Category Archives: Estate Planning

How to Choose a Good Nursing Home

Knowing what to look for when choosing a good nursing home for your loved one is essential. Here in Florida, some nursing homes in Miami got into some serious trouble after Irma hit because there were not compliant with State regulations. That raised the question, “How do you choose the best nursing home for your loved one?” Facilities have different levels of care they provide, but for purposes of this post, I am going to concentrate on 24-hour care.

First, let’s give a definition of Nursing Home Services: A nursing home provides 24-hour nursing and personal care to residents. Nursing care is provided by licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and registered nurses (RNs). Personal attention is given by certified nursing assistants (CNAs) and can include help with bathing, dressing, eating, walking, and physical transfer (like moving from a bed to a chair). (Source here)

Next, create a list of the homes near you that provide this services. I have put together a basic list to help answer to help with this dilemma. Keep in mind, this is just a start, and sometimes your gut reaction to an institution is the best reference.

1. Check State Licenses. In the State of Florida, you can go to this website to check on the license on any homes on your list. Once you put in the name, you can see what type facility they are licensed to have. Depending on the needs of your loved one, not every institution may be authorized to meet these requirements. This site will also provide information on the staff and their licenses.

2. Visit the Facility. Call and make an appointment to meet with the administrator. Have a list of questions ready and make sure you are satisfied with the answers. Get a tour of the facility to see if it meets your expectations. Also, interview some staff to get a feel for the type of people that will be taking care of your loved one. Here is an excellent list of questions.

3. Unplanned Visits. Once you have chosen a facility show up unannounced to see if this facility provides everything it promised in your questioning. If you feel something is wrong, go to the administrator so that can address your issue.

As with any significant life decision, there are many ways to choose the best nursing home. This list is just a start, but I hope it can help educate you on this difficult decision.

Estate Plan

Even the Famous Make Estate Planning Mistakes

It is a common misconception that having money means you hire the best advisors and have your life completely in order, but this is not always the case. With all the millions some celebrities have, you’d think they would be able to afford proper Estate Planning advice. But too often after celebrities die, we learn that they made some simple blunders that trigger years of court battles or cost their heirs millions of dollars., Here are some examples of some famous mistakes.

Prince Rogers Nelson

Mistake: Not having a Will. The April 2016 death of entertainer Prince wasn’t just shocking because he was only 57 years old. Many people were surprised the “Purple Rain” singer had no Will. Now a Minnesota judge is deciding how to distribute Prince’s estimated $300 million Estate among six siblings. Other potential heirs have surfaced, too, including a federal inmate claiming to be Prince’s son.

Whitney Houston

Mistake: Not updating the Will. Songstress Whitney Houston had a Will when she drowned in February 2012, but it was quite outdated. Drawn up a month before the 1993 birth of Houston’s only child, daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown, the Will was never revised — not even as the singer’s fortune climbed to $20 million. Bobbi Kristina was 18 when her mother died, and under the Will’s terms was to receive 10 percent of the estate — $2 million — when she turned 21 and the rest later.

James Gandolfini
Mistake: Not finishing planning. Sopranos actor James Gandolfini was reportedly worth $70 million when he died in June 2013 of a heart attack in Rome. His Will provided for his widow, daughter, and two sisters (his son from his first marriage was provided for in other ways). But Gandolfini didn’t use proper tax planning. The result: The Estate ended up paying federal and state estate taxes at a hefty rate of 55 percent.

 

Marlon Brando
Mistake: Making oral promises. Actor Marlon Brando had an estate plan for his $100 million fortune when he died in July 2004. The problem was, his written plan excluded certain oral promises he allegedly made to his long-term housekeeper, Angela Borlaza. She filed two lawsuits claiming she was illegally kicked out of Brando’s California home. The former maid said the house was a gift to her from Brando. The actor, though, never completed the paperwork to transfer the deed to give Borlaza legal ownership.

