It’s Tuesday morning, March 31, 2020. The Governor has issued his stay at home order, but legal services are considered essential services. So, we are still working from our Sanford office on a modified schedule. We will continue to serve our clients with your estate planning, estate administration, business planning, and real estate needs, but we will have to follow special procedures to protect you—our clients—and our staff from this awful virus.
Due to the highly contagious nature of COVID-19 LOWWD will utilize the following procedures to ensure that business can continue as uninterrupted as possible.
Medicaid is a federal program, run by individual states, that provides medical care to needy individuals. Many of our elders rely upon this program to access essential medical care for their long-term healthcare needs.
There has been a lot of heated debate on the topic of traveling with emotional support animals (ESA), psychiatric service animals (PSA), and traditional service animals. To resolve some of the conflict, the Department of Transportation (DOT) issued a Final Statement elaborating on the department’s expectations and priorities regarding the treatment of passengers traveling with animals.
In honor of our Veterans, let’s take a look at the structure of the Veterans Asset Protection Trust (VAPT). The VAPT is a powerful tool that can protect assets while enabling the grantor to qualify for needs-based pension benefits. There are two sub-trusts within the VAPT – one is a grantor sub-trust and the other is a non-grantor sub-trust. Why is it structured this way? The VA has a direct line of communication with the IRS. The VA routinely checks the tax returns of pension recipients, to get income information. Because of this, it is best to avoid any “phantom income” from a grantor trust being reported on the grantor’s tax return. This additional reported income may jeopardize eligibility for benefits.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 40% of people age 55 and over were working or looking for work in 2014. The labor force participation rate for seniors is expected to increase to around 164 million individuals by 2024. In 2016, over 42% of workers age 55 and over were in management, professional, and related occupations. According to one report, entrepreneurship amongst seniors aged 55-64 increased from 15% in 1996 to 26% in 2017.
Fiduciaries can hold a lot of power when it comes to the successful execution of one’s estate plan—they make crucial financial decisions, act as advocates for a client’s wishes, make sure an estate’s debts are settled, and ensure that each beneficiary gets what they were intended to receive. As such, helping clients choose the right individual to carry out these duties can be the difference between successfully carrying out a client’s wishes and complete calamity.
There are some potentially positive pieces of legislation pending in Washington D.C. Let’s take a look at the Stop the Wait Act, The FAIR Act, and the Supplemental Security Income Restoration Act and how each has the potential to help seniors and those with disabilities.
The meaning of access to a financial account has recently been litigated in New Jersey. In a non-binding decision, the Superior Court of New Jersey disregarded the Medicaid applicant’s argument that she was physically and cognitively unable to access a joint account – ultimately leading to the inclusion of the resources against her for eligibility determination purposes.
Once upon a time, the legal field relied on face-to-face interactions, loads of paper files, and gallons and gallons of ink. This is not so in the current day and age. Our legal documents were once handwritten, then typed and printed, and are now becoming a series of ones and zeros. Most attorneys now harbor a hybrid mix of paper and electronically stored data. For elder law attorneys, shifting their historically physical procedures into electronic practices is a foreign concept – a concept now coming to fruition in the form of electronic wills.