Elder Law 101

Providing for Extended Family and Charities

Many people choose to bequest to extended family members and charities in their will. But did you know that estate planning should also include certain information that can make the process of disbursing funds faster and easier for survivors?

Providing for Extended Family Members

When providing for extended family members, it’s good to keep certain things in mind. Doing so will not only facilitate the executor in disbursing funds, but it may even prevent confusion and/or resentment in your other beneficiaries. Here are the things to keep in mind:

Extended Family Members May Be Unknown to Immediate Family

For a variety of reasons, extended family members may not be known to your immediate family. So it will be confusing for them to understand why your will bequeaths assets to a “stranger.” To avoid this, you can specify in your will the nature of your relationship, and the reasons for the bequeath. For instance, “John Philip is my step-sister’s cousin. Though we grew apart over the years, I fondly recall our childhood years during which  he was my only friend in difficult times.”

Extended Family Members May Have Moved or Changed Names

One job of an executor is to track down beneficiaries. If you are giving to extended family members, it’s helpful to elucidate their possible whereabouts and last known contact information to streamline the process. This can be done with an addendum. On it, list maiden names, married names, parents, children, and last known addresses, emails, and contact numbers for the beneficiary.

Providing For Charities

If you choose to leave a portion of your estate to a charitable organization, know that you have several avenues to do so. You can designate a one-time lump sum payment to the organization, request repeated smaller payments over time, or even create your own charitable trust. However you choose to provide for a charity, there are some details that you can help with by including them in your estate planning.

List the Official Name of the Charity

There are so many charitable organizations now that many of them have similar names. This can be confusing for someone unfamiliar with the organization. Be sure to mention the official, full name of the charity, not just the “slang name.” For instance, instead of “St. Jude’s,” which could be interpreted to mean St. Jude’s Church, say “St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.”

Include the Charity’s Tax ID Number

Charitable organizations must report donations to the IRS, although they usually do not have to pay taxes on them. Have your estate planning attorney take the time to look up the charity’s official tax ID number. This will save a step in reporting the bequest to tax officials and help to get your other bequests out to your other beneficiaries faster.

Contact Us for Assistance with your Estate Planning

We are here to help you prepare your will and trusts so that your assets will be distributed according to your wishes. Contact us to schedule an estate planning appointment.

Lifelong Money Management for Children with Special Needs

As difficult as it can be to care for a child with special needs, planning for their care after you have passed away can be even more daunting. In addition to ensuring that they have the proper housing, medical attention, and personal assistance, it is essential to ensure that you have the right money management framework in place.

Funding for the Future of a Special Needs Dependent

For parents of children with special needs, targeted and thorough estate planning is even more important than it is for others. To support ongoing money management for your child, you will likely want to go beyond a standard will to establish a trust.

A trust is a legal agreement that can guarantee specific rights to earmarked assets to support your offspring in the event of your death. Trusts specify one party, a trustee, who holds legal title to these assets, managing them to benefit another party, the beneficiary.

Trusts can make optimum tools when it comes to providing for a child with special needs. By leaving your child in the hands of a trusted and capable money manager, you can rest easy in this life and the next.

A designated life insurance policy is generally the easiest and least expensive way to fund a trust. Furthermore, you can construct this life insurance policy so you will know precisely what will be leftover from your estate to provide a nest egg for your child.

Establishing a Special Needs Trust

If your child receives Social Security Disability, Medicare, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, SNAP food assistance, or other government benefits, you will probably want to create a particular type of trust called a special needs trust. This financial tool shields its assets, giving your child the financial resources to meet ongoing and future expenses without an interruption in access to stipulated government benefits. In short, a special needs trust won’t interfere with eligibility for most federal and state assistance programs.

When it comes to establishing a special needs trust, the first and most important step is choosing a trustee who will faithfully administer it with the best interests of your dependent at heart. In addition to following all stipulated guidelines exactly as you have written them, this trustee must adhere to all relevant state and federal legal requirements.

