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    What kind of financial help can I get for my mother. She has outlived her money and I am now trying to support her.
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    James R. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    For medical needs - Medicaid. For financial support, food stamps, SSI, SSD and cash assistance. Apply to the NYC Human Resources Administration
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    David T. , Financial Planner answers:
    Hello, Unfortunately I cannot advise on any financial support options, but you can get her Medicaid to cover medical expenses/home care services. If you would like guidance with Medicaid, I can be of help.

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    My mom who is 76 years old has been living with me for the last 5 years. My husband and I support her 100% since she does not have any source of income. Would she lose her insurance via MassHealth if we claim her as a dependent in our taxes?
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    Donald F. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    Claiming your mother as a dependent for income tax purposes has no effect on her MassHealth eligibility. However, HOW you support her may. Cash or deposits to her bank account are income to her, and subject to income limits on eligibility. In contrast, payments you make to others to provide goods or services to your mother are not, ordinarily, treated as income to her or taken into account in determining her eligibility.
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    Emily S. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    MassHealth is not concerned with whether or not someone claims your mother as a dependent for income tax purposes.

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    I am the trustee of my moms estate. She passed away in November 2016. I have been paying her mortgage all of 2016. May I claim the mortgage interest on my taxes either for the entire year or since her passing since the house is now mine?
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    John L L. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    Generally, in order to be qualified to take the interest deduction, you must be legally obligated on the note. However, once you own the home or gain an equitable interest in the home, you are entitled to deduct the interest on your return from the date of your mother's death.
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    Jean G. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    If the house is in the trust and the mortgage payments were made with trust funds, the interest deduction belongs to the trust. Once the house is distributed to you and you are paying the mortgage from your funds, you should be able to take the mortgage interest deduction. I suggest you verify this advice with a CPA or tax accountant.

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    I was denied Texas homestead exemptions because my spouse gets TX homestead exemptions. We are two married senior citizens. Why can't we both deduct homestead exemptions?
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    Richard B. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    No, the Homestead is based upon your primary residence, and only one homestead can be claimed for property tax purposes.

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    My brother had an IRA and annuity with a designated beneficiary which if considered an asset would make his estate in excess of $40,000.00. He had no will. Are IRAs with designated beneficiaries considered to be assets of an estate?
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    Jeffrey N. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    IRAs and annuities are assets of a decedent's estate and their value needs to be included in any estate tax return that may need to be filed; however, as long as an individual is designated as the beneficiary of those accounts, they are not included in the probate estate. Therefore, the individual beneficiaries can file claims without resorting to any court decree.
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    Benjamin K. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    An IRA would be reported to the probate court but it is not a probate asset as it is transferred outside of the probate courts jurisdiction.
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    Mary Anne C. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    the short answer is the IRA with the named beneficiary is not a probatable asset. However, it is an asset that would have to be disclosed on the 706. You did not say whether he owned other property, or had life insurance or other bank accts, etc. You may want to talk to one of the clerk is the probate court jurisdiction where your brother resided. They can guide you and if the estate is more complicated than you thought, you should seek the advice of counsel.
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    Malcolm B. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    No. The IRA with named, and living, beneficiary is not considered an asset needing probate court processing. The beneficiary needs a certified copy of the death certificate and contacts the IRA manager.
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    Martin B. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    NO. it passes outside probate to the designated beneficiary.However, it must appear on the estate tax return.There is no estate tax below $2,000,000 in ct.
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    Gina B. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    An asset, such as an IRA, with a living named beneficiary is not a PROBATE asset, but it is part of the estate for estate tax purposes.
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    Hyman D. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    All assets one has control over at death are includable as Estate assets for tax purposes. Only assets in a person's name alone are probated. So an IRA or Annuity with a named beneficiary avoids probate, but not estate tax purposes. The limit for estate taxes in 2013 (Federal) is $5.25 million and $2.0 million for CT estate taxes. However, the full amount of the IRA is taxable to you as income.
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    Deborah H. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    Assets with designated beneficiaries are assets of an estate ( and will need to be shown on the CT 706 NT, but are not assets of a probate estate. Therefore, the probate estate is considered under $40,000 for purposes of filing as a small estate.
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    Simon L. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    Assets with joint owners or designated beneficiaries do not pass through probate, but are required to be listed on the CT706NT.
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    Steven F. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    They are only assets for purposes of the Connecticut Estate Tax (CT-706) but they are called "non-probate" assets. This means they are not reported on the estate Inventory so your brother's "estate" for purposes of Connecticut's short form administration statute would be less than $40,000.00.
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    Joseph C. , Financial Planner answers:
    An IRA or an annuity is a probate asset if it does not have a designated beneficiary or the beneficiary designated is "my estate." Usually, IRAs and annuities have a designated beneficiary. The executor should be able to confirm with the financial institution whether there is a designated beneficiary of the account and the name(s) of the beneficiary(ies).

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    I have a durable power of attorney from my father and I have been paying and handling all of his debts for him since being hospitalized 6 months ago. He has been in an Assisted Living facility since March, and he recently decided he wants to go home once he makes much needed & costly repairs in order to live at his own home safely. He has a small home and approx $14,000 left in bank. I advised him not to hire a company to do repairs because he cannot afford to pay both these debts with such little income left. He is 93 and I feel he can no longer care for himself alone at home. He wants me to be left alone to make his own decisions and I don't know what to do! Should I remove myself as his POA in order to let him do as he wishes and to protect myself from being sued by AL if he cant pay the balance due, prior to leaving? I signed the AL contract for him as POA because he was moved from rehab directly to the AL and they refused to take him that day if I didn't sign the contract for him asap! Any answers are much appreciated!
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    John N. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    Generally speaking, serving as an agent under a power of attorney does not subject the agent to financial liability. However if you signed a financial guarantee (i.e. guaranteeing to pay his obligations) in the admissions agreement or contract, you could be individually liable. --- Any specific legal questions regarding powers of attorney in New Jersey should be directed to a New Jersey attorney. I am a member of the Pennsylvania Bar only. Thus the information in this response is general in nature only and should not be construed as specific legal advice.
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    William B. , Geriatric Care Manager answers:
    Although I am not an attorney, my experiences with the role of a POA does not make you vulnerable for being sued unless you have made decisions on your father's behalf that was knowingly unethical or unlawful or with an intention of doing harm. However, I would want to know how you signed his admission agreement with the Assisted Care Facility. Regarding your Father's financial dilemmas, I suggest that you and he consult with an attorney or financial advisor that he has had a a relationship with for their take on his finances and his long term care needs. Regarding his desire to return to his home, in addition to the safety and needed repairs of his home, someone, i.e, a geriatric care manager ( like myself) should perform a functional assessment on him to determine that he can function independently without continuous assistance. Hope this helps.

