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.
The new tax law has enough big changes that you need to review your estate plan to make sure that you are taking advantage of the best options in the new environment.
It is a good idea to review your estate plan with sufficient frequency to make sure it still does what you want in the most effective way. However, you should not wait to review your plans when something significant changes.
The significant change can be something in your life, such as a new spouse, a divorce, another child or a large increase in income. The significant change can also be a change in the legal environment, as is the case with the recently passed tax overhaul.
Many estate plans will need to be changed to take advantage of the new law as the Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog discusses in "A Gift from the New Tax Act: Kill That Trust."
One of the key changes for estate planning purposes, is that the estate tax exemption has been doubled.
This means people with estate plans that created trusts for the sole purpose of limiting their estate tax exposure may want to revisit their plans. They might now be better off revising those trusts or even getting rid of them altogether.
Make sure that you visit an estate planning attorney before you make a decision about your trust on your own. The doubling of the estate tax exemption is scheduled to expire in the future, so you will also want an expert opinion about how you should handle that.
Reference: Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog (Dec. 26, 2017) "A Gift from the New Tax Act: Kill That Trust."
Can a Wisconsin family be brought back to life in the future?
A man in Wisconsin has signed up for himself, his wife and their three sons to all be cryogenically frozen after they pass away, according to the Daily Mail in "Father spends $140,000 to sign his whole family up to be frozen in cooling chambers when they die, in the hope they can be woken up in the future, to have a 'second chance at life'."
Their hope is that someday scientists will be able to unfreeze them, bring them back to life and cure whatever it was they died from.
Most experts would say this is an impossibility because the freezing process damages the brain. However, those who support cryogenics have faith that future scientists can fix that.
Whatever your opinion of cryogenics and its potential effectiveness, you probably should think of death as still inevitable. You are going to pass away and perhaps your family can benefit from an estate plan now.
Reference: Daily Mail (Dec.18, 2017) "Father spends $140,000 to sign his whole family up to be frozen in cooling chambers when they die, in the hope they can be woken up in the future, to have a 'second chance at life'."
Some attorneys take advantage of their elderly clients. One of those who did so, will serve 16 to 40 years in prison.
There is a popular image of attorneys as shifty liars who will do or say anything. It is not an accurate portrayal of most lawyers.
Almost all attorneys know they have responsibilities to their clients. Attorneys are also aware they have more legal knowledge than their clients and cannot use that knowledge for their own benefit at the expense of their clients.
When clients give their money to attorneys to handle, the attorneys must act as faithful fiduciaries. This is especially true when the clients are vulnerable, such as is often the case with the disabled and the elderly.
When an attorney violates these principles, it damages the reputations of everyone in the profession.
It is good to see that justice has been served on one such violator, as Las Vegas Now reports in "Disgraced Las Vegas lawyer sentenced to the maximum."
Robert Graham was accused of stealing $16 million from his clients. His excuse was that he needed the money to pay his staff but the judge was not amused with that idea.
Graham was convicted on two counts of theft and three counts of exploitation of an older/vulnerable person. The judge sentenced Graham to the maximum sentence, which is 16 to 40 years in prison.
If you know an elderly person who you think is being taken advantage of, then report it to the appropriate authorities.
Reference: Las Vegas Now (Dec. 8, 2017) "Disgraced Las Vegas lawyer sentenced to the maximum."
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