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Why Greg Practices Elder Law

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Hi, I’m Greg McIntyre. I attended Campbell University, where I earned both my law degree and MBA. Before that, I served in the United States Navy for four years. However, I’m more than just a lawyer. I have a beautiful wife with whom I share five gorgeous kids. I spent my childhood in Shelby, a cozy, classic small town in North Carolina.

Toward the end of my grandfather’s life, I watched as his belongings were sold off and taken away. The extended long-term healthcare that he needed toward the end of his life eventually whittled his estate down to only about two thousand dollars per month. Even though he lived to the ripe old age of 98, it really showed me the cost of healthcare in America.

It made me realize that what you work for your entire life can be so easily taken away from you at no fault of your own. Just a lack of proper planning that involves knowing the law and how to protect certain assets. That’s why I decided that I wanted to help families with estate planning and seniors with elder law issues by founding the McIntyre Elder Law Firm.

If you ever need assistance or have any questions for me, give me a call on my personal line at (704) 259-7040. You can also reach me through my personal e-mail at greg@mcelderlaw.com.

Where to Start in Making a Plan to Protect Your Property

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Taking inventory of your assets is a great place to start when you’re developing an estate or elder law plan. Once you get a good inventory of all the assets you have, you can start looking at how you want to distribute those assets and who you want to be in charge of executing those wishes.

If you need help, the estate planning workbook on our site can be a great tool. Download the workbook or click the link to open it directly through the website. It’s a fill in the blank form that allows you to capture all your assets and designate how those assets are distributed and handled. It’s an excellent place to tell me where to start in evaluating your estate and how to strategically plan to protect your savings.

Take Inventory and Download Our Planning Information Form Here!

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Vacationing and Healthcare Directives

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Hey guys, it’s Greg McIntyre here with McIntyre Elder Law, and I’m currently at a resort called Rumbling Bald. It’s located in the mountains of North Carolina, just 45 minutes or so from where I practice, but it feels like a world away.

I’m on vacation right now with my wife and children. As I enjoy the deck area of our mountain bungalow with my daughter Madison, I thought I would take the opportunity to comment on a couple of things that were on my mind. I was thinking about how important it was to make sure I took the proper steps to keep myself protected. Not only saving for retirement but having the correct legal documents in place to protect all that I’m working for.

Now, I’m very guilty of this and I’m sure many of you are, too. Sometimes I am working 100% to make sure others are protected and neglect getting my own affairs in order. I’m striving very hard to provide for my family and ensure that my kids can go to college but it’s also very important that I have my own situation handled. That means setting up things like my powers of attorney for healthcare or otherwise and my living will, especially when traveling. Should anything happen to me, I’d want to be able to show those to a doctor in this area.

Should I have some type of accident or be in a bad situation, I’d want there to be no question on how I want to be handled and who’s going to make those decisions. We’re very proud of our eDocs access system that places your most important legal documents right at your fingertips, no matter where you are. Our eDocs access card allows you to view all of your critical information from anywhere. It’s bank level security, so just like your online banking, you can have your important legal papers stored securely online as well. We provide that service for our clients.

We give you an eDocs access card that you or your loved one can show to a doctor. Even when I’m traveling here, I don’t have my safe or my legal documents with me. These things can be pulled up and the hospital’s doctor and staff can see all of my healthcare directives. Should I ever be in a situation where I’m, God forbid, in a persistent vegetative state, brain dead, or something of that nature, this will provide them with everything they need to know. Who’s my power of attorney, who has the right to make important healthcare decisions for me, do I want to be maintained by machines, receive artificial hydration or nutrition, and things of that nature.

Should I be traveling alone, my next of kin can grant access by e-mail and it will provide a link. It doesn’t send the documents as an attachment and expose it to the internet, it gives a secure log-in where they can access them. You can provide a log-in to a son, daughter, trusted adviser, or wife so that they can have access to those legal documents as well. If you want your children to be able to view those healthcare documents and powers of attorney but not the will or trust documents that are also on your eDocs log-in, you can use the system to grant and restrict access to those different areas.

It’s just very important to have those things in place and I’m very proud and excited about that eDocs access system that provides a secure way to carry all those important legal documents. A pristine copy that will never fade, to carry with you anywhere you go where you have internet access.

Give us a call if you have any questions or you need to make sure that your documents are in proper order. Our number is (704) 259-7040 and our website is www.McElderLaw.com.

