Rosalyn Carter eloquently stated:
“There are only 4 types of people: those who have been caregivers, those who are caregivers, those who receive care, and those who will be caregivers in the future!
- How many children are really prepared for that phone call from one of their parents or loved ones that will turn their lives upside down?
- If you are the parent, are you prepared and have you talked with your children about your wishes if something should happen to you and you need assistance?
The secret is to be prepared so when a triggering event should happen, you will feel confident for making decisions and everyone involved will understand what’s expected.
As women, we are often expected to fill multiple roles: that of loving mother, career woman, supportive wife or partner and for many, a new role – that of a caregiver to our parents or loved ones. For the last 20 years, I have helped clients plan for their “golden years” and how they will address the issues of aging and remaining independent.
Here are the five steps that you can take now to get prepared:
Step 1 – Get Organized.
Before attempting to discuss financial, tax and estate planning issues with your loved ones, be sure to sit down with a financial advisor and get your own life plan in order.
Step 2 – Initiate “The Discovery Conversation” with Your Loved Ones. O
ne way to initiate this conversation with your loved ones is to ask them what they would do if something happened to you. Do they know who your advisors are, where your documents are, your doctors, etc? This may help lead the conversation into what your role would be for them. Are you needed as a care giver, a trustee, a personal representative and who else would be involved? Knowing this up front, will help you plan for your own future.
Step 3 – Start Planning as Early as Possible.
Don’t wait until the unexpected happens. It’s never too early to start planning for the unexpected. Meeting with an attorney, financial planner and insurance agent to create the proper planning may be all it takes to make sure your needs are met. Planning early when your have the most options makes sense – being proactive rather than reactive.
Step 4 – Consider Purchasing Long Term Care Insurance.
Start the conversation when your parents or loved ones are young and healthy and then suggest that they apply for long term care insurance as early as possible. We are living much longer and the need for healthcare and related services is exploding. In fact, seriously consider purchasing your own policy now while YOU are still healthy and the premiums are affordable!
Step 5 – Create a Team of Trusted Advisors.
This is not the time for-do-it-yourself-planning. Find a “key advisor” who is an eldercare expert and have this individual manage the team with you based on your loved ones goals, values and objectives. The final product should enable your loved ones to maintain their dignity, lifestyle and assets. It should also meet the needs of the caregiver. The end result; everyone involved should be able to sleep better at night knowing all concerns have been addressed and that a team and a plan is in place to meet the unexpected.
Katana Abbott is a certified financial planner who built a $100 million investment management and financial planning practice over 20 years and recently retired to follow her dream – The Designated Daughter Program™ and Smart Women’s Coaching™. Visit http://www.smartwomenscoaching.com/ to sign up for her monthly newsletter and be invited to events, workshops and tele-classes.
The State Bar of Michigan’s monthly journal has recently reviewed our book, Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights! . Here are some of the highlights: After reading Trial & Heirs, I am convinced that I need an estate plan.
It’s time to get serious about, you know, death. Danielle and Andrew Mayoras, Michigan estate-planning attorneys who are married to each other, have written a lighthearted book. But a reader can’t miss what they’re really talking about: the dreaded D-word. Isn’t the whole point of estate planning to plan for your own inevitable death? Luckily, the Mayorases probably agree with Bugs Bunny: “Don’t take life too seriously; no one gets out alive.” The whole point of estate planning is to control your property from the beyond. Or, if the decedent (legalese for dead person) is a bit more altruistic, to lessen the pain of death, taxes, and unnecessary disputes for survivors. And most disputes are avoidable.
In fact, “Avoid a family fight!,” a sidebar in every chapter, is one of the more important features of this book. We all know nice people from loving families who, after the death of a parent, suddenly became greeneyed monsters. These sidebars discuss, very briefly, how to slay the monster—or, better yet, avoid the monster’s appearance altogether. The authors offer tips, some obvious and others not, for avoiding disputes. In one sidebar, for example, the tip is to avoid fighting because of the legal fees the estate will incur (and this from two lawyers!). The authors give two examples: the Johnson & Johnson legacy, which took 210 lawyers, 22 law firms, and $24 million in fees (the wife, a former chambermaid, took $300 million); and the Leona Helmsley estate, which was settled between her grandchildren and her dog (Trouble, the dog, took $2 million).
