Avoid Conflicts in Family Estate Planning with These Steps

No one wants their loved ones in the midst of a bitter battle about estate planning and inheritance issues, and yet far too many people have seen this firsthand. Thinking that you’re going to inherit something from someone’s will and later learning that another family member has initiated a will contest can be overwhelming as well as frustrating.

Thankfully, there are steps you can put in place to decrease the chances that there’s confusion or even disputes over the distribution of your assets. Multiple states, including Massachusetts, accept a very important document known as a personal property memorandum. This can become one of the most important documents inside your estate plan because it clarifies exactly what you do and don’t want done with your belongings.

A personal property memorandum is used to explain all the individual property you want to leave to your heirs. This means there’s little chance for someone to be confused or for your instructions to be misinterpreted. Listing each item inside your traditional will can be far too much detail, but when you instead list this in a personal property memorandum, it’s easier for the person managing your estate to distribute these details.

When your personal property memorandum details what you want done with your jewelry and furniture, it can’t be misunderstood. As long as this is included with the remainder of your estate planning documents and so long as your executor or your loved ones know where to find these materials after you pass away, you can make things much easier for everyone involved. That’s because your property can promptly be given to who you intend to receive it. This can be a big blessing for someone who does not want the potential of arguments down the road.

When it comes to creating this tool, be as detailed as possible. If you list that one person is to receive your china, but another person gets the “antique serving dish”, this clarifies what is and isn’t part of the general “china.” When you can include clear details about each item, there will be no question about who should receive it.

Whenever you need to include supplemental materials with your basic estate plan, this information should be drafted by a Massachusetts estate planning lawyer who knows the lay of the land.

What Happens If You Forget to Fund a Trust?

All of the estate planning in the world can fall short if you didn’t follow through on the additional steps required after establishing the documents. One major mistake that your family members might discover after you have passed away is that you forgot to fund a trust.

Likewise, you might even discover this over the course of your life time if the intention is to transfer assets inside the trust for the purposes of asset protection planning and when you failed to do so, exposed yourself to personal liability.

Creating a trust is the first and one of the most important steps to creating a comprehensive estate plan, but if you fail to follow through and fund the trust, you don’t receive any of the benefits that you intended. The trust by itself can be functional but fails to meet its full potential until you put something inside it. Often attorneys who prepare trusts will take care of the real estate for you, such as preparing a deed in trust or preparing a deed.

This means that a real estate is officially transferred into the trust. After this has been officially recorded, the real estate is funded into the trust. You should also verify, after transferring real property into a trust, whether or not the county auditor’s office requires you to refile your real estate tax exemptions. Your insurance agent should also be contacted about any implications on that end.

Most estate planning attorneys will also help you in the additional steps required to fund your trust, such as moving personal property like appliances, collectibles, clothing and furniture into the trust. Assignments or bills of sale can be used. An assignment should only be used for those items that do not have a title of some type. You should not rely on an assignment to transfer cars, stocks or other items that have a form demonstrating ownership.

You can request an affidavit of trust or a certificate of trust directly from your bank account and you will have new signature cards issued which you can sign for as trustee of the trust. These important steps must occur in order get the most out of your trust document. Talk to your lawyer to learn more about your options.

What Makes Baby Boomer and Millennial Women Different with Regard to Wealth Planning?

A study recently completed by RBC Wealth Management indicated that there has been a major change in the attitude about wealth shared between millennials and the baby boomer generation.

Approximately half of boomer women who participated in the study said that they took the lead on financial planning, whereas up to 72% of millennial women were responsible for this area of their households. This trend was consistent across charitable giving, will planning and day to day banking.

The wealthier the household, the higher the chances were that a woman was leading the financial planning and was actively involved in the legacy and estate planning. For those households that had greater than $5 million in investable assets, women were the primary decision maker. Key differences also recorded in the study between the two generations were shifts away from thinking about money as a method of providing security, and instead towards the opportunity to do more for the world.

