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.

All Access Pass-Providing Additional Benefits for Hoosiers Receiving Medicaid

Public Service Announcement:

We attended Winterlights at Newfields this weekend-just one of countless wonderful holiday activities around Indy. It was breathtaking.

If someone in your family receives health care via Medicaid or participates in certain other state assistance programs, then you should definitely know about the Access Pass!

Here’s how it works-Families that meet the requirements can visit all participating locations (think Winterlights, The Children’s Museum, Conner Prairie, The Eiteljorg, etc) for just $2 per family member per visit, for up to two adults and dependent youth living in the household.

We love seeing increased accessibility for these sorts of cultural events.

(And-in related news- we also love seeing increased accessibility for legal services-which is a major motivator for what we do.)

Learn more about the Access Pass Program here.

Happiest of holidays to you and yours.

 

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.

 

 

Elder Mediation

Elder law attorneys regularly have a unique vantage point into the reality that, even the healthiest and most functional of family roles and relationships can become very complicated very quickly when an elder loved one starts needing additional care.

As needs and long-held roles within a family change, many of our clients benefit from learning new ways of coping with evolving relationships and new realities.

In many cases, elder mediation can be a helpful and empowering tool. Mediation provides an opportunity for the elder and all involved members of a family to participate in thoughtful and collaborative decision making. It can provide a valuable opportunity for family members to attack the issues at hand instead of each other.

Once the family has settled on a plan, then we can often help by drafting the documents needed to put that plan into action.

A core value of our practice is the dignity, autonomy, integrity, and protection of elders and their families. So give us a call if you have questions about elder mediation, supported decision making, or long term care planning on behalf of an elder loved one.

We can help.

March is Disability Awareness Month

Did you know that March is Indiana Disability Awareness Month?

No matter the differences between us, it’s always better to treat others the way you want to be treated, and this is especially true when interacting with our co-workers, classmates, and neighbors who live with disabilities.

The 2018 Indiana Disability Awareness Month campaign theme- “Be Cool, We are!”- is all about the importance of being comfortable in your own skin and making the conscious decision to be yourself.

Acting differently around someone with a disability isn’t cool.

So… be cool!

And learn more about Indiana Disability Awareness Month here.

 

 

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.)