Estate Planning and the Elderly

I spent this past Labor Day with my family.  I decided to take a full three-day weekend and just relax with the family (if you can say that spending time with the family is totally relaxing, but I digress).  Anyway, I went to visit my grandmother in the assisted living home.  Her health is really starting to go downhill and I thought I should spend some time with her.

One of the things that I noticed was that my grandmother’s mind was really slipping.  Although I knew that she wasn’t doing well, I really didn’t realize how bad she was getting.

I also spent some time with my parents talking about her estate plan.  It is weird.  Just because you go to law school doesn’t mean that you know everything about the law.  Estate planning really isn’t my forte.  Anyway, my parents and I discussed the Revocable Trust and Powers of Attorney.  My father was telling me about the difficulty that he was having with the bank with regard to the Power of Attorney.

The bank was, nearly every time that they went in to change something, was consistently telling them that the Power of Attorney was invalid.  Or at least not valid for bank purposes.

So, I called up an old law school friend that practices estate planning (theeastmanlawfirm.com).  Gary told me that this was, unfortunately, not an uncommon occurrence.  Specifically, he told me that most banks were staffed with people that had next to no knowledge of estate planning and the documents that went along with that.  Thus, when confronted with something that they don’t know (a regular occurrence) they tend to just say “no.”  In these cases, he said to go ahead and just push them on it, asking to speak with the bank manager or the bank’s lawyer.  That usually resolves it.

This led us to a discussion of other estate planning needs.  Seeing how my grandmother is getting older, we went through some of the basics.  Fortunately, we have set her up with a Revocable Trust, which will avoid probate at her death.  Given that all of her assets are titled within the trust, this will really save us a bunch of time and cost at her death.

Unfortunately, we don’t have a living will or a do not resuscitate (DNR) document for my grandmother.  A living will would allow the doctors to remove life-saving care once we give them the document.  Although she’s not quite to that point, she seems to be rapidly getting there and I’d rather she not suffer, you know?

The DNR is a whole other animal.   It’s really more for people with a terminal illness, like cancer.  This would keep the doctors from reviving her if her heart were to stop.  Thankfully, we don’t have to deal with that yet.

In sum, it was great to see the family and also to get a reminder to get your affairs in order before you are no longer able to do so.

2014 Tax law updates

Tax law updates for 2014

The last few years have actually included a lot of tax adjustments that it is challenging to continue them straight. For some help, right here’s a quick summary of just what I assume are the most important government tax adjustments that will have an effect on specific taxpayers this year.

Obamacare

Beginning this year, the Obamacare regulation states individuals who fall short to carry “adequate” wellness insurance will encounter a penalty. Much more especially, nonexempt U.S. people and legal homeowners will certainly be obligated to repay the penalty if they do not have supposed minimal necessary coverage. There are a number of exemptions to the fine, such as the one for eligible lower-income people and the one for sure people whose existing health and wellness insurance plans were canceled. I’ll give all the gory information regarding this brand-new fine in next week’s column.

New tax obligation credit for acquiring medical insurance:.

For 2014, a supposed costs aid credit history is readily available to eligible taxpayers which obtain certifying health insurance policy by enlisting during a state exchange or an exchange operated in collaboration between a state and the federal government. The permitted credit history can differ widely depending on your specific situations.

When you file your federal revenue tax return, the credit can be paid by the federal government directly to your insurance maker to reduce your month-to-month costs or it can be claimed. You may not know the precise amount of your permitted credit history until you file your return. Any distinctions between what you get in the form of reduced insurance coverage premiums and the credit you’re actually entitled to for the year will be fixed up when you file your 2014 return at some point following year. In shorts, if you accumulate more than you’re qualified to, you’ll have to pay back the unwanted with your return.

On the bonus side, the credit rating is refundable. That means you could collect the full credit also if it exceeds your federal income tax responsibility for this year. More particularly, the credit rating is first used to minimize your 2014 federal revenue tax obligation costs. After your tax costs has been lowered to no, any type of remaining credit can be either given back to you in cash or made use of to make projected tax obligation settlements for 2015.

New $500 carry-over discount for healthcare FSAs:.

Late in 2012, the Internal Revenue Service revealed a brand-new exemption to the feared “use-or-lose” policy for health care pliable investing accounts (FSAs). Under the exemption, employers could permit you to bring over to the following year as much as $500 of any sort of unused balance from the previous year. The brand-new carry-over bargain is in lieu of permitting a moratorium during March 15 of the following year to sustain sufficient costs to consume your unused balance from the previous year. Simply puts, your maker’s health and wellness care FSA strategy can allow either the $500 carry-over discount or the grace period bargain however not both. Get in touch with your employee benefits division to see what your maker strategy permits, since it may impact what you have to do between now and March 15 if you have an extra balance left over from in 2013.

Tax obligation breaks that ended at the end of last year:.

Some or all of these could be retroactively restored, but that may not occur up until after the November elections.

Option to deduct state and regional promotions tax bills: Last year, you had the selection of asserting an itemized deduction for state and neighborhood sales taxes rather than an itemized deduction for state and neighborhood revenue taxes. This option was beneficial if you resided in a state without any individual income tax obligations or if you paid only a minimal state revenue tax costs.
Deduction for college tuition and associated charges: This write-off was up to $4,000, or as much as $2,000 for higher-income people.
Tax-free treatment for forgiven mortgage personal debt: Terminated debts generally count as taxable cancellation of financial obligation (COD) earnings. A short-lived exception put on COD income from canceled mortgage financial obligation that was used to obtain a principal residence: approximately $2 million that was canceled in 2007-2013 was dealt with as a federal-income-tax-free thing.
Affluent elders could lower their tax obligations by arranging for charitable donations from their Individual retirement accounts to change taxable Individual Retirement Account needed minimum distributions. Unless Congress takes action, this tax-smart deal won’t be readily available this year.
Larger tax obligation break for transit passes: Your employer could permit you to decrease your taxable salary to pay for transit passes to reach and from job. In 2013, the maximum month-to-month amount you could reserve was $245. Unless Congress takes action, the regular monthly max for this year will be just $130.
$500 credit for energy-efficient residence renovations: Under this break, you can assert a tax obligation credit history of up to $500 for particular energy-saving improvements to your principal home.
$250 reduction for teacher school expenditures: Teachers and other employees at K-12 colleges might subtract as much as $250 of school-related costs paid out of their own pockets.
Latest thing:.

As you could view, there are some significant federal earnings tax adjustments for 2014 and some ended provisions that could or could not be reanimated. I’ll keep you educated as the uncertainties are dealt with.

All about the law – Thoughts from my Civic

All about the law

These are thoughts from my used civic.

No, I am not selling used civics.  So go away,  please.

This site is all about my thoughts/ramblings that I used to think about while traveling around in my used Civic.  I spent a LOT of time in my car traveling around.  In that time, I thought of a lot of things.  So, instead of just keeping them to myself, I decided to send it out into the world.

By the way, I am a lawyer and this blog is all about the legal world.  It’s a blawg, if you will.