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Elder Law Report: Law & Technology

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The Clio Cloud Conference. This is all about law and technology.

My background was in technology. I was a computer programmer. That’s how I think of problem solving. I also like to incorporate technology in my work. When I started in elder law I didn’t understand how technology would become such a big part of it, but a lot of what allows us to be efficient and have access to documents for our clients is through technology. Clio offers a conference annually to lawyers and those who work in the technology sector to come together and talk about how best to combine both worlds.

I’m big into systems. Systems help us be more efficient. Even though I came from a technology background, I don’t like technology for technology’s sake, it must add value. It is incredible how much technology we use behind the scenes. Seniors have become very integrated in tech which helps us deliver better services.

I will tell you how we bring value to clients through technology.

Client engagement

When a client contacts us and makes an appointment, we send them a secure digital intake form which feeds back into our database, so we have all the client’s information and assets available on our intake forms. The client can fill these out right from the email.

Also, we are paperless. What I mean by that is this; we had a flood in our old office last year. At the time I was trying to go paperless, but I always had a hard time making the jump. That flood took out a lot of our paper files and pushed me to go paperless.

We use a secure system. When you bring documents into our office, we scan those documents and give the original back to you. We do not want your original documents in our office, unless it’s a Will we’re filing in probate. It is so much more efficient and cost effective to do it this way.

Another thing we have is televisions in our conference rooms. Now that may sound like old tech, but if I’m working on my iPad Pro using my Apple pen, not only am I taking digital notes, I can throw those notes up on the television and draw out concepts for clients. All of this can be sent directly to the clients digital file.

Sometimes telling someone a legal concept is so much more difficult than showing them on a white board or high-tech screen mounted to the wall of your conference room. A picture really is worth a thousand words.

All the documents we scan, are turned into secure but searchable content. So if we’re searching our database or your file, we can pull up any document related to that search.

We offer our clients secure digital access to their files. The client has to setup a password to get in. They can see the work as it progresses and upload documents to their file if we are working on a case for them. This allows us to work quickly and across long distances without any time lapse.

We can also send draft documents via email or through the client’s secure access. This way, they can review those documents before we sit down at a closing. This helps to limit redrafting and taking a lot of time at the closing. We want to get in, explain, answer any questions and sign. I found my clients do not want a closing dragged out for too long.

Information on social media.

Just like the content we are bringing to you today, we are constantly on social media. We bring out a e-newsletter and try to educate potential clients and keep current clients up to date. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram to get up dates and information.

Another way to get direct information on changes in the law, estate planning and elder law concepts and what’s going on in the legal industry is to go to our website, mcelderlaw.com and sign up for the e-newsletter. At least once a week we are putting out an elder law report (Friday 10am), blog posts, I have written books which are available, and as a client you will be kept up to date of any developments. We also record podcasts on important legal matters which you can hear on i-tunes or the Google play store. To limit downtime, we up dated to Mac computers in our office because we want to be efficient and virus free at work.

E-docs access.

E-docs gives the client and their family access and the ability to email, print their documents anywhere they are on planet earth, at any time, 24 hours a day. You receive an e-docs access card in the binder you receive. It is a secure bank level encrypted security system which is a free service we give to our clients.

The technology we use is seamless and our clients enjoy having it available to them. As with any technology, it relies on the people behind it to operate it efficiently and we have a great team. We do our best to make each client feel special and provide them individual attention.

What’s coming

We’re going to start providing webinars to our clients and potential clients around the state. We will provide more information on legal services, educational and self-help informational programs.

If you want to set up a seminar with me, I do not care where you are, my answer is always ‘yes.’ I will figure out a way to get there and I do not charge to come out and give seminars.

I’m Greg McIntyre of McIntyre Elder Law. You can contact me at greg@mcelderlaw.com or contact taylor@mcelderlaw.com or call us at 704-259-7040.

