I know I’m going to make some people mad about this but let me tell you why I think fill-in-the-blank documents are absolutely horrible.
A Living Will for example, is a document that decides if you live or die. Whether you are terminal, incurable or brain death has occurred and you are being maintained by respirators, a Living Will determines whether you live or die. Why would you use a fill-in-the-blanks document for this? This document is about your life.
Anyone can fill in those blanks. What happens if you leave one or two of those blanks unfilled? Anyone can fill in those blank spaces. I would hate to think there would be foul play involved, but I feel there is a really good reason why you should draft sound legal documents, especially the ones that determine whether you live or die.
Why in the world would anyone trust their life to a haphazard fill-in-the-blanks document?
It makes no sense to me.
I think people and organizations who hand out fill-in-the-legal-blanks documents, including hospitals, are opening themselves up to so much liability, it’s ridiculous.
I have seriously thought about this and arrived at a conclusion: There is no common sense in using a fill-in-the-blanks document that decides life or death and how it happens, and it is a terrible legal decision to do so. Hospitals hand these out like candy. It’s a bad decision for the patient andfor the hospital.
As said earlier, some people will not agree with me, but I do this for a living and I have seen a multitude of problems with fill-in-the-blanks documents.
I’m Greg McIntyre of McIntyre Elder Law and we draft documents such as Living Wills. If you wish to have a professionally drafted document that may decide whether you live or die, give us a call at 704-259-7040 for the Shelby area and 704-998-5800 for Charlotte.
Effective October 18, 2018, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has new rules regarding the eligibility of applicants applying for pension. These benefits are available to wartime Veterans and surviving spouses of wartime Veterans who are disabled and/or have additional medical needs. There are also financial limitations, which are discussed in more detail below.
Why Did the VA Change the Rules?
Before these new rules were made, the VA offered little guidance on how they determined if an applicant was “in need.” There were vague definitions and limited explanations of who would qualify for these benefits, which led to confusion among applicants and inconsistent determinations of eligibility. Now that the VA has issued clear and bright-line rules, attorneys can better advise their clients and their families, and the integrity and consistency of the pension program is upheld.
Summary of the New Rules
In addition to the minimum active duty, wartime service, and age or disability requirements for these programs, the VA has new rules to determine if an applicant is “in need.”
There is now a bright-line rule regarding the net worth of an applicant. This amount is currently set at $123,600.00, and will increase annually. When calculating the net worth amount, assets are combined with annual income (assets + annual gross income = net worth). Out-of-pocket medical expenses can reduce income, and can help applicants qualify for the highest benefit.
The home of an applicant is generally not included in this calculation. If the Veteran or other claimant has a net worth over the threshold and thus does not qualify for benefits, there are legal strategies available to get the calculation within the allowed range, including making qualified purchases and accounting for certain medical expenses.
In addition, there is now a look-back period of 36 months when applying for needs-based pension. Any asset that was transferred for less than fair market value during the 36-month period immediately preceding the pension benefits application will result in a penalty period, not to exceed five years. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, and there are ways to cure or avoid the penalty.
There are other provisions of the new rules that apply to annuities and other financial instruments. Before investing in an annuity or other asset that produces income, be sure to contact our office to discuss the possible ramifications of that investment on VA pension benefits.
These new rules provide more certainty when applying to the VA for needs-based benefits. Give us a call at 704-998-5800 if you would like to talk further about the changes, or to explore whether you or a loved one may qualify.
On October 18, 2018, new rules regarding eligibility for VA pension were implemented by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The new rules are quite comprehensive, however, they also provide more opportunities to qualify for these important benefits.
The major changes are outlined below.
Lookback and penalty period.There is now a look-back period of 36 months when applying for needs-based pension benefits.Any asset that was transferred for less than fair market value during the 36-month period immediately preceding the pension application will result in a penalty period, not to exceed five years.
