Long Term Care…….. are you part of the 70%

In the 2000, almost 10 million people needed some form of long-term care in the United States. Of this population, 3.6 million (37%) were under age 65 and 6 million (63%) were over age 65 (Roger & Komisar, 2003). Almost 70% of people turning age 65 will need long-term care at some point in their lives. It is so important for you to begin to think about how you will handle the need for long-term care. Your path will be unique to you, and based on your preferences and circumstances.

There are several levels of Long Term Care, all dependent on your physical and mental capacity as well as your geographic location and finances.

In-home care.  Provided by a licensed, insured, bonded agency

Assisted Living.  This can be a Family Care Home, licensed for a maximum of six residents to major community from under 100 to several hundred.  Housing, meals and assistance with Activities of Daily Living are provided.

Memory Care.  Can be a part of an Assisted Living community or a stand-alone community.  In addition to ADL’s these communities provide a “safe” environment which are most often “locked” and provide specialized programs for memory residents.

Skilled Nursing (Nursing Home). When the level of care grows greater than just the assistance with Activities of Daily Living and turn more towards Nursing assistance, a Skilled community is needed.  Skilled communities are needed when there is rehab or long term medical needs; feeding tubes, special med requirements, special testing, wound care, etc.

Continuous Care Retirement Communities (CCRC’s).  There are two primary models.  One might involve a “buy in” where you purchase your residence along with an agreement to provide additional services or strictly “month to month” rentals.  CCRC’s   offer residents a continuum of care, from Independent Living through Skilled Care.

WHAT IS IMPORTANT?  Being legally prepared as well as being equipped with the knowledge of  costs and possible benefit programs available to your family.

Please let us share with you how important core documents, like a well written General Power of Attorney, giving gifting and trust creation authority as well as the Financial Power Attorney are as you prepare for Long Term Care and applying for Government Benefit Programs.

rick@carolinaestatecounsel.com

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Carolina Estate Counsel offers free consultations in your home, senior living community, your place of business or financial advisor’s office. We offer legal advice only and do not sell annuities, securities or insurance products.

 

 

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Cost of Skilled Nursing and What to do?

Why even discuss skilled nursing?

There are some statistics that everyone needs to know.

1. At least 70% of people 65 years old and older will need some type of long term care in their lives.  Many will require Long Term Skilled Nursing care.

2. In a recent News and Observer article, it noted that 73% of people 55 years old had a positive net worth of less that $50,000.00

3. In the 2015 Genworth survey on “Cost of Care”, the following yearly Skilled Nursing Care fees were recorded:

A. Semi-Private room: $75,190.00 medium yearly cost (Range of $102 to $316.00 per day)

B. Private room: $82,125.00 medium yearly cost (Range of $108 to $630.00 per day)

Let’s just think about the numbers!  How does a family afford the “medium” cost of $75 to 82,000 per year?  Some may have or need to purchase Long Term Care insurance.  Check your policy to understand the daily or monthly rates and if there are condition to receiving the benefit.

PLANNING FOR MEDICAID:  It is important that you speak to an experience Elder Law attorney, familiar with the Medicaid laws in your state.  Medicaid has a Five Year “Look-back” on all countable property given away prior to application.  This might be cash, stocks, autos or real property. 

Our suggestion is that you NEVER make any gifts without proper advise.  Not only can such a gift create severe Medicaid penalties, but possibly Capital Gains Taxes for the recipient of your gift.

QUESTIONS:  rick@carolinaestatecousnel.com 

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Local Raleigh / Durham / Chapel Hill / Triangle NC Elder Law and Estate Planning Attorney offers professional counsel with last will and testament, revocable or irrevocable trust, power of attorney, advanced directive, Medicaid Planning, Veterans Aid and Assistance, asset protection, probate and estate administration, and other important legal matters.

 

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TRUST ADMINISTRATION CHECKLIST

You are the Trustee?

