Things They Don’t Teach You in School – Planning to Live Beyond 65

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With the school year back in full swing, it’s the perfect time for grown-ups to get a lesson or two in smart retirement planning. Maybe your children are off to college and you’re trying to care for parents, work full time – and plan for the future? Or, perhaps you’ve been concerned about preserving assets so you can pay for long-term care in these financially rocky times. If these scenarios sound familiar, you’ll want to listen to a Life Happens Radio podcast.

Lou Pierro is joined with geriatric care manager Katherine Rosenblatt, LMSW, who works with EverHome Care Advisors, a program offered by Pierro, Connor & Associates.  They start the show by discussing life expectancies, and how those aging predictions have changed legal and care planning throughout our lifespans.

Many years ago, 64 or 65 was considered the “retirement age,” and our culture did not plan for life expectancy to expand. Families were more centrally located, allowing for relatives to care for loved ones. Today, people are working well into their 70’s, and many families are dispersed all over the country, making it even more crucial to start planning for the future now.

A major topic discussed on the Show revolved around the assumption that Medicaid pays for long-term care. In reality, a majority of the time it does not. The national average for nursing home care is $140,000 to $150,000 per year, so it’s necessary to start devising ways to pay for that healthcare.

Lou and Katherine described the benefits of services like EverHome Care Advisors. When someone receives Medicaid, they seldom have an advocate who understands his or her specific needs. People are dealing with hospitals, doctors and providers that all have the same “bottom line.” At EverHome, Katherine is the client’s personal advocate, working tirelessly to get in place an individualized plan for aging. She understands the language of health care professionals, making the process smoother and less stressful.

To listen to the podcast, click here. More information about EverHome Care Advisors can be found by clicking here.

Alzheimer's and Dementia: Meeting the Challenges

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Knowing the best way to offer support, compassion and financial help to a loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease can be challenging. Life Happens Radio host, and founder of Pierro, Connor & Associates, Lou Pierro, spoke on this topic during the August 26th edition of the show. He was joined by Beth Bovin, CEO of the Northeastern New York Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

“Dealing with a family member with [Alzheimer’s Dementia] is devastating because it effects every element of your life” said Pierro, whose late mother suffered from the disease. He credits her with the decision to become so involved with the Association. He spoke on the devastating feelings so many people experience when they realize roles have reversed, and now they are the care givers for their parents.

One of the most important and utilized services at the Alzheimer’s Association is its Help Line.  An operator is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, should an emergency or question about the disease arise.  Bovin explained how beneficial this is, because so many emergencies arrive after typical business hours.

Bovin spoke about the positive changes that have been made in recent years regarding the funding for people with Alzheimer’s. In 2015 New York Governor Cuomo made a significant increase in funding for people with Alzheimer’s. The Northeastern NY Association went from receiving $107,000 in grant money to $538,000. This allowed her to grow her staff from 4 to 14, which was much needed as they cover 17 counties.

One of the most crucial things that can be done when with Alzheimer’s is to plan. It is important to do this not only for financial reasons, but also to minimize the amount of stress associated with the disease. Both Bovin and Pierro encouraged listeners to take charge when planning, as government assistance and Medicare are often not as helpful as people assume.

 They invited the listeners (and you!) to a September 13th seminar, “Legal and Financial Strategies for Caregivers”, at Columbia- Greene Community College.  Mr. Pierro will go into more specific strategies that can be used when caring for a loved one.  Free to attend, click here to register.

Click here to listen to this episode of Life Happens Radio!

 

The Advice You Would Want Your Parents to Receive

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Many people see an attorney for estate planning reasons, and we’ll assume that is the reason your parents have gone to see their attorney.
 
Let’s also assume your parents are in their mid-70s, retired and in fairly good health, although there is a family history of dementia on your mother’s side. They live in their own home and are fairly independent, and have modest net worth that would be far from a taxable estate under the current estate tax rules.
 
They have not had their estate planning documents reviewed in over 15 years and realize it’s time to do so. Their attorney reviews their existing Will, and without discussing their current health or the health of their children, recommends a revocable living trust to avoid probate and for more efficient management of their assets should one or both of them become incapacitated.
 
While this may seem like a perfectly appropriate recommendation, there are gaping holes that were not addressed. For example, the couple’s health or health of their children was not discussed. The couple’s age alone warrants a discussion about long term care, how likely they are to need some type of care (very, according to national statistics), and how they will be able to pay for it. If this is not addressed early on, the couple runs the risk of losing all of their assets and their home to the cost of long term care. If this is addressed early, the attorney can set up a plan to protect their home and other assets, and one or both may be able to qualify for long term care insurance.
 
Regarding the health of their children, if any of their children have been determined disabled according to the Social Security Administration (SSA), then additional planning opportunities exist both for the parents and children. For example, a sole benefit trust could be established for a disabled child and have no negative impact on any current or future government benefits of the child or the parents.
 
If either parent was a wartime veteran, this opens up a whole new potential income stream to the parents to help fund their care in the future. But if the question isn’t asked or the attorney isn’t aware of the benefits, your parents may never know that there is over $24,000 per year available to them through the VA Pension program.

At Pierro, Connor & Associates, we make sure to have all of the information needed to give you or a loved one proper advice and guidance. We stay up to date on changing laws and government programs to ensure your plan remains the best option for you. Call today for a free consultation.

 

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Article posted by:

Frank E. Hemming, Esq.

Pierro, Connor & Associates, LLC

For more information on how we can help, or to get in touch with Frank E. Hemming, Esq. please contact Beth Wurtmann, Director of Marketing at Pierro, Connor & Associates, LLC:

Tel: 866-951-PLAN

Email: info@pierrolaw.com

Should a Parent Serve as Trustee of a Supplemental Needs Trust?