Medicaid Planning – Why it is Important to Plan Ahead

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What about Medicaid and Medicare? Well, Medicare only covers one hundred days of skilled nursing care. After that, you’re on your own or you have to apply and roll over to Medicaid. In order to do that, you can only have a small, limited number of assets in your possession. How do you avoid having to spend down all your assets?

You plan ahead. I can help if you or a family member gets into a situation where they have to go to Medicaid now and work to save as many assets as possible. However, the only way to keep every asset is to plan ahead by at least five years.

That’s because Medicaid currently has a five year look-back period, as opposed to the three years they practiced in the past. That means they can go back and look at any transfers that have been made in the previous five years and determine if any of those transactions have been made for the purposes of avoiding the Medicaid spend-out or preventing that asset from being countable. At which point, that asset transfer could be voided, you could be denied long-term care, or deemed ineligible for Medicaid entirely.

Give me a call when you’re interested in planning for the future.

How Does Your Attorney Fit into the Overall Planning Picture?

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Where does your attorney fit in with your current insurance agent and financial planner? Your attorney can craft the plan. I believe in a collaborative effort and team approach. I’ll work with an insurance agent, financial planner, banker, or any other individuals that I need to in order to get the best result for you. Don’t be concerned about conflict between professionals. We work together to make sure that the job is done correctly and that you and your assets are legally protected.

Executors: Every Ship Needs a Captain

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An executor is much like the captain of a ship and the probate process is comparable to navigating through the sometimes treacherous open ocean. Hopefully, you can stay out of trouble in these legal waters, but every will and every estate plan needs an executor to help you avoid certain dangers. An executor should be the one who gets you where you’re going with the least difficulty.

They’re not to be confused with an administrator, the difference being that the former is appointed by yourself through your will and an administrator is chosen by the clerk of court in the event that you haven’t already prepared one at the time of your passing. This is known as dying in testate.

Why is establishing an executor so important? They are literally going to be in charge of making sure that your property gets to the person you want to have it. You’ll also need to designate a secondary executor who will take their place in the event that they are disabled, incapacitated, not in good health, or simply decline the job when the time comes for them to carry out your wishes. Think of them as someone waiting in the batter’s box in case the primary executor is unable to perform his or her job.

One of the key attributes to look for in a potential executor is trustworthiness. You’ll want someone you can count on to captain that ship and avoid all the icebergs out there. You’ve spent time planning your legacy and making the right choices, building your ship from the ground up, if you will. All of that hard work could disappear in an instant if you don’t set sail with the right captain. It’s important to choose wisely or your whole plan could sink.

When you start thinking about it, there will likely be a short list of people that come to mind. Either a child, trusted friend, or another family member who is financially responsible and could be trusted with your estate. There are also some things you may want to think about allowing this person as your executor. You might want to let them serve without bond so they don’t have to get bonded by an insurance company.

You could give them power to sell land at a public or private auction to allow them to more easily liquidate or move property through your estate and avoid drawn out legal battles caused by disagreements between family members or other petitions to partition, which are lawsuits to split property that could occur. These are just a few of the things you should think about and discuss with your attorney while drafting a will and picking an executor.

Now that you understand the importance of an executor, where should you start? Begin by creating a plan of action. First, seek legal counsel. Next, speak with them about having a will drafted. There’s an old saying that says there’s no such thing as a simple will. The counsel you select should be able to tell you about the potential dangers you’ll face and whether a simple will meets your needs.

Come in prepared to name an executor, whether it’s a trustworthy child, another family member, or close friend who you think will be a great captain to your ship. You can also consider appointing co-executors, though having a single leader executing the final orders is often an easy way to avoid squabbling and in-fighting.

The quickest way to get this ball rolling, plan in motion, ship built, or will drafted, is to call an attorney. I have an excellent ebook on my website and other materials that can educate more on this subject. You can access this e-book and  the rest of the information by going directly to www.mcelderlaw.com and check out that e-book along with my other materials that I’ve written on this subject.

Estate Taxes. To Plan or Not to Plan? There is No Question!

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Today, we’re going to talk about estate tax. Currently, you can give five million dollars to an heir through your estate and incur no estate taxes whatsoever. You might be asking, what is the importance of thinking about estate tax planning when deciding how to leave your hard earned assets to your children and grandchildren? There’s an easy answer for that: you have to plan for it. It’s negligent not to think about it and have a financial adviser and attorney help you to look at the future.