The key to a special needs trust lies in the fact that all assets are owned by the trust itself rather than its beneficiary. This places assets under the capable management of your chosen trustee while allowing your child to collect the government benefits that he or she deserves.

To Learn More

For more information about money management for children with special needs, supplemental needs trusts, and estate planning in general, contact the disability law experts at Beasley & Ferber. A law firm representative is eager to answer your questions or direct you to a seminar that covers these specific subjects among others.

What Happens if You Pass Without a Will?

If you die without a will in New Hampshire, the state considers you to have died “intestate” and state law determines how your assets will be distributed. Even if there is strong evidence that you had the intent to leave certain assets to certain people, if you do not leave a will with specific instructions, state law controls who your heirs are.

There are assets that pass to heirs and beneficiaries that are not included in a will even if you leave one. The remaining assets pass according to the state law of intestate succession.

Assets That Pass Outside of a Will

Some examples of assets that pass to beneficiaries whether you leave a will or do not leave a will include:

  • Life insurance proceeds go directly to the named beneficiary or beneficiaries.
  • Payable on death bank accounts.
  • Property that you have placed in a living trust
  • Property owned in joint tenancy with someone else.
  • Funds in retirement accounts that are payable to beneficiaries.

New Hampshire Intestate Succession Laws

New Hampshire intestate succession laws are somewhat complicated. Who gets your assets depends on whether you have a living spouse, children, and descendants with that spouse, or children and descendants from other relationships.

Some examples of state law are:

  • If you have no surviving spouse but you do have children, all your assets will be divided among your children. This includes any children who you legally adopted.
  • If you leave a spouse but no descendants and no surviving parents, your spouse inherits everything.
  • If you leave a spouse with whom you have descendants, and the spouse has descendants from another relationship, the spouse and the descendants of you and your spouse share in a portion of your estate in percentages established by the state. The descendants of your spouse from another relationship do not inherit from your estate.
  • If you leave a spouse and you have descendants from another relationship other than with your surviving spouse, your spouse and your descendants share in the inheritance.
  • If you leave a spouse, no descendants, but you have surviving parents, your spouse and parents share in your estate.
  • You leave your parents, no spouse, and no descendants, your estate goes to your parents.
  • You leave siblings but no descendants, no spouse, and no parents, your siblings inherit all of your assets.
  • If you die with no heirs, your assets will belong to the state.

There are more issues to consider, such as how your half-siblings inherit, how children conceived before you die but born afterward inherit, and how those relatives inherit whose immigration status is in question.

Contact Us for Assistance with your Estate Planning

Intestate succession does not have to happen to your heirs. Take control and contact us at Beasley & Ferber. We are here to help you prepare your will and trusts so that your assets will be distributed according to your wishes and not according to the state of New Hampshire. Contact us to schedule an estate planning appointment.

How to Navigate Medicaid Crisis Planning

Medicaid is a program for people with a low income and few resources to help them pay for the cost of obtaining healthcare. Although the federal government oversees Medicaid, each state determines who qualifies for coverage and the types of treatment it will cover. Medicaid crisis planning is sometimes necessary when a family member needs to move into a long-term care facility with little notice. A stroke that leaves a loved one cognitively impaired and unable to care for themselves is just one example.

Medicaid Crisis Planning Can Help Clients Retain a Lifetime of Savings

Your spouse or parent worked hard all their life, paying their bills on time and putting money aside to leave for the next generation. Unfortunately, the high cost of long-term care means that it could be gone within weeks after moving into a nursing home. The elder law firm of Beasley & Ferber works with clients and their families to determine the best strategies to use to prevent them from losing their life savings.

Here are just some of the factors we consider before providing the family with legal advice:

  • Age and life expectancy of the person needing long-term care
  • The health condition that necessitates long-term care
  • Types of assets in their estate
  • Unique family circumstances, such as a person who needs care having gone through a divorce previously but has since remarried. The new spouse may have a conflict with the adult children over the best course of action for their loved one.

