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Dallas Estate Planning Law Blog

Elderly planning can take on a personal face during holidays

Many different groups have holiday celebrations coming up in the next few months. We all know that the holidays can sometimes bring on the blues or temporary feelings of depression. Past memories and present loneliness may cause an older person to take on symptoms of depression. In Texas as well as everywhere else, it's up to the person's loving family members to step up and do some elderly planning to get the loved one through the holidays, the New Year and beyond.

There's no reason why these activities cannot be focused on uplifting the elderly parent's spirits based on prior habits and enjoyed activities. According to an article published by a registered nurse and elder care coordinator, it helps to recreate experiences of prior happy memories for the loved one who is disabled to one degree or another. Assisting the parent in purchasing gifts for family members can be helpful.

Rival interests highlight importance of long-term care planning

There appears to be a competition between retirement planning and the need for long-term care funding. Add to that, the view shared by many observers in Texas and nationwide that Americans are in denial about the prospective need for long-term care, and a real problem seems to be emerging. The picture is not made brighter by the projected inability of Medicare and other government sources to fund the costs of long-term care into the future.

Originally, long-term care was to be covered for all Americans under the Affordable Care Act. However, the political forces wore that idea down, and the funding to do it did not materialize. It was decided to let the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services maintain the responsibility. In addition, private insurers have come up with a proposal that calls for 401(k) withdrawals to be tax-free if used for long-term care insurance premiums.

Elder law planning extends quality of life in one???s last years

If you're one of the millions of baby boomers hitting retirement age, it is an ideal time to set up an elder law plan under Texas law. It will provide for long-term care if it becomes necessary. The fact is that becoming immobile and/or infirm in old age does not have to be the end of a useful and enjoyable life. However, the ability to function may be exacerbated by pressing financial and family strife caused by a lack of elder law planning for such a time.

There are various subjects to pursue regarding maximum long-term care planning.  For example, will your home be compatible for certain special needs that may arise? This means looking at the setup and structure of the home, identifying where entrances may have to be modified for wheelchair access and the like. If there are two floors, preparations may need to be made for mechanized access to the upper sections.

Estate planning can benefit by the use of living trusts

There are many reasons why an estate plan in Texas might include the use of living revocable trusts. Such living trusts give the grantor the opportunity to distribute assets while alive and to fashion trusts in the shape and manner desired to provide for one's heirs. Because they are revocable, the grantor retains control over the assets should changes be desired.

A trust can be funded with cash, life insurance, securities or any other assets. The popularly cited benefit of living trusts is that they do not go through probate at death. Thus, they are kept private as opposed to testamentary assets, which are a part of the public record of the decedent's estate.

Celebrities make mistakes in their estate planning provisions

Mistakes in the estate plans of recently deceased celebrities can be useful learning examples for residents of Texas or elsewhere. For example, a living trust is attractive to celebrities and many people because the terms remain private: it does not go through the public probate process at death. However, a seemingly unimportant estate planning mishap can defeat one of its major goals.

Thus, for example, Robin Williams wanted to provide for his three children by setting up an irrevocable living trust, which gave him the added benefit of the terms being private. However, the plan did not say precisely what would happen if a co-trustee passed away. When it actually happened, the surviving trustee was compelled to file a petition to request the court to appoint a successor.

Elderly planning includes choices of agents and caregivers

Residents of Texas and elsewhere may sometimes have difficulty deciding which children or loved ones to designate to handle one's individual estate planning and long-term care needs. While one's spouse is the natural first choice, it may turn out that the spouse passes away first and leaves a void in the documents, unless you have alternative choices included in them. Therefore, it's generally advisable to discuss these questions with your children and to make mutually understood elderly planning decisions prior to drawing up the documents.

Putting a long-range plan into place, with alternative choices ready to spring into action, and with all parties agreed on future contingencies, is a good thing. This will avoid a lot of worrying and revising of plans later on, if and when one reaches a state of incapacity. It may not be possible to get unanimity among all of the children or even to get them all to participate.

Living will provides security for final healthcare decisions

Estate planning in Texas includes the area of making medical decisions for your loved one in the event of incapacity. Advanced directives are used to provide guidance for medical decisions after incapacitation and the inability of the loved to communicate his or her own wishes. One commonly used directive is the living will.  It's important to remember that this and other directives should be discussed with the loved one while still alert and communicative so as to assure his or her wishes are carried out.

The living will is made by the loved one while he or she is still alive. It tells the doctors and hospital personnel how the person wishes to be treated in a situation where the individual is unable to express his intentions or give informed consent. Generally, the living will is used most popularly to tell hospital officials and doctors that the individual does not want to be on life-sustaining equipment where there is a medical determination of brain death or something similar.

Medicaid planning can help to pass assets to one's heirs

Many persons who must enter a nursing home or long-term care facility in their later years will come to rely on Medicaid for payment of the great bulk of the expenses. However, the rules for qualifying benefits in Texas and elsewhere require that a person have limited assets that are specified. That fact has resulted in the growth of Medicaid planning, which re-structures the assets so that when the time comes to request benefits, the applicant will be qualified.

There are some general principles of Medicaid planning, but the actual rules differ from state to state and from case to case. It is therefore necessary for the elder family member, and his or her adult children where appropriate, to consult with an elder law attorney prior to making any decisions or taking any planning actions. In such a consultation, you can best learn the applicable property exemptions and any legal options available to protect the assets.

Important estate planning decisions

In fiction, the death of a loved one is often romanticized to a certain degree. Upon the death of a wealthy character, grieving -- or gleeful -- family members often await the reading of the will, and many are surprised about the division of the assets. However, this is rarely, if ever, the case in Texas. In most cases, copies of the will have been handed out to those it affects. While the idea of surprising a few people may be appealing in the movies, there are actually many conversations that could help smooth the process of estate planning.

While most people think of estate planning only as deciding who will receive what assets, there is actually much more to it than that. For example, there may be a family business at stake. By having conversation with family members, a business owner can determine who is interested in running the business, for example. Additionally, such conversations give people an opportunity to explain some of the decisions they have made.

Long-term care insurance makes sense for elderly planning

Long-term care insurance (LTCI) is usually a good idea for someone 55 to 70 who wants to avoid the potential financial hardship that can occur if a nursing home or home-care becomes necessary. The U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services estimates nearly 70 percent of people who reach age 65 will need long-term care at some point. That statistic of course applies across the board, including in Texas. Unfortunately, less than one-third of people over age 50 have begun to plan for their potential long-term care needs.

An LTCI policy will pay a daily amount to the provider based on the coverage purchased. The premium is based on age, extent of coverage, health and similar factors. Although seniors have often been reluctant to be bound to a premium for years on end, it may be possible to limit that period to five years.

Our Office Locations

The Livens Law Firm
2516 Harwood Road
Bedford (Fort Worth), TX 76021
Phone: 817-545-3425
Toll Free: 800-569-2663
Fax: 817-545-9847
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Austin Office
3 Lakeway Centre Court
Suite 120
Austin, TX 78734
Phone: 800-569-2663
Fax: 888-545-9847
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Addison Office
14135 Midway Rd.
Suite G-250
Addison, TX 75001
Phone: 972-685-5202
Fax: 972-685-5606
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