Approximately 41% of boomer women said they intended to pass on their wealth to their children, whereas only 15% of millennial women responded the same. A total of 65% of women classified as millennials felt that it was their responsibility to use their wealth to benefit society at large compared with only 52% of women in the boomer category. Women who are wealthy as millennials are much more likely to have developed their wealth on their own when compared with boomer women.

Both planning for your future in terms of retirement as well as discussing how you’ll protect your assets and send them into the next generation are worthwhile topics to discuss with a lawyer. Your attorney can guide you through the process of figuring out where you’re at in life and how that translates to your estate planning and retirement planning process. Taking a long look at the issues involved helps you to prepare for your next steps. Regardless of your age, you’ll be more successful if you set up a conversation now with a lawyer who can help you answer questions and create a plan.

If you have recently found yourself in the position of needing the services provided by an experienced estate planning attorney, now is the time to schedule a consultation to talk about leaving behind a legacy, asset protection and other important issues connected to estate planning.

Coming to Grips with The Prospect of Long-Term Care

Anyone looking ahead to the future probably has their primary focus in terms of estate planning on how to protect their assets. However, it is also powerful to consider coming to grips with the possibility of long-term care.

Overlooking the prospect of a long-term care can put people in a very dangerous and an unfortunate situation, meaning that they won’t be able to get the help and support that they need when it comes time to recovering in a nursing home or other assisted living facility.

Long-term care is very difficult to understand particularly as it relates to the prospect of Medicare and Medicaid and whether or not these will work. Sitting down with an experienced estate planning attorney is most people’s first concept of working with a lawyer to develop a long-term care plan.

According to a recent study of financial advisors, approximately 60% of those who responded who were working with those clients who had $1 million or more in investable assets shared that fewer than one quarter of their clients had a long-term care plan.

Unless someone has had a direct family experience with a long-term care issue and has taken this as a wakeup call to protect their own interests, they might not understand the many benefits linked to long-term care planning and having a clear strategy designed to assist in the event that a disability or other event suddenly emerges. Talk to a lawyer to get more help.

Nursing Home Residents in Smaller Numbers but Sicker

A new study completed by Kaiser identifies what many operators in the nursing home industry already know.

As residents’ conditions are getting worse, occupancy levels are decreasing. Investigators recently identified that half of the nation’s nursing home residents had a dementia diagnosis and approximately two thirds of residents were currently receiving psychoactive medications such as anti-anxiety drugs, antidepressants or antipsychotics.

Just under a third of current nursing home residents have a psychiatric condition. The total nursing hours increased per resident for each day to 4.1 throughout 2016.

Other findings from the Kaiser study are that a proportion of for-profit-facilities has increased to 69% in 2016 and that Medicaid remains the primary payer for most of these facilities.

If you are contemplating long term Medicaid planning, it essential to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney to help you accomplish these goals and determine your next steps. Protecting a loved one’s interest is imperative and it is necessary to complete a thorough review of proper Medicaid planning to figure out how these facilities will be paid for.

The Quality of Nursing Facilities Could Impact Long-Term Care Transitions

Many people who are interested in learning about protecting their long-term care opportunities in the future are primarily concerned about the best way to protect their individual assets and to ultimately qualify for Medicaid. These are complicated issues that are often addressed in the Medicaid planning process with the help and support of a knowledgeable estate planning attorney.

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society identified that the quality of a nursing home can be extremely important for the outcomes for the patients inside. For example, those patients who were placed inside nursing homes that tended to have higher quality ratings overall had a much lower chance of being transitioned to a long-term care facility over time. It turns out that interventions with these people earlier on in their initial medical condition screening could help to decrease the person’s chances of being transferred to a longer-term facility to continue the management of these needs.

If you are curious about how to pay for long-term care and recognize that this may be an important part of your future, it may be beneficial to schedule a consultation with an experienced estate planning and long-term care lawyer today.

Your Plan Must Be Updated and Discussed

A recent study completed by Wells Fargo found that one out of every six older Americans knew that their financial documents are out of date. Many individuals put off these tasks because they assume a lack of urgency and that it is not important to deal with right away.

