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Morris Hall June Webinar Series

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With so much of our time still being spent safely at home, the legal team at Morris Hall is continuing our webinar classes to help you through these difficult and confusing times. Any family or individual who has been affected by this pandemic, whether that effect is minuscule or substantial, is more than ever before pondering their future. Our lives may be filled with more than the normal amount of uncertainty, but it doesn’t mean we’re not able to find ever-important peace of mind. With proper planning and the guidance of our legal team, you can be ready for whatever life may bring. Here is a schedule of the webinars that are happening throughout the month of June.

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William “Bill” Morgan Joins Morris Hall

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PHOENIX –Morris Hall is proud to announce the addition of William A. Morgan to its practice.

Bill practices in the areas of sophisticated estate planning and administration, estate tax, and income tax planning for families and their businesses. His wide-ranging representation and advocacy of clients has afforded him considerable experience before the IRS and multiple state tax agencies. Bill has advised and assisted clients in all stages of estate and tax planning, from designing, drafting and implementing estate and gift plans in partnership with clients and their advisors, to administering the plans through multiple generations, including preparing estate and income tax returns.

Bill received his bachelor’s degree from George Washington University, and then obtained his Juris Doctor and Master of Laws in Taxation from Golden Gate University School of Law in San Francisco. Bill is an active member of the State Bar of Arizona and of the State Bar of Massachusetts.

Bill will focus on serving the Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, and East Phoenix areas.

Welcome, Bill!

bill morgan

Bill Morgan
(602) 249-1328
7600 N. 16th Street, Ste. 105
Phoenix, AZ 85020


Morris Hall, PLLC, has offices throughout Arizona and New Mexico, including Phoenix, Tucson, Oro Valley, Mesa, Prescott, Sedona, Flagstaff, Scottsdale, Carefree, Surprise, Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Las Cruces. Celebrating its 50th year, its sole commitment to estate planning matters has helped thousands of families meet their long-term estate and financial goals. The firm is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys (AAEPA).  AAEPA is an organization serving the needs of legal professionals concentrating on estate planning. Through the AAEPA’s comprehensive training, educational programs, and state-of-the-art estate planning techniques, the academy fosters excellence among its members and helps them deliver the highest quality estate planning services to their clients.

Estate Planning and COVID-19

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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 

How Proper Estate Planning Can Protect What is Important to You

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There is a better way to plan, whether you have no plan, are planning with a Will, or are planning with a Trust, we want to make sure your plan works for you.

One way to plan is with a living trust. A trust is a legal document that not only controls the distribution of your assets after you are gone, but also provides protections to handle your affairs if you are incapacitated. A trust can also shield assets from lawsuits, creditors, it can protect the inheritance your beneficiaries receive in the event of a divorce or bankruptcy.  Not all trusts are created equal. With proper estate planning, the attorneys at Morris Hall, can put a plan together that protects what is important to you.

Morris Hall, has been providing quality legal services since 1970. Our goal at Morris Hall is to make sure our clients have the peace of mind in knowing that their legacies and loved ones are protected.

When you meet with an attorney at Morris Hall, we will discuss your individual needs, address your concerns, and tailor an estate plan custom to your wishes. Our job as attorneys is not to simply be scriveners, our job is to listen and provide feedback and guidance. As counselors, we are trained to listed to our clients, address their concerns as well as provide guidance and help them address risks that they may not have considered.

Let me give you a real-life personal example. My grandfather, had his estate plan written by a local attorney who also happened to be a member of his church. For those who may not know, once you successfully obtain your license as an attorney you can practice in ANY area of law. This particular attorney happened to focus his practice on DUI/DWI cases not estate planning. My grandfather told this attorney he wanted his estate to be split equally between his wife (my grandfather was remarried and his wife was his second wife) and his five kids. Sounds simple enough right? Wrong, since this attorney did not focus his practice on estate planning, he was not familiar with all the nuances that go into a proper estate plan. So as opposed to counseling my grandfather, the attorney acting as a scrivener drafted the plan exactly as outlined by my grandfather. Below is a copy of the portion of the document (names have been redacted to protect the identities of the parties).

wq

Well, my grandfather’s good intentions to provide for his children and his wife were quickly unraveled. After my grandfather passed away his estate became a nightmare to administer. Since the trust directed that the assets be split equally between the surviving spouse and his kids, his wife now owns her home 50% with her five step children. And not only that, one of the kids is getting divorced and the other one has filed bankruptcy and their soon to be ex-spouse and creditors now can try to attach their claims to this interest in the property they inherited.