There are a few exceptions to the new transfer penalty rule. 1) No penalty will be assessed if the transfer was to a trust established for a child who was incapable of self-support prior to age 18. 2) There is no transfer penalty imposed if the claimant’s net worth would have been below the net worth limit already, regardless of the transfer. 3) A claimant will not be subject to a penalty period if the transfer was the result of fraud, misrepresentation, or unfair business practices related to the sale of financial products. 4) Only transfers that occur on or after October 18, 2018, will be subject to the lookback and transfer penalty rules.
Annuities may be penalized. If the annuity can be liquidated, then it is counted as an asset. If the annuity cannot be liquidated, then distributions from the annuity are considered income. If the annuity was purchased during the look-back period, then a penalty will be imposed.
Calculating the penalty period. The divisor used to calculate the penalty is the Maximum Annual Pension Rate in effect as of the pension application date, at the rate of the aid and attendance level for a Veteran with one dependent. In 2018 this number is $2,169, and is applicable to all claimants, regardless of marital status. The penalty period will be recalculated if all or part of the gifted money is returned (also referred to as a partial or total cure).
Net worth. There is now a bright-line rule regarding the net worth of a Veteran. This amount is currently set at $123,600.00, which is also the maximum Community Spouse Resource Allowance amount allowed by Medicaid. This number will increase annually with the increase in Social Security benefits. If the Veteran or other claimant has net worth over the threshold and thus does not qualify for benefits, he or she can spend-down assets by purchasing goods or services for fair market value for any household relative.
A homestead owned by the Veteran is not included in the net worth calculation. However, there is a two-acre limit imposed on the homestead. If the claimant’s homestead is over two acres, then other rules apply and the value of the property in excess of two acres may be included in the net worth calculation.
The value of “personal effects suitable to and consistent with a reasonable mode of life” is not included in the asset calculation. This would include personal transportation vehicles and most household goods.
The annual income of the claimant and certain dependents is included in the calculation of net worth. However, reasonable and predictable unreimbursed medical expenses can be deducted from income.
More medical expense deductions. The new rules provided an additional Activity of Daily Living (ADL) to include assistance with ambulating within the home. The rules also define Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs) and set out specific instances when expenses for care that include ADLs and IADLs may be deducted from income. The rules also specific when room and board at a care facility other than a nursing home may be deducted from income as a medical expense.
Please contact us if you have questions about these new rules, or if you would like to discuss whether you or a loved one could qualify for VA pension benefits.
I received a lot of unsolicited advice throughout college and law school. Professors seem to love to lament the naïve mistakes of their past selves and to try and convince their students to take a better path in life. Some of the rants I sat through in class involved preparing for retirement. Between complaining about wage stagnation and the impending fall of the Social Security safety net, one theme that stood out was that we youngsters needed to invest in retirement account—early and often. This was, no doubt, good advice. However, in not one of those rants did anyone explain to me or my classmates what typeof retirement account we should consider.
The lack of specificity in my professors’ advice inspired me to learn the ins and outs of retirement accounts, so that I may provide some guidance to those who have hobbies that don’t involve reading the tax code.
This article is titled Traditional vs Roth IRA: Planning for Seniors, but it likewise applies to anyone who is gainfully employed. Everyone, if they’re lucky, will age and eventually reach the point where they are planning for the possibility of a health crisis or the need for long-term care. Thus, the following is to help you, the reader, understand your options in planning for lifebeyond the nine-to-five grind.
What is an IRA?
Individual Retirement Plans or IRAs are quite aptly named. They are a vehicle used by an individual to save for retirement. IRAs are many times confused with 401(k) accounts. I won’t delve too far into it, but the principal difference between the two is that a 401(k) must be established by an employer. IRAs, on the other hand, may be established by an employer or by an individual. IRAs were created by Congress in the early 70’s as a response to public disdain for the current retirement savings options in the country. Over the years, they have been modified and expanded in scope by almost every administration. Nowadays, we have a dynamic set of options regarding IRAs, among them being the traditional and the Roth IRA.
