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Electronic Wills: Technology Collides with Trusts and Estates Law

The last 100 years have brought vast technological advancements to the masses, including the computer, internet, and smartphone. These developments have changed the way we live our lives and the way we conduct business. Instead of calling the receptionist of a company and asking for directions, we simply navigate using our car’s computer system or an app. Instead of mailing documents, we send them via email. Technology is now colliding with trusts and estates law through the use of electronic wills. Let’s take a look at what these are, along with how states are beginning to deal with them.

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Senior Living Trends

 Some seniors simply want to downsize.  They either can’t afford to live in a large home, or they don’t want the maintenance and upkeep.  Or, they would like to move closer to family.  In addition, as the multitude of Baby Boomers continue to age, there are oftentimes a shortage of traditional living facilities and care practitioners for seniors who find that they need extra help.  As nursing home and assisted living facility costs continue to rise, some elders are finding creative ways to seek care.  For whatever reason, some seniors are finding alternative living solutions.

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SECURE Act: How It May Change the Face of Retirement Planning

On May 23, 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1994, also known as the SECURE Act, by a vote of 417 to 3. The SECURE Act is now headed to the Senate, where a nearly identical bill (the Retirement Enhancement Savings Act, aka RESA) is pending. Due to its overwhelming bipartisan support, experts believe the SECURE Act, perhaps with minor adjustments made in the Senate, will easily become law.

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Tortious Interference or Routine Dealings?

It is challenging for families to make the decision to enter a loved one into a long-term care (LTC) facility. It is wonderful when families are prepared for the financial costs of this transition. Hopefully, families are proactive and prepared, but unfortunately, not all have planned for the possibility of an extended-term living situation at an LTC facility. What happens when the money runs out? Many families rely upon Medicaid assistance for continued care. The process of funding further residency and applying for Medicaid benefits is oftentimes a difficult, timely, and arduous process.

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Game of Trusts: Proper State Taxation of Non-Resident Trusts

The United States Supreme Court rarely addresses trusts and estates issues. The purview of the states, issues arising in intergenerational wealth transfers, are generally outside federal jurisdiction. To reach the U.S. Supreme Court, trusts and estates cases typically involve federal preemption or the constitutionality of a state’s law; the latter has brought the most recent trusts and estates case before the Court.

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Disability Employment Incentive Act

Sixty to eighty percent of folks with a disability want to work. However, only 32.3% of workers with a disability are in the workforce. It is no secret that employment rates among individuals with disabilities are suffering. While many disabled individuals want to gain employment and contribute to the workforce, related barriers prevent all too many from realizing this goal. Some employers are hesitant to take on the expense and legal implications of employing an individual with disabilities – many of these businesses are also unfamiliar with the financial resources available to them. In response, Congressional efforts to re-incentivize the hiring and retaining of employees with disabilities have come to fruition.

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Top 5 Articles from Woods’s Wednesday Wisdom

Woods’s Wednesday Wisdom is officially 50 blogs old! 

In celebration of this milestone, we have selected our Top 5 Articles from the past year. Check them out below!

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What is a Grantor Trust?

Grantor Trusts can be a source of confusion for elder law attorneys and their clients alike. That’s because they are not a typical type of trust. The biggest difference to note about a Grantor Trust is that it is about how the trust’s income is taxed rather than who receives the income or assets of the trust.

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3 Signs of Undue Influence

When it comes to helping clients who may be the victim of undue influence, it can be difficult, if not seemingly impossible, to recognize the signs of its existence. This is mostly because undue influence is a process rather than a single event, and one that occurs in private between the influencer and influenced person. While undue influencers can exert their will through outright threats, more often than not, their influence is through subtle manipulation. Because of these factors, cases of undue influence rarely have clear, direct evidence. As such, litigators tend to rely mostly on circumstantial evidence to prove its occurrence.

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The Child Caretaker Exception

Most states have a child caretaker exception to their Medicaid transfer rules.  An elderly parent can transfer their home to an adult child who lived in the home with their parent for the two years prior to that parent entering into a nursing home. Such transfer of the home would not violate Medicaid look-back rules.  The child must have provided care to that parent that allowed the parent to remain in the home for those two years, instead of the parent needing institutionalized care during that time.  A child, for the purposes of this rule, must either be a biological or adopted child.  Other relatives – step-children, grandkids, nephews, etc. – do not qualify. The purpose of this rule is to help keep elderly folks out of a nursing home for as long as possible.