Category: Advice

Transitioning to the New Year: Your Essential Elder Law Checklist

As the year draws to a close and the festive spirit ushers in a time of reflection and anticipation, there’s no better moment to review and refresh your elder law preparations. The transition from one year to the next presents a unique opportunity not only to reflect on the changes and achievements of the past months but also to proactively prepare for the future. This is particularly true when it comes to elder law matters, which encompass a wide range of important decisions, from estate planning to healthcare directives.

Year-End Review: Estate Plan Essentials

The end of the year is an opportune time to revisit your estate plan. An effective estate plan is not a one-time affair; it’s a dynamic set of documents that should evolve with your life’s changes. Here are critical elements to consider:

  • Will and Trusts: Verify that your will is up to date with your current wishes, beneficiaries are still aligned with your intentions, and any trusts you have established are funded and reflect any changes in your financial or family situation.
  • Powers of Attorney: Review who you have designated as your attorney-in-fact for financial and healthcare decisions. Ensure these individuals are still capable and willing to serve in these roles.
  • Healthcare Directives: Review your living will and healthcare proxy to ensure they reflect your current healthcare preferences and the contact information for your healthcare representative is current.
  • Beneficiary Designations: Revisit beneficiary designations on life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and other financial assets to ensure they are consistent with your estate planning goals.

Proactive Planning: Looking Ahead

With the new year comes the chance to address new challenges and opportunities. Consider these steps as you look to the future:

  • Asset Protection: Discuss with an elder law attorney about asset protection strategies to safeguard your estate against potential long-term care costs or unforeseen liabilities.
  • Long-Term Care Planning: Review your current long-term care insurance policy or explore options if you do not have one. Consider how changes in health or mobility may affect your living arrangements and care needs.
  • Charitable Contributions: If charitable giving is part of your legacy, the end of one year and the start of another is a great time to plan for philanthropic gifts, which can also offer tax advantages.

Updating Documents and Policies

The passage of time can bring significant changes to your personal circumstances. It’s vital to ensure all legal documents and policies reflect your current situation and the laws as they stand at the year’s end. Here’s what should be on your checklist:

  • Document Accessibility: Ensure your important documents, such as your will, trust, powers of attorney, and healthcare directives, are stored safely but are accessible to those who may need them.
  • Policy Reviews: Life insurance, annuities, and long-term care policies should be reviewed annually. Make sure premiums are up to date and coverage is adequate, adjusting as necessary for changes in your life and health.

Family Conversations: The Heart of Planning

The holiday season often brings families together, which is the perfect time for important conversations. Discussing your wishes and plans can be a gift in itself, offering peace of mind to you and your loved ones. Here’s how to approach this:

  • Initiate the Conversation: Use the gathering of family members to express your wishes and listen to concerns. A calm and collected discussion can help prevent misunderstandings in the future.
  • Share Your Vision: Clarify your healthcare preferences and the reasons behind your estate planning decisions. This transparency can help to ensure that your wishes are honored.

Looking Forward: Embracing the Future

As the new year approaches, so does the opportunity for fresh starts and renewed focus. Look ahead with these considerations:

  • Tax Planning: Work with a financial advisor or accountant to understand any changes in tax laws that may impact your estate or income tax situation in the coming year.
  • Charitable Strategies: If you’re planning to increase your charitable giving, consider speaking with your attorney about incorporating charitable trusts or donor-advised funds into your estate plan.

Remember, the start of a new year is also a reminder of the importance of flexibility and adaptability in your planning. Laws change, family dynamics shift, and your own goals and needs can evolve. An annual check-in with your elder law attorney can ensure that your plans remain robust and reflective of your current intentions.

Your Next Steps

Whether you’re looking back on a year of changes or looking forward to the promise of a new year, taking the time to review and update your elder law matters is essential. By making sure your estate plan and healthcare directives reflect your current wishes, discussing your plans with your family, and staying informed about legal and financial changes, you can feel confident and secure in your future and that of your loved ones.

As the new year rings in, let it bring not just resolutions but real, actionable steps towards securing your legacy and ensuring your wishes are fulfilled. At Beasley & Ferber, we understand the importance of family, legacy, and peace of mind. Our team is ready to guide you through each step of your elder law planning. Contact us to schedule a consultation and start the new year with confidence in your elder law preparations.

