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Beat the Odds – Don’t Let the Government Take it All!

in Articles by Greg McIntyre Leave a comment

On the evening of Thursday, August 6, nine Republican candidates took the stage at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, for one of the first debates of the 2016 Presidential Election. Now, I’ll admit that I stayed up a bit later than I’m used to so that I could watch the entire program, and boy am I glad I did. I realize that although Donald Trump made a few polarizing remarks, he did something that no other candidate has done for quite some time: he made the debate watchable. Whether you support him or not, whether you think his comments were substantive or not, it’s hard to deny that a lot of interesting things came out of that debate.

One of those interesting tidbits occurred right in the first few minutes of the actual debate, when Donald Trump stated that he would absolutely run an independent campaign against the GOP candidate if he was not chosen or treated fairly. He was the only candidate on stage to make this statement, as the others pledged that they would not run an independent campaign if not selected by the GOP. This idea, however, brings up an important point about choices: What if, in life, we only had two choices? What if each time you went to the store, you could only choose between two brands of whatever product you needed? How would that be fair?

It wouldn’t be, which is why when we talk about seniors and healthcare, having choices in that matter is as American as being able to choose between a Chevy, Ford, Toyota, and whatever other brand of car you desire.

So what I’d like to do in this post is take a cue from the GOP debates and address some of the points that was made that evening in relation to seniors, healthcare, and what you can do to beat the odds and maintain control of what is rightfully yours.

 

Social Security

Fortunately, seniors had a big focus during the debate, specifically in regard to Social Security. In looking at Social Security and the numbers that are being published, people over 50 are growing concerned, and rightfully so. Candidate Mike Huckabee noted 60 million Americans receive Social Security, and of that 60 million, one third of them – which totals 20 million Americans – are dependent on their Social Security for 90% of their income. At the rate we’re moving, Social Security is scheduled to be bankrupt in 20 years. And the question was asked of the candidates was, how are we going to protect it? Any ideas?

One of the options that was proposed was raising the retirement age. So I suppose that means we’re all just going to have to bite the bullet and work until we’re 95. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to work forever. I want to enjoy my golden years, as I’m sure you all do.

Another option is means testing. Essentially, means testing is a component of benefits programs to assess how much you actually need that benefit. In order to assess your need of Social Security, a means test would more than likely ask you the following questions:

• What means do you have?
• Have you accumulated any assets?
• What asset level are you at?
• Do you have a house? If so, what is it worth?
• Do you have any money that you’ve saved for retirement? If so, how much?

Based on your answers to those questions, you level of need would be quantified, and you’d receive your Social Security amount that way. They’re even talking about means testing for VA benefits, and as many of you know, I’m a veteran. I received a letter last year asking me about my household income, assets, and other things of value that I own. Under this system, you can guarantee that the more means you have, assets and otherwise, the lower the benefits you’d receive. To me, that seems fundamentally unfair, to have someone work hard their entire life, and just when they’re about to enjoy their retirement years, they are told, “Sorry! Your means do not qualify you for the money that you have earned.”

 

Why is Social Security Bankrupt?

Many of you might remember back in 2000 during one of the presidential debates, Democratic candidate Al Gore started using the term “lock box” to describe how he would keep Social Security funds protected. Although the nation was never able to discover if the lock box would work for us or not, the logistics behind his idea were not far off. Social Security funds must be protected, but from whom? And how did they get to this state of emergency?

It is my personal opinion that the politicians have robbed us of Social Security. You work hard and receive a pay check every month, or maybe twice a month. There is a percentage that is taken out from each pay period that goes toward Social Security. But can you touch that? Can you prevent the money from being taken out from your checks? No, you can’t, and it is the politicians that have been presiding over that money, not you. In the end, the seniors suffer, which is why I have made it a fundamental driving force for my practice to stand up for seniors and make sure that their assets are protected. I want them to have the best healthcare and strong protection of their assets, with as many options and choices as possible for their retirement years and beyond.

Through McIntyre Elder Law, I’m going to put the lock on your box, the box that holds your assets and income. I’m going to build the lock because I’ve got tools for the job that can help lock up those assets.

 

Giving Away the House

Another issue I’d like to address involves a topic that many of us are unwilling to talk about: age. Sure, we’re all getting older even though we like to think that we are still in our 20s. Heck, in my mind, I’m barely 25! But the reality is that we are growing closer and closer each day to our elder years, and we need to take the proper steps and precautions as we venture on that path.

Age is really nothing but a number. Yet I have found that one of the most common questions I get from clients is, “Greg, should I give my house to my children?” When did the prevailing “wisdom” become that at a certain age, we give everything away? Many of my clients believe that this is a smart move so that they can avoid some of the means testing the government has set in place for Social Security. I can guarantee you that in the next few years, McIntyre Elder Law is going to have a means testing wing as part of the practice, with the way the trends are going now.

So let me give you one piece of advice: hold on to your leverage. As a mother or a father, you might want to put your house and/or your assets in the hands of your children, but I have found that as long as you are in control of your assets, your children will have more respect for you. I’ve always said that son and daughter are nicer people – whether they want to admit it or not – when Mommy and Daddy have control over all the assets. We all want people we can trust to give our property to, but you want to keep control of that property and only let go of it when the last one of you passes away, the last one of the husband and wife. Although this is not the case for every family, I have seen on many occasions that when there is a bit of blood in the water, the sharks start to draw near.

 

Enhanced Life Estate Deeds

The bottom line is that there is never a good age, an expected age where you are to give away all of your property. If that is the answer, then we need to change the question and we need to change the rules. That, in my opinion, is a ridiculous scenario.