Had my grandfather sought the advice of an attorney who practiced in estate planning he could have received better advice to protect what was important to him. An experienced estate planning attorney would have recognized this issue and drafted the trust in a way to provide for the surviving spouse and children in a way that would not have required them to have a 50/50 interest in the residence. An experienced attorney would have also spotted the issues with the children (one who has been divorced 4 times and the other who has filed bankruptcy and has several creditors) and drafted a trust that would have protected their inheritance.

Moral of the story is that anyone can draft a will or a trust BUT only an experienced estate planning attorney can draft a PROPER plan to adequately address your needs and protect what is important to you.  

 

lisa y wynnContributed by Morris Hall, PLLC Estate Planning Attorney, Lisa Y. Wynn.

About Morris Hall, PLLC:
At Morris Hall, PLLC we have focused our legal practice on estate planning for over 45 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.  Our New Mexico offices are located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe.  Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Carefree, Tucson, Oro Valley, Prescott, Flagstaff, Sedona and Surprise.  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.

Phoenix Medicaid attorneys

Will You Need Medicaid as a Senior?

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Phoenix Medicaid attorneysAs you plan for your retirement years, you are likely focused on saving enough money to live comfortably when you reach your “Golden Years.” You may have a financial advisor who is helping you to project what your expenses will likely be and determine the best way to reach your retirement savings goals. One thing you may not have factored into your retirement plans yet is the likelihood that you, or a spouse, will need long-term care. If you do end up needing long-term care (LTC) you may find yourself turning to Medicaid for help covering the cost of that care. LTC expenses are something that should be considered within your retirement plans and your comprehensive estate plan. 

Will You Need Long-Term Care?

As you age, the likelihood of needing LTC increases dramatically. When you enter your retirement years, around age 65, you stand about a 50 percent chance of eventually needing LTC. If you are married, your spouse has the same odds. The longer you live, the more those odds increase. If you are still here at age 85, your odds will have increased to a 75 percent chance of one day needing LTC, and the cost of that care will be high. Nationwide, the average monthly cost of LTC runs about $6,500, or just over $80,000 per year as of 2016. 

How Will You Pay for LTC?

Like most seniors, you will probably rely on Medicare to cover the majority of your healthcare expenses. Unfortunately, however, Medicare only covers LTC expenses under very limited circumstances, and even then, only for a very limited period of time. Furthermore, most basic health insurance plans also exclude LTC expenses. Therefore, unless you purchased a standalone long-term care insurance policy prior to the need for coverage, you will be faced with the prospect of covering your LTC expenses out of pocket. For the average person, an entire retirement nest egg could be lost to LTC costs if forced to pay for them out of pocket. This is where the need to qualify for Medicaid comes in because Medicaid will help with LTC costs.

Qualifying for Medicaid

The possibility of getting help with your LTC expenses is certainly good news; however, qualifying for Medicaid benefits can be problematic for a senior who failed to plan ahead. Because Medicaid is a “needs based” program, applicants must have both income and assets below the program limit to qualify for benefits. Given that the “countable resources” limit (assets) is as low as $2,000 for an individual applicant in most states, it becomes easy to see how a senior might fail the asset test for Medicaid eligibility. If you fail the test, Medicaid will deny your application until such time as your countable assets fall below the acceptable limit. Simply giving assets away, however, isn’t a solution because Medicaid also uses a five-year “look-back” period that allows Medicaid to review your finances for the five-year period prior to application. If you made asset transfers for less than fair market value, Medicaid will flag those transfers and may impose a waiting period based on those transfers.

The best way to ensure that you will qualify for Medicaid benefits if you need them during your retirement years is to include Medicaid planning in your comprehensive estate plan now.  Doing so will protect your hard-earned assets and ensure that you are eligible for Medicaid benefits as a senior if you need them.

Contact MH Attorneys

If you have additional questions or concerns about long-term care costs and the need for Medicaid planning, contact an attorney at Morris Hall PLLC by calling 888-222-1328 to schedule your appointment today.

