Trusts and Estates Blog

Top Scams Against the Elderly

Arrest XSmallPlease take a moment and check out the short article in the link below. Awareness is the first step in stopping crimes against our elderly citizens. Crimes against the elderly are epidemic in our society.

www.caring.com/blogs/fyi-daily/top-scams-against-older-adults Caring.com is a great resource!

If you would like more information concerning how to protect your elderly loved one, or to avoid probate, contact Antelope Valley estate planning law firm Thompson | Von Tungeln (TVT) at 661-945-5868 or visit their websites at www.EstatePlanningSpecialists.com and www.Medi-CalHelp.com. www.EstatePlanningSpecialists.com is a comprehensive online resource for personal wealth management solutions through wills and revocable trusts. www.Medi-CalHelp.com is a comprehensive online resource for long term nursing home care for the middle class. As Board Certified Specialists in Estate Planning, Trusts and Probate as certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization, partners Mark E. Thompson and Kevin L. Von Tungeln are expertly equipped to serve clients with the creative, effective and custom solutions they demand.

Six Tips for Caregivers

Eldery mother with grown daughter pushing wheelchair XSmallSo you’ve made the transition from child, niece/nephew, friend, or acquaintance to caregiver. Now what? Too many people have a wrong view of caregiving and end up either burning themselves out or give up on the task. To prevent such instances from happening to you, consider the following tips for your new role in life.

1. Don’t make promises if you aren’t sure you can keep them. Promising to be everywhere at once or help more people than you can is a sure fire way to overwork yourself to the point of not being able to help the one person you need to—your loved one.

2. Even though you are now tasked with caring for an elderly loved one, remember there are other people in life who depend on you as well. Whether a spouse, children, extended family, coworkers, or friends—don’t sacrifice anyone in your life. Find a balance between the two facets of your life.

3. You are not alone in this new role. Don’t try to shoulder the entire weight of caregiving. No human being can do so! Turn to others for support, take time for you, and allow others to help. You will be no good as a caregiver if you wear yourself down.

4. Naturally, you will have fears with this new job—fears of how to go about caregiving, fears about balancing your life, fears about losing your loved one. Also, your loved one will have fears as well. Talk out these fears with family members. Allow others to carry the emotional burden of this for you.

5. Despite their age, your parent or loved one still wishes to be involved in their care. As long as they have mental capabilities, involve them! Don’t infantilize them, but talk over major decisions with them and seek their input.

6. As gung ho as you might be initially, you’ll need to sit down and set limits for yourself. Choose a “day off” each week when someone else can step in to care for your loved one while you renew yourself. Delegate tasks to others if possible (doctor’s visits, shopping, cleaning etc). This all works into your plan of balancing your life with the new role of caregiving.

You are now the caregiver for your loved one, but don’t fear! Remember to reach out to others for help and value caring for yourself as you spend extra time with your loved one.

If you would like more information concerning estate planning, contact Antelope Valley estate planning law firm Thompson | Von Tungeln (TVT) at 661-945-5868 or visit their websites at www.EstatePlanningSpecialists.com and www.Medi-CalHelp.com. www.EstatePlanningSpecialists.com is a comprehensive online resource for personal wealth management solutions through wills and revocable trusts. www.Medi-CalHelp.com is a comprehensive online resource for long term nursing home care for the middle class. As Board Certified Specialists in Estate Planning, Trusts and Probate as certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization, partners Mark E. Thompson and Kevin L. Von Tungeln are expertly equipped to serve clients with the creative, effective and custom solutions they demand.

Conducting Elderly Parent Care Meetings

OK, but I have few important questions yet.As parents age, the difficult task of addressing elder care falls on adult children or other family and friends. Many children would love to seek advice from family members on the care of their parents, but maybe you’re like some families and have those couple extended family members who will want to get involved even if you don’t want them to. Nosy, overbearing, or opinionated family members can make the transition to elder care stressful on you. To deal with such loved ones, consider the following tips to making the transition as painless as possible.

Start Small. Begin meeting with only immediate family members. After you first seek the advice of those who know the situation best, then add extended family members, loved ones, or close family friends. Remember that the ultimate burden of this falls to you and those closest to you.

Choose a Quiet Spot. When meeting, be sure to eliminate background noises or distractions. Be sure everyone present can be clearly heard. Consider the seriousness of the task and choose an appropriate spot.

