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Life Care Planning

Estate Planning and COVID-19

By | Estate Planning, Financial Planning, Healthcare documents, Life Care Planning, Uncategorized | No Comments

Estate Planning and COVID-19  -  Preparing for the Coronavirus

By now, many people throughout the world are aware of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). It first appeared in Wuhan, China in late 2019, and was first reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) on December 31, 2019. Since that time, it has made its way into the United States, and is the cause of much disruption to the everyday living we’re accustomed to.

COVID-19 is serving as a wake-up call to many people to get their estate plans in order. No matter who you are, it is crucial to know the answer to the following question: who will handle my bills, taxes, and other financial obligations if I become ill or temporarily incapacitated?

Regardless of health or wealth, everyone should have these three basic estate planning documents:

  • Property Power of Attorney. This document allows your agent to pay your bills and make other time-sensitive financial decisions during your incapacity.
  • Healthcare Power of Attorney. This document allows your agent to work with medical professionals to make health-related decisions on your behalf if you were unable to do so.
  • HIPAA Form. This form authorizes those you designate to access your protected health information.

Taking simple precautions will allow you to sleep easier and help you weather this and future storms of uncertainty.  If you would like to discuss these, or other estate planning documents that are right of you, please contact our offices for a complimentary consultation.  Our office is currently not accepting in-person consultations as an abundance of caution.  We are happy to consult with you via telephone or video-conference to help ensure your health and safety. Please call our offices at 888-222-1328 or schedule a meeting online by clicking here

While there is presently no vaccine for COVID-19, the CDC has provided the following recommendations regarding prevention:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water aren’t available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Contributed by Morris Hall, PLLC Estate Planning Attorney, William Morgan.

About Morris Hall, PLLC:
Morris Hall, PLLC has focused its legal practice on estate planning for 50 years.  Along with estate planning, our attorneys help clients and their families with matters of probate, trust administration, wills, power of attorneys, business planning, succession planning, legacy planning, charitable gifting and other estate planning matters. 

 

Morris Hall, PLLC

Offices in AZ and NM  888.222.1328 

Even-Steven: Another Reason Why Your Estate Plan Should be Reviewed Regularly

By | Estate Planning, Estate taxes, Healthcare documents, Life Care Consultants, Life Care Planning | No Comments

I recently worked with a  trustee (I’ll call her Jane), in administering her Father’s Trust.  Jane has two brothers.  Dad spent his life trying to make sure all three kids were treated equally - that everything was “even-steven.”   Like many parents, Dad desired to divide his assets equally between his children.  In this case, Dad left several specific bequests to each child with the intent that each child receive an equal share. Under the terms of the trust, Jane was to receive two life insurance policies, Brother 1 was to receive a valuable piece of land, and Brother 2 was to receive Dad’s home.

Nobody saw the Alzheimer’s coming.  Dad quickly became ill, and within a year, he needed care around the clock.  Assets needed to be sold. Dad’s valuable piece of land was the first to go; the home was the second, but not before a mortgage was taken out to pay for care.

When Dad eventually passed, the estate was significantly depleted. Jane’s specific bequest was still intact -  she received the proceeds of both life insurance policies.  Brother 1 and Brother 2, however, did not receive the gifts contemplated in the trust; the property had to be sold to pay for Dad’s care.  Dad’s estate was utterly depleted and the resulting distribution was far from “even-steven.”  Had Dad reviewed his estate plan as assets were sold off, he could have amended it to ensure the equitable distribution of his estate..

Further, the family could have preserved a large portion of Dad’s estate had they sought help at the first sign of illness.  At Morris Hall, we are experienced in ALTCS Medicaid planning and the surrounding issues.  We can help preserve your estate and guide you through choices that will help ensure your estate will be divided as you wish.

Phoenix, AZ Estate Planning Attorney Andrea ClausContributed by MH Phoenix Estate Planning Attorney, Andrea Claus.

Why Choose Morris Hall:
You have a number of options when it comes to estate planning, so why pick Morris Hall?  First off, estate planning and asset protection are a very complicated endeavor and you should only trust someone who focuses exclusively on those matters.  Also, MH is a proud member of The American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys (AAEPA) which provides us additional support, advanced training, tools and information that is not available to others – which means that we can better protect your assets and your loved ones.  We are one of only two firms in Arizona that belong to the AAEPA and are the only firm in New Mexico that has been granted membership.  If you have assets and loved ones that you want to protect, you are in good hands with MH.  Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!

This blog should be used for informational purposes only.  It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice.  If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.

