What Questions Should I Ask an Elder Law Attorney in Hartford CT?

Jul 23, 2014  /  By: Barry D. Horowitz, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Elder Law

You should certainly make preparations for the latter stages of your life. There are various contingencies that you may face, and you want to be in a position to address them. To gain an understanding of exactly how to proceed, you would do well to consult with an elder law attorney in Hartford CT.

Elder Law Attorneys

Elder law attorneys provide counsel to individuals who are concerned about matters that are of particular interest to senior citizens.

What questions should you ask an elder law attorney in Hartford CT? The first subject on your list should be long-term care expenses.

Long-Term Care

It would be natural to assume that Medicare is going to take care of all of your health care needs once you reach the age of eligibility. Under currently existing laws, you become eligible for Medicare when you reach the age of 65 if you have accumulated at least 40 retirement credits. You accrue these credits as you are working and paying taxes.

Medicare will certainly be of assistance, but long-term care is considered to be custodial care, not medical care. As a result, Medicare will not pay for a stay in an assisted living community or nursing home. It won’t pay for in-home care either unless it is medical in nature and of a limited duration.

Paying for long-term care out-of-pocket is certainly an option. The problem with this is that it is very expensive. According to the MetLife Mature Market Institute, in 2012 the average charge for a year in a private room in a nursing home in the United States exceeded $90,000. The average length of stay is over two years, but some people stay longer.

What is the solution? For a very significant percentage of Americans, the solution is Medicaid. Medicaid will pay for long-term care if you can qualify. However, it is a need-based program. Therefore, there are upper resource limits for both the person in need of long-term care and his or her spouse.

If you discuss the matter in detail with an elder law attorney in Hartford CT, you will find that there are steps that you can take to qualify for Medicaid while retaining a maximum store of assets.

Other Elder Law Questions

The matter of long-term care is probably the most important elder law issue of our day. However, other subjects that you may want to broach with an elder law attorney would include incapacity planning and the prevention of elder abuse, both physical and financial.

Elder Law Consultation

In this post we have highlighted a few of the topics that you may want to cover when you speak with an elder law attorney. If you are ready to set up an appointment, simply take a moment to contact our firm.

 

 

 

 

 

Nirenstein, Horowitz & Associates, P.C. is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.

Durable Financial Power of Attorney in Hartford CT: What Are Its Advantages?

Jul 21, 2014  /  By: Barry D. Horowitz, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Incapacity Planning

Estate planning is not exclusively confined to monetary matters. When you talk to an estate planning attorney about the realities that we all face, you will be reminded about the period of time that may precede your passing.

Think about it logically. You are probably not going to be healthy one day, and dead the next. If you are fortunate enough to live a normal life span, you may well go through a period of incapacity before you pass away. This possibility is something to prepare for in advance.

Guardianship

If you were to become unable to make your own sound decisions as an elder, interested parties may notice this. For your own good someone may petition the court to appoint a guardian to take over your affairs.

There are potential problems with this course of action, even though it may have been well intended. The court may appoint someone that you would not have chosen if you made the choice when you were still of sound mind. Ultimately, your affairs may be handled in a way that you would never have approved of before your incapacitation.

There is also the matter of well-meaning family members disagreeing with regard to the correct course of action. One person may think that a guardian is called for, and another may not. Even if all interested parties agree that someone needs to start making decisions in your behalf, they may not agree with regard to whom this decision-maker should actually be. After the court makes a determination hard feelings could linger.

Durable Financial Power of Attorney

You can take steps in advance to make sure that a guardianship proceeding is never necessary. One way that you could go about it would be to execute a legally binding document called a durable power of attorney for financial affairs.

With this document you name an agent or attorney-in-fact. This individual does not have to actually be an attorney in the real sense.

Once you execute this document your agent will be empowered to make financial decisions in your behalf. Because of the “durable” designation, the power of attorney remains in effect even if you become incapacitated. A power of attorney that is not designated as durable would not remain in effect upon your incapacitation.

Some people want to prepare for the possibility of incapacity, but they don’t want to give authority to the agent until and unless they become incapacitated.

This can be done through the execution of a legal device called a springing durable power of attorney. This type of power of attorney only becomes effective if it can be proven that the grantor or principal has become incapacitated and unable to make sound independent decisions.

Nirenstein, Horowitz & Associates, P.C. is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.

Retirement Planning Concerns

Jul 18, 2014  /  By: Barry D. Horowitz, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Elder Law, Retirement Planning

Retirement planning involves making projections regarding your anticipated expenses, and to do this intelligently you have to understand what your health care costs are likely to be during the latter stages of your life. Of course this is an imperfect science on a number of different levels. For one, you have no way of knowing exactly how well your health will hold up and what type of medical challenges you may or may not face. And for another, there are factors that are out of your control such as the cost of health care and how much you will have to pay out-of-pocket to supplement Medicare once you become eligible.

For this reason it is important to keep an eye on the state of the Medicare system. At the present time there is a bipartisan congressional “super committee” convening in an effort to trim down the national debt by $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years. They’re supposed to come up with a plan for doing this by November 23rd, with the proposals that they present being voted on by December 23rd of this year.