The Roth IRA
The Roth IRA is named after Senator William Roth who sponsored its creation in the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997. At the time, the Traditional IRA had been repealed for about ten years and Senator Roth wanted to restore. Through legislative compromise, we the people received the Roth IRA. Some of the key attributes are as follows:
Roth IRAs have income limits andcontribution limits.
The contribution limit is currently $5500 ($6500 for age 50 or older).
The income limit is based on your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI). The income limit is two-part. The initial limit kicks in at a MAGI of $120,000 for a single individual and a $189,000 for a married couple. Once an individual’s MAGI reaches $130,000, or $199,000 for married couples, no amount may be contributed to a Roth IRA.
Roth IRAs hold non-qualified funds, meaning they are taxed at the front end. This means that the money you contribute is pre-taxed so that they money taken out for retirement will be available with no tax liability.
Roth IRAs allows the account holder to withdraw funds after five years anytime tax free and penalty free.
The Traditional IRA
The traditional IRA was created as a solution to the lack of uniform retirement options in the United States. The IRA has evolved over the years and it has had its share of supporters and detractors in that time. The traditional IRA seems to be the tried and true retirement option. However, there are some downsides that may not be obvious at first glance. But first, here are the key attributes:
Traditional IRAs have no income limit
There is a contribution limit—the same as Roth IRA (currently $5500 or $6500 for age 50 or older).
Tax must be paid on any distributions from the traditional IRA
They contain already taxed money (qualified funds) and allow for an above the line tax deduction per IRC section 219. Note, there is an income limit for contribution deductions (see IRS Publication 590-A).
If you pull any money out of a traditional IRA before you turn 59 ½, you will face a penalty in addition to the income tax from the distribution.
You will be required to start taking distributions from the traditional IRA after age 75 ½. These are called minimum required distributions (RMDs).
Roth vs Traditional
Traditional IRAs have potential benefits beyond the tax deduction for contributions. They are not taxed on the front end. Thus, you can put in a pretax gross amount up to $5500 per year and receive the same compounding interest as if you contributed an after-tax amount up to $5500. In other words, you can grow your money in a traditional IRA at the same rate as a Roth IRA but with less of a contribution (assuming your contributing up to the limit).
This point is especially poignant if you are not going to contribute up to the limit. If you are just putting in what you can, you may benefit from a traditional IRA, since it will allow you to put in a larger amount—and benefit from the compounding interest—than you would be able to if the money was pre-taxed. Thus, you may potentially be able to grow your retirement at a higher rate with a traditional IRA. But, that money is locked up and can’t be withdrawn without a possible penalty and a definite tax bill.
Roth IRAs are much more flexible. Money in the Roth can be pulled out in a short period of time with no significant penalty. Also, there are no RMDs associated with Roth IRAs. Thus, the money can be left in the interest-bearing account until it is ready to be pulled out.
Roth IRAs are also much more flexible than traditional IRAs in terms of planning for long term care. IRAs, in general, are counted as an asset for under the Medicaid rules. Consequently, the money in the IRA must be spent down to qualify for Medicaid benefits. If the money is in a traditional IRA, you would be required to pull that money out of the IRA, which would result in a significant tax burden. However, if the money is in a Roth IRA, that money can be taken out of the IRA and spent down or put in trust with no penalty or tax hit.
Which is Best for You?
There are many “street lawyers” out there who love to give advice but determining the best route to take is a case by case basis. What may be good for your neighbor may not be good for you. The two biggest considerations are whether you are depending on the IRA as your main retirement plan and whether you anticipate needing long term care in the future.
It is important to remember that you are not limited to one type of account.
You can have a traditional and a Roth IRA if you so wished. Also, if your employer provides a solid retirement plan with matching, it may be in your best interest to narrow your focus to the employer created account to help you grow your assets as much as possible.
