Twenty years ago or more, when you needed an attorney in rural Kansas, most firms would try to accommodate any legal concern you might bring to them. Today, times have changed. Just as we have seen with the specialization of medical professions, the practice of law has followed a similar path. Many, if not most, law firms now focus their scope of practice to a limited number of areas so they can offer top of the line legal advice. For matters in which they are not well-versed, firms rely on a referral network of other local and regional law firms. In this way, rural residents receive legal advice and services comparable to what they might expect from a large metropolitan firm.
Davis & McCann, P. A. is no exception. We focus our practice around estate planning, long-term care planning, Medicaid planning, probate and trust administration, corporate, business succession planning, and real estate. Specifically, we regularly work with clients on the following:
· Powers of Attorney
· HIPAA authorization forms
· Living Wills
· Planning for distributions to children, both minors and adults
· Asset protection for professionals or successive generations
· Guardianships and Conservatorships
· Beneficiary designations
· Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreement preparation and review
· Entities to hold and control family assets and family business interests
· Farm, ranch, and business succession planning
· Living Trusts and ancillary documents (Certification of Trust, Declaration of Trust)
· Trust funding
· Special Needs Trusts
· Charitable Remainder Trusts
· Charitable Lead Trusts
· Other types of Irrevocable Trusts
If you’re healthy, you’ve probably never really thought about long-term care or Medicaid planning. However, statistically, the vast majority of individuals will end up needing nursing home care at some point during their lives. Some people are able to apply and qualify for Medicaid benefits without hiring an attorney to assist them.
However, there are many individuals who could greatly benefit from having an elder law attorney guide them in creating and implementing a long-term care or Medicaid plan. Below are a few situations where you might want to consider hiring an elder law attorney:
1. If you are in immediate need of full-time nursing home care, have more than $15,000 in countable assets, and need Medicaid benefits to help pay for your care, it might be worthwhile to hire an experienced elder law attorney to assist you. Your attorney can complete your Medicaid application and serve as a liaison with the state Medicaid office and nursing home facility. This move can improve your chances of preserving as many assets as possible as well as increasing your chances of receiving all Medicaid benefits for which you might be eligible.
2. If you are living at home and your spouse requires full-time nursing care in a facility, an attorney can help expedite the Medicaid application process to reduce costs. Additionally, an attorney can show you ways to protect your financial interests so that you can live more comfortably at home and not feel the need to spend all of your assets down on your spouse’s care.
3. If you and your spouse both require care, hiring an experienced attorney to help with the Medicaid application process and spenddown rules can save your adult children time, money and stress.
4. If you and your spouse are healthy and not in need of immediate care, an elder law attorney can provide you with long-term care planning advice that can help you avoid missing time-sensitive asset protection opportunities.
How much will an elder law attorney cost? In most situations, attorney’s fees rarely exceed the cost of one to two months of long-term nursing home care.
For more information on long-term care planning and Medicaid issues, please contact Davis & McCann, P. A., Dodge City, KS. We are members of Wealth Counsel, a national consortium of Estate Planning Attorneys and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA). We focus our practice on providing clients with the best legal advice on Estate Planning, Medicaid and Long-term Care Planning, Family Business/Small Business Succession Planning, Probate, Trust Administration, Real Estate Transactions, and related matters.
Are you considering purchasing a life insurance policy to benefit your family members after your death? Death benefits from a life insurance policy can be substantial. Benefits can be paid to one or more beneficiaries or to a Trust administered for their benefit.
Did you know life insurance can be a key part of your estate plan? While it’s not a necessary component for everyone, it certainly can be useful in many situations. The tricky part comes with knowing whom to name as the beneficiary of your policy.
If your estate is very simple and you have few beneficiaries for whom you wish to provide, doing beneficiary planning for your life insurance benefits works well. However, if you have a more complicated family situation or you want to provide your beneficiary with asset protection, you may want to consider naming a Trust as the beneficiary of your life insurance policy.
Here are a few examples of why you might want to name a Trust as the beneficiary of your life insurance policy:
1. Asset Equalization. Not all assets are created equal. If you’ve decided to give one child farmland and the other child pastureland, there is likely to be a discrepancy in property valuation. If your goal is to provide an equal inheritance to each child, life insurance proceeds are an easy way to equalize the value of overall estate distributions. If you name a Trust as the beneficiary, you can stipulate how the life insurance proceeds should be used to equalize any inequities among your beneficiaries.