 

 

 

 

Heath Ledger
Mistake: Inadvertently omitting a child. After actor Heath Ledger died in January 2008, reports surfaced that he had failed to update an old Will created before his daughter was born. As a result, Ledger’s entire $20 million Estate went to his parents and three sisters.

 

 


Florence Griffith Joyner
Mistake: Keeping a Will’s location secret. Olympic gold medalist Florence Griffith Joyner had a Will when she died in September 1998. The problem: No one knew where “Flo Jo” kept it. It threw her relatives into an Estate Planning battle because they couldn’t find her original Will. And without the Will, it took four long years to close her probate estate.

ASK HEIDI: Do I need to change my will and beneficiary designations after I divorce if I want my ex-spouse to still inherit as if we were married?

 Short Answer:  Yes, divorce does void beneficiary designations as well as will provisions.

Divorce Changes Your Will

Ask Heidi

Why it’s Important:  If you want your ex-spouse to still to inherit in your estate as it was written when you were married, this needs to be addressed again after your divorce.  If you do not update the Estate documents, your estate will be deemed intestate even though you have a will.  The state will distribute your assets and family that you may not have a relationship with will end up with assets you fully intended to go to a former spouse. 

 

Four Questions to Ask Yourself Regarding Your Estate Plan

Estate Plan

Questions to ask yourself to prepare for your meeting with your attorney

You do not have to have a ton of assets to need an Estate Plan. You do need an attorney specializing in this area of law to properly put together any type of plan. An Estate Plan is more than big assets. It is the plan that comes into play when you can no longer convey your wishes on various issues. After you pick an attorney to help put together your documents, ask yourself these four questions. Bring the answers to the meeting so the attorney can get an idea of the type of Estate Plan needed to fit your needs.

1. What are your Assets? Make a list of everything you own. Your home or apartment contents, car, and various other items can be addressed in an Estate Plan. Cars. Jewelry. Furniture. Family photos. Not all assets have a monetary value. Sentimental assets have been known cause just as many problems [if not MORE] as large sums of cash. This list will help your attorney put together a plan to fit your needs.

2. Who Gets What? Now that you have your list – who to do you want to have these assets? Name a person you want to carry out your wishes when it comes to distributing these assets. These are the big decisions that no one can make for you.

3. What are you Healthcare Wishes? Accidents happen and they do not give warnings. That’s why they are called accidents. This is especially important in the case of an illness that robs you of your ability to make decisions. Choose a trusted friend or family member to assign as the healthcare power of attorney. Then talk to this individual to make sure they are willing to accept this responsibility and will follow your wishes.

4. What Type of Funeral? This is a morbid thought and no one likes to think about a day when someone will be planning their funeral. Write what you would like, if you want a funeral and make it part of your Estate Plan. Listing out your wishes will make this easier for love ones during a difficult time.

These questions are just a start. Your attorney will probably have more questions to make sure all the potential issues are addressed in your plan. Follow up on your attorney’s advice. Sign the documents, change the asset titles if necessary and let your family know where your documents can be located. Your family will appreciate having these documents and it will help them deal with their grief.

How to Include Your Digital Assets in Your Estate Plan

digital assetTechnology has created new jobs, a new industry, and a new step in estate planning. The days of just gathering just paper documents folder so your love ones can find it when necessary are over. There is one more step – digital assets. Digital assets are commonplace and need to be considered when putting together an estate plan. To make sure your estate plan is complete, here are some steps to follow when gathering the information for your estate plan to make sure the digital assets are included.

Make A List

The most common documents are thought of first when gathering the information for an estate plan. Deeds to property, list of jewelry, the contents of a home are a few. When you gather all your assets together your online accounts need to be included so the executor can have access. Not sure what digital assets are? They are defined as follows:

Digital property (or digital assets) can be understood as any information about you or created by you that exists in digital form, either online or on an electronic storage device, including the information necessary to access the digital asset.

These can be family photos stored on a computer hard drive to the login information for an online financial account. To be safe, if you want to make sure anything online is passed on, resolved, or shut down after you pass, include it on this list. Whether it has monetary or sentimental value – it should be included.