 

 

The Faded Living Room Sofa

By | Elder Care, Elder Law, Estate Planning, Estate taxes, Life Care Planning, Other | No Comments

It’s a simple phrase with a devastating impact; your Mom and Dad sit you down on the faded living room sofa that has been in your home since you were a child.  You mom is staring down at her hand clasped around your father’s and he looks at you and reveals, “Your Mother Has Alzheimer’s.”  Your mind begins to race. First you are hit with the reality that Mom and Dad aren’t going to live forever, you fear that she will lose her independence, you worry about treatment, will she need a live in nurse, assisted living and how will they afford it?In that moment you all feel lost.  There are answers to all of these questions and more with the help of an experienced estate planning attorney and life care planning coordinator.

It reads like something in the movies or on television, unfortunately it is estimated that 1 in 8 Americans over the age of 65 have Alzheimer’s disease.  Medical advances are slowing the disease and our healthier life styles are giving us longer lives, yet as of today there is no cure.  As our parents age they may no longer be able to make decisions for themselves and you may have to make some difficult and pressing decisions for them.  Researching and looking into where they will live, who will take care of them and how much it will cost can be daunting.

We hope that you will never have someone you love effected by Alzheimer’s, however there are steps you can take to be prepared.  An MH estate planning attorney can walk you through creating a trust that will ensure your assets are protected from Medicaid spend downs.  If someone you love has already been diagnosed, a trust can still be created and a life care coordinator will help in determining what plan of action will work for your family.  They will educate your family about assisted living; help determine if living at home is an option, if the home will need modifications or if a home nurse is right for you.

You don’t know what the future holds, but you should be prepared and have a plan in place, so that if the unthinkable happens, you can spend more time with mom and dad and be able to enjoy each precious moment a little bit more, knowing they will be cared for.

Why Choose Morris Hall:
You have a number of options when it comes to estate planning, so why pick Morris Hall?  First off, estate planning and asset protection are a very complicated endeavor and you should only trust someone who focuses exclusively on those matters.  Also, MH is a proud member of The American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys (AAEPA) which provides us additional support, advanced training, tools and information that is not available to others – which means that we can better protect your assets and your loved ones.  We are one of only two firms in Arizona that belong to the AAEPA and are the only firm in New Mexico that has been granted membership.  If you have assets and loved ones that you want to protect, you are in good hands with MH.  Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!

This blog should be used for informational purposes only.  It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice.  If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.

 

Protecting the Estate Against Potential Predators

By | Elder Care, Elder Law, Estate Planning, Life Care Consultants, Life Care Planning, Other | No Comments

I recently met with a client who lost her husband not long ago.  I will refer to this client as “Sally”.  Unfortunately, Sally has had to move into a care center, due mainly to significant memory issues.  While she is physically healthy, she is not able to handle her financial affairs, which involve significant assets.  Sally’s daughter lives out of state and has been helping with her mother’s care as well as she can from a distance.

 

Upon sitting down with Sally, the first thing she showed me was a picture of her new boyfriend.  She is quite tickled to have someone paying so much attention to her.  I was instantly concerned.  Unfortunately, we have seen too many instances where widows or widowers are preyed upon by unscrupulous individuals seeking to gain access to their funds.  This is most common when there are significant funds for the taking.  This is of additional concern when the widow or widower is not mentally capable of handling their affairs.

 

Thankfully, I happen to know that Sally’s assets are protected because she and her former husband had created a living trust with our firm.  This ensures that she will not be subject to financial exploitation by those with less than honorable intentions.  All of her husband’s portion of the trust assets are fully available for her support, and no one can take that portion from her.  As to her half, her daughter is now the trustee and will apply the funds as needed for Sally’s care, once again ensuring that no one else, including the new boyfriend, can get to her assets.

 

We never know what situations we may face in life.  It is vital to plan for the various possibilities that can occur.  A living trust provides protection for yourself, your assets, and your loved ones – protection that covers a myriad number of situations such as Sally’s.  Don’t put your future at risk!  Call 888.804.5340 today to schedule a free consultation and discover how MH can help you and those you love!

 

Mesa, Arizona Estate Planning Attorney Tim HallContributed by MH Mesa and Phoenix Estate Planning Attorney and Partner, Theron M Hall JR.

