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ADVANCED CARE DIRECTIVES: ARE THEY NECESSARY?

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Most of us don’t like to think about the possibility of something harmful happening to us or a loved one. Because of this, we rarely think about how to protect ourselves and our loved ones if the worst were to happen. However, just as it is important to buy home insurance to protect your home and auto insurance to protect your vehicle, every individual should have an advanced care directive to protect themselves if they were no longer able to make decisions for their health care, end of life, living arrangements, and various other personal matters.

 

The basic definition of an advanced care directive is a legal document or group of legal documents in which a person puts in writing what their wishes are for their health if they no longer have capacity to make these decisions for themselves. Advanced care directives are often comprised of a living will and a health care proxy. Everyone who is above the age of 18 should have one.

 

There are several key items you should include in your advanced care directive. While these can be drafted without legal help, this is a legally binding document as soon as it is signed in front of the required witnesses and it is essential you seek the advice of a legal professional when creating a directive. The most important instructions to include are which life support treatments you want, or do not want. You can provide directions on if you want all life support treatments, no life support treatments, or you may choose individual support treatments such as blood transfusions or dialysis.

 

Another facet every healthcare directive should contain is who you choose to be your health care proxy. This person will be responsible for making medical decisions on your behalf in the event you are unable to. This person should be someone who you are close to and can trust. You should also decide if you want a do not resuscitate order, which states that if your heart stops or you are no longer breathing, you want every effort or no effort made to revive you. Depending on your personal preferences, you should also include whether you would like to become a registered organ donor.

 

IMPORTANT INFORMATION TO KEEP IN MIND

 

Advanced directives are not congruent throughout the United States and laws may vary from state to state. This can often be confusing because one state’s directive may not work in another stat. To ensure your wishes are carried out, you should complete advanced care directives for all states where you spend a significant amount of time.

 

Emergency medical technicians are legally obligated to do whatever is necessary to stabilize a person and transfer them to a hospital. Therefore, they simply cannot honor your advanced care directive. Your directive will be implemented when a medical professional evaluates your condition and the underlying conditions.

 

Advanced care directives have no expiration timeline – the original will remain in effect unless you make changes to it. If you create a new directive in the same state, the previous one will be invalidated. However, it is important to notify the agent named in both the old and new document.

 

If your wishes do change, it is important to keep your advanced care directive up to date. If you choose to make changes, it is recommended that you create an entirely new document.

 

Advanced care directives are extremely important because they give you a voice when you may not be able to speak on your behalf. If you have questions about anything you’ve read or would like to meet with a legal professional to discuss how you could benefit from an advanced care directive, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

Greg McIntyre

greg@mcelderlaw.com

Elder Law Attorney
McIntyre Elder Law
123 W. Marion Street

Shelby, NC 28150

704–259–7040

 

What to Consider in Retirement Planning

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Most people dream of the day they can retire. The problem is that many do not move beyond dreaming to planning. Planning can be done no matter what your age, but experts encourage people to start as early as possible. Retirement planning can seem like a daunting endeavor for many people as they focus on day-to-day financial obligations. Many people have no idea where to start. A few simple questions can help people of any age plan for retirement.

 

What does retirement look like to you?

This is an essential question to ask when beginning to plan for retirement. A good starting place is to start jotting down your ideas and, if married, your spouse’s ideas for retirement. Maybe travel is in your plan. If not travel, then how do you plan to spend your time? Will you want to downsize your home? Many people find that the home where they raised their family is too large or more than they wish to maintain. Will you continue working? If so, how much do you wish to work. Part-time or contract work can give more flexibility while still providing a source of extra income.

 

What assets do you have?

This is the beginning of financial planning for retirement. Look not just at your bank account and retirement accounts, but also property you own. Other assets to consider are collections that have significant financial value. Also, take stock of other investments that will be used to fund your retirement.

 

How is your health?

Personal health can play a large factor in retirement planning. The first step is to make sure you are up to date on all of your health screenings and check-ups. Once your health has been evaluated, you can better assess your plans for retirement. Health can affect finances and quality of life in retirement. There is no better time than the present to evaluate lifestyle and, if necessary, improve health habits to improve your quality of life and extend it.

 

When should you take social security?

There is no easy answer to this question and it is really a case-by-case decision that an attorney or financial professional can help you make. In the most basic terms, waiting longer to take benefits will increase the monthly benefits you receive. However, for many, this is not an option. It is important to assess your expenses and make the most informed decision possible with help from informed professionals.

 

How can I cut expenses to save more?

This is an excellent question for people of any age to consider. Cutting expenses can provide for extra savings to throw into your retirement plan. Cutting expenses can also help when creating a budget for retirement. If you can cut in some categories, then you can reallocate to other categories in order to be able to live more comfortably in the future. Paying off debt also becomes more manageable when other expenses can be cut.

 

How do I need to plan for the unexpected?

