Purcell and Amen, Your Estate Matters, L.L.C.

Serving Seniors and their Families in the areas of Elder Law, Medicaid Law, Estate Planning, Probate Administration, Veterans Benefits, Guardianship/Conservatorship and Estate Planning for the Disabled.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Recognizing the Need for outside Help in Caregiving

Caregivers often don’t recognize when they are in over their heads, and often get to a breaking point. After a prolonged period of time, caregiving can become too difficult to endure any longer. Short-term the caregiver can handle it. Long-term, help is needed. Outside help at this point is needed.

A typical pattern with an overloaded caregiver may unfold as follows:

• 1 to 18 months - the caregiver is confident, has everything under control and is coping well. Other friends and family are lending support.

• 20 to 36 months - the caregiver may be taking medication to sleep and control mood swings. Outside help dwindles away and except for trips to the store or doctor, the caregiver has severed most social contacts. The caregiver feels alone and helpless.

• 38 to 50 months - Besides needing tranquilizers or antidepressants, the caregiver's physical health is beginning to deteriorate. Lack of focus and sheer fatigue cloud judgment and the caregiver is often unable to make rational decisions or ask for help.

It is often at this stage that family or friends intercede and find other solutions for care. This may include respite care, hiring home health aides or putting the disabled loved one in a facility. Without intervention, the caregiver may become a candidate for long term care as well.

With the holiday season upon us, caregivers feel even more stress -- with planning, shopping and participating in holiday activities. This is a perfect time for family and friends to step up and provide some respite time and caregiving help. Whether it is provided personally or arranged as a gift of services to be provided by a professional respite company or home care provider, it is a welcome gift.

An article in “Today’s Caregiver” states:

“Nearly one in four caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias provide 40 hours a week or more of care. Seventy-one percent sustain this commitment for more than a year, and 32 percent do so for five years or more. One of the best gifts you can give someone caring for Alzheimer’s is something that relieves the stress or provides a bit of respite for the caregiver.

The Gift of time: Cost-effective and truly meaningful gifts are self-made coupons for cleaning the house, preparing a meal, moving lawn/shoveling driveway, respite times that allow the caregiver time off to focus on what he/she needs.”

It is also important to note that hiring professional care provider services can provide valuable ongoing support to an overloaded caregiver. A financial planner, care funding specialist or a reverse mortgage specialist may find the funds to pay for professional help to keep a loved one at home. A care manager can guide the family and the caregiver through the maze of long term care issues. The care manager has been there many times -- the family is experiencing it for the first time.

An elder law attorney can help iron out legal problems. And an elder mediator can help solve disputes between family members. There are also cash benefits for Veterans, who served during a period of war, that pay for home care or assisted living.

If you are the one providing daily care for a loved one, you owe it to yourself to seek help.

Take care of yourself and your needsm, both physically and mentally. Seek out professional help that will ease your burden and look for community service organizations that offer respite help.

The National Care Planning Council’s website www.longtermcarelink.net contains hundreds of articles with tips and advice for caregivers and their families. Take a few minutes to find the help you need and enjoy this holiday season.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What Did You Forget Today?

While on a road trip, an elderly couple stopped at a roadside restaurant for lunch. After finishing their meal, they left the restaurant, and resumed their trip. When leaving, the elderly woman unknowingly left her glasses on the table, and she didn't miss them until they had been driving for about forty minutes.

By then, to add to the aggravation, they had to travel quite a distance before they could find a place to turn around, in order to return to the restaurant to retrieve her glasses. All the way back, the elderly husband became the classic grouchy old man. He fussed and complained, and scolded his wife relentlessly during the entire return drive. The more he chided her, the more agitated he became. He just wouldn't let up for a single minute.

To her relief, they finally arrived at the restaurant. As the woman got out of the car, and hurried inside to retrieve her glasses, the old geezer yelled to her, "While you're in there, you might as well get my hat and the credit card!"

This coming week is National Senior Mental Health Week. You can do YOUR part by remembering to contact at least one unstable Senior to show you care..

I have now done MY part.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tax Increases by Inaction

I was recently able to read an article entitled, "Enacting Tax Increases by Inaction", in Steve Leimberg's Estate Planning Email Newsletter.

LISI Estate Planning Newsletter #1682 (August 2, 2010) at http://www.leimbergservices.com Copyright 2010 Leimberg Information Services, Inc. (LISI). Reproduction in Any Form or Forwarding to Any Person Prohibited – Without Express Permission.
Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (Pub.L. 107-16) and the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003 (Pub.L. 108-27). NumberCruncher Estate and Financial Planning Software: (610 924 0515).

The article incorporates commentary by Daniel Evans, Numbercruncher's Chief Technical Advisor and noted Trust and Estate author.
Summary of Mr. Evans comments: 

"The tax cuts that were enacted in 2001 and 2003 will expire at the end of 2010, and those cuts include not just the 15% top income tax rate on capital gains and qualified dividends, and the reduction of the top income tax rate from 38.5% to 35%, all of which benefit upper-income taxpayers, but also the 10% income tax bracket, marriage penalty relief, and increases in the standard deduction, all of which benefit lower- and middle- income taxpayers.
If Congress ends up in a political gridlock, the result could be one of the largest income tax increases in history, and it will happen – not because of something Congress does – but because of what it doesn’t do."