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    My mother added me to her savings account as trustee because she was unable to do her banking. When she passed three months ago she had a small amount of money in the account and had to pay back social security. I paid the bank 500.00 in cash toward her debit and now I just found out that the bank deducted from my joint account(with my husband) without me knowing the balance due for my mother's account and deposited it in her savings paying her debit. Is this legal in the sate of MA? When the bank went in to my account and deducted this money they caused payments that I had made for bills to bounce. Now my husband and I are being charged over draft fees plus late payment fees for bills that were not paid because of what the bank did.
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    Patricia B. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    Unfortunately, banks have been known to do this. They follow the social security #s on file with the account. If your SS# was associated int Mom's account they take the position that the overdraft due them was ALSO your responsibility, not just your Moms.

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    Our mother is in the late stage of Alzheimer's Disease. My 83 year old father is still caring for her at home along with my sister and I, and health aides. Our mother does not have a Power of Attorney. And my father has not petitioned for guardianship. We are worried about taking care of her financial and medical needs if something happens to my father. If something happened to him, she would have to be placed in a nursing home. As far as I know, their house and car and most financial accounts are in both of their names. They have a very small house and little assets. We finally convinced him to get a Power of Attorney. My father knows he should have taken care of these matters but he didn't and is procrastinating about handling them now. What happens if my father becomes hospitalized and not able to make decisions or he passes away? What should we convince him to do now to avoid issues if and when this happens?
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    Bernard F. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    It is a bit late. Problem 1 is you have no legal authority to deal with your mother's affairs and it is too late now to get authority as she is no longer competent. Problem 2 is dad's affiars. Your power of attorney should allow you to handle his finances. When he dies, you hire local counsel and open an estate. Mom would need to go into a nursing home. If she lives any length of time, all of their assets would be spent on nursing home care. There is no way to "avoid the issues." You just have to deal with them as they arise.

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    My 87 Year Old Aunt just began receiving her deceased Husbands Social Security. (Her husband's SS was greater than her SS amount.) In addition to the SS check, she also receives Medicaid and Medicare and some Pension benefits. Given the large amounts of benefits that she receives is there any one of which which would prevent her from having a bank account?
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    Nathan F. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    Yes, she can have a bank account. However, in order to maintain eligibility for Medicaid, she has to have less than $1,000 in total available resources , and whatever is in her bank account would count against that limit.

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    I have some large debts. And am looking into bankruptcy. I have been told that a percent of my wages will be taken from my paycheck? Is this true? What is this called? Do I have any recourse to this deduction of wages from my paycheck?
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    Linda L. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    An attorney will need a whole lot more information. Your assets, debts, income and regular expenditures need to be analyzed. If a Chapter 7 is proper for you, you generally do not pay anything to a Trustee. If a Chapter 13 is proper for you, you can expect to pay something monthly to a Trustee. Most BK attorneys give free consults to consumers, so please set one up asap to get the facts and the law as it pertains to you.

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    My husband charged on many credit cards in his name. He has passed on, and I am getting a lien on my house because of these credit card bills. Is there a resolution to this issue?
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    H Amos G. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    Unless the house was in just his name or unless the credit card agreement was in both names, it would be unusual for a credit card company to get a lien on a home due to one person's credit card bills. It would be important to examine all of the papers involved in this transaction before reching a definitive conclusion, however.

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    Are taxfree assets in a trust, tax-free to the named beneficaries? What taxes might I expect during the disbursement of this trust?
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    Richard G. , Senior Issues Advisor answers:
    Your question regarding taxation of trusts is difficult to answer without knowing the type of trust or its terms. Generally speaking any taxes due are payable by the trust, this would include income taxes, capital gains taxes, estate and inheritance taxes. If you are referring to a revocable living trust where beneficiaries are inheriting the trust assets following the death of the Grantor all estate and inheritance taxes are paid by the trust before distribution to the beneficiaries. During the administration of the trust, all income and capital gains taxes are payable by the trust. Once assets are distributed to a beneficiary the beneficiary will pay income taxes. Where the beneficiary inherits in a trust, the trust is responsible for all income and capital gains taxes once the trust is transferred. For more information on trust and taxation of trusts please call.

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    My father was unmarried when he died, with no living will, in 2008. At the time of his death he was 61. At present, he would be 65. Without a wife, are there any possible recipients of his social security benefits?
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    Mark A. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    unfortunately, only if Dad has a disabled beneficiary or a beneficiary under the age of 18 will there be any benefits after Dad passes away.

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    Do I have to file federal and state income tax returns if my only income is social security? I show no income.
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    Marci V. , Geriatric Care Manager answers:
    If you are unmarried and at least 65 years of age, then you must file an income tax return if your gross income is $11,200 or more. However, if you live on Social Security benefits, you don't include this in gross income. If this is the only income you receive, then your gross income equals zero, and you don't have to file a federal income tax return. But if you do earn other income that is not tax-exempt, then each year you must determine whether the total exceeds $11,200. If you are married and file a joint return with a spouse who is also 65 or older, you must file a return if your combined gross income is $21,800 or more. If your spouse is under 65 years old, then the threshold amount decreases to $20,650. Keep in mind that these income thresholds only apply to the 2012 tax year, and generally increase slightly each year.

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    My husband is in a nursing home. We have no joint bank accounts. In 2013, I filed a Federal tax return as a joint return. The credit union, however, will not allow the refund check from this return, to be deposited in this account. They say they cannot deposit the monies because my husband's name is not the on account. What can I do to deposit the monies? My husband has not granted anyone Power of Attorney (POA).
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    Richard N. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    If it is not too late and he is willing to do so, I would recommend having him sign a Power of Attorney making you his Agent. If he is unwilling or unable to do so and the bank will not let you open a joint account by yourself, it may be necessary to file for guardianship.

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    My aunt's sister recently died. At the time of her passing she had several passbook accounts "in trust for" her surviving sister. How should the sister obtain control of that money? The bank offered 1. a check in the surviving sister's name OR 2. a check written to the estate of the deceased sister. Is there a difference in terms of how this money is disbursed?
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    Leonard K. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    The check goes to the surviving sister, however, in NJ it is subject to the NJ Inheritance tax of 11% over the first $25,000 of the surviving sister's total inheritance and the bank, generally, will only allow 1/2 of the balance to be given to the sister pending the bureau's receipt of the tax return and any tax due.