You are free to choose and use the tools that are available to you, and one of those – aside from utilizing a trust and other planning tools – is an Enhanced Life Estate Deed. These are also known as Lady Bird Deeds, which I’ve spoken about in depth in previous blog posts. With a traditional life estate deed, I might put my children down as a grantee, and I reserve a life interest for my wife and myself, as well as for our home. The problem is we give away our power of appointment. So in order to convey that property, the kids have to come in and sign that deed for me to sell it or for me to grant a deed of trust to the bank to mortgage it.

With an Enhanced Life Estate or a Lady Bird Deed, you don’t. You reserve the right to still mortgage the property 100% yourself, without your kids coming in and signing off on that deed of trust or sell it. You retain total control, even when under the Medicaid rules for assisted living Medicaid (which is a 3-year look back period) and long-term care Medicaid (which is a 5-year look back period) you are assisted with that long-term care and payments. A Lady Bird Deed or an Enhanced Life Estate Deed is not looked at under that 5-year look back period. It’s not taken into account. So what I say is it builds a brick wall of protection around your property right now. It’s the tool for the job around your home. It’s the lock for your lock box, and it allows you to control what happens to it 100%.

Under this deed, you are still free to sell your home, mortgage it, do whatever you want to with it. You can rest assured that it’s not going to go back to the government no matter what your healthcare needs are, and that you’re going to keep it in the family. I’d like to think that’s because North Carolina is shifting to a more retirement friendly and senior-friendly state. That’s my hope, and those are allowable right now under the rules. If you get one right now under the rules, and the rules change in the future – which, if there’s one thing I can promise you, is change is constant depending on the political party in control and the pendulum swings to the Left and to the Right. It’s always going to happen. So if you’ve got one now, it would be grandfathered in under the rules because it’s legal right now. So that’s essentially in a nutshell what a Lady Bird Deed is, it protects the property and keeps it in your family. And the best part is, you don’t have to be married to guarantee protection of your house under this deed. You can be a single man or woman; you’ll still be protected.

So before I leave this virtual stage I want to remind readers that I will meet with you at McIntyre Elder Law for as long as it takes to ensure that you have what you need in place, and to put that lock on your box and protect your hard earned money and property.

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3 Important Questions for your Financial & Legal Dream Team

in Articles by Greg McIntyreLeave a comment

Dream Team Photo

Ask yourself this question: what do you, your financial adviser, and your attorney have in common with Olympic basketball? Allow me give a little context. In 1992, the United States assembled a dream team of basketball players that included Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and Larry Bird. The aptly named Dream Team of that year was able to win the gold medal in Barcelona, and landed themselves a spot in the minds and hearts of sports fans forever. So, I ask again: what do you, your financial advisor, and your attorney have in common with those three men? The answer is teamwork. All of you are working toward a goal, and will stop at nothing until that end is met. Each person on the team contributes something different, each person brings with them a new talent, but all parts are necessary to achieve what you want. For this reason, I called upon the people that I know and trust to craft the 3 Important Questions for your Financial & Legal Dream Team.

1. When should I take my Social Security?

As you head into your senior years, and helps protect your assets and legacies. What I mean by this is you need to protect your home, your real estate, and the money that you saved for retirement. Protecting all of this also means that you need a financial adviser and planner who can answer the difficult questions for you, such as: when should I take my Social Security?

The short answer is between the ages of 62 to 70. While you can take it anywhere along that timeline, there are advantages and disadvantages given your situation as to when you should take it. According to my friend Jamie Richard, who is a financial advisor and wealth planner over at Edward Jones Investment in Shelby, North Carolina, there are a few factors that determine the right time for you to take Social Security. They include:

• Life expectancy. This might be grim to think about, but consider your health. If you have very poor health, you probably want to go ahead and start taking it early on.
• Work status. Do you know when you plan to stop working? This will affect how much you can collect.
• Benefits. What will be the benefit if you wait until retirement age?
• Marital status. Single or married can have an effect on when you begin taking the Social Security, and how much you receive.

Remember that the longer you wait to take it, the greater your monthly checks will be. So if you start taking it at 62, you might get $1,000 a month. If you wait until 65, it might be $1,400 a month. If you want until you’re 70, you may get $1,800 a month. Consider these factors with your financial advisor to determine when and if you should start taking Social Security.

2. How can I protect my assets in the event of a healthcare incident?

When meeting with a client, I always ask the following questions:

• What kind of retirement assets do you have, and who is managing them?
• Do you have a long-term care piece in place like insurance or a hybrid product?

I ask these questions to determine the risks involved in your financial life should a healthcare incident occur in your life. If your assets are sound, then you will not have to worry about a lien being placed on your house or having your money taken away that you worked hard for.

According to my friend Jamie again, you need to assess what would happen if you ended up in a nursing home, for instance, or if you went into retirement with a big healthcare cost. Those are events that can derail your secure financial situation in retirement. Consider the following: Depending on where you look, nursing homes carry a price tag of tens of thousands of dollars. Assisted living homes are not far behind. Do you know how much of that bill Medicare is going to pay for? Will long-term care be included in the coverage?

One other thing to keep in mind: in working with your Dream Team, you want to discuss how to protect part of your nest egg from a Medicaid spend down. In that case, you would rely on an irrevocable trust, which we establish as a Medicaid asset protection trust. Those funds can still be managed and the trustee that you name has a fiduciary duty to provide the same monthly income for you. The money is therefore locked and safe, and cannot be touched if you find yourself in a dire healthcare situation. This will also protect your spouse and your family, for if they were relying on you for income, they can now rest easy knowing that your funds are safe.

In working with your Dream Team, you want to get qualified for Medicaid while also trying to protect as much of your hard-earned money and property as possible. At Elder Law, we work with financial experts like Jamie on a regular basis in order to do that.

3. What can I do to manage my beneficiary products?

Let’s first define what beneficiary products include:

• Life insurance
• Annuities
• 401K
• IRA
• Roth accounts

If you pass away, do you know who the designated beneficiary is of those products? I will clue you in: if you have “estate” listed as the beneficiary, then your assets are going to go through probate, which is something that you, your family, and your Dream Team do not want for you.

