The Importance of “Scope”

If you’ve ever peered through a microscope, a telescope, or a pair of binoculars, then you have witnessed the miracle of magnification. When you are able view things up close, you notice details that you otherwise may never see.

Part of our job is to notice details, determine the very specific legal needs of our clients, and focus the “scope” of a legal document to address those needs in the most comprehensive way possible.

Here’s an example:

An elderly person with a life-altering diagnosis comes to us, requesting that we draft a Durable Business Power of Attorney, authorizing a trusted person to handle finances.  The “default” statutory rules under Indiana law work pretty well to allow the agent to pay bills, manage investments, pay taxes, etc.

But, for this client, statutory powers may not be enough if the agent needs to help the principal plan for a long term health care need, which typically requires extraordinary authority (such as making gifts or investing in certain types of assets.)  In order to cover these needs, an “expanded scope” POA would be especially helpful to allow the client’s response team to conduct appropriate public benefits planning if the need arises.

Let us know if you need help focusing.


 

 

 

Join Us for the 2019 Indiana Conference on Disability

We’re truly excited to announce that Stasia will be a presenter at the upcoming 2019 Indiana Conference on Disability, sponsored by the Indiana Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities.
 
This event will be held 11/17-11/19 at the Indianapolis Downtown Marriott. Stasia’s presentation about the interplay between ABLE accounts and Special Needs Trusts is currently scheduled for 11/18 @ 3:45.
 
Come and hear disability and civil rights pioneers.
 
Listen to internationally recognized disability advocates.
 
Learn from visionaries who are expanding the world’s concept and representation of beauty by celebrating new faces and new bodies.
 
This event will bring together administrators, educators, service providers, health professionals, parents, family members, youth and adults with disabilities, and advocates from throughout Indiana to share experiences, network, and learn the latest in disability-related policies and practices.
 

Register for the event here.

We’d love for you to join us.

Declaring a Standby Guardian

If you’re an Indiana parent with kids under 18, then you should know about a standby guardian declaration.

Indiana law allows you to appoint a standby guardian to immediately serve as guardian of your children in the event of your passing or incapacity.  A standby guardian is granted the same powers that a guardian is granted when a guardianship is established through the Courts. The use of a standby guardian is meant to provide prompt authority to a person of your choice act as guardian before the Court appoints a permanent guardian for them (which may well be the same person.)

The appointment terminates ninety days after becoming effective unless the standby guardian files a petition for guardianship of the minor child with the Court during that period.

We regularly recommend standby guardian declarations in the context of broader estate planning.

If you have questions about standby guardian declarations or other tools to protect your kids, please get in touch.

We can help.

 

 

Resisting “Estate Planning Fatigue”

Estate planning fatigue.  It’s a real thing.

The decisions that need to be made as part of the estate planning process are significant and the laws ever-changing.

We know that the process of navigating through significant personal and financial decisions might feel overwhelming and emotional and can lead to procrastination.

The good news? We have decades of experience.  We can advise you as to the implications of your choices so that you can make more thoughtful decisions. We have staying power. And we can break up big decisions into smaller ones so that your stamina doesn’t fade midstream.

Let us help you with the heavy lifting.

 

Planning for Pets

Many of our wonderful clients are animal lovers (we are too!)

Your creatures are quirky and beloved members of your family but, alas, they can’t take care of themselves. And some pets-like parrots-live for a long, long time.

We regularly provide for pets in people’s estate plans.

While you can’t leave money property directly to a pet, you can name a caretaker in your will and leave that person money to care for your creatures.

You could also consider the use of a pet trust, where a trustee of your choosing makes payments on a regular basis to your pet’s caregiver and pays for your pet’s needs as they come up.

Questions about planning for your pet?

Bring them to meet us (yes, really.)

Caregiver Crossing

We have a face for radio!

Big thanks to Emmis Communications & our friends at Joy’s House for inviting Stasia to join them for “Caregiver Crossing,” a program designed to provide information and support to anyone caring for a loved one. (They even provided Girl Scout cookies for sustenance.)