Know What to Include- Examples of Personal and Monetary Digital Property

Understanding what to include in your digital list can be daunting. Consider the following when you sit down to make your digital asset list. Accounts that are used to manage money and may hold money or credits, like PayPal, bank accounts, loyalty rewards programs, and any accounts with credit balances in your favor are the digital assets that come to mind first because of the monetary value. But your digital assets can be a much more intensive list when you stop and considering everything you do on your computer.

Computer hardware, external hard drives or flash drives, tablets, smartphones, digital music players, e-readers, digital cameras, and other digital devices need to be on your list. These items may contain crucial information that may need attention in the processing of your estate. These may also have personal information you want someone to have for has for sentimental reasons. In addition, any of these have monetary value if they generate revenue. Any information or data that is stored electronically, whether stored online, in the cloud, should make the list. This includes art, photos, music, eBooks, intellectual property, websites or blogs that generate revenue for you. Domain names, including copyrighted materials, trademarks, and any code you may have written and own are other examples of digital assets that need to be considered in the estate planning process.

Any online accounts, such as email and communications accounts, social media accounts, shopping accounts, photo and video sharing accounts, video gaming accounts, online storage accounts, and websites and blogs that you may manage. If you want these accounts shared or shut down in your estate, they need to be included.

Hire An Attorney

Lastly, I always recommend hiring an attorney when putting together an estate plan and with digital assets this is even more important. Technology is changing as a fast pace with increasingly companies using cloud based storage. In addition, intellectual property is a relatively new field. Only an attorney in the estate planning field will have the up-to-date knowledge to put your estate plan together properly and save your family time and money.

The End of the Year is the Perfect Time to Update Your Asset Inventory

When someone passes away, finding all the accounts, insurance policies, and necessary information to close an entire estate can be a monumental search. When I do an Estate Package for a client I put together a binder. This binder contains all the documents of the Estate Plan for convenience, safe keeping, and future review. Yearly review of your Estate Plan and Asset Inventory is a responsible habit to start and the end of the year is a great time year to implement this practice. Many people create an inventory when they go through the process of initially planning their estate and never touch it again. One easy way to annually update your inventory is to collect the statements you get in the mail at the end of the year for tax purposes. Place them all in a folder as they come in the mail and cross reference this against your inventory. That way you are getting a jump on your taxes AND updating your binder with the most current information on your assets. 
Also, there are significant life events that can trigger changes to the asset inventory. Examples of these are:

Divorce.

If you have gotten a divorce since the drafting of the estate plan and asset inventory, they will need to be changes. In addition, if an heir has gotten divorced this may change how you your assets will be distributed.

Marriage.

If you have gotten married, there may be additional assets that need to be added to your inventory. The information needs to be gathered and put on this list in your estate binder.

Sold or Purchased New Assets.

Did you cash in an insurance policy or purchase a new piece of land? These changes need to be added to your asset inventory to bring it current.
An asset inventory will only provide a clear “road map” for your heirs after you are gone if it is reviewed regularly. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you create an inventory of your assets and make a plan for asset preservation and distribution. If you are in the Daytona Beach, Florida area, call me for a free consultation regarding your Estate Planning needs.

estate-planning

April 16th is National Healthcare Decisions Day!

Why do you need to take care of your Healthcare Surrogate Designations?

We all plan on living long, happy lives, but we should always be prepared for when unexpected problems arise. When you designate a healthcare surrogate, you are preparing yourself and your loved ones for potentially stressful situations. You are also ensuring that your healthcare decisions are in the hands of someone your trust.  You are making your own difficult decisions.

In the event you reach the point that you are not able to handle your own medical decisions because of injury, illness or your advanced age, having the appropriate legal paperwork in place are essential parts of your lifeline. If you don’t want to write down your wishes in regards to your medical care, you want to ensure you have someone named to oversee your medical care.