The whole point of having transferable-upon-death assets like insurance products with beneficiaries or 401Ks or IRAs is so you can pass it outside of the will. This will ensure that assets go directly to the person you designate in the form of a check.

One other step that Jamie and I recommend to clients is what we call a stretch IRA. You will be able to stretch out the IRA over the lifetime of whoever it is that’s inherited your IRA or your 401K. For instance, if you have an IRA worth $100,000 in it and you pass away without a beneficiary, then it’s going to be left to your estate. Taxes are thus going to have to be paid on that particular asset. However, if you name your child, your church, your local charity or what have you, there are other ways that money can go directly to the beneficiary. We therefore avoid having taxes take a chunk out of that money all in one year.

Here are some other steps to consider when it comes to beneficiary products:

• Name a contingent beneficiary. Also known as an alternate beneficiary, this is someone else that you select to receive the money on your behalf if, for whatever reason, the first person you name cannot receive that money. If your first beneficiary is a spouse, then your contingent beneficiary might be one of your children. This ensures that your money at least stays in your family.
• Consider the ages of your children. Do you have any children that are around the age of 18 at the time you are considering naming them a beneficiary? Though you might trust your kids, there are some risks involved in naming them so young. You’d want a name in the will which would provide for another adult to act as guardian or parent for the child. After you name that person, a trust document is created to bestow fiduciary duties on that adult, making them the trustee and thus responsible for managing the funds for your child. Think about it: what would you have done with $100,000 as a teenager? Instead of one lump sum, perhaps you want them to receive an annual payout of 10% over a 10-year period? That is much more manageable.
• Set up milestones for children or grandchildren. What an incredible legacy to bestow upon your children or your grandchildren, than ensuring that they are somewhat financially sound when you are no longer alive and well? What you can do with your money is create milestones that will trigger the release of a certain amount of cash upon completion. Say, for instance, you set up a milestone of college for your first grandchild. Once he/she gets into college, your grandchild will get a sum of money. The second milestone can be graduation, upon which he/she will get another sum of money four years later. This guarantees that your family will be secure, but will have to still strive a bit in your name to access that money.

I therefore leave you with this: August is Leave-a-Legacy month, so you want to begin thinking about the legacy that you are going to leave to your spouse, your children, your grandchildren, and any other loved one that you have in your life. Do not leave them in a dire situation if, in the future, you cannot provide for them. Think about not only your future, but the future of your family. It is thus crucial for you to ask these questions of your Dream Team.

Call me if you have any questions:

Greg McIntyreGreg_Full
Elder Law Attorney
McIntyre Elder Law
123 W. Marion Street, Shelby
704-259-7040

 

 

 

New Episode! World Series of Elder Law! Cover Your Bases.

in Elder Law TV by Greg Leave a comment

Just like there are four bases in baseball. There are four basic foundations of elder law. Cover your bases!

Today we focus on The Four Foundations of Elder Law and Why You Must Have Them. Do You Have Your Foundation in place?

#AskTheElderLawGuy

The World Series of Elder Law! Cover Your Bases…

in Articles by Greg McIntyre Leave a comment

When I was younger, I played a lot of baseball. It’s a sport that I miss playing dearly today, and whenever I think back to my years on the mound at the City Park in Shelby, rounding the bases, my heart is gripped by theBaseball nostalgia I feel. As a young man I had never given much thought to playing anything else, especially not softball. But the reality is, once I joined the Navy, I found myself involved in more than a few softball tournaments – and on many occasions the enlisted were pitted against the officers. It was all in good fun, but let me tell you, there were times when the enlisted beat the officers by a long shot.

I am reminded of my years playing baseball and softball thanks to the American Legion World Series that just ended in our town. The Chapin-Newberry Post 193 of South Caroline wound up taking the Championship title, beating the team from New Orleans with a final score of 9-2.

With the wave of excitement that has swept Shelby, NC, on the heels of the World Series, I want to address a different set of bases; these are the four pillars of Elder Law, and when used correctly, you can score yourself a true grand slam.

The Four Pillars of Elder Law

Just as there are four bases in baseball, there are four principal foundations of Elder Law. Any time I give an educational talk or speak with a client, I prefer to start with talking about the foundations. The foundations are as follows:

  • General Durable Power of Attorney
  • Healthcare Power of Attorney
  • Living Will
  • Will

 

Now, many times I’ll get questions about these foundations, such as, “Why do I need a will if I already have a power of attorney?” or “Why would I need a power of attorney if I’ve already appointed an executor to my will?” These are all great questions that I will address in this post.

General Durable Power of Attorney

I always refer to this first pillar as the General Durable Power of Attorney, instead of just a Power of Attorney. The person that you appoint to act on your behalf is technically the attorney-in-fact, while the Power of Attorney refers to the actual document. It’s general because it covers all personal business, from bank accounts to cell phone bills to power to water, insurance, whatever needs to be handled. It therefore allows you to appoint someone else to handle your personal business should you find yourself out of commission for a temporary period of time. Once everything is set in stone, it is very difficult to change the terms. Take my cell phone bill for instance – my wife can’t even change my cell phone bill because I set up the account. Can’t change our family’s cell phone bill because I set up the account. I have to go do it because they won’t talk to her. That is how a General Durable Power of Attorney will work; whoever you appoint as your attorney-in-fact is the only one who has the power to negotiate matters like that.

Another question I have received regarding Powers of Attorney concerns debts. People have asked me, “If my mother names me in her Power of Attorney, do I become responsible for her debts?” It is an understandable fear that if you are designated a loved one’s attorney-in-fact, that you will thus become responsible for all of their negative financial situations. This is not true. Their credit will not affect yours, and vice verse.

