Articles Posted in Asset Protection

Healthcare coverage has been an unsure and confusing issue for both young and elderly citizens over the past decade, with the potential to only become more complicated as a new president takes office. While laws have been amended throughout President Obama’s term to now allow young adults to remain covered under their parents insurance until they are 26 years old, there are no hard rules regarding whether parents can qualify under their adult childrens’ health insurance plans.

Narrow Exceptions To Covering Parents

There are limited situations in which an adult child could get their elderly or ailing parent covered under their company’s insurance provider, however, they must meet a number of requirements. Parents can be covered under their child’s insurance plan if they can qualify as a dependent and meet specific criteria. Dependents traditionally have been considered those children under the age of 26 who do not maintain coverage, spouses or domestic partners, however, parents can qualify generally if they meet the IRS definition of dependent upon their adult child.

Charitable contributions and gifts make up a large aspect of many estates. As with everything, there is a right way to give and a wrong way to give. Planning can help ensure that your gift is properly funded and distributed according to your wishes. This planning may include using qualified funds while you are living.

The 411 on QCDs

Individuals age 70 ½ or older are allowed under IRS rules to make direct charitable gifts from an IRA of up to $100,000 to public charities. These gifts are called qualified charitable distributions (QCDs) and are not required to report this distribution as taxable income on their federal income tax return. Historically, this tax break was voted upon and approved on an annual basis; as of 2015, it has been permanent.

Trusts are common estate planning tools in which a person can transfer ownership of assets to the trust. While this person is alive, they retain control over the assets in their life. Upon their death, the assets are distributed to the beneficiaries named in the trust.

While the Person is Alive

A revocable trust uses the social security number of the person who created the trust. A revocable trust does not have to file its own tax return. All income is, instead reported in the same manner as any other income on the tax return of the trust creator. People who jointly own a revocable trust, such as a married couple, both hold the power to revoke the trust. This means that either person’s social security number can be used. Couples who file tax returns separately must be careful. The person who reports the income on their personal tax returns should be the same as the person whose social security number is used.

When choosing the people you trust the most to serve as a part of your estate plan in any capacity, whether they be a family member, close friend or trusted individual in the community, it is important to understand the role that you are asking them to play. Serving as the executor of your estate, the trustee of your trust, as your healthcare representative or power of attorney is not a blessing. Making sure that the people you ask to fulfill these roles ahead of time understand that is crucial to ensuring that your estate plan is carried out effectively and to your wishes.

Managing Expectations

Many people feel that being chosen for one of these roles is a great honor. After all, being asked to serve as someone’s power of attorney or trustee means that there is a presence of trust in the relationship. After all, out of all the people who could have been chosen, out of all the people who could have been asked, you asked that specific person to handle your affairs.

There comes a time in many people’s lives when their adult children begin to help out with daily tasks. For some people this includes writing checks and paying bills. Many people begin to wonder if they should take steps to make being taken care of easier for their caregivers. In these cases, the question arises “why not just add your adult child to your bank account?”.

The Pros

The most obvious and powerful positive for adding an adult child to your bank account is ease of access. As joint owner, your child will be able to access funds from the account in order to assist you with bill paying and other financial matters.

Nearly seventy percent of Americans who reach age 65 will require some form of long-term care support. Many of these seniors will need care for a number of years. On average, women require 3.7 years of care while men require only 2.2 years. Decisions regarding this care should not be made lightly. If you are the child of a senior citizen and are faced with making choices regarding the care of your parent, there are a number of factors to consider.

Time & Scope of Care

The first step in assess the level of care you parent or parents may need is to evaluate the amount of care required. Ask yourself:

It may sound like common sense, but the older you are the longer you’re going to live. According to the Social Security Administration, men who reach age 65 can expect to live until age 84 and women who reach age 65 can expect to live until nearly 87. People are living longer lives and many Americans are living twenty years beyond their retirement. This increased longevity forces many people to change the way they view their later years.

Requiring Care

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, nearly seventy percent of people turning age 65 can expect to require some form of long-term care during their lives. Not only is the chance of needing long-term care high, many people are requiring care for a longer duration. This increased benefit duration affects women more than men. Women tend to need 3.7 years of care, on average, while men require only 2.2 years. Almost twenty percent of seniors will need care for more than five years.

Planning your estate is an important step in ensuring that you, your loved ones, and your estate will be taken care of in the event of your incapacity or death. A few documents can determine the type of medical attention you receive, who handles your financial matters, and how your estate is distributed after your passing. Choosing a knowledgeable and experienced professional to guide you through the estate planning process can protect your family from trouble in the future.

A Relationship Built on Trust

Choosing a legal professional can be difficult. One of the most important things to consider is trust. Your estate planning attorney should be someone that you are comfortable with. In order to fully plan out your estate, you will be faced with a number of difficult questions and what-if scenarios, such as “who will care for your children” and “do you wish to be kept alive by artificial means”. Hiring an attorney you feel comfortable with who is able to talk through these situations with you can make the process much simpler and less stressful. In many cases, the attorney who drafts your estate planning documents will also be working with your loved ones to ensure that your wishes are carried out after your death. Choosing someone your trust who is aware of your wishes can make this process easier.

While everyone needs an estate plan, demographics show that women in particular should take steps to address the matter.

Living Longer & Needing Care

On average, women live five years longer than men. This means women have to face a few realities: (1) they are more likely to require long-term care, and (2) will require care for a longer period of time than their male counterparts.

According to the Pew Research Center, more Americans age 18-34 are living with their parents than in any other living situation. Over 32% of people in that age group live in their parents’ house which leads to an interesting estate planning dilemma for the parents.

While some adults who live with their parents are financially independent providing for their own daily living expenses and even paying rent, many living at home are in some way, shape or form financially dependent on their parents. This dependence can make estate planning even more important.

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