Many Trusts are set up in a way that the Trustee can “Administer” the trust without additional professional assistance.   In those cases, here is a sample “checklist” of those tasks that need to be completed:

  1. Obtain legal documents and records necessary to administer the Trust and certify the validity of the Trust when dealing with third parties.  This includes signing a Certificate of Trust.
  2. Obtaining a tax ID number for the trust       www.irs.gov
  3. Collecting monies owed to the trust
  4. Opening and maintaining a Trust checking account
  5. Making claims on an life insurance, annuities, bank accounts, stocks, mutual funds, or any other assets in which the Trust is names as beneficiary.
  6. Tracking any other assets owned by the Trust’s owner, such as assets that may require probate if they were not transferred into the Trust.
  7. Maintaining inventory of the Trust property.
  8. Paying debts and expenses of the Trust.
  9. Managing Trust assets and investments
  10. Maintaining insurance on assets that will remain in trust
  11. Obtaining appraisals or valuations of Trust assets if necessary
  12. Selling Trust property —- if the trustee decides to sell rather than distribute assets “in-kind” to the beneficiaries
  13. Keeping accurate records of Trust income and expenditures.
  14. Filing tax returns.  Final 1040 for the deceased. Filing 1041 income tax returns for the Trust if taxable income is more than $600.00.  Issuing K-1’s on distribution to heirs.
  15. Providing a Trust accounting and other information to Trust beneficiaries unless beneficiaries waive the right to see any accounts.
  16. Distributing Trust income and property to beneficiaries
  17. Executing documents to transfer title to Trust property to beneficiaries, such as deed for real estate.

Completing a Trust Administration can be complicated and time consuming, especially if you do not live in the vicinity of the Trust’s assets.   In these cases, please seek help from an experienced Estate Planning/Elder Law Attorney.

Carolina Estate Counsel offers free phone consultations for any of your N.C. Trust Administration questions.

rick@carolinaestatecounsel.com         for an appointment today.                            www.carolinaestatecounsel.com

                                                Kevin Huston, Estate and Elder Law Attorney

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Carolina Estate Counsel offers free consultations in your home, senior living community, your place of business or financial advisor’s office. We offer legal advice only and do not sell annuities, securities or insurance products.

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“Probate and Responsibilities of Estate Administrators in North Carolina”

Overview of Probate / Estate Administration

Typically, there are certain “standard” responsibilities an executor will need to go through, depending on the size, location and number of beneficiaries, this task can be rather simple, or extremely complex.

One question the Executor will need to ask is if they want to handle the process 100% on their own, or seek the assistance of a qualified, experienced Estate Attorney.

Find the deceased person’s assets and manage them until they are distributed to inheritors. This may involve deciding whether to sell real estate or securities owned by the deceased person.  Some of the more difficult assets to find might be long held insurance policies or vacant land owned in a different state.

  • Decide whether or not probate court proceedings are needed. Most jointly owned assets pass to the surviving owner, without probate. And if the deceased person’s property is worth less than a certain amount (how much depends on state law), it may be able to go through a streamlined probate process.
  • Figure out who inherits property. If the deceased person left a will, the executor will read it to determine who gets what. If there’s no will, the person in charge (sometimes called the administrator) will be guided by North Carolina’s statutes. (see previous blog on dying without a will)
  • File the will (if any) in the local probate court. The North Carolina Court System (Probate Section) provides the forms, laws and timeline to begin the process.
  • Handle day-to-day details. This may include terminating leases and credit cards, and notifying banks and government agencies — such as the Social Security Administration, the post office, Medicare, and the Department of Veterans Affairs — of the death. Often, SS and Medicare are notified upon the creation of the death certificate, but it is important to check.
  • Set up an estate bank account. This account will hold money that is owed to the deceased person — for example, paychecks or stock dividends.
  • Use estate funds to pay continuing expenses. The executor may need to pay, for example, utility bills, mortgage payments, and homeowner’s insurance premiums.
  • Pay debts. The representative must advertise for claims against the estate in a newspaper ” qualified to publish legal advertisements” in the county where the estate is being administered.
  • Pay taxes. A final income tax return must be filed, covering the period from the beginning of the tax year to the date of death. It would be advised you seek the assistance of an Estate Attorney or CPA to determine if NC State and Federal Tax returns must be filed.
  • Supervise the distribution of the deceased person’s property. The property will go to the people or organizations named in the will or those entitled to inherit under state law.

