With Greg and Hayden
Greg: Merry Christmas and a very happy new year to everyone. We’re going to focus on new year planning and several key updates today.
First, I write newspaper articles all the time, and we had a full page article in the Star on Christmas Eve that you might want to read. It was our Christmas card. Our mantra here at McIntyre Elder Law is, ‘help seniors protect their assets and legacies’. On the card, we wrote, protect their lifestyle and preserve their legacies. So, what does that mean, protect their lifestyle and preserve their legacies?
Hayden: Well, you work all your life to have a nice lifestyle and you don’t want something to derail that, so, we work to help preserve that. If one person of a couple need to go into a nursing home, or God forbid, both need to go, we want to help them preserve their lifestyle.
Greg: I agree, especially with pre-planning. I want seniors to keep everything they have worked so hard for, and keep in control of it.
Now, I hear this question all the time, ‘at what age should I start to give away my land, my home, my property to my kids?’, and what I always say is, NEVER. That’s the wrong question to ask. If you are asking questions like that, you are asking the wrong question.
People concentrate on the wrong problem, and if you’re looking at a problem that, to you, is solved by getting your property out of your name, you’re focusing on the wrong problem. So, what is the right problem?
Hayden: As far as a home goes, a Ladybird Deed is the first thing that comes to mind.
Greg: That would be the answer. So, the right problem is, how do we keep everything we worked hard for, in our name and in our control. Also, how can we do that, and not hurt ourselves by trying to keep it and preserve it, and eventually gift it away to our loved ones, once we have passed away.
That is the right problem, how do we keep the same lifestyle, and preserve our legacy. This is essentially passing down those things which mean something to us, including land, houses, or things with monetary value, so we can send the kids to college. We also want to keep our health care options open, not cut off our healthcare that we might need in the future, which includes long term care.
We are going to do a whole show on, ‘get the right problems’, because many people will listen to a street lawyer out there who tells them to spend down mom and dad’s assets by themselves, or social services told me to, or a friend, or family member who doesn’t have a clue told me so.
Social services are great but they are not attorney’s, they cannot advise you, and they will tell you that. Unfortunately, people will listen to social workers, or street lawyers, or their neighbor. So, they need to figure out the right problem. It costs so much less to preserve things ahead of time, then go to the source, people like me, an elder law attorney, this is what I do, this is what I know.
Hayden: One way to know what the right problems are, is to get the book, ‘Saving the Farm’. This is not a formidable book. It is not like reading a legal publication, is has been written for easy reading and can help you to know what you don’t know.
Greg: You can get ‘Saving the Farm, a guide to the legal maze of aging in America’, for the new year from Victoria Stevens in Shelby, or other retail stores. You can message me @twitter lawyergreg, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to get it right away, you can go to itunes for the enhanced edition. You can also go to Amazon and just buy the book right there, or get it on kindle.
If you want the audio book, you can go to audible.com. This book really can help you to know the problems and the potential solutions to those problems.
Back to the Christmas message we put out in the paper, we had a point to make, so if you haven’t heard it, here it is.
Twas the night before Christmas and all through the land
Not a creature was stirring but ole’ Uncle Sam.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that our home and retirement will always be there.
The children and grandchildren all snug in their beds,
I wonder if college debt will hang over their heads?
And mamma in her snuggy and I in my socks,
Trying to settle our brains from worrying about our stocks.
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
And to my eyes, what should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.
With legal tools at the ready and a twinkle in his eye,
I knew in a moment it was The Elder Law Guy.
“Now Willy! now Trusty! now Lady Birdy! now Deedy!
On, POA! On Doc! on, on Probate and Administrate!
To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the courses they flew,
With the sleigh full of Legal Docs, and Legal Claus, too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof,
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
All noises ceased, it was quiet as a mouse,
And I knew The Elder Law Guy was here to save my retirement and house.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, he filled my estate planning docs with legal prose.
He sprang to his sleigh, to his legal team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
“Give the Peace of Mind this Christmas, and to all a good-night!”
So, back to business, here are a few of the changes that have happened lately.
New Aid and Attendance for Veterans award amounts.
There are new award amounts for veterans ‘Aid and Attendance’.
Veterans aid and attendance awards are a pension benefit for veterans who are having health problems. So, you don’t have to be a senior, but many times you are. The spouse of a veteran can get aid and attendance, the spouse of a deceased veteran can get aid and attendance.
Hayden: And this doesn’t have to be related to war injuries?
Greg: It has nothing to do with service connected injuries.
They have just changed the monthly and annual amounts, so, I wanted to get you the updated monthly and annual amounts, and these are lifetime benefits.
Hayden: The veteran with no dependents can receive up to $1794 a month, or $21531 annual.
Married veterans can receive up to $2127 a month, or $25525 annual.
A surviving spouse with no dependents can receive $1153?? (19:33) a month, or $13836 annually.
Married veterans can receive $2846 a month, or $34153 annually.
Greg: So, if you’re a veteran married to a veteran, you can add $34153 annually. Those are great income boosters and the glass is half full approach to planning.
Hayden: And you don’t have to be disabled to get this.
Greg: That’s right. To qualify, you have to have served within a war window, so, if you served during world war two, Korea, Vietnam, or the Gulf War, and that war window is still open, it’s been open since 1992 or 1993. You do not have to have served in combat. If you are in a nursing home, you automatically qualify.
Special Needs Trusts
We have new rules for special needs trusts which is huge. Congress has just passed a special needs trust act. Before this act was signed, you had to be the parent or grandparent, or legal guardian appointed by the court, or have a court order, so, you needed to go to court and ask a judge to issue an order to set up a special needs trust. Lots of hoops to jump through and lots of time if you don’t have a parent or legal guardian to set it up.
Now, a competent person with special needs, can create a special needs trust for themselves. That’s huge, that allows you to take in personal injury settlements, be gifted or bequeath money and set up a special needs trust to receive it. That can be used for your care, or to buy a house, or a vehicle like a handicap accessible van, and not affect other benefits you might receive, like SSI which pays a monthly income component to you.
So, in one hand, a gift or settlement will be a blessing, and in the other hand it would be a curse. It sometimes takes a year or two to get approved for SSI. If you lose it, you have to start over. You could be destitute during the application process. And then what about your healthcare benefits that you need, especially if you’re special needs.
If you want to ask me anything about elder law issues please call me on my cell phone, 704–751–8031, call me anytime, my clients always can.
Other than that, remember to start to plan forward and have a very happy prosperous new year.
Contact me if you have any questions. Elder Law is what we do!
Elder Law Attorney
McIntyre Elder Law
123 W. Marion Street
Shelby, NC 28150