704-998-5800 Charlotte Office

704-259-7040 Shelby Office

Greg McIntyre

greg@mcelderlaw.com

Elder Law Attorney

McIntyre Elder Law

Plan: Caring

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I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my business plan and whether it makes sense?

Yesterday, I spent the entire day driving to and visiting Creedmore Senior Center, just north of Durham. I was asked to speak about estate planning and elder law because they had listened to our podcasts and watched our videos.

I was honored to go to Creedmore and give a presentation, but I also struggled with it because it cancelled out an entire day of work at my office. I also decided to bring two of my team to assist and make the occasion memorable. Now, I can hear a friend of mine who is an attorney in Rayleigh saying, ‘that makes no economic sense.’

At first glance, he’s right, it doesn’t make sense, but like any entrepreneur, I seek advice from a lot of mentors. One of them said to me the other day, ‘Care about your clients. Care about your audience. Care about something.’

This is what I equate this to:

1-    I’m running a marathon, not a sprint. This is a lifelong passion for me. By using an entire day to provide value (without charging) to a wonderful group of seniors who want to learn about estate planning, elder law, Ladybird deeds and how to protect their hard-earned money and property, I believe this will pay off for our firm and brand. If it doesn’t, I know I have given my all, a lot of love and provided an education and I feel great about it.

2-    On paper, it might seem like a poor business plan, but I believe that love and caring always wins, and that is what I want to be remembered for.

I am super passionate about what I do, and I care about the results.

So, if you want me to speak to your senior group anywhere in North Carolina, send me an email at greg@mcelderlaw.com or call me at 704-259-7040 and ask for either Greg, Andrea or Taylor. We will set up that event, show up and provide a valuable education and tremendous legal advice.

704-259-7040 Shelby Office

704-998-5800 Charlotte Office

 

Greg McIntyre

greg@mcelderlaw.com

Elder Law Attorney

McIntyre Elder Law

Do the New VA Pension Laws Encourage Divorce?

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Do the New VA Pension Laws Encourage Divorce?

By Greg McIntyre, Elder Law Attorney.

I was thinking of the new VA pension rules that go into effect December 18th and I cannot tell you how unfair and inequitable it is to spouses. The majority of people caring for their spouse are women, so I think it’s discriminatory to women, it’s discriminatory to married couples and the question is, does it encourage divorce right there in the rules?

I’m speaking out even though I know sometimes when you stick your neck out, you get your head chopped off, but at least then I’m talking about it.

There are a lot of wives caring for their husbands right now, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There are some husbands caring for their wives too, but statistically more women care for men.

I have cases right now where wives are caring for their husbands, and the husbands cannot get their VA pensions because of VA rules that discriminate against spouses as caregivers.

I’m calling a spade a spade. If I get smacked by VA, then whatever, but here’s why I consider this outright discrimination.

VA should change its rules because:

If I needed care, I could bring in any caregiver to give care at my home (such as my daughter) and she could be paid for the care she provides. The payment she receives from the veteran (her father) is counting against his household income. This is for either a single or married veteran because those incomes are counted together.

However, if my wife was caring for me, she cannot count that towards the total income of the household to pay herself. That’s just wrong.

If you get married, it is until death do you part. She is caring for her husband out of loving concern for him, yes, but you should be able to count that against the veteran’s pension.

Why can every other caregiver, no matter who it is, be paid for providing care, but you can’t pay your own spouse and count that off to qualify for your pension?

I do not understand that. I think VA is wrong with these rules.

Where it hits me hard is this:

I’m married, I’m a veteran, I have six children and I value my marriage. That same couple (mentioned earlier) could get divorced and that former spouse give care and count it off against the income they bring in, and then the veteran would qualify for the benefit.

So is VA, through their rules, rewarding and encouraging divorce to obtain a veteran’s pension benefit?

I think it’s wrong.

This affects millions of veterans out there. By not allowing a spouse to take payment and count it off against the care they give, VA is denying many veterans their rightful pension benefit.

They’re saying to the care-giving spouse, you must care for your husband or wife because it’s your job, but you can’t be paid for the care you provide.

