Arnold Palmer’s Death… a reminder that you should have your affairs in order!!

“Failing to plan is planning to FAIL.” – Ben Franklin

Arnold Palmer, known as “the King” for his personal grand legacy in golf, has died at the age of 87. He died Sunday evening at a Pittsburgh hospital while awaiting cardiac surgery, according to a statement from a spokesperson form his company. We will miss this great golfer!  What a lucky man to have worked in a sport for so many years he loved so much!

Every time a legends passes away, I always want to remind everyone to make sure you have a plan for your body and your assets.  Many say….I am not Rich, Why do I need Estate Planning?

Joseph McHugh, our Estate Planning Attorney is passionate about ensuring your final wishes are properly documented so they will legally carried out upon of your death. More importantly, your wishes in case of you suffer a tragic event as a result of illness or injury, leaving you unable to manage your life or your financial affairs.

It is important to ask a professional to help you decide what type of trust you may need. Do you have special needs loved ones, do you want to make sure certain relatives do not benefit from an inheritance?

We are happy to help you decide how to plan for you incapacity and death… (getting your affairs in order”!

Call us for a free consultation and fee schedule… you need to pull your head out of the sand and decide these things before you join Arnold and many other greats in the hereafter!

Call 818.241.4238 We are happy to discuss your thoughts and wishes!

 

Los Angeles Elder Law Attorney Protecting Seniors’ Assets… from the perspective of Summer UCLA Intern, Ryan Eason

I am a student at University of California, Los Angeles interning at LA Law Center, PC for the summer of 2016, and in my tenure here, this is what I’ve learned.

One’s twilight years should be a time of peace and security, not one of financial discord and stress. However, many senior citizens in the Southern California and Los Angeles area are tremendously burdened by the cost of long-term medical care and nursing homes, which currently averages roughly $8,000 a month in California. Sub-acute care can cost up to as much as $30,000 a month.

Despite these often-overwhelming inconveniences, there are opportunities to measurably reduce them through consultation with an elder law attorney. Many senior citizens in the Los Angeles area aren’t aware of their own eligibility to qualify for Medi-CAL, and without legal counsel, are forced to resort to dire financial compromises to afford long-term health care. That is why working with the team in Los Angeles at LA Law Center, PC is important, to be able to comprehend you and your loved one’s options to qualify for Medi-CAL benefits. It is certainly not necessary for you to “spend down” your assets to the $2,000 level or lose your home to get the financial security you deserve.

Through the reallocation of assets, transfer of non-exempt assets to exempt, and re-categorization of assets along State and Federal rules, our Los Angeles elder law attorneys will offer your family a strong, guiding hand toward receiving the financial assistance you and your family need, eliminating the necessity to resort to extreme measures to pay for nursing homes, such as depleting your savings.

At the LA Law Center, PC we understand Los Angeles families that wish to protect their hard-earned assets. We understand that every situation requires a unique and specialized approach, and in our office, you aren’t another client; you are a person. We understand that long-term medical care is not only a matter of numbers and figures, but also one of respect and dignity. And, most importantly, we understand the legal processes necessary to reallocate your assets to qualify for Medi-CAL while simultaneously ensuring those assets’ protection.

Joseph McHugh, Esq., our firm’s managing attorney, holds a “superb” 9.1 rating on Avvo.com, boasts a 100% success rate when it comes to qualifying clients for Medi-CAL, and has served the Los Angeles community since 1987. For a free consultation with our legal triage advisor, Kathy McHugh, call us at 818-241-4238.

 

Ryan Eason, Intern at LA Law Center, PC

UCLA ’17, English and Communications

Note: We wish to thank Ryan for doing a great job with us this summer… I think he understands Elder Law and what it takes to operate a small law firm! Joe & Kathy McHugh

 

Los Angeles County Senior Services

If you or a loved one is a senior and may be in need in care assistance, you should click on the below link to see what may be available to you.  Also find out if there is a senior center in your area (generally near a park & recreation area).  The senior centers can give the seniors some well needed activities and the caregiver a break! Senior caregivers need support as well as rest from the daily ordeal of caring for a loved one.  This link provides information regarding caregiver support and other services.

http://css.lacounty.gov/programs/area-agency-on-aging/

If you need advice on getting Medi-CAL Long Term Care or In Home Supportive Services and have more assets than Medi-CAL allows, we offer free consultations to let you know what we can do to help you gift assets into an irrevocable trust. Call us at 818.241.4238.