The process is complex and time consuming, especially where the executor is out of State or lives a considerable distance for where the Estate is being administered.  There may be certain dates/deadlines that need to be adhered to.   Your specific Probate / Estate Administration questions are welcome.  We always offer free consultations.

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Local Raleigh / Durham / Chapel Hill / Triangle NC Elder Law and Estate Planning Attorney offers professional counsel with last will and testament, revocable or irrevocable trust, power of attorney, advanced directive, Medicaid Planning, Veterans Aid and Assistance, asset protection, probate and estate administration, and other important legal matters.

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WHAT IF I’M THE EXECUTOR or EXECUTRIX? What is PROBATE?

Probating a will is the responsibility of the executor or Executrix of an estate.

The person creating a WILL designates an executor  to ensure that the probate process runs smoothly. When you take office as the executor of an estate in North Carolina, the court gives you letters authorizing you to act on the estate’s behalf. Unless the deceased specifically stated in his/her will that you need to post bond or an insurance policy against any wrongdoing, North Carolina does not require you to do this  (there is an exception for out of state executors for those residing in Wake County, NC). Once you have your letters, you can begin administering probate.

Below is a simple list of those areas the EXECUTOR/EXECUTRIX will be responsible for:

  • Inventory all assets
  • Alert Creditors
  • Secure “living allowance” for deceased spouse and or minor children.
  • Pay all creditors
  • Prepare and file tax returns
  • Distribute remaining assets
  • Prepare a final accounting and submit to the court

Each of these responsibilities has very specific deadlines and must be adhered to.

If you have any questions regarding the probate process or would like a personal consultation, please do not hesitate to write.

rick@carolinaestatecounsel.com

 

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Local Raleigh / Durham / Chapel Hill / Triangle NC Elder Law and Estate Planning Attorney offers professional counsel with last will and testament, revocable or irrevocable trust, power of attorney, advanced directive, Medicaid Planning, Veterans Aid and Assistance, asset protection, probate and estate administration, and other important Estate and Elder Law matters.

 

 

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When you die without a will

In North Carolina, there are very specific laws about how property is to be distributed if a person dies without a will. 

It is our belief, that everyone should have a will, even if you have some form of advanced planning such as a Trust.   There are often overlooked items that need to be handled outside the Trust; refunds, overpayments, an inheritance, etc.

The following will offer some idea how your estate will be handled if you do not have a will:   (especially note a spouse with children and or the deceased’s living parents)

If you die with: here’s what happens:
  • children but no spouse
  • children inherit everything
  • spouse but no descendants or parents
  • spouse inherits everything
  • spouse and one child or descendants of one child
  • spouse inherits 1/2 of your intestate real estate and a portion of your intestate personal property (if you die with personal property worth $60,000 or less, your spouse inherits all of it; if you have more than $60,000 worth of personal property, your spouse inherits $60,000 plus 1/2 of the balance)
  • child or descendants inherit 1/2 of your intestate real estate and any intestate personal property remaining after the spouse’s share
  • spouse and two or more children, or descendants of those children
  • spouse inherits 1/3 of your intestate real estate and a portion of your intestate personal property (if you die with personal property worth $60,000 or less, your spouse inherits all of it; if you have more than $60,000 worth of personal property, your spouse inherits $60,000 plus 1/3 of the balance)
  • children or descendants inherit 1/3 of your intestate real estate and any intestate personal property remaining after the spouse’s share
  • spouse and parents
  • spouse inherits 1/2 of your intestate real estate and a portion of your intestate personal property (if you die with personal property worth $100,000 or less, your spouse inherits all of it; if you have more than $100,000 worth of personal property, your spouse inherits $100,000 plus 1/2 of the balance)
  • parents inherit 1/2 of your intestate real estate and any intestate personal property remaining after the spouse’s share
  • parents but no spouse or descendants
  • parents inherit everything
  • siblings but no spouse, descendants, or parents