Morris Hall Can Protect You in Today’s Litigious Society:

We live in a litigious society, where over 1 million lawsuits are filed every year in America alone.  Financial predators are looking for ways to take funds from others and often use litigation as their means to do so.  At Morris Hall we provide your assets and your loved ones with important protections that can prevent financial predators from taking advantage of you.  We do this through proper and current estate planning techniques.  With an MH living trust, we can also protect your property, assets and loved ones from probate, estate taxes, gift taxes, creditors, Medicaid spend-down, conservatorship or guardianship proceedings, ex-spouses and more.  A living trust also keeps your asset and beneficiary information private and secure to avoid giving financial predators information to use against you and your family.  Without a living trust, this information will be made public.  For those living in Arizona, we serve the areas of Phoenix, Mesa, Gilbert, Fountain Hills, Scottsdale, Prescott, Flagstaff, Sedona, Tucson, Sonoita, Arrowhead, Avondale, Goodyear and Tempe.  In New Mexico we serve the areas of Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Las Cruces, Rio Rancho, White Rock, Alamogordo, Truth or Consequences and more.  Contact us today at 888.804.5340 to schedule an appointment with an attorney in your area!

Considering In-Home Care for a Family Member?

By | Elder Care, Elder Law, Estate Planning, Healthcare documents, Life Care Planning | No Comments

When I visit with my clients they often express to me that the “golden years” are not so golden. Many seniors, and consequentially their families, are faced with the decision of locating the appropriate medical care when healthcare issues arise.

There are basically two options available when your loved one is unable to care for themselves – care inside the home or placement in an assisted living environment, which can include many different levels of care.

Since not all in-home care services are the same, it’s important to determine what level of care is required. For example, if medical care is needed, a licensed health professional will be required. On the other hand, if non-medical help is needed, an individual caregiver will not need a specific skill set.

The following are common types of in-home services:

  • Companion services to help with supervision, recreational activities or visiting.
  • Personal care services to help with bathing, dressing, toileting, eating, exercising or other personal care.
  • Homemaker services to help with housekeeping, shopping or meal preparation.
  • Skilled care to help with administering injections, wound care, physical therapy and other medical needs.

The cost of home healthcare varies, and depends upon the level of care required, the number of hours the patient requires and the location. For example, the cost of companion care would be less than that of a licensed nurse who administers injections. It’s wise to make a list of questions and inquire with family/friends in the community before selecting home healthcare for your loved one. And after appropriate placement has been determined, make periodic unannounced visits to monitor the caregiver to ensure your loved one is receiving the quality of care he/she deserves.

While home healthcare is allowing many seniors the opportunity to stay in their home longer before transitioning into a nursing facility; it is also allowing some seniors to never step foot into a nursing home facility. There are a lot of factors to consider when one is requiring additional care, whether it is in-home or in a skilled nursing facility. Please contact one of our experienced elder law attorneys to schedule a no cost consultation to review your circumstances.

Why Choose Morris Hall:
You have a number of options when it comes to estate planning, so why pick Morris Hall?  First off, estate planning and asset protection are a very complicated endeavor and you should only trust someone who focuses exclusively on those matters.  Also, MH is a proud member of The American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys (AAEPA) which provides us additional support, advanced training, tools and information that is not available to others – which means that we can better protect your assets and your loved ones.  We are one of only two firms in Arizona that belong to the AAEPA and are the only firm in New Mexico that has been granted membership.  If you have assets and loved ones that you want to protect, you are in good hands with MH.  Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!

This blog should be used for informational purposes only.  It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice.  If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.

Can you refinance your home if you have a Revocable Living Trust?

By | Elder Care, Elder Law, Estate Planning, Life Care Planning, Other | No Comments

The simple answer is yes.

The more complicated answer is that it is crucial that you consult with your estate planning attorney to discuss how the process must be completed from beginning to end to ensure proper titling of the real property.

During an estate plan review, one of the critical elements of the review is to ensure that there is proper funding of all of the assets to the Trust. In other words, all of the assets must be properly titled to the Trust.

It is possible to refinance property that is titled to the Trust; however, most lending institutions require that the property be titled in the individual name(s) of the owners, rather than titled to the Trust to proceed with the refinance. In order to accomplish this requirement, a deed must be prepared removing the property from the Trust and titling the property into the name of the individual owner(s). Once the refinance is completed, another deed must be prepared titling the property from the individual owner(s) back to the Trust.

I often refer to this deed work as the “volleyball game”, because the titling of the property is essentially going back and forth during the refinance process. Unfortunately, it is the second deed getting the property back over the volleyball net (titled to the Trust) that is often forgotten during the refinance process.

Please see one of our experienced estate planning attorneys to review your estate plan to ensure all of your assets are on the right side of the net.