Be Thorough in Your Presentation. Come prepared with material about the move, information about the facilities available, and a list of pros and cons in the situation. Be sure everyone has a copy, and if possible, record the meeting for future reference.

Set Ground Rules. With many people comes many opinions. Before the meeting starts, set some ground rules such as only one person talking at a time. Encourage respectability and civility between those who might have strong differing opinions.

Stay Focused. Your ultimate goal is your loved ones well-being. Don’t lose sight of that fact amidst all the opinions. If needed, state early the purpose of the meeting such as “helping (loved one’s name) maintain independent living as long as possible” or “developing a plan of care for (loved one’s name)” or “planning for a facility based care for (loved one’s name).” Don’t waste time bringing up past hurts or current issues. The focus is on your elderly loved one.

Elevate Respect. Even if someone has a differing opinion, respect what they have to say. No matter your differences, others may have a unique view of the situation that will be helpful to the overall goal.

Create an Agenda. Pass out the agenda with the other printed information and refer to it if topics get off track. Use it as a guide to keep the meeting moving.

Identify a Secretary. Designate someone as the meeting’s note-taker to record the ideas stated. Be sure the person is thorough, and if at all possible, don’t take the notes yourself. You should be free to keep control of the meeting and guide the discussion.

Above all else, value the care of your loved one over any personal feelings or opinions. This meeting isn’t for you or another person to exert dominance, but for your loved one to receive the best possible care available.

If you would like more information concerning estate planning, contact Antelope Valley estate planning law firm Thompson | Von Tungeln (TVT) at 661-945-5868 or visit their websites at www.EstatePlanningSpecialists.com and www.Medi-CalHelp.com. www.EstatePlanningSpecialists.com is a comprehensive online resource for personal wealth management solutions through wills and revocable trusts. www.Medi-CalHelp.com is a comprehensive online resource for long term nursing home care for the middle class. As Board Certified Specialists in Estate Planning, Trusts and Probate as certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization, partners Mark E. Thompson and Kevin L. Von Tungeln are expertly equipped to serve clients with the creative, effective and custom solutions they demand.

Avoiding Elder Abuse—The Story of Brooke Astor

“All it takes for elder abuse to flourish is for family and friends to do nothing.”

Brooke Astor lived what some would believe to be a coveted life. The philanthropist and author was married three times, most notably to Vincent Astor, the last heir of the Astor family fortune. From that marriage, she inherited much in the way of wealth and assets. After Vincent died, she took control of the Astor Foundation and used the Astor wealth to donate to many needy causes. She was noted for her benevolence and lived by her life motto, “Money is like manure; it’s not worth a thing unless it’s spread around.” Even after liquidating the Astor Foundation, she continued her benevolent giving, improving local libraries and community gardens.

As Astor grew older, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease and soon began losing her mental abilities. Having established her son from her first marriage, Anthony Marshall, as her caretaker, she turned everything over to him and trusted him to manage her estate.

Marshall had other plans though, and he began selling important pieces of art and jewelry that Astor had planned to be donated once she passed on. Anthony convinced his mother that they were in need of funds (even though her estate was valued at $200 million), and often pocketed money from the sale of prized possessions.

Anthony even went as far as to dismiss beloved staff members (a butler and a lawyer who had been with Brooke for fifty years). He also shut down her country home where she had told friends she wanted to die. Even in small day-to-day details, Marshall cut costs—refusing to take Astor to doctors’ appointments, neglecting to give her medication, and making her do without things she could afford.

Family members became suspicious when one of Astor’s most treasured paintings, “Flags, Fifth Avenue” by artist Childe Hassam which was promised to be donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Anthony Marshall’s son, Phillip Marshall, began paying close attention to the activities surrounding his grandmother’s estate. Staff at her apartment even told him of ways Anthony had been depriving Astor of time with friends among other things.

After observing these injustices and gathering evidence, Phillip approached a few wealthy friends of Astor’s and with their help, hired a law firm to investigate the reports of elder abuse. Brooke Astor passed away in 2007 at age 105, and in October 2009, Anthony Marshall (age 85) was convicted of fourteen charges including grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property, scheming to defraud, falsifying business records, offering a false instrument for filing, and conspiracy.