There is never any guarantee that the retirement you plan becomes reality. Many unexpected events can and will arise in retirement. These events can put a financial strain on a family, so it is important to plan a contingency for these events. This also good time to talk family and think about future care needs. Good health today does not guarantee it in the future – in fact, the possibility of needing long term care increases with each year we grow older. Creating a plan that includes legal and financial considerations helps get all family members on the same page and can greatly reduce stress should the unexpected occur.

 

Considering these questions can help you to begin working on a retirement plan that will fit your needs in the future.  An attorney can also help you with the legal side of planning for retirement, especially when considering the possibility of needing long term care in the future. The destination (retirement) is easier when the roadmap is clear and you have a plan for bumps in the road.

 

If you have any questions about something you have read or would like additional information, please feel free to contact us.

Greg McIntyre

greg@mcelderlaw.com

Elder Law Attorney
McIntyre Elder Law
123 W. Marion Street

Shelby, NC 28150

704–259–7040

TAKE THE TOUR: Summit Place of Kings Mountain: Assisted Living with a Smile!

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TAKE THE TOUR: Summit Place of Kings Mountain: Assisted Living with a Smile! Just a wonderful time and a wonderful place. Sarah Dixon was kind enough to give us a tour of this amazing living space where assisted living is more like an apartment with a nurse around the corner. From assisted living to memory care, Summit Place gives top tier service to its residents.
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Sarah Callahan Dixon
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Greg McIntyre

5 Things to Include in an Estate Plan

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Things to Include in an Estate Plan

 

Estate planning is important for people of all ages, but as we age, the need for planning becomes even more critical. Many people avoid estate planning, because they do not want to think about the end of life, failing health or disability. Others believe that an estate plan is only for rich people. However, an estate plan is helpful for the senior adult and their families regardless of overall wealth.

 

The estate is all the property owned both individually and jointly, including bank accounts, real estate, jewelry, etc., and what is owed. Without an estate plan, it is very difficult to carry out a person’s wishes and can bring on a long, drawn out probate that can be very expensive for the family. If an estate plan is in place, it can provide peace of mind for the senior adult and their family, as well as protection for the wishes of the senior.

 

Below are some basic guidelines for what should be included in an estate plan.

 

  1. Will. A will provides for an executor of the estate, who will take care of managing the estate, paying debts, and distributing property as specified. The distribution of assets can be outlined in the will. This can be as broad or detailed as a person wishes. In a will, beneficiaries and guardians for minor children should be assigned. It may not seem necessary to discuss minor children when discussing seniors and estate planning, but with the rise of grandparents raising grandchildren, this may indeed be an important part of the will. A senior adult can spell out, in the will, how they want their funeral and burial to be carried out as well.

 

  1. Living Will. A living will outlines a senior’s wishes for end of life medical care. It can include, in as much detail as the senior wishes, what medical treatments the senior would or would not like to have in specific situations. A living will takes the stress of making those decisions off of family members and helps to keep peace in families during times that can be difficult and emotional.

 

  1. Healthcare Power of Attorney. A healthcare power of attorney is also a key part of an estate plan. This legal document provides for someone to legally make healthcare decisions for a senior adult. A durable power of attorney will remain in effect for the senior if the senior becomes unable to make decisions.

  1. Financial Power of Attorney. A financial power of attorney names an agent who has the power to act in the place of the senior adult for matters relating to finances. The durable financial power of attorney stays in effect if the senior adult becomes unable to handle their affairs. By having a financial power of attorney in place, the stress and expense of a guardianship can be avoided, and the senior has the final say in who will make decisions relating to finances.

 

  1. Trust. Setting up a trust can be beneficial for the distribution of specific assets or pieces of property. The benefit of a trust is that it does not go through probate, as compared to a will. Property is still distributed at the death of the trustmaker, but it is done without the need of a court. This also allows for privacy of the trustmaker, where with a will and a probate, all of the deceased person’s assets and the the terms of their will is made public.

 

Having an estate plan is necessary if you or your senior loved one wishes to have a say in what happens in the end of life and with assets after death. Consulting and planning with an elder law attorney will help to ensure that all options are explored and the best possible solution is utilized. The elder law attorney can walk you through all of the necessary parts of the estate plan, provide explanation, and prepare the paperwork. Elder law attorneys will help take the guesswork out of estate planning.

 

If you have any questions about something you have read or would like additional information, please feel free to contact us. 

Greg McIntyre

greg@mcelderlaw.com

Elder Law Attorney
McIntyre Elder Law
123 W. Marion Street

Shelby, NC 28150

704–259–7040

Lady Bird Deed – 3 Things You Should Know

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A Lady Bird Deed is a wonder of elder law. It gives a senior or couple the power to stay in control of their property, keep it in their name their entire lifetime, and give it directly to a named individual upon their passing. This property transfer happens automatically (outside of probate) where Medicaid Liens attach.

Here are three things you must be aware of to safe-guard your property.

 

  1. You are in Control:

 

Seniors routinely ask me, “What age should I give my home to my children?”

I’m not a fan of gifting your home because I’ve heard and witnessed many horror stories of mom or dad being thrown out their house by their own child.

A Lady Bird Deed can prevent that.

