Kent Larsson writes about the proper use of wills, advance directives, trusts, and other estate planning tools, and how how they play a vital role in you receiving proper medical care and helping you to preserve and pass on your assets to your loved ones.
Trusts becoming subject of public discussion.
Ivanka Trump’s trust is bringing some light to shine on the subject of trusts, according to The New York Times article "Despite a Trust, Ivanka Trump Still Wields Power Over Her Brand."
Trusts are not often a subject of much public discussion. They are important to estate planners, but as a matter of pressing national concern they rarely register.
But, they are now in the news because of the Trump administration and how members of President Trump's family are using trusts to hold their assets.
There has been considerable discussion on whether the President's family is using trusts in ethically appropriate ways.
While the press reporting has been mostly over the concerns about the ethical considerations of the Trump family trusts, there is another possible story.
What the Trumps are teaching us is that trusts can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. They can be created for different purposes and give different people various levels of control over the assets in the trusts.
Whether or not you care about the ethical considerations of the Trump trusts, pay attention to the different things they do with their trusts. It might give you some ideas about what you can do with trusts that you can make part of your estate plan.
An estate planning attorney can advise you on creating an estate plan that will meet your unique circumstances. That plan may well include trusts.
Reference: New York Times (March 20, 2017) "Despite a Trust, Ivanka Trump Still Wields Power Over Her Brand."
An estate plan can reduce some of the worries facing new parents.
Some financial planning advice for new parents was recently published by Wealth Management in "Six Financial Planning Steps for Expecting Parents."
All of the listed steps in the article are important and worth consideration for new parents. However, the last one is of particular importance, because it is the one that is most often forgotten.
New parents need to get estate plans.
It is through estate planning that parents can prepare for the worst case scenario if something happens to them, the parents, before their children reach adulthood.
It is in estate planning that guardians are nominated for minor children.
It is also through estate planning that financial arrangements are made to make sure that minor children have the resources needed for their care, if something happens to the parents.
An estate planning attorney can advise you in creating an estate plan that fits your unique circumstances, including if you are new parents or expecting your first child.
Reference: Wealth Management (March 31, 2017) "Six Financial Planning Steps for Expecting Parents."
Entering a nursing home can be frightening, but having asked the right questions can reduce the stress.
There are appropriate questions to ask a prospective nursing home that can make it less scary, according to Next Avenue in "18 Questions to Ask Any Nursing Home."
Nursing homes come in all sorts of varieties with different levels of care and interactions between staff and residents. It is important that the nursing home you choose, is the right one for you and 18 questions can help with the right answers.
While the questions to ask are too numerous to list here, it is important to understand that the most fundamental questions are not about cost, although that is important. Instead, the most important questions to ask are about how patients live, what activities are available to patients and how staff helps patients with those activities.
The answers to those questions are what truly determine what quality of life will be like in a nursing home and how happy you might be there as a resident.
Reference: Next Avenue (March 15, 2017) "18 Questions to Ask Any Nursing Home."
Travelers to Mars may take pills to reverse the aging process
A way to reverse the aging process may have been found and NASA is looking at it for space travelers, according to the Daily Mail in "Would YOU choose to live forever? Age-reversing pill that NASA wants to give to astronauts on Mars will begin trials within six months."
Our cells continuously divide throughout our lives, with some cells dying and other replacing the deceased one. However, a slight deterioration in the cell and in the DNA of the cell occurs, resulting in the aging process.
A way to reverse the aging process may have been found. If the report and trials bear additional investigation, then scientists can reverse the deterioration from cell division that causes aging.
This would have potential benefits for astronauts, because space travel is extremely dangerous.
Astronauts are exposed to radiation that causes the cell deterioration to increase.
NASA is interested in this drug as a possible way to protect astronauts on a trip to Mars.
It would also be helpful for all aging people and change estate planning.
Reference: Daily Mail (March 23, 2017) "Would YOU choose to live forever? Age-reversing pill that NASA wants to give to astronauts on Mars will begin trials within six months."
There are some things you need to do, even if you don’t think you need an estate plan.
Your assets do not generally go where you want them to go when you pass away, unless you have an estate plan, according to Fidelity in "Estate planning must dos."
There are really two things that must be done at a minimum.
First, you need to check beneficiaries on documents such as life insurance policies and retirement accounts. These beneficiaries are legally entitled to the proceeds of the accounts after you pass away.
And, secondly, you absolutely must title any real property you have appropriately. Of course, what is appropriate titling, depends on your individual family situation and is something you should discuss with an attorney.
Those are the two absolute basic minimal estate planning requirements.
An estate planning attorney can advise you on the minimum you must do, but can also advise you on creating a complete estate plan that meets your unique circumstances.
Reference: Fidelity (March 27, 2017) "Estate planning must dos."
The law for in vitro fertilization is still adapting, as the world adjusts to new technological advances.
The law in Spain only allows genetic material to be used for 12 months after a person has passed away and this can create some problems, according to FOX News in "Judge allows woman to undergo in vitro fertilization with dead husband's sperm."
