Medicaid Planning: Caring for a Blind or Disabled Child

John and Mary Bell live in Jackson, Mississippi. They are now in their mid-70’s and they just celebrated their 50th anniversary. The Bells have been blessed with three wonderful children. One is a nurse, one is a school teacher, and their youngest child, Tim, is not able to work. Tim is now in his late 40’s and lives in a group home. He receives Social Security (SSI) of about $650 a month and his parents have always supplemented his income.

Mr. and Mrs. Bell lead a modest life style. Mr. Bell receives Social Security of about $900 per month and Mrs. Bell gets about $650 per month. In addition, he has a pension of $350 per month. They are able to live on this and continue to save about $250 per month. Like most of their generation, the Bells are excellent savers. In fact, they have accumulated a nice little nest egg. Their assets are as follows: Residence $60,000, 1998 Buick $2,500, Certificates of Deposit $50,000, Mr. Bell’s IRA $8,000, Savings bonds $22,000, Money market $20,000, Total Countable Assets $100,000.

Unfortunately, Mr. Bell recently had a stroke and won’t be able to come home. He moved to the nursing home right up the street. Mrs. Bell is satisfied with the care he is getting… but her worst fears are coming to pass. That’s because she can’t care for herself…her Parkinson’s Disease has progressed to the point where she can’t stay at home either… and now that she has joined her husband in the nursing home, who will care for their son, Tim? And most of all, Mrs. Bell is concerned about the money. Mrs. Bell frets over the fact that the nursing home will cost about $10,000 a month for both of them… and that doesn’t count the cost of the medication.

You have good news for the Bells. You explain to them that under the Federal and State laws, Tim is considered to be permanently and totally disabled. Since that is the case, the Bells can give all their assets to Tim… or to a trust for Tim’s benefit… without incurring any transfer penalties. In other words, normally with both spouses in the nursing home, they would pay the cost of the nursing home out of their funds until their assets were down to $6,000. Under this scenario, their $100,000 in liquid assets would last about ten months … and they would end up spending all of Tim’s inheritance.

Fortunately, the news is even better than that. Under the “transfer to a blind or disabled child” section of the Medicaid law, Mr. and Mrs. Bell can transfer all of their assets to their son with a disability and incur no penalty whatsoever. Thus, she and her husband can make a gift of the entire $100,000 and qualify for Medicaid right away! Because Tim is receiving public benefits, they would need to give Tim’s money to him in a special type of trust that would not disqualify him for public benefits. The Bell’s feel better knowing that their son, Tim, will be cared for and they have preserved their life savings. To learn more, click here.

Estate Planning for Single Parents in Clinton

Single parents tend to work hard for their children, so it’s no wonder that those in Clinton want to protect the children they would leave behind should the adult be killed or become incapacitated.  Every day it falls to the single parent to provide just about everything for his or her children, and with 13 million single parent households in the US, there are a whole lot of folks doing their best to provide everything their children need today.  Working with a Mississippi guardianship lawyer is the right step to make sure they are also provided for in the future.

As a single parent, your estate plan may look different from that of a married parent.  In those cases, there are laws in place to ensure that both property and custody have a means of passing to the surviving spouse.  In your case, however, the courts would determine your next of kin and disperse your property, as well as appoint a guardian, based on Mississippi state laws.  While it’s great that there are laws like this to rely on when a single parent dies with no will in place, it’s not necessarily such a wonderful thing if the person/people named are not those you would have chosen yourself.

For example, it’s quite common for grandparents to be given custody of a child upon the parent’s death.  In many families, that would be the perfect choice.  In others, however, a better choice could be made.  Perhaps there has been a falling out between family members, or it’s possible that the grandparents are either too old or just otherwise not in the right place in their lives to be starting over raising children.

Clearly, appointing a guardian for your child or children is one of the most pressing issues for which to see an estate planning attorney in Clinton.  It’s not the only one, though.  This lawyer can also help you to create a financial plan which can help support your child even if you aren’t there.  You might be advised to look into a life insurance policy or to participate in a Mississippi college savings plan.  Likely, an guardianship lawyer in Clinton will also help you to create a trust or trusts which can not only protect some of the money from being heavily taxed, but also give you some say over how the money is to be used and by whom.

An estate planning attorney will also help you to make sure that everything is in order.  He or she will ask you about bank accounts, insurance policies, retirement accounts, and even military service, as all of these can possibly be directed to the care of your child or children.  Every family, no matter what the marital status is, is unique.  With the help of a Clinton estate planning lawyer, you can put together a plan that works for your specific situation.

Clinton Will Lawyer Offers Essential Estate Planning Considerations for Parents

Being a responsible parent is an ongoing labor of love, and things like estate planning can get overlooked in favor of bedtime stories with toddlers, homework reminders for grade schoolers and trying to decide whether or not your teen is responsible enough to drive to school on his own and, and, and…

But, working with a will lawyer in Hinds County is something which EVERY responsible parent needs to put on his or her to-do list.

Obviously, no one really wants to think about what would happen should they die or become incapacitated while their children are still young, but it is so very important.  Think about all of the decisions you make for and with your children on a daily basis, and then realize that if something happens to you, you will no longer be involved in that process.  The thought is scary, for sure, but it should also get you thinking about how you can have input in your children’s upbringing, even if you aren’t there physically.

The Who

One of the most important reasons to start your estate planning now with a will lawyer in Hinds County, is the need to name guardians for your children.  This is the only way of really having a say in who will be there helping your children with the decisions and growing up they have yet to do.  You  have to set this up legally, or else the courts will step in and decide for you who will end up raising your children.

