Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Odds are worse for finding a Nursing Home for Dad

Liz Sundvick is a member of WealthCounsel who practices law in the state of Nevada.  I found her commentary about gender differences in nursing home availability to be valuable.  Her comments are based on the article article “Fewer Beds For Men Entering Nursing Homes” The New York Times The New Old Age Blog (January 30, 2011)

Finding a nursing home for an ailing loved one, and a good nursing home that is affordable, is already a fairly difficult task. Unfortunately, it’s only likely to grow in difficulty as the number of elderly in need of care begins to peak. Unfortunately, too, there are some factors that you just might not think of. Like this: it is disproportionately difficult to find a nursing home for a male patient.

This fact was recently pointed out over at the New Old Age Blog and I thought it was worth sharing. What is working against our male elderly loved ones is not much more than simple math, with a bit of Medicare policy work at play. As you are likely aware, women have a longer life span on average and therefore there are more women in nursing homes to begin with; that’s already a bottleneck based on population statistics. Then you throw in the fact that, under Medicare rules, most rooms in nursing homes are no more than “semi-private”, a delicate euphemism, and co-ed rooms aren’t allowed either. Thus, with more women already in such rooms the more that only women can be admitted into a facility. The math is fairly easy to figure out, but it’s a strange and unintended consequence nonetheless.

Topics like this one can often trigger even more questions in your mind.  Please give me a call to schedule a meeting, then we can discuss this topic and others that might be relevant to your estate planning.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Estate Planning For Women (And the Men Who Love Them)

Question #5

A fellow attorney (and award-winning journalist) Deborah Jacobs authored the book, “Estate Planning Smarts: A Practical, User-Friendly, Action-Oriented Guide”.  In her Forbes article titled “Estate Planning for Women (And the Men who Love Them)” she indicated the below question is a question every financially savvy woman should be able to answer. 

What's the difference between a will and a living trust?

There is widespread confusion about the differences between these two documents, and when you need one rather than the other. A common misconception is that living (revocable) trusts avoid estate taxes, which is not true. Both a will and a living trust can be used to transfer assets, but each has unique uses. For example, a living trust can hold assets for your benefit while you are alive--say, in case you are suffering from dementia. Only a will can be used to appoint a guardian for a child.

In some states, living trusts are also used to avoid or limit the cost of probate--the process through which a court determines that a will is legally valid and approves the distribution of assets covered by that will. Whether probate is costly or burdensome will depend on the state. Still, there are times when you might want to use a revocable trust to limit how much of your estate goes through probate or to avoid it altogether. For example, if you are concerned about publicity over your net worth or the identity of your beneficiaries, you might transfer assets through a trust--which, unlike a will, is not a public document. Someone leaving assets to a domestic partner might use a revocable trust, because it is harder for family members to challenge a trust than a will.

A living trust is also useful if you own real estate in a state that is not your primary residence. Real estate is governed by the probate rules of the state in which it is situated. Unless the property is in a living trust, an Illinois resident who has a home in Florida, for instance, would need to probate the property separately there.

Questions like this one can often trigger even more questions in your mind.  Please accept my invitation to schedule a meeting where we can discuss this topic and others that might be relevant to your estate planning.  Give my office a call to set a meeting.