If you don’t have a healthcare surrogate designation in place, your important life-changing events could be left up to estranged relatives, judges or doctors who know nothing or very little about your preferences. To ensure your wishes are followed, you should complete two critical healthcare documents in Florida.

You need to have a designation of healthcare surrogate completed. The second form you complete should be a living will, which determines what kind of medical treatment you would or would not like to receive in Florida. When naming your healthcare surrogate, you can name any person you trust, most people choose a spouse, parent, adult child or close friend to handle the job. Florida law declares that the person you name as your surrogate cannot witness the document.

If you have not named a healthcare surrogate, you should schedule an appointment with a Florida estate attorney, who can guide you through the process and make other suggestions regarding making preparations for the futures of you and your family.

About Heidi S. Webb, Attorney at Law: Heidi Webb is an Estate Planning and small business attorney located in Daytona Beach, Florida. See what clients are saying about Heidi, follow her on Facebook, and connect with her on Google+ or LinkedIn

 

Ask Heidi: What is a Medicaid Spend-down?

A Medicaid Spend-Down is a process that allows you to legally spend down your assets in such a way so that you can legitimately qualify for Medicaid.

Why Shquestionmarkould You Care?

People are living much longer than they did in previous generations.  As a result of this, we are seeing a sharp increase in people who are needing home nursing care as well as long term care.  Many families have unfortunately had to take on the financial burden of these services which can cost well north of $5,000 a month.  This additional burden has ruined families not only financially, but also emotionally.  But many can breathe a sigh of relief because help is available from the government in the form of Medicaid.

Medicaid is a government program that was created to help struggling and low income families with healthcare costs [check out last week’s blog for more on Medicaid].  It is important to understand that in order to qualify for Medicaid you must meet specific income requirements and have limited assets.  If you exceed these limits but still need to have access to Medicaid an attorney may be able to help you find ways, such as a spend-down, to legitimately qualify by reducing your available income and assets.

It is very important to seek the advice of an attorney trained in Estate Planning or Elder Law to help you navigate the process of a Medicaid Spend-Down. It must be done in accordance with the laws and guidelines currently in place of YOUR State or the consequences could have a much greater financial impact.

 

Divorce Changes Your Will

Do I Need These? The Living Will, Healthcare Directive and DNR Order

If I had to pick the most frequently asked question in my Estate Planning practice this would be it.  Do I Need a Living Will, Healthcare Directive and DNR Order?  The answer:  Yes. No. Maybe So.  I know, not helpful.  Like many things there’s more to it.  For starters, many people assume they are all the same document, but they are very different.   With that in mind I decided to write this blog to look at each one separately and discuss when or why you may want each.

Living Will

A Living Will, also known as an Advanced Directive, is a legal document that allows you to clearly indicate your wishes for end-of-life medical care in the event you become incapacitated and there is no hope of meaningful quality of life even if you survive. The Living Will applies only if you can no longer state your wishes.  I often refer to this as the “there is no hope, pull the plug” document and I really believe every adult should have one. 

People of any age and even those in good health NEED to have a living will done and make sure it is easily accessible in the event of a medical emergency or accident.  Once completed make sure your loved ones know your wishes and give your primary physician and local hospital a copy to keep in your medical file so your wishes can indeed be carried out.  Not convinced? Take a moment and read about Terry Schiavo

Healthcare Directive

A Healthcare Directive, also called Healthcare Surrogate or Power of Attorney,  is a legal document in which you name a person to act as an agent for you and make your medical decisions in the event you are unable to do so yourself.   It also allows this person to communicate with healthcare providers and receive medical records that would otherwise be precluded under HIPAA regulations.

A Healthcare Directive can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be in regards to your care. It can include your input on life support equipment, blood transfusions, long-term care facilities and so forth or a more generalized power over all things healthcare.   A healthcare directive is beneficial to anyone at any age because medical emergencies can occur at any time. I strongly encourage this document be included in any Estate Planning you do.