People who apply for Medicaid based on sudden health needs often receive a denial because their income, assets, or both are too high. If you transfer assets suddenly on behalf of your loved one, the government will learn about it during its five-year look-back period. However, certain types of transfers are legal and will not invite government scrutiny. These include:

  • Transferring to a spouse or another adult who manages the financial affairs of the spouse.
  • Establishing a trust for the benefit of a disabled individual under the age of 65.
  • A trust for the benefit of a blind or disabled biological or adopted child, regardless of age. These funds can also go to the benefactor directly.

Persons applying for emergency Medicaid can also transfer their home to someone else if the transaction meets each of the following criteria:

  • The person receiving the title to the home is a son or daughter who is at least 21 years old.
  • An adult child lived with a parent for at least two years before the parent needed nursing home care and provided direct care up to that point.
  • A sibling of the Medicaid applicant with equity in the home lived there for at least one year before the other sibling needed long-term care.

Although you can transfer assets in any of these situations to have your loved one qualify for emergency Medicaid, we recommend that you seek advice from our elder care law firm first. We will ensure the transaction you are considering is legal and offer additional recommendations to help your family at this challenging time. Contact us to schedule an appointment today.

How to Protect Your Inheritance When Adult Children Make Poor Decisions

Leaving an inheritance to your children and grandchildren is something that you feel proud of and have worked hard to achieve. You want the money to only go to them and for them to use it wisely.

At the estate planning law firm of Beasley & Ferber, we encourage clients to consider potential scenarios that could impact whether adult children or grandchildren receive the full inheritance and how they use it. Although no one can predict the future, your current observations should give you a good indication.

Could One of These Scenarios Happen in Your Family?

Receiving a large sum of money from your estate should be a positive thing. However, some people have problems in their lives that prevent them from handling the windfall well. We outline some common scenarios below.

Immature Spending Habits

Have you noticed that your son, daughter, or grandchild spends all their money immediately after receiving a paycheck and then cannot pay their bills? A habit like this is a sure sign of an impulse control problem and may indicate you should not leave this person a large sum of money to spend all at once. Family members who foolishly spend money on get-rich-quick schemes should also raise suspicions.

Drug Addiction

Few things are as heartbreaking for parents and grandparents as seeing someone they love struggle with addiction. You want to see them get help, but the person has to be ready to accept it. You also do not want to enable their habit by providing a large inheritance they will use to buy drugs. Just remember that no one can demand proceeds from your estate and you have every right to limit an inheritance or put stipulations on it.

Current Financial Struggles

Is your loved one facing bankruptcy, a lawsuit, an expensive divorce, or other serious financial problem? Any of these situations could cause their inheritance from you to disappear in a hurry and still leave them owing more. If you see no obvious signs of serious financial problems, you can still ask about it before leaving part of your estate to a certain relative.

Abusive Relationships

Maybe your adult child or grandchild is in a relationship with someone who has abused them or you just do not trust them. If they are married and divorce later, the abusive ex-partner could receive at least part of your inheritance. Current abusive partners could also keep the money from whom you intended to receive it by controlling their bank account.

You Always Have Options with Your Own Money

Your concerns are legitimate, and you can exercise various legal options to accommodate them. For example, you could assign a trustee to manage the inheritance of a beneficiary. The trustee controls when beneficiaries receive payments and how much they can take out with a single withdrawal. You can also establish contingencies for the money, such as that it only goes towards college tuition.

We understand these situations can be delicate and are here to help you navigate them. Please contact us to schedule an estate planning appointment and learn more.