Just like in baseball, you have to pack your team with people you can trust. You need to have people ready to come in off the bench, so you don’t want to just have a primary there. If your primary power of attorney is unavailable, you want to have a secondary person come in and serve. If your team has a primary, secondary, and even a tertiary attorney-in-fact, then that document is going to live with you for a very long time and will hopefully work for you for the rest of your life. That’s what we want it to do. So no matter the contingency or situation, it works.

I also encourage clients to check and see if their General Durable Power of Attorney has a durability clause in it, so if you have a power of attorney right now, you need to read through it and make sure it says that it survives incapacity or incompetence. If it doesn’t say that in the document, then it doesn’t survive incapacity or incompetence. Your best play in the game is to see an attorney if you want to either become an attorney-in-fact, or if you want to name one.

When the document is finally drafted, it should be a robust Power of Attorney, meaning it should not be just a few pages. Try going to the bank with that! They might tell you, “We’re not going to honor that document.” I see it all the time. What would you do in that situation? Your loved one has entrusted you as the attorney-in-fact, and when you go to exercise that role and help them carry out their financial obligations, the bank tells you that they are not going to honor your 1-2 page document. To protect yourself from this, have a robust power of attorney that specifically describes and elaborates on those banking powers and what your attorney-in-fact can do. I guarantee if you walk in with a power of attorney and drop that 25-page document on them, they’re going to take you seriously. You are not going to have any problems in that scenario. And heaven forbid there are problems, I’ll help you solve them.

Lastly, under Section 32A of the North Carolina General Statutes, the General Durable Power of Attorney needs to also be recorded at your local register of deeds in the event that you become incapacitated or incompetent. Now, you’re probably not going to know to do that if you’re incapacitated or incompetent, so I advise having that done ahead of time. And most of the time, seniors go ahead and choose to record those. You can also choose to hold them, but your attorney-in-fact needs to have instructions on how to record them.

Healthcare Power of Attorney

I feel very similarly about the second foundation, the Healthcare Power of Attorney. It should not be a simple document that merely lists what your attorney-in-fact can and can’t do. It should be a robust document that is detailed and descriptive. There is no room for guesswork or error when it comes to your healthcare planning.

Your second base on this healthcare field would also be to appoint someone to your team that you can trust, to handle your most important life decisions and when necessary, make very quick life and death decisions for you. Make sure that you appoint the proper captain to your team to come talk on your behalf to the healthcare facility, to the doctors, and to the nurses. I encourage you to make copies of those and make sure that your primary physician has a copy, and that they know who the point person is. And if you talk to a hospital, a nursing staff, or a nursing home or assisted living facility, they’ll tell you they love those because otherwise you’ve got multiple family members calling in, giving different points of view, and mixed messages. What are they supposed to do in that situation? Which road do they go down? Who do they listen to? Like I said, take the guesswork out for them and appoint someone you can trust to talk with them. Just like with the General Durable Power of Attorney, make sure that you stack the bench with a secondary and tertiary attorney-in-fact to fill in if the primary is unavailable.

Living Will

The third pillar or base in the game is the Living Will, which is also called a Declaration for a Desire for a Natural Death. People feel strongly about those on both sides. If heaven forbid you find yourself in a situation where you’re terminal, incurable, incapacitated, there’s no chance of recovery – brain death, for example, has occurred and you’re only being maintained by artificial machinery, hydration, and nutrition – what do you want to happen in that situation? Do you want your healthcare power of attorney to make that decision? Do you want your kids to make that decision? Or do you want to take that guilt-ridden decision and make it yourself and say, “This is my statement of intent and this is what I want to happen”? A Living Will, or a Declaration for a Desire for a Natural Death, allows you the ability and the power to do that while you’re healthy, competent, and can make that decision for yourself.

Will

A will completes the bases, making it the fourth one. You need to have that will so that you distribute your property how you want to, not how the government has decided that they want to distribute your property. If you do not specify how you want your property distributed, the government will decide for you through the various statutes in place. So you want to prepare yourself and appoint an executor as one of the team captains.

Let me clarify something about these bases: an executor and a will only have power after you pass away. They are worthless while you’re alive and have no legal power. The power or attorney and healthcare power of attorney have all the power while you’re alive. So your attorney-in-fact and those documents rule while you’re alive. When you pass, the will takes over.

A Home Run

If you round all the bases and have those documents in place, plus add in a Lady Bird Deed to protect your home, I call that a home run. The Lady Bird Deeds, also known as the Enhanced Life Estate Deeds, will guarantee a seamless transfer of your assets to the person that you appoint, normally a spouse. You will absolutely secure yourself a home run for the team if you lock in all of these documents.

You might be asking yourself, why don’t all seniors take these precautions and ensure themselves a home run with these four pillars? For one, the Lady Bird Deeds haven’t been around very long in North Carolina, so it’s a question of awareness. Before North Carolina adopted the deeds, we used traditional life estate deeds, but you had to draft those outside of the look-back period, which is three years for assisted living Medicaid and five years for nursing home Medicaid to come in and help pay for healthcare. The life estate deeds allow you to keep control of your property, but you had to plan with them five years ahead of time. And who knows when that’s going to happen? Waiting is an enemy, and who knows how long we’re going to be able in North Carolina to use an Enhanced Life Estate Deed or Lady Bird Deed? But right now, and for the last couple of years, we’ve been able to do that, which can save a home for a family even in a crisis or emergency situation.

When I grew up, the Cold War was going on, evidenced by images of Rambo and Reagan and Gorbachev working things out. And Russia was the place where individuals didn’t own property, and the government owned everything. This wasn’t so in the U.S. But now you have a tremendous turnover of property, of private citizens losing their homes and their property. I just think it’s fundamentally un-American. If baseball and the World Series is American, then losing your property – especially your house, which is the American Dream – due to a healthcare situation is, in my opinion, very un-American. If you look at the Founding Fathers, one of the great things they wanted to do, one of the things that set America apart were individual property rights and the right to pass on your property to keep it in the family.