If you have already chosen a plan and have been contributing for some time, you should speak to an attorney to determine how your IRA will affect the plan for your estate.
The last will and testament is a legal concept that has truly stood the test of time. The super ambitious and cut throat (literally) aristocrats of ancient Rome utilized wills to pass their fortune and legacy to their heirs, so that they may have the foundation to gain even more power and influence. In fact, Julius Caesar, famously willed his son, Emperor Octavius, the necessary tools to fund and facilitate his rise to power. The will was also used in ancient times (much like today) to direct the disposition of assets held by soldiers before an impending battle. Nowadays, the will is still widely utilized to preserve assets and legacies for the next generation.
Wills have only slightly evolved from the time of ancient Rome. Even though industrious attorneys can insert complex estate plans into a will, the basis of the document, the manner by which it is executed, and the way in which the wishes of the testator are fulfilled have changed very little over time.
Although wills have not much evolved, the laws governing disposition of assets upon death have. Through crafty use of trusts, deeds, and payable upon death/transferrable on death accounts, an individual can pass most or all of their assets to the next generation without a will. As a result of the creation of these creative methods, more and more individuals are being advised to pass their property by other means than their last will and testament.
Benefits of Avoiding Probate
There are benefits to passing property outside of a will. One of these benefits is the avoidance of probate. Probate is the legal method by which the testator’s wishes contained in the will are fulfilled. Probate involves utilizing the courts and it requires that a personal representative (executor) be appointed to manage the estate. This can be a lengthy process and can be impeded by litigious individuals who wish to contest the will. This process can also be expensive and involve attorney’s fees and executor’s fees that take money from the estate. Besides the expense, the executor must contribute considerable time and effort in handling the estate.
Further, a will, without more, does not afford much flexibility. You may want to direct your assets to be devised at a certain time, manner, or upon the happening of some event. A will alone is not a useful method to fulfill the strategic wishes of the testator.
Lastly, a will is a public document that is filed with the court after the death of the testator. Thus, the words and statements contained in the will are potentially available for all to see.
The Case to Keep Wills Alive
So, if a will is antiquated, inflexible, time consuming, public, and potentially unnecessary, then should you even create one? The answer, as it so often is in this area of the law, is it depends. Wills certainly still have value and utility depending on your particular case. In deciding whether you should have a will you should consider the following:
I. The size of your estate: a will can make the process of passing along your estate very simple if you have a small estate or if you leave everything to your spouse. In North Carolina, if you have a small estate (typically under $30,000 and with no real property) your executor can file to collect your assets by affidavit, which is essentially an expedited probate process. North Carolina also allows a surviving spouse to petition the court for another form of expedited probate called summary administration if they are the sole beneficiary.
II. Affordability: your assets and wishes may not necessitate a complex and expensive estate plan. Wills typically cost less than other estate planning methods. If you have a small estate and have predetermined your intended beneficiaries, it may be in your best interest to simply have a will drafted rather than a potentially costly trust package that will essentially do the same thing.
III. Whether you need a backup document: as I briefly mentioned, there are a few ways to avoid probate (we will call it the “assignment process”). To name a few, you can assign a beneficiary to an account (if available), you can utilize life estate or joint tenant with rights of survivorship deeds, and you can utilize trusts. If your goal is to avoid probate so that your heirs receive property immediately upon your death, you can pretty much do so by assigning beneficiaries to accounts and doing deed work. However, the property left over—with no assigned beneficiary—either must be passed through a will or through trust, if you want to avoid it passing through intestate succession. As mentioned above, a trust can be expensive and unnecessary, especially if the assets left behind after the assignment process are few, of small or sentimental value, or are simply personal household property. In that case, there is no use in drafting an expensive or complicated document.