The sad thing is I haven’t heard anyone speak out about it. I’ve heard experts in the VA quote that rule with absolutely no feelings about it. I wish some others would speak up because it’s so wrong. It’s discriminatory and denies veteran’s the pension benefits they should receive that would greatly help them and their family.

Perhaps it would allow the wife to get some respite if there was an extra couple of thousand dollars coming in

There are other statistics available that will show you how deep this goes.

Check out the statistics of the life expectancy of familial caregivers. Did you know, a spouse who is the caregiver, is far more likely to become ill or die while care-giving because of the emotional, physical and financial stress they’re under.

So here is a secondary question: Now I’m going to get in trouble.

So, a spousal or family caregiver that lives with someone who is getting care, their live expectancy drastically reduces. This is not spit-balling here. Go google it. This is fact.

The life expectancy of a caregiver who is a spouse or family member is drastically reduced because of the stress, and the lack of sleep. And it’s not their job. But they are expected through VA to qualify for the pension and provide that care free of charge. They are going to die younger and earlier, statistically, because of that role.

(Also, many spouses who provide care to their husband or wife give up their careers to do so because they cannot afford professional care.)

If they were to receive a veteran’s pension, and count that work they’re doing looking after their spouse, then they could pay a professional caregiver to come in with that extra pension. This would allow them to live a more stress free life.

These policies, made at a national level have deep rooted resounding effects, not only on the money coming in to households of veterans, but also on life spans of their care-giving spouses.

When I went to law school, one of the things I keyed on and one of the things I internally hold to is a sense of equity and fair play. I cannot stand corruption, or when the scale of lady justice is leaning to one side and is not balanced. I can’t stand it. It eats away at me. I see this as total inequity and foul play. There is no fair play here.

The rules and the law of equity is actually a theory of law. This doesn’t play under the rules of equity in any way. I can pay a son, daughter, niece, nephew, a stranger, a private agency, but I can’t pay my spouse who has seen me through my life and is now caring for me 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The children may not be close by to help. They may live in a different state and have jobs there or may not have the money to pay for caregivers. That is why they need the pension benefit. If I pay anyone else but my spouse, I could qualify for that pension benefit. How wrong is that?

I’m Greg McIntyre, I am a veteran and certified attorney through the department of veteran’s affairs, however, that doesn’t mean every decision VA makes is correct. My hope is being in the USA gives me the right to speak out and as a representative for veterans and their spouses, I feel it is my heart felt duty to speak up.

I would love to hear your comments on this. If you want to see if you qualify for a veteran’s pension benefit, call my number, 704-259-7040, or visit mcelderlaw.com/vetbens.

Fight the good fight.

704-259-7040 Shelby Office

704-998-5800 Charlotte Office

 

Greg McIntyre

greg@mcelderlaw.com

Elder Law Attorney
McIntyre Elder Law

 

 

 

Elder Law Report: Should your real estate agent be senior certified?

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I’m Greg McIntyre of McIntyre Elder Law helping seniors protect their assets and legacies. I’m here with Dave Edwards who is a Keller Williams real estate agent and a senior real estate specialist.

Dave, tell us about your background? You weren’t always a real estate agent. You worked for IBM for a time, right?

 

‘Yes, I came out of the corporate world. I spent many years in technology and I have been a manager to real estate agents. My observation of realtors is the best realtors are those who have life experiences, because they’re the ones who can relate to the issues a client is going through. So as a result, I looked at my background in the corporate world and we were joking earlier about what is proper dress in this world? There is an impression of what IBM is. If you were to go into IBM today that impression would be blown away.

When you get into the world of real estate it’s a more casual endeavor and so using what I’ve learned from the corporate world, in terms of formality and negotiation on behalf of clients, really has lent itself well in terms of when we do a job, we do it to the best of our ability and do it professionally. That is the take away from my background.

When I moved over to real estate sixteen years ago, a lot of those marketing skills I had acquired also served me well. Another thing was a desire to serve. Customer service was everything. As a result, that is paramount when dealing with clients, especially in the senior community.’

