Articles Posted in Elder law estate planning

Taxes continue even after you retire. Choosing not to pay attention to the possibility of taxes incurred during retirement could substantially lower your standard of living in retirement. To make matters even more complex, some of the common-sense strategies that people utilize to reduce taxes can lead to paying more in retirement and on inheritances. 

This article reviews just one of many strategies that can be utilized to minimize the amount of taxes that you end up paying in retirement.

# 1 – Make the Most of Timing

Following the recent documentary, Framing Britney Spears, as well as the increased media focus on the matter, Brittney Spears has become a common subject of conversations in 2021. It’s not Spears’ music this time that’s making headlines, though, it’s Spears’ conservatorship.

In 2008, Spears’ father was appointed conservator for Brittney’s financial and personal decision. Over a decade later, a professional fiduciary was appointed to assume Mr. Spears’ position due to health issues the elder Spears currently faces. 

Based on allegations, Ms. Spears’ conservatorship still exists but Ms. Spears no longer wants her father to function in such a role. Following a February 2021 hearing, a judge decided that Ms. Spears’ father as well as the professional fiduciary would share conservator roles. 

Data reveals that approximately 70% of all adults in the United States who will live to the age of 65 will require long-term care. Because many of these older adults do not require the full degree of care provided by nursing homes or have limited finances, it is important to realize that alternatives to nursing homes exist. 

# 1 – Assisted Living

Assisted living facilities are often an excellent solution for elder individuals who want a mixture of both privacy as well as community interaction. 

Trying to care for an aged parent is a challenging and sometimes impossible-seeming task. Whether you live a few hours away from your parent or on the other side of the country, it’s common to end up whether you are providing your parents with adequate care. 

As a result, this article reviews some helpful tips to make sure that you provide the best long-distance care possible for an aging parent.

# 1 – Decide What You Can (And Can’t) Do

Data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that more than 16 million Americans care for someone who has been impacted by dementia. Caring for a person that you love who has dementia can require specific care techniques to make sure that the loved one functions in the best way possible. 

While it’s not a specific type of disease, dementia can impact various aspects of a person’s emotional and physical well-being. These changes can make caring for a person with dementia stressful as well as painful. 

As a care provider, it can prove helpful to understand some tips for making sure you provide your loved one afflicted with dementia with the best care possible.

Recent and substantial changes in the country’s executive and legislative branches have many people curious about how the estate and gifts tax will be impacted as well as when such changes will occur. During his campaign, President Biden pledged to cancel many tax policies implemented by President Trump. 

Most noticeably, in response to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, President Biden had promised a much more progressive approach focused on increasing the tax burden of high-income individuals. 

What Tax Changes Are Likely

In September 2020, the nursing home staff at the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke Massachusetts were indicted on criminal charges in what the Attorney General described as the first criminal case against nursing home operators in connection to the COVID-19 pandemic. Seventy-six veterans at the hospital died as a result of the outbreak. The nursing home operators were indicted on charges of being the caretakers who wantonly or recklessly commit or permit bodily injury to an elder or disabled individual. The nursing home is a state-run, fully accredited center that offers 247 long-term nursing beds and a 24-hour care center. Due to staffing shortages, the facility consolidated two dementia units into one, which led to confirmed COVID-19 patients being placed on the same unit as asymptomatic residents. The facility also placed residents who were thought to be asymptomatic on nine beds in the dining room, even though some of the residents were displaying COVID-19 symptoms. These beds were allegedly not sufficiently distanced and allowed residents to socialize despite their COVID-19 status.

These charges suggest the focus on accountability for COVID-19 exposure by both the federal and state government. The Attorney General has also begun to scrutinize other long-term facility cases. The Attorney General has also stated that it is a good idea for long term care facilities to review their policies and procedures in regards to the pandemic. If you have a loved one in a nursing home, it’s understandable to be concerned about COVID-19. As a result, this article reviews some critical steps that you should follow in such a situation.

# 1 – What To Do If A Loved One Is In A Facility With No COVID-19 Cases

Due to not just the approaching US election but also continued economic uncertainty and a country that is dealing with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, family gifting is likely not at the top of your list of goals. Despite its uncertainty, the current situation creates an opportunity for individuals with the appropriate types of assets to save on transfer taxes. This window of opportunity, however, will not last forever. The current $11.58 million per individual transfer tax exemption is scheduled to be reduced to $6 million on January 1, 2026. This decrease, however, could potentially be much sooner than 2026 based on who wins the US Presidential election. As a result, this article reviews some important factors that you should consider about making gifts that make the most of tax exemptions given the current state of these exemptions.

Trusts Are A Powerful Way to Transfer Assets

Passing gifts through trust allows a person to separate the timing of gifting from issues related to distribution. Additionally, placing assets in a trust also offers creditor protection which is not available if a person makes an outright gift to a beneficiary. If desired, a trust can give beneficiaries substantial control over assets consistent with those associated with enhanced creditor protection. Trusts can also be structured with transfers to them are viewed as gifts for either estate or gift tax purposes, which also allow the person transferring them to remain the owner of the property for income tax purposes. A person’s ability to pay income taxes on behalf of the trusts is then not classified as an additional gift. 

Medicaid is state and federal funding that pays for long-term care costs, either at home, called “Community Medicaid,” or in a nursing home, called “Institutional” or “Nursing Home Medicaid.” The Medicaid rates change every year for income and asset requirements to determine eligibility for benefits. Following are the 2020 New York rates.

A single applicant for Community Medicaid may keep up to $15,750 in assets and $875 in income. If the applicant’s income is greater than the limit, a “Pooled Income Trust” created by a non-profit organization may shelter the excess income to make the applicant eligible for community Medicaid.

A married applicant for Community Medicaid may keep up to $15,750 in assets and $875 in monthly income. The non-applicant spouse may keep their own income and keep up to $128,640 in assets. The rules are different if one spouse is enrolled in a Managed Long Term Care Plan. The applicant spouse may keep $409 of monthly income and the other spouse may keep $3,216 of monthly income. The healthy spouse may keep between $74,820 and $128,640 in assets. “Spousal Refusal” is another option that may help the healthy spouse keep more income and assets. A review of the couple’s income and assets helps determine which approach is more favorable.

The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019, Pub. L. 116–94, was signed into law by President Donald Trump on December 20, 2019, as part of the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020 (The Secure Act). Future beneficiaries of retirement accounts have different rules than current inheritors. What follows is a brief description of some of the ways the new rules under The Secure Act may impact your future beneficiaries.

 The Secure Act changes the way people will inherit money — are you affected by the new rules?

 The new rules do not treat all beneficiaries the same. Beneficiaries of qualified retirement accounts, such as individual retirement accounts and 401(k) plans, now must withdraw all of the money out of those accounts within 10 years, instead of over their lifetime as was previously allowed (commonly referred to as the “stretch IRA” provision). An IRA is an individual retirement account. There are no required minimum distributions within that time frame, but the account balance must be zero after the 10th year.

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