Gifting Your Home Directly to Your Children Can Have Negative Consequences!

Many seniors are thinking they can avoid probate, reduce their estate and directly gifting their home to their children with a quick claim deed or just add their name to the deed. This can be done, BUT!!… giving away your residence can have major tax consequences, among other possible estate problems if it is not transferred properly!

 Transferring property with a value over $14,000 in any one year requires you to pay a gift tax. However, currently, you can gift a total of $5,450 million over your lifetime without being taxed but you must file an IRS Form 709 Gift Tax Return to document it. This allows you to not pay the gift tax if you file the gift tax form. You may not be taxed by the gifting through the IRS Form, however; if the house is resold by your children quickly, they will have to pay capital gains taxes. If you gift the house to your child, the tax basis for the property is the same as when you owned the house. If the house is sold right away, the capital gains tax will be based on the difference between the current value of the home and the value when you owned it. To minimize this amount the children must live in the house for at least two out of the last five years. This allows them to exclude up to $250,000 or even $500,000 for a couple, of their capital gains from their taxes. Amounts above personal residence credit are taxed at 15% Federal Capital Gains Tax and 10.33% California Tax.

 

Inherited property is taxed differently that gifted properties before death. When your child inherits your home, the tax basis is based on the current value of the property at the time of your death. If the house is sold the basis will be the value of property at the time of death, eliminating or minimizing capital gains tax. This may not be the best solution if you intend to protect your home. If you use Medi-CAL, the Medi-CAL Recovery Department will try to recover their costs against the property when your surviving spouse dies, if the property was in the name of them at that time.

Not only is there a possible tax problem, but if you directly put the house in your child’s and they have creditor or a court judgement, you house could be taken to pay that debt! Our attorneys can help the home being protected until your death by setting up an asset protection irrevocable trust.

This for leaving your house to your children include transferring ownership to an Irrevocable Trust, with a Lifetime Occupancy Agreement to save your home from recovery and making it considered inheritance when you and your spouse pass away. It’s important to speak with an elder law attorney before you make any gifting decisions for your home. Our attorney’s can advise you to choose the best method for protecting your assets and the proper transfer of your property to your children.

There are other options for giving your house to your children, including transferring it into an Irrevocable Trust, or outright gifting accompanied by a Lifetime Occupancy Agreement, which can save your home from recovery and if written correctly, still be considered an inheritance when you (and your spouse) pass away, getting the step up in basis.  So, before you gift your family home, please talk to an elder law attorney, who can advise you on the best method for asset protection and making sure your home to properly transferred to your children!

Take advantage of a free phone consultation or appointment for a free 30 minute consultation to review your individual situation and determine if you would benefit from our experience and legal services.

For more information go to www.la-lawcenter.com or call us at:

Local Phone: (818) 241-4238 or Toll Free Phone: (877) 537-8283

 

The Orlando Terrorist Attack Reminds Us it is Critical to get Medical Directives & HIPAA Releases!

If you are over the age of 18, there are MUST HAVE documents in case of emergency or incapacity.  You must have an Advanced Medical Directive and HIPAA Release Form in case of medical emergencies!

The Federal government waived the HIPAA laws in Orlando,  so family members could speak with Orlando Hospital staff to find out if the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting were in the care of hospital staff.

In most cases the Feds will not waive this law, so it is important that everyone over the age of 18, speak with an estate planning attorney to get theses documents in place and then give copies of these forms to family members of loved ones.  General, at LA LAW Center we are more concerned about car accidents for our clients and family members or significant others not being given proper access to an injured person’s condition.

HIPAA is the Privacy Rule, a Federal law, gives you rights over your health information and sets rules and limits on who can look at and receive your health information. The Privacy Rule applies to all forms of individuals’ protected health information.