Protecting Your Home: Asset Protection Strategies Every Senior Should Know

For countless seniors, the family home represents more than just bricks and mortar. It’s a treasure trove of memories, a cornerstone of family heritage, and very often, a person’s most significant asset. As we age, the importance of ensuring this beloved asset is safe from unexpected life events becomes paramount. Whether it’s safeguarding against future medical expenses or ensuring the next generation inherits the property, there’s much to consider. Here, we delve into some key asset protection strategies that every senior, and their families, should be aware of.

Understanding Home Equity and Its Significance

For most seniors, a significant portion of their net worth is tied up in the equity of their home. Equity refers to the home’s current market value minus any outstanding mortgage or loan amounts. Over time, as property values increase and mortgage balances decrease, equity grows.

It’s essential to recognize this equity’s value, not just from a financial perspective but also in the realm of estate and Medicaid planning. Mismanagement or lack of planning could mean this valuable asset is vulnerable to creditors, medical expenses, or other unforeseen costs.

Revocable vs. Irrevocable Trusts

Trusts are powerful tools in estate planning. They can offer control over assets, provide tax benefits, and ensure smoother transitions upon passing. However, when it comes to asset protection, especially for the home, the type of trust you set up matters immensely.

Revocable Trusts: These are flexible trusts where the grantor (the person creating the trust) retains control and can make changes. While they’re great for avoiding probate, they don’t offer robust asset protection against creditors or Medicaid estate recovery.

Irrevocable Trusts: As the name suggests, once assets are placed in this trust, changes cannot be easily made without the consent of the beneficiaries. The upside is that assets within this trust are generally protected from both creditors and Medicaid estate recovery, making it a more secure option for those looking to protect their home’s equity.

Medicaid Planning and the Home

A significant concern for many seniors is the potential for high long-term care costs. Medicaid can be a lifeline, but without proper planning, your home may be vulnerable. A few key points to understand include:

Medicaid Asset Limit: To qualify for Medicaid, one’s assets must be below a certain threshold. While the primary residence is often exempt, this exemption can have limits based on equity value.

Medicaid Estate Recovery: After the passing of a Medicaid recipient, the state might attempt to recover costs from the individual’s estate, potentially including the home. Proper legal structures, like the aforementioned irrevocable trust, can mitigate this risk.

Homestead Exemptions

Many states offer what’s known as a ‘homestead exemption’. This can protect a portion of your home’s equity from general creditors (though not from secured creditors like your mortgage lender). The specifics vary by state, but it’s a tool that can offer an added layer of security.

The Power of Life Estates

Another valuable tool in the asset protection toolkit is the life estate. This strategy involves transferring property ownership while retaining the right to live in it for life. It can be a strategic way to ensure a home passes to heirs without going through probate while also potentially protecting it from Medicaid estate recovery.


Asset protection, especially as it pertains to the family home, is a nuanced area that demands thoughtful planning. Strategies that work for one family might not be suitable for another, given the intricacies of individual financial situations and goals. As such, it’s crucial to partner with professionals who can offer tailored advice.

At Beasley & Ferber, we’re committed to guiding seniors and their families through the maze of asset protection. If you’re considering ways to safeguard your home for the future, reach out to our experienced team for a comprehensive consultation.

Navigating the Complexities of Social Security Disability Benefits

Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits serve as a lifeline for millions of Americans who cannot work due to severe medical conditions. Yet, the process of applying and securing these benefits often feels like navigating a maze, rife with complications. With the age demographic changing and more seniors looking to understand their entitlements, it’s paramount to break down the complexities.

Understanding the Basics of SSD Benefits

At its core, the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program pays benefits to you and certain family members if you have worked long enough and have a medical condition that prevents you from working for at least a year or is terminal. The emphasis is on “long-term” disability, distinguishing SSDI from other programs that give aid to people with partial or short-term disabilities.

Eligibility Criteria: Are You Qualified?

Determining eligibility for SSD benefits requires a two-pronged assessment:

Work Credits: Before you can qualify for SSDI, you need to accumulate work credits. Typically, you can earn up to four work credits per year. The number of work credits needed varies by age. For example, if you become disabled before age 24, you might qualify with as few as six credits.

