With the holiday season in full swing, you are likely thinking about and spending time with your loved ones, your “family.” Chances are, they are not all related to you by blood. Most of us have spouses, in-laws, stepchildren, stepparents, or even friends that we consider to be part of our family. Sometimes we are more tightly bonded with these people than with our actual blood relations.
Long-term care has been on our minds this month at Cramer Law Center because November is National Long-Term Care Awareness Month. To further your awareness, here are the latest long-term care statistics for this year:
One of the most important decisions we ask our clients to make is who they want to take over as successor trustee of their trust after the client’s disability or death. Many of our recommendations for this position are obvious; a trustee must be willing to take on the responsibility, should be a person or institution that the client trusts wholeheartedly, andideally has some relevant experience or knowledge. After (and sometimes despite) hearing this advice, most of our clients want to name family members, usually their spouse or adult children, as their successor trustees.
In the 1999 movie “The Bachelor,” a young man (Chris O’Donnell) frantically proposes to his girlfriend (Renée Zellweger) and a succession of past girlfriends in the days before his 30th birthday. The reason for the man’s urgency is that his grandfather’s will states that he must be married on that date or he will miss out on a multi-million dollar inheritance. If you have seen the movie, you likely thought it was a far-fetched plot; however, it is legally feasible to condition gifts in a will or trust on the marital status, religious observance, or other behavior of the intended recipient.
With the Walk to End Alzheimer’s coming up this weekend and National Long-Term Care Awareness Month starting today, elder law is on our minds. So, this is the perfect time to share an elder law story that illustrates the value, and importance, of consistent planning.
An elderly couple recently learned the hard way that do-it-yourself disability planning can have serious unintended consequences. Like many people before them, the couple followed the advice of friends, their friendly neighborhood banker, or (our favorite) “Marge” at Burger King, and added their daughter’s name to their bank account. This was their way of ensuring that someone would be able to handle their finances if one or both of them became disabled.
Hopefully we do our part to increase awareness of the need for estate planning every week with our blogs and newsletters, but we just had to make sure you knew that this week is National Estate Planning Awareness Week. Congress officially designated the third full week of October as National Estate Planning Awareness Week in 2008, stating that:
As employer pension plans go the way of the dodo bird and social security becomes less secure, we are seeing more and more of our clients have planning for their retirement with individual retirement accounts (IRAs). In fact, it is becoming common for IRAs to make up a significant percentage of a client’s total assets, especially when he or she is at or near retirement age. Because so much wealth is likely to be passed to the next generation through IRAs, it is important for IRA owners and potential beneficiaries to know how to get the most out of inherited IRAs.