Good morning I’m Greg McIntyre the Elder Law Guy getting ready here with Hayden Soloway and our host the famous Milton Baker.
I am really excited today because I have my first ‘Press Conference’ as President of McIntyre Elder Law.
We will be shutting down the lines for the press but the information we put out on the elder law report today will be real and valuable to you.
I’m going to channel my best Donald Trump, I don’t know if that’s good or bad and there may be some backlash about it but it’s not something I’m scared of, I have Hayden here to defend me.
HS: Wow, you have a lot of confidence in me.
GM: Well, you’re going to be attacking me today, right?
HS: Yes, as well as I can.
GM: So, let’s get this show on the road. I don’t know if I can hang in there for an hour and a half like the Trumpster did a couple of days ago, what do you think Hayden?
HS: I’m ready.
GM: Today we’re going to talk about our administration, how the office is doing and I will be fielding questions about elder law from the lion press roaring to get a story, but I am prepared. I have been working hard for this. I spent two and half years researching and writing my book ‘Saving the Farm,’ A practical guide to the legal maze of aging in America, and Hayden, what is that book about?
HS: It’s about what you do. It’s about how seniors can protect their hard-earned money and property, it’s about Veterans benefits such as Aid and Attendance, you can look in the table of contents for specific topics and you will learn something.
GM: You have a saying about this book that I love.
HS: It is a reference book that reads like a novel.
GM: It really does because there is a great story in there and it also serves as a reference guide to seniors for many areas they’re dealing with on a daily basis, and areas and issues that seniors families are facing not just in the legal world but in the long-term care world. Getting your legal foundations in place, what are Ladybird Deeds and the difference between them and Life Estate deeds? What is tax planning? There are all kinds of things and more in the book. I interviewed experts in their fields to make sure each chapter had as much as I could offer. One of those experts was Teepa Snow who is a world-renowned expert on Dementia and Alzheimer’s. This was one of the best interviews I have ever done and I’m so proud of it.
HS: That was the hardest interview we’ve ever arranged. You had to do the interview while she was travelling. It was remarkable we could do it at all.
GM: I am so grateful to her for that interview. Her website is teepasnow.com, a positive approach to brain change.
I’m quite nervous, this is our first official press conference for McIntyre Elder Law, so why don’t we get this going.
Ladies and gentlemen of the press, thank you for being here today. I watch the news stations such as CNN and others. Some of them I like and some are telling a lot of lies about elder law and creating a lot of misconceptions that I wanted to clear up in this first press conference. Also, I am appointing Hayden Soloway as my senior ambassador as long as she accepts that position.
HS: I do.
GM: So, let’s go CNN, I know you’ve been lying about elder law.
HS/press: I have seen your book, and I really fail to see the point of an elder law attorney. If I have everything in my Will, I’m fine, aren’t I? How can you explain that? I’m serious about this.
GM: Well, I’m serious about answering your question. The reason you need an elder law attorney is the same reason that if you get a speeding ticket then you need someone who really handles traffic tickets. Someone who knows how to do that and knows that area because that is where their head, mind and research is. Just like Teepa Snow, who is an idol of mine, she has latched on like a pitbull to everything about dementia, the good the bad and the ugly, I do the same thing. When a pitbull bites, it’s jaws lock so you can’t get it to let go, you want that kind of tenacity. You want someone who is tenacious about speeding tickets if you get a speeding ticket, who can represent you the best way possible. This is the same if you were in a wreck, you would want to call someone in personal injury law and nothing else.
There are plenty of attorneys who do great with a general practice but the law is a big place as one of my law professors told me. If you can find one area that you are passionate about and learn and keep up with everything you can in that area, that niche you will be so far ahead of a general practitioner trying to figure out that area. For me, elder law became that niche.
HS: But I want you to answer my question. Elder law can’t be any different from any other area of law. In your book you talk about someone needing a power of attorney, why shouldn’t I just go and get a guardianship? I don’t understand why you recommend all these things when it’s just so simple.
GM: So, are you an attorney? No, okay. There is a lot of street lawyers out there, who give advice about things they have no real understanding of. I am a member of Elder Counsel which is a national group of elder law attorneys, I spend a lot of time studying in that area, and the reason you want to get an elder law attorney to look at issues involving seniors is because they have their focus on elder law issues. They spend their time drafting documents relating to seniors and elder law. That is the reason. I have a deep bench behind me with elder counsel, attorneys from North Carolina and across the country, that assist me and I assist them to make sure we can solve problems, unique problems that I may not have seen before. Have you ever heard the term, ‘iron sharpens iron?’
GM: Here’s what it means: You want to get someone who knows what they are doing in a specific area of law, they have the knowledge and resources to do it. You asked why is it different from any other area of law, well, I’m not a fan of wills, yes, I do them, but if we sit down, we are going to talk about alternative options for passing your property and avoiding probate, while also staying in control of your property for the rest of your life.
One of the guiding tenets of my elder law practice is, to keep a senior in control of their assets as long as possible and then open up and keep open health care and benefit options for that senior.
Let me ask you something, how many seniors, according to a 2005 US Department of Health and Human Services Report, are going to need some sort of long term care during their lives? Seventy percent (70%) of seniors according to the report are going to need some kind of long term care, in home, assisted living, or nursing home care. So, when I’m meeting with a family or seniors, I have one eye on that statistic. I have one eye on the fact that I know families who have had to spend down all their hard-earned money and property and lost the house because Medicaid had to come in and pay for that nursing home or assisted living stay. There are ways to prevent that. There are simple ways to protect your property. Ladybird Deeds are a great example of that. If you plan ahead, Life Estate Deeds can do that. There is deed and trust planning and all kinds of plans that can be made to pass your property.