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    If my only income is from Social Security, Do I have to file Ohio State Taxes? Actually, I also have a retirement pension of less than 1500.00 a yr. Do I file State and Federal taxes?
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    Maureen C. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    If you are single and your income is greater than $25,000, you are required to file. If you are married and filing jointly, and your combined income is greater than $32,000, you are required to file.
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    Paul N. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    You probably don't have to file, but it would be best to file, anyway. The IRS computers will want to compare the 1099-R retirement information with a tax return. If it finds no tax return, it will then likely send you a letter about not finding a return, and you will have to reply explaining why you didn't file. So, in short, it best to file a return with no tax due than to go through the fallout of not having filed. NOTE: Without going through the process of preparing a return, you really won't know if you needed to. Certainly, I cannot tell you whether you do or do not need to file, since I don't have enough information to make that judgment.
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    Debbe L. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    If you are 65 or older and single, you do not have to file returns unless your gross income is $11,200 or more. However, if federal or state tax was withheld from your pension, you may want to file returns to have the tax refunded to you.

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    There is a trust in my family that has been paying taxes for many many years as a complex trust. The trust do not intend to use the distribution as a "distribution deduction". If so, is an eventual distribution from that trust taxable to the beneficiary?
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    Vincent R. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    Generally, The final distribution carries out income first and the balance would not be subject to income taxation. To be sure, your trust would need to be reviewed by an experienced attorney
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    Vincent R. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    Generally, The final distribution carries out income first and the balance would not be subject to income taxation. To be sure, your trust would need to be reviewed by an experienced attorney

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    I am 62, with an AICD (a pacemaker-like device) for cardiomyopathy (deterioration of the heart muscle). Because of my age and my health condition, I am considering my long-term care plans.
    I need to decide if I should maintain my long-term care insurance at $3200 per year or use that money in a pretax medical account thru my husband's work. Now that I have retired, that amount is a significant ding on our cash flow!
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    Jack S. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    It depends on the amount of benefits, payout period of the LTCI contract, the amount of premiums previously paid and the increase potential of the premiums. This will need to be carefully considered with a growth potential of the pretax medical account.

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    My 95 year old mom had trust documents drawn up in Arizona.

    I have complete Power of Attorney and there is also a decedent's trust in my father's name, also drawn up in Arizona.

    Since creating those documents, however, I have had to move her to CA so I could better care for her. Are those family trust documents from AZ, still valid in CA?
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    Mark H. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    Estate planning documents, in general, are portable and will be effective in a new state. However, all such documents should be reviewed by local counsel, to ensure they are sufficient and to determine if any revisions would be advisable, due to the change in domicile. Some documents, such as health care directives, are always a good idea to update and renew, in the new jurisdiction, but this requires the principal to retain sufficient capacity to execute new documents.
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    Lawrence S. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    The general answer is yes, they should be fine. However, I always recommend to my clients to meet with an Elder Law Attorney in the new state to a) review the documents to see if there is any state specific language in the documents they have or may need in the new state and b) so that they'll have a attorney to go to in case they need help in their new state. It is better to check this out beforehand, so you can have the peace of mind knowing that all is in order in your new state.

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    I believe that my mother and father made funeral arrangements in 2003 using a trust. Would it be possible for me, their daughter, to get a copy of the trust from the funeral home? Other than my parents and the funeral home, is there another place where this trust is kept? Is having a trust just for funeral arrangements a common thing?
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    Robert F. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    Usually a funeral trust is a document that established through a state authorized insurance carrier through the funeral home or cemetery. Your parents, if living, should be able to authorize your obtaining a copy or if you have a power of attorney you could obtain a copy. Without authorization or some authority you would not be able to access the information.
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    Gary L. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    a Funeral Trust is a common estate plannning tool, and most often used for Medi-Cal plannning, as an Irrevocable Funeral Trust, and there typically is a very simple Trust Agreement. Unless the parents authorize the daughter to see the Trust, she has no right at this point in time to see it. The Trust is normally maintained with the insurance company that wrote the Funderal Trust. I am not aware that the funeral home gets a copy. In most Medi-Cal planning cases, the client will have both a Living Trust, and the Funeral Trust.
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    Elizabeth G. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    Trusts are frequently made for funeral arrangements. The funeral home sets up the funeral arrangements which are part of the trust. A special insurance policy is sold by the funeral home, supposedly enough to cover the arrangements made (although usually when the time comes additional charges are found which must be paid). The funeral home through which the trust was set up should have a copy of the trust and the policy although they may be unwilling to give it to you without written consent from your parents or a copy of a death certificate.

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    My wife & I are named Representative Guardian, Trustee, of an estate in Florida (has 9 year old female ward). What is Florida fee allowed for our personal expenses and services?
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    Dan A. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    Normally expenses and costs are reimbursable under the Trust for a minor. I will assume this is the case. If Trust funds are placed in a restricted account acessable only by a court order by the court appointed Trustee a Petition for these and other needs wll have to be auhtorized by the court which is not a problem. Many time we do this for even future expected funds required for costs required for the child. I would have to review the matter to insure this advice by looking at what has been filed in court. Is this Duval or Nassau county? May I suggest a free consultation in order to exchange more needed information and provide you and I an enviroment to exchage other questions that are not anticipated. Questions like is this child a "special needs" child? Does the Trust have over $25,000 in it and reasons why you were appointed by the court. There are alot of information that is left out of the question that prevents me from commenting further. Call for a time that is convienent.
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    Robert M. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    typically, in an probate context the fee is 3% and in a trust it is a reasonable fee, usually calculated at 75% of the 3% fee of the assets under management.

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    How much money can my mother keep a month for odds and ends like snacks. Her Social Security and and pension money all goes to a nursing home. She lives in Connecticut.
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    Lisa R. , Geriatric Care Manager answers:
    Hello, If your Mother is currently on Medicaid (Title 19) and living in a Nursing Home, she has $60 per month as her personal care allowance.

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    I am the ex- wife and caregiver for my husband who has Parkinson's disease. I manage his bank account and pay his bills. My name is on the account as a co signer. Our son is the executor and he wants access to the accounts Can he take money out and what role does he have in these accounts? My ex-husband is of sound mind.
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    Anne D. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    Your son's role as executor does not come into play until he is appointed by a Court as the executor of your former husband's estate. Your son has no role or access to any funds until your former husband dies, the will is accepted by a probate court and her is appointed to act. Depending on the title on the bank account and whether there is a named beneficiary of the account you are co-signer on will determine if your son ever has access to the funds. Wills control assets that are in probate. A bank account with a co-owner or a named beneficiary will not be subject to probate.

