Children Who Provide Elder Care Can Hurt Their Own Careers

Dec 03, 2012  /  By: Geoffrey H. Garrett, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Uncategorized

As Americans get older and more people reach retirement age every day, families are having to deal with the realities of elder care. The AARP recently released a report stating that about 42 percent of workers have self-reported taking time to provide family members or friends with unpaid elder care services within the last five years.  Another 49 percent expect to do the same in the next five years.

The report details that women are disproportionately affected, and that the average person providing unpaid elder care is a 49-year old woman who spends as much as 20 hours per week providing unpaid elder care services. More than half of these women report that they’ve had to adjust their work schedules, while 30 percent have reported that they’ve had to pass on opportunities for advancement or added responsibilities in their regular jobs.

Financial concerns are at the forefront of the concerns for those who spend unpaid time providing elder care services. The hours spent providing care can significantly impact careers even if a person only spends part-time hours devoted to providing the care. In addition to lost opportunities for advancement, unpaid elder care providers report having less time to devote to other interests, while those on hourly wages report earning less as they often have to take time off from work to provide care. The lost income can erode retirement contributions and risk the pursuit of other long-term financial goals.

Byrd : Garrett, PLLC is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.

Marine’s Brother Walks to Raise Awareness and Support for Problems Veterans Face

Aug 10, 2012  /  By: Geoffrey H. Garrett, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Uncategorized

To most people, the idea of taking seven months to walk 4,400 miles from coast-to-coast is not something they would entertain. But for 23-year-old Matt Kerner of Denver, that’s exactly what he’s doing as he seeks to raise money and awareness to benefit veterans and their families.

Matt began his journey On June 4, stepping out of San Francisco Bay with all of his possessions in his backpack. His goal was to reach Washington DC by January 2013, a journey that would have him walk about 20 to 30 miles every day.

Matt is not a veteran himself, but his brother Justin is a Marine Corps sergeant who has served combat tours in Iraq. Matt says that the difficulties his brother faced while completing his service caused his brother to experience numerous problems when he came back. Matt says that his brother Justin suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the experience he had while serving. He also says that his brother had several fellow Marine Corps friends who committed suicide after returning home.

Matt is taking his journey to help raise money for Active Heroes, a charity that supports military families and veterans. Members of active heroes are helping Matt out by coordinating with people along his walking route in order to provide him with a place to stay every night. Though Matt carries a tent and camping equipment with him in his backpack, he has only had to spend a few nights camping as every other night supporters have given him a place to stay.

You can follow max progress through his Facebook page:

http://www.facebook.com/10millionpeoplewhosupportourtroops

Byrd : Garrett, PLLC is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.

A Conservator’s Duty

Feb 13, 2012  /  By: Geoffrey H. Garrett, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Uncategorized

When you become the guardian for a legally incapacitated adult, it falls to you to make specific decisions on that person’s behalf and in his or her best interests. As a guardian, you have a legal duty to meet your obligations and not to abuse your position and cause the adult, known as a ward, undo or unnecessary harm. Though the legal standards that apply to guardians ( elsewhere, sometimes called “conservators”) differ slightly between states, there are some general duties that you should meet in order to adequately perform your task as a guardian.

Individual Rights: As a guardian, you are entitled to make decisions on behalf of the ward because the court has determined that the ward is unable to make decisions on his or her own. However, this does not mean that the court has stripped away all the ward’s rights. Ward’s must still be treated respectfully and must not be abused or mistreated in any way. Violating these rights can lead to criminal sanctions against the guardian.

Preferences: While the court grants a guardian specific rights, the ward may still offer his or her opinion about what choices the guardian should make. The guardian should take these opinions and preferences into account whenever making a decision on behalf of the ward. That does not mean the guardian must do what the ward wishes, but it does mean that the guardian cannot completely ignore the ward’s desires.

Byrd : Garrett, PLLC is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.

My Daughter’s Gotten Married. Do I Need to Update My Living Trust?

Dec 23, 2011  /  By: Geoffrey H. Garrett, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Uncategorized

If you’re wondering whether you need to update your living trust to change your daughter’s last name because she’s gotten married, you don’t.  Your daughter will be identified as your child in your trust and that’s all that’s needed.  However, if you are updating for other reasons, go ahead and change your daughter’s last name, at that time.

Updates to your living trust are needed in other situations.  For example, if you wanted to change the dollar amount going to your daughter, then an amendment or restatement of trust would be necessary.  While amendments are often used for small changes and a dollar amount would be a small change, you may want to update the entire trust at that time.  Why?

There are two main reasons you may want to totally restate your living trust when you’re only concerned about a small change.

First, if there is only an amendment, the original language is still there.  For example, if your daughter was originally going to receive a gift of $200,000 and your amendment changed the dollar amount to $50,000, both your daughter and other beneficiaries will see that original amount and the change.  This may cause hurt feelings, anger, and family discord.

Secondly, unless you just updated your estate plan, there are bound to be other changes in your personal situation, financial situation, and the law.  In addition, your estate planning attorney may be incorporating new language that will better serve you and your family.

