What Should be Included in Living Wills?

Living wills are designed to make it possible for you to decide what level of extraordinary medical care you wish to receive, if any, if you have a terminal condition or an end-stage condition and cannot speak for yourself. Living wills can also give you the opportunity to explain what medical care you wish to receive if you are in a persistent … [Read more...]

Why Young Families Can Benefit from Talking to Elder Law Attorneys

Elder law attorneys help senior citizens deal with and plan for the issues which can come with aging. However, seniors are actually not the only ones who could benefit significantly from consulting with an elder law professional. In fact, in many situations, it may be important for young families to get legal help from an attorney with experience … [Read more...]

Are Social Security Benefits Taxable?

Individual income tax returns for 2015 are due by April 18, 2016. The IRS filing deadline is usually April 15, but this year’s deadline has been pushed to the following Monday because April 15 is a legal holiday.   A portion of your Social Security benefits may be taxable depending on the amount of benefits you received, other income, and your … [Read more...]

What Assets Can I Keep When My Spouse Qualifies for Medicaid?

If your spouse requires long-term care in a skilled nursing facility, the costs can be significant. Nursing homes can cost nearly $100,000 per year and many retirees could quickly exhaust their entire life savings paying for the costs of nursing care.  This is a big problem when one spouse needs to go into a nursing home and the other spouse is … [Read more...]

Do VA Benefits Pay for a Nursing Home?

The Department of Veterans Affairs provides benefits to eligible former military members. Eligible veterans can apply for VA health care services and receive subsidized or free care depending upon their years of service, whether they have a service-connected disability, and their income.  If you qualify for veterans benefits and you need … [Read more...]

Can An Agent Make a Gift Under Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney is one of the most fundamentally important estate planning tools. A power of attorney created when you are of sound mind allows you to name someone who will act as your agent. If the power of attorney is "durable", the person you name as your agent can make important decisions about managing your affairs if you become … [Read more...]

Special Needs Trust: Protecting an Inheritance without Losing Government Benefits

Many government benefits including Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are means-tested. In other words, eligibility for these benefit programs is restricted on the basis of both assets and income.  In addition to other requirements, a person may not have more than $2,000 in countable assets and a couple may not have more than $3,000 in … [Read more...]

What is Guardianship and How Does it Work?

A guardian is someone appointed by the court to control a ward’s assets and make decisions on behalf of the ward. The ward must be declared as incapacitated by the court to be unable to handle his/her own affairs. People who suffer from mental disabilities, including people with dementia and other conditions of old age, may need a guardian if they … [Read more...]

Estate Planning Advice: Should My Parents Give Me Their Home?

Long-term care can be very costly and it can quickly deplete a person's life savings. Medicaid can help cover the costs of a nursing home, but only if the person going into care has limited resources. When someone owns a home, it is thus natural to be concerned about whether the house will be lost if nursing home care becomes necessary. However, in … [Read more...]

What is a Power of Attorney and When Does it Become Effective?

A power of attorney (POA) is a legal instrument that gives someone else the right to act on your behalf.  The person granting that power (the “principal”) grants the right to act on his/her behalf to the agent, who is also referred to as the attorney-in-fact. The language of the POA determines what powers are granted to the agent; it may be … [Read more...]