 

 

  • siblings inherit everything

 

 

PLEASE CONTACT US IF YOU  HAVE ANY QUESTIONS REGARDING THE CREATION OF A WILL OR HELP WITH A WILL THAT WILL NEED PROBATE ASSISTANCE.

www.carolinaestatecounsel.com

Carolina Estate Counsel offers free consultations in your home, senior living community, your place of business or financial advisor’s office. We offer legal advice only and do not sell annuities, securities or insurance products.
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Your estate plan must include directions about your minor children

Nothing ever happens to us when we are young…….. right?

But what if it does?  

It is very important to discuss what will happen to your minor children (especially in single parent households) if you were to pass away or become incapacitated. 

It is critical not to have what is known as a “sweet-heart will” which basically says; “If I die, everything goes to my spouse, if my spouse dies, everything comes to me…….. and if we both die, everything goes to Johnny ” (who by the way is 8).

In this scenario, the court would most likely get involved, lock up the funds, appoint a guardian and then in one lump sum, release all the assets to Johnny when he is 18.  I’m sure you will agree, that does not sound like a good plan!

We would be happy to start this planning conversation today.  Our desire is that a very bad situation doesn’t become worse by not planning for the physical and financial care of your children.

If you have questions or concerns about your current plan, please contact us today:

Rick Messemer, CSA
Rick Messemer
919-656-2959
Certified Senior Advisor
Community Liaison
CAROLINA ESTATE COUNSEL
Division of Huston Law Firm
Elder and Estate Law
Kevin Huston, VA Accredited Attorney
Free Consultations/We come to you!

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Local Raleigh / Durham / Chapel Hill / Triangle NC Elder Law and Estate Planning Attorney offers professional counsel with last will and testament, revocable or irrevocable trust, power of attorney, advanced directive, Medicaid Planning, Veterans Aid and Assistance, asset protection, probate and estate administration, and other important legal matters.

 

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An “Estate Plan”………. I don’t need one!

So many people ask themselves –  

“do I really need an estate plan?”

The easiest way to answer this question is with several more questions:

  • If I die without a will, what happens to my home, my money and how difficult will it be for those left behind?

  • Do you have minor children?  Who will care for them, who will be responsible for the money?

  • Would you like to leave money to a Charity?  Maybe it’s your Church, the Humane Society, Habitat for Humanity, Feed the Children, etc.  Are you really going to depend on your beneficiaries to carry out your charitable wishes?

  • What will happen to my property?  Should it be kept in the family? Should it be sold and the funds distributed? Is the property attached to a business?

  • What if you are a “blended family”.  Are there are children from a previous marriage? What if one partner came with 6 kids, the other none?

  • What if there is a child or other relative that has a disability, do you want to leave that person a lump sum benefit?

  • You’ve heard “Medicaid will take your house”……… is that true? Can you save your home?

    We believe every family needs some level of planning, maybe to leave a legacy, fulfill a promise or help your heirs avoid a large estate tax bill. 

    Where do you begin?   Start with a list of “wishes” and then questions!  Once you have these, we’d love to speak with you.

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     Carolina Estate Counsel offers free consultations in your home, senior living community, your place of business or financial advisor’s office. We offer legal advice only and do not sell annuities, securities or insurance products.

Contact us today at rick@carolinaestatecounsel.com or visit our web site – www.carolinaestatecounsel.com

 

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Review your Wills, Powers of Attorney, Insurance policies today!

Situations change, families move, loved ones pass away, children are getting divorced, a grandchild is born with a disability.

Your legal and insurance documents are instructions to those handling your final wishes, but it your responsibility to make sure they reflect those wishes.