Cuts to Medicare are one of the things that are being considered by this super committee. According to the Congressional Budget Office outlays for Medicare and Medicaid comprise 23% of all federal spending. This is quite a large chunk of course, but it should be noted that 10,000 people are applying for Medicare every day and this volume is expected to continue for the next 20 years. So, there will be more and more people enrolling in the Medicare program over the next couple of decades.

There are a number of different things that the super committee could do with regard to Medicare, including raising part B premiums, instituting a private voucher system, extending the age at which one can apply for Medicare (it is currently 65), and/or requiring high income retirees to pay more out-of-pocket.

If you are planning for your retirement, this is a matter that you may want to pay close attention to over the next few months. The way that it ultimately plays out can have a significant impact on your long-term budget and it could even affect when you choose to retire.

Nirenstein, Horowitz & Associates, P.C. is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.

On What Grounds Can a Will Be Challenged?

Jul 14, 2014  /  By: Barry D. Horowitz, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Estate Planning, Wills and Trusts

When you utilize a last will to express your final wishes the estate will pass through the legal process of probate. During this interim anyone who wanted to challenge the will could present his or her argument before the court.

If you are someone who is engaged in the process of estate planning you should be aware of this possibility. Some people may have an inkling in advance that their wishes are not going to be well received by some. If you feel this way you should definitely express your concerns to your attorney.

A last will can be challenged on one of four different grounds: undue influence, fraud, improper execution, and lack of capacity.

Estate planning attorneys are always going to emphasize the fact that you should plan ahead with the possibility of will challenges in mind. But on the other end of the spectrum, there are times when someone who would like to contest a last will may have totally valid grounds.

If you feel as though you could prove that a last will that is being presented to the probate court is not valid for one reason or another you should definitely discuss the situation with a licensed and experienced estate planning attorney.

Your attorney will gain an understanding of the details and advise you appropriately.

Should you be in a situation where you think that a last will may be invalid by all means contact our firm to arrange for a free consultation. We can be reached by phone at (860) 548-1000.

 

Nirenstein, Horowitz & Associates, P.C. is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.

Kinkade Case Settled

Jul 11, 2014  /  By: Barry D. Horowitz, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Estate Planning

There are a wide range of different scenarios that can present themselves after someone passes away. This is one of the reasons why it is important to get personalized attention from a good estate planning attorney when you are looking forward toward the future.

You have to be honest with your attorney and explain everything in detail, even some things that may be a bit unconventional. The purpose of estate planning is to make sure that your wishes are carried out after your passing. If you leave any ambiguities out there you could be leaving a tangled situation behind you.

The case of the artist Thomas Kinkade has been an interesting one, and a settlement has finally been reached. Kinkade was living with a woman named Amy Pinto at the time of his death. However, he was still legally married to his wife Nanette.

The couple had executed a professionally prepared estate plan when they were together. But Kinkade also left behind two handwritten last wills leaving his girlfriend a home and millions of dollars to establish a museum that would house his work.

Kinkade’s wife did not want to honor the terms of these handwritten last wills. In fact, an expert who examined the documents concluded that the handwriting is consistent with someone who was probably quite intoxicated.

In the end the two women have reached an agreement. However, the exact details of the settlement have not been made available to the public at the present time.

This case certainly points out why you should always speak with a licensed attorney when you are interested in changing the terms of an existing estate plan.

 

Nirenstein, Horowitz & Associates, P.C. is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.

Are You Unconcerned About Incapacity Planning?

Jul 09, 2014  /  By: Barry D. Horowitz, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Estate Planning

Many people are unconcerned about the matter of incapacity planning because they feel as though it is unlikely that they will ever be in a position where they are not able to make their own decisions.

Admittedly, this is not a very pleasant subject to consider, and when you are perfectly healthy and in full control of your faculties it can be hard to imagine a future point in time when you would be unable to take care of everything on your own.

In truth you would do well to understand the facts so that you can take the appropriate steps to protect yourself.

The existence of Alzheimer’s disease alone is a good enough reason to plan ahead for the possibility of incapacity.

A very good resource that you may want to explore if you are interested in Alzheimer’s disease is the Alzheimer’s Association website.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association there are some 5.4 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease at the present time. When you do the math this means that one out of every eight senior citizens is suffering from the disease. And of course, the likelihood of contracting Alzheimer’s disease increases as you get older and older.

Alzheimer’s causes dementia, and dementia can make it impossible for sufferers to make sound financial and medical decisions.

To have hand-picked decision-makers in place in the event of your incapacity you should execute durable powers of attorney naming attorneys-in-fact who would be empowered to make decisions in your behalf should you become incapacitated.

You can put these important documents in place by setting up an appointment with our firm.

Nirenstein, Horowitz & Associates, P.C. is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.

Actors Receive Unexpected Windfall

Jul 07, 2014  /  By: Barry D. Horowitz, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Estate Planning

Sometimes even the slightest bit of kindness can pay big dividends, and this can be true even when you may feel as though you are on top of the world at some point in time.

