Incapacity Planning

Bigstock-Beautiful-woman-looking-throug-20311445It is important that you make plans for what will happen to your family and your possessions after you pass away. It is also important to plan for what will happen to them, if you are incapacitated.

You might be aware that you need a will or a trust, so you can make sure your family is taken care of after you pass away. Getting a will or trust also lets you determine what happens to your property after you pass away.

If you have not done so, you really should see an estate planning attorney to get a will or trust as soon as possible, just in case.

While you are at the attorney’s office, you should also get plans for what might happen if you become incapacitated, as the Times Herald-Record discusses in “Make plans in case you are incapacitated.”

The issue is that if you are incapacitated, someone else needs the legal authority to act on your behalf.

Someone will need to be able to handle your bills and to make medical decisions for you, should it be necessary.

If you do not plan ahead, it can be a difficult process for someone else to get the legal authority.

Someone will have to hire an attorney and go to court to get a judge’s permission to act as your guardian.

Fortunately, planning for what will happen if you become incapacitated is not difficult.

You just need a general durable power of attorney and a health care power of attorney.

The estate planning attorney can prepare both of them for you.

Reference: Times Herald-Record (Dec. 12, 2017) “Make plans in case you are incapacitated.”

Being Under Observation in the Hospital

Bigstock-Couple-running-bookshop-13904324Many elderly people face gigantic medical bills for hospital stays because of how they are classified by the hospital. This makes a big difference in how much Medicare will pay.

When an elderly person has an extended stay in the hospital, they are almost always under the impression that Medicare will cover most of the costs. However, many stay in the hospital for weeks and only later discover that they are responsible for most of the costs of their stay.

This is because Medicare is very particular about when it will pay for hospital costs.

For Medicare to pick up the bill, the patient must be classified as an inpatient. This means that the patient has been formally admitted to the hospital.

If the patient is an outpatient, Medicare will not pay and those patients who are in the hospital “under observation” are still considered to be outpatients, no matter how long they are actually in the hospital.

The story is picked up by The New York Times in “Under ‘Observation’ Some Hospital Patients Face Big Bills.”

Elder law advocates have long pointed out that the rule is absurd.

The patient does not always get to choose what the hospital writes down in the file. The patient also does not always know the importance of being formally admitted, instead of just being under observation.

There has never been a way for the patients to challenge their designations later, until now.

A judge in Connecticut has recently opened the door for legal challenges.

Reference: New York Times (Sep. 1, 2017) “Under ‘Observation’ Some Hospital Patients Face Big Bills.”

Charles Manson’s Will Filed With Court

MP900202201The man who claimed to be Charles Manson’s friend and sole heir, has now filed a will in court and says he is prepared to fight anyone who contests it.

At first it was not clear who would inherit Charles Manson’s estate or if anyone would even want it, despite having some monetary value.

However, it quickly came out that Manson had drafted a will in prison. He left everything to a longtime pen pal who had visited him in prison.

That man at first preferred to remain anonymous and left open the question of why someone would become friends with Manson.

The will has been filed in court and the man has been revealed to be Mark Channels, as the Daily Mail reports in “Charles Manson’s pen pal files the infamous killer’s last will and testament in court after saying ‘he’ll go into the ring’ if anyone challenges the document.”

It turns out that Channels worshipped Manson and even had a shrine to the cult leader in his home. Channels has already issued a warning to anyone who might contest the will and stated that he is prepared to fight for Manson’s estate.

Manson does have a few living relatives who might want to contest the will.  However, at the time of the article they had not done so. They still have roughly have 100 days to file with the court, if they so choose.

Whoever inherits Manson’s estate can expect to earn some money from collectors and could also see some money from music royalties.

Reference: Daily Mail (Nov. 28, 2017) “Charles Manson’s pen pal files the infamous killer’s last will and testament in court after saying ‘he’ll go into the ring’ if anyone challenges the document.”

Gender Change Possibly Coming to British Nobility

Bigstock-Attractive-Mixed-Race-Couple-P-9992345In England titles of nobility are still inherited under the rules of male primogeniture. A proposed new law could allow a woman to inherit, however, if she changes her gender.

In the old days inheritance law was very simple. The rules of male primogeniture dictated that the closest male relative to the deceased inherited everything.

For the most part, those rules have long since been replaced in the English speaking world.

However, titles of nobility in Britain still follow the old rule.

This does not please the Earl of Balfour, who has been an outspoken critic of male primogeniture. It is perhaps because he does not have any sons, but does have four daughters.

His daughters cannot inherit his title and it is set to pass to his younger brother, when the Earl passes away.

He has recently mentioned that there might be a way around that, as the Daily Mailreported in “New gender laws could let my girls inherit title, says Earl: Aristocrat suggests one of his daughters could identify as male after his death to claim his title.”

A proposed new law, which has the support of Prime Minister Theresa May, would allow British citizens to change their gender.

The Earl of Balfour suggests that one of his daughters could use the law to inherit his title.

It is not clear if he is actually suggesting that one of his daughters would go to that length to get around the strict rules of male primogeniture.

Fortunately, America’s founding fathers prohibited titles of nobility, so we do not have to argue about how those titles are passed down here.

Reference: Daily Mail (Nov. 29, 2017) “New gender laws could let my girls inherit title, says Earl: Aristocrat suggests one of his daughters could identify as male after his death to claim his title.”

Suggested Key Words: Inheritance Laws

Moving to Another State and Your Estate Plan

Bigstock-Extended-Family-Outside-Modern-13915094If you move to another state, you should review your estate plan to make sure that it will still work.

Americans often move from state to state, especially after they retire. The laws in most states are similar.  However, there are sometimes minor differences that can have a big impact on estate planning.

That leaves many people wondering whether an estate plan they drafted in one state, will still be valid if they move to another state. The answer is “maybe,” as The Times Herald discusses in “Moving can affect your financial planning.”

Generally speaking, if a will you had drafted was valid in the state in which it was drafted at the time it was drafted, the other states will consider it to be valid.

Trusts are valid in every state,  since the state in which they were created always governs over the trust.

Most of the time your estate plan will be valid in your new state.  However, there can be some issues, especially if you purchase real estate in your new home state. Some states have particular rules about how real estate has to be handled.

You should also be aware that your new state could have tax laws that are different than your old state. Something you have done in your estate plan might still be legal and valid, but it might not be tax-wise.

At a minimum, you should visit an estate planning attorney in your new state and let the attorney review your estate plan.

The attorney can tell you whether you should do something different to adapt to the laws of your new state.

Reference: The Times Herald (Dec. 1, 2017) “Moving can affect your financial planning.”

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