October review

It’s almost Halloween. Yes, this is the last Monday of the month, which means it’s time for our October review of news and developments in elder law:

Do You Have a Plan?

October is estate planning month, and last week was national estate planning awareness week. If you (or someone you love) don’t have a plan, it’s a great time to get started. 

As you may know, Congress’s actions on taxes and spending may halt popular estate planning techniques. A lot could change. Negotiations continue, and the current thinking is that a lower estate tax exemption, to a $5 million base, will remain in the package.

We realize that updating a plan can be tougher when the landscape may be shifting; here’s a step-by-step guide to getting it done.

Once you have a plan, coordinate your finances with it; don’t let good intentions with your bank accounts alter the outcome. Specifically, know how your accounts are affected by naming beneficiaries and don’t trust your banker when filling out those forms.

Clients often ask whether they should discuss their estate plans with their children. We almost always answer, “It depends.” This article points out three good reasons to do it. One of them: It shows you care. “Sharing with your kids what your money means to you, and why you are speaking with them about it, will help guide them to honor your memory.” Are you anxious about actually having that conversation? Some tips.

For the October review, we found more good planning articles on during and after a divorce; when you own cryptocurrency; the many benefits of trusts (“just like a Swiss Army knife”); and planning for income tax with tax-bracket management.

Aging, Health & Policy

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has renewed the public health emergency that is Covid-19. That means agencies can’t terminate public benefits like ALTCS until at least January 16, 2022.

In brain health news, research has identified blood proteins that may signal a susceptibility to dementia, while other studies show that high blood pressure and depression in early adulthood point to higher risk. Meanwhile, infrared light, delivered by wearing a special helmet, may turn out to help dementia symptoms. And an especially welcome development: The University of Arizona was awarded a $60 million grant to create a Precision Aging Network that “could transform the way we think about the aging brain.”

And here’s a Covid-related opinion piece that points out that the pandemic exposed the lack of safeguards for and advocates for the rights of older people. To fix that, the article argues, we need an initiative that spans the globe.

October Review of Spears Updates

The controversy over Britney Spear’s conservatorship has inspired examination of laws across the country, and in some cases, change has already occurred. California, where they Spears case unfolded, is one of the states making adjustments; Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a new law aiming to curb conservatorship abuse.

Meanwhile, Britney’s dad, Jamie, was suspended as her conservator, and he has hired a new attorney, anticipating his service as conservator will be scrutinized. The judge is to consider terminating the conservatorship entirely at the next hearing, Nov. 12.

Other Celeb Estates

Rounding up other developments in estates of famous decedents:

  • The estate of Bing Crosby is aiming to raise the late star’s profile by selling a stake in the estate to a third party. Primary Wave Music will help promote the “White Christmas” crooner to younger generations first by increasing his digital footprint.
  • Another potential child of rapper DMX has come forward, bringing the number of possible heirs to 15. DNA tests will be required. The article points out that not having a will creates the obstacle of securing bond for the value of the estate. That said, just having a will does not help; bond needs to be expressly waived.
  • The sale of items from the estate of Al Capone brought in over $3 million, far more that the top auction estimate of $700,000.00. The top seller: his favorite pistol, which sold for $860.000.00.

That’s it for the October review of elder law developments. Have a happy Halloween!


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