While you don’t have to update your trust just because your daughter got married, there may be other reasons to update your estate plan.  Consult with a qualified estate planning attorney to determine whether the changes dictate an update or at least a professional review.

Byrd : Garrett, PLLC is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.

Can I Disinherit a Child?

Nov 26, 2011  /  By: Geoffrey H. Garrett, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Uncategorized

Legally, there is no requirement to leave an inheritance to a child, even minor children.  However, to disinherit a child may have serious consequences that you don’t fully anticipate and disinheritance may not be necessary to meet your goals.  Be sure to consult with a qualified estate planning attorney to discuss disinheritance and its alternatives.  In addition, if you decide to proceed with the disinheritance, continue to work with your estate planning attorney.  Disinheritance must be done precisely, to be effective.

Money equals love, as much as none of us like to admit it.  If you disinherit a child, for whatever reason, it will be interpreted as a lack of love.  There is likely to be a severe emotional and familial breakdown between your surviving spouse, children, and grandchildren that continues for generations.  To be blunt, you will be hated.

I’ve had a financially successful client upset when her mother talked of giving a larger inheritance to her two sisters.  She said, “I feel as though I’m being punished for working hard.”  By the way, the mother’s estate was very small; it’s not the numbers that matter; it’s the thought and the result:  “If you left me out, you must not love me.”

If you’re thinking of disinheriting a child because that child has special needs, you need not.  Work with a qualified estate planning attorney who will draft a special needs trust or include special needs language in your own revocable living trust.  An inheritance wrapped in a special needs trust will not disqualify your child from governmental assistance.

If you’re thinking of disinheriting a child because he or she is an alcoholic, drug addict, or gambling addict or is just lousy with money, don’t.  Instead, you can provide a trust and appoint independent trustees to distribute trust assets on your child’s behalf, but not directly to your child.

Disinheriting a child is likely to cause generations of family conflict that can be avoided.  If you are thinking, “Should I disinherit my child?” consult with a qualified estate planning attorney to discuss the possible results and options.

Byrd : Garrett, PLLC is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.

Stop Making Excuses and Create Your Estate Plan!

Oct 12, 2011  /  By: Geoffrey H. Garrett, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Uncategorized

Many people have excuses for not creating an estate plan, because they simply don’t want to deal with the issues.  Who does?  Nobody likes to think about and discuss incapacity, dying, death, money, and challenging family relationships.  As you continue to make excuses and put off your planning, you will be putting yourself and your family in the danger zone.

 

Are you making excuses to deny your need for estate planning?   Take a look at some of the common excuses below:

 

  • I don’t have any children, so I don’t need an estate plan
  • I’m too poor to plan; estate planning is only for the rich
  • I’m a young professional who is just getting started, so I’m not ready to plan
  • I’m too busy to plan
  • I’m afraid of planning; I don’t want to die or live in a nursing home
  • I’m indecisive on important issues, so I shouldn’t plan yet
  • I don’t need to plan until later in life

 

If you allow your fears or misconceptions to keep you from planning, you may not be prepared for an emergency.  If you don’t have a written and legally valid estate plan in place the courts and state law have an estate plan for you.  If you don’t put it in writing you may:

 

  • Unintentionally disinherit your children

 

  • Create family discord that lasts a lifetime

 

  • Be cremated when you want a traditional funeral

 

  • Have no control over who raises your minor children if you become incapacitated or die

 

  • Give your ex-spouse thousands of dollars

 

  • Pay unnecessary taxes

 

  • Have no say in where your assets go when you die

 

  • Be hooked up to life support machines for years

 

 

If you have any questions, or if you’d like to begin creating your estate plan, consult with a qualified estate planning attorney.

 

 

Byrd : Garrett, PLLC is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.

5 Ways to Protect Yourself with Good Estate Planning

Oct 07, 2011  /  By: Geoffrey H. Garrett, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Uncategorized

While much of estate planning involves protecting and making life easier for those you love, there remains much about estate planning that is for yourself.  Here are 5 ways to protect you, with good estate planning.

  • You can pass assets to loved ones and owe no transfer taxes, if you stick with these gifting guidelines:

 

  • Use your $13,000 annual gift tax exclusion for as many individuals as you would like;
  • Or, you can “split gifts” with a spouse and give up to $26,000 each calendar year to as many individuals as you would like;
  • Pay tuition and medical bills directly to the provider for an unlimited number of individuals;
  • Make any gift trust intentionally defective; so, any income tax paid becomes a transfer tax free gift to your beneficiaries; and,
  • If you gift in 2011 or 2012, you can gift up to $5,000,000 ($10,000,000 per married couple), the amount depends on any previous gifts made.

 

  • You can ensure that your end-of-life medical wishes are honored by signing a living will if you don’t want medical heroics such as life support machines, if you are in a persistent vegetative state or irreversible coma.

 

  • You can ensure that the person you want to make health care decisions on your behalf, if you cannot, is the one who actually makes those decisions if you execute a valid health care power of attorney.

 

  • You can keep the court and strangers out of your financial business, even if you become incapacitated, so long as you have an up-to-date, legally valid financial power of attorney.  If you want to choose who handles your financial and personal business affairs, you need a financial power of attorney.  Ask your estate planning attorney if trust planning is appropriate for your individual situation; trusts have excellent incapacity planning as well.

