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January 2014 Archives

Medicaid beneficiaries in Colorado must look out for attachment

Coloradoans might find some of the new rules established by the Affordable Care Act to be complicated or surprising. One such rule involves the fact that people enrolled in expanded Medicaid might now be subject to government asset attachment when a beneficiary dies. In theory, this could mean that the heirs of a Medicaid beneficiary could see their inherited assets taken by the government in an effort to receive reimbursement for the aid. While not all states are currently planning to take action on this measure, Colorado has recently indicated that it will indeed go after an estate's assets in order to repay Medicaid benefits. While it's yet to be determined if this will happen with any real frequency, the statute could nevertheless play an interesting part in the long term care planning decisions made by aging people in the state.

Why Coloradoans should take control of their end-of-life care

Talking with loved ones about your end-of-life wishes is perhaps one of the most uncomfortable conversations a person could have. However, the tragic story of a 13-year-old girl recently being declared brain dead has captured national attention and has caused many Colorado residents to consider how they would like to be cared for if they ever ended up in a similar situation. The California girl was declared brain dead in December 2013 after suffering complications from a tonsillectomy. The family has since been fighting to keep the girl alive using a ventilator. Unfortunately, nobody knows if this is what the girl would have actually wanted.

New tax law could lead to complicated estate planning choices

In 2011, Congress introduced a tentative tax planning device that eventually became a permanent part of the tax code due to an act passed in 2012. Dubbed "portability" by tax agents, the new law could provide for some big tax savings if correctly implemented in an estate plan.

Strategies for managing another person's finances

Taking care of somebody's personal finances in addition to your own can be an overwhelming endeavor. The very idea of managing money or property for a family member can be incredibly stressful. Nevertheless, millions of people in the United States act as fiduciaries for their parents or other loved ones when these family members are no longer able to make decisions for themselves. Fiduciaries often take on these responsibilities without any expertise or training.

Retirees should be aware of scams targeting senior citizens

An ideal retirement involves a bank account or pension plan that can allow a person to benefit from years of hard work. Unfortunately, criminals and schemers are too often trying get the money that older people have spent a lifetime earning. According to MetLife, people over the age of 60 are losing almost $3 billion every year because of financial abuse. One expert on fraud has stated that people swindling retirees are often family members, friends or neighbors. For Colorado families interested in the long term care planning of their aging loved ones, it may help to be aware of some of the most common schemes.

Parents of young children can benefit from estate planning

The life of a new parent, while often rewarding, can also be incredibly hectic. Between feeding, changing and scheduling, every day that a new parent spends with their young children can be challenging and overwhelming. New parents in Colorado and all over the country may find it difficult just to get through each day, let alone planning for when their children are grown. However, young parents might find it beneficial to do some estate planning even when their children are very young. Creating a broad plan when the children are still young could prevent some confusion and turmoil should anything happen to one of their parents. Also, performing some estate administration could set some clear goals for the children that the family can help them achieve, as well as setting them on a positive trajectory.

Decanting may make it easier to change an irrevocable trust

An irrevocable trust has long been known to be challenging to change, even if it is the trustee wanting to do the changing, but they are still used because of the tax advantage. Decanting a trust provides one solution by letting the trustee move the assets from the old trust to a new one and change some terms at the same time. It is called decanting because the person is "pouring" from one trust to another.

Be prepared to protect an aging family member's finances

Families in Colorado and all around the U.S. must be on the lookout for people trying to take advantage of their aging loved ones. Whether it's due to illness, dementia or simply the effects of aging, older people are unfortunately a prime target for fraud due to diminished mental capabilities. People who commit financial abuse of the elderly are not always typical criminals either. Trusted people such as advisers, brokers, clergy and even other family members can end up swindling an aging person out of thousands of dollars. Luckily, there are clear signs to watch out for, as well as some legal maneuvers that can be taken to help prevent this type of abuse.

Be sure to coordinate your estate planning documents

The instruments of a good estate plan may be interrelated in several different ways. Estate planning elements such as powers of attorney, living trusts and death beneficiary forms often contain conditions that affect one another. If these elements are not in harmony with each other, it may lead to confusion and possibly litigation after your passing.

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