 

I would say, the younger a person is, the less customer service they expect. With seniors and their families especially, they expect great customer service. I remember going into Belks in Shelby, NC with my mother, the salespeople in the store knew my mother by name. They knew my dad too, so, he would go in there at Christmas. They knew my mom’s size and her tastes and would help him pick things out for her for Christmas. That’s how customer service used to be. I believe that kind of quality is coming back around. I miss great customer service, but you rarely find it anymore. I think that’s what seniors expect and that’s the kind of customer service you bring, because you know seniors and that market.

 

My job is to be familiar with communities, but my business is about people. I may get my business to know and be familiar with communities so I can help clients make choices, but ultimately it’s about the people and about asking questions and listening, because what’s good for one senior, may not be good for another. There’s no one shoe that fits all.

In today’s market you hear a lot about active adults. It has as much to do with marketing as it does with the reality that as we get older, we’re actually younger than our parents were at the same age. We truly are, we are truly active. Things like that become ingrained in the requirements some people look for in a house. Is there tennis or swimming? Location in relation to outdoor sports and activities all become important. If I don’t ask questions, I don’t get answers.’

 

 

Does it have sidewalks for instance?

 

Many people are looking for family friendly communities and one of the intangibles I ask people to look at is sidewalks. Sidewalks bring people out. That’s how you meet your neighbors. It’s sometimes those subtle things. By asking the right questions we can focus on what people want.’

 

As an elder law attorney I’ve worked with real estate agents, bankers, financial planners, funeral home directors, I make these connections to benefit my clients. I imagine having a senior real estate specialist working with a senior to help sell their home is a huge bonus. You have all these connections. Someone might be selling a larger home and moving to a senior community and you can help with the transition.

 

Think of it this way, we spend a life time moving from one house to the next, through raising a family in that house perhaps and then we’re faced, maybe for the first time with making a transition to a smaller house. We’ve accumulated all these belongings that for many have strong emotional attachments. It’s hard to let go of that. So, a service, such as a transitional service helps people to decide what to do. There is a logical approach that people can take and there are services that cut to the quick about how you do that in pragmatic fashion and cuts through the emotion of doing so.

There are issues like legal issues where you come in to play. If for example it’s a home for the long term, what about family? Do I want it in a trust, do I want them on the deed? Those are issues you can sort out. As a connector, If I’m asking the right questions, these questions and concerns will rise to the top and then they can make those connections.

If you’re moving to this area, you are not going to know Greg McIntyre or the transition team, or a financial planner, or a mortgage lender, or a reverse mortgage lender. You want to know, is that the right option? These are some of the questions that need to be asked and answered. That’s what my job is as a connector.

 

You not only sell the house and help with the transition during that time, you also connect them with these other services associated with that transition. How important is that? Because there are all sorts of things to consider when buying a home, especially with ageing in place in mind, such as heights of counter tops for wheelchair accessibility, or roll in showers if needed.

 

‘I’ve recently looked at some stats of communities that identify themselves in the MLS as 55 plus in the Charlotte region. We have 35 communities. Now, we have an average of 50 people moving each day to the Mecklenburg County. That’s the net migration into that area. That being the case you can imagine families that fall in that senior market. That’s a lot of people and demand for senior housing. That’s why rentals are high and why inventory is as low as it’s been in a long time.

When you look specifically at housing that’s appropriate for those who classify themselves as seniors, you’re looking at a small amount of inventory. Now, if I go in, assuming one of the criteria is a master bedroom downstairs, that will often take us outside the active adult community. That’s okay, a house is not a home until it meets the needs of those clients.

So, are the doorways wide enough, are there transition strips down, or handle bars in the showers? But a lot of times, what is most important is maintaining independence in our lifestyle.’

 

So, who is your perfect client?