So give us a call, and if you ask for the Home Run package, we’ll give you special pricing on that. If you want to get all your affairs in order, including protecting your house 100% against any liens including Medicaid liens, then call our office and mention the Home Run special. This is the package that the average person needs. You don’t have to be rich to do estate planning or elder law planning. Quite the opposite. You can abide by the foundations, guarantee a protection of your assets relying on all four bases of Elder Law, and really be set up for what happens throughout your life.

Call me if you have any questions:

Greg McIntyreGreg_Full
Elder Law Attorney
McIntyre Elder Law
123 W. Marion Street, Shelby
704-259-7040

 

 

 

3 Important Questions for your Financial & Legal Dream Team

in Articles by Greg McIntyre Leave a comment

Dream Team Photo

Ask yourself this question: what do you, your financial adviser, and your attorney have in common with Olympic basketball? Allow me give a little context. In 1992, the United States assembled a dream team of basketball players that included Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and Larry Bird. The aptly named Dream Team of that year was able to win the gold medal in Barcelona, and landed themselves a spot in the minds and hearts of sports fans forever. So, I ask again: what do you, your financial advisor, and your attorney have in common with those three men? The answer is teamwork. All of you are working toward a goal, and will stop at nothing until that end is met. Each person on the team contributes something different, each person brings with them a new talent, but all parts are necessary to achieve what you want. For this reason, I called upon the people that I know and trust to craft the 3 Important Questions for your Financial & Legal Dream Team.

1. When should I take my Social Security?

As you head into your senior years, and helps protect your assets and legacies. What I mean by this is you need to protect your home, your real estate, and the money that you saved for retirement. Protecting all of this also means that you need a financial adviser and planner who can answer the difficult questions for you, such as: when should I take my Social Security?

The short answer is between the ages of 62 to 70. While you can take it anywhere along that timeline, there are advantages and disadvantages given your situation as to when you should take it. According to my friend Jamie Richard, who is a financial advisor and wealth planner over at Edward Jones Investment in Shelby, North Carolina, there are a few factors that determine the right time for you to take Social Security. They include:

• Life expectancy. This might be grim to think about, but consider your health. If you have very poor health, you probably want to go ahead and start taking it early on.
• Work status. Do you know when you plan to stop working? This will affect how much you can collect.
• Benefits. What will be the benefit if you wait until retirement age?
• Marital status. Single or married can have an effect on when you begin taking the Social Security, and how much you receive.

Remember that the longer you wait to take it, the greater your monthly checks will be. So if you start taking it at 62, you might get $1,000 a month. If you wait until 65, it might be $1,400 a month. If you want until you’re 70, you may get $1,800 a month. Consider these factors with your financial advisor to determine when and if you should start taking Social Security.

2. How can I protect my assets in the event of a healthcare incident?

When meeting with a client, I always ask the following questions:

• What kind of retirement assets do you have, and who is managing them?
• Do you have a long-term care piece in place like insurance or a hybrid product?

I ask these questions to determine the risks involved in your financial life should a healthcare incident occur in your life. If your assets are sound, then you will not have to worry about a lien being placed on your house or having your money taken away that you worked hard for.

According to my friend Jamie again, you need to assess what would happen if you ended up in a nursing home, for instance, or if you went into retirement with a big healthcare cost. Those are events that can derail your secure financial situation in retirement. Consider the following: Depending on where you look, nursing homes carry a price tag of tens of thousands of dollars. Assisted living homes are not far behind. Do you know how much of that bill Medicare is going to pay for? Will long-term care be included in the coverage?

One other thing to keep in mind: in working with your Dream Team, you want to discuss how to protect part of your nest egg from a Medicaid spend down. In that case, you would rely on an irrevocable trust, which we establish as a Medicaid asset protection trust. Those funds can still be managed and the trustee that you name has a fiduciary duty to provide the same monthly income for you. The money is therefore locked and safe, and cannot be touched if you find yourself in a dire healthcare situation. This will also protect your spouse and your family, for if they were relying on you for income, they can now rest easy knowing that your funds are safe.

In working with your Dream Team, you want to get qualified for Medicaid while also trying to protect as much of your hard-earned money and property as possible. At Elder Law, we work with financial experts like Jamie on a regular basis in order to do that.

3. What can I do to manage my beneficiary products?

Let’s first define what beneficiary products include:

• Life insurance
• Annuities
• 401K
• IRA
• Roth accounts

If you pass away, do you know who the designated beneficiary is of those products? I will clue you in: if you have “estate” listed as the beneficiary, then your assets are going to go through probate, which is something that you, your family, and your Dream Team do not want for you.

The whole point of having transferable-upon-death assets like insurance products with beneficiaries or 401Ks or IRAs is so you can pass it outside of the will. This will ensure that assets go directly to the person you designate in the form of a check.

One other step that Jamie and I recommend to clients is what we call a stretch IRA. You will be able to stretch out the IRA over the lifetime of whoever it is that’s inherited your IRA or your 401K. For instance, if you have an IRA worth $100,000 in it and you pass away without a beneficiary, then it’s going to be left to your estate. Taxes are thus going to have to be paid on that particular asset. However, if you name your child, your church, your local charity or what have you, there are other ways that money can go directly to the beneficiary. We therefore avoid having taxes take a chunk out of that money all in one year.