The story begins when a Spanish man undergoing cancer treatment that could render him infertile, decided to freeze his sperm for possible later use by his partner. After the treatment, the couple started the process of in vitro fertilization but did not complete it, since his condition got worse and he passed away.
The day before he passed away, the pair were married.
After his death, the Spanish woman unsuccessfully attempted in vitro fertilization four times. The clinic refused her a fifth attempt without a court order.
The interesting aspect of this case is that the government chose not to argue in court on legal grounds that the woman should not be able use the sperm. Instead, the government argued on the moral grounds that it was impossible to know whether the man would still want the child or even if he would still want to be married to the woman, if he were still alive.
The government took the position that the man could not consent to having a child, but the judge was not persuaded and ruled in favor of the woman.
Similar cases are expected to appear with greater frequency and present a challenge to current estate law.
Reference: FOX News (March 23, 2017) "Judge allows woman to undergo in vitro fertilization with dead husband's sperm."
Bitter dispute began with support for then Presidential candidate Donald Trump. Phyllis Schlafly’s support for Donald Trump for President mattered to her children as well as her estate, according to the Daily Mail in "Children of late conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly at war over their inheritance and have been fighting since she threw her support behind Donald Trump." Schlafly, who was once well-known as a powerful force in Republican politics, had a reputation for her fight against the Equal Rights Amendment and remained an important figure in Republican circles until her death in 2016. She endorsed Donald Trump for President during the 2016 primaries. Schlafly's endorsement of Trump created a rift between her sons who supported the decision and her daughter who opposed it. The daughter claims that the decision was influenced by Republican political operative Ed Martin. Since Schlafly passed away, Martin has been creating political action committees in her name to support Trump and the daughter has attempted to stop him. She also claims that Martin and her brothers unduly influenced their mother to change her will in their favor and to make it more difficult for the daughter to challenge the will. Reference: Daily Mail (March 23, 2017) "Children of late conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly at war over their inheritance and have been fighting since she threw her support behind Donald Trump."
If technology can put autonomous autos onto the streets, one of the groups that may really benefit is the elderly.
At some point, elderly people have a good chance of losing the ability to drive safely and also lose some of their independence. However, self-driving cars could ease that problem, according to The New York Times in "Self-Driving Cars Could Be Boon for Aged, After Initial Hurdles."
For the elderly, the loss of the ability to drive is symbolic of a loss of self-reliance since it makes it much more difficult to get around.
Elderly people who have always been able to get in their vehicles and drive themselves anywhere they want, naturally resent not being able to do so. They also often fear that if they call someone to help them, then they are being a burden.
Automakers and technology companies are in a race to develop cars that can drive themselves. These autonomous vehicles would be able to take passengers where they want to go more safely than human drivers, according to advocates.
If the elderly were to use self-driving cars, then they would no longer need to lose their mobility when they are no longer able to drive. Some believe that these vehicles could be available in as little as five years.
Reference: The New York Times (March 23, 2017) "Self-Driving Cars Could Be Boon for Aged, After Initial Hurdles."
A total of 73% of Americans leave debt behind when they pass away.
The type and amount of debt left behind when someone dies is key to what happens next, according to FOX Business in "Americans Are Dying with an Average of $62K of Debt."
Because 73% percent of Americans pass away with debt that amounts to an average of $62,000, it is important to understand the complexity of the issue.
The only type of debt that completely disappears when the debtor passes away, are federal student loans. However, the proper paperwork must still be filed. The same is not necessarily true of other types of student loans.
Other types of debt must be paid by the estate, before any assets are distributed to heirs.
Thus, if a person passes away owing $100,000 and having assets of $150,000, then the estate must pay the debt and only the remaining $50,000 can be inherited by heirs.
If the estate does not have enough assets to cover the full amount of the debt, the heirs are not responsible to pay it. However, there are exceptions. For example, if the estate contains a home, then the value of that home might be used to pay the debt, even if other people are living in it. As a result, the heirs might need to pay the debt to stay in the home.
An estate planning attorney can help you create an estate plan that fits your unique circumstances as well as manage what happens to any debt left behind.
Reference: FOX Business (March 21, 2017) "Americans Are Dying with an Average of $62K of Debt."
Elder abuse can come to the forefront, when data is tracked on what people do online and then is used to increase advertising opportunities.
There are potential downsides to data collection that worry elder law experts, according to Financial Advisor in "AI, Big Data May Become Tools for Elder Financial Abuse."
What you do online is potentially tracked and collected by computers that compile a profile of you. It is what is known as big data.
The people behind this data collection want to sell you things. The better profile they can compile of who you are and what you like, the better they can create advertisements that cater to your interests and that are more likely to make you want to buy something.
This data knowledge increases the value of the ad space on the Internet and makes more money for companies selling that space, such as Facebook and Google. In other words, most people find this data collection and tracking to be mostly benign and necessary for popular Internet sites to continue to be free to use.
In the wrong hands, this same data could be used to more effectively target elderly people for financial scams. That has elder law advocates worried, since elder financial abuse is already a serious problem.
Reference: Financial Advisor (March 22, 2017) "AI, Big Data May Become Tools for Elder Financial Abuse