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    If I am over 70 years old, should I still be paying NYS state taxes out of my pension?
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    Marjorie T. , Geriatric Care Manager answers:
    A tax or pension related financial question should be directed to a financial or tax professional. As a geriatric care manager I can't offer advice outside of my expertise.

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    Does a revocable living trust shelter ones assets from nursing home costs?
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    Laurie O. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    No, a revocable trust does not protect assets from Medicaid. Assets in a revocable trust are considered "available" assets for purposes of Medicaid (or VA benefits) and transfers to a trust incur a 5 year lookback period. If you are looking to do Medicaid planning, you may want to seek the help of a qualified elder law attorney.
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    Gerald C. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    No. A revocable trust is primarily a probate avoidance mechanism for those folks who might need that (most folks do not.) For asset protection purposes a revocable trust is probably not better than a simple Will--which I favor anyway.
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    Daniel P. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    No. A revocable trust does not shelter one's assets from nursing home costs. Typically, revocable trust are established and require the trustee to provide for the beneficiary's health, education and support so they are counted as a resource. You should see an elder law attorney who may be able to assist in Medicaid Planning.

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    I am the sole beneficiary of a trust from my parents, both of whom are currently deceased. I am looking for help in dissolving this trust and removing the current trustee who is an attorney. The current trustee has been most unscrupulous and has managed to charge exorbitant maintenance fees. I have written him a letter telling him to cease as the trustee but he has ignored me. If you are an attorney or other legal professional capable of helping me dissolve this discretionary trust, and also capable of helping me remove the trustee without appointing yourself in his stead, please respond to this question. I'm really looking for some legal help from someone I can trust. I have no interest in going from the frying pan to the fire.
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    Rod S. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    I wish there was a simple answer to your questions. A review of the trust itself would be necessary; a review of the assets in the trust and their values; a review of the trustee’s charges; and a discussion of the circumstances involved in your request.

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    My son gives us money to get by. We have tax free income. Can he claim the money he gives his elderly parents on his tax returns?
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    Deborah H. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    Your son may be able to claim you as his "dependents" if he is paying for more than one-half of your support and other tests of income and relationship are met. I refer you to Publication 501 from the IRS to determine if your son may legally be entitled to receive a deduction for the payments he is making to you.

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    My 91 yo father is paying for his nursing home care. He will run out of money. What are the parameters regarding the look back of his financial data? He gifted money to my siblings and me. He was not paying rent, utility or transportation costs during this time.
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    Barbara P. , Geriatrician MD answers:
    It would be best to consult with an elder attorney or the social worker at the nursing home. Good luck.
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    Diane P. , Nurse and Care Manager answers:
    To qualify for Medicaid nursing home coverage, the person must have very low income and assets. Medicaid will look back at any transfer the person has made in the previous years. For gifts or transfers made on or after February 8, 2006, the look back period is 60 months previous to the date of the person's Medicaid application. The length of ineligibility is calculated by taking the value of the transferred asset and dividing it by the average monthly nursing facility cost in the state where the person resides.

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    My mom live with me. We have payed many of her costs, like for a funeral, in full. I wonder what would happen to her life insurance payments in the event that she goes to a nursing home. Is there a chance that they will take her life insurance for which we are the beneficiaries?
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    Daniel S. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    You can always assign the liife insurance to the nursing home. You first need to see if the life insurance is whole life or a term policy. If it is term it has no value and is not counted. Call me if you have questions.

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    I have a Bank CD in trust for a family member. What does this mean?
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    Marvin R. , answers:
    Assuming person A put their money into a CD "in trust for B", it means that A is still the owner during A's life and, at the death of A, it is owned by B.

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    I moved in with Mom in 2007 when she was diagnosed with Cancer. I took early retirement after trying a four-hour round trip commute for approximately three months. Her cancer is in remission. While she was recovering from surgery, she was diagnosed with dementia/Alzheimer's. I found a reference to a caregiver agreement and want to understand it better. What might be the benefits of drawing up such an agreement for my mom and I?
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    Tena W. , Geriatric Care Manager answers:
    A caregiver agreement is a type of contract stating expectations of services, the dates and schedule for care giving, how the caregiver is compensated and much more. It is recommended that when providing care, even for family, you treat it like a business. There can be many reasons for this. The information may be used as recording keeping when applying for some type of public benefit; when claiming the income for tax purposes and just as a general good business practice. If the caregiver is not treated like an employee, they can burn out too fast and be taken advantage of unintentionally.

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    My mom has become sick. I have been taking care of her for about a year now. Can I file with my mom as a dependent on my taxes since I have been taking care of her?
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    Sanford M. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    Generally, you may not claim a married person as a dependent if they file a joint return with their spouse. Also, to claim someone as a dependent, that person must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. resident alien, U.S. national or resident of Canada or Mexico for some part of the year. IRS Publication 501 also states that you will not be able to claim your mother if her gross income for the year $3,700 or more per year and you must provide her with more than half of her total support.
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    Joel G. , Geriatric Care Manager answers:
    It would be unlikely -- your mom has to have a very, very low income and your [financial] support has to be quite significant. And you have to meet those as well as other criteria. Depending on how your arrangements have worked out over the following year, you should definitely review them with an accountant to see if there are any tax benefits one or both of you may accrue in 2013.

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    I am a 77 year old woman living alone in apartment. I have trouble living on my income of $1,616 month. Last year I took a care credit loan to buy hearing aids and the one year interest free loan is due in April 2013. My daughter and son-in-law who live nearby in Boston, MA, are willing to take over my finances pay bills etc. My children are even willing, perhaps, to help perhaps pay off the care loan. They want, though, some guarantee of their legal rights should I contract new debts or spend money I dont have. What is our best way to accomplish this?
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    Kathleen D. , Nurse and Care Manager answers:
    The best professional to consult would be a local Elder Law Attorney. The National Elder Law Association has a great website and you can do a search of your area. It is www.naela.org. Good luck!