Severity of Disability: The SSA has a stringent definition of disability. For adults, the condition must interfere with basic work-related activities for at least 12 months. If it doesn’t, or if it isn’t expected to last that long, you won’t be considered disabled in the SSA’s eyes.

Application Process: Tips and Preparations

Documentation is Key: Before starting your application, gather all pertinent documents. This includes medical records, doctor’s reports, and a detailed history of your employment. The more concrete evidence you provide, the smoother your application process will be.

Online Applications: The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers an online application process. It’s convenient and eliminates the need for an in-person visit, especially useful for those with mobility issues.

Stay Patient and Persistent: A large number of SSDI applications are denied initially, often due to incomplete information or lack of evidence to support the disability claim. If denied, don’t be disheartened. You can appeal the decision, and many applicants secure their benefits during the appeal process.

The Waiting Period: What to Expect

Once you submit your application, it’s not uncommon for the process to take several months. During this period:

Your application is reviewed: This involves a detailed analysis of your work history and severity of the disability.

Additional Examinations: If the evidence provided is inconclusive, the SSA might request additional medical exams or tests, at no cost to you.

Approval or Denial: Once a decision is made, you will receive a notice. If approved, the notice will display the benefit amount and when payments start. If denied, it will explain why and provide information on the appeals process.

The Road Ahead

While the Social Security Disability benefits system seems daunting, understanding its intricacies and preparing adequately can make the journey smoother. For seniors and their adult children, securing these benefits can mean the difference between financial stability and uncertainty. But remember, you don’t have to navigate these complexities alone.

Contact Beasley & Ferber

Need more guidance or think a legal consultation could benefit your application process? Reach out to our team at Beasley & Ferber. We specialize in elder law and are equipped to support you through the nuances of SSD benefits. Let us help you make the future clearer and more secure. Contact us today.

Understanding the Difference Between Wills and Trusts: Which is Right for You?

Estate planning is an essential process to ensure that your assets are protected and distributed according to your wishes after your death. Two of the most common estate planning tools are wills and trusts. Understanding the differences between these tools can help you make informed decisions about what is best for your circumstances and your family. This blog post will delve into the features, advantages, and disadvantages of both wills and trusts, providing valuable insights to help you determine the right choice for your unique needs.

What is a Will?

A will is a legal document that details your wishes regarding the distribution of your assets after your death. This includes property, investments, and personal items. In a will, you can also appoint a guardian for your minor children and an executor who will be responsible for managing your estate, paying any debts or taxes, and distributing your assets as you have specified.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Wills

Wills are generally easier and less expensive to prepare than trusts. They allow you to express your preferences regarding the distribution of your assets and the care of any minor children.

However, wills only take effect after your death and do not provide any control over your assets while you are still alive. Furthermore, the probate process associated with wills can be time-consuming and costly, and it also makes the details of your estate public record.

What is a Trust?

A trust is a legal arrangement where you, as the grantor, transfer ownership of certain assets to the trust, which is managed by a trustee for the benefit of your chosen beneficiaries. Trusts can be effective both during your lifetime and after your death.

Trusts can be revocable, meaning you can change or cancel them during your lifetime, or irrevocable, meaning they cannot be altered without the consent of the beneficiaries.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Trusts

Trusts provide more control over your assets, as they can stipulate specific conditions for the distribution of assets. They are effective immediately and can manage how your assets are used while you’re alive and after your death.

Trusts also avoid probate, leading to faster distribution of assets to your beneficiaries, and they keep the details of your estate private.

However, trusts can be more complex and costly to set up than wills. They also require you to actively transfer ownership of your assets to the trust, which can be a time-consuming process.

Wills vs. Trusts: Which is Right for You?

The choice between a will and a trust depends on your individual circumstances, preferences, and financial situation.

You might prefer a will if you have a smaller estate or prefer simplicity and lower upfront costs. A will may also be a suitable choice if you have minor children and need to appoint a guardian.

On the other hand, a trust might be the right choice if you have a larger estate, want to avoid probate, or desire more control over the distribution of your assets. Trusts can also be beneficial for managing your assets should you become incapacitated.

Contact Beasley & Ferber for Expert Guidance

Understanding the difference between wills and trusts is crucial for effective estate planning. At Beasley & Ferber, our knowledgeable elder law and estate planning attorneys are committed to helping you navigate these complex decisions.