IV. Whether you have the need for a trust during your lifetime: trusts are very useful vehicles, especially for those who have very specific desires of where and when they would like their property to pass. A trust allows the living or deceased grantor to have their hand on the wheel, directing the disposition of assets. You may desire to keep one hand outside the grave, controlling your wishes; however, you may not have any use for a trust during your lifetime. In this case, it may be more feasible to draft a will containing a trust effective upon death. A testamentary or pour-over trust can be created by a will, whereby some or all of your assets will pour-over from the will and into a trust upon your death. This allows the decedent to potentially structure their devises to benefit their heirs for multiple generations.
There are significant benefits to avoiding probate and there are many ways to do so. However, there is a reason why the last will and testament is still being used today. The ancient concept of the will has yet to die because there is still a need for it, whether it be for the reasons mentioned above or for the mere fact that you wish to emulate a Roman emperor.
Whatever you decide, will or no will, you should take the time to develop a plan of how you would like to pass along your assets. You want to leave behind a legacy that will benefit the ones you love and cherish. And, you do not want your loved ones to be burdened by the both the tragedy of your passing and the legal complexity of having no plan in place.
Having too many assets can stop you from qualifying for Long Term Care Medicaid for nursing home care or Special Assistance Medicaid which pays for assisted living care here in North Carolina. There is a three year look back period for assisted living care, and a five year look back period for nursing home care. This can be very troubling for people who haven’t planned ahead.
So, what do you do?
Below are eight standard spend down options.
Pre-Paid Funeral Plans.
A New Car
Nursing Home or In-Home Care Expenses
A New Home
Households Goods or Personal Effects
These eight options are in no particular order and are Medicaid’s rules. So, let’s talk about each one.
Pre-Paid Funeral Plans
For example: You could put $10,000 towards future funeral costs. You can purchase a life insurance policy or place money in a trust account of the funeral home. Just pick a reputable funeral home.
Purchasing a New Car
Medicaid doesn’t specify whether you buy a car worth $2000 or $50,000. A person getting long term care Medicaid can have one house and one car in their name.
Payment of Nursing Home Expenses
You can pay nursing home, medical and even in-home and assisted living care expenses.
Purchase a New Home
You can purchase a new home and still qualify for nursing home or assisted living Medicaid. You can have a residence in your name. This is why Ladybird Deeds are so important. Let’s say you’ve bought a new house or have an existing home and you place a Ladybird Deed on it. That home will then not pass through the probate estate and is not subject to a Medicaid lien. Medicaid knows this, it is their policy. The state of NC has done a great job in allowing seniors and the family of seniors to save their homes and still collect a Medicaid benefit to provide for nursing home and assisted living care. You could place a Ladybird Deed on your home now, and next month or next year if you need the benefit to pay for nursing home or assisted living care, it would be okay under Medicaid policy. You would not be subject to that three year look back period for assisted living Medicaid, or five year look back period for nursing home Medicaid.
Making Home Improvements
This doesn’t mean you can put a new wing on your house, but you can maintain the existing structure. Your house may need a new roof, an updated kitchen, or new flooring, so you can upgrade your house.
Household Goods or Personal Effects
The definition of personal goods is ‘privately owned items (clothing and jewelry) normally worn or carried on the person.’
This could mean paying off credit card debt, Visa, Mastercard, household bills, or even a mortgage. If you owe $50,000 on your mortgage, you could pay that off or pay it down. That’s a value savings allowed in the Medicaid rules right now. It allows you to transfer over from a bank account or retirement account directly to your house. The benefit of this is, hopefully, over time, the value of your house will appreciate, but the asset isn’t as liquid than a bank account.
What does this mean? My thoughts about why this is in the rules is, sometimes you may have a spousal caregiver, (and it would be the community spouse taking the vacation), who has been caring for a loved one at home for a long time. If you Google, ‘Spousal Caregivers’ or ‘Family Caregivers’, you will see evidence that the role of caregiver can diminish that caregiver’s lifespan. This is what respites are for; to recharge, rest, relax and unplug by getting away from everything you have been going through, every day with your spouse. So, you are allowed to take a one or two week vacation under the Medicaid rules.