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    My sister-in-law is on Medicaid and gets very little money each month. She has been battling Cancer for a few years and it looks like she is losing the battle. She has no life insurance, no husband or kids, and only her brother (my husband) is left. She does not have a Power of Attorney or anyone signed up to handle her affairs. What happens to her things and who pays for the funeral when she passes?
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    Marjorie H. , Geriatric Care Manager answers:
    You may want to talk with a Medicaid Worker, Long Term Care
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    John L L. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    Sounds like stress all around. I'm sorry. First, if there's any question at all about who's able to make health care decisions for your sister-in-law, she should consider giving your husband a health care power of attorney. That's easy to do and, depending on your state, there may be perfectly adequate forms online. It is important to remember that health care powers of attorney, at least in MD, DC, and VA, have to be witnessed. Notarization is not required (although it's perfectly OK to have them notarized but just know that it's not sufficient to have them notarized.) If she has any assets at all, she should consider giving your husband a general power of attorney in case he, for example, needs to pay a bill on her behalf from her funds. Third, I can't tell if your sister-in-law owns a house. (It's possible to own a house and yet be eligible for Medicaid.) If she does, then the ownership of the house would transfer on her death according to the state's rules about dying without a will (called the law of intestate succession.) Any equity would be subject to the claims of her creditors through the probate process. (The probate process is the court-supervised process for making sure that assets from a decedent go where they are supposed to go.) Fourth, her "things": Do you mean her clothes, household furnishings, jewelry, etc.? If so, then they officially pass through the probate process, but depending on the state, it may be extremely informal and not under court supervision. Fifth, on the funeral expenses: Funeral providers prefer to be paid up front in my experience. So, sometimes what happens is that the family pays for the funeral and collects later from the assets of the estate (here, possibly the house equity). In fact, the person who pays the funeral bill is usually a "preferred creditor", meaning that he or she is paid ahead of many other people to whom the decedent owned money. But .... if there's no equity in the home and no other assets, then the person who pays is doing an act of love for the decedent - an act which will not be repaid in money.

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    My mother was sleeping. When she awoke, she said she saw a woman standing near her x-mas tree, staring at her. I believe she imagined it or was dreaming while awake. How worried should I be about this incident? Is there a dementia risk here? Is there an advantage in having her see a dementia/alzheimer's expert?
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    Celeste R. , Geriatric Care Manager answers:
    How often does she have these dreams? Has there been a pattern? Are they disturbing? Has she been placed on any new medications?
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    Karen B. , Geriatric Care Manager answers:
    I recommend having her medically evaluated by her PCP or another doctor. She could have an underlying infection causing confusion and hallucinations. If an infection is ruled out, the cause for hallucinations could be dementia or a psychiatric condition. If this is the case, I recommend having her seen by a geriatric psychiatrist. Best of luck,
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    Barbara T. , answers:
    I think it would definitely be worth having your mom see her primary care physician, first. He/she can then decide if she should see someone else. People suffering from dementia will sometimes experience hallucinations. Also meds may cause this. Definitely report this to your mom's MD.
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    Joan W. , Geriatric Care Manager answers:
    Your mom should see a neurologist who is well-versed in dementia to receive a neurological work-up. Are there other symptoms that you've been noticing? Forgetting things, people, places? Is her behavior markedly changed? What precipitated this vision? Some forms of dementia do have hallucinations, visions and delusions as symptoms but the important thing is to first find out if she has dementia and then what type of dementia. For example, Alzheimer's has some hallucinations but they are very temporary. Lewy Body dementia has more long term hallucinations and delusions. The importance of knowing what type of dementia comes into play when prescribing certain medications that are more effective for one type than for another. The other issue may be that she has a urinary tract infection which on its own can cause behavorial issues and sudden changes, and if occuring in one with dementia can further complicate dementia symptoms. The BU Alzheimer's Center located in Boston, with an office in Weymouth, is a wonderful resource. Their neurologists have clinical expertise in the various forms of dementia and their nurse practitioners are wonderfully supportive and compassionate. I'd strongly suggest you start there. Good luck with this.

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    I am the 62 year old daughter of an elderly parent who is 87. My parent's water service is off and we can't pay the bill. Is their anyone, or any elder support service, that can help?
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    Eileen C. , Nurse and Care Manager answers:
    First I would call the water company and explain what happened and/ or tell them what safety issues are at hand. That being said why was the water cut off. If their is concern your parents are forgetting and or have difficulty paying the bills you probably need to investigate and start looking at power of attorney for finance and health care so ultimately you will pay bills or at least oversee bill paying.
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    Jennifer W. , Geriatric Care Manager answers:
    Hello, It would be unusual to have a high water bill at this time of year. If the bill is very high, you may want to check the home for a leak. Your local water district may be able to help with that, or a plumber. As for the cost, explain the situation to the company that provides water service to your parents' home, and they will likely be able to spread out the payments over several months, if payments are made consistently. If your parents are not able to pay basic bills needed to stay in their home, you may want to consider selling the home and having them live in low-income senior housing or do some sort of reverse mortgage (there are several different kinds now) in order to gain the funds needed to stay at home.

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    My father, in his mid eighties, now has a girlfriend he met playing Bridge. She is in her seventies. They both live on their own in Scottsdale, and are both in decent shape. My Dad owns his house and has some significant assets. I want my dad to be happy but am unsure how this personal change will affect his finances, his health and healthcare, and any other liability issues, posed by this new relationship.
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    Jack S. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    I have had this situation occur twice with male clients but with much younger ladies. I suggested a conference with both parties (my client and his girlfriend) and concerned children of their dad in my office to clear the air regarding intentions of the parties and expectations. One particular girlfriend was to move in with my client as a girlfriend/caretaker. Once this arrangement was suggested, the relationship "cooled down" and neither girlfriend chose to continue the relations.
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    Pamela J. , Geriatric Care Manager answers:
    If Dad is in "decent shape" and has significant assets then he obviously knows how to handle his finances & estate planning. However, the concern of course is understandable from the Daughters point of view. I suggest Daughter get some tips on how to proceed with having a conversation with Dad regarding her concerns. Talking with a Parent about his or her money and finances can be a true trigger for misunderstandings and hurt feelings. I definitely would not assume that the girlfriend does not have significant assets herself. And that the relationship is simply one of providing mutual companionship.