 

Our perfect client is someone where retirement is in the conversation. That retirement could be on the distance horizon or could already be happening. A lot of active adults are semi-retired and have a second career. Also, where someone has a larger home and needs to downsize, or looking to relocate closer to family, that person would be a good client because I can help them with services that might be needed in the situation. Also, the concerned children of seniors might be part of that conversation and want to be involved on behalf of their parents.’ 

 

If you need to talk with Dave, his number is, 704-907-7989, or email him at dave@welcomehomenc.com

704-259-7040 Shelby Office

704-998-5800 Charlotte Office

Greg McIntyre

greg@mcelderlaw.com

Elder Law Attorney
McIntyre Elder Law

There is a Storm coming… Are you prepared?

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Elder Law Report

There is a Storm coming…

Are you prepared?

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The Veteran’s Administration pension laws (published September 18th 2018) are changing.

How will these changes affect you?

I’m Greg McIntyre of McIntyre Elder Law. The changes I’m talking about involve pensions for veterans, the spouse of a veteran, or the spouse of a deceased veteran. The maximum benefit in these pensions is up to $34,000 US dollars and the changes go in to affect October 18th 2018.

Right now, the rule of thumb on assets you can keep (when applying for veteran’s pension) is $80,000. If you apply after October 18th, then you can keep $123,600 dollars. This is the community spouse resource allowance (CSRA) for veteran’s pension benefits.

While that sounds good, there is another change that affects it, and this is the big deal.

PhotoBesides the increase in the money you can keep, there will be a 3 year look back period. This is for the transfer of assets under the VA rules. That doesn’t mean you can’t plan. The unique opportunity right now is you can still protect assets without a look back period before October 18th. Yet, if you apply after October 18th, you get to take advantage of the higher CSRA of $123,600.

So, if you comply with the rules to protect assets before October 18th, and then apply it after October 18th to take advantage of the CSRA to $123,600, you take advantage of the best of both worlds.

Planning options are still going to be there. Qualification will still be there, but the rules are changing. I’ll be honest with you, these new rules will be a good thing for attorneys because it will be harder for someone who is not an attorney to plan under these rules. The new rules will be tougher and require more legal advice.

Summary of the rule changes.

1 The look back period. This is a huge change. To deal with this, you want to plan. Get your life estate/Ladybird deeds in place to protect your property, and place assets in an irrevocable asset protection trust.

2 The assets you can keep. This is increasing from $80,000 to $123,600.

3 There will be limitations on using annuities in veteran’s planning.

Let us know if you or a loved one is handling or appealing a veteran’s service related disability claim and we will take care of you. There are no fees for those appointments and we don’t recover unless you recover.

We are also processing applications for veteran’s service connected disability now. You can call the numbers below to begin the process or learn more.

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704-259-7040 Shelby Office

704-998-5800 Charlotte Office

Greg McIntyre

greg@mcelderlaw.com

Elder Law Attorney
McIntyre Elder Law
123 W. Marion Street

Shelby, NC 28150

704–259–7040

The Elephant in the Room

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We all hear statistics like 70% of seniors over 65 today will need long term care during their lifetime. However, the vast majority of families do not discuss their estate plans with one another. The discussion of estate planning can be taboo and stem from long-held cultural beliefs. My parents have always been extremely private about money matters and certainly about their estate plan.

Valid Reasons for Privacy: Parents have many reasons for not discussing their assets or estate plans with their children. They may not trust their children and may not want to reveal the assets they have. They may not want to show their Wills and cause any controversy within the family. While these are all valid reasons, families can still suffer losses of wealth by ignoring the elephant(s) in the room such as:
• Long Term Care spending down assets and ultimately costing the home.
• Passing away without a will and having the State pass property other than what may have been intended.
• Failing to take advantage of benefits such as Veterans Pension of which they are unaware.

How to broach the subject? A parent, child or other family member could simply dive right into the matter by bringing up the subject of estate planning and asset preservation. This could be easier said than done, however, depending on the family culture and taboo nature of this subject. However, sometimes the medicine doesn’t taste great but needs to be taken anyway. This is often the case with estate planning, elder law and asset preservation. Perhaps on a holiday when the family is all together the discussion could more easily be had.

