How Often Should I Review My Estate Plans?

How Often Should I Review My Estate Plans?

By Ryan McNeill, Attorney at Law That is a great question, and at the risk of sounding like an attorney, it depends. I typically recommend clients review their estate plans every two or three years, though if you have a life change, your estate plans should change immediately. A life change includes such things as marriage, separation, divorce, the birth of children, death of a spouse, and so forth. If the laws related to estate planning (federal or state) are changed, it is also a good idea to discuss the impact of those changes with your estate planning attorney. When Should I Review My Estate Plans? I mentioned some obvious life changes above, but there are other conditions that might cause you to consider reviewing your plans. You inherit money or property. This may or may not change your estate plans, but it is a good idea to review how your property will be distributed on your death to make certain no changes are warranted.You dispose of property referenced in your estate plans. For example, you may decide to sell the family home and move into a retirement community. You will want to update your documents to reflect that the asset no longer exists. Some retirement communities structure their financial commitment such that some percentage of the investment will be distributed to your heirs on your death. You will need to name these beneficiaries. A loved one is injured, becomes ill, or is diagnosed with a condition that will require long-term care. You may wish to discuss a special needs trust with your estate planning attorney. This trust can...
Steps to Take When a Loved One Dies

Steps to Take When a Loved One Dies

The death of a loved one, whether it is expected or not, can throw you and your family into turmoil as you enter a period of grieving. There are so many things that must be handled, it is easy to become overwhelmed. Some things must be dealt with quickly, while others can wait a few days or weeks. In some cases, these items may be handled by a friend or family member, while in others they must be completed by the Executor of the estate or another individual specified by the decedent or by law. Here is a list of the top 10 things that typically must be handled. Note this list is not comprehensive and other tasks may still need to be completed. If your loved one dies in the hospital or a nursing home, hospital staff will issue a legal pronouncement of death, discuss their process, tell you what they need from you, and advise what help they will provide. If the death occurs at home while under Hospice care, contact them, otherwise, call 9-1-1 to report the death. You may wish to get multiple certified copies of the death certificate (a dozen or more are often required). The funeral home typically assists with obtaining these.If your loved one is an organ donor or has left his or her body to science, time is of the essence. Medical professionals should be made aware if a terminal patient desires to be an organ donor. If death is anticipated in the hospital, doctors there will likely speak to the family about their loved one’s wishes. If the deceased did...
Updates to the ABLE Act

Updates to the ABLE Act

What is the ABLE Act? The North Carolina Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act was signed into law in 2015. The ABLE Act enables individuals with special needs or their families to open savings accounts that do not count as assets (within stated limits) when determining eligibility for Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or other government benefits. These savings accounts are intended to cover qualified disability expenses for the individual with the disabling condition. This may include housing, transportation costs, assistive technology, job training, and more. The IRS determines which expenses qualify. Who is eligible to open an ABLE account? The ABLE Act has two criteria that must be met: The disabling condition must have occurred prior to age 26. The savings account may be opened after that age, but the disability must have existing prior to the 26th birthday.The individual must be considered disabled based on criteria set by the Social Security Administration (SSA). If he or she already receives SSI or SSDI payments and meets the age criteria, then approval is automatic. If not, then self-certification of disability is possible, but it would be advisable to have a medical doctor sign a letter certifying the individual does meet the functional requirements outlined by the SSA. ABLE Act Limits for 2019 In general, the current annual contribution to an ABLE account from all sources is $15,000. If the account beneficiary works and his/her employer does not contribute to a retirement plan, then the individual may contribute employment earnings over and above the $15K (with limitations). If the individual receives SSI and the ABLE balance exceeds $100,000, SSI...
Inabinett Presents Estate & Long-Term Care Planning Seminar

Inabinett Presents Estate & Long-Term Care Planning Seminar

Free seminar at the Smith Senior Center in Greensboro scheduled for February 6 Greensboro, NC – Attorney David Inabinett of Brinkley Walser Stoner will present a seminar titled Estate & Long-Term Care Planning on Wednesday, February 6, at the Mabel D. Smith Senior Center in Greensboro. The session will cover long-term care planning, basic asset protection techniques, and strategies available to help avoid probate and maximize the assets which may be protected for a surviving spouse or disabled child. The event is free; registration is not required. “More than two-thirds of those 65 and older will need long-term care in their lifetimes,” says Inabinett. “That’s a hefty percentage, so it’s an important factor to consider. Long-term care insurance is one option, but there are other alternatives to include long-term care in your estate plans.” Inabinett focuses his practice on Estate Planning, Elder Law, Business, and Public School Law in Davidson, Guilford and surrounding counties. Estate & Long-Term Care Planning is scheduled for Wednesday, February 6, from 10:00 – 11:30AM at the Mabel D. Smith Senior Center, 2401 Fairview St, Greensboro. Registration is not required, but anyone with questions may call the Senior Center at (336) 373-7564. Brinkley Walser Stoner is also pleased to offer a free series of videos for individuals and families considering a move to a senior living community. These videos may be found at www.brinkleywalserstoner.com/senior-living-videos/. Brinkley Walser Stoner prides itself on providing new and cutting edge legal counsel built on a foundation of knowledge and integrity. Brinkley Walser Stoner’s attorneys are first and foremost counselors, advising clients on their legal rights and options for appropriate solutions....
2019 Estate Planning Guide Available

2019 Estate Planning Guide Available

We have updated our Estate Planning guide for 2019. As your life changes, so should your estate plan. Our attorneys answer some common questions in this updated article. Find out the new gift and inheritance tax limits; learn how to avoid probate; discover whether a trust might make sense for you; and more. Read the...
Estate Planning is Part of Emergency Preparedness

Estate Planning is Part of Emergency Preparedness

By Ryan McNeill, Attorney at Law The recent news stories in North Carolina of coastal residents evacuating due to the hurricane reinforces just how important it is to be prepared in the event of an emergency. Storing drinking water, non-perishable food items, and extra medicines will meet an immediate need. Unfortunately, many people stop their planning there. While Hurricane Florence is passing south of the Triad, the damage we are seeing on the news is a good reminder for everyone to add estate planning to their preparations for future events. Why Do I Need an Estate Plan? Many people put off estate planning assuming they will have time to deal with it later. Seeing a strong storm come ashore in the Carolinas reminds us there are no guarantees in life. Injury, illness, or death can occur at any time. No matter your age or financial situation, it is important to get your estate planning documents in place to cover whatever situation might arise. This includes documents to allow medical treatment as well as wills or trusts. What Documents Do I Need? There are some basic documents everyone should have, and others that are relevant to specific situations. Everyone should consider having the following advance directives: A healthcare power of attorney gives another person the legal right to make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so. A living will allows you to determine the extent of treatment for a medical condition when you are unable to state your wishes. This is sometimes referred to as a declaration of desire for a natural death. A third...