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    My mother and I live together in the home that she shared with my Dad for 42 years. Some years back, my dad and mom signed up for a reverse mortgage. In the event of my mom's passing, can I be eligible to remain in the home? If I put my name on the deed, does the reverse mortgage still apply?
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    John T G. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    Reverse mortgages must be paid after the death of the surviving borrower (your parents). Like any other lender, the mortgage company will need to be paid off prior to the eventual sale of the home. That being said, the lender may initiate proceedings to force the sale of the home if no action is taken to repay the mortgage within a reasonable amount of time. I would strongly urge you to contact an Elder Law attorney to specifically advise you regarding this issue to ensure the most favorable results for your family.
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    Neal W. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    I agree with my learned colleagues. The mortgage company will require the loan to be paid off after the death of the survivor of your parents, or after the second parent leaves the house to go into a nursing home. However, I offer a second consideration that you and your parents need to think about. Depending on how the house is owned in your parent's names, and assuming that you are not already on the deed, if your parents receive MassHealth eligibility while living in the house or upon going into a nursing home, the agency could put a lien on the house that would also need to be paid back upon the death of the survivor of them if proper steps are not taken before hand. You should check with a qualified elder law attorney to understand the conditions under which such a lien may be imposed and steps that can be taken to avoid it.
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    Robert P. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    Short answer is "yes". A reverse mortgage is a recorded mortgage (interest the lender takes back on the home when it offers money to clients). It must be repaid. If you are interested in staying in the home, you have a variety of options.
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    Dale T. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    Most likely when mom and dad took the reverse mortgage the terms stated that the debt would be due and payable after the last of the two of them left the house. Usually six months from that time either due to death or moving to a permanent facility like a nursing home. The reverse mortgage company will not always enforce the six month rule but running to one year after your mom's death would be the reasonable limit. Upon notice to the reverse mortgage company they would want you to either refinance the loan into your name or sell the property. It won't matter whether you are on the deed or not, however, avoiding probate may be of interest to you so changing how the property is owned might be beneficial. Be careful because there are several issues involved including capital gain taxes, probate, estate taxes and credit issues.
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    Peter C. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    No. Reverse mortgages need to be paid in full usually within 6 months to a year from the death of the last borrower. You would need to qualify for financing of your own to pay back the reverse mortgage if you want to stay in the house.

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    My younger sister has become pretty seriously demented. I have been making many of the decisions for her, but am ill myself. I was advised to create a special needs trust for some assets. Will those assets be protected by the trust insofar as medicaid eligibility?
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    Stephanie S. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    Medicaid law protects assets in a properly drafted special needs trust. To learn whether you or your sister qualify for a special needs trust consult a Board Certified Elder Law attorney .
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    Lisa K. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    Hi, Since Medicaid is dual funded program (that is both federal and state dollars pay for the services provided) but each state runs their Medicaid programs differently, my comments are generic (because I'm sure I don't know all the facts pertinent to your case) AND state specific to Florida. As I understand from your question, your sister has some form of serious mental illness. Assuming that she is either receiving SSI (Supplemental Security Income) or SSDI (Social Security Disability Income), she meets the disability test in order for either you or she (depending on the source of the assets to be used to fund the Special Needs Trust) to create a SNT. A SNT can be established for any one who has a recognized disability whether or not that person is the creator (grantor/settlor) of the SNT provided that person who will be the beneficiary of SNT funds is under the age of 55 when such trust is established. If your sister is already on Medicaid and you wish to establish a SNT for her use and benefit, you can certainly do that without it affecting her Medicaid eligibility. You can be the trustee as well as the grantor. If you properly administer the trust, avoid giving your sister funds outright (so that you do not interfer with Medicaid income and asset rules) you will be providing your sister with the extra resources she may need without jeopardizing her Medicaid benefits. My question for you is: if you are making most of the decisions for your sister now, and your health doesn't improve, who will be taking your place as your sister's surrogate decision maker? I hope that you have that proverbial Plan B in place because here in Florida, where mental health services are spotty, having a mental health advocate (like you are being for her) is crucial to obtaining optimum mental health services.
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    Deborah L. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    Yes, the special needs trust will allow your sister to continue to receive Medicaid. The trust will be used to supplement the needs of your sister but cannot be used for anything Medicaid will pay for and can only be used for the benefit of your sister. Whose funds are they - your sister's or yours? If yours, then it can be a 3rd party special needs trust and upon your sister's death, the balance in the trust can be passed to third parties. If it is your sister's funds, then upon her death, the balance must first be used to repay Medicaid for up to the amount of care provided by medicaid and the rest if any can be passed to anyone else. If your sister is not currently on medicaid, she would also have to meet all the other requirements to receive Medicaid.
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    Howard K. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    If the assets are your sister's, then I agree with the response posted by Leonard B., although if there is a parent or grandparent, and your sister is under 65, then either of those persons can create the trust, instead of a court. If the assets are yours, then you can set up what is known as a third party SNT, in which case no court need be invovled, your sister's age becomes irrelevant, and there is no payback to Medicaid upon her death.
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    Marsha M. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    Generally, yes. I see the question has been more fully answered by Leonard B. it is an answer I agree with.
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    Leonard B. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    Yes, assets transferred to a properly drawn special needs trust will be disregarded during the lifetime of your sister. But if she is 65 years old or older she must use a "pooled trust" rather than an individual trust and some states impose a Medicaid transfer penalty for transferring money to the pooled trust. If she is younger than 65 court approval is probably required to establish the trust. If her money is placed into any of these special needs trusts, then at her death the remaining money will first be used to repay the state for the Medicaid assistance provided to her. You should contact a qualified attorney who is a member of the Special Needs Alliance or the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys for more advice.
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    Robert B. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    Yes, if the Trust is drafted correctly

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    My parents and siblings agree that some of my parents funds should be placed into an irrevocable trust for tax-planning purposes. What would you say are the ideal traits of a trustee? We are discussing (debating?) this issue amongst ourselves and with my estate planning attorney? What do you think?
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    Anne R. , Geriatric Care Manager answers:
    When choosing a trustee, there should be a majority vote of who should be the trustee. I would suggest someone who will look out for your parents best financial and personal interests.
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    John T G. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    I recommend appointing someone that mom and dad have inherent trust in (no pun intended), who is at a very bare minimum competent when it comes to handling his or her own money, can put up with differing personalities and who will ultimately administer the trust pursuant to the trust terms.
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    Michael C. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    Your estate planning attorney should be able to guide you on this issue. However, in short, the trustee should be someone who is trustworthy, financially astute if investment duties are required, and should not be a family member unless all agree to that person.

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    My grandmother wants to gift me with ten thousand dollars to help me pay for school. She seems to think that that is the limit that she can give according to financial rules. Is that true? I know she wants to help as much as she can. Is she allowed, legally to give me more money to help pay for school?
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    Barbara K. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    The limit is now $13,000 which can be given by an individual to another as a gift tax free and is not included in their lifetime exclusion. She certainly can give you the money if she wants to.