2. Debt payment. If you are concerned that your estate will not have enough cash to pay your estate debts, you should consider using a life insurance policy to provide the necessary cash to cover expenses after your death. If done properly, this will prevent your assets from being sold to pay for outstanding debts. By naming a Trust as the death beneficiary, your Trustee will be able to pay the necessary debts, preserve your other assets for your heirs, and distribute any remaining cash pursuant to your wishes.
3. Beneficiary/Asset protection. Many people can benefit from being a beneficiary of a life insurance policy but not all beneficiaries are responsible enough to receive cash proceeds outright. If your intended beneficiary has a poor track record with money management, handing them a large sum of money outright from the life insurance proceeds probably isn’t in their best interest. However, if you name the Trust as the beneficiary and give specific instructions within the Trust to provide for the welfare of that same beneficiary, your Trustee can more safely provide for the benefit of that beneficiary, without directly allowing them access to the funds. Additionally, Trust planning can provide asset protection for a beneficiary in a difficult marriage who might be heading towards divorce or is facing a lawsuit or bankruptcy. Having your life insurance proceeds pay to a Trust for that beneficiary means those funds should not be available to that beneficiaries’ creditors. Finally, naming a Trust as the beneficiary of your insurance allows for more control and flexibility in planning should your beneficiary die before you or if your beneficiary is a minor child.
If you think using a Trust to administer life insurance death benefits may be an estate planning strategy you want to explore, please contact Davis & McCann, P. A., Dodge City, KS. We are members of Wealth Counsel, a national consortium of Estate Planning Attorneys and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA). We focus our practice on providing clients with the best legal advice on Estate Planning, Medicaid and Long-term Care Planning, Family Business/Small Business Succession Planning, Probate, Trust Administration, Real Estate Transactions, and related matters.
When a person needs help paying for skilled nursing care, they can apply for government Medicaid assistance. In Kansas, the state agency administering Medicaid benefits is known as KanCare. To qualify for KanCare benefits, you may not have more than $2,000.00 in total countable resources.
What are “countable resources”? Sometimes referred to as liquid assets, countable resources are assets that the government has determined an individual can easily convert to cash to pay expenses such as skilled nursing care.
Examples of countable resources include: cash, stocks, bonds, investments, savings and checking accounts, certificates of deposit (CDs), retirement funds (excluding pensions) and real estate (excluding your personal residence and business income producing assets, like farmland). Some assets not typically considered “countable” by KanCare when determining your eligibility for benefits include: personal keepsakes and belongings, household goods and furnishings, one vehicle (under some situations, like if a spouse is still living at home), life insurance policies without a cash value, burial plots, irrevocable funeral plans with cash of less than $7,000.00, and your personal residence. If you have gifted away any assets within the five years prior to your nursing home admission date, KanCare will use the value of those assets to calculate a penalty period. A penalty period is a time that an individual is not eligible to receive Medicaid benefits. It’s important to note that assets that have been gifted, either outright or into a trust like a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust, more than five years before an individual applies for Medicaid benefits are not countable for Medicaid eligibility purposes under current law.
If a person has more than $2,000.00 in countable resources, they will not be considered Medicaid eligible until they have done what is commonly referred to as a “spenddown”. However, it is important to note that not all of the assets that must be spent down have to be toward the nursing home care. Instead, an individual can use some of their countable resources for their own benefit, so long as the expenditure abides by Medicaid rules. Depending on your unique situation, these expenditures might include: prepaying for funeral and burial expenses up to a specified amount, paying some debts, doing certain home improvements, particularly if a spouse is still living at home, paying medical bills (doctor, dentist, vision), purchasing clothing for the individual being admitted, or even purchasing a vehicle in some instances. To ensure your expenditures will meet with Medicaid approval, you might want to run your spenddown plan by an elder law attorney prior to moving forward and please keep receipts and records. If KanCare challenges the validity of your purchases, you must be able to prove that the expenses met their guidelines.
If you have questions about Medicaid planning or long-term care planning, contact Davis & McCann, P.A., Dodge City, Kansas at 620-225-1674. We are members of Wealth Counsel, a national consortium of Estate Planning Attorneys and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA). We focus our practice on providing clients with the best legal advice on Estate Planning, Medicaid and Long-term Care Planning, Special Needs Planning, Family Business/Small Business Succession Planning, Probate, Trust Administration, Real Estate, 1031 Exchanges, and related matters.
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