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Wills & Trusts

Monday, March 27, 2017

“My wife and I did and estate plan with a revocable living trust back in 2003, we’re good right?”


By Peter J. Gilbert, Esq.

I recently met with prospective clients who had moved to Bucks County from Georgia and they wanted to be sure their estate plan was still “good. You’d be surprised at how many people don’t have an estate plan at all, so I was happy to see they had something in place. For some, it’s because they think that only wealthy people or those with complex tax issues require estate planning.


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Thursday, February 2, 2017

Meet our Newest Attorney, Jeffrey Baxter!

Jeffrey Baxter is the newest attorney to our Highpoint Law Team. Like the firm’s founding attorney, Peter J. Gilbert, the law is Jeff’s second career.  Prior to becoming an attorney, Jeff served in the U.S. Navy and was stationed at the Naval Air Development Center (NADC) in Warminster.  He also served in the Naval Reserves at NAS Willow Grove.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Most Important Thing You Can Do For Your Aging Parents

Protect Your Aging Parents

How to Ensure Your Parents Don’t Lose Their Home, Bank Accounts, & Assets To Long Term Care Costs
A friend relayed a story that is one I hear all too often when it comes for caring for aging parents.

Her friend, I’ll call him Bob to protect his identity, has an aging father who is still living at home. Bob’s father has some dementia and some other ailments. He sometimes forgets to take his medicine and often forgets to feed himself. On good days Bob’s father is mostly okay by himself at night after he goes to bed, but he’s getting to where he really needs round-the-clock care.

Bob has three siblings and for the past three years they have been rotating taking care of their dad. Bob has shifts after work twice a week and during the day on Saturday. He also rotates some additional shifts. All the siblings have pitched in to pay for upkeep on the house and added things to make the house safer for their dad.

This is hard on Bob as he also has two small children and a wife at home. In fact, all of the siblings are growing wary and Bob’s father’s health is declining. Bob and his siblings know it’s past time to sell his father’s house and move him to a facility, but they aren’t sure how their dad will take it or which facility is right and they worry about whether or not their dad’s money will last.


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Monday, December 19, 2016

Mom and Dad Are Failing—What Do I Do Now?


by Peter J. Gilbert, Esq.

It starts when you’re home for the holidays. Mom and Dad are happy to see you and the family, but you sense something’s not right. Dad has lost a lot of weight; you find “snowdrifts” of unopened mail piled up on the kitchen table.


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Thursday, November 3, 2016

Is your Estate Plan up to Date with Technology?

One of the biggest complications in estate planning is that the law is forever catching up to technology. Obviously, for privacy concerns, access to the content of communications such as emails, text messages and social media accounts must be specifically given to an Executor or Power of Attorney Agent. These specific instructions should be placed in your will, trust, power of attorney or similar document. Does your Power of Attorney or Will or Trust mention access to digital access or on-line accounts?

There may come a time when someone needs lawful access to your online accounts and the current default (similar to laws of “intestacy,” when someone dies without an estate plan) is to follow a companies’ terms of services agreements. Some companies like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter have developed policies to deal with the accounts of deceased users, but many are still unaware of these policies.


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Monday, November 9, 2015

Husband’s Will Leaves Second Wife Broke!

By Mark J. Manta, Esq.

Benjamin’s second wife, Julia, was a decade younger than her sixty year old husband.  They had one son, Brad, who has Down’s syndrome. Before Julia, Ben was married to Sarah for twenty years and had two children, John and Mary, who were estranged from Ben and were now adults living on their own.  Ben and Sarah divorced ten years ago, but Ben had always hoped for a reconciliation with his children and indeed sent them money on their birthdays every year.

Julia had never given a second thought to Ben’s finances or will as he had always taken good care of her and Brad.  Ben’s work in the healthcare industry provided well for his family. They had a large home in an upscale development.  Since he started working, Ben put his money into an IRA, and it was now worth over $2 million. Julia didn’t know much about it, Ben got e-statements from Vanguard and she only saw references on the tax return she signed.

A week ago Ben had fallen asleep reading, but this time he didn’t stir as Julia approached the couch. The day after the funeral she found his will in an envelope in the antique secretary. Her heart sank when she saw that it had been drafted before they had Brad.  The will left his estate to be split evenly, half to his estranged children the other half to Julia. She didn’t think Ben would have given John and Mary this much today, not with Brad’s special needs.  When she got in touch with Vanguard regarding the IRA, they told her that Ben had never changed the beneficiary from his first wife.