Here are some other steps to consider when it comes to beneficiary products:

• Name a contingent beneficiary. Also known as an alternate beneficiary, this is someone else that you select to receive the money on your behalf if, for whatever reason, the first person you name cannot receive that money. If your first beneficiary is a spouse, then your contingent beneficiary might be one of your children. This ensures that your money at least stays in your family.
• Consider the ages of your children. Do you have any children that are around the age of 18 at the time you are considering naming them a beneficiary? Though you might trust your kids, there are some risks involved in naming them so young. You’d want a name in the will which would provide for another adult to act as guardian or parent for the child. After you name that person, a trust document is created to bestow fiduciary duties on that adult, making them the trustee and thus responsible for managing the funds for your child. Think about it: what would you have done with $100,000 as a teenager? Instead of one lump sum, perhaps you want them to receive an annual payout of 10% over a 10-year period? That is much more manageable.
• Set up milestones for children or grandchildren. What an incredible legacy to bestow upon your children or your grandchildren, than ensuring that they are somewhat financially sound when you are no longer alive and well? What you can do with your money is create milestones that will trigger the release of a certain amount of cash upon completion. Say, for instance, you set up a milestone of college for your first grandchild. Once he/she gets into college, your grandchild will get a sum of money. The second milestone can be graduation, upon which he/she will get another sum of money four years later. This guarantees that your family will be secure, but will have to still strive a bit in your name to access that money.

I therefore leave you with this: August is Leave-a-Legacy month, so you want to begin thinking about the legacy that you are going to leave to your spouse, your children, your grandchildren, and any other loved one that you have in your life. Do not leave them in a dire situation if, in the future, you cannot provide for them. Think about not only your future, but the future of your family. It is thus crucial for you to ask these questions of your Dream Team.

Call me if you have any questions:

Greg McIntyreGreg_Full
Elder Law Attorney
McIntyre Elder Law
123 W. Marion Street, Shelby
704-259-7040

 

 

 

Our Community is Awesome! Great Time at the 7th Inning Stretch Festival!

in Elder Law TV by Greg Leave a comment

We had a blast out at he 7th Inning Stretch Festival. A great time for what is really important in life: Family and Community. #theelderlawguy

Our Community is Awesome! Great Time at the 7th Inning Stretch Festival!

in Elder Law TV by Greg Leave a comment

We had a blast out at he 7th Inning Stretch Festival. A great time for what is really important in life: Family and Community. #theelderlawguy

Fun Episode! Debate/Politics/Beat the Odds – Don’t Let the Government Take It All!!!

in Elder Law TV by Greg Leave a comment

Piggy backing off the recent political debates, Elder Law Attorney, Greg McIntyre, discusses the politics of benefits and how to protect your hard earned money and property. A must see episode of Elder Talk Radio. #theelderlawguy

Fun Episode! Debate/Politics/Beat the Odds – Don’t Let the Government Take It All!!!

in Articles by Greg Leave a comment

Piggy backing off the recent political debates, Elder Law Attorney, Greg McIntyre, discusses the politics of benefits and how to protect your hard earned money and property. A must see episode of Elder Talk Radio. #theelderlawguy

Trading Places & Role Reversals: When Children Have to Take Care of Parents & What to Do About It.

in Articles, Newsletters by Greg McIntyre Leave a comment

Let’s talk about role reversals. About trading places. You’ve seen that movie Trading Places with Eddie Murphy and Dan Akroyd. That’s a good movie, right?

Well, here we’re talking about a little different kind of trading places.

More and more today, children are taking care of aging parents. Your parents raise you, and then you end up having to take care of one or both of them as they age. And how should you prepare for that? What should you do? What should the parents do?

Just in case that transition needs to happen. What should the children do to ensure they have the tools to handle mom and dad’s affairs? Your parents raise you, they feed you, they nurture you, they clothe and love you. Cook for you. Change your dirty diapers, right?

They worry to death about you, all the time. I’m sure I worried my parents to death, especially when I was a teenager. They take you to church. Work their fingers to the bone to make money to take care of you. Send you to college, some parents, even send their kids to college.

I think we pamper our kids so much now. We don’t let them be independent early enough. But they take you on vacation, just like my parents did.

You know, they just do all kinds of things for you. I was just looking – and thank you to my wife, by the way, Stephanie, for doing some research in preparation for this article for me. She was looking up and we were talking about some crazy outlandish things that parents have done for their children.

And she was looking at a couple different sources. According to Women’s Day magazine, in April 2010, mother, Nicki Carpenter, in Yazoo City, Mississippi, placed mattresses over her three sons, laid down on top of them during a tornado, and she ended up unfortunately passing herself but saved her kids to do that.

That’s the extraordinary things a mother will do for her children.

Angela Cavalo pulled her 1964 Chevy Impala off her son. We’ve all heard about that one, right? The adrenaline, she went and pulled it off her son after the jack collapsed and the car fell on him.

Mothers, parents, can just do amazing things to take care of and protect their children. Well, I think we should return the favor.

And we’ve got to know that those things are coming, that day is coming, potentially.

What I’d love to focus on here is that role reversal. Taking care of parents. How do we do it? What kind of legal documents need to be in place to make sure you can handle bank accounts, make healthcare decisions. Should a living will be in place? A will?

That’s an important decision: Powers of Attorneys and other planning documents. Should we do some deed planning to make sure property is passing the right way? Because if you wait too late, you’re in a guardianship situation. And that’s a situation that we want to avoid. Not that guardianships are terrible things, they just take longer to put in place and they are more costly to put in place.

If you wait until the point that mom or dad are incapacitated which is when you need help the most, sometimes you’re not in the condition to give consent under the law. So we want to put these important documents in place, at a low cost, ahead of time for the senior and for the children who might be taking care of those seniors.

Just to give you some Alzheimer’s and Dementia facts, that’s such a powerful thing these days and just affects so many seniors.

It’s the 6th leading cause of death in the US. One in three seniors die with Alzheimer’s or some other type of dementia, so we want to plan ahead for this. Almost two- thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s are women. So women are especially in danger. I don’t know why that is.

It’s the only one of the top 10 causes of death in the US that cannot be prevented or slowed. It cannot be cured, prevented, or slowed. The only one. We know so little about it.