While the Astor abuse gained national media attention because of the popularity of the Astor estate, cases of elder abuse happen every day. Parents leave children or loved ones in charge of their estate, trusting them to care for them as they grow older, yet sometimes those they love can turn out to be poor caretakers.

Phillip Marshall has learned the impact of elder care abuse, and is now a national speaker on the subject, seeking to raise awareness of the problem. As he says, “All it takes for elder abuse to flourish is for family and friends to do nothing.”

If you have an elderly friend or loved one living in care of someone, pay close attention to how the elderly person is being treated. If you see signs of elder abuse or suspect something might be wrong, get help. Contact a lawyer, law enforcement officer, or family member who can help. Don’t allow your loved one to suffer needlessly.

If you would like more information concerning this issue or other estate planning options, www.EstatePlanningSpecialists.com is a comprehensive online resource for personal wealth management solutions through wills and revocable trusts. Whether your estate planning goals are immediate or long-term, a California certified estate planning specialist will be able to counsel you on the best options available to you to meet your individual needs.

What do I do if the grantor is incapacitated? (Part 1)

If all assets have been transferred to the trust, you will be able to step in as trustee and manage the grantor’s financial affairs quickly and easily, with no court interference.

First, make sure the grantor is receiving quality care in a supportive environment. Give copies of health care documents (medical power of attorney, living will, etc.) to the physician. If someone has been appointed to make health care decisions, make sure he or she has been notified. Offer to help notify the grantor’s employer, friends and relatives.

Next, find and review the trust document. (Hopefully, you already know where it is.) Notify any co-trustees as soon as possible. Also, notify the attorney who prepared the trust document; he or she can be very helpful if you have questions. You may want to meet with the attorney to review the trust and your responsibilities. The attorney can also prepare a certificate of trust, a shortened version of the trust that also proves you have legal authority to act.

You will want to become familiar with the grantor’s insurance (medical and long term care, if any) and understand the benefits and limitations. Assuming the insurance will cover a certain procedure or facility could be a costly mistake.

Have the doctor(s) document the incapacity as required in the trust document. Banks and others may ask to see this and a certificate of trust before they let you transact business.

cont…

What You Will Need To Do At The Grantor’s Incapacity And/or Death

Who are the people involved with a living trust?

The grantor (also called settlor, trustor, creator or trustmaker) is the person whose trust it is. Married couples who set up one trust together are co-grantors of their trust. Only the grantor(s) can make changes to his or her trust.

The trustee manages the assets that are in the trust. Many people choose to be their own trustee and continue to manage their affairs for as long as they are able. Married couples are often co-trustees, so that when one dies or becomes incapacitated, the surviving spouse can continue to handle their finances with no other actions or steps required, including court interference.

A successor trustee is named to step in and manage the trust when the trustee is no longer able to continue (usually due to incapacity or death). Typically, several are named in succession in case one or more cannot act. Sometimes two or more adult children are named to act together. Sometimes a corporate trustee (bank or trust company) is named. Sometimes it is a combination of the two.

The beneficiaries are the persons or organizations who will receive the trust assets after the grantor dies.

What do I need to know now?

The grantor should make you familiar with the trust and its provisions. You need to know where the trust document, trust assets, insurance policies (medical, life, disability, long term care) and other important papers are located. However, don’t be offended if the grantor does not want to show you values of the trust assets; some people are very private about their finances. This would be a good time to make sure appropriate titles and beneficiary designations have been changed to the trust. (Some assets, like annuities and IRAs, will list the trust as contingent beneficiary.)

You also need to know who the trustees are, who other successor trustees are, the order in which you are slated to act, and if you will be acting alone or with someone else.

Lancaster – Palmdale – Santa Clarita – Estate Tax Planning

Although California has no estate tax, the federal estate tax bite can be substantial enough to justify careful planning for estate tax liabilities. The larger your estate, the more carefully you must plan and choose from many options, depending on your specific circumstances and objectives.

