Friday, May 27, 2016

How to Draw Up a Special Needs Trust for a Child With Disabilities

Who will be the trustee? Because the rules of managing a trust are so complex, most lawyers advise contracting with an expert. Fees average 1 to 1.5 percent, Williams says.
Will a family member act as co-trustee or guardian? This option lets a family member approve the trust accounting and make the requests for a person with disabilities who can't do it himself.

Where will the child live? Money from a special needs trust can't be used for housing or food if the person with disabilities received government benefits. If the $733 a month in SSI payments won't cover housing, and the person can't work, it's important to explore other options.

Are other documents needed? In the eyes of the law, a person 18 and older is considered an adult. If a parent or other relative needs to make decisions, documents providing for guardianship, health care surrogate, power of attorney or other functions may be required.

Is a new ABLE account a better choice? Legislation signed in late 2014 established accounts similar to 529 college savings plans for people with certain disabilities diagnosed before age 26. The federal government and state governments are still establishing the extra rules, though the accounts should be available in many states by the end of the year. In general, family members can contribute up to $14,000 a year to the accounts tax-free, and recipients could keep their government benefits until the accounts exceed $100,000. After that, they would lose SSI but remain eligible for Medicaid. These accounts would be less restrictive than a special needs trust, though experts say some people with disabilities may need both options.

Read more @

Friday, May 20, 2016

No, You Don't Have to Disinherit a Child With Special Needs

Over the past 20 years, the number of students with disabilities has increased at a faster rate than both the general population and school enrollment.

In 2010, approximately 2.8 million school-age children were reported to have a disability. (The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) defines “disability” as: “mental retardation, hearing impairments (including deafness), speech or language impairments, visual impairments (including blindness), serious emotional disturbance… and who, by reason thereof, need special education and related services.”

Of course those statistics only include children with disabilities who are students; some number of children are unable to enroll in school because the nature of their disability is too severe.

Many people assume they will have to, in effect, disinherit a child with disabilities because if they leave them money… they’ll lose the government benefits they are entitled to.


Read more @


Friday, May 13, 2016

Will You Go Down With Your Business?

Maritime tradition holds that captains go down with their sinking ships, but ships need not go down when their captains expire . . . unless the “ships” are businesses whose captains/owners have not prepared their businesses to sail without them.

Read more @

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Your Will And Trusts Aren't Enough: Using Beneficiary Designations As An Estate Plan

There are several methods of transferring property at death. A transfer of probate property by a valid will or a deed of transfer will generally involve the assistance and advice of an attorney. While transferring property through probate is unavoidable in certain cases, this does have its downsides. As the probate court becomes involved, the transfer of property can become more costly and delays can occur. Some of the largest transfers of wealth made by Americans are directed by beneficiary designations and outside of probate. Unfortunately, the beneficiary designation is sometimes made without a great deal of thought, almost no advice and in a hurry. We always tell our estate planning students that a beneficiary designation is an estate plan because it provides a mechanism for wealth transfer. However, beneficiary designations should be thoughtfully made in accordance with other estate planning documents, as the decision can have both intended and, perhaps, unintended consequences.

Read more @


Friday, April 29, 2016

Five Ways Business Owners Can Avoid Probate Problems

Probate is the legal process to establish the validity of a will. Probate court is where you go when there are disputes over a will’s validity. Probate judges make the final call. Simple enough, right?

If you’ve been in business for long, chances are you’ve heard at least a few tales of probate problems plaguing family members, would-be successors or remaining business partners.

Open court battles, lengthy delays and outrageous expenses – all part of the lore of the evil nature of probate. In many cases, however, the root cause is a messed up estate plan. In and of itself, probate doesn’t have to be contentious, lengthy or expensive. Problems arise when a decedent leaves a jumble of difficulties for the probate court to untangle.

Your business interest holds a number of tangible and intangible property rights, and these rights may be a mystery to a probate judge. Leaving the disposition of your business and its assets to the probate court is like leaving your kids with an unknown babysitter. You get what you get.

Read more @