Women statistically live longer, perhaps that’s one of the reasons. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons that they’re living longer.

And women or men can live a long time with the disease. Your body can far outlive your mind in that situation.

What you’re talking about a lot of times is needing care in a secure facility, a special facility that deals with Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients and you need to plan for that. You need to prepare for the costs that are involved for providing specialized care while also protecting assets to prevent everything from being spent down.

Senior want to stay independent… Who wouldn’t? We want the senior to stay independent for as long as possible, no matter what the situation is. We want them to stay in control, of their assets and their lives.

But we want to plan for the situation, should the senior need any kind of care. And what should you have in place ahead of time to ensure that you’ve protected those things you’ve worked for your entire life and make sure you get the best care and your children, for instance, are able to go through that role reversal? You go ahead and appoint them as the power of attorney to handle bank accounts, cable bill, power bill, handle protection of the home, pay the mortgage, whatever needs to be done.

That we go ahead and have those things in place. Even a husband and a wife should have those things in place for each other, so that they can handle each other’s accounts.

Let’s say there’s a husband and wife, something happens, there’s an accident. And they’re not really that old, it could happen at any age. It could happen to me. But the other spouse, they need constant care.

In an ideal situation, the spouse who is well and healthy will be there to look after them. I know that doesn’t always happen. But if they love each other and they’re devoted to each other, they would be there to look after the injured or incapacitate spouse. And it may be that way the rest of their life.

If you have the healthcare powers of attorney in place, so that the doctors, healthcare facilities, professionals know exactly who to look at to make decisions. There’s no arguing among siblings, among kids, whoever on who’s going to make those healthcare decisions.

So there’s no confusion. You have one chief appointed among all the Indians and you’re able to make those important healthcare decisions in a very timely manner. Sometimes time means life or death when decisions are made on different healthcare issues that need to be made regarding treatment.

So you want to have important documents in place ahead of time. General durable powers of attorney so that they husband or wife can handle accounts for each other.

My wife can’t handle my cellphone bill because I set it up. And whoever the carrier might be wouldn’t talk to her and wouldn’t allow her to change things unless she had access to do it. So that’s a simple example. Banks can even have much more stringent – and rightly so – measures in place to prevent the wrong person from coming in and moving money from your accounts or handling your accounts.

Even calling a doctor’s office now, you can’t do that really.

HIPAA regulations are so strict and tight now on who they’ll give information out to or give medical records to, so that’s an important reason to go ahead and have those things in place ahead of time.

So that’s what we want to do, is help seniors at a very low cost, comparatively, to not waiting. When it really costs or when you really understand what I’m talking about and what you need, is sometimes when it’s too late.

Say a person who’s an older person, they have more than one child, and something happens to them. They have a heart attack. They have a stroke. They’re not totally incapacitated but they can’t look after themselves.

 

Could a Parents Actions, Documents and Decisions Be Challenged?

Yes! Children could come in and challenge whether a senior is of sound mind when they draft important legal documents. That is why planning ahead and placing important legal documents in place while one is still very sharp is very important.

Time is one of the enemies. I talk about titanic mistakes in elder law. That’s one of the enemies, is time. Waiting. Because people are motivated by fear, generally, and when they know that time crunch is on and they need to do something, it may be too late.

That’s why I do a radio show, write articles, give talks to churches, to other groups, all the time. I want to educated people so they act out of knowledge and logic; not fear and panic. It cost less to plan ahead and you’ve got these things done ahead of time, that way you don’t find yourself in a time crunch saying “oh my gosh, we need to act and do something now because husband, wife, mom, or dad is in this emergency situation!”

And what if the situation is a parent, again, older parent, becomes ill, incapacitated, can’t take care of themselves, and heaven forbid, what if the children argue, “well I don’t want to do it, you do it?” What can happen then?

So what you’re talking about is kind of like a hot potato, nobody wants that responsibility. Or sometimes you have the opposite. Multiple people want that responsibility. And then who are the healthcare providers supposed to listen to? Do we listen to this sister or this sister? Or this daughter or this daughter?

You can save your children guilt-ridden decisions and trouble by appointing, as I like to say, a chief among all the Indians. And that doesn’t mean that’s the final person. You could appoint a couple very responsible children to be “co” or work together.

Or you could, I like to say, have a deep bench. Have one person up to bat, making those decisions. Should that person be unavailable or unable to do it, or refuse to make those decisions, then you have somebody else appointed who comes off the bench, the next child in line, to make those decisions, for instance. And you can go as deep as you want to on the bench there, appointing those people.

That way those documents grow with you the rest of your life.

This is a sensitive and somber topic but some of the issues we deal with are. I deal with these and other issues on a daily basis. My staff deals with these issues on a daily basis.

And we’d love to meet with you. We’d be glad to sit down, hear your situation, and advise you honestly and accordingly.

Luckily, we have raving fans, and that’s what we want! We want to be your elder law attorney and advisor for generations. That’s what my goal is. I want you to be able to call me with any questions. I routinely give my cellphone number to clients, so they can call me anytime, day or night.

I say I’m always on, and I am! Because I care so much about my clients. And it’s how I take care of my family. And I care that much about my family and yours.

 

What if my Will and other Documents were drafted in another State?

Have an elder law attorney review these documents to make sure they have the fundamental elements for a will in North Carolina or your State. For instance, two people, in North Carolina, two witnesses and a notary public have to see you sign the will by line of sight. That means, can’t have looked away. Can’t be around the corner, can’t be in the next room.

They have to see you put pen to paper and sign it, along with a notary. That’s three people sitting there that need to see that will signed. If not, then it’s invalid. And it could be invalidated in a court of law, in North Carolina.

And there’s a number of situations where that might happen. It may not be challenged, but it can be. It needs to say that you’re of sound mind of body. It needs to say that you’re over 18 years old.