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    With the upcoming rules on estate taxes set to expire on Dec. 31, is there any compelling reason to redo my father's will? His will was last revised in 2009. Is there something in particular that would affect his sub $3 million dollar estate?
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    David K. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    There are a number of issues raised by your inquiry requiring additional information to provide a good response. This is not a simple issue and if your father has capacity, he would need to hire the attorney to obtain approriate estate planning and tax advice for his estate plan.
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    Timothy C. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    Yes. You may want to gift now to reduce his net worth while you can still do it tax free. Deadline 12.31.12.
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    Dale T. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    The issue would not be the will as much as whether he could use a trust. If your dad is not married then it is unlikely that a trust would benefit him specifically for estate taxes, however, there are so many benefits to a trust for elders, too many to say in this answer box.
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    Richard H. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    Tax worries are only the tip of the iceberg. Your father needs to consider bulletprooffing his estate so that you inherit in a protected fashion. consider viewing an online video entitled wills and trusts 101. this will explain what I'm talking about. go to my firm's website for that video.
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    Jonathan F. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    Assuming your father is healthy, there is no need to revise his estate planning documents until we know changes in the federal estate tax laws however, if there are personal changes he would like to make then those should be addressed now.
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    Jeramie F. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    I do not recommend that individuals with estates below $3.5 million revise their estate plans for tax reasons at this time. The current law is set to expire at the end of 2012, which would drop the exemption amount to $1 million with a 55 percent maximum tax rate. No one knows what Congress will do, but I do not think that it is likely that the Federal estate tax exemption will fall below $3.5 million. My advice: Stay put and keep an eye on things. If you or your father hears that the current law did expire or that a new law is enacted with an exemption amount below $3.5 million, see your estate planning attorney ASAP. Keep in mind that your "taxable estate" is defined broadly for Federal tax purposes and could include life insurance.
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    Karen B. , answers:
    It depends. Is your father married? If he is single, then his estate will be limited to whatever the federal estate tax exemption is at the time of his death. If he is married, then he can utilize the marital deduction to avoid taxes on the first death. If wife is not mother of his children, then could be a different response. Lots of variables that are unanswered in this question. Should the exemption fall back to $1 million either through action or inaction on the part of Congress, he might look into other tax savings strategies - such as Charitable Remainder trusts or life insurance trusts (assuming he could still qualify for a policy). He can also engage in lifetime gifting - currently $5 million (but we don't know how a gift of $3 million would be treated if the exemption goes back down to $1 million); he could certainly engage in annual exclusion gifting ($13,000 per donor per donee per year). Essentially your father needs to consult with a qualified estate planning professional in his area for competent advice that might result in large savings.
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    Daniel K. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    I would at least have your father visit with an attorney knowledgeable in the areas of estate and tax planning to review his existing will and determine if changes should be made. If we go back to the $1MM exemption, then your father's estate would have potential estate taxation. The framing of your question raises some concern: your father is the one who would redo his will, not you--you have no authority to do so. If your father lacks testamentary capacity, then he cannot do so either, barring a specific power granted under a power of attorney.
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    Ramsey B. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    I would need to read the father's will in order to competently answer this question.
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    James B. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    This is a complex problem and no one has a crystal ball. However, my first advice is to have your dad return to the lawyer who drafted his Will since that lawyer or law firm probably has a handle on the needs of persons with estates of $1M to $5 Million. Second, a number of estate planners see this as a once in a lifetime opportunity to eliminate estate taxes for single persons with less than $5M and couples with less than $10M. The current gift tax and estate tax rate is $5M for single persons and can be increased to $10M for couples under certain circumstances. Thus your father could gift away a substantial portion of his estate now, say $2M and not pay any federal gift or estate tax. However, there could be other consequences both to your dad and any recipients of such gifts. Just as one example, if the gift is of highly appreciated property such as stocks that have gone up since the date of purchase, the recipients will be stuck with dad's tax basis and could end up paying substantial income tax that would have been avoided if the transfer came later from dad's estate. Again, these are really complex, fact dependent matters that you should explore with a capable estate planning or elder law attorney. And the best place to start is with the lawyer who last drafted dad's Will. Best of luck,

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    Mom and Dad are 85. Dad has Parkinsons Disease. After 14 years helping manage his disease, it is getting to be too much for Mom to take care of him. Us kids own their house, the only money they have is in retirement IRA. Can they give us kids any money before Dad needs to go to a nursing home?
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    Stephen L. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    No. the rules vary depending on what state you live in....Texas has a 60 month look back when applying for Medicaid benefits.
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    Dallas A. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    It completely depends on what state Mom and Dad live in. If you are trying to plan for eligibility for Medicaid (or Medi-Cal, in CA) for Dad's nursing home costs, gifting of Dad's IRA may or may not create a period of ineligibility for that benefit depending on the state. Further, an IRA may or may not be what is considered a "countable" or "available" asset for Medicaid/Medi-Cal purposes, so this asset may not create a problem for eligibility, which means there may be no need to do any gifting. Also, this asset may or may not be subject to Medicaid/Medi-Cal estate recovery after the spouses die. The gifting rules vary state by state as well, and this is not an area where an adult child should be doing "self-help." You need to seek out an attorney with expertise in elder care law or public benefits in your own state. In some states, there are provisions for allowing a greater amount of assets to be held by the at-home spouse to prevent his or her impoverishment due to nursing home costs. From my perspective, Mom and Dad need to preserve their assets if possible, not give them away to the kids. Both Mom and Dad need a safety net, and giving away their assets to an adult child my eliminate their safety net, be subject to the children's creditors and divorces, and cause them to be ineligible for important and substantial public benefits. Look at Eldercounsel.com or naela.org for elder law attorneys, and ask the attorneys how long they have been practicing in Medicaid/Medi-Cal field. You want an expert in this field, not a novice.
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    David A. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    An Elder Lawyer really needs to know more information but here is a general answer. When you say "go to a nursing home" this to me implies that you want Medicaid to pay for this; Medicare will only pay for the first 100 days (maybe). You will trigger the 5 year look back period (in Florida) if you transfer any money from your father now. You would be better off to have an attorney set up a Qualified Income Trust for the money your father is receiving now.
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    Valorie P. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    your question has many facets to be answered properly. It would be best to set up an aapointment with my office so that we can discuss the tax consequences as well. I will be glad to assist you.

