ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 162

BUSH CRITIQUES TRUMP; TRUMP-PUTIN BROMANCE OVER ALREADY?; LINCOLN SPEAKS FROM GRAVE; VOTERS FLOOD TOWNHALLS; BROWN SEEKS HELP AFTER CA FLOODS; DEPORTATIONS UP NOW, PRICES UP SOON; TRUMP DECLARE PRESS ENEMY OF AMERICANS, MORE…   ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 162 MARCH 2, 2017   IF an “enforcement-only” immigration policy is followed we can expect: Agricultural production to decline $30 – $60 B; Food prices to increase 5 – 6%; and Price of milk to increase 45%. (Nightly Business Report, February 22, 2017.) ANGRY voters flood Republican town halls protesting contemplated Obamacare and Medicare changes; Trump’s fawning over Putin; new Administrations policy changes on the environment; and more, (Los Angeles Times, February 23, 2017), all in a manner reminiscent of a less violent tea party response. CALIFORNIA employers fret over possible deportations as 10% of California workers are undocumented.  (Los Angeles Times, February 23, 2017.)  Will young white people with a sense of entitlement actually be willing to work as busboys, dishwashers and, perhaps worst of all, fruit and vegetable pickers?  Will older whites be able to? DURING campaign Trump promised to protect social programs such as social security and Medicare; then nominated people with very different viewpoints.  New York Times (February 23, 2017), finally asks the obvious question: what happens when they disagree?  Based on his prior finger-pointing, both physical and verbal, cuts will be made and Trump will blame others. Lesser known programs such as Legal Aid, Americorps and the Appalachian Regional Commission could also see budget cuts.  Coal country supporters may take a different view of Trump if their own small benefit plans are cut; especially if qualifying for social...

Living Trusts as Means to Avoiding Probate

This document is prepared for general distribution to the clients and potential clients of Brian J. Sheppard. The production of copies for anything other than free distribution is prohibited. This document is not intended to provide legal advice to the individual and any individual receiving this document is encouraged to meet with the speaker or another licensed California attorney for the preparation of his, her or their estate plan rather than attempt this on their own, with the assistance of a paralegal or semi-legal organization which does not have an attorney meet with the client and review the documents with the client. A word about the speaker: Brian Sheppard is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, the Southern California Council of Elder Law Attorneys and the San Fernando Valley Estate Planning Council. He has worked with seniors and their legal issues since 1990. He focuses his practice on Elder Law issues, including Wills & Trusts, Conservatorships and Probate. A word about the talk: The following talk is meant to be a general overview only. For specific questions contact an attorney or the agencies mentioned later in this talk. If you believe you have been a victim of a fraudulent trust sales scheme contact the California Attorney General, at 300 South Spring Street, Suite 500, Los Angeles, CA, or the Estate Planning Fraud Hotline at (888) 460-7364. 1. Correcting some misimpressions about trusts. Many people think they do not need a trust if they have less than $600,000. This is a confusion about the need to probate the property and the “Exemption Equivalent (which until recently was $600,000, was $3.5 million until January 1, 2010, and has now expired). Your heirs can...

Conservatorships

This is a broad overview of conservatorships and the conservatorship process. A conservatorship is a court proceeding to appoint a manager for the financial affairs and personal care of one who is either physically or mentally unable to handle either or both. The court will determine whether it is in the “best interests” of the proposed conservatee to have a conservator appointed. There are two effects of a conservatorship. First, it shifts responsibility for making decisions from the conservatee to conservator. Second, it imposes significant limitations on the ability of the conservatee to take independent actions regarding legal, financial and personal care decisions. In most cases, power of attorney documents and a trust (if the person has real estate or other significant assets), will be enough to allow the agent to act without applying to the court to be appointed conservator. Unfortunately, many people do not bother to have power of attorney documents drafted. There are three types of conservatorship. The first is a Probate Conservatorship. This can enable to conservator to make decisions for the person (i.e. medical care), or the estate (i.e. what the person owns and and income, or both. Another type of conservatorship is a Limited Conservatorship. This type of conservatorship is for adult disabled persons and allows conservator to make personal and financial decisions relating to education, contracts, marriage, social contacts, where the conservatee lives and medical decisions. Finally, an LPS (Lanterman-Petris-Short) conservatorship is for those who present a danger to themselves or others. Only a medical facility can start the process for this type of conservatorship. This talk will focus on probate conservatorships, which are the most common type of conservatorship. 5. Appointment of conservator of the estate is a finding...