So many people will go to online sources or “oh we did this at the plant.” I see those all the time where we may have to rework something.

I look at wills of people that come from out of state, and some of them are okay. Some of them apply under the North Carolina statutes. And I say, look, it’s up to snuff. It’s up to you if you want to redraft it because there are some changes you want to make, but it looks like it’s going to do its job.

 

But “All I Want/Need is a Simple Will.”

But other things you don’t think about, and there is no such thing as a simple will. I love that saying, and it’s so true. What happens if you’re giving a large amount of money or property or something like that to a loved one and they’re on some type of governmental benefit or support. And that gift is going to totally disqualify them for that benefit or support.

What happens in that situation? Well, I’ll tell you. Our wills, we allow for a supplemental needs trust to be set up in that situation, and we go ahead and outline that in the will. It’s not a one page or two page will.

But we set it up so that doesn’t happen. So that it could drop directly into a supplemental needs trust to provide for that person’s health and well-being and not disqualify them for any governmental benefit they might be receiving.

Benefits like SSI, Medicare or Medicaid.

Any or all of the above. Whatever you might be drawing, whatever the situation might be, whatever the benefit might be, you’ll want to take a look at the rules of that benefit before you receive that gift. Or else, the only other option that person might have is renouncing that gift and not taking it, period.

Whereas it could’ve drop into a supplemental needs trust that’s automatically created by your will to make sure that it provides for that person’s health and well-being, pays money to take care of that person, while not disqualifying them from the governmental benefit that they’re receiving.

 

After someone passes away should I keep their paperwork?

Save it.

I try to save everything. It’s a just in case measure. Save it or scan it, save it digitally. I’m a huge fan of saving things digitally so we always have an exact copy to reproduce. But save it. Put it in a file drawer, put it in a desk draw, scan it, keep it on a thumb drive. Put it on a CD. Make sure you have it, just in case.

 

What does the word “PROBATE” mean? Is it something simple?

I think it is simple. Let me break it down for you the way I have it broken down in my mind. I like to boil things down.

To probate something, you’d need a will. So if there is a valid will and you file it, not just record it but file it, open an estate at the courthouse for probate, that’s the probate process. If there’s a will.

If there’s no will, then that estate can be administered. But you’re still opening an estate at the courthouse, saying look there’s no will, we need to appoint an administrator. It needs to be this family member, this is why.

Then you’re under what’s called the intestate succession statutes, in North Carolina, which our lawmakers, who I know we all know they have our best interest at heart and they’ve all set up statutes to pass things to us the way we want.

However, with no will, you may not pass property under State statutes the way you might have liked. I love passing things outside of administration and probate. If I set a plan up correctly ahead of time, I hope the last thing you or your loved ones are going to have to worry about is going to be a probate process.

If I plan we are going to think about transferrable upon death assets. Your home, your land. Everything is going to be able to go straight where it’s supposed to, just like an insurance policy.

Because when you open up the probate process, what do you have to do? You have to advertise it in the paper once every week for four weeks, and then it’s got to remain open for liens to come in for 90 days.

That’s the legal notices you see in the paper. So why would you want to open up everything you’ve worked for your entire life to be taken away by some lien? When you can pass it directly, transferrable upon death, to a loved one. And there are simple and legal ways to do just that.

If a loved one has passed, when I’ve done a correct estate plan, and we’ve done transferrable upon death assets, for the most part, I’ll sit down with the family, and while it’s a sad time, I love easing their pain and making it easier for them. Because all I have to do is reassure them that yes, everything has automatically passed down through the family as your loved one intended. No, you don’t have to go to the courthouse to probate the will.

And we’ll sit and talk for 30 minutes, an hour. But in the end, if I’ve done it right, the answer is: “Everything is done.” They love the fact that they don’t have to go to the courthouse. They don’t have to probate or administer the estate. They don’t have to do anything. It’s done. We did it ahead of time.

And they don’t have anything left to do.

 

Ending on a Positive Note: A Letter from Mother to Daughter:

I love ending on a positive note, but I want to read this letter.

It’s a letter from a mother to a daughter. And it goes with my thoughts about role reversal or trading places. And how many people are suffering or diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and Dementia:

“My dear girl, the day you see I’m getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through. If when we talk, I repeat the same thing a thousand times, don’t interrupt to say: “You said the same thing a minute ago”… Just listen, please. Try to remember the times when you were little and I would read the same story night after night until you would fall asleep. When I don’t want to take a bath, don’t be mad and don’t embarrass me. Remember when I had to run after you making excuses and trying to get you to take a shower when you were just a girl? When you see how ignorant I am when it comes to new technology, give me the time to learn and don’t look at me that way… remember, honey, I patiently taught you how to do many things like eating appropriately, getting dressed, combing your hair and dealing with life’s issues every day… the day you see I’m getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through. If I occasionally lose track of what we’re talking about, give me the time to remember, and if I can’t, don’t be nervous, impatient or arrogant. Just know in your heart that the most important thing for me is to be with you. And when my old, tired legs don’t let me move as quickly as before, give me your hand the same way that I offered mine to you when you first walked. When those days come, don’t feel sad… just be with me, and understand me while I get to the end of my life with love. I’ll cherish and thank you for the gift of time and joy we shared. With a big smile and the huge love I’ve always had for you, I just want to say, I love you… my darling daughter.”

Call my office and mention code word: “BLOG” and we will schedule you and your family a FREE strategy session with me.

Greg_Full
Elder Law Attorney
McIntyre Elder Law
123 W. Marion Street, Shelby
704-259-7040

 

 

 

New Video! Elder Talk Radio – VA Aid & Attendance Benefits

in Elder Law TV by Greg Leave a comment

Elder Law Attorney, Greg McIntyre, unravels the mystery of using VA Aid & Attendance benefits to help pay for long term care.

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