In my practice I found that getting families to open up about estate planning is sometimes hard. To remedy this I wrote a book on different aspects of estate planning and aging in America to assist seniors and their families. “Saving the Farm” could be a great gift and way to start a family member in your life thinking about saving their hard earned money and property. Available on Amazon or at: mcelderlaw.com/savingthefarm.

 

Greg McIntyre

greg@mcelderlaw.com

Elder Law Attorney
McIntyre Elder Law
123 W. Marion Street

Shelby, NC 28150

704–259–7040

How to plan for a Long-Term Care event and How to Pay For it?

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Is there a chance Medicaid will pay for a long-term care event?

Yes.

But how do you qualify?

People think they must spend down everything to qualify for Medicaid.

Will I lose my house?

First, Medicaid Crisis Planning, (Long Term Care Crisis Planning).

I see this all the time. A spouse says, ‘My wife and I have spent our entire married life saving for retirement and now she’s in a nursing home and it’s taken everything we have.’

Protecting the house is many peoples main concern because it’s their major asset.

One of the ways to protect the house is with a Ladybird Deed.

A Ladybird Deed not only protects your house, it allows you to stay in control of your property for the rest of your life.

Then, when you and your spouse have passed on, that deed can be directed to your children.

The Medicaid look back period.

A Ladybird Deed is a beautiful thing because it protects your house immediately. Then there is no look back period for Medicaid to come in and pay for long term care.

With a Ladybird Deed in place, you could apply for Medicaid directly after putting that protective deed on your property and it will save it. Medicaid knows they cannot go back and take your house, ever.

But don’t you have to spend down below two thousand dollars?   

That’s true if there is nursing home or assisted living care. However, if there is a spouse, you can protect most of the money immediately, if you know how.

There are multiple strategies to protect as close to one hundred percent of your money.

Don’t just throw your money away or spend it down. If you do, it’s gone.

You’ve worked your whole life for that money and paid taxes on it.

If your spouse needs care, you don’t want to lose everything to pay for it.

We can also save other properties you own and you may still qualify for long term care or special assistance Medicaid.

Don’t feel hopeless.

Many people tell me they feel hopeless. They believe they will lose everything, but we can change that.

When you leave a consultation with me, you will feel empowered. You will know how to pay for nursing home or assisted living care, and how to save your house and retirement.

We can talk about protecting your assets ahead of time with a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust or Deed Planning.

This involves writing your Will or insurance policy and setting up trusts to pass things outside the estate.

We’ll talk about:

  • Using a Ladybird Deed versus Life Estate Deed versus a Trust.
  • Avoiding Probate (with Medicaid liens attached) when the Will passes the house.
  • When there is no Will.

An enormous amount of money is lost every day in North Carolina because of a lack of estate planning or knowing who to talk to.

If you’ve worked your whole life to pay for your home, you should be able to use a Ladybird Deed and not have your house sold to satisfy a Medicaid Lien.

There are many ways under the law and rules of Medicaid Planning to protect or pass down money and property for yourself and your family.

We even have a form whereby you can pass automobiles, mobile homes, anything with a DMV title on it outside the Probate estate. It is a North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles form. The form number is MVR 620, and it’s called the Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship Affidavit.

If you have a bank account or car with Joint Tenants Rights of Survivorship, when you pass away, the money in the bank account or the car becomes theirs.

You may be a co-owner with your spouse, but are you a Joint Tenant with Rights of Survivorship owner on a DMV title of a car or RV? To be a Joint Tenant with Rights of Survivorship you must fill out this form.

To determine what you need and your situation, we must talk. Many millions have been saved for the citizens of North Carolina using the protections here.

My goal at McIntyre Elder Law is to empower you and your family and revolutionize your concepts of elder law.

I’m Greg McIntyre. If you have questions about elder law, please call our number below.