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It is common for a parent to want to be named as trustee of a supplemental needs trust benefitting her child, especially when the parent is the one creating or funding the trust. There are many reasons why this makes sense. It positions the parent to have complete control over trust distributions. It is also very unlikely that anyone else can match the loyalty and dedication that comes from the bond between a parent and child. The parent is almost always the individual most familiar with the child’s specific, unique needs that the trust must seek to fulfill in its administration. Another advantage is that the parent will usually work without compensation.

Despite all this, a parent serving as trustee can also confront many daunting problems involving trust laws and public benefits regulations that affect the administration of a supplemental needs trust. The laws governing trusts vary from state to state, and public benefits rules can also vary in different parts of the country. The federal regulations and tax laws are complex, highly technical, and subject to change. Some parents also do not want to be trustees because it makes them the gatekeeper of the trust’s funds and may create friction when the child beneficiary requests a distribution the parents do not agree with.

The alternative for most families is a corporate trustee, which brings with it objectivity and knowledge in areas such as investments, accounting, tax and trust laws, and public benefits, that a parent often lacks.  Corporate trustees are trained to review on a regular basis the trust documents under their administration and take a business approach to trust disbursements. They also usually have systems in place to keep current with changes in trust and tax law, as well as public benefit programs rules.  

But, it is not unusual for a parent to feel uncomfortable giving so much responsibility for their child’s welfare to an impersonal professional trustee.  One solution is for the parent and professional trustee to serve together as co-trustees. The parent has a clear understanding of the family’s objectives and the needs of their child with a disability, while the professional trustee usually has expertise in financial matters and public benefits law. This is often a good combination for a trust of substantial size. In trusts involving smaller sums of money, the combination of a parent and a nonprofit organization as co-trustees might make more sense.

Perhaps an even better alternative is to consider the use of a trust protector to oversee the corporate trustee. A trust protector is an independent third party, either an individual or an institution, whose role is to “look over the shoulder” of the trustee to ensure that the trust is properly serving the purpose for which it was intended. The trust agreement typically details the trust protector’s responsibilities and areas of authority. One power often given a trust protector is the ability to remove and replace a corporate trustee. Naming a parent as trust protector allows the parent to have formal authority in the oversight of the trust.  The corporate trustee, who is more knowledgeable on the technical and legal trust issues, can then serve with the benefit of a parent’s insight into the particular needs of the child with disabilities.

A parent who wants to be involved in the operation of a supplemental needs trust benefitting his child is commendable and encouraged. But deciding whom to name as trustee, co-trustee or trust protector should involve a careful review of the talents the parent has, and perhaps more importantly, the talents the parent lacks. It is often the combination of a parent and a professional trustee in these roles that forms the best team to provide the most versatile support to the child with special needs.

If you or a loved one are considering establishing a supplemental needs trust, or if you are working with a trust that has these difficulties and you want to improve them, please contact our office for a free consultation to learn how we can help.

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Article posted by:

Kevin T. Horner, Esq.

Pierro, Connor & Associates, LLC

For more information on how we can help, or to get in touch with Kevin T. Horner, Esq. please contact Beth Wurtmann, Director of Marketing at Pierro, Connor & Associates, LLC:

Tel: 866-951-PLAN

Email: info@pierrolaw.com

The Roles of Trustee and Care Manager in Future Care Planning

Frequently clients realize that a supplemental needs trust is operated by a trustee.  Trustees fulfill many responsibilities.  They act as investment manager, bookkeeper, distribution manager, benefits advocate, and financial planner. Trustees are in constant contact with the beneficiary and the beneficiary’s caregivers regarding many aspects of the beneficiary’s life such as approving the purchase of a vehicle or even the purchase of a home.

This level of involvement can be confusing for beneficiaries and their families, who may be under the impression that the trustee has decision-making power in all aspects of a beneficiary’s life. If a trustee can approve or reject the proposed purchase price of a home for the beneficiary, can’t they also decide where the beneficiary lives? In general, the answer is no. 

While a trustee is very involved in making distributions from the trust and administering it, the trustee’s duties do not extend to day-to-day decisions that need to be made involving the management of the beneficiary’s care and placement. These decisions are typically assumed by a parent (or both parents), a close family member, or a guardian of the beneficiary who is acting as the beneficiary’s care manager.

The reason that these decisions are not taken on by trustees, is that while a trustee may have had the opportunity to get to know a beneficiary well, the family members of the beneficiary typically know how best to serve the beneficiary’s needs.  It is also true that a trustee might be chosen because of his or her ability to manage money and make sound financial decisions, but they would not know how to evaluate the ongoing needs of the beneficiary, locate benefits available to them, coordinate service providers or evaluate his or her overall well-being.  For this reason, it is important to include a care manager in your plan for the beneficiary’s entire lifetime. 

At Pierro, Connor & Associates, we have identified and met a critical need of our clients by incorporating care managers into our planning.  Our firm has created EverHome Care Advisors as a care manager service to provide support and coordination for our clients and their families.  EverHome ensures clients receive appropriate care with a quality of life he or she desires, locates appropriate public and private resources for their care and offers peace of mind by preserving family assets.

If you are interested in care manager services for you or your loved one, please call us today at (518) 459-2100 or at (844) 633-3852 (844-NEED-TLC).

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Article posted by:

Kevin T. Horner, Esq.

Pierro, Connor & Associates, LLC

For more information on how we can help, or to get in touch with Kevin T. Horner, Esq. please contact Beth Wurtmann, Director of Marketing at Pierro, Connor & Associates, LLC:

Tel: 866-951-PLAN

Email: info@pierrolaw.com