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    I wrote my mother a $50,000 check with funds that came, via my personal account, from an irrevocable trust of my parents. My mother has deposited that money, in the interim, in my 94 year old Dad's bank account. Will that money be protected from clawbacks?
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    Dale T. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    Most likely the money is not protected. A more important might be were you allowed to draw the money out of the account in the name of the trust? The answer would depend on the language of the irrevocable trust If you were not suppose to take it you could justify putting it back.
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    Elliot S. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    no
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    Elizabeth S. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    If the money is transferred from the irrevocable trust back to your parents then it would be considered their money for Medicaid purposes. Money from the irrevocable trust should not be deposited back in your parents' accounts. You should pay the bills directly.
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    Sonya M. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    Draw backs for what purpose? For Medicaid, no, not protected. Once it is dad's money, source is irrelevant.

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    Last week, I reviewed my dad's taxes based on the papers we received from his CPA of many years. I am freaking out! It seems that, based on these numbers, and after a call to the bank, that there is some money missing from income on a rental property.

    I hate hate to think it, but I feel that his CPA may be at fault here, perhaps criminally at fault. I have called the CPA but he is not taking my calls. How do I investigate this matter? Can I involve the authorities? Ideas re next steps would be appreciated.
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    Russell H. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    If your father is competent, or you have a power of attorney to act for him, you can obtain bank information and then contact an attorney to help you. If your father is not competent, you may have to be appointed his conservator in order to take any action.
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    Linda K. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    Do you have a financial power of attorney for your father? If not, is he capable of giving one? If not, then you may need to seek a conservatorship before proceeding further. If you are your father's attorney-in-fact then you can request financial information on his behalf. You do not mention what rental payment records you have such as cancelled checks or bank statements. If the rental income was not accurately reported to the IRS are you sure the CPA even had the correct information? If the CPA refuses to respond, then contact an attorney to assist you. It seems premature to involve the authorities until you have definitive information.

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    My dad lives with me and my husband. I'm trying to figure out if there is a way to get the state (Florida) or federal govt. to pay us as caregivers for him, even if he does not have Medicaid. Would appreciate if someone can point me in the right direction.
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    Pam D. , Nurse and Care Manager answers:
    Your inquiry is a very important one, especially in these economic times. Without knowing what financial resources your Dad has, and what, exactly you do for him in the way of activities of daily living, etc, it is impossible to guide you. I recommend that you seek the professional guidance of an Elder Law Attorney in your area for the most up to date information on laws that govern this type of situation.

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    My niece recommended a friend of hers as a home health care aide. The aide seems like a very nice person. One thing that this aide requested is being paid 'off the books'. I am concerned about liability that might result from such an arrangement. Should I be concerned?
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    Civi S. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    Yes, from a legal perspective you should definitely be concerned. Paying someone off the books often translates into not paying for health, liability, or workmens comp. insurance.
    In a home health care situation, like the one you describe, injuries are not uncommon and the liability you assume by being 'off the books' is probably more than you could afford.
    And by the way, this is all leaving aside the illegality of not complying with state and federal regulations.

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    My husband and I own a co-op apartment in both our names. Is it possible to transfer the ownership to me. My husband would definitely sign, but we hold a mortgage
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    Jeffrey A. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    As Debra and Susan have said, it is important to speak with a qualified Elderlaw attorney. A co-op, especially under the circumstances you've described, is tricky. First is the issue of the co-op Board and Managing Agent. Will they allow your husband to transfer the co-op to you? Second, is the issue of the bank? Will the transfer trigger the "due on sale" clause of your mortgage? In other words, many mortgages have a clause that says if the borrower transfers the real property, whether by sale or gift, then the full amount of the loan is accelerated and due immediately. You certainly do not want to trigger the "due on sale" clause without getting the proper advice. But, additionally, because you are presumably doing this for long-term care purposes, there are a lot of considerations to take into account. For example, what type of long-term care do you need? What are your other financial resources? Even if the co-op Board and Managing Agent allow the transfer, will they allow the transfer into a Trust? The bottom line is that you cannot do this on your own. Seek out a qualified Elderlaw attorney. He/she will know what to do.
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    Susan L E. , Geriatric Care Manager answers:
    It is important that the Co-op be tranferred to an irrovocable trust; if the transfer is being done for Medicaid purposes. After the death of a the spouse who was receiving Medicaid, New York State now allows Medicaid to recover expenses from estates. I have briefly abbreiviated my answer from a letter I received from an Elder Law Attorney. As Debra D. stated it is essential, that one consult with an Elder Law Attorney.
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    Debra D. , Geriatric Care Manager answers:
    A co-op is the most valuable resource that many older people have, and they want to protect this asset should they need to apply for Medicaid. Do consult with an elderlaw attorney- not doing so could be a costly error, that will far exceed the attorney's fees.

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    My mother recently passed away. For the past three years she has received excellent care from a home health care aide that has been diligent and terrific. I am interested in giving a 'going away' bonus of $2,000 to the aide. It seems only right. If I do so, however, what kind of taxes, if any, will I have to pay on this money?
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    Kathleen W. , answers:
    Assuming your parent self-employed the caregiver, all monies she paid are wages. In our experience, the separation bonus is paid from the estate as final wages. This is taxed in the same manner as any other wages - including withholding taxes from the caregiver, and making the appropriate Social Security, Medicare and unemployment tax contributions from the employer's funds.
    See our FAQ about payroll and payroll taxes for caregivers employed directly by the family.

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    My mother is in her 80s and thankfully in very good health. Unfortunately, she is running low on funds and paying for medication and other expenses is getting very difficult. I was wondering if there is someone I can speak with about financial planning and options in the future. It is really worrying me and I am also about to retire in a few years.
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    Cheryl A A. , Nurse and Care Manager answers:
    If your mother has Medicare, she may also qualify for assistance with her prescription coverage. Here is a link: http://www.ssa.gov/prescriptionhelp. Additionally, many chain drug stores (at least here in TX) have $4 Rx plans, where certain generic drugs can be purchased for $4 for a 30 day supply, or $10 for a 90 day supply and those costs are strictly out of pocket so that it can slow up the progress towards hitting the "donut hole". A review of all of her medications by a pharmacist may be helpful, usually at no cost at the local pharmacy, to make sure there is no conflict or duplication of medications. Hope this helps.
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    Carol K. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    You don't say where you are from, but your mother may qualify for Medicaid if she is low income and low assets. The Medicaid office in your state might be helpful, but if you don't get answers or are told your mother is over-assets or over-income, she would do well to consult with an elder law attorney or legal aid attorney.

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