Wills, advance directives, insurance documents, and beneficiary designations should be reviewed and updated regularly, but especially during the retirement planning process.  There can be a number of changes that can save money, and save their family from grief and heartache. On the cost-cutting side, there could be some insurance coverages they no longer need, some deductibles you can raise, or do some self insuring. Long-term care insurance should be an option to look into, if you haven’t already done so.  The average cost of Skilled Nursing in N.C. is $6,300/month, but there are some communities that exceed $12,000 per month right here in the Triangle region of the state.  For some, it is to ignore the potential problem and hope it never arises, others have taken the necessary steps to see that their plan matches their goal. That plan is either self-insured, fully insured, or somewhere in between.  

Medicare costs, as well as all the different supplemental plans available, are a real uncertainty. For the most part, older adults need competent advice and recommendations from professional advisors in order to make it through this maze with some degree of certainty that they have chosen the coverages that they need.  There is also valuable information on the Social Security site SSA.gov as well as the North Carolina Department of Insurance site, http://www.ncdoi.com/shiip/ 

Beneficiary designations in many instances may include incorrect primary beneficiaries, or have no contingency beneficiaries at all. This can create issues and missed planning opportunities at death. Wills need to be updated to make sure they reflect current desires along with properly drawn health care directives and powers of attorney. Anyone contemplating retirement should first consult an expert, your Elder Law Attorney working with a professional financial advisor.  Designations containing minor children, individuals with disabilities, or seniors on government long term care programs like the VA Aid and Attendance benefit, Special Assistance or Medicaid should seek professional advice. 

  1. Find and review all  your documents
  2. Share with loved ones their location.
  3. Update documents on any life change:  you’ve moved, deaths, divorce, births, changes in your health or that of your spouse or beneficiary.

We offer FREE review of your legal documents and will “come to you” if you live in the Triangle or Triad regions (your home, senior living community or place of business).

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We believe the foundation of every well crafted Estate Plan are solid legal documents.  Your will or trust, more importantly, Powers of Attorney, need to give your agents both the direction and in the case of your powers of attorney, the authority to carry our your wishes.

We offer Free Consultations in your home, senior living community, your place of business or financial advisors office.

We offer legal advise only and do not sell annuities, securities or insurance products.

Additional Questions?   rick@carolinaestatecounsel.com   919-656-2959

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Having “that talk”

Having “that talk” is often a very difficult one to start.  

First……….. who starts the conversation?  The parents? The Children?  Maybe it is a trusted advisor or attorney.   Here are some possible “starter” discussions: 

  • Is there an acknowledgement that a time will come to transfer decision-making and the management of day-to-day responsibilities to someone else.  Who will this person be?  Is it a single individual or are the responsibilities shared? Maybe one person handles financial, the other medical.
  • What are the “ground rules” and possible triggers that will affect a change in responsibilities?  Will it be just bill paying, driving, living arrangements or medical as well?
  •  Last, a more in-depth conversation on:

Financing future needs, including medical and long-term care needs (In-Home Care, Assisted Living, Memory Care or Skilled Nursing) 

Selecting affordable and safe living arrangements

Setting up for the best possible medical care (Doctors, hospitals, physical therapy, etc)

End of life decisions.

We believe these steps are extremely important, but more so, do you have the proper legal documents to accomplish these goals?

*Powers of attorney: both Durable (or Financial) and Health. To give legal authority to accomplish both day to day tasks as well as more complex issues such as setting up a Trust, or revising a Trust.

*Advance Directive (or Living Will):  Let those we love know how we want to handle feeding, hydration, pain relief and final resting place.

*Your Will:  Giving clear direction as to how you want your property – real estate, cash assets, collectibles, family treasures divided based upon your wishes.  If your distributions are more complex………. possibly a blended marriage, complex distributions, special needs children (or spouse), you may consider a revocable or irrevocable TRUST.

If you have any questions on basic Estate Planning, please contact us.  There is never a charge for the initial consultation.

Rick Messemer, Community Liaison

Carolina Estate Counsel, Elder and Estate Law

rick@carolinaestatecounsel.com

 

 

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