If you need assistance determining whether a will or a trust is the right choice for your estate planning needs, don’t hesitate to contact us today. Our team is ready to answer your questions and provide the support you need to make informed decisions about your estate and future. With over 60 years of combined experience, we are dedicated to helping our clients protect their assets and plan for the future with confidence. Don’t leave your estate planning to chance. Reach out to Beasley & Ferber for expert guidance tailored to your unique needs and goals.

Financial Scams Targeting Seniors: How to Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones

Financial scams targeting seniors are, unfortunately, all too common. As the older population grows, so does the number of unscrupulous individuals looking to take advantage of their hard-earned savings. Seniors may be more susceptible to these scams due to factors like loneliness, a willingness to trust, or a lack of knowledge about technology. This blog post will explore some common financial scams targeting seniors, warning signs to look out for, and steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Common Financial Scams Targeting Seniors

Scammers use various tactics to target seniors. Here are a few of the most prevalent scams to be aware of:

1. Telemarketing Scams

Scammers may call seniors, pretending to represent a charity, a well-known company, or even a government agency. They may ask for personal information, such as Social Security numbers or bank account details, or request immediate payment for a fake product or service.

2. Email and Phishing Scams

Phishing scams involve sending fraudulent emails that appear to come from legitimate sources, like banks, credit card companies, or government agencies. These emails often ask recipients to click on a link or provide personal information, potentially leading to identity theft or financial loss.

3. Lottery and Sweepstakes Scams

In this type of scam, seniors are told they’ve won a lottery or sweepstakes but need to pay a fee or provide personal information to claim their prize. This is merely a ploy to steal money or sensitive data.

4. Grandparent Scams

Scammers may call seniors, pretending to be a grandchild in distress who needs money immediately. They often rely on the senior’s emotions and urgency to keep them from verifying the situation.

5. Romance Scams

Seniors using online dating platforms may be targeted by scammers who create fake profiles, form a relationship with the senior, and eventually ask for money for various reasons.

Warning Signs of Financial Scams

Recognizing the warning signs of financial scams can help protect you and your loved ones. Some red flags include:

  • Unsolicited phone calls or emails asking for personal or financial information.
  • Requests for immediate payment or to wire money.
  • Pressure to make quick decisions without time for research or consultation.
  • Offers that seem too good to be true or require upfront fees.
  • Inconsistent or suspicious behavior from online contacts.
  • How to Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones

To safeguard against financial scams targeting seniors, consider implementing the following measures:

1. Educate Yourself and Your Loved Ones

Learn about common scams targeting seniors and discuss these issues with your loved ones. Open communication can help raise awareness and ensure everyone is prepared to recognize and avoid scams.

2. Safeguard Personal Information

Never share personal or financial information with unsolicited callers or emailers. Keep sensitive documents secure, and shred any unneeded documents containing personal information.

3. Verify Information

Before providing information or making payments, verify the legitimacy of the organization or individual. Research the company online, check for reviews, or consult with friends, family, or professionals.

4. Use Technology Wisely

Install antivirus software on your devices, use strong passwords, and keep software up-to-date. Be cautious with online dating and social media platforms, and avoid sharing too much personal information.

5. Report Suspicious Activity

If you or a loved one suspects a scam, report it to local law enforcement, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), or your state’s consumer protection agency. Reporting can help protect others and potentially stop the scammers.

Contact Beasley & Ferber for Trusted Legal Advice

Financial scams targeting seniors can have a devastating impact on your hard-earned savings and your peace of mind. At Beasley & Ferber, our experienced elder law and estate planning attorneys are dedicated to helping you protect your assets and secure your financial future.

If you or a loved one have concerns about financial scams or need guidance in asset protection planning, don’t hesitate to contact us today. Our team is ready to answer your questions and provide the support you need to make informed decisions about your financial and legal needs.

The Importance of Advance Directives and Living Wills

As we age, planning for the future becomes increasingly important. One of the most crucial aspects of planning involves making decisions about your healthcare and end-of-life care. Advance directives and living wills can provide you and your loved ones with peace of mind, knowing that your wishes will be respected and followed in case you are unable to make or communicate these decisions yourself. In this blog post, we will discuss the importance of advance directives and living wills, their key differences, and how they can benefit you and your family.

