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.
There are many things that one needs to teach their children and planning for the future is one of them.
Parents often breathe a sigh of relief and think their work is done, when their child graduates from high school and becomes an adult. However, there is at least one last thing parents should do, according to Iris in "Estate Planning for Your High School Graduate: That's Right, Your Babies are Adults Now!"
Now that your high school graduate is an adult, he or she needs to have an estate plan.
There are many financial reasons for you to help your child get one now. The most significant is that it will teach your child the importance of estate planning and make them more likely to continue to do it as their lives advance.
However, there is a more immediate practical reason for estate planning.
Once your child is an adult, you are no longer automatically able to make decisions for him or her, should there be a medical emergency.
If your child has an accident while away at college and has a medical emergency, doctors do not have to ask your opinion about what kind of treatment your child should receive. To get around that, you need your child to have an estate plan that includes an advanced medical directive giving you that legal authority.
An estate planning attorney can advise you on creating an estate plan that fits your unique circumstances. It might be a good gift for a high school graduate.
Reference: Iris (June 27, 2017) "Estate Planning for Your High School Graduate: That's Right, Your Babies are Adults Now!"
Bikers in Texas can take final ride in an unusual hearse.
A hearse designed to appeal to motorcycle enthusiasts is drawing attention in a Texas town, according to Everything Lubbock in "A Unique 'Last Ride'."
While the basic design of hearses has not changed much, Derek Dunn of Lubbock, Texas had a different idea and created a hearse that resembles a motorcycle.
The hearse pulls a platform behind it that carries the casket, which is in the open air.
This is a continuation of the larger trend to personalize funerals and memorials. More and more people are choosing to have more personal touches in their funerals, instead of sticking with the traditional ceremony.
If the trend continues, stories similar to the motorcycle hearse article can be expected.
Reference: Everything Lubbock (June 27, 2017) "A Unique 'Last Ride'."
With insurance dedicated funds, wealthy people can invest money that will eventually go to their heirs, while avoiding estate and capital gains taxes.
Life insurance has been a popular estate planning tool for a long time. It is normally used as a relatively simple way to even out inheritances between heirs or to provide needed cash for family members, after the policy holder passes away.
In most cases, life insurance is a very simple process to understand.
A policy is purchased, premiums paid and upon the death of the policy holder, cash is distributed to the beneficiary.
To sweeten the deal, because life insurance is a death benefit, the beneficiary does not have to pay income taxes on it when paid out as a lump sum.
Wall Street has a way to make this even more beneficial for wealthy people and it is becoming increasingly popular according to Barron's in "New-ish Tax Planning Instrument Gathering Billions."
An insurance dedicated fund is a complicated investment tool that gets treated for tax purposes in the same way as life insurance.
It allows people to invest money that is then managed by hedge funds, without paying any capital gains tax on the investment. When the investor passes away, the accumulated funds in the account are distributed to beneficiaries and have the same tax benefits as life insurance.
Insurance dedicated funds are not new, but they have recently started becoming more popular.
Reference: Barron's (June 28, 2017) "New-ish Tax Planning Instrument Gathering Billions."
It is not an easy task to not only preserve wealth but to manage it.
There are ways to make sure that your family is an exception to the rule and is able to maintain wealth for generations, according to the Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog in "Preparing Heirs for Successful Wealth Stewardship."
The key to such success, actually seems relatively simple. In practice, however, it can be difficult.
Heirs need to be trained to handle the wealth.
They need to know how to make good investments and how to avoid bad ones. They also need to learn what good uses for the money are and what type of spending would be wasteful.
Perhaps, most importantly, heirs need to know who to turn to for advice.
In addition to educating your heirs on maintaining wealth, an estate planning attorney can advise you on creating a plan that meets your unique circumstances.
Reference: Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog (June 29, 2017) "Preparing Heirs for Successful Wealth Stewardship."
Controversial law draws attention from elder law advocates.
Elder law advocates have been paying a lot of attention to California's new law, allowing terminally ill people to seek physician assisted suicide. The law was extremely controversial and remains so.
The State of California has issued a report about usage of its new law and it is being closely studied, according to The New York Times in "State: 111 Terminally Ill End Lives Under New California Law."
If it is deemed successful, then its advocates think the law can be used as a model for other states to follow. Those who are opposed to the law, are watching it closely to see if there are any problems with it that they can use to bolster their arguments.
According to the report, life ending drugs were prescribed to 191 terminally ill patients. A total of 21 of them passed away before taking the drugs, and 111 used them to end their lives.
The fates of the remainder were not known at the time that the report was issued.
The typical patient was a terminally ill elderly person diagnosed with cancer who was receiving hospice or palliative care. In total, 173 different doctors prescribed the drug to patients.
One thing the data shows, is that the median age of the patients was 73 and the majority were over 60.
Reference: New York Times (June 27, 2017) "State: 111 Terminally Ill End Lives Under New California Law."
The Florida legislature recently passed a bill allowing electronic wills. However, the governor sees it differently.
