- Trusts can shield your assets from the high cost of home care making you eligible for home health aides through the Medicaid program.
- Trusts start the five year “look-back” for institutional care, making you eligible for Medicaid benefits to pay for a nursing home.
- Trusts can ensure the inheritances you leave will stay in the bloodline for your grandchildren and not end up with in-laws and their families.
Two overriding questions govern your choices in an elder law estate plan. First, what will happen to your assets when you pass away? Second, what will happen to your assets if you need long-term care? A comprehensive plan covers both issues. You must protect assets from going to long-term care costs so that the assets may transfer to your beneficiaries instead.
Plan A, and the best protection from long-term care costs, is long-term care insurance. Factors to consider include the daily benefit amount and an inflation rider that keeps pace with the increasing cost of nursing homes. Long-term care insurance also pays for home health aides, which allows you to “age in place,” rather than go to a facility.
If you don’t have, or cannot get, long-term care insurance, Plan B is the Medicaid Asset Protection Trust (MAPT). Assets that have been in the MAPT for a minimum of five years are protected from nursing home costs and, under upcoming laws, two and a half years for home care.
- Makes sure your estate goes to whom you want, when you want, the way you want. Most estate plans leave the assets to the next generation outright (i.e., in their hands) in equal shares. However, with a little bit of thought on your part, and some guidance from an experienced elder law estate planning attorney, you may dramatically improve the way your estate is ultimately distributed. For example, you may delay large bequests until children or grandchildren are older or give it to them in stages so that they have the chance to make some mistakes with the money without jeopardizing the whole inheritance. Similarly, you may place conditions on receipt of money such as “only upon graduation with a bachelor’s degree” or “only to be used to purchase an annuity to provide a lifetime income for the beneficiary”. The possibilities, of course, are endless.
- Allows you to give back to the people and places that have helped you. Again, most people leave their assets to their children in equal shares. Yet time and again we see children who really don’t need the money or, unfortunately, don’t deserve it. Even when they do need and deserve it, there is a place for remembering those people and institutions who have helped make you what you are today.
- It proves stewardship by showing your family that you cared enough to plan for them. When you put time, thought and effort into planning your affairs it sends a powerful message to your loved ones. You are saying that you handled the matter with care and diligence. This will reflect itself in how the money is received, invested and spent by your heirs.
Although it was long predicted, the country is currently in the middle of the biggest transfer of assets in current history. The Federal Reserve reports that at the end of 2021’s first quarter, people in the United States who are 70 years of age and older had net worths of approximately $35 trillion.
The question of whether people in the United States will prepare to transfer assets depends on the extent of funds that pass on to attorneys, courts of love, and needy loved ones.
When someone you love passes away, assets are ideally passed to people and organizations chosen by the deceased individual. Many people are not adequately prepared to pass on assets, though. One study reveals that approximately 46% of Americans own wills, which are vital estate planning documents. Estate planning helps a person appoint who will take care of loved ones and determine how assets will be assigned after you pass away. While some people make the mistake of thinking that only the wealthiest individuals need estate plans, everyone including people of modest means need estate plans to achieve their estate planning goals.
Many people are curious about what happens after they are no longer able to manage their assets. Many chances are created when it comes to estate planning arrangements and trusts play a large role in estate planning. If you choose wisely, trusts fortunately can prove to be an excellent way to reduce the taxes ultimately placed on your estate.
Establishing a Trust
Trusts are a type of arrangement used to the advantage of entities or people that the trust creator selects. Trusts vary greatly in activation as well as how they are accessed. Trusts tend to break down into the following kinds:
The stock market over the last ten years has increased the valuation of many retirement accounts. Consequently, many people interested in estate planning are focused less on internal growth necessary for succession planning than at other times.
Inflation is much like gravity. Both rise and fall. With inflation occurring at substantial levels during the war in Ukraine, people interested in making the most of their estate plans should recognize that their plans ultimately might require a proactive effort. This article reviews some important details that you should consider when creating a strong succession plan.
Focus on Your Goal
If you’re creating a plan for what will happen to your estate after you pass away or become incapacitated, you’ve likely familiar with the advantages you can realize by creating a living trust. Items positioned in a trust do not pass through probate, which can be a costly and time-intensive process. Living trusts (also referred to as revocable trusts) let a person appoints a trust administrator to look after an estate after the creator passes away.
Living trusts often simplify how assets in estates are passed on. Unfortunately, countless opportunities exist to make errors, especially if you’re tasked with transferring items to a trust. Certain kinds of accounts should never pass into a trust. These certain accounts should not pass into a trust even in situations where they represent the majority of an estate. This category includes retirement accounts like 401(k) plans as well as other types of retirement accounts.
If you pass on assets to a trust, the Internal Revenue Service will classify the interaction as a distribution and you will be required to pay income taxes.
In the recent case of MBM Family Trust, one party initiated legal action against another concerning a foreign judgment. The party who initiated the lawsuit later added a trustee of a trust that the plaintiff claimed helped the defendant conceal assets. The trustee pursued a special appearance and argued over personal jurisdiction.
Ultimately, the trial court did not accept this object. Instead, the trustee appealed. On appeal, the court found that claims intended to recover assets from a trust can only be brought against the trustee who is the trust’s legal representative.
The appellate court commented that the trial court had evidence that the family trust was a lender and that the trustee stepped in to function as the lender of a home equity line. The home equity line of credit provided the line of credit was secured by a deed of trust to the trustee and apart from the home equity line.
Over half the marriages in the United States result in divorce. For many people, divorce ends up being one of the most difficult experiences in their life. As a result, when attorneys present a person with divorce paperwork, this individual often fails to consider every little detail of how it will impact their life and does not update their estate plan. Unfortunately, failing to update estate planning documents after divorce could lead to many undesirable complications
A Hypothetical Situation
Imagine, a couple who got married in 2005. The wife had one daughter from a previous marriage. Even though the husband never officially adopted the girl, he treated the girl as she were his daughter during the marriage. A joint trust even referred to the girl as the couple’s “only living child” and named the girl as a residuary beneficiary. These terms have substantial meaning under the law and not considering these statements after a divorce can create substantial challenges.
As the country enters a third year of living in a pandemic, estate planning is seeing an increase in millennials who are surpassing the baby boomer generation as the generation who performs the most caregiving for both children and aging parents.
Millennials are creating their own families, while simultaneously caring for their aging parents during a pandemic. This, in turn, is leading more caregivers to plan for the future. Even though millennials are taking responsibility for writing wills and creating trusts to establish families’ financial status, most adults in the United States lack an estate plan. Hopefully, by making digital estate planning as easy as possible, more people will create estate plans that achieve their wishes.
Key Findings from the Study