What are Advance Directives?

Advance directives are legal documents that outline your preferences for medical treatment and care when you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself. They serve as a guide for your healthcare providers, ensuring that your choices are respected and followed. Advance directives come in various forms, including living wills and durable power of attorney for healthcare.

Understanding Living Wills

A living will is a type of advance directive that specifically addresses your preferences for medical treatment in the event of a terminal illness or persistent vegetative state. This document is essential because it provides clear instructions for your healthcare providers and family members when you are unable to communicate your desires. A living will can cover various aspects of your medical care, such as whether you want to be kept on life support, receive artificial nutrition and hydration, or undergo specific medical procedures.

Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare

A durable power of attorney for healthcare, also known as a healthcare proxy, is another form of advance directive. In this document, you designate a trusted individual to make healthcare decisions on your behalf when you are unable to do so. This person, known as your agent, will be responsible for ensuring that your healthcare providers follow your wishes and make decisions in your best interest, taking into account your previously expressed preferences and values.

Why are Advance Directives and Living Wills Important?

There are several reasons why creating advance directives and living wills should be a priority for you and your family:

1. Ensuring Your Wishes are Respected

Advance directives and living wills provide clear guidance for your healthcare providers and loved ones, ensuring that your wishes are respected and followed even when you are unable to communicate them. This can bring peace of mind to both you and your family, knowing that your preferences will be honored.

2. Reducing Family Conflicts

When family members are faced with difficult decisions about your medical care, disagreements may arise. By creating a living will and designating a healthcare proxy, you can help reduce conflicts by providing clear instructions and appointing someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf.

3. Preventing Unnecessary Medical Treatments

Without advance directives in place, your healthcare providers may be unsure of your preferences and could administer aggressive treatments that you would not have wanted. A living will can help prevent unwanted medical procedures and ensure that your end-of-life care aligns with your values.

4. Preserving Your Dignity

By outlining your preferences in a living will and designating a healthcare proxy, you can maintain control over your healthcare decisions and preserve your dignity during a time when you may be most vulnerable.

How to Create Advance Directives and Living Wills

Creating advance directives and living wills involves several steps:

Discuss your preferences with your loved ones and healthcare providers.
Consult with an experienced elder law attorney to ensure that your documents meet legal requirements.
Make copies of your documents and distribute them to your healthcare providers, family members, and healthcare proxy.
4. Review your advance directives and living wills periodically and update them as necessary to reflect any changes in your preferences or health status.

Reach Out to Beasley & Ferber for Expert Guidance

Advance directives and living wills are essential components of a comprehensive estate plan. By creating these documents, you can ensure that your wishes are respected, reduce potential family conflicts, and preserve your dignity during times of vulnerability.

At Beasley & Ferber, our experienced elder law and estate planning attorneys are here to guide you through the process of creating advance directives and living wills, tailoring them to your unique needs and preferences. With over 60 years of combined experience, we are dedicated to helping our clients protect their hard-earned assets and plan for the future with confidence.

If you or a loved one are considering creating advance directives or living wills, don’t hesitate to contact us today. Our team is ready to answer your questions and provide the support you need to make informed decisions about your healthcare and end-of-life planning.

When an Elderly Parent Wants to Live Alone

According to a recent article in Forbes, more than 90 percent of elderly people who were surveyed express the intent to remain living in their own homes as they age and are committed to never moving. This is true even if it means living alone after a divorce or the death of a spouse. Unfortunately, that is not always possible.

Signs Your Parent Should No Longer Live Alone

There comes a time when no matter how much your elderly parent wants to remain living alone, it is no longer feasible for them to do so. A few signs that they need help are:

  • They exhibit personality changes such as getting angry easily, or being withdrawn and silent or lashing out.
  • Forgetting to take their medications.
  • They have trouble paying their bills.
  • They neglect their personal care demonstrated by not brushing their hair, not getting dressed appropriately, and forgetting things like eating.
  • They can no longer use their computer and have trouble even with their phone.

If this is happening to your elderly parent, it is time to have a serious discussion with them about making a change.