Legal documents created online are now very common. However, for wills to be valid, they must be executed and witnessed in a specific way. That process is not generally electronic.
Following the trend, the Florida legislature recently passed a bill that would allow wills to be created electronically, with the wills signed and witnessed electronically.
However, the governor decided to veto the bill, according to the Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog in "Florida Governor Scott Vetoes Landmark Electronic Will Legislation."
The governor had several concerns about the proposal and the ability to ensure security.
However, one of the biggest concerns is that the bill would have allowed electronic wills that were not created in Florida to be probated in Florida. The governor was concerned that would allow people to use the law, when there was no actual connection with the state.
Reference: Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog (June 28, 2017) "Florida Governor Scott Vetoes Landmark Electronic Will Legislation."
There are numerous views on what impact changes will have on Medicaid.
On one side of the Senate Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act) are Democrats who claim that it will slash Medicaid spending. On the other side are Republicans who claim that the bill will increase Medicaid funding, according to Fox News in "Fact Check: Dem claims that Senate bill guts Medicaid ignore billions in new funding."
Which side is right, depends entirely on how you look at the issue. If the Senate bill passes and eventually becomes law, then Medicaid funding would increase by $71 billion by 2026. However, if the Senate bill does not become law and current law remains in place, then Medicaid funding would increase by $231 billion during the same time period.
Under either scenario, Medicaid funding increases.
The argument is over how much it should increase and whether any increases are enough to meet future costs.
In the current highly partisan climate, it can be difficult to understand what is going on, as politicians and the media discuss policy changes. For that reason, it is important to look carefully at the facts to determine what the real question is.
Reference: Fox News (June 27, 2017) "Fact Check: Dem claims that Senate bill guts Medicaid ignore billions in new funding."
What exactly is allowed in retirement accounts?
A new fiduciary rule has caused considerable confusion for consumers and their advisors, according to the Washington Post in "A new conflict-of-interest rule for retirement savers is causing a lot of confusion."
The Department of Labor set up a new rule on June 9 that says financial advisors who give investment advice to consumers about their retirement accounts, must act as fiduciaries of those consumers.
The easiest way to understand what the new rule means, is that advisors have to act in the best interests of the people they are advising. Investment advice must be based on the best thing for the saver, not the advisor.
Therefore, if an advisor would earn a higher fee from suggesting one investment rather than another, he or she cannot advise the saver on that basis. If the investment that pays the least to the advisor is better for the consumer, then that is the investment that must be recommended.
Many advisors are taking advantage of the new rule to make changes to how they manage retirement accounts.
The confusion surrounding the rule has given them the opportunity to make changes that customers may not like and place the blame for them on the new rule.
An estate planning attorney can advise you on any questions you may have about the new rule.
Reference: Washington Post (June 19, 2017) "A new conflict-of-interest rule for retirement savers is causing a lot of confusion."
Court orders body of famous artist be exhumed.
A judge has found enough basis for the claims of a Spanish woman, claiming she is the child of Salvador Dali, that the body has been ordered to be exhumed from its current resting place underneath a theater in Dali's hometown, so DNA testing can be performed, according to the Washington Post in "Judge in Spain orders Salvador Dali's body exhumed for paternity test."
Dali, who was well known both for his eccentric art and lifestyle, was not known to have any children. However, one Spanish woman claims that she is Dali's child.
The only problem is that she cannot prove her claims, since Dali passed away in 1989 at the age of 85.
The woman makes her living as a professional tarot card reader, so perhaps she could prove her paternity by reading the cards. However, she refuses to do such a self-reading. Instead, she has asked the Spanish courts to intervene.
It is not clear what the woman hopes to gain from the testing. Dali's estate has long been closed and all of his valuable artwork donated to the Spanish government.
Even though the artwork is valued at hundreds of millions of dollars, it is unlikely the woman could lay claim to any of that money. For her part, she seems uncertain of what she wants, if Dali does turn out to be her father.
She has only stated that she wants "what corresponds to her."
Reference: Washington Post (June 26, 2017) "Judge in Spain orders Salvador Dali's body exhumed for paternity test."
Just exactly what does Medicaid do?
There is an ongoing attempt to repeal Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act) which is expected to have a major impact on Medicaid. Medicaid touches us at many points in our lives.
NPR recently published a list of some lesser known facts about Medicaid in "From Birth To Death, Medicaid Affects The Lives of Millions," including:
• It is very expensive. Medicaid currently takes up approximately 10% of the federal budget. State governments contribute even more on top of that to the costs of the program.
• Half of all births in the U.S. are covered by Medicaid. The program has been expanded many times to include more and more pregnant women.
• Some 62% of nursing home residents receive their care through Medicaid.
• Disabled people (and the people who take care of them) are often eligible to receive their care through Medicaid.
• Medicaid is a major source of funding for the fight against opioid addiction.
Reference: NPR (June 27, 2017) "From Birth To Death, Medicaid Affects The Lives of Millions."