- Aging Parents and Their Finances
Dealing with finances, either your own or those of others, can be a real headache. And money is something that can easily come between people, especially family members. However, when you have aging parents, their finances may need your attention at some point. This can be complicated, but there are ways to make it more manageable. Remember that the very nature of the discussion calls their independence into question, so be sensitive to that. But you still have to address this as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more likely that problems will arise.
- Make Your Own Frozen Entrees
For a little bit of food and a whole lot of packaging, frozen entrees can run you anywhere from $3 to $5 apiece. But you can make your own frozen meals by using microwave containers that are about the size and shape of typical frozen entrees. This is a big health bonus if you need to limit your sodium, because most frozen dinners are loaded with sodium—some even have as much as 1,500 milligrams (enough for an entire day).
- My Living Will Covers All My Medical Decision Making
A living will, also known as an Advance Directive or a Declaration as to Medical or Surgical Treatment, is a document stating your wishes about end-of-life medical care. Unlike wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and other estate-planning documents, a living will is very limited in scope, as dictated by your state’s laws.
- Medicare Will Cover Nursing Home Expenses
Unlike the needs-based Medicaid program discussed in the previous blog, the Medicare program is an entitlement program. If you meet all of the eligibility requirements, you will be covered by the program, even if you’re a multimillionaire.
- The Government Will Take Everything When Mom Goes into a Nursing Home
This statement is untrue, IF you know what you’re doing. All states have Medicaid programs. I emphasize the name only because most of my clients confuse Medicare with Medicaid. They are two completely different government programs—with one exception, which will be covered in my next blog.
- I Want All My Property to Go into a Trust So That I Can Avoid Creditors
The issue of creditor avoidance is very complicated, with federal law, state statutes, IRS rulings, and court rulings all weighing in about who gets what when there’s not enough to go around. Start reading the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, move on to your state’s statute of frauds, and then the Fraudulent Transfer Act, and you will be peeling only the first few layers of the onion.
- I Don’t Want the Government to Get My Property
Some people fear this will happen if they die without a will. Others have heard rumors about death taxes, and they think this is the “guvmint’s” final money grab as you’re taking your last breath. The latter concern—estate taxation—actually affects only about 1% of us, which is the topic for another blog. The first scenario could affect any of us, however.
- My Husband and I Own Everything Together—Why Do I Need a Will?
Most spouses do own everything together, 50/50. But the real question is, how? Are they joint tenants with right of survivorship, or tenants in common? (See Misconception #1.)
If they’re joint tenants, then the property passes automatically to the surviving spouse, with no need for a probate. If they’re tenants in common, the property of the first spouse to die will pass to others according to that person’s will. If no will can be found, the property passes to others per state law, the subject for next week’s blog.
- I’ll Just Leave Everything to My Daughter (She Knows My Wishes and Will Know What to Do)
Please don’t do this to your children! I got a call just this week that shows the pitfalls of this approach. Here’s the scenario: Dad died, leaving five adult children. When I drafted his will, he stated that he wanted to benefit all his children equally, so his will reflected that. His life insurance policies had all five children as beneficiaries. But his annuity policy only listed child #3 as the beneficiary.
- I Want to Avoid Probate at All Costs
This one’s tricky. Some states do have onerous probate procedures that are costly, time-consuming, and require a lot of court involvement. If you live in one of these states, by all means, take whatever steps your attorney recommends to avoid it.