Mere mortals like you and me needn’t worry about estates of that size, but everyone should be concerned about the emotional costs of family fights. And family fights result from poor estate planning. Where there is uncertainty in a will or estate plan, there will be unrest. Where there are gaps, there will be greed. And where there are mistakes, there will be fights. * * * If you are an estate-planning lawyer, you shouldn’t read this book. Do read, however, the “official disclaimer” on the first page; it’s clever. But consider buying the book in bulk as gifts for your clients or as a marketing tool. You’ll have to accept the overuse of exclamation points, the overdone design, and the celebrity caricatures that are not all recognizable. But remember that an informed client is a better client, and a client who understands some of your language is one who is easier to talk to. I bet you can get a quantity discount from the publisher. What do they mean too many exclamation points?!?! How dare they?!!!! We would never! ever! use . . . well, you get the point.
Seriously, if you’d like to read the whole review, here it is . By Andrew W. Mayoras and Danielle B. Mayoras, co-authors of Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights! and husband-and-wife legacy expert attorneys. As educators across the United States through speaking engagements, print, broadcast, and social media, Danielle and Andrew consistently draw rave reviews and are in high demand. Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Read more here:
Michigan Bar Journal Review of Trial & Heirs
Danielle Mayoras was recently quoted in this interesting article by the Detroit Free Press about the growing epidemic of exploitation of the elderly. It discussed a very sad case where a daughter took hundreds of thousands of dollars from her elderly mother and now is in jail saying the money is gone and she can’t return it. This is one example of how more and more families are facing the devastation caused by exploitation of elderly loved ones, often by a family member or caregiver. So how do families protect their golden seniors, whose lifetime of savings can often be a tempting target for desperate or unethical people? There are no magic answers, but here are a few Trial & Heirs Tips that we provided to the Detroit Free Press which ran next to the newspaper story:
1. Get expert advice. Consider consulting an estate lawyer who will know the ins and outs of estate planning. It’s usually money well spent.
2. Beware of Joint Accounts . When you add someone else’s name to your accounts, they usually can remove money even without a durable power of attorney.
3. Consider a “Springing” Power of Attorney. Your attorney can draft the Power of Attorney so that it only takes effect when you are found to be incompetent.
4. Choose Wisely. You should designate individuals to act on your behalf that you trust the most, not merely the oldest child or the closest relative.
5. Have Checks and Balances. Talk with your attorney about designating more than one person, but to avoid fights consider having a tie-breaker or majority vote.
6. Select Someone to Monitor your Accounts. You can give another family member, or even a trusted advisor, the ability to monitor your accounts, such as internet banking, to make sure that your assets are protected.
Posted by: Andrew W. Mayoras & Danielle B. Mayoras, co-authors of Trial & Heirs : Famous Fortune Fights! and co-founders and shareholders of The Center for Probate Litigation and The Center for Elder Law in metro-Detroit, Michigan, which concentrate in probate litigation, estate planning, and elder law. Andrew & Danielle are husband and wife attorneys.
1 – Keep a list of the names and numbers of the professions that you work with as well as your account numbers, securities and insurance information.
2 – Keep your list from #1 above and your Estate Planning documents together and help your family avoid the Scavenger Hunt.
3 – Use a fireproof box for those documents that the family has access to in the event of an emergency. Alternatively use a safe deposit box that the family can get into in the event of an emergency.
4 – Review and update your Estate Planning documents every three to five years.
5 – Make sure to have alternate designees on your documents.
6 – Make sure that your documents have a HIPAA representative designated on the Power of Attorney.
7 – If you have a Revocable Living Trust, make sure that it is funded.
8 – Make sure to consult with an Elder Law attorney to create a long term care plan in the event that the unexpected happens.
9 – If you have loved ones with special needs, make sure that you have a properly drafted Special Needs Trust.
10 – Subscribe to our bi-monthly e-letter The Insight: News, Stories and Thoughts on Elder and Special Needs Law and Probate Litigation to stay updated in all of the laws as they arise and caregiver information. To subscribe,
· Email email@example.com;
· Go to our website at http://www.TheCenterForElderLaw.com and click “subscribe to our e-letter”; or
· Call us at 877-PLAN-PLUS.
For additional questions please contact Danielle Mayoras at 877-PLAN-PLUS
by Danielle Mayoras and Don Rosenberg
Have you ever wondered what would happen to your special needs loved one if you passed away tomorrow? Have you done everything possible to ensure that your loved one with special needs will maintain his or her government benefits and receive an inheritance from you?
For many parents with special needs children, whether the children are minors or adults, these questions linger in the back of their minds. Estate planning is always important to do, however, when one of our beneficiaries is a special needs loved one, the planning becomes critical. When a parent leaves an inheritance over $2,000 to an individual with special needs, then that inheritance is actually a gift to the government because it eliminates that child’s qualification for government benefits.
