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Archive for November, 2012

2012 LONG-TERM CARE BY THE NUMBERS

Friday, November 30th, 2012 by

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:

*National Average:

  • Annual Rate for Private Nursing Home Room….$90,520
  • Annual Rate for Semi-Private Nursing Home Room….$81,030
  • Annual Base Rate for Assisted Living….$42,600

*Florida Average:

  • Annual Rate for Private Nursing Home Room….$94,535
  • Annual Rate for Semi-Private Nursing Home Room….$83,950
  • Annual Base Rate for Assisted Living….$38,808

*Jacksonville, Florida Average:

  • Annual Rate for Private Nursing Home Room….$81,395
  • Annual Rate for Semi-Private Nursing Home Room….$75,190
  • Annual Base Rate for Assisted Living….$39,192

These numbers are staggering as-is, but it gets worse.  Some nursing homes and many assisted living facilities have an additional charge for patients needing memory care for Alzheimer’s or dementia.  And although assisted living facility base rates look appealing next to nursing home rates, they don’t include services such as personal care and medication management, each of  which can cost hundreds of dollars per month.

Have you planned for long-term care?  There is no time like the present to contact your financial advisor and inquire about how best to prepare your finances to meet these potential expenses.  You should also meet with an attorney to discuss the legal planning that will best protect you and your loved ones in the event such long-term care becomes necessary.

Click to view the full survey, including data for all 50 states and many major metropolitan areas: https://www.metlife.com/assets/cao/mmi/publications/studies/2012/studies/mmi-2012-market-survey-long-term-care-costs.pdf

 

 

 

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CHOOSING AND TRAINING FAMILY TRUSTEES

Friday, November 16th, 2012 by

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.

Naming a family member as trustee is not necessarily a bad idea, but it is crucial that you be honest with yourself, and your attorney, about your family dynamic.  For example, we recently had a case where a mother named one responsible, level-headed child to serve as her successor trustee.  However, her trust (not drafted by us) provided very little guidance to the successor trustee, which made it difficult and stressful for the successor trustee to deal with the demands of her greedy, bullying sibling.  If the drafting attorney had asked the right questions, and the mother had been honest about her children’s personalities, detailed instructions and protections for the successor trustee child could have been built into the trust.

Another concern about leaving your trust in the hands of a family trustee is that he or she may not have the requisite knowledge or experience for the job.  However, we believe that, with proper training, most family members can smoothly administer a trust without first passing the CPA or bar exam.  At Cramer Law Center, training for family trustees and other estate plan “helpers” on what to do in the event of a disability or death is just one of many services we offer to our estate planning clients.

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CONDITIONAL GIFTS – INHERITANCE BASED ON MARRIAGE, RELIGION, OR BEHAVIOR

Thursday, November 8th, 2012 by

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.

Many conditions on inheritance have been upheld by courts,  including conditions requiring a potential beneficiary to be or become married or, on the other hand, to remain unmarried before receiving a gift.  It is also permissible to state that your spouse will not be provided for if he or she remarries after your death.  Provisions requiring that a beneficiary only marry within a certain religious or ethnic group are often accepted by courts.  A donor may also legally mandate certain personal behavior from a recipient in order for the gift to be made, such as abstaining from drugs or alcohol, avoiding involvement in criminal activity, or earning a college degree.

However, there are some pitfalls to watch out for with conditional gifts.  You may not require a loved one to act illegally in order to receive his or her inheritance.  You also must watch out for conditions that violate “public policy”, which is legal speak for anything that goes against our societal values.  For example, requiring your daughter to divorce her husband, whom you hate, in order to inherit would likely be considered against the public policy of promoting marriage.  If you are considering leaving any of your assets conditionally, you should consult with an estate planning attorney to ensure that your intent is clear and that any requirements you set will survive a challenge.

             

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THE VALUE OF CONSISTENT PLANNING

Friday, November 2nd, 2012 by

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.

Our client, “Diana”, thought that her father, “Fred”, had taken care of his disability planning by executing a power of attorney, naming Diana as his agent, several years ago.  However, when Diana’s mother, “Mary”, died, Mary’s former caregiver took control of Fred and his affairs.  The caregiver introduced Fred to an attorney who revoked the power of attorney to Diana and drafted a new power of attorney, as well as other documents, in favor of the caregiver.

Diana was forced to spend a significant amount of money to go to guardianship court to fight for the right to help her father take care of himself.  The caregiver has isolated Fred from his family and tells him awful lies about his daughter.  She may even have influenced Fred to change his estate plan.  This is a dire scenario, but unfortunately not an uncommon one.

We include comprehensive disability planning documents in our estate planning packages as a matter of course.  More importantly, we have our clients re-execute all of their documents every two years so that we build a record of consistency.  If Fred had given a power of attorney to Diana in 2006, 2008, and 2010, his intent would be clear and the court likely would have thrown out the new power of attorney early on, allowing Diana to protect Fred and his assets from the predatory caregiver.

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