Caring for a Loved One with Special Needs

Caring for a Loved One with Special Needs

The attorneys at Brinkley Walser wish to share this information with anyone who may be caring for a child or parent with special needs, or who may be facing separation and divorce where one spouse is suffering from a disabling condition. Based on U.S. Census figures from 2010, 18.7% of the country’s population exhibited some form of long-term disability. The disabling conditions consisted of sensory disabilities, physical limitations, mental and emotional conditions. The percentage of those disabled increased with age. The study showed 15.4% of those age 15 and older had a severe disability; for those ages 65+, that number was 36.6%. Statistics from a survey conducted by MetLife, Inc. showed that nearly 9% of parents reported of having a child (including adult children) with a “physical, developmental, cognitive, medical or emotional condition. ” According to this survey, the following information bears consideration: 49% are covered by some form of private insurance 41% are covered by Medicaid 8.5% of children with special needs have no form of health insurance coverage Parents spend an average of $326/month on non-covered medical expenses 60% of children with special needs require some type of medical intervention or administration of meds on a daily basis On average, parents of children with special needs spend 24 hours/week caring for their child, with 32% of such parents reporting they spend more than 40 hours/week providing such care 84% of parents with children having special needs have made no provisions for lifetime financial assistance for those children 88% of parents whose children have special needs have not established a special needs trust to maintain public benefits eligibility...
Estate Planning: Digital Media and Assets

Estate Planning: Digital Media and Assets

By E. Drew Nelson, Attorney From the preparation of a simple will and power of attorney to complex trust planning, most people understand the importance of at least some level of estate planning to ensure their wishes are observed upon their death. Each individuals needs may be different, however, one common thread that links most people in this modern society is the use and control of digital media and assets. There are over 500 million Facebook users now and most people have used the internet to access some form of account or transaction from online banking to amazon.com purchases. Our population is only becoming more tied to a digital presence as new generations begin to grow up not knowing life before the internet. In the past, people preserved memories in photo albums; now those may be online at a Flickr account or Facebook photo album. Daily transactions have also shifted into the digital realm. Online banking now is fairly commonplace and where once you had to go stand in line at your local branch, many transactions from depositing funds to securing a loan can be accomplished online. The importance of the rise of the digital world is that upon death it is very unclear what happens to many of these online accounts and digital assets you may possess. There still remains no uniform law regarding the status of digital accounts or assets. Some states have attempted to regulate these but the law is still in its infancy. While state lawmakers try and catch up to the ever evolving digital world it is important for you to protect yourself and...
Top 5 Reasons to Get Your Estate Plans in Place

Top 5 Reasons to Get Your Estate Plans in Place

By Ryan V. McNeill, Brinkley Walser, PLLC Well, another new year has rolled in, and many of you still have not created an initial estate plan or updated your existing plan. It can seem like a daunting task, and discussing end-of-life issues is not something many of us are comfortable doing. I would like to explain why it is so important to get your estate plans in place, and I hope you will add this task to your list of resolutions for the year. Top 5 Reasons for Estate Planning Reason #1: Protecting Your Children or Dependents The most important reason to sit down and talk about estate planning is to protect your minor children and dependents. It does not matter how much money you have in the bank, or whether you are still young and don’t have many assets. If you have children or others who depend on you, it is important to have a plan. What would happen to your children if you were killed in a car accident? What if you were severely disabled and unable to communicate your wishes? Even if you are single and have minimal assets, who would pay your funeral expenses and settle your legal affairs should you die or become disabled unexpectedly? Reason #2: Age Isn’t the Determining Factor We often hear people say they don’t have estate plans in place because they are young and still “have time.” Injury and illness can happen to anyone at any time. Age is not always the primary factor. It’s a good idea to begin the estate planning process in your twenties and continue...
Last Minute Will Changes

Last Minute Will Changes

By David E. Inabinett, Attorney There’s nothing like the prospect of death to make someone’s wishes about their legacy – and the handling of their estate – come into focus. Certainly, there can be will changes that, if executed properly, can save taxes, expenses and time in sorting things out or going to a more difficult estate administration process. However, if not handled carefully, such last minute will changes can open the door for legal challenges that can last for years, particularly if those death-bed changes make significant alterations to the person’s previous plan or appear out-of-character for them. It is best that one’s estate plan is carefully considered, executed through proper documents and beneficiary designation structure, and updated periodically rather than all at once upon a sudden illness or crisis. It is also best not to act in haste to write someone out of your will without significant thought and consideration being devoted to that change. Despite this common sense advice, most find it difficult to make a decision until faced with the reality of death or at least the real threat of it. While not as common, some act swiftly and emotionally to make all-too-quick alterations due to a misstep of a child or other beneficiary of their estate. Too often, this comes at a time when the person is experiencing some element of diminished capacity, either due to age or illness. Caution should be taken to ensure that the person does possess the capacity to make changes to their will or other legal documents, and that such changes are not due to the exercise of undue...
Do I Still Need a Trust?

Do I Still Need a Trust?

By David E. Inabinett On January 1, 2013, Congress and President Obama passed the American Taxpayer Relief Act which, among other things, increased the individual estate tax exemption to $5.25 million per person ($10.5 million per married couple), and provided portability such that it no longer matters how assets are titled between spouses in order to claim the full $10.5 million exemption amount. So if your estate does not exceed $10.5 million and you are married, why not have what everyone wants, a “simple will,” leaving everything to your spouse, then to your children – quick, cheap, easy, end of story? Well, such a basic estate plan could work to accomplish your goals, so long as several key items line up. First, the surviving spouse may claim the full $10.5 million exemption so long as a Form 706 federal estate tax return is filed upon the first spouse’s death. Without that key filing requirement made within 9 months of that first spouse’s death, the deceased spouse’s $5.25 million exemption is lost. Next, even if the Form 706 is timely filed, portability is preserved only so long as that surviving spouse does not remarry. Upon remarriage, portability of the entire $10.5 million exemption is also lost. Finally, though not likely, it is possible Congress could lower the estate tax thresholds in the future or even repeal portability. This would make the inclusion of a trust – at least one which could be funded upon the surviving spouse’s “disclaimer” or giving up of the deceased spouse’s estate within 9 months of his/ her date of death – critical to adjust a...