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...
North Carolina’s New Uniform Financial Power of Attorney Act

North Carolina’s New Uniform Financial Power of Attorney Act

By David Inabinett Financial Power of Attorney documents have long been used in estate planning to allow a person to appoint a fiduciary to manage that person’s financial affairs. They are often used both in situations where the person granting the power of attorney (the principal) is unable to manage financial affairs any longer or where the principal has the capacity to do so but prefers another to handle those matters. On January 1st, 2018 North Carolina enacted the Uniform Power of Attorney Act, which is codified in the new Chapter 32C of the North Carolina General Statutes. This marks a significant change in the laws concerning Financial Power of Attorney documents in this state and is modeled after the Uniform Power of Attorney Act, which has been enacted in a number of states. The first significant change is now all Financial Power of Attorney documents have automatic durability. Durability means that the power of the agent acting on behalf of the principal will remain even after the incapacity of the principal. Before this change a power of attorney had to specifically mention durability or the power of attorney would become invalid after the incapacity of the principal. Terminology has also changed in the new statutes. Formerly the person acting on behalf of the principal was referred to as the “attorney-in-fact” and they are now referred to as “agent.” This clears up some confusion about the use of the term “attorney-in-fact” because many people believed that it meant that the person was actually the attorney for the principal. The term “incapacity” replaces references to “disability” in the old statute,...
3 Pitfalls to Avoid When Applying for Medicaid

3 Pitfalls to Avoid When Applying for Medicaid

By Ryan McNeill, Attorney at Law Have you planned for what might happen if you were to require long term care? According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, 70% of those currently 65 years old will need some form of long term care in their lifetimes. Medicare has limits on long term care coverage, and long term care insurance can be pricey and may only cover certain expenses. Most Americans have not saved enough money to cover the costs of long term care out of pocket. In such cases, many requiring long term care will need to apply for assistance through Medicaid. What is Medicaid? Medicaid is a state and federal partnership providing medical assistance to those with low income, the elderly, pregnant women, children, and disabled individuals. The program is run by each individual state, so rules may differ. 3 Pitfalls to Avoid When Applying for Medicaid #1) You Must Understand Program Differences There are differences in the qualification requirements and the impact of real estate ownership, depending on the level of care an individual needs (assisted living vs. skilled nursing care vs. all-inclusive care for the elderly). There are also huge differences in how states treat spousal assets, depending on the level of care required. By identifying program levels and requirements for your state in advance, you can take steps to protect resources in a much more comprehensive way than if an application is filed directly through a busy caseworker. He or she will generally tell you only what the qualification steps and/or requirements are based on what you are applying for. Additionally, many...