704-259-7040

Or go to mcelderlaw.com/MCP and fill out the pre-qualification forms.

 

Greg McIntyre

greg@mcelderlaw.com

Elder Law Attorney
McIntyre Elder Law
123 W. Marion Street

Shelby, NC 28150

704–259–7040

What is the most important document you can have

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General Durable Power of Attorney

This allows someone else to function as you during your life to make legal and financial decisions.
You are literally handing them the keys to your kingdom. They can transfer your house or protect it with a deed, engage in Deed Planning, or transfer, buy, sell property for you. They also can operate your bank, investment and retirement accounts as if they were you.

But people say all the time, ‘That’s okay, I’m a beneficiary on that.’ Think about this. A beneficiary on a life insurance policy has zero access to the policy itself. The beneficiary cannot call up and change the policy. It is the same for an IRA, (Individual Retirement Account). By definition, it’s an individual account, not a joint account. The beneficiary has no rights to operate that account at all.

Why so important? With a General Durable Power of Attorney, when someone passes away, it ceases to exist. You can’t go to the bank and operate the bank or retirement accounts. So what document picks up?

The Will. The Will names an executor, (hopefully several), but not co-executors. If I wanted my wife to handle it, but she couldn’t for whatever reason, then another trusted individual, perhaps my son would be my secondary executor. I may even have a third.

Some Power of Attorney documents do not allow the Attorney in Fact to gift or move money to themselves. That could handcuff your spouse from activating a benefit or planning properly if you were incapacitated and needing long term care. That would force a spend down.

 

Will

With a Will, you also want substitutes for the executor, a person you trust to execute the Will under the Clerk of the court.

The courts make sure the executor carries out your wishes and the money and property are distributed according to your wishes.

The danger:
– Wills only have power when someone passes away. To access accounts, you must probate the Will, and apply the letters of probate to be named in the executor.

– People rely on Wills to pass property. If they need long term care, that could necessitate Medicaid paying for it. In that case, Medicaid liens attach during probate and force the sale of the home.
That is how people lose their money and property.

Healthcare Power of Attorney

A Healthcare Power of Attorney needs a HIPPA designation allowing your appointee to handle your healthcare.
They should be able to:
– Pull your medical records
– Transfer them from place to place
– Do whatever you can do with regards your healthcare, including life or death, long term care and pain management decisions for you.

Again, have substitutes to replace the primary if they cannot fulfill the position.
Why should you have a Healthcare Power of Attorney?
The Attorney in Fact must be capable of making the right decisions at the right time for the benefit of you. This way, there aren’t multiple voices giving opinions. It’s easier for healthcare providers to do their job consistently and with continuity of care if there’s only one voice to listen to. Otherwise they may have to choose between differing opinions of a brother and sister.

Living Will

A Living Will, (The Declaration for a Desire for a Natural Death) should clearly communicate with the Healthcare Power of Attorney.
The Healthcare Power of Attorney should state, if there is conflict between your Living Will and what the designated Attorney in Fact says, the human element should win. The document should say that to avoid conflict.

Concerns:
– There are some fill in the blanks Healthcare Power of Attorney and Living Wills, but I don’t recommend them. When you’re appointing someone to manage your life and death decisions, take time to carefully draft that document. Don’t leave blanks open to be filled in by anyone.
– Many religions have specific guidelines about end of life events. You don’t want conflict here either.

Example: A Catholic Living Will should be written differently than a generic Living Will. You want the eucharist and last rites performed. You also want it clear when to with-hold live saving procedures and why, so to avoid complications with suicide.
By drafting these documents individually, you consider who the person is and their beliefs.
I believe a General Durable Power of Attorney is the must have while you’re alive, but I suggest having all four foundational documents in place.