Do you have payable and death beneficiaries on your checking accounts?
HS/Press: I have one on my insurance account.
GM: The financial industry is way ahead of the legal industry on this. So, you can get an insurance policy like you said, and do you pass it through your will, is the estate beneficiary on your policy? You probably pass it directly to an individual that’s how most people set up their insurance policies, or annuities, 401k’s, or IRA’s right? You’re not going to pass it through an estate because going to the courthouse and probating that money will open it up to liens.
When you probate a will, you publish in the paper for four consecutive weeks, you wait ninety days (90) from the first day of publication. Is that so people can send money to your estate? No. It’s so people, creditors, Medicaid can place a lien on that estate.
You can pass assets easily outside the will and estate. Also, there are bank accounts, it’s a little known thing called ‘Payable and Death Beneficiaries,’ or ‘Transferrable on Death Beneficiaries,’ where you can add children to your bank account but not give them any power to do anything, like a joint owner with rights of survivorship but just have them get the money should you pass away, and it doesn’t have to go through your Will. It sounds as if I’m talking myself out of writing Wills doesn’t it? I think it is important to have a Will, because that’s life and an insurance policy, a Will is a catch all to get something from where it is right now to where you want it to go.
I need to put out a disclaimer on this show because I’m not your attorney unless you hire me, and I won’t quit unless you fire me. I am an attorney in the state of North Carolina and we’re talking about elder law issues in the form of a press conference, so do we have another question?
HS/press: I have a question. I did my homework and found out I can give ten thousand dollars ($10,000), I think it’s now fourteen thousand dollars ($14,000) to my kids, and I can put my house in their name, so why do I need to protect my assets?
GM: This is a common thing in the accounting world, the ten thousand which is now fourteen thousand, I could give that amount of money to everyone in town and not report it to the IRS essentially. That works with the estate and gift tax. The estate and gift tax work together now. You can give away up to five million four hundred thousand dollars ($5,400,000) during your life, or at death when you pass through your estate. Here’s an example; The reason I would have to report something over say fourteen thousand ($14,000) is so they can record it and track it. Let’s say Mrs Churchill, when I give you a million dollars, you’re going to report that, and I’m going to give that to you during my life because you are beautiful and made a dress out of curtains, and I love that about you because you’re so resourceful. But, when I die, I can only then give you four million four hundred thousand dollars ($4,400,000). That million subtracts from it.
A lot of people get into big trouble because they might run into a long-term care incident and they are going to have to access Medicaid to pay for assisted living or nursing home care but they’re giving away all this money to grand kids or kids. Those gifts are trackable and Medicaid will go back and look for five years for nursing home Medicaid which is called ‘Long-term Medicaid,’ and three years for assisted living Medicaid called ‘Special Assistance Medicaid,’ they will go back and look at those look-back periods and ask, have you given any unauthorized gifts or unauthorized transfers under our rules, and those are unauthorized transfers under those rules. This can handicap people in getting needed healthcare benefits.
Seniors need to consult someone who knows about these things before they engage in major gifting because if it’s anything out the ordinary, and ordinary would be Christmas or Birthday gifts or tithes to the church, that could prevent you from getting the much needed healthcare benefit you need to pay for care. Medicaid might say, look, all the kids and grandkids have to give back all the money so mom or grandma can get long-term care before we will provide that benefit. The issue is, the kids might have spent that money already, then you’re in trouble.
HS/Press: I may need to go into a nursing home and I don’t have much money, and my houses are in my kid’s names. I want to know what to do about it because I can’t do things for myself anymore. In your book you say you can help veterans so what can you do for me?
GM: I do help veterans but that is a two-part question. Veterans Aid and Attendance Benefits are something we activate for veteran’s families all the time. That is for a veteran, or spouse of a veteran, or spouse of a deceased veteran. Aid and Attendance is a pension benefit but you must have a current need. It can help pay for nursing home, in-home, or assisted living care. Once activated, it’s a pension benefit that goes for the rest of your life. It’s a little-known benefit that the VA doesn’t advertise that much.
You mentioned homes earlier, I get that question all the time. At what age should I give away my house or houses, or my money or property to my kids?
If that is the state of the government, if that is the state of the environment, if that’s the state of the policies today, then something is dreadfully wrong. I do hear that question from seniors on a regular basis. It’s the wrong question. I say there is never an age when you should start to give all that away. I had a law professor talk about Wills, Trusts and Estates, and dead hand control of assets. I pictured a hand sticking up from the grave with a remote control. With Trusts, you can control those assets far beyond when you pass away.
I have seen seniors get in tough situations when they give away their assets, either from long-term care situations and can’t obtain much needed health benefits from Medicaid, or do not have kids that treat them properly and throw them out of the house because the senior no longer has control over the property. No matter the best of intentions, I have seen families break apart when money is in the picture. It’s like blood to sharks.
I am always glad to come and see a client at home or at one of our meeting places in Asheville, Charlotte or Shelby or anywhere in-between. I had another attorney who is very successful, he said, do you think your clients like to gather up all their crap and come into your office, I had never thought of it that way. Attorneys like to show off the big mahogany desk but the clients are always more impressed by what an attorney can do for them and how they care for their client. We routinely go to clients and our potential client’s homes.
I’m Greg McIntyre of McIntyre Elder Law. Call our office at 704–259–7040.
Elder Law Attorney
McIntyre Elder Law
123 W. Marion Street
Shelby, NC 28150