 

  • You can best ensure that your final arrangement wishes will be known and honored if you jot down your wishes, explain them to your loved ones, and keep your notes with your estate planning documents and other important documents.  Be sure to communicate with your loved ones and let them know where you keep your papers.

 

To use estate planning to protect you, consult with a qualified estate planning attorney.

Byrd : Garrett, PLLC is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.

The Importance of Getting Legal Advice When Creating an Estate Plan

Sep 04, 2011  /  By: Geoffrey H. Garrett, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Uncategorized

When beginning to think about your estate plan needs, it’s important to get proper legal representation.  You likely want to make sure that you’re able to have the best plan possible.  Don’t guess your way through this important planning process.  Take a look at the following information, to learn more.  If you have any questions, or if you’d like to create an estate plan, contact an estate planning attorney.

 

Would you accept legal advice from anyone?  Would you use this advice to make planning decisions?  Many people ask their friends, family members, and co-workers about important legal issues, including estate planning.  It’s important to note that it’s not beneficial to accept advice from someone who isn’t a qualified attorney.

 

You may assume that avoiding legal fees and keeping more money in your pocket will be beneficial.  Unfortunately, this can create more financial and family problems down the road.  You may end up having to spend more money in the future, in order to fix a serious error.  In some cases, it may even be too late to correct the problem.

 

Don’t attempt to do your own planning, accept advice from non-attorneys, or attempt to work with an attorney who is unqualified.  This can create a mess, and may mean that your needs and goals aren’t met.

 

When beginning your affairs, it’s a good idea to ask around for recommendations, so that you can choose a great estate planning attorney.  Take the time to carefully research each attorney, and also meet with each attorney, so that you can learn as much as possible.  This will allow you to find an attorney who is a great fit for your individual planning needs.

 

If you have any additional questions about estate planning, or if you’d like to create your estate plan, consult with a qualified estate planning attorney.

Byrd : Garrett, PLLC is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.

FAQ: Living Wills

Mar 21, 2011  /  By: Geoffrey H. Garrett, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Uncategorized

What’s the purpose of a living will?

A living will is executed to make a medical decision in advance.  That’s why it’s called an “advance directive.” 

The medical decision made is to withhold consent for medical treatment, other than palliative care, in the event of persistent vegetative state, irreversible coma, or terminal illness, at the very end of life.

How do I get a living will?

A living will is part of an estate plan.  It will be included among your legal documents in the estate planning process. 

How much does a living will cost?

Living wills aren’t typically “sold” separately, but are part of a comprehensive estate plan.  If you’re in a pinch, your doctor’s office or hospital may have some forms you could use until you meet with your estate planning attorney.

What if I don’t have a living will?

Then, unless your health care agent objects, you will likely be kept alive on machines.  Terri Shiavo failed to put her wishes in writing and she was kept alive for 15 years while brain dead.

How does my living will work with my medical power of attorney?

Your living will, medical power of attorney, HIPAA release, and organ donation form all work together to ensure that you are well cared for and that your wishes are honored. 

Your health care agent under your medical power of attorney will make decisions on your behalf if you can’t make them yourself.  However, you’ve already made the end of life decision, removing a great burden from your health care agent’s shoulders.

Your health care agent does not have the power to override your living will.

The HIPAA release ensures that medical professionals will communicate with your health care agent without fear of breaking federal medical laws. 

The organ donation form lets everyone know that you wish to be an organ donor after your death.

Consult with a qualified estate planning attorney if you have questions about living wills.

Byrd : Garrett, PLLC is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.

Estate Planning 101: Common Questions (part one)

Feb 28, 2011  /  By: Geoffrey H. Garrett, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Uncategorized

It is important to have all of your questions answered during the estate planning process.  Below, we’ve provided the answers to several common estate planning questions.

I don’t have children yet, do I still need estate planning?

While having children is a great motivating factor, you need estate planning now.  In fact, each person over the age of 18 needs his or her own estate plan.

How much does estate planning cost?

Well, first of all, the costs of not planning can be horrendous.  The cost could actually be everything that you own. 

Estate planning fees are customized and based upon your needs and the value that your estate planning attorney can convey to you.  The fee will be fixed, meaning that the fee doesn’t go up once you hire your estate planning attorney, no matter how many times you call with questions.

How long does estate planning take?

Of course, the answer depends upon your needs.  If your plan is simple it can be done within two weeks.  If you plan is more complex, it will likely take a month.  And, if your plan involves advanced planning tools, it may take longer. 

While these time frames are fairly representative, funding may take longer.  Your estate plan will be in place and you will be protected, but it can take up to six months to get confirmation from financial institutions that your assets have been fully funded.  “Funding” refers to the transfer of your assets from your individual name into the name of your trust(s).

What estate planning documents do I need?

The documents that are right for you can only be recommended after consultation with a qualified estate planning attorney.  However, typically revocable living trusts, powers of attorney, will, and living wills are used.

If you have questions about estate planning, consult with an estate planning attorney.

Byrd : Garrett, PLLC is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.