The eight spend downs above may appear simple but can be quite complicated. There are also many other options than a spend down to protect your hard-earned money and property. For instance, you could use a General Durable Power of Attorney or Ladybird Deed (they are allowed in NC). A Ladybird Deed can protect your home and surrounding property up to a value of $572,000.
If you would like to know more about Medicaid spend downs, look back periods or these other options, you can contact me, Greg McIntyre by calling our Shelby office at 704-259-7040, or our Charlotte office at 704-998-5800. We are also developing an e-course on advanced issues of Medicaid spend downs, which will be available soon, so sign up for our e-newsletter at mcelderlaw.com to get all the updates.
Lately, I have been in a state of indecision in my business and my life, and I’ve worked with clients who have been indecisive (which is a toxic state of mind.) This was summed up by a friend who once told me, ‘you get killed at the crossroads,’ and it’s true. If you stand still in the middle of a crossroads (the decision) and don’t decide which direction to head, you can really get hurt.
What this all boils down to is this; when a decision needs to be made, making the decision is essential. I work with clients every day who did not make decisions and are suffering because of it.
I hope this will help you make a decision.
I see clients from time to time who have had a stroke, or a fall and a head injury, or have slipped into senility, or are suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia, and did not have even the basics in place. The basics are the most important part.
We overlook the basics sometimes, such as:
General Durable Power of Attorney
A loved one or trusted individual can come in and plan for you when you need to protect your home, or qualify for a benefit, such as a Medicaid benefit to apply for long term care, or a veteran’s benefit to pay for a veteran’s pension.
There are qualifications to those benefit programs that make it hard to qualify if you don’t have access to bank accounts and real estate to protect them.
I meet with clients in emergency situations and I guarantee all of them have at some point thought, I need to get my affairs in order. I need to put my foundational legal documents together to protect my home, but for some reason they didn’t act. Instead, they talked to their neighbor, or the street lawyer who thinks they know the answers. What they didn’t do is talk to a professional estate planning or elder law attorney who could help them put the right documents in place in time to make a difference.
Once this is done, it’s there, set up and ready if a situation occurs where they’re needed.
Ask yourself, if a healthcare event happens, who will make my healthcare decisions? Who will take care of my family? Will the assets I worked so hard for be preserved? Will I be able to access long term care benefits?
If I don’t plan ahead, it can be over before it begins because implementing a new plan once a healthcare situation occurs, is extremely difficult, if not impossible in some cases. My hands are tired. That is why it’s so important to plan ahead.
Where I see most of my elder law clients is when they’re transitioning towards retirement, or sometimes just past retirement. So, if you have assets, if you have a family, it’s a good thing to sit down and plan how to protect those assets. By doing so, you will benefit your family.
How do you want your legal affairs to be handled once you pass away? How do you want to care for your spouse at that time? All these things can be planned for ahead of time.
Beyond foundational planning, we can help you set up trusts and utilize them, whatever your family needs to protect your home and assets. If you have land or other assets you want your children to have, but you fear your daughter and son in law might part ways, you can protect those assets by Trust planning.
We provide Foundational planning, Trust planning and Crisis planning for long term care situations, Medicaid benefits and veteran’s benefits.
I urge you to be decisive. Make a decision. I call it the X-Factor.
When you are here at the edge of the X, you have all these potential decisions. How will I pay for long-term care, what about Medicaid, setting up Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney, Veteran’s benefits, what will happen to the house and assets, and who will get what? It can be overwhelming.
When you focus on the center point of the X, things get easier. By having an estate planning or elder law attorney help you plan, the overwhelm dissolves, things are taken care of and you have peace of mind.
To contact me, Greg McIntyre, call 704-259-7040 or go to mcelderlaw.com and sign up for our e-newsletter.
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.
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 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.
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’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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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.
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