Also the Advanced Health Directive allows you to choose others to make decision about your health care in case of incapacity… which in most cases means that the ill person is in a coma or has severe dementia.  This allows someone to decide whether or not to keep the a person that is brain dead on life support.  Most individuals that we speak with do not want to be kept alive on life support if their brain has been proven to not function any longer.

It is best to chose the person(s) to make these decisions so at least be able to talk to medical staff.

We are available to create these and other estate planning documents to protect our clients and offer free consultations.  Call 818.241.4238.

Learn from Prince… Get Your Affairs in Order!

No one wants to think about what happens if they should suddenly die! But one of the things every person over 18 and especially if they have an estate should definitely get their affairs in order just in case!

An estate does not mean millions of dollars of assets, like Prince had, but if you have a house and retirement account you need to talk to an estate attorney that can help you avoid probate, and assign who will help manage your affairs and who will get your assets.  This includes who you may want to disinherit too!  If you do not have these things in a will or a trust (depending on the size of your estate), then you will not necessarily have your assets go to the desired people in your life.

It is very important to have a review of your estate and make sure you have documents to establish your final wishes….otherwise your life will become public record and the government will step in and your asset distribution will be decided by the probate court system.  Who wants that?

See the attached article about what Prince’s estate is now experiencing:

http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/stands-inherit-princes-estate/story?id=38704163

LA LAW Center, PC offers a free review of your estate is is happy to provide the minimum documentation needed to have your affairs in order! Call 818.241.4238 for a phone or office appointment!

Is Special Needs Planning Something You Need To Understand? Part One

Understanding the pitfalls associated with special needs planning is a must for all who assist families with  loved ones with special needs. At LA Law Center, PC we want to make sure any family with these concerns know what they need to know to protect their loved ones.There are many misconceptions that may become very costly in the future as fiscal pressures cause state and federal governments to cut back benefits for people with disabilities. So it is critically important that you  proactively and properly plan for loved ones with special needs.

The budget pressures of the federal and state governments make proactive planning for special needs beneficiaries increasingly more important.  It is important not to make the mistakes below that could cause special needs beneficiaries to rely exclusively on shrinking government funds, or that place them in unduly restrictive or ineffective structures.

 Many disabled persons receive Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”), Medi-CAL (Medicaid) or other government benefits that provide basic food, shelter and/or medical care. Many professionals(Family Attorneys or Tax Advisors) give bad information and suggest that families disinherit special needs loved ones to protect the public benefits. However,  you need to discuss your family situation with an Elder Law Attorney that understands how to protect a special needs person and ensure the best quality of life possible that may include the benefits of inheriting family money. The best solution is to create a special needs trust to hold the inheritance for a special needs beneficiary.  A properly drafted special needs trust will protect public benefits a disabled beneficiary may be receiving, and it will provide for proper care of that individual throughout their lifetime.

Please check back we our blog and we delve more into how to protect loved ones with special needs.  For specific inforamtion, we offer a free consultation on the phone or in out office. Please call (818) 241-4238.

Estate Planning Advice from Celebrities… do it NOW!

Some people make resolutions, some begin some spring cleaning and organizing, and others just strive to do things better than last year! What many people are not thinking about, and probably should be, is setting up a plan to protect his or her family with an estate plan, will or trust.  Do not wait for a new year… do it now while you are thinking about it…or at least determine what you want to happen with your assets if you are no longer here.

The New Year is a time where people are feeling optimistic about their future and their lives, and are not usually thinking about planning for their death or the death of their loved ones, but setting up a plan in which a person’s personal wishes are legally documented is an important task that should be a part of anyone’s New Years Resolution list. There are a lot of reasons for this preparation: obviously it will protect a person’s wishes in case their life ends suddenly or after a long illness, but establishing the people who will make medical decisions for yourself if you happen to become unfortunately incapacitated is something many people do not think about when debating establishing an estate plan, will or trust.