For experienced and insightful advice and custom estate plans that will help you meet your wealth preservation and asset transfer goals while minimizing or avoiding estate tax liability, contact the Antelope Valley estate tax planning attorneys at Thompson Von Tungeln, A P.C. , in Lancaster. Our estate plan solutions may involve any of the following approaches to cut your future tax liability down to size:

* Use of revocable living trusts and irrevocable life insurance trusts to transfer assets out of your estate while maintaining control and beneficial use
* Qualified personal residence trusts , especially where your primary residence represents a significant asset within a larger net worth profile
* A/B bypass trusts, dynasty trusts, and generation skipping trusts to avoid and manage the complications presented by California community property law
* Charitable remainder trusts , charitable lead trusts, or gifts
* Community property agreements, prenuptial agreements, and postnuptial agreements

There are essentially two main approaches to managing estate tax liability: transferring assets out of your estate through trusts or gifts, and maximizing the value of your federal estate tax exemptions. Some of the instruments described above emphasize only one approach, while several cover both. What’s right for you will depend upon your broader estate planning goals, the characteristics of your family, and the nature and value of the particular assets you hold.

An important feature of sound estate tax planning is integrating tax management strategies into a broader estate plan without overwhelming or distorting it. Unintended and unfortunate consequences–such as the disinheritance of one’s own children –can result from too close a focus on tax planning without sufficient attention to your other wealth transfer objectives.

Who are the people involved with a living trust?

The grantor (also called settlor, trustor, creator or trustmaker) is the person whose trust it is. Married couples who set up one trust together are co-grantors of their trust. Only the grantor(s) can make changes to his or her trust.

The trustee manages the assets that are in the trust. Many people choose to be their own trustee and continue to manage their affairs for as long as they are able. Married couples are often co-trustees, so that when one dies or becomes incapacitated, the surviving spouse can continue to handle their finances with no other actions or steps required, including court interference.

A successor trustee is named to step in and manage the trust when the trustee is no longer able to continue (usually due to incapacity or death). Typically, several are named in succession in case one or more cannot act. Sometimes two or more adult children are named to act together. Sometimes a corporate trustee (bank or trust company) is named. Sometimes it is a combination of the two.

The beneficiaries are the persons or organizations who will receive the trust assets after the grantor dies.

Failing to Designate Beneficiaries on Assets

There are many ways in which hiring an estate planning attorney can help you to navigate the often treacherous landscape of estate law. One in particular is in understanding the necessity of designating beneficiaries for all of your accounts.

Regardless of how polished your Will might be, or how clearly you have designated and divided your estate among your loved ones, failing to ensure that the right beneficiaries are noted on your retirement and investment accounts could critically disrupt your carefully-laid plans.

If you have created a Will or revocable trust, then you are already taking the right step in securing your family’s financial future in the event of your death.

However, what many people do not realize is that much of their wealth is tied up in retirement and investment accounts – each with their own rules for distributing those assets when the owner (you) can no longer claim them.

If you own such accounts – as most people do – it is important that you sit down with a qualified estate planning attorney and ensure that your desires that are outlined in your Will are reflected in the beneficiary designations of your accounts.

- Contact your account holders, especially those of accounts that have been established for quite some time, and inquire about the beneficiaries listed.

- Discuss with your lawyer the proper methods for changing beneficiaries to reflect the desires you have laid out in your Will.

- Include Life Insurance accounts, bank/savings accounts, investment portfolios, 401k accounts, or any account that requires a noted beneficiary. Your estate planning attorney can help you identify those accounts.

- Discuss with your lawyer the possibility of additional taxes that may be added to your assets if beneficiaries are not properly noted.

Often, when people do an inventory of their accounts with beneficiaries, they find beneficiaries listed whom they no longer wish to receive part of their estate (for example, ex-spouses).

In many cases, the beneficiary listed on an account would be given the assets within that account, regardless of what is stated in your Will. Essentially, the laws regarding beneficiary designation often override those regarding the settlement of a Will.

It is, therefore, always a good idea to discuss with your attorney ways in which you can keep your beneficiaries up-to-date at all times, especially when you cross important milestones such as a new marriage, a divorce, the death of a loved one, or the birth of a child.

Whether your estate planning goals are immediate or long-term, a qualified California estate planning attorney will be able to counsel you on the best options available to you to meet your individual needs.

Kevin Von Tungeln is the Managing Partner of EstatePlanningSpecialists.com and Thompson Von Tungeln, P.C. Kevin practices exclusively in the areas of estate planning, probate, wills, conservatorships and trust administration.Visit http://www.EstatePlanningSpecialists.com or http://www.linkedin.com/in/kevinvontungeln to learn more.

California Estate Planning Attorney – Wealth to Minors

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