She couldn’t comprehend it. She won’t have any of the IRA; it all goes to Sarah.  Ben’s estranged children will each get $125,000 and Julia gets $250,000, the house and the cars. It’s not enough. Julia realizes she will have to sell the house and she doesn’t know how she’ll provide for Brad and his special needs.

Do you think this is how Ben wanted to take care of his family? Estate planning attorneys know a lot about the law, but to tell the truth, there’s a lot we don’t know. We don’t know when you’re going to die, what the law, or your family situation, or your assets will be like then. So how do we make sure your plan (your Will or your Trust) works correctly at that future time? We’ve found that the common-sense way to keep your plan on track is to get together every so often to review things and make any needed changes. We call this program ACE Advantage.

It’s not just about having the documents. If Ben and Julia had an easy way to keep in touch with their estate attorney, the changes in their lives would have been incorporated into their estate plan.  With our ACE Advantage platform, clients of HighPoint Law Offices have access to services to keep their plan up to date.  Both Ben and Julia would have been able to make informed decisions about how best to care for Brad.  With the ability to call with quick questions or make changes, there would not have been any dark surprises waiting in the secretary.  The difficult time in dealing with the death of a spouse would have not been compounded by the consequences of an estate plan that no longer worked.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Self-Settled or Third Party Special Needs Trusts, which is Best for Me?

Special Needs Trusts are designed to provide additional financial support to a person with a mental or physical disability. There are three basic categories of special needs trusts: Self-Settled, Pooled, or Third Party special needs trusts. This  article will explore the features of self-settled and third party trusts; which comprise the majority of special needs trusts drafted today. Pooled trusts are not commonly used as they involve the pooling of assets from multiple trusts for investment purposes and do not always qualify as a special needs trust.

 

Special needs trusts provide you the option of utilizing them in conjunction with or in lieu of government benefits to provide for the needs of your disabled loved one. If you choose to use a special needs trust in conjunction with government benefits, a vital detail to remember is that the trust should “supplement” and not “supplant” those benefits.

 

Self-Settled Trust: Self-Settled trusts are a product of federal law 42 U.S.C. § 1396p (4)(d)(A), which is sometimes known as either a “(4)(d)(A)” or “payback” trust. The main features of a self-settled trust are:

  • The trust can only be established by a parent, grandparent, guardian or court order;
  • The trust is funded only with the assets of the disabled person;
  • The beneficiary can only be the disabled person;
  • The trust must be set up only as an inter vivos trust (during the life of the donor);
  • The trust must only be irrevocable; and
  • When the disabled person passes away, any unused assets remaining in the trust must be used to “payback” the government for any Medicaid benefits the disabled person received during their life.

While the self-settled trust is appropriate in certain situations, its lack of flexibility can be a drawback that would not make it an applicable choice for some families.

 

Third Party Trust: The third party trust is most commonly used by parents who are establishing a means to provide supplemental financial support to a child with a special need. The key features of a third party trust are:

  • The trust can be established by anyone other than the disabled person;
  • The trust can be funded with the assets of anyone other than the disabled person;
  • The beneficiary of the trust can be the disabled person, any nondisabled person, or a charity;
  • The trust can be set up as an inter vivos trust or as a testamentary trust (at the death of the donor);
  • The trust can be revocable or irrevocable; and
  • When the disabled person passes away, any unused assets remaining in the trust do not refund the state agency for benefits received and pass to other beneficiaries according to the trust language.

 

Either trust, if properly planned and drafted will serve the function of providing supplemental financial support for a loved one with a special need; the choice on which to use should be based on your own personal situation and needs.


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Learning More about Wills and Trusts Lawyers in Pennsylvania

Residents of Pennsylvania often find themselves procrastinating, even if they know the importance of meeting with a wills and trusts lawyer.  The whole subject just seems so complicated, and there are certainly more enjoyable ways to spend one’s time then pondering death and taxes.  The fact that things can be really confusing seems to give us all the encouragement we need to just tell ourselves that we’ll take care of the estate planning stuff “later.”

Of course, you know what I’m going to say next!  You never know when “later” is going to make an appearance, and if you’re not set up in advance, all the legal advice about wills and trusts in the world won’t be of any help.  Yes, this truly is something you need to do in advance.  Perhaps demystifying some of the terms involved with wills and trusts will give you the confidence you need to take the next step.


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HighPoint Law Offices assists clients with Estate Planning, Probate and Estate Administration, Medicaid Planning and IRA Preservation in Chalfont, Pennsylvania and surrounding areas including Bucks, Montgomery, Philadelphia, Lehigh, Monroe and Northampton Counties.



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| Phone: 215-997-9773

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