Parents and attorneys armed with the basic knowledge, that you cannot have assets in excess of $2,000 and still qualify for government benefits, often think that the only reliable method to protect a special needs loved one is to disinherit them. They believe, or are counseled, that leaving their inheritance to another child or individual who will morally take care of their special needs loved one solves the problem. In most cases, however, this does not solve the problem, but only makes it worse.
Leaving everything to your daughter “Susie” if “Johnny” has special needs, would allow Susie’s creditors to attach Johnny’s money. In addition, if Susie is having a bad year financially, there is nothing to stop her from using the money for herself. Furthermore, if Susie passes away, this money would go on to her beneficiaries and not to Johnny.
Parents can solve all of these problems by creating a Special Needs Trust. A properly drafted Special Needs Trust allows the special needs individual to maintain government benefits and to use the inheritance for everything but food and shelter. The Special Needs Trust is the perfect solution and the only reliable method to make sure that your inheritance benefits your child with special needs.
The Special Needs Trust keeps assets in a form that will be available for your child and allows your child to maintain and receive government benefits. A properly drafted Special Needs Trust will specify that funds from the Trust only supplement and do not replace the government benefits.
These funds can be used for extra medical care, personal items, such as t.v.s, radios, computers, vacations, companionship, advocates or any other item or service to enhance your child’s self-esteem and situation, anything except food and shelter. With respect to shelter, your child can use the money to purchase a home, but cannot use the money for rent.
Oftentimes, parents who have minor or adult children with Cerebral Palsy wonder what the future will hold for their special loved one. Will they be productive in society, will they need governmental benefits, who will take care of them and be responsible for their financial needs? We have developed a very unique approach to address these questions – the Wait and See Special Needs Trust.
A Special Needs Trust would be set up as a vessel for an inheritance to go into, however, a decision would be made by the trustee at the time that the parents pass away whether or not this individual is likely to need government benefits in the future. Specifically the Wait and See Trust requires the trustee to test and have your special needs loved one evaluated educationally, cognitively, rehabilitatively, physically and emotionally.
These evaluations also include, but are not limited to, a physical and psychological evaluation, an evaluation of education and training programs, work opportunities and earnings, recreation, leisure time, and social needs. If he or she is not likely to need government benefits, then the Special Needs Trust would not be used and the assets can then be used for basic needs as well as special needs. The benefit of this, of course, is that we have the advantage of planning for an unknown future.
As a parent, not only do you want to provide an inheritance for you child or your children, but when you have a child with special needs, you often are the only one who knows their medical needs i.e. doctors, prescriptions, as well as the child’s likes and dislikes.
The Special Needs Trust incorporates a Letter of Guidance that addresses all of the information that caregivers so vitally need. While government agencies recognize Special Needs Trusts, there are strict rules and it is critical that you work with an experienced special needs attorney to draft the Trust.
We have reviewed countless Special Needs Trusts that do not comply with Social Security Insurance and Medicaid rules. One wrong word or phrase can make the difference between an inheritance that benefits your child and one that causes your child to lose the many services, assistance and benefits available. We know that a parent’s greatest worry is what will happen after I am gone.
One parent shares his experience as follows: “It had been in the back of my mind for years, soon after I found out my son had this lifelong disability. What would the future hold for him when I wasn’t there anymore to be his advocate, friend and supporter? It was both a big and little worry. Big, because it gave me a hole in my gut whenever the question crept in. And little, in the sense that I tried not to think about it. I’d think: I’ll worry about that tomorrow, next week, when he’s older, when I’m older.
Of course, I’ve done things to prepare for that future he’s going to have without me, things like teaching him how to wash clothes and shop. But should I write a Will? Make an estate plan? No, for years, I dodged that one totally. But you know, it’s funny. Now that we’re finished setting up our estate and only need periodically to review our plans, I feel like an enormous burden has been lifted up from me. The big, black, scary shadow is gone. Well, not totally gone, I suppose.
I still worry about Samuel, what will happen to him in his life. I guess every parent does that. But now I don’t worry in the same way. I know I’ve done all I can do for that part of his future, something that was extremely important to do, and I am very relieved. Now I feel like we can deal fully with the present day and see to the other things that need to be done to prepare our child for life as an adult. And that’s very exciting.”
Parents of special needs children can solve their greatest worry with a properly drafted Special Needs Trust.
Please contact Danielle Mayoras for additional information or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-877-PLAN-758. You can also visit: www.TheCenterForElderLaw.com , www.TheCenterForSpecialNeedsPlanning.com ,