Spring Letter

Dear Valued Client of Beasley & Ferber,

We write to you now on the brink of spring. The past year has been a trying one for me, as it may have been for many of you. I lost one of my two brothers to a heart attack and my surviving brother, who lives alone on Cape Cod, is suffering from ever-worsening memory loss. I find myself with renewed empathy for the plight of our clients and the families who care for them, particularly from afar. I also have a great appreciation for the documents I put in place for my brother, so an already difficult situation is uncomplicated by probate court and other legal entanglements.

While 2021 certainly presented many challenges for us all, I am also hopeful for a brighter year ahead. In keeping with our custom, we will be presenting a series of public estate-planning seminars across New Hampshire and in Massachusetts. You are welcome to attend these as a refresher on important matters, such as avoiding probate, gaining nursing-home protection and learning the difference between acting as power of attorney versus guardianship. Living through this personally is giving me a new perspective, further amplifying that what we have done for clients for all these years has significant value.

In addition, we are offering you – our valued clients – and your loved ones an invitation to attend one of our “Beneficiary 101” workshops. These events are designed to educate your beneficiaries on how to carry out an estate plan when the time comes: the overall expectations and impact, responsibilities of executors and powers of attorney, what exactly your trustee needs to do in order to pass the assets to the next generation, etc. At many of our public seminars and “Beneficiary 101” events, I will be joined by Greg Gagne of Affinity Investment Group, who will spend time discussing the new IRA rules that have a major impact on clients legacy plans and potential tax consequences.

To register for either a public seminar or a client-only workshop, call our office or sign up on our newly updated website: www.beasleyferber.com. Here, you can also learn more about our services, make an appointment, or check for updates to our seminar schedule. We are adding new dates every week so be sure to visit.

Finally, hundreds of clients have signed up for our new monthly e-newsletter. In doing so, they are the first to know about new events, presentations and law changes. They also have received this letter in their inbox (rather than in their mailbox.)  Starting in 2023, our office will be shifting to digital communications with our clients. Unless a client requests continued paper copy, we will keep you informed by email with timely news — and we meet our goal of being more environmentally conscious.  It is critical that you supply us your email address as soon as possible. Signing up is easy and takes less than 5 minutes. Go to https://beasleyferber.com/newsletter/ and fill out the form. You can also stay connected with us online by “liking” the official Beasley & Ferber Facebook page.

We look forward to seeing you at a seminar or workshop, but don’t forget: we can also come to you. If your church or civic group is interested, or if you live in a 55+ community with clubhouse space, we can offer our program right in your neighborhood.

For any question, request, service or to register for a seminar, we can be contacted at our office at 1-800-370-5010 or 225-5010.

Very truly yours,

Ted Beasley

Estate Planning for Second Marriages

Estate planning can be challenging enough when you and your spouse have children in common. The process becomes even more complex when one or both of you have children from a previous relationship that you want to provide for after your passing.

People sometimes feel torn between the needs of their current spouse and the needs of their children, whether they are minors or adults. Adult children may have concerns that your spouse will exhaust their inheritance if you pass away first, and you may both have concerns about perceived fairness. This blog provides a general outline of factors to consider when considering estate planning with your second or subsequent spouse.

Questions Remarried Couples Should Consider When Writing a Will

While every person who has been married before has a unique situation, brainstorming answers to the following questions can help you and your spouse determine your joint priorities.

  • Do you have certain assets in mind for certain children? If one child or stepchild receives an asset with a considerably higher value than the others receive, how do you plan to address that?
  • Did either the husband or wife prepare a will while in a previous relationship that now requires updating? Do you plan to write new individual wills or a joint will?
  • Do the two of you have children together or do you plan to in the future? Which assets would you like to pass along to children who have not been born or adopted yet?
  • Did either of you bring individual debts into the marriage, or do you plan to incur large debts together?
  • Does either of you have individual assets or assets with a former partner that needs a new title in both names?
  • What other estate planning situations do you plan to cover besides writing a will? Common examples include healthcare power of attorney or directive, creating a trust, or guardianship of minor children.
  • Have you updated the beneficiary designations on your retirement savings account and insurance policies that may still bear the name of an ex-spouse?

