elder law

What is a Nomination of Guardian?

What is a Nomination of Guardian?

You are going to live forever.

You can eat whatever you want and drink whatever you want and run for as long as you want forever. Because you are invincible and nothing bad will ever happen to you.

Did you buy that? No?

Unfortunately, people don’t stay young and healthy forever. We don’t like to think of a time in the future when we will no longer be able to take care of ourselves, but it is incredibly important that you do so. Ask yourself:

  • If you become incapacitated, who will have the legal authority to take care of you?

  • If a parent or other loved one becomes incapacitated, who will be able to assist them with managing their assets or healthcare?

  • If you die before your children reach adulthood, who will have custody over them or be able to take care of their inheritance until they come of age?

You may not know the answers to these questions, and that’s fine. That is probably why you are reading an article on an estate planning website. (Either that or you are very bored.)

Whenever we ask questions about capacity or managing someone’s financial or medical care, we enter the realm of guardianships and conservatorships. Two big legal words with two big legal explanations. So, let’s dive in and learn more about these concepts.

What is a Guardianship?

A guardianship is a court-supervised process whereby the judge appoints a guardian to manage the personal care of a ward (i.e. someone who is physically or legally unable to manage their medical care). Similarly, a conservatorship is a court-supervised process whereby the judge appoints a conservator (similar to a guardian) to manage the assets of a ward (i.e. someone who is physically or legally unable to manage their assets).

How You Can Prevent Elder Fraud

How You Can Prevent Elder Fraud

Elder fraud and financial exploitation has become an epidemic.

More than ever before, con artists and family members alike are taking advantage of their elderly relatives, friends, or neighbors.

Could your parents or grandparents be next?

The best defense against elder fraud is having caring friends or family with the senior's best interests at heart. But those friends and family can only prevent elder fraud if they know how to spot it — and that's what this blog post will teach you.

This post will cover five ways you can help keep your loved ones safe from elder fraud and financial exploitation. Specifically, you can:

  1. Talk with them about their finances.

  2. Ask them about suspicious phone calls or interactions.

  3. Keep abreast of changes to their estate plan.

  4. Inquire about about caretakers, helpers, or sudden "best friends."

  5. Investigate abrupt or unexplained transfers of assets.

But before we dive in to prevention, let's cover some of the basics of elder fraud.

One Weird Estate Planning Concept You Need to Know

One Weird Estate Planning Concept You Need to Know

So your parents have a Last will and Testament or a Living Trust. Great. It was signed by all the proper parties, contains the proper language, and appoints the proper people. Wonderful. And to top it all off, the attorney's gave you an unbelievable deal. Excellent (unlikely, but excellent). The problem? Those documents can still be thrown out by the court if your parents lacked one key thing: testamentary capacity.

What is Testamentary Capacity?

We lawyers sure do like our big words. Fortunately for everyone, testamentary capacity boils down to a pretty simple idea: Does the person signing a Will or Trust understand what they're signing? To have testamentary capacity in Oklahoma, the testator (the person signing the Will or Trust) must understand, in a general way, (1) the quality and quantity of his or her property (sometimes called their "bounty"), (2) the natural objects of his or her bounty (i.e., who should logically inherit their property), and (3) the legal effect of signing the document.

4 Tips to Identify Undue Influence

4 Tips to Identify Undue Influence

Imagine your father is elderly, handicapped, and requires in-home care. He develops a close relationship with his caretaker, who is much younger than he is. When your father passes away, you assume that all his assets will be left to you and your siblings. However, the caretaker comes forward with a Will signed by your dad a week before his death — and it leaves everything to her! Seems fishy, right? This is a classic case of undue influence.

What is Undue Influence?

In Oklahoma, undue influence consists of taking an unfair advantage of another's weakness of mind or body or the use of authority to procure an unfair advantage over someone. Put another way, undue influence occurs when someone exerts pressure on an individual, causing him or her to act contrary to his or her wishes and to the benefit of the influencer.

The #1 Argument Against DIY Estate Planning

The #1 Argument Against DIY Estate Planning

Can I make a "Do It Yourself" estate plan?

The phrase "Do It Yourself" calls to mind weekend trips to Home Depot and saving money. And while some aspects of home improvement may be proper to do yourself (e.g., painting walls or building a patio), things get trickier when you try to act as a plumber, excavator, or electrician. Performing those tasks incorrectly — resulting in broken gas mains or electrical shocks — could have disastrous consequences.

(Forbes has published several famous do-it-yourself estate planning horror stories)

The same is true of "Do It Yourself" (or "DIY") estate planning. Although do-it-yourself estate planning services may seem like a bargain, just remember: you get what you pay for. In many cases, these services merely provide generic forms that do not take into account your financial situation, family relationships, tax consequences, and other important factors. More than all of those things, however, the number one argument against using a do-it-yourself estate planning service is this: the documents may not comply with the legal requirements in your state.

Will You Lose Your Long-Term Care Deduction?

Will You Lose Your Long-Term Care Deduction?

We recently wrote about several ways the House GOP tax package could impact your estate plan. However, one area we did not cover is an important proposal that could impact millions of Americans: eliminating the medical expense deduction.

What Is the Long-Term Care Deduction?

The House plan proposes eliminating the deduction (codified in Title 26, Section 213 of the U.S. Code), which generally allows taxpayers to deduct medical expenses (including long-term care insurance premiums) for income tax purposes if the expenses are greater than 10% of adjusted gross income (AGI). But there is a cap on the amount you can deduct for long-term care premiums. The IRS recently announced that, for 2018, taxpayers age 40 and under can deduct a maximum of $420; taxpayers 70 and over can deduct a maximum of $5,200.