Keep in mind, too, that the term “guardian” doesn’t just have to include the person who will gain custody of your children should you die.  You’ll also want to work with your Clinton will lawyer to set up short-term guardians for briefer periods in which you might need someone to step up.  For example, if you are in a car accident and don’t have a short-term guardian named, your kids could end up in foster care while you’re recuperating.

The What

In addition to outlining legal guardians for your children, you’ll want to set some of your estate planning time aside to develop a plan for how you want them raised.  Sure, you won’t have 100% say in their futures, but you will be able to make your wishes known, and you will have hopefully gone over these with your chosen guardian long in advance to satisfy yourself that he or she knows your expectations.  You’ll want to look at:

  • Discipline Styles
  • Educational Choices
  • Financial Realities
  • Healthcare Choices
  • Religious Preferences
  • Etc.

The How

The other big advantage of working with a will lawyer in Clinton to set things up for your children is that it gives you the opportunity to develop a financial plan.  Your lawyer can help you figure out the best way to fund your children’s upbringing should you not be around to do it yourself.  This plan might include some sort of trust, as well as determining how to fund that trust.  Do you have a retirement plan that will go to your survivors?  Maybe a life insurance policy is a better bet?

An experienced will lawyer in Clinton can help you go through your options and will likely have a lot of suggestions for things you hadn’t thought of yet.

Need help getting started? We are here to help!  Call our office at (601) 925-9797 and ask to schedule a complimentary Legacy Planning Session with the mention of this article.

 

Estate Planning For Young Adults

It is understandable that planning for the possibility of death or incapacitation would be one of the last things on your mind when you are a young adult. However, the fact remains that as soon as you are married and have your first child, you have a family that is depending on you. From that point forward planning for any possible eventuality becomes one of your responsibilities. Below are three foundational elements that should be included in the estate plans of young adults.

A Living Will

When you think about estate planning financial matters may immediately come to mind, but there is another aspect to consider. If you were ever incapacitated suddenly due to an accident or serious medical trauma and unable to make your own medical decisions, your family would be left to make them for you. How an individual feels about things like being kept alive by artificial means when he or she is in a terminal condition is a personal choice. It would be agonizing for your loved ones to be faced with such a decision without knowing how you feel about it, and you can make your wishes known through the execution of a living will.

Life Insurance

When your family relies on your income to be able to pay the bills and maintain their quality of life, is important to have an income replacement vehicle in place to protect them should you pass away unexpectedly. Life insurance traditionally fills this need, and it is important to review your coverage regularly and make adjustments as your family grows and their needs increase.

Child Guardianship

If you are a single parent, who would take care of your child or children if you were to pass away unexpectedly? If you and your spouse have children, and you both passed away in a car crash together, do you know who would assume guardianship? You can answer these questions yourself by drawing up a will that expresses your guardianship choices to be certain that your wishes are honored in the unlikely event of your sudden death.

Naming a Guardian

If you are a parent with young children, it is imperative to name a Guardian to care for your children in the event that you and your spouse pass away. The consideration that your children may grow up without you can be heart-breaking, but don’t let that be a deterrent to choosing a Guardian during the estate planning process.

Consider Your Options

First, you and your spouse should make a list of all possible Guardians. This should include all adults in your family and possibly friends of the family. Be careful when listing older siblings if they have not yet reached adulthood.

Make a Decision

Once your list of Guardians is complete, you can begin to cross off names. Decide what attributes of a Guardian are most important to you. Do you prefer that it be a married couple, or are you fine with an unmarried Guardian? Do you wish to keep your children in the same city or town where they grew up? Is it important that your chosen caregiver practice the same religion as you?

Use all of your preferences to narrow your list down to two or three choices. Your second and third choices can be listed as back-up Guardians in the event that your first choice is unavailable.

Advise Family Members

Speak with your children and other family member’s about your Guardian choice. This may help to alleviate custody battles after your passing. You may also want to leave a written letter advising your reasons for your Guardian choice.

Put It in Writing

Finally, you must put your Guardian choice into your Last Will and Testament or your Revocable Living Trust. If you do not, the matter of your children’s Guardian will be decided by a judge after your passing. Even worse, it may result in a fight among well meaning surviving relatives, like grandparents, siblings, and inlaws fighting to determine who gets custody of your children.

Anti-Guardian Declaration

Something else that you may consider is executing an affirmative declaration as to a specific person that do not under any circumstance want to serve as guardian of your children. Such a document need not become public record or even be disclosed at all unless that person attempts to become your children’s guardian, at which point such a document would provide persuasive testimony to a court that you specifically do not want that person to serve.

Responsibilities of a Guardian of an Incapacitated Individual

Court-appointed guardians handle the affairs of wards who have been incapacitated because of mental or physical illness, drug or alcohol abuse, or any other kind or type of disability. Since the ward (the incapacitated individual) is unable to manage assets, health and other matters, the guardian is authorized to undertake all actions, including the payment of bills, taxes, and the management of other assets with the best interests of the ward in mind.

A guardian is also appointed to ensure the day-to-day care of the incapacitated individual.

Once appointed, a guardian fulfills various duties and responsibilities to meet the requirements of the incapacitated ward:

  • The guardian works in the interests of the ward, while keeping his or her own interests separate.
  • A guardian has the authority to make decisions about where to keep and invest the liquid assets of the ward.
  • The guardian manages the care of land, crops, buildings or any other assets that make up the ward’s estate.
  • Makes all decisions relating to sale and purchase of real estate in accordance with court guidelines and requirements.
  • Pays all medical and personal bills, files income tax returns, and pays taxes on behalf of the ward.
  • Arranges for appropriate care for the ward. Makes decisions regarding where the ward will live (whether at home or in hospital or in the care of a full time medical assistant) under court approval.
  • Provides information regarding medical treatment and personal care received by the ward to the court.