Emotions are often high after a death, and tensions can be even higher in a step-family or blended family situation. Should one of you pass away suddenly without a will, the inheritance laws in your state apply rather than your own wishes. The best way to protect both sets of children and anyone else associated with your estate is to create an estate plan as early in your new marriage as possible.

Work with the Experienced Estate Planning Attorneys at Beasley & Ferber

With 30 years of experience operating our own law firm, attorneys Beasley and Ferber have worked with all types of families when creating and helping to settle estate plans. We invite you to contact us and share the ideas from your brainstorming session to ensure that you are not overlooking any estate planning essentials. Once you feel satisfied that your will and other legal documents express your true wishes, we will assist you with putting each of them in writing.

What to Expect When Going Through the Probate Process

The term probate refers to the entire legal process that takes place after a person passes away. An official appointed by the local court supervises all probate actions. Probate can be a difficult process, and it can be challenging to understand everything taking place if you do not know what to expect. We outline the basic process of probate in this blog.

Steps Involved in the Standard Probate Action

Probate typically involves the following:

  • Proving that the will of the deceased individual is valid. Although this is usually a routine process, people who feel the will is not valid may attend the probate hearing to voice any objections.
  • Identifying the assets of the deceased and assigning a value to each one.
  • Locating the beneficiaries of the will, known as decedents.
  • Completing a formal appraisal of the deceased individual’s real estate property, if any.
  • Paying any outstanding debts and taxes using money from the estate of the deceased.
  • Filing a final tax return on behalf of the deceased’s estate.
  • Distributing the remaining property and money to people named in the will.

The fees to pay for lawyer and court services come directly from the estate of the deceased. Unfortunately, that means fewer funds remain for the decedents when the time comes to distribute proceeds from the will. Retaining the legal services of an experienced law firm is essential to reducing the time spent in probate. The sooner the estate settles, the higher the value of the original will.

The Executor of the Estate Initiates the Probate Process

Part of preparing a will is to name an executor to handle its settling after the person dies. When death occurs, the executor named in the will files paperwork with the local court. People who die without a will have an executor assigned to their estate by the court. The executor bears responsibility for presenting the court with the deceased individual’s assets, debts, and names and contact information for each decedent. The court then notifies creditors and relatives about the person’s death.

Finding, securing, and managing the assets of the deceased can take several months to more than a year. If the person who passed away left a lot of debt, the executor can decide to sell assets to pay those debts. Most states allow immediate family members of the deceased to request short-term funds as they wait for the will to settle.

Probate is Not Automatic

People often dread the process of probate, but you should know that it does not happen automatically. For example, surviving spouses become the sole owner of property that the two owned jointly as a couple. Investment accounts and insurance policies name beneficiaries, and those named have legal entitlement to the inheritance without going through probate. Each state also protects a certain amount of assets from the probate process.

The elder and disability rights law firm Beasley & Ferber celebrated our 30th year of service in 2021. We invite you to contact us to learn more about how we can assist your family in the settling of a loved one’s will.

Top Reasons to Review Your Estate Plan

Estate plans should not be set in stone, as a rule. Rather, they should be living, working documents that can be changed as needed. After all, life circumstances and events frequently shift and evolve over time, and this often necessitates changes to your estate plan as well.

We recommend reviewing your estate plan every three to five years, no matter what. In some cases, however, you may want to review it even sooner.

5 Reasons You Might Need to Review Your Estate Plan

1. Your finances have changed.

There are numerous circumstances in which your finances may have changed enough to necessitate altering your estate plan. For example, you’ll certainly want to review your plan if you retire or get a new job that significantly alters your income. The same goes for if you suddenly receive an inheritance or a notable raise at your current job.

Any significant change to your overall finances should necessitate a general review of your estate plan to ensure you’re maximizing your benefits.