What We Learned From Hurricanes, Earthquakes, Wildfires, Floods and Tornadoes – BE PREPARED!

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The recent natural catastrophes, including hurricanes, earthquakes, tornados, wildfires, floods and other disasters, cause great concern for peoples’ welfare.  The immediate issue revolves around saving lives, health and security.  It will take months and years, if even that, to recover from some of these tragedies.

One of the serious consequences of these occurrences is often felt almost as immediately, and that is the loss of important legal documents. People create legal documents for estate planning, for the protection and disposition of their precious possessions, and for the care of their persons when they are no longer able.  Timely access to these documents is essential.

Another issue arises as to the protection of items of great sentimental or historical value.

Too often in emergency situations, people discover that their legal documents and the documents of others for whom they now have responsibility,  which documents they thought were just fine, are very inadequate  for the unanticipated situations in which they find themselves. 

Now is an appropriate time to have your legal documents reviewed.   It is also important to arrange now for the safekeeping of these documents.  There are protections, which thousands now wish they had, that will assure that your most important documents will not vanish in the earthquake, or flood, or whirlwind.

We invite you to visit with an attorney at Morris Hall, PLLC to be sure your important legal documents are up to date, and are protected in the event of a catastrophe.

incapacity plan

Do I Need an Incapacity Plan?

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incapacity planWhen you think of creating an estate plan you likely think about executing a Last Will and Testament to ensure that your estate assets are distributed according to your wishes after you are gone. While planning for the distribution of your estate assets is certainly one important aspect of a comprehensive estate plan, it should not be the sole focus of an estate plan. On the contrary, a well thought out estate plan should include a variety of additional inter-related components, including an incapacity plan. After all, incapacity is not something that only occurs the elderly. Incapacity can strike anyone at any time. Having an incapacity plan within your overall estate plan is the best way to protect yourself, your assets, and your loved ones in the event you do suffer a period of incapacity.

Incapacity Fact and Figures

Like many people, you may associate the term “incapacity” with an old age-related condition such as Alzheimer’s disease. While age-related dementia certainly can be the cause of incapacity, it is hardly the only cause. In fact, you might be shocked to learn how likely you are to suffer a period of incapacity long before you reach old age. Consider the following facts and figures published by the Council for Disability Awareness:

  • Just over 1 in 4 of today's 20-year-olds will become disabled before they retire.
  • Over 37 million Americans are classified as disabled; about 12% of the total population. More than 50% of those disabled Americans are in their working years, from 18-64
  • An otherwise healthy 35-year-old female has a 24% chance of becoming disabled for 3 months or longer during her working career.
  • An otherwise healthy 35-year-old male has a 21% chance of becoming disabled for 3 months or longer during his working career.
  • The average length of disability for that 35-year-old female or male is 82 months.

What Happens If You Do Not Have an Incapacity Plan in Place?

Often, the best way to illustrate the need for something is to point out what happens without it. Imagine that you are incapacitated tomorrow as a result of a tragic motor vehicle collision or a serious workplace accident. Can you answer the following questions?

  1. Who will make healthcare decisions for you if you cannot make them?
  2. Who will take over control of your assets and property?
  3. Who will handle paying your bills and monitor your finances?
  4. Who will make personal decision for you such as where you will live?

Unless you have an incapacity plan in place, the answers to these questions remain uncertain. Even if you are married, there is no guarantee that your spouse will have the legal authority to take over all decision making for you nor have the legal authority necessary to take over your assets. All too often, what happens is that family members end up in a conflict over who will make decisions and take over control. That conflict sometimes ends up in a protracted, and costly court battle that may create a permanent divide in the family. In the meantime, both you and your assets remain in limbo. The easy way to prevent all of this from occurring is to include an incapacity component in your comprehensive estate plan.

What Might Be Included in My Incapacity Plan?

Every incapacity plan is unique because it is created to meet the needs of the creator; however, some common additions to an incapacity plan include:

  • Power of attorney – allows you to appoint an Agent who will have your legal authority to act on your behalf in general, or specific, situations.
  • Advanced directive – allows you to appoint an Agent to make healthcare decisions for you if you cannot make them yourself.
  • Revocable living trust works by allowing you to appoint yourself as the Trustee of the trust and your designated successor as the successor Trustee. Assets are then transferred into the trust and you continue to manage them, as the Trustee, as long as you are able to do so. If you become incapacitated, the successor Trustee automatically takes over the management of those assets without the need for court approval.

