Elder Law

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

What to Do If Your Identity Is Stolen

Do I need to freeze my credit if my identity has been stolen?

Since the advent of the internet, instances of identity theft have become more common with each passing year.  According to the Insurance Information Institute, in 2017 there were over 16.7 million victims of identity fraud, a record high up from previous years.  Just recently, some 145 million Americans had their personal information placed at risk due to an Equifax security breach, and millions more are now at risk of identity theft due to security breaches by Target, Chase, and other major corporations. Given the sheer number of those of us at-risk of identity theft, it is imperative that you know that steps to take should your identity become breached.
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Thursday, September 20, 2018

Incorporating IRAs in Your Elder Law Planning

Can I qualify for Medi-Cal if I have significant assets in my IRA?

Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) and other retirement plans like 401(k)s should form an integral part of planning for your financial future. Qualified plans, which include all plans found within Section 401(a) of the Tax Code, are eligible to receive tax benefits. Qualified plans are favored by employers because employers can deduct contributions made to employees. IRAs further provide great benefit to employees, allowing you to set aside funds for when you retire which may not impact your eligibility for state and federal benefits. Our Read more . . .

Monday, July 6, 2015

Cloud-Based Estate Planning

How can cloud-based technology assist in your estate planning?

Technology never ceases to amaze.  New cloud technology can even aid in your estate planning needs.
Products are now available that allow you to upload final messages to be read after your death. In these final messages you can reveal your feelings, secrets, last wishes or any other instructions or information you wish to pass on to your friends and family. It is also possible to set the terms of the encrypted data so that it is automatically emailed to the designated recipients upon your death or after a specified time period.

In addition to leaving a final message that might comfort or soothe your loved ones upon your passing, or help them carry out your last wishes, digital cloud storage is also a great way to store documents for your trustees or beneficiaries. A digital locker can safeguard your private financial information such as account numbers, keys, overseas account pin numbers and other essential login information so that your heirs and trustees can access them upon your death. You can also include any social media account information, business website passcodes and digital media, including property rights that you have to published e-books, recordings, photographs and other valuable intellectual property, in this digital locker.  In addition, you can use this tool to pass on sentimental archives, videos or photographs that you may not want to distribute until death, while keeping them from trustees who may not have a need for that particular data. 

Cloud-based estate planning tools can also be used to provide confidential health care information. They can be utilized to pass along needed documents including health care proxies, living wills, and other papers that your agents will need. You can also keep your own health care information and documents secure and only allow it to be released by someone with an encryption key or upon the happening of a certain event, such as your disability. 

The lawyers at OC Wills & Trust attorneys are always looking beyond the traditional estate planning methods to uncover different ways to provide you with services that take advantage of new technology as it develops. We believe that, in certain cases, cloud-based technology might be an appropriate tool. Contact our Orange County estate planning attorneys today at (949)347-5256.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

What You Need to Know About the Proposed ‘Death Tax Repeal Act of 2015’

My estimated gross estate will be at or above the current federal exemption threshold. How is this tax law expected to change in the near future?

While it is always considered a wise idea to prepare an estate plan with an eye on the federal exemption, this figure is constantly increasing, decreasing, or being (temporarily) eliminated altogether. Currently, the individual estate tax exemption is $5.43 million, whereas a married couple can defer estate tax liability for a total exemption of $10,860,000 upon the death of the second spouse. However, legislation making its way through Congress could mean the ultimate death of the death tax, creating a number of alternative planning tools for high-net worth testators seeking to properly dispose of assets and provide for loved ones. 

Death Tax Repeal Act of 2015

In April, 2015, the United States House of Representatives voted 240-179 to repeal the estate tax all together. The measure, known as the Death Tax Repeal Act of 2015, was introduced on February 26, 2015 by Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) and works to amend the Internal Revenue Code by repealing both the estate tax and the generation-skipping transfer taxes levied upon any estate created on or subsequent to the date the Act is executed. 

The proposal contains two exceptions, however, including (i) distributions from such trust before the death of a surviving spouse made more than 10 years after the enactment date of this Act, and; (ii) assets remaining in such trust upon the death of the surviving spouse. 

Moreover, the Act addresses the federal gift tax rates, and would lower the top rate to 35%. Also, transfers in trust are still considered a taxable gift unless the trust is drafted as wholly-owned by the donor or the donor’s spouse. 

While the Act was met with substantial Republican support in the House, it has yet to meet its fate in the Senate. According to Congressional insiders, Democrats promise a filibuster of the Act, and the President is expected to veto any attempt to do away with the estate tax. 

In 2013, only one out of every 700 estates – or 0.1% – was required to pay the estate tax. Industry experts expect that level to rise once the data from 2014 is compiled, but only to approximately 0.2% of all estates. 

In many cases, exposure to estate tax liability can be significantly reduced with proper planning. For more information, contact Orange County estate planning attorney Brian Chew by calling 949-347-5256 today. 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Using Annuities in Planning for Long-Term Care

I am approaching retirement and still in great health. What are some long-term care planning options aside from a long-term care insurance policy? 

For those who are considering their options in long-term care planning, one of most pivotal issues to consider is eventual eligibility for Medicaid. Unlike Medicare, Medicaid is the only government health insurance program that provides full coverage for the staggering costs of residing in a nursing home.  But, only those meeting certain income and asset requirements will qualify. What’s more, for married couples – with only one spouse needing care – using one’s savings to pay for long-term care can render the community spouse nearly destitute.
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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Medicaid/Medi-Cal Eligibility and Asset Protection

Can an Estate Planning Attorney Help You Protect Your Family’s Assets via Medi-Cal planning?

The federal Medicaid program, along with several California state programs, comprise Medi-Cal, which provides funds for medical and nursing home care for almost one-third of Californians annually. Just several years ago, Medi-Cal served over 9 million state residents. Now, following the state’s adoption of the federal healthcare overhaul, Medi-Cal covers 12 million Californians and costs approximately $95 billion annually.
Read more . . .

Friday, January 16, 2015

Concerns When Applying for Medi-Cal

Can I Apply for Medi-Cal?

Open enrollment for Medi-Cal (California’s version of Medicaid) is open through the spring.  During the first month of enrollment 216,423 state residents signed up for Medi-Cal. The program is designed to help those with low income (having less than $2,000 in liquid assets), elderly and disabled individuals pay for health care, including long term care.
Read more . . .

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