However, any time that you get prompts from a technology platform, an estate planning attorney or a financial advisor showing that your accounts may need to be updated, this is a good opportunity to review and verify that all of your beneficiary information and other planning tools are in line what you intend to accomplish. Furthermore, if you’ve done your estate planning but haven’t explained your goals and intentions to your family, this is another way that you can be exposed to problems. Not talking about your money will avoid you making a plan for what would happen if you were to become unable to handle your financial affairs.

This is particularly problematic in the event that you develop dementia or another cognitive problem later on. You want to have these wishes articulated clearly and communicated to key stakeholders so that you can avoid the possibility of problems in the future.

Make sure that you talk over what you want your plan to include with your lawyer and then make a strategy for informing loved ones.

Watch Out For Tax Scams This Season

Tax scams, unfortunately, disproportionately affect the elderly, and can expose people to a number of different financial risks going forward. Around tax season these scams tend to increase, and could expose you to serious financial problems.

Being aware of telephone tax scams is on the of the most important steps to take to decrease your chances of being affected. Unfortunately many people are receiving a common tax scam that appears to come in the form of a phone call from the IRS mandating that payment must be made immediately or criminal prosecution will be pursued.

These phone calls tend to threaten criminal prosecution, lawsuits, and police arrest, however the IRS typically communicates with consumers directly through the mail and letters that come on IRS letterhead. A phone call demanding immediate payment could be a sign of a telephone tax scam.

And they should contact an affected person to schedule a consultation or to contact the IRS directly. Being aware of telephone tax scams is one of the best ways to protect your assets that you have worked so hard to accumulate over your life from being decimated by a fraudulent scheme.

When protecting your assets, you must have both an eye towards the future and a plan to address scams or fraudulent schemes in the present. Discuss your options with an estate planning lawyer in MA today to learn more.

Financial Procrastination Makes Things More Difficult Than They Need to Be

There are four critical things you can do to avoid financial procrastination, which can endanger your own future and that of your beneficiaries as well.

According to research, Americans pay a price for procrastinating on their financial concerns, but many put these issues off anyways. There are missed financial opportunities abound, whether it’s failing to put together a will, not having enough money in the emergency fund or getting a late start on retirement planning.

Many people know that they ultimately need to take action and plan on doing something someday, and Americans can delay for a broad number of different types of reasons, including the effort involved, the amount of knowledge required just to make these critical decisions, or the fact that many people feel paralyzed about the possibility of making mistakes.

Many people also underestimate the importance of future consequences when making decisions and people prefer to spend now rather than save for the future.

Procrastination has also been tied to inertia which keeps people in a cycle of doing what they’ve always done. Four critical mistakes can affect your financial future most significantly and these include:
· Paying only the minimum on your credit card
· Not having an emergency savings fund
· Ignoring estate planning basics and opportunities to put together documents to protect you while you’re alive and after you pass away
· Failing to get serious about retirement opportunities
All of these issues can easily be avoided by networking with experienced professionals in the field who can give you a better sense of what is involved in protecting your future and how to avoid many of the most common mistakes.

Seven Key Reasons You Should Set Aside Time to Adjust Your Estate Plan

In light of the new estate and tax law changes that have come into place, many people are thinking about the benefits of adjusting their estate plan. It’s worth a review sitting down with an experienced estate planning attorney to talk through the advantages of adjusting your current strategies.

Regular revisions are smart planning, and they ensure that if something happens to you suddenly that you have plans in place to respond and put your loved ones at ease.

Below are seven reasons why outside of the current estate and tax law changes, you may wish to consider a visit with your experienced estate planning attorney. These include:
· Setting up guardianship for your children if you have not done so.
· Financial and administrative management of your affairs if something were to happen to you, including a disability or sudden incapacity.
· Disposing of your assets, whether it’s through a will or irrevocable trust.
· Ancillary documents, such as your health care directives, a general durable power of attorney over financial matters, and a health care proxy.
· Using trust to provide you with varying degrees of protection against creditors, predators and divorce.
· Tax efficiency.
· Gifting.
All of these various benefits can be achieved by sitting down with an estate planning attorney and walking through the current strategies and documents you have in place to verify whether or not they are in line with what you intend to accomplish.