 

  1. Avoiding Medicaid’s look-back period:

 

Long-term care services can be very costly. The reality is many do not have enough funds accumulated during their lifetime to pay for long-term care.

In this case, you may apply to a long-term care Medicaid program to pay for care.

The issue here is, this generates a Medicaid lien that could attach to your home when it passes through the estate after the person receiving the care and benefit passes away.

Traditionally, the home property was required to be protected or gifted prior to the benefit look-back period (3 year look-back for assisted living, 5 year look-back for nursing home Medicaid).

However, a Lady Bird Deed may be placed on a property at any time regardless of the look-back period.

 

  1. To sell or mortgage your property the Grantee must also sign:

Because you’re placing a trusted individual on a home deed to receive your property once you and/or your spouse passes away, you are granting them a future interest in that property.

Should you wish to sell or mortgage your property in the future after placing a Lady Bird Deed on the house, the child or children you placed on the deed would need to sign the deed of sale (to a buyer) or deed of trust (to a bank).

This can be both an advantage or disadvantage. It is a disadvantage if your child refuses to sign off on a deed selling the property (against your wishes). However, it can be an advantage to prevent a family member from signing away their home to an undeserving swindler.

 

Greg McIntyre

greg@mcelderlaw.com

Elder Law Attorney
McIntyre Elder Law
123 W. Marion Street

Shelby, NC 28150

704–259–7040

THE DRAGON AND THE 2 CASTLES: In honor of National Fairytale Day, Greg and the team read a fairytale

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THE DRAGON AND THE 2 CASTLES: In honor of National Fairytale Day, Greg and the team read a fairytale about 2 families. One who played the flute all the time and one who took the time to plan. Enjoy!
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WHAT THE NEW TAX BILL MEANS FOR YOU

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Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in December of 2017 which is aimed at cutting taxes for corporations and all Americans. While the bulk of the legislation went into effect January 2018, most taxpayers will not see much of a difference in their taxes until 2019, when they file their 2018 taxes. However, there are several important changes seniors need to be aware of now that could affect not only their tax bill, but other items such as their health care premiums. Legislation as complicated as a new tax code can be difficult to dissect, and certainly requires the help of a tax professional. Please feel free to contact our office with any questions you may have while reading through the points below:

Before explaining the changes, let’s examine several facets important to seniors that will remain the same. The new tax bill keeps the extra standard deduction for those 65 and older, which is $1,250 for individuals, $1,550 for heads of households, and $2,500 for couples who are both age 65 or older. Also, the new plan keeps the popular medical expense deduction. This deduction is for people with incomes below $75,000 which allows them to deduct medical expenses that exceed 7.5 percent of their income for the 2017 and 2018 tax year. In 2019, this will increase to bills that exceed 10 percent of their income. Further, the new plan does not affect the way Social Security or investment income is taxed.

Perhaps the most talked about change in the new tax plan is the repeal of the individual mandate contained in the Affordable Care Act. According to the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), by 2027, this will increase the number of Americans without health insurance by 13 million. The CBO also states that because there will be a smaller pool of insured, it expects insurance premiums in the individual market to increase by 10 percent over the next 10 years. Citizens age 50 to 64 can expect a premium increase of up to $1,500 in 2019.

Image result for 2018 tax lawThe tax bill slashes taxes across the board, contributing to a loss of $1.5 trillion in revenue to the government over the next decade. This deficit would trigger cuts to “pay-as-you-go” programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare is expected to have its budget slashed by $25 billion in 2018.

Other notable provisions that will affect senior taxpayers include the new tax brackets which range from 10 percent for the lowest earners to 37 percent for those with the highest incomes. Taxpayers can deduct state and local taxes, which may include income, sales, and property taxes. The state and local tax deductions are capped at $10,000. Alimony payments will no longer be deductible. Anyone who inherits an estate can now exempt $10 million compared to the previous $5.6 million. The charitable giving deduction will increase under the new plan until this provision expires in 2026. The mortgage interest deduction is also being updated. Now, the deduction on mortgage interest is capped to loans of $750,000 for new home purchases and interest accrued on home equity loans is no longer deductible.

Under the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the majority of seniors may see their tax bills decrease. However, it is still prudent that seniors be aware of the changes that may affect them such as their health care premiums or deductions on medical expenses. If you would like to meet with a professional who will be able to assess your personal situation and provide you with guidance on how this will affect you, please don’t hesitate to give our office a call.

Greg McIntyre

greg@mcelderlaw.com

Elder Law Attorney
McIntyre Elder Law
123 W. Marion Street

Shelby, NC 28150

704–259–7040

New 2018 Tax Law (Video)

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New 2018 Tax Law: What are the changes in the new tax law this year? How do they and your family? Accountant Robby Reynolds is here with us today to discuss some of the changes.
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Full Speech: So honored to speak at the Shelby Rotary Lunch Club today!

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So honored to speak at the Shelby Rotary Lunch Club today! Great food and such a distinguished group. Many thanks!

Happy Valentine’s Day from our family and our firm to you and yours!

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Happy Valentine’s Day from our family and our firm to you and yours! On Caleb Raines day it is important to remember our loved ones.

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