Estate Planning Articles

Some of these articles have been written by our law firm and other articles are written by the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys and compliments of our law firm. Any feedback or questions about the articles can be addressed by contacting our office.

The Importance of Advanced Directives – The Terri Schiavo Story

Terri Schiavo spent over ten years in a persistent vegetative state following a heart attack. During that time, her husband and parents waged an emotionally and financially draining legal battle that made it all the way to the President’s desk. It all could have been avoided had Terri executed an advance directive prior to her collapse back in 1990.

The Role of Compensation in Estate and Medicaid Planning

Most estate plans can benefit from the addition of a Medicaid planning component that helps ensure eligibility for Medicaid to help cover the high cost of long-term care (LTC) in the future. One of the many tools in the Medicaid planning arsenal is compensation paid as part of a personal services contract.

Women and Estate Planning – Debunking the Myths

Not long ago, women rarely took much interest in estate planning for several reasons. Today, however, the need for estate planning is even greater if you are a woman. Debunking some of the common myths surrounding the concept of women and estate planning is a good place to start.

Protecting Your Assets from Medicaid Spend-Down Using a Special Trust

Protecting the family fortune requires more than just a basic estate plan. Contemplating the need to qualify for Medicaid to help cover the high cost of long-term care should be an integral part of any comprehensive estate plan. One frequently used Medicaid planning tool that can protect your assets from the Medicaid spend-down requirement is an Irrevocable Income Only Trust.

DOMA’s Impact on Estate Planning for LGBTQ Couples

Many in the LGBT community and nationwide are celebrating the Supreme Court’s rulings in U.S. v. Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry. What questions do these rulings raise, and how will they affect your estate plan?

Medicaid Asset Transfer Rules – When Gifting Can Cost You

If they had the funds, most people would not think twice about gifting assets to an adult child or loved one. But, that gift could jeopardize Medicaid eligibility. Moreover, you may need that eligibility to help pay for the high price of long-term care for you or a spouse.

What’s the Big Deal about Probate Avoidance?

You may have heard friends and family members discussing the need to avoid probate; however, you may not understand why avoiding probate is so important. Now is the time to learn more about probate avoidance so you have plenty of time to start including appropriate strategies in your estate plan.

How Will Life Insurance Policies Impact Medicaid Eligibility?

Like most seniors, you probably own at least one life insurance policy. Will that policy interfere with your eligibility for Medicaid benefits if you need them down the road? If you are unsure, now is the time to learn how Medicaid evaluates life insurance policies.

What You Need to Know about Asset Protection

You likely worked hard, saved wisely, and invested prudently to acquire the assets you now have. Now, all you need to do is to protect those assets. To accomplish that goal, you need to understand how and why your assets might be at risk as well as learn more about asset protection tools and strategies.

Medicaid Estate Recovery – Are Your Assets Safe?

The longer you live, the better the odds are you will one day need long-term care (LTC). For the average person, the cost of that care can be prohibitive. Moreover, you cannot count on Medicare nor your basic health insurance to cover costs associated with LTC

Will Baby Boomers Have Anything Left to Pass Down?

The Baby Boomers are reaching retirement. Some of them are financially ready for retirement; however, many are not. Even more have failed to plan their estate. No one likes to dwell on their own mortality, but failing to plan for it can have a significant financial impact on the next generation.

Medicaid Patient Share of Cost for Long-Term Care

Nursing home costs can deplete a nest egg very quickly. Planning ahead to ensure you qualify for Medicaid can help immensely. However, do not make the mistake of assuming that Medicaid will cover your entire long-term care bill. Instead, be prepared for a share of cost.

Traditional or Roth – Which Type of IRA Is Right for You?

Ideally, retirement planning should begin early in your life and should be part of your overall estate plan. Like many people, you may consider including an IRA in your retirement plan. However, is a Traditional IRA or a Roth IRA more appropriate for you? To make an informed decision, you need to know more about both types of IRAs.

Medicaid Planning – Planning to Get Approved

There is a very good chance that you, or your spouse, will need long-term care at some point down the road. To help pay for that care you may need to qualify for Medicaid. There is a right way, and a wrong way, to approach Medicaid planning in anticipation of qualifying. The wrong way could land you in prison. Proper planning can protect your assets without jeopardizing your eligibility for Medicaid.

Can I Keep My Small Business and Still Qualify for Medicaid?

You have worked hard to make your small business a success. Will all your hard work go down the drain if you (or your spouse) need to qualify for Medicaid? The good news is that you will likely be able to keep your small business and still qualify for Medicaid.

Frequently Asked Questions About Gifting and Medicaid Eligibility

Here are just a few of the common misconceptions surrounding gifting and Medicaid eligibility… I can just give away my assets and tell Medicaid I don’t have any. My spouse will end up without anything if I need Medicaid to help pay for my nursing home care! I waited too long and now Medicaid planning can’t help me

The Role of Legacy Planning

Legacy planning goes beyond typical estate planning and focuses on protecting not only a family’s assets but their personal legacy, such as family values, stories and heirlooms.

Estate Planning for Young Adults

Estate planning for an 18-year-old isn’t something most people think about, but there are certain documents you need to create in case something happens to a young adult. An estate planning lawyer can help.

Is a Health Savings Account (HSA) Right for You?