Morris Hall Can Protect You in Today’s Litigious Society:

We live in a litigious society, where over 1 million lawsuits are filed every year in America alone.  Financial predators are looking for ways to take funds from others and often use litigation as their means to do so.  At Morris Hall we provide your assets and your loved ones with important protections that can prevent financial predators from taking advantage of you.  We do this through proper and current estate planning techniques.  With an MH living trust, we can also protect your property, assets and loved ones from probate, estate taxes, gift taxes, creditors, Medicaid spend-down, conservatorship or guardianship proceedings, ex-spouses and more.  A living trust also keeps your asset and beneficiary information private and secure to avoid giving financial predators information to use against you and your family.  Without a living trust, this information will be made public.  For those living in Arizona, we serve the areas of Phoenix, Mesa, Gilbert, Fountain Hills, Scottsdale, Cave Creek, Prescott, Flagstaff, Sedona, Tucson, Sonoita, Arrowhead, Avondale, Goodyear and Tempe.  In New Mexico we serve the areas of Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Las Cruces, Rio Rancho, White Rock, Alamogordo, Truth or Consequences and more.  Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment with an attorney in your area!

This blog should be used for informational purposes only.  It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice.  If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.

 

Long-Term Care and Obamacare?

By | Elder Care, Elder Law, Estate Planning, Life Care Planning, Other | No Comments

The hot topic recently is Obamacare.  There is obviously much confusion, misunderstanding and strife in matters affecting our health care.

One issue that has for a long time been of real concern is what happens if you have to go into a nursing home or other long-term care arrangement.  People have mistakenly believed that their health care insurance, including Medicare, would take care of them in such a situation.  That is not correct.

If you have to go into long-term care, and you have not put in place appropriate planning, you will be forced to spend down everything you have except for $2,000 before the state will participate in the expense of your care.  Too many of us have seen families that have lost everything they have to provide such care.  The proper application of public benefit triggers, if drafted into your estate plan, can save over half of your assets.

Our firm does not advocate that people who can and should contribute to their long-term care expenses should avoid all responsibility for themselves.  However, given what people have paid in taxes over the years, most would prefer to leave what they can to their children, charities, or other beneficiaries.  Only by proper planning can you accomplish this.

If your estate plan does not have the public benefit triggers, it would be a very good idea to see how they can be added.  If you are not sure if your plan has the triggers, please feel free to visit with us for a review.

West-final-web-2Contributed by MH Phoenix, Care Creek and Flagstaff Estate Planning Attorney B. West Hunsaker.

About Morris Hall:
At Morris Hall, we have focused our legal practice on estate planning for over 40 years.  Along with estate planning, our attorneys help clients and their families with matters of probate, trust administration, wills, power of attorneys, business planning, succession planning, legacy planning, charitable gifting and other important legal aspects.  We also have divisions in financial, real estate and accounting to help you incorporate all of your planning together, ensuring that everything works perfectly for your needs and situation. Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Cave Creek, Tucson, Prescott, Flagstaff and Arrowhead.  Our New Mexico offices are located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe.  Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!

This blog should be used for informational purposes only.  It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice.  If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.

Tis' The Season To Look In On Your Loved Ones

By | Estate Planning, Holidays, Life Care Consultants, Life Care Planning | No Comments

Since the holiday season is a time for family gatherings, you can and should use these visits to not only celebrate the holidays but to ensure your aging loved ones are doing well.

Take the time to assess the loved one you are visiting.  Are they properly dressed and groomed?  Are they doing their laundry and keeping the house clean?  As individuals age, it can become difficult to do tasks such as cleaning and laundry due to the amount of physical exertion necessary.  Talk to your loved ones to see if they are able to continue to do these tasks on their own.  If they need assistance, talk to them about what help they need and are willing to accept, as well as ways to provide such assistance.

If you visit the home of an aging loved one, check the surroundings.  Look to see if there is nutritious food in the home.  A lack of food or food that is past its expiration date can be a sign that a loved one needs some assistance.  Talk to your loved ones to see if they are able to go to the grocery store on a regular basis or if they would like assistance in setting up a grocery delivery system.

You can also check to see that the mail is being properly taken care of.  Your loved one should be going through their mail, discarding junk, and paying bills on a regular basis.  If someone is not doing this, it could be a sign that they need some help.  If you notice this behavior, discuss together why the issue exists and ways to assist.  Possible solutions are to use automatic bill pay or appoint an attorney in fact or trustee to manage the finances.

A final recommendation is to ask your loved ones if they have an estate plan and, if so, where it is kept.  Hopefully, your aging loved one has already taken the time to create an estate plan.  If not, talk to them about the importance of planning – how it allows the individual to decide how and when decisions are made on their behalf and ensures their estate is distributed how, when and to whom they want.  If you have a loved one who needs to create an estate plan or review an existing estate plan, please contact our office for a free consultation by calling 888.804.5340.