Some people choose not to worry about the fate of their lives after they become seriously injured or deceased, and that choice has lead to disastrous ends in many circumstances. Here, in Los Angeles, the California court system will decide how a person’s end of life health care decisions are made if there are no legal documents giving those directions. Many families spend years in nasty court battles trying to sort out a loved ones assets because a proper will or trust was not established. Hugely public estate feuds have been apparent for many years involving many high profile celebrities and wealthy individuals, and in each case the need for an established estate plan becomes evermore apparent. Wealthmanagement.com gave a list of celebrities and famous individuals whose end of life plans did not go over as swimmingly as they might have hoped, and they serve as lessons of why these documents are so important for every adult, young or old.

Here are a couple of examples:

Sonny Bono, musician and California Congressman experienced a sudden death after a tragic skiing accident without a will or trust established, that left his wife, Mary, to open up a probate estate and needed to be granted permission to have authority over his music rights after claims from his second wife, Cher, and an alleged love child conflicted the security of his estate of over 1 million dollars.

James Brown wished to leave his entire 100 million dollar fortune in a special trust that was set up to benefit needy children, but because he had not updated his will during the time of his most recent marriage, his money did not get sent to the children in need, or to his family.

The actor John Wayne’s family is battling over the millions in his estate. His daughter Aissa Wayne wants to sell her share of the estate and another child Ethan Wayne will buy her out but needs to come up with a fair market price to do so. They are unable to agree on what that is. He says $10,704,000 while she says 15,400,000. The case is being heard in LA County Superior Court.

Although there are a lot of horror stories of celebrities estates gone wrong, one of the most inspiring high profile estate stories comes from the King of Rock and Roll himself, Mr. Elvis Presley. He had a will, along with estate planning  tools that were put in place to make sure that his finances would be handled appropriately, despite greedy music executives trying to get a hold on his assets.

These are obviously grandiose stories that seem far fetched to most of us, especially considering the sheer amount of money involved in their estates, but similar things happen to people with less assets and wealth every day. These kinds of missteps leave families involved with the court and probate teams for years, and the security that would come with a will or trust is gone.

It is a good time to start making life decisions that leave you and your family healthier and happier than years past. One of the best ways to ensure that your family can continue to live in this way is to plan for the future of your family, even if you aren’t around.

For a free consultation please call 818 241 4238 or go to www.la-lawcenter.com

 

Important Retirement Decisions at Age 70!

Happy birthday!… Now get your act together!!!

In 2016 the first baby boomers will reach age 70. I can not believe it! If you are looking at the big 70 this year, you have critical decisions have to be made that will affect your retirement. These are critical  decisions that you won’t want to forget.

1) Social Security. Sign up if you have not done it yet! Now is the time to receive the maximum benefit from Social Security. There is no advantage to waiting beyond age 70.

2) Required Minimum Distributions- Sign up and begin taking required minimum distribution (RMD) from your tax-deferred plans. The IRS rules state that you must start taking distributions from your IRAs and other tax-deferred plans after you reach age 70 ½. If you miss this deadline or you don’t take out enough, there is a 50% penalty on your taxes. There are a few exceptions but check with your tax advisor!

3) Review your estate plan and make sure you have a plan for long term care in case your health fails! Now is the time to review your plan with an elder law attorney.  Elder law attorneys know the laws of qualifying for nursing home care and moving assets to protect them form Medi-CAL Estate Recovery.  Make sure all of your plans are documented and you have a strong Elder Law Power of Attorney for finances and Advance Health Care Directive  that allows your trusted loved one to help you if you become incapacitated.

If you are in Southern California, LA LAW Center, PC offers free consultations and review of documents, so please call us for an appointment (818) 241-4238.  We are happy to review your documents and discuss Medi-Cal Planning.

Controlling your online identity when you die….

Many years ago, when someone passed away, there were family and friends to notify and a couple of bank accounts to close and maybe a house to transfer to family, well it today it is a different story! Hopefully you have left a list of passwords so your trustee or executor can help with many online issues.

In 2016 there are many things that need to dealt with when you leave this earth.  Every year in this technology era you may add new online presents that someone must deal with when you are gone.

I found this very interesting article that I thought would help those thinking about this issue. please ckick on this article…hope it helps!

Do You Need to Control Your Online Identity After Your Death?