While the American health care system has undergone major changes in recent years, the potential to save money and taxes through a Health Savings Account (HSA) has not changed. Find out whether you’re eligible to get started with an HSA, and how an HSA can be an excellent tax saving vehicle that provides the benefits of both a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA all-in-one!

Funding: What Should Ted and Emily Have Done

While creating a Trust is an important step, it’s just the first step in securing your legacy. Has your Trust been properly funded? Find out why you should follow up with a good estate planning attorney to ensure your assets are properly protected.

Importance of Legacy Planning

The holiday season is typically or usually spent with family and friends and is a time to reflect, on the life you have built. As you look back on the past and consider the future, it is also a time to think about your legacy. Protecting your legacy is important and estate planning is just the first step in the process.

Open Communication Avoids Disputes After Death

Proper planning with a qualified estate planning attorney can help to ensure that your assets are distributed appropriately after death. However, unless you have spoken to your loved ones and beneficiaries, there may still be conflicts if the terms of your inheritance come as a surprise. Find out more about the importance of communication with your loved ones sooner rather than later, and what to discuss to avoid unnecessary conflicts after you pass.

How to Leave Behind a Lasting Legacy for Your Loved Ones

Leaving any bequest to your loved ones after you are gone can make a huge impact in their lives. However, it takes more than a few basic steps to ensure they receive the greatest benefit from your gift. Find out how to avoid these common estate planning mistakes and ensure you’re leaving a legacy that will last.

Selecting an Estate Planning Attorney Wisely

Poor estate planning can lead to disagreements among heirs and your legacy being lost. Don’t make the mistake of failing to plan properly, as these famous celebrities did. Ensure you have a good estate planning attorney helping you prepare for the future.

My Will and Trust are Complete, Do I Still Need an Attorney?

If you’ve already created your Will or Trust, chances are that most people think they’ll no longer need the advice of an estate planning attorney. However, even minor life changes may require attention in your plan. Find out why it’s absolutely essential to review your Will or Trust periodically with an experienced estate planning attorney.

Choosing a Trustee: The Relationship Matters

Selecting your trustee is a critical decision because that person will be responsible for making sure your wishes are carried out in your estate plan. But what should you do if there’s tension between that person and other family members? Find out why relationships matter when selecting your trustee.

Include Personal Property When Creating Your Estate Plan

Even with extremely careful planning, people can often neglect to outline who should receive their family heirlooms and emotionally valuable property. Find out what you can do to avoid unnecessary feuds over your tangible personal property and help prevent potential family conflict.

What Does it Mean to Leave a Legacy?

We all want to leave a lasting legacy for our children and grandchildren, but it can be easier said than done. In this article, find out how legacy wealth planning can go beyond basic estate planning to provide your loved ones with a true legacy, rather than a set of inheritances.

Peace of Mind for New Moms and Dads

As a new parent, estate planning might be at the bottom of your long list, however, it can bring you immense peace of mind. Here's what you need to know.

Estate Planning is a Team Effort

It takes a team to make sure you have a fully functioning estate plan. Learn about the players, their roles, and - most important - how simple it is to assemble your estate planning team.

Gifts to Minors: Sharing Your Wealth the Smart Way

A simple way to reduce your estate tax bill is to make financial gifts during your lifetime. Children and grandchildren are natural recipients of our generosity, but there are a few things you’ll want to consider if they are still minors. Here are some common strategies for sharing your wealth with the children in your lives.

Why Choose a Living Trust?

The living trust is an incredibly popular estate planning option, but what is it exactly? Explore the uses and benefits of a living trust as you decide whether this planning tool is the right option for you.

More Bang for Your Buck: Education Planning with Deferred Annuities

With college costs at an all-time high and no relief in sight, parents and grandparents are looking for ways to maximize their education savings dollars. Learn how you can combine the savings from an education trust with the tax savings feature of a deferred annuity to increase your college spending power.

Special Needs Trusts for Children with Down Syndrome

Does your child with Down syndrome receive government benefits? If yes, using your Will to leave money directly to your child can jeopardize his or her government benefits. Learn how a Special Needs Trust can provide long-term protection for your child.

Does Your Estate Plan Include Digital Assets?

Your estate plan covers your real estate, your financial accounts, and your family heirlooms, but what about your digital assets? Learn what your digital assets are and how to protect them.

I'm a Trustee! Now What?

A loved one has given you the honor and responsibility of serving as a successor Trustee. But what does this really mean? Keep reading to learn about the responsibilities involved in administering a Trust.

An Estate Plan: Don't Leave Home Without it

As you review your vacation checklist, make sure you're not forgetting your estate plan. Without an up-to-date estate plan, a vacation emergency could leave you and your loved ones vulnerable. Here's what you need to know.

Eighteen: The Magic Number?

You might look at your eighteen-year-old and see an average teenager, but, legally speaking, eighteen means adulthood. When your child turns eighteen, you no longer have the right to manage their property, access their medical records, or do any number of things you’ve taken for granted until now. Learn about the practical problems this can present and how you can plan around them.

How a Pet Trust Can Protect Your Furry Friends

Many of us think of our pets as family members, but we don’t always think through who will care for our beloved animals after we die. Did you know that you can and should include your pet in your estate plan? Here are some simple options for making sure your pet lives a happy and healthy life, even after you’re gone.

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