With this in mind an interesting estate planning story has been circulating recently that we would like to share.

A man named Ray Fulk, who passed away last summer in Broadwell, Illinois, took the time to draw up a last will though he had no close family or children. He was more or less a loner who lived on his farm in a home without any running water. Not one for much social interaction he is said to have had few friends.

There were however a couple of individuals who had touched him over the years that he did consider to be his friends.  They were two actors who appeared in television shows that he enjoyed: Kevin Brophy, who starred on the series Lucan in the 1970s, and soap opera star Peter Barton, who played Dr. Scott Grainger on The Young and the Restless.

The actors were named as the heirs to Fulk’s estate.

Though it outwardly would appear as though he had very little in terms of financial resources in fact his land is worth somewhere around $1 million, and he had around $230,000 in liquid assets as well according to reports.

Fulk’s estate planning attorney Donald Behle says that he found some letters that his client had sent to the actors years ago, and they had responded thanking him for his interest in their work. This apparently led him to consider them to be his friends.

Ray Fulk was a dog lover, and aside from the inheritances that he left the two actors he also left $5000 to the Anti-Cruelty Society in Chicago.

Nirenstein, Horowitz & Associates, P.C. is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.

When Should You Buy Long-Term Care Insurance?

Jul 04, 2014  /  By: Barry D. Horowitz, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Elder Law, Insurance, Long-Term Care

The matter of long-term care is something to take seriously. Medicare will not pay for an extended stay in a nursing home, and the costs can be considerable, especially if you have to spend multiple years in such a facility. You are looking at over six figures for a single year in a nursing home in the Hartford area.

One option that is available to you as you look ahead toward the possibility of incurring long-term care expenses in the future is the purchase of long-term care insurance.

Statistics are indicating that people are purchasing coverage at younger ages these days, and this can make some sense because the younger you are when you take out the coverage the lower the premiums are going to be.

However, on the other side of the coin you are unlikely to need long-term care until well into your senior years. And, if you start paying for the insurance when you are in your 20s or 30s because the premiums are low and you discontinue it at some point in time you will have wasted the money that you put into paying for the coverage.

The best way to proceed is to sit down and discuss all of your options with a licensed and experienced elder law attorney. Long-term care insurance can be complicated to understand, and the industry has been steadily changing over the years.

Your attorney will evaluate your situation, take your age into account, and make the appropriate recommendations.

 

Nirenstein, Horowitz & Associates, P.C. is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.

Aging Is Inevitable … Do You Have a Plan?

Jul 02, 2014  /  By: Barry D. Horowitz, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Estate Planning, Financial Planning, Long-Term Care, Retirement Planning

Things do not stay the same as you get older. Time passes quickly, and you may not really understand just how quickly until you wake up one morning with a moment of clarity recognizing the fact that you have entered your 40s without making any plans for the future.

A life well lived requires a plan. Many experts say that you should start planning for retirement while you’re still in college. In truth, the sooner that you get started working within a cogently conceived financial plan the better because time is your friend when you are a young adult.

It is understandable that you may not know exactly how to proceed, and this is why it is wise to engage the services of a financial planning attorney who will help to put you on a path toward a successful future.

When you create this relationship you are going to be able to return to your attorney as your life changes so that you can adjust your plan.

Sending your children to college, fine-tuning your retirement plan, and preparing for the possibility of incurring long-term care costs during the latter portion of your life will be part of the equation.

And of course, the culmination will be the eventual distribution of your remaining resources to your loved ones after your passing.

Careful long-term planning is the key to financial security. If you’re ready to get started, contact our firm to arrange for a free consultation. We can be reached electronically through this link: Free Financial Planning Consultation

 

Nirenstein, Horowitz & Associates, P.C. is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.

Working While Aging

Jun 30, 2014  /  By: Barry D. Horowitz, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Financial Planning, Retirement Planning

Statistics are indicating that people are choosing to continue working longer than they used to years ago. Obviously there are financial motivations for many, and it should be noted that your Social Security benefit will be greater if you delay applying for your benefit until you are 70 years of age.

The Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College does a lot of valuable research on the subject, and they state that the labor force participation rate has increased by 10% among people who are at least 55 years old over the last couple of decades.

The average retirement age has gone up as well. Using a data analysis from 2011 we see that the average retirement age for men was 64 and for women it was 62. Back in the middle of the 1990s the average retirement age for women was 60 and the average retirement age for men was 62.

While many people do indeed need the money, others decide to continue working because they enjoy what they do and they want to keep active.

According to a survey most employers found that this increased longevity in the workplace was more of an opportunity than a risk. Many expressed the fact that they felt comfortable having highly experienced people around for a longer period of time.

Of course, people remaining on the job for a longer period of time will invariably reduce the openings that become available for younger members of the workforce.

Though many continue to work as senior citizens there are those who are looking forward to nothing but free time. If you are among them you would do well to stick to a cogent financial plan throughout your working years to accumulate the financial underpinning that you will need to support your retirement.

 

 

Nirenstein, Horowitz & Associates, P.C. is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.