Tips on How to Discuss Living Options with Your Elderly Parent

It is not easy to talk to your parent about making a change in their living environment when they belligerently refuse to move from their home and give up living alone. SeniorSafetyAdvice, an online information resource for seniors and their caregivers, offers some suggestions for discussing this touchy subject with your loved one:

  • Listen to your parent’s point of view. Treat them like an adult. Do not talk down to them as though they are children. Understand why they are so resistant. Are they simply afraid to move and fear they will be giving up control of their life? Give them time to consider your suggestions.
  • Give your parent a sense of control over deciding how the family will cope with the changes that need to be made. Don’t argue with them but be firm and calm. If possible, give them choices. For example, do they need grocery delivery, meals-on-wheels, or an in-home health aid? Do they need an assisted-living environment?
  • If they can be convinced to do so, include them in the research about what to do next. Will they need to move or is it more feasible to have a caregiver move in with them?
  • If moving seems like the only option, focus on the type of place that will meet their needs, not a place that you think would be wonderful for you if you were in their situation.
  • Be firm about discussing with them the potential consequences of them continuing to live alone.

Contact Beasley & Ferber for Assistance

After you’ve had your thoughtful discussion with your loved one, make an appointment with Beasley & Ferber. We are here to help with all things related to elder law and will discuss with you options for care for your elderly parent who can’t or should no longer live alone.

Long-term Care Planning: Medicare, Medicaid, and Insurance

Long-term care is something that people generally aren’t eager to think about. However, roughly 7 out of 10 people will require long-term care at some point during their lifetime. When the national average cost of a private room in a nursing facility is $9,034, older adults and families need to address long-term care in their financial and legal planning.

Long-term care is a general term that describes various care services that regular health insurance does not cover. It might include things like:

  • In-home assistance with routine daily activities (activities of daily living or ADLs)
  • Living in a nursing home or assisted living facility
  • Nursing care
  • Physical, occupational, or speech therapy

Because long-term care is not covered by health insurance, you need to make other plans to pay for it.

Does Medicare Cover Long-Term Care?

Medicare is a government-provided health insurance program for adults who are over the age of 65. It also covers some individuals with disabilities as well. Unlike Medicaid, Medicare does not depend on your income, assets, or disability status.

Adults who qualify pay for Medicare just as they would a private health insurance company. The main difference is that Medicare provides more extensive services and lower fees compared to the average private insurance company. In many cases, those receiving Medicare do not pay any insurance premiums at all for Medicare Part A, which provides hospital services.

Medicare Part A covers things like:

  • Care in a skilled nursing facility
  • Hospital stays
  • Hospice care
  • Some home healthcare

It does not cover more basic things that medical insurance might cover, such as doctors’ services, medical supplies, and preventive services.

Medicare also does not cover long-term care, including living in an assisted living facility or nursing home.

As a result, individuals and families cannot rely on Medicare to pay for the full cost of a nursing home or assisted living care. Instead, they need to make other arrangements to pay for long-term care.

Does Medicaid Cover Long-Term Care?

Medicaid might be an option to pay for long-term care in some situations. However, using it appropriately might require some long-term planning. In most circumstances, you will need at least five years to appropriately plan to use Medicaid for long-term care. Learn more about Medicaid planning by downloading our free e-book.

Long-Term Care Insurance

Neither regular health insurance nor Medicare addresses long-term care. So, how can individuals and families pay for long-term care? Long-term care insurance might be a good option.

Long-term care insurance is available from many private insurance companies. It generally covers expenses that Medicare will not cover. If you buy a policy under the age of 55, it is often more affordable than waiting until you are older.

Get Help with Long-Term Care Planning

You might also be able to tap into other resources to pay for long-term care, such as using investments or Veterans’ benefits. However, you need to have a full understanding of your options to plan appropriately.

Get help with long-term planning from the experienced elder law attorneys at Beasley & Ferber. We can help you review your options and make recommendations for your unique situation. Contact us today for more information.

Why It's Important to Have an Elder Professionally Diagnosed for Suspected Dementia

Dementia and, in particular Alzheimer’s Disease, get a lot of attention in the media. So much so, that when an elderly loved one starts to exhibit memory loss, dementia is the first thing that occurs to family members and close friends. This can be a misleading and dangerous thing to assume for many reasons. First, no one should be casually diagnosed with a medical condition without professional input. Second, it’s unfair to a person to be categorized with a condition when no such professional diagnosis has been made.

