Articles Posted in Estate Administration

The Treasury Department recently published its Priority Guidance Plan, which addresses areas like estate, trusts, and gifts. These items were described as a top priority by the department. The department also expressed the desire to establish final regulations that would enforce user fees associated with closing letters for estate tax as well as several other changes. For people about to participate in the creation or revision of an estate plan, this article reviews some of the most important changes that you should consider. 

What Parts of the Guidance Plan You Should Know

Some of the most important elements listed in the Priority Guidance Plan include:

Planning for your children’s educational needs is a worthwhile goal. Fortunately, various options exist for satisfying this goal. A 529 plan can prove to be a powerful tool for paying tuition as well as paying for other education-related expenses while realizing tax advantages. 

Following your death, however, no certainty exists that later plan holders will continue utilizing these plans to pursue your educational goals. Instead, you might decide to create one or more 529 plans to make sure that your children, grand-children, or other loved ones can pursue educational objectives. 

How 529 Plans Function

Understandably, many clients want to appoint children or grandchildren to receive their assets. Appointing a minor beneficiary directly to an account, however, can present its fair share of challenges. Unfortunately, clients often assume that the estate planning process is complete after they sign a will and trust. These individuals often then name the same individual named in their estate planning documents as the direct beneficiaries of their accounts. Remember, if a designated beneficiary is a minor at the time of an account owner’s death, several undesirable results can occur. This article reviews just some of the most important reasons why you should be careful when appointing a minor beneficiary. 

Problems with Naming a Minor

Some substantial reasons exist to dissuade you from naming a minor as the beneficiary of your estate. The most substantial of these problems include the following:

With the increasing availability of the COVID-19 vaccine and the rate of COVID deaths dropping in New York, it’s a good idea to be optimistic about what the future holds and to take some time to review your estate plan. While some people need to start from the beginning, others simply need to revise some terms in their estate plan. This article reviews some of the essential estate planning documents that you should make sure you have written. Remember, however, not all 

What Critical Estate Planning Documents You Should Make Sure to Write

Some of the vital estate planning documents that you should make sure to write include:

New retirees are well served to pay close attention to various financial considerations, which are commonly overlooked at the time of retirement. This article reviews some of the most critical estate planning issues that you should make to address either on or before when you retire.

# 1 – The Restructuring of Assets

At the time of retirement, people have spent decades accumulating a variety of assets. One goal of retirement should be to reduce the time and care necessary to maintain what you own. This will not only reduce the costs and length of probate for your estate but will also leave your loved ones with as few challenges as possible. During the restructuring, you might also decide to limit problematic assets.

One of the most important elder law decisions is picking the best nursing home. While this decision is often financially motivated, it’s also critical to find a facility that offers the best possible care to fit your needs. Unfortunately, not all nursing homes are capable of meeting everyone’s needs. To help process best, Medicare has implemented a five-star rating system.

The Separate Nursing Home Ratings

Not all nursing homes meet Medicare standards. After an in-depth review of a nursing home, Medicare assigns facilities with a rating based on a one to five scale with one being the worst and five being the best. Five-star ratings for nursing homes are based on the following separate categories:

The crisis brought by COVID has served as a stress test for many of the laws and regulations effecting our nation’s seniors.  The power of attorney, a document that gives one person, the agent, the legal power to act for another, the principal, fills a dire need to put control over their health and resources in trusted hands in the event of incapacity, especially in times of crisis.  Patients in nursing home facilities, for example, need quick and durable responses to the crisis.  And guarantees that the courts, and third parties such as banks, will respect their decisions.  

In 1948, the “Short Form” POA was created to simplify the process for New York citizens.  Since then, it’s become anything but.  A new law rectifies this.  

New Power of Attorney Bill Comes into Effect June 13, 2021 

A Court of Appeals in California recently affirmed a trial court’s award of attorney fees to a trust. This decision came after the trust tried to enforce a conservation easement. The defendants in the case owned land and were accused of intentionally violating an easement. This case raises an important lesson about the role that conservation easements can play concerning trusts.

How the Case Arose

A conservation agreement refers to a voluntary arrangement between a landowner and either a land trust or government agency that limits land use to protect a property’s condition. When an entity violates a conservation agreement, courts are permitted to award injunctive relief as well as financial compensation. 

In the recent Texas appellate case of Maxey v. Maxey, a dispute occurred involving the probate of an estate in which two sisters mediated and reached a settlement agreement addressing the division of real property. The two sisters disagreed on how to divide property among several trusts and as a result initiated legal action against one another. Following mediation, the sisters entered into a settlement agreement to divide real estate. The parties then disagreed on what the settlement agreement meant and again initiated legal action against each other. The trial court ultimately found that the settlement agreement’s terms were ambiguous and submitted the meaning of an agreement to a jury. Following a jury trial, the losing sister appealed.

The court of appeals later reversed this decision and held that the settlement agreement was not ambiguous. The court instead found that language used was not reasonably susceptible to multiple meanings. Because the language in the settlement agreement was found not to be ambiguous, the court found that the jury should have determined the parties intent as a matter of law and did not need to rely on extrinsic evidence. Consequently, the court remanded the case back to trial court to construe the settlement agreement and properly divide the real estate.

When trusts and estate cases arise involving real estate, parties often must mediate and settle disputes. One of the valuable takeaways from the Maxey case is that it emphasizes that parties can enter into enforceable and unambiguous settlement agreements that divide real property provided that they create adequately detailed descriptions. Fortunately, besides stating property descriptions, there are also some other helpful steps that parties can follow to avoid trusts and estate planning contests or disputes.

Assisted living facilities provide elderly individuals with a stepping stone between independent living and the more intensive care provided at nursing homes. Elderly individuals can receive assistance with things like cooking, cleaning, and hygiene at assisted living facilities while still maintaining personal independence. 

Deciding whether your loved one would benefit from an assisted living facility, however, is a complex process. As a result, this article reviews just some of the most critical factors that should be reviewed when deciding whether your loved one should be placed in an assisted living facility.

# 1 – Size

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