Latest from Elder Law Issues

When we prepare your estate plan, we try to capture your wishes as thoroughly and precisely as possible. It can be a challenge, though, to cover every variable. You may also have preferences that are hard to capture in the legal language of trusts, wills and powers of attorney. That’s why we encourage clients to prepare a “letter of instruction.” What is a letter of instruction? As the name suggests, this document gives directions to…
A relatively new player is gaining popularity in estate planning: trust protectors. Naming one can add an additional layer of assurance that a trust’s primary objectives will be carried out long term. A trust normally has three categories of players: The trustors, or creators The trustees, who hold the property for the benefit of the beneficiaries, and The beneficiaries, who receives property from the trustees according to instructions from the trustors. Trust protectors are a…
Signing tax returns can be difficult — or even impossible — for someone who is incapacitated. Can someone else sign for them? Who — and how? To be clear, we’re not talking about an amanuensis signing. But we do like to use the word. That kind of signing involves a completely competent — but physically challenged — person directing someone else to sign on their behalf. Federal and state law recognize the ability to use…
Qualified charitable distributions (QCDs, to the initiated) are a relatively recent addition to the federal income tax rules. Using them can make a real difference in the income taxes some IRA owners have to pay. If you are over age 72 (or younger, if you inherited an IRA from someone else) you may know at least a little about required minimum distributions. Every year you must withdraw at least a minimum amount from your…
Most people have at least a general understanding of Roth IRAs, but may not really understand how they might affect estate planning. Let’s see if we can clear up some of the questions and the most common confusion we see. First, what are Roth IRAs? William “Bill” Roth was a Republican U.S. Senator from Delaware for 30 years — from 1971 to his retirement in 2001. For the last six of those years he was…
At the end of the month, we like to survey the elder law landscape and share news and notable developments, and sometimes something that’s just interesting to read. For the March review, we have taxes and Britney and a good read. March Review of Estate Tax News The liberal Democrats have put a tax plan on the table, including dramatic changes in the estate tax. Bernie Sanders, who’s Senate Budget Committee chair, introduced a tax
For clients with some types of assets, we frequently encounter questions about LLCs and trust funding. Should your trust be a “member” of each limited liability company, or should the LLC manager be a trustee? Do you need to change your LLC operating agreement? How do you get these interests into your trust’s name? Not every estate planning client needs to worry about this issue. But those with rental real estate, for instance, might…
Are you thinking about making changes to your estate plan? If you’re already our client, or you are in Southern Arizona, we’d like to help. But we have some advice for you in any case. In this podcast episode, we discuss some of the common mistakes we see people make. Changing your estate plan isn’t as simple as scribbling out one name, writing in a new one and initialing. That kind of “change” is…
Let’s talk about a special trust for your child. Not necessarily a “special needs” trust, but a trust for a beneficiary who can not manage their own finances. What’s in a name? Search for information about special needs trusts, and you’ll find plenty of entries. But you’ll also find plenty of confusion. What’s the difference between a “first-party” or “self-settled” special needs trust, and the “third-party” version? And what if your goal is to…
What are UTMA, 529 and ABLE? And which is better for your situation? The difference can be confusing. How to make a gift, but not cause other problems because of the recipient’s youth, immaturity or limitations? Three common mechanisms are the topic of this podcast episode. We talk about (among other things): UTMA — the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (a state law, adopted in Arizona and 48 other states — this may be the…