DNR

A DNR is a Do-Not-Resuscitate order. Written by a medical doctor, it instructs any other healthcare providers to not perform CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) or any other extraordinary lifesaving measures in the event a patient stops breathing or if a patient’s heart stops beating.  A DNR is attached predominately to a patient’s file and if you are a caregiver it is something you would want to make all providers aware of as, of course, the medical providers’ inclination is to save lives at any cost.

When would this be needed?  In general, most people don’t require this document if they are in good overall health.  If someone suffers from terminal illness or is elderly, a DNR may be appropriate.  As an example, an elderly gentleman who resides in a nursing home and who is suffering from dementia may have his life sustained by CPR, but the lifesaving act itself can break bones or cause additional problems that result in an even worse quality of life.

Decisions

Ultimately, you need to decide which document or documents you want to have in place and then there’s the hard part…. act on it 🙂 .  If you just aren’t sure and want to talk through it all, give me a call and we can sit down (free of charge) and I can go over the finer points.  In the meanwhile, remember, if a medical emergency ever arises your loved ones will already be under enough stress without having to make these major life decisions for you, it truly is a gift for you to make your wishes clear by having these documents taken care of now.

P.S.  While having this conversation is always a good time to consider things like organ donation http://www.organdonor.gov, if you haven’t already!

Heidi Webb Daytona Beach Attorney

 

About Heidi S. Webb, Attorney at Law: Heidi Webb is an estate planning and small business attorney located in Daytona Beach, Florida. See what clients are saying about Heidi, follow her on Facebook, and connect with her on Google+ or LinkedIn.

HIS HERS OURS: Estate Planning for the Blended Family

“Here’s the story of a lovely ladybrady bunch
who was bringing up three very lovely girls
all of them had hair of gold, like their mother.
the youngest one in curls.

Here’s the story of a man named Brady
Who was busy with three boys of his own.
They were four men living all together
yet they were all alone

Till the one day when the lady met this fellow.
And they knew that it was much more than a hunch,
That this group must somehow form a family,
That’s the way we all became the Brady bunch.”

~~credits to Sherwood Schwartz creator of the Brady Bunch and lyricist

I’m sure I’m dating myself with that one, but it just seemed an appropriate opening.  I’m always saying how Estate Planning is very important, regardless of your age or the size of your family.  Let me follow that up by saying Estate Planning is extremely important when you have a blended family.  Statistics show that about 15 percent of the U.S. population has been married more than once. Blended families are commonplace in today’s world. But from a legal standpoint they bring a whole slew of issues that really are best addressed while you are alive, rather than fought over after you are gone.

What makes a blended family different? At least one and often both adults enter into the marriage with assets from previous marriages.  When you enter into a second marriage, often both parties have children from previous relationships. Then, the couple sometimes has children together. While you want to make certain your spouse is properly cared for in the event of your death, you want to ensure that your minor children are cared for as well, and you may have concerns as to whom will manage your kids’ money if you’re gone or will your adult children get an inheritance or not?  Do you want to provide for your step-children whom you’ve helped raise for most of their lives?  A lot of these things won’t happen or will happen in a way that may surprise you if left to Florida Intestacy Laws.  According to research, the biggest mistake made when making a Will with a blended family is that people fail to be specific when leaving property to “children”.

Creating the Right Plan.  It’s a must.

Making sure your assets will get distributed so that everyone is cared for can be a challenging situation. You need to indicate what goes to whom as leaving it up to the family to divide things and sort things out is not a responsible decision. Your spouse and children should not have to work out the situation on their own. Instead, you need to ask for direction so you can derive the right plan for your needs.

Effective Estate Planning for a blended family can be tricky.  An experienced and knowledgeable attorney in your corner can help you sort through your goals and make the best possible plan for your family.

About Heidi S. Webb, Attorney at Law: Heidi Webb is an Estate Planning and small business attorney located in Daytona Beach, Florida. See what clients are saying about Heidi, follow her on Facebook, and connect with her on Google+ or LinkedIn