What the Attorneys of Morris Hall Can Do For You:
The attorneys at Morris Hall have 100’s of years of combined experience ensuring that families’ assets are protected from probate, unnecessary taxes, creditors, ex-spouses and Medicaid spend-down.  The attorneys also help those in Arizona and New Mexico to apply for and receive Medicaid assistance and Veterans Benefits.  Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Cave Creek, Tucson, Prescott, Flagstaff and Arrowhead.  Our New Mexico offices are located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe.  Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!

This blog should be used for informational purposes only.  It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice.  If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.

Be Thankful For the Ones You Love

By | Holidays, Life Care Planning | No Comments

WEB-bigstock-Give-Thanks-Message-Spelling-I-51805513

This week, we have a very simple message: be thankful for the loved ones in your life.  While we are counting our blessings at this holiday season, remember that the greatest blessings in our life are the people we love.  These are the people that influence our daily decisions, lift us up when we are down, support us in our dreams and stand by our sides in times of trial.  Without our loved ones, our lives would be incomplete.

While you are surrounded by family and friends this Thanksgiving holiday, take time to reminisce about the past and cherish memories by sharing stories and celebrating your lives together.  Make sure to let them know how important they are to you and that they are your greatest blessing!

Also, if you have an estate plan created, it is important to let your loved ones know about your plans and intentions.  We recommend doing this when the family is together so that everyone can understand why you made the choices that you did, which will help them maintain peace and strong relationships even through the future hardship of a death in the family.  Make sure to express to them that you created your estate plan for their benefit and because of your love for them.

Estate planning is truly about love.  It is the only way to ensure your loved ones are cared for even after you’re gone.  There is no greater gift.  If you have not created an estate plan for your family, do not delay.  If you do have a plan, make certain your beneficiaries know about your Trust and the steps they need to take when the time comes.

We hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.  May you be surrounded by those you love and reminded of the many blessings in your life.

Happy Thanksgiving from Morris Hall!

Planning is more than Just Estate Taxes

By | Estate Planning, Life Care Planning, Other, Probate | No Comments

I have been reading lately that since the current Estate Tax exemption is $5.25 million, there is little to no reason to properly plan your estate.  Since the government currently allows a person to pass $5.25 million to anyone without paying estate taxes, many purported pundits minimize the value of estate planning.

But this is simply a shortsighted perspective.  Yes, we would all like to reduce our tax bill, and it is terrific that the current estate tax laws help us do that.  But proper estate planning provides so much more.  Even for those of us with modest estates.

First of all, with a proper plan, you can avoid probate.  Probate is court.  And, I don’t know about you, but even as a lawyer, I want to avoid court – so I always presume, so do my clients.  Probate can be expensive, time consuming, and the information is public record.

Next there is providing protections for the beneficiaries.  Without proper planning, the assets that you worked hard to accumulate to provide for your loved ones can evaporate the second the funds land with your beneficiaries.  Without proper planning a creditor (think lawsuit!) can reach right in a take your loved one’s inheritance.

Then there is long-term care protection.  Having a proper plan in place can help mitigate against the risk of the costs of long-term care.  The cost of care rises every year, and with the advances in medicine we are living longer and longer (think about all those centenarians you know!).  A properly drafted plan can help reduce the risk of you dying destitute.

Then there is Congress.  That fickle crew we elect to run our country seems to change its collective mind more frequently than day changes to night.  So planning for estate taxes, though not currently an immediate issue, should be contemplated to be ready for the whims of Congress.

And this is just to name a few of the reasons proper estate planning is important, even in today’s climate of limited estate taxes.  Now is the time to make sure your plan meets your objectives.

For more information, or to schedule a free consultation, contact our office at 888.222.1328.

Jim Plitz, Attorney, Phoenix, Estate Planning, Asset Protection, LawyerContributed by MH Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe Estate Planning Attorney, James P. Pliz.

What the Attorneys of Morris Hall Can Do For You:
The attorneys at Morris Hall have 100’s of years of combined experience ensuring that families’ assets are protected from probate, unnecessary taxes, creditors, ex-spouses and Medicaid spend-down.  The attorneys also help those in Arizona and New Mexico to apply for and receive Medicaid assistance and Veterans Benefits.  Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Cave Creek, Tucson, Prescott, Flagstaff and Arrowhead.  Our New Mexico offices are located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe.  Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!

This blog should be used for informational purposes only.  It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice.  If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.