2. You’ve moved states.

Different states have different laws regarding estate plans. Moreover, these laws are regularly updated, so it’s smart to keep abreast of them and make any necessary changes as needed. You’ll want to maximize the benefits available and minimize any unnecessary fees and charges.

3. You’d like to change your beneficiaries.

There are numerous reasons why you might want to change the beneficiaries listed in your estate plan.

Frequently, for example, new family members necessitate a change. Perhaps you’ve had a new child or grandchild. It’s also possible you’ve decided to include a close friend or an organization or charity that’s close to your heart.

Conversely, certain life changes may necessitate removing a person or persons from your estate plan. For example, if your child is recently divorced, most often, you’ll want to remove the name of their ex-husband or ex-wife from your list of beneficiaries.

4. Your marital status has changed.

If you’ve recently gotten a divorce, in all likelihood, you’ll want to remove the name of your ex from your estate plan or alter their benefits at the very least. Likewise, you’ll want to add a new spouse if you’ve recently gotten married.

If you’re not married but have a partner who you’d like to be listed as a beneficiary in your estate plan, this can be carried out as well.

5. Child beneficiaries have reached the age of 18.

Lastly, if you’ve listed children, grandchildren, or any other minors as beneficiaries in your estate plan, if they turn 18, you’ll want to review their benefits. Minors are often treated differently than adults when it comes to estate planning.

Need Help Establishing a Plan for Your Estate? Contact Beasley & Ferber Today

Whether you’re looking to establish a brand-new estate plan or modify one you’ve already created, our team at Beasley & Ferber can help.

Contact us to set up a consultation appointment and start discussing your legal estate planning options today. We look forward to hearing from you!

How to Select the Right Trustee

Trusts can be established for a number of reasons, and there are many different types of trusts. One of the most common reasons for establishing a trust is to ensure that a person’s estate will be controlled and managed according to their wishes — even when they become unable to manage their estate themselves.

In most cases, a trustee will be appointed to hold legal title to the property of the beneficiary (the estate holder), and they will be entrusted with managing this property should the beneficiary become unable to. For example, living trusts are those in which the beneficiary maintains control of their estate while they are alive, and control passes to the trustee when they die.

No matter what type of trust you are creating, one of the most important steps will be selecting the right trustee. This will be the person who gains legal title to your property and who you’ll need to carry out your estate wishes. Below, we’ll go over how to choose the best trustee for your trust.

3 Considerations to Make When Choosing a Trustee

1. Are they up for the task?

Even small trusts will require that the trustee devote a significant amount of time and energy to carrying out the beneficiary’s wishes. Make sure that whoever you choose to be a trustee is someone who will have enough time and energy on their hands to devote to your trust management. Often, it’s best to choose someone who is retired or does not have a full schedule of responsibilities keeping them busy.

2. Are they trustworthy?

It is crucial to only choose an individual who is totally trustworthy to be your trustee. The word “trust” is right there in the job title after all. You want to know that they’re going to carry out even the minutest details of your trust or at least do their best to follow through when circumstances change. A good way to find a trustworthy trustee is to consider who in your life has always had your best interests at heart.

3. Do they have reasonable judgment?

There may come a time when you are not able to answer inquiries about your estate, and this duty will fall upon your trustee. Perhaps there’s need for clarification, or circumstances have changed such that funds must be diverted elsewhere. You need to know that your trustee will be able to use reasonable judgment in these situations.

Need Help Creating a Trust? Contact Beasley & Ferber Today

At Beasley & Ferber, we routinely receive questions from individuals who are interested in creating a trust but unsure how to go about doing so.

We understand that the process can be challenging, both in terms of logistics and paperwork and emotionally.

However, creating a trust for your estate is an integral part of ensuring financial security for you and your loved ones. Don’t wait to create a sound trust. Give yourself peace of mind knowing your assets are well protected.

To learn more about estate planning and how to establish a trust, contact Beasley & Ferber today.


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