What is Long Term Care Insurance?

Long term Care Insurance pays for nursing home or in-home care for you when you are disabled. There are many companies offering long-term care insurance today and the State of California has a plan called the “Partnership Plan” which provides special protections for your estate if you later need Medi-Cal benefits. Planning for long-term care is a complex issue. Although many people will never need long term care others may need services provided either in their homes or in a skilled nursing facility. Some policies cover care in the home, others require you to be in a skilled nursing facility. Policies may also have different requirements before you are eligible to begin receiving benefits. For example, some policies may require that you need assistance with only 2 “ADLs” (Activities of Daily Living), while other policies may require that you need assistance with 3 or even 4 ADLs. Some premiums may be tax deductible when you purchase the insurance but you will pay taxes on the benefits. Others premiums may not be tax-deductible but the benefit may be non- taxable. In some cases the insurance company’s ability to raise your rate is limited because they have to raise the rate of the whole class of people to which you belong; in other cases the insurance company can raise your rate regardless of whether other people have their rates raised, too. Some policies provide inflation protection. Others don’t. Some require a hospital stay before you may be eligible for benefits. Others don’t. Some policies cover custodial care and others don’t. Additionally, each policy will also have a cap on the total...

Mediation – 14 Answers to Frequent Questions

1. What is mediation? Mediation is a process in which the participants design the solutions to their own dispute(s). Oftentimes parties in litigation are ordered to mediation by the judge in the hope that a settlement can be reached and a trial avoided. 2. How much does it cost? With fees as low as $200 an hour, mediators (who sometimes work in teams), mediating disputes can cost substantially less than lawsuits, where the attorney fees may be $200 – $300 per hour for each lawyer. Even if you have an attorney with you in the mediation, the costs of mediating can be significantly less than the cost of litigation. 3. Why is mediation different from litigation? In mediation the parties attack the problem, not each other. 4. What if the other party tries to force me to take an unfair compromise? Only you decide if you will accept a compromise in order to settle your dispute. No one can force you to agree to anything. If you are represented by an attorney, you and your attorney will decide whether to accept a compromise. Mediation is not a process which simply “splits the difference”. Either party may end up with more, or less, than he or she thought she would. The mediation is a form of negotiation. 5. Don’t lawyers have to be involved to solve a legal problem? No, but usually lawyers represent people in mediation. Sometimes a person chooses to represent themself and sometimes both persons represent themselves without attorneys. Of course, you may want to review any agreement with your lawyer before you sign it. 6. What...

Power of Attorney – Who Needs It?

This document is for general information purposes only. The production of copies for anything other than free distribution is prohibited. 1. What is a power of attorney? There are two primary types of power of attorney documents. One is the “Advanced Directive” also known as the “Power of Attorney for Health Care”, which allows your agent to make your health care decisions when you can no longer think competently and communicate your wishes. The other type of power of attorney is a General Power of Attorney. It allows the “agent” to make decisions for the “principal” according to the limitations laid out in the document. 2. Who needs power of attorney documents? Anyone who might become sick. Or have a heart attack. Or an auto accident. Or who could fall in their home. In a word, everyone needs to have power of attorney documents. If someone does not have a power of attorney and there is a need for someone else to make their financial decisions they may have to go to court and get a “conservatorship of the estate”. Court proceedings are expensive (upwards of $1,500 plus costs), and unnecessary if some advance planning has been done by signing a properly drafted power of attorney document. Alternatively, someone might also have to go to court to get a “conservatorship of the person” in order to make your health care decisions for you. In addition to the cost there is the stress and uncertainty that goes along with any court proceeding. All of this can be avoided if we act responsibly while we are still competent to do so....