 

Greg McIntyre

greg@mcelderlaw.com

Elder Law Attorney
McIntyre Elder Law
123 W. Marion Street

Shelby, NC 28150

704–259–7040

Avoiding Probate

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Wills have functioned quite well for the past several thousand years passing property from one person to another at death. Probate and wills are part of an ancient tradition beginning (we think) with the Ancient Greeks to the Romans in the form of predominantly verbal wills. The Romans would have a Roman Citizen create a verbal record of their wishes in front of seven witnesses. I can imagine this was highly problematic both with a witness misremembering or with the possibility of an interested party purposely misinterpreting the wishes of the Testator. Fast forward through English law, written wills to the system we have today, there can still be problems with the probate system.

Image result for avoiding probate Problems can arise from technical issues with the working of a will or challenge by a 3rd party to the will. Probate can take anywhere from six months to years to complete. So, how does one avoid the necessity of probate altogether?

  1. Trusts: are private documents, while a will is a public document. Trust are administered outside of court supervision.
  2. Beneficiary Assets: Financial Assets such as life insurance, annuities, 401k’s, and IRAs can name specific individuals to take property.
  3. Deed planning for Real Estate: Deeds can be written to pass real estate outside of the probate process and also may also serve as asset protection. Some examples are Lady Bird Deed, Life Estate Deed, Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship Deed, etc.
  4. Joint Owner with Rights of Survivorship: While deeds can be drafted to pass Real Estate outside of probate to a joint owner, bank accounts can also be owned by multiple people as joint owners with rights of survivorship (JTWROS). Even automobiles can now be owned in North Carolinas by multiple people as JTWROS.
  5. P.O.D./T.O.D.: Banks will now allow an account holder to add beneficiaries to savings, checking, and money market accounts. This is often called adding a payable on death (P.O.D.) or transferrable on death (T.O.D.) beneficiary to an account.

 

Many of the items discussed above can allow you to easily avoid probate with assets. For the impact of these methods one may want to consult an estate planning and elder law attorney.

 

Greg McIntyre

greg@mcelderlaw.com

Elder Law Attorney
McIntyre Elder Law
123 W. Marion Street

Shelby, NC 28150

704–259–7040

Medicaid Divorce: Maybe . . . Maybe Not.

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Harry and Wanda got married late in life. This was their second marriage, and both had children from the prior marriages. The couple wanted their children to inherit from their respective parents, so Harry and Wanda signed a prenuptial agreement to keep their property clearly separated.

 

Unfortunately, Harry was then diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Medical bills piled up, his condition worsened, and soon Wanda was no longer able to care for him at home. But the cost of nursing-home care was formidable.

 

The Medicaid program is designed to help pay for that staggering cost. However, before a couple can be eligible, the rules require that the assets of both spouses are counted to pay for the care of one, even if only one spouse needs the care. Prenuptial agreements do not matter. The Medicaid rules count the assets of both spouses together. Wanda would be permitted to keep some of her property for her own use – but this would not be enough for her to maintain her standard of living, pay for her retirement, and still leave enough for Wanda’s children to inherit.

 

Image result for medicaidWanda heard that divorce might solve this dilemma. The couple’s assets would get separated in the divorce proceedings and, after that, only the property designated as Harry’s would be applied to the cost of his care. He would spend that down, Medicaid would then step in, and Wanda’s share would remain her own.

 

But Wanda didn’t like the idea of a divorce that would be only “on paper,” because she had no intention of deserting Harry in his time of need. Harry’s children weren’t happy, either. And if the divorce was going to work as intended, the couple should probably consult not just one but three professionals – an elder law attorney, a financial planner, and a divorce lawyer.

 

But this plan would involve expense, possible family unrest, and uncertainty as to whether a court would approve the plan. The divorce strategy comes with significant downsides.

 

Early planning is best, to consult an elder law attorney at least five years before the need for Medicaid arrives. If that is not possible, an experienced elder law attorney can find other, less-fraught ways than divorce.

 

Early planning if possible, though, is always best. If we can be of assistance, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Greg McIntyre

greg@mcelderlaw.com

Elder Law Attorney
McIntyre Elder Law
123 W. Marion Street

Shelby, NC 28150

704–259–7040

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