What can an elder law attorney do for you?
An elder law attorney is able to assist you and your family in many different ways. Most of them are able to handle a wide range of legal matters related to aging or disability, including issues with retirement, Social Security, health care, long-term care planning, guardianship, Medicare/Medicaid, and other important matters you’ll face as you age. Working with an attorney can ensure your wishes are honored, you aren’t confused by the sometimes complex legal matters related to programs, and your family is protected.
What assets are protected from Medicaid?
In general, the assets that receive protection from Medicaid include a person’s primary residence as long as the person or the person’s spouse is living in it. In Pennsylvania, Medicaid residents are eligible for “intent to return home,” provided they (or someone acting on their behalf) expresses an intent to return to the home. Every situation is different, so it’s important to speak to an expert about your specific circumstances.
Does a living trust protect assets from nursing home?
Yes, certain types of trusts protect your assets from nursing home costs. However, by itself, a trust might not protect your assets entirely. To enjoy protection, you must establish an irrevocable trust which removes assets from your direct control. In most cases, this type of trust is not recommended unless you anticipate the need for nursing home care within the next eight to ten years. Instead, you could set up a revocable trust with powers of attorney, which can be altered in the future as needed.
What is qualified income trust?
A qualified income trust, which is also referred to as a Miller trust, is a tool that allows someone to reduce his or her income and become eligible for Medicaid coverage. A qualified income trust is an irrevocable trust, which means once it’s created he or she cannot revoke or change the trust without court action, except for under limited circumstances. It can be an effective estate planning tool, but it isn’t right for everyone, which is why you should speak to an attorney.
When should I begin elder law planning?
It varies from person to person, but ideally, someone will begin dealing with elder law issues around the age of 65. A good rule of thumb is to put elder law planning on your agenda for around the time you retire. However, in some cases, it can be beneficial to begin planning earlier, while some people will have a bit more time to play with depending on their health, their family, and their estate.
Wills Trusts and Probate:
How are a Will and a Trust different?
Though both wills and trusts are similar, there are a number of differences between these two estate planning tools. One of the primary differences between a will and a trust is that a will goes into effect after a person dies, whereas a trust takes effect as soon as it is created. Wills direct who receives property at the time of your death and appoints a legal representative to carry out your wishes.
Is a living trust a good option for a single person?
It can be but it depends on your specific circumstances. A living trust is a legal document detailing how your assets are distributed when you die and helps your family avoid Probate. Living trusts can also include a Power of Attorney and Advance Healthcare Directive, which are usually delegated to spouses and children. Having a living trust as a single person can help you avoid the state taking ownership of your estate after you die and ensure that your assets are distributed as you wish.
Can changes be made to my living trust after death?
A trust that is not irrevocable becomes so after a person has died, which means that it cannot be changed after you die. Whomever you named in your trust documents to inherit from you become beneficiaries upon your death and now own the assets that had been placed in to the trust. Distribution of these assets is according to the terms you decided when it was created.
How does a living trust affect my income taxes?
In general, during a person’s lifetime, there are no income-tax savings attributable to earnings of the revocable trust. Because you retain total control over the assets and can revoke the trust if you so desire, you are taxed on all the income. However, tax laws concerning trusts, trust income, and what occurs after you die vary a great deal based on how the trust was set up. It’s important to work closely with an attorney when creating a trust.
Can I avoid probate by using Joint Tenancy with Rights of Survivorship?
Yes, with the right of survivorship in a joint tenancy, the surviving party can avoid probate, which saves a great deal of money and time. However, joint tenancy with the right of survivorship means that the tenants do not have the right to name a beneficiary and even if they have the beneficiary has no legal right to the property. Joint tenancy with right of survivorship tends to be restrictive and can cause tax complications, which is why it’s important to speak to an attorney about your specific situation.