Important Differences Between Dementia and Age-Related Memory Loss

There are distinguishable differences between dementia and simple age-related memory loss that need to be understood. Dementia is a physical symptom of a physical condition. Alzheimer’s is just one disease that has dementia as its most prevalent symptom. Dementia is a disabling condition that progresses and worsens over time, often to the point where a person forgets who they are or who their family members are.

Age-related memory loss is something that happens to almost everyone over a long enough period of time. It is typically minor and not debilitating. People with age-related memory loss may repeat themselves, or forget why they came into a room, but they can usually still take care of themselves and recall earlier life events.

Dangers of Casually Diagnosing a Person With Dementia

When a person is casually diagnosed with dementia without having received a professional diagnosis, all sorts of estate planning problems can occur. The first one is the assumption that the person is not able to make sound choices about their estate. Later on, once the estate plan has been documented and executed, the person may balk at certain aspects that don’t align with their true wishes. Not only does this lead to family discord, but it also necessitates beginning the entire legal process over again, which is timely and costly.

Why a Professional Diagnosis is Essential

Establishing diminished mental ability is essential before a family member or anyone else can legally make decisions on behalf of someone else. In most cases, a court order is also needed. There is a great deal of grey area around estate planning for those with dementia, and that grey area is even bigger if a person attempts it without first having a professional diagnosis. If the professional diagnosis comes back with unexpected results, the plan could be negated. If the diagnosis affirms the suspected dementia, then the estate plan needs to be organized in such a way as to accommodate the expected increased needs of the dementia patient. Either way, it’s not just prudent to get the professional diagnosis first; it’s essential.

The very fact that family members are concerned about a loved one’s mental state is often a good sign that they have that person’s welfare in the right perspective. Working with an established elder law attorney in New Hampshire can help to ensure that the loved one’s estate is properly planned. Contact Beasley & Ferber today for more information.

Strategies to Protect Your Inheritance From Divorce

No one plans on getting divorced and it’s easy to be complacent about protecting your assets before marriage. Unfortunately, divorce is a sad reality of modern life, and you need to be proactive about making sure you get to keep what’s rightfully yours after divorce. There are many complexities involved with how assets are divided up in a divorce, which is why you should seek the advice of an estate planning attorney such as Beasley & Ferber. In the meantime, here are some strategies to know about that can help protect your inheritance from divorce.

Avoid Commingling Inheritance

Many couples consider it a sign of trust to have joint accounts and to have the attitude of, “what’s mine is yours.” In general, that’s an admirable and generous way of looking at things. However, when it comes to inherited assets, the smart thing to do is to avoid commingling. Commingling is when you mix up assets in joint accounts, pay a credit card bill from a mix of a marital asset account and an inherited asset account, deposit a marital asset check into an inherited asset account, or vice versa, and more. There are many “accidental” ways to commingle marital assets with inherited assets. The best way to avoid doing it is to consult with an attorney who specializes in these matters.

Have the Prenup Drawn Up This Way

When you meet with your estate planning attorney, have a prenup drawn up. Ask that the prenup specifically exclude your inherited assets against any possible future divorce. You may be able to have language in the prenup that specifies existing or future inheritance. This might be helpful in the event that you anticipate receiving an inheritance anytime after your wedding date.

Save All Documentation

Make sure that you save all documentation relating to your inheritance. This includes things like wills, trust paperwork, buys and sells, investment statements, bank statements, etc. When relevant and possible, keep the originals instead of converting them into digital files. In the event that your inherited assets are disputed during a divorce, the originals will bear more weight.

Establish a Special Trust

To protect and preserve your inheritance, create a trust. Because they are a great tool to protect assets, trusts are often utilized in estate planning. You may be confident that your inheritance will stay separate from your marital assets by putting it into a special trust. You and your estate planning attorney should set up the trust so it names yourself or your children as the beneficiary, rather than your spouse.

Whether this is your first marriage, second, or even third, it pays to give extra attention to protecting your inherited assets from a divorcing spouse. Remember, if you choose to do so, you can always concede assets as part of your divorce decree. However, using these strategies makes the decision yours and not the right of an estranged spouse. For assistance protecting your inheritance from divorce, contact Beasley & Ferber, expert estate planning attorneys in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.



Estate Planning for the
Informed Consumer


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