Interesting pieces of the article:
"As we have seen very clearly in the attempt at health care reform, it takes only 41 Republican votes in the Senate (which the Republicans now have with the election of Scott Brown to fill the seat of the late Ted Kennedy from Massachusetts) to block any attempt to raise income tax rates for the wealthy."
"But these tax increases are already enacted and will happen if Congress does nothing."
I"t also takes only 41 Democratic votes in the Senate (or a Democratic majority in the more progressive House) to block any extension of the tax cuts for the wealthy."
"And Republicans also have every reason to block anything the Democrats try to enact, because they would really like to go into the 2010 election being able to point to enormous tax increases on working Americans in 2011 and blaming it on the Democrats who control Congress."

"And as the elections in November get closer, there could be more acrimony and more fear of voter backlash, making compromise more and more difficult."
"So until the November elections are over, political gridlock seems virtually certain."
"There is every reason to believe that we’ll go into January of 2011 looking down the barrel of one of the largest tax increases in history, which may be “enacted” by inaction."

LISI Estate Planning Newsletter #1682 (August 2, 2010) at http://www.leimbergservices.com Copyright 2010 Leimberg Information Services, Inc. (LISI). Reproduction in Any Form or Forwarding to Any Person Prohibited – Without Express Permission.

Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (Pub.L. 107-16) and the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003 (Pub.L. 108-27). NumberCruncher Estate and Financial Planning Software: (610 924 0515).

My Commentary:

Mr Evans supports his claim of inactivity negatively affecting tax burdens every spectrum of through his Numbercruncher software.  A family of four would have the following tax increases:

$500,000 family income (no itemized deductions) - $22,607 increase in tax burden

$250,000 family income - $7,640 increase

$50,000 family income - $1,115 increase

$30,000 family income - $478 increase

All of these tax burdens would be evenly more heavily increased if the family income includes qualified dividend income, which is taxed at the capital gain rate of 15% instead of the maximum rate of 35% on ordinary income.

It's amazing that Congress (and BOTH political parties) can seem to negatively affect the pockets of every American through this inaction, and yet manage to see it as a victory for both parties!  Politics are seemingly getting in the way of intelligent decision-making more often than ever before. 

Wouldn't it be another issue completely if one side took the position that inaction is the right move? Taking the position that we need to increase taxes on every American in order to pay for necessary government programs or to pay off some of the government debt.  Instead through this political 'possum-ing, they will effectively raise the tax burden on every American during one of the biggest recessions in American history, while pumping more and more stimulous money on the other hand.  What one hand giveth, the other hand taketh away. . .interesting! 

Is it just me or does this sound a little counter-intuitive?

This information is not intended as legal advice, nor does this article necessarily represent any opinions of Purcell & Amen, LLC.  Just food for thought.


Paul Gantner
Attorney at Law

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Is Your Child 18 or Older and Headed Off to College?

You have purchased all their school supplies, clothes, twin sized bedding, fixed up the car and helped them open a bank account, but what happens in the event of an emergency while they are away at college?

Does your 18-year-old have the proper Power of Attorney and Advance Medical Directive Documents prepared? Without those legal documents, you might not be able to make sure your child receives the appropriate medical care or speak with their student loan companies regarding a bill. Read the article below, provided by the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys and call our firm at 314-966-8077 to set up a free consultation for your new “adult” child before they leave for school.

Eighteen and Alone: The Legal Risks of Independence

Your child has just turned 6,570 days old, and on the surface nothing seems to have changed. He still mixes the reds with the whites in the wash—she drove off with her book bag on the roof of her car again. But, disconcerting as it may be, for all legal purposes, turning 18 makes your child an adult.

Even more disturbing is the fact that without proper legal safeguards, you may no longer have any say in their medical care or financial matters. Should something terrible befall your child, you would be powerless to help them.

Each year, approximately 20,000 college-age kids die in the United States. What sets this population apart from the rest of the country is that almost half of these deaths are accident-related. In general, our kids are not having heart attacks or getting lung cancer—instead they are more likely to be crashing cars or suffering other accidents.

I know it’s difficult to even consider the possibility of something bad happening to your child. No one sits around imagining such scenarios. But the unpleasant truth is that no matter how responsible, how healthy, or how young your child is, they are at risk.

We all protect the things we value. You buy homeowners insurance to protect your house from natural disasters, fire, and other catastrophes. The odds are pretty slim that your house will be destroyed by lightning, but because your home is important to you, you protect it. Well, the same logic applies to your children. You have every expectation that they’ll be safe at college, but because you love and care about them, protecting them in case the unexpected happens just makes sense.

Here’s why you need to act: On April 14, 2003, the privacy rule of HIPAA (Heath Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) went into effect. The intent of this act is to prevent anyone from accessing and abusing an individual’s personal medical information.

Fortunately and unfortunately, this privacy applies to your 18-year-old as well. The downside, of course, is that if your son or daughter has an accident or is incapacitated in some way, you may not even be able to discuss their medical situation with a doctor because it may violate HIPAA. In order to prevent this, you need your child’s legal consent to access their medical records and make decisions for them, based on their own wishes, in the event of an emergency. Specifically, you need a HIPAA Authorization Form and a Health Care Directive completed for them.

Another important legal safeguard is a Property Power of Attorney. This is especially helpful if your child travels abroad. It allows you to handle any unforeseen issues that may arise with your child’s car, apartment, student loans, etc.

To be clear, these documents and safeguards do not in any way allow the designated agent to “interfere” with their child’s medical care or financial decisions. These are simply emergency measures to protect the interests of your newly-minted “adult” child.

Becoming an adult is an exciting rite-of-passage for every young person, but with independence comes an important set of responsibilities. Getting these legal matters sorted out may be the most important birthday present you ever give to your child.

For more information call Purcell & Amen, L.L.C. at (314) 966-8077 or visit our website at www.yourestatematters.com.