not adequate to support the insurance payment, 3) they don’t need it because they would qualify for government payment of nursing home benefits irrespective of the insurance, 4) the income trap (i.e. the surviving spouse could not continue to make the payment if the spouse dies), and last, some individuals simply dislike insurance and won’t buy it.  In short, whether or not an individual should have nursing home insurance can only be determined after a comprehensive review of the family, financial and health situations.

DISCLAIMER – Every case is different because every case is different. This blog does not give legal advice. This blog does not create an attorney client relationship. You are not permitted to rely on anything in this blog for any reason. This blog is an entirely personal endeavor. Every person’s situation is different and requires an attorney to review the situation personally with you.
No attorney-client relationship is created by this site.

The use of the Internet, this blog or email for communication with this firm or any individual member of this firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Before we represent any client, the client and the attorney will sign a written retainer agreement.
If you do not have a written, signed retainer agreement with us, we are not representing you and will not be taking any action on your behalf.

 



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