Change is constant. That’s one thing that we can be sure of. Even if the limit is five million dollars today, we know that policies alter. Laws are repealed. It happens all the time. One regime will be exchanged for another regime, in Washington and at the state level. Looking at history, we can be certain that the laws and policies are going to differ with each new administration.

This means we have to anticipate that the estate tax will increase or decrease from the current five million dollars, so make sure that your attorney and your financial planner or adviser thinks about those factors when you’re crafting an estate plan. These two professionals should be working in combination. The attorney to develop the vehicle for you to get to where you want to go and the financial planner to fill that vehicle with the gas.

What has the estate tax been historically? Let’s look at a publication on the IRS’s website, www.irs.gov, entitled The Estate Tax: 90 Years and Counting (1). It’s written by some of the experts in the field. It says, “For the past ninety years, and at key points throughout our American history, the federal government has relied on estate and inheritance tax as a source of funding.” That first line tells you something immediately. The federal government is looking at estate tax as a revenue and source of funding.

As someone who’s planned and worked your entire life to accumulate assets, you’ve got to know that they’re going to be looking at this as an income stream. Just looking at that first quote, you know that the five million dollars will eventually move lower. If you want to know how to predict the future, look at the past.

Getting back to the paper, we see, “Proponents have frequently advocated that these taxes are effective tools for preventing the concentration of wealth in the hands of relatively few powerful families, while opponents believe the transfer tax discourages capital accumulation, curbing national and economic growth. This tension, along with fiscal and other considerations, has led to periodic revisions of federal estate tax laws. Effecting both the size of the decedent population subject to the tax and revenue collected.”

That closing segment of the first paragraph lets you know that there are two sides of this coin. While it’s $5 million dollars right now, when the other side comes in with the opposing view, it’s going to go lower. It’s going to be used to collect revenue to run the government. Again, this is straight from the IRS’s website. Essentially, the taxing authority is telling you that these things fluctuate. It’s logical to think that the people in power that are funded by people with these views are going to vote in accordance with them and with their party.

Estate tax is not a new concept, by the way. In this paper, it points out that estate tax can be traced back to ancient Egypt, as early as 700 B.C.. Nearly two thousand years ago, Roman emperor Caesar Augustus imposed the Veselina Hereditation, a tax on succession and legacies to all but close relatives.

We should have been planning for these things back two thousand years ago. It’s not a new idea. You need to plan. Governments are going to use this as a way to fund everything from schools to wars and every other kind of initiative. One of the most interesting parts of the document is Figure C, which shows significant estate tax law changes from 1916 to present. Starting at about $40,000 and all the way up to the present day $5 million. Certainly, an increase is understandable with the change in the economy, but there are fluctuations both higher and lower.

The conclusion of the entire paper states that politics are involved. The paper provides a brief history of the estate tax and it’s impact on the US budget. It also examines the ways in which the economic behavior of the effected population has changed over time in response to the market, technological, and political stimuli. Certainly, those variables, politics included, are involved. You need to plan for it because politics are always shifting.

Are the estate taxes administered when you make a will and trust, estate plan, and buy your investment vehicles? No, the estate tax is administered when someone passes. It’s dependent on what the law is then, not what the law is now or when drafting takes place and planning takes place.

How can you plan appropriately and correctly? There are a number of complicated strategies to do that but to summarize, there are certain ways to pass assets outside of probate and shelter them from estate tax using instruments like trusts and trusts working in combination. There are ways to draft language into trusts that don’t allow a lump sum to pass at one time and allow the recipient to receive income yearly, which is taxed as income tax.

This avoids actually taking ownership of the entire lump sum property or the corpus of the trust, as it’s called, at one time. Do yourself a favor and consult both a financial planner and attorney regarding these matters and how they relate to you. I hope I’ve helped shed some light on why it might be important to plan for estate tax. Even though the estate tax limit might be high right now, that’s just a brief snapshot in history.

 

[1] The Estate Tax: Ninety Years and Counting: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-soi/ninetyestate.pdf

Lady Bird Deeds

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Today, we’re going to look at Lady Bird Deeds, including what they are, what they do, and how they differ from traditional deeds, like regular general warranty deeds or life estates deeds. We’ll also look at how they fit into your estate planning, especially when considering the option of possible Medicaid or protecting against that.

I love these deeds because they can accomplish lots quickly. Why are they called Lady Bird Deeds? They get their name from Lady Bird Johnson, the wife of President Lyndon B. Johnson, the commander-in-chief originally responsible for implementing Medicaid.

