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.

 

 

 

Talking about Health Care Choices Won’t Kill You-Changes to Indiana Medical Consent Laws

July 1st, 2018 marks the implementation of several common-sense changes that the Indiana Legislature recently made to Indiana’s medical consent statute (I.C. 16-36-1-1 et. seq.)

If a person becomes incapable of making their own health care choices and doesn’t have written advance directives in place, Indiana law now has the following “priority order” of people who can make these choices on an individual’s behalf:

  1. A judicially appointed guardian of the person
  2. Spouse
  3. Adult Child
  4. Parent
  5. Adult sibling
  6. Grandparent
  7. Adult grandchild
  8. Nearest relative in next degree of kinship who is not listed in sections 2-7
  9. Friend who:
    1. Is an adult;
    2. Has maintained regular contact with the individual and;
    3. Is familiar with the individual’s activities, health and religious or moral beliefs.
  10. The individual’s religious superior, if the individual is a member of a religious order

If there’s more than one member of a voting group, then they must try to reach a collaborative consensus.  If they can’t agree, then the majority rules.

The new law also specifies that the following people can’t make health care decisions:

  1. A spouse if the individual legally separated (or the spouse is the reason that the individual is hospitalized.)
  2. A person who is subjected to a protective order involving the individual
  3. A person who is subjected to pending criminal charges involving the individual
  4. A person the individual intentionally excluded when he or she signed advance directives

So, what practically happens when there is no advance directive and a person can’t consent to healthcare?  In that case, the person’s care providers are required to conduct a “reasonable inquiry” to determine who can consent.

The good news?  By naming a health care representative or a health care power of attorney, you can take charge of these choices yourself and decide who will speak for you if you can’t. We can help.

Good health is such a very precious thing. So eat your veggies, do some yoga, and be empowered!

Talking about health care choices won’t kill you.

 

 

Carefully Consider Your Gifts

Our clients are people of generosity.

They love to give (and receive) gifts during their lifetimes and they are committed to leaving legacies of generosity in the hearts of their families and in the bodies of their estate plans.

But beware- If you believe that you may need help paying for long term care in the future, then you should be extra mindful about gift-giving during your lifetime. Under federal Medicaid law, if you transfer certain assets within five years before applying for Medicaid, you will be ineligible for a period of time (called a transfer penalty), depending on how much money you transferred.

Gifts, loans, or charitable donations over a certain threshold can result in “penalizable transactions.”

If you’re an elder thinking about helping with tuition, loaning an adult child money for a down payment on a home, or giving other gifts, give us a call.

We can often walk you through different strategies that can reduce your risks while still accomplishing many of your generous goals.

gift

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.
(We’ll provide the caffeine.)

Calling all Generous Gift-Givers!

Calling all generous gift-givers!

Are you considering gifting cash, stocks, or property to loved ones this holiday season?  If so, then you’ll definitely want to know that the annual gift tax exclusion for 2018 is rising from $14,000 (where it has been for the past five years) to $15,000.

This means that anyone who gives away $15,000 or less to anyone other than their spouse doesn’t have to report the gift or gifts to the IRS (though you’ll still have to file a gift tax return).

With the increase in the gift tax, the amount you can give to an ABLE account. (INvestABLE Indiana) is also increasing to $15,000. ABLE accounts allow people with disabilities and their families to save money in designated accounts for disability related expenses without jeopardizing their eligibility for Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and other government benefits.

There are so many ways to create a legacy of generosity.

Let us know if we can help.