Stasia discussed ABLE accounts, along with Indiana State Treasurer, Kelly Mitchell, and Amy Corbin, the Executive Director of Indiana’s ABLE program, INvestABLE Indiana.

Earlybirds can tune in to Caregiver Crossing on 93.1 FM WIBC this Saturday morning, March 9th, from 7-8 am, or we’ll post a link to the podcast when/if one comes available.

ABLE accounts, also known as 529A accounts, allow eligible individuals with disabilities to save for their future and pay for disability related expenses. Savings in ABLE accounts do not affect certain means tested benefits.

Questions about ABLE accounts or broader-scale estate planning for your loved one with special needs?

We can help.

New Bill Proposes Tax Credit for Contributions to INvestABLE Indiana accounts

ABLE accounts, also known as 529A accounts, allow eligible people with disabilities and their families an easy way to save money (up to a certain threshold) without jeopardizing their benefits for Medicaid and Social Security.

Indiana’s ABLE program (INvestABLE Indiana) was launched in 2017 and we regularly recommend it to our clients with disabilities and their families.

Now, Indiana ABLE Authority and the Treasurer’s office are working to improve the program by the addition of a tax credit.

INvestABLE Indiana accounts currently do not afford the same tax benefits as the CollegeChoice 529 programs, but Senate Bill 559 and House Bill 1350 are before members of the Indiana General Assembly this session. This legislation would correct that dissimilarity and provide contributors of both programs the same tax incentives.

The digest of the language for both introduced bills is as follows:

“ABLE account tax credit. Creates a stand-alone credit for contributions to Indiana ABLE accounts. Provides that a taxpayer is entitled to a credit against adjusted gross income tax equal to the least of: (1) 20% of the amount of the total contributions made by the taxpayer to an account or accounts of an Indiana ABLE 529A savings plan during the taxable year; (2) $1,000; or (3) the amount of the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income tax for the taxable year, reduced by the sum of all allowable credits. Provides that a taxpayer is not entitled to a carryback, carryover, or refund of an unused credit. Provides that a taxpayer may not sell, assign, convey, or otherwise transfer the tax credit. Provides that an account owner of an Indiana ABLE 529A savings plan must repay all or a part of the credit in a taxable year in which any nonqualified withdrawal is made. Provides that a rollover of assets or transfer of assets to an Indiana ABLE 529A account is a qualified withdrawal from a college choice 529 education savings plan.”

We’ll definitely be watching the progress of this bill. And we strongly support any legislation that further incentivizes opportunities for financial literacy and mobility for people with disabilities.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to you and yours!

Here’s to eating clean, moving more, being more intentional with time, and getting those little ducks in a row.

We usually get a deluge of estate planning inquiries in January as people make good on those resolutions.

Let us know if we can help.

Home for the Holidays?

Planning travels to see family in the coming weeks?

In between cookie baking and movie marathons, many clients have shared that these visits are a good time to take stock of any changes in an elder loved one’s health, appearance, or environment.

If you notice changes during your visit, try to gently assess the circumstances while you’re together to determine if help is needed.

We’re here to serve as an elder law resource, but we’re also happy to serve as “connectors” to other community resources for your family.

Safe travels and warm wishes during your holiday season . . .

A Word about Ethics and Elders

Are you a kinship caregiver providing care to a senior family  member or friend?

It’s normal for families to have a myriad of questions about issues such as long term care, estate/Medicaid planning and guardianship when they first enlist the services of an elder law attorney.

One important ethical consideration for families to understand is that elder law advocates must clearly set forth who the actual client is. Depending on the circumstances, the client may be the se­nior, the caregiver, or even both (the family).

This delineation is very important because it will inevitably affect the way that an attorney can interact with involved parties. Keep in mind that, under the vast majority of circumstances, an attorney can’t share information about his or her client with another party without the client’s (preferably written) permission to do so. That said, the attorney may still be able to accept information from you without providing information to you.

This can be a delicate proposition for parties on both ends of the phone, but we always do our best to respect a senior client’s right to client confidentiality and self-determination while recognizing that, as time passes, roles can change.