Contact Us

For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about incapacity planning, contact an experienced estate planning attorney at Morris Hall PLLC by calling 888-222-1328 to schedule your appointment today.

Children over 18? Parents Can No Longer Make the Decisions

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Does a parent have the automatic right to make the decisions for their children over eighteen (18) years of age?

In the past two weeks, I met with two families to assist them in their estate planning options. There was a common theme – each family thought that their children (all over 18) didn’t need their own individual planning because the parents would be able to  be in charge should the need arise.

Let’s take an example to illustrate:  Betty’s eighteen year old son, Sam, was involved in a motorcycle accident which left him unconscious and in a coma.  Can Betty legally make Sam’s healthcare and financial decisions now that he is unable to? No, Betty would legally be unable to do so just because she is Sam’s mother. If Sam had created Healthcare or Financial Powers of Attorney nominating Betty as his primary agent, then Betty would have the appropriate authority. However, the fact that Betty is Sam’s mother doesn’t give her an automatic right to make Sam’s decisions when he is unable to do so.

In our example, if Sam had not created Powers of Attorney, Betty would have to initiate a Guardianship/Conservatorship at the courthouse. This type of proceeding is called a Living Probate, and is very expensive, time consuming and can be humiliating.

And yet another more common example:  Susan and Bill’s eighteen year old daughter, Jill, is about to graduate from high school, and heading off to college in a few months. Will Jill’s parents be able to get access to her medical records should Jill end up at the hospital while away at school? Will they be able to tell the doctor which procedures to do on behalf of Jill? The answers are “No.”

In this common example, Jill is considered an adult, and must designate in writing who can step in and receive her health information or make her health decisions. If she does not do so, and becomes incapacitated, her parents will have to go to court to initiate a Guardianship/Conservatorship.

We can avoid this unnecessary cost and humiliation during our life. How? If you are over eighteen years of age, you need a properly drafted Healthcare Power of Attorney, Mental Healthcare Power of Attorney, Living Will, and Authorization to Disclose Health Information (HIPAA) which nominates an individual(s) chosen by you, not the court, to get access to and handle your medical decisions should you become incapacitated.

 

Wendy-Harn-Photo  Contributed by Morris Hall, PLLC Tucson, Oro Valley and Green Valley Estate Planning Attorney and Partner, Wendy W. Harn.

About Morris Hall, PLLC:
At Morris Hall, PLLC we have focused our legal practice on estate planning for over 45 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, Carefree, Tucson, Oro Valley, Prescott, Sedona, 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.

 

Let’s Talk About Death

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I am fortunate enough to be able to talk to the public about estate planning.  In fact, I have upcoming events on February 17 & 18 in Albuquerque and Rio Rancho.  These are great ways to help break down the walls, the discomfort, when talking about death and dying.

One of my opening questions is: “Who here is going to die?”  This, inevitably, gets at least a few smiles and chuckles.  But why? It is not a funny sentiment; but it is an uncomfortable one.

Death is going to happen to us all.  We may be able to delay it or fight it, but each and every one of us will succumb to death’s grip in the end.  Statistics show that 55% of people do not have even the most rudimentary plan, such as a Last Will.  That means 100% of us will die, but only 45% are planning for the inevitable.

The conversation has to start.  It should not be a “back burner” issue, one to get to “tomorrow.”  Talking about death does not make it happen.  Talk to your loved ones, you family, your friends.  It is ok to talk about getting a plan in place.  It is ok to talk about what you would like to have happen when your time comes.

Let’s talk about death.  Let’s put your plan in place.  Then let’s not use it for years and years (have you ever noticed that it only rains when you forget your umbrella?).

We will help you with that conversation.  Make an appointment to meet with one of our estate planning attorneys, and let’s talk.

 jim-plitz Contributed by Morris Hall, PLLC Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Las Cruces Estate Planning Attorney and Partner, James P. Plitz.

About Morris Hall, PLLC:
At Morris Hall, PLLC we have focused our legal practice on estate planning for over 45 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, Carefree, Tucson, Oro Valley, Prescott, Sedona, 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.