I’ll be speaking on these deeds as they exist in the legal system of North Carolina because that’s the state where I practice law. However, many other states in the US also use and accept Lady Bird Deeds in much the same way. Let’s start by talking about why they are important to you and your estate plan.

Medicaid can put a lien on your house and take it when you pass if you have to draw on the system at any point to pay for long-term care. We’ve discussed before how 70% of seniors over 65 years of age are going to require some kind of long-term care, whether it’s in-home or at a nursing facility, before we pass. In order to qualify for Medicaid, we have to spend out of our own assets or have in place long-term care insurance and some type of plan to protect our assets. Lady Bird Deeds can help with that and be used to avoid having to give up your home at your passing to pay the lien that Medicaid may place on that house.

Let us compare Lady Bird Deeds to other deeds.  There are general warranty deeds or regular fee simple deeds, which is when you pass everything to a grantee or whomever you may appoint. You may have chosen a life estate deed. These have been around for a long time and work a bit differently than a general warranty deed. Life estate deeds allow you to give away a future interest in property. You retain what’s called a life estate or a life interest in that property which allows you to sell or mortgage said life interest.

However, it is a very limited interest. At your passing, whomever you sold that life estate, that deed would automatically be jerked from that person’s possession and passed to whomever the future interest holder may perhaps be a son or daughter. This means life estate deeds are very limited. Also, life estate deeds do count as a transfer of assets and that would stick you with a penalty or prevent you from drawing Medicaid.

 You would later have to void that transfer or re-transfer the property back to yourself to be able to qualify for Medicaid. A Lady Bird Deed is really the best of both worlds. This deed allows you to reserve a life interest in a property but it qualifies or defines that life interest as one that is like a fee simple full-ownership interest. You are still allowed to mortgage, sell, or gift the property and extinguish the future interest holder. You can control it fully, but you’ve already named a future interest holder in that Lady Bird Deed, which may be the son or daughter that you want to receive it once you pass.

A Medicaid lien will not attach to the property but because you’ve retained control of it, and it is not a countable asset transfer that will give you a penalty for time to qualify for Medicaid or otherwise deny you eligibility for Medicaid. You can literally give away the home and any surrounding contiguous property, which means property that is not separated by boundaries then go and apply for Medicaid the next day.

This works very well in North Carolina right now.

States such as Georgia and South Carolina, however, do not allow Lady Bird Deeds. At this point in time, they are allowable in North Carolina and this is a very good way, especially in an emergency situation, to transfer assets. There is a possibility in the future that the policy will change but that is always a possibility.

There are other ways to shield property, such as Medicaid Asset Protection Trusts, that are more advanced. However, Lady Bird Deeds are a simple way to transfer property and still qualify for Medicaid, while not allowing a Medicaid lien to be placed against your property. So, what should you do? By doing nothing, you risk losing your home that you have worked for. Some people have worked to pay off their home for 30+ years, meaning you have put a lot of time and energy into this property.

You would be losing, essentially, the American dream. Your home is part of that dream. Protect it by getting your property deeds in order. You can do this by using Lady Bird Deeds and other strategies, which can help save your property, but only if you take action.

Remember that a Medicaid look-back period is important in a lot of pre-planning and emergency situations involving a home. The clock is ticking, so contact an elder law attorney. You can visit our website at www.mcelderlaw.com or feel free to contact my office directly at (704) 259-7040. We would be glad to consult with you regarding the best approach to use to keep your hard earned properties, savings, and assets.

Call me if you have any questions:

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

 

Thank You for Coming to Our Seminar on Alzheimer’s Care Issues!

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Thank you Carillon Assisted Living for partnering with us today for our seminar at The LeGrand Center!

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I had a blast speaking at this event today. I really get excited when forming these new relationships and solving problems that help families and change lives.
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Billy Peeler, from Carillon, doing a great presentation about their memory care focus and how they help Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients lead fuller, longer lives.
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We were very blessed to have such a great group of folks today at the seminar.
#ElderLaw101 #AlzheimersCare

Elder Law Topics Interview with Cleveland County Chamber – March, 2014 – Full Episode

in Articles by Greg McIntyre 2 Comments

I had a great time being interviewed by Jackie Sibley with the Cleveland County Chamber of Commerce for their March television broadcast. In this interview Jackie and I cover many elder law and estate planning topics from Lady Bird Deeds and Charitable Trusts to Pet Trusts… So grateful to Jackie and the Chamber and feeling blessed.

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