Join Terri North, Owner and Attorney for Legal Strategies, PC, for a free virtual financial planning workshop.  Register by visiting https://tinyurl.com/2020lunchandlearn 

by November 2, 2020.  You will receive a zoom link the day of the workshop with instructions on how to log in.  The topic of the free workshop is:

Does Your Teenager Need an Estate Plan?

Tuesday, November 3, 2020, from 12 noon – 1 p.m.

Why would a young adult need an estate plan?  Once they are 18, they have to give written authority for a parent to handle their legal financial or medical affairs.  If they are away at school, or studying abroad, mom and dad may need to take care of their banking, their car, health insurance coverage, etc. without them being present. Learn more about what is needed to plan for your teenager.

Join Terri North, Owner and Attorney for Legal Strategies, PC, for two free virtual financial planning workshops.  Register by visiting https://tinyurl.com/2020lunchandlearn 

by October 19, 2020.  You will receive a zoom link the day of the workshop with instructions on how to log in.  The two free seminars include:

Legal Issues for Caregivers

Tuesday, October 20, 2020, from 12 noon – 1 p.m.

Being a caregiver for a family member comes with a lot of questions.  During this virtual financial workshop learn how to use a power of attorney for a disabled person.  What to check for to make sure the documents are “up-to-date” and will be accepted.  What exactly is Guardianship and when do you need it?  What is a Conservator and why would you need to be one?  How to freeze credit to protect a vulnerable person and so much more.

Does Your Teenager Need an Estate Plan?

Tuesday, November 3, 2020, from 12 noon – 1 p.m.

Why would a young adult need an estate plan?  Once they are 18, they have to give written authority for a parent to handle their legal financial or medical affairs.  If they are away at school, or studying abroad, mom and dad may need to take care of their banking, their car, health insurance coverage, etc. without them being present. Learn more about what is needed to plan for your teenager.

Do you know an experienced paralegal who is familiar with the administrative paperwork and probate court processes?  As Legal Strategies continues to grow, we are looking to add an experienced paralegal to support our probate and trust administration practice.  Because you know us, we are reaching out to you first to let you know about the opening.  You know we care deeply about our clients, and that we want to add a team member that shares that commitment.  If you know a qualified candidate who would like to join our team, please let us know.  All the details about the job opening can be found at:

https://www.indeedjobs.com/legal-strategies-pc/_hl/en_US?cpref=JXWAtnzf3XWjLOi4YeVNLqF8RN6a-Vzu3FZRpu2XytQ

Thanks for your help! We really appreciate you. 

High school graduations (if you can call them that this year) are a time to think about the future of your children.  And some high school graduates may actually be heading off to a college campus, away from home, this fall.

It may be hard to believe that your 18-year-old is now, legally, an adult. While you may be used to doing his banking for him, calling his school to discuss his grade, or handling her doctor’s appointments, you can no longer do that without written permission from your child. That is why it is important for your young adults to have the following documents:

Power of Attorney. This document allows your child to appoint you to handle legal and financial issues.  If your child is out of the area, it might be much easier if your conduct business for him.  This may also allow you to talk to her college about any issues that arise there, including grades.

HIPAA Authorization. This document allows you to get medical records and discuss treatment with your child’s health care providers or insurance companies.  No parent wants to think about what could happen if a child is rushed to the hospital from the college campus and the hospital will not release information over the phone without written consent from the patient.  This document allows access to patient information, protected by the patient privacy laws, even if your child is not disabled or unavailable.

Patient Advocate. This document takes affect if your child is unable to participate in his own medical decisions, as determined by a doctor’s signature.  This allows the parent to make all treatment decisions.

Will.  If someone dies without a will, the state law determines how assets are disbursed.  Many young adults own things that are meaningful to them (like their pets, musical instruments, or maybe their first car). They may want to decide who should inherit those things. They may also want to leave money to charities that are important to them, to their church or to siblings. This won’t just automatically happen without a Will.

Rather than making the estate plan discussion with your child focus on death, the conversation can be about the first steps towards adulthood.  It can help a young person understand some of the responsibilities of adulthood and to plan accordingly.

(Image:  Google/familytraveller.com)

Many people still believe that a trust is only for the very wealthy.  On the contrary, a trust allows someone, of even modest means, to ensure that his money is distributed as he wishes after his death. The top three benefits of a trust are:

MORE CONTROL. A trust can set rules or conditions about when and how money is released.  For example, you can establish a trust that sets a specific age or a milestone, such as graduation from college, as a condition for an inheritance to be paid.

PROTECTION.  A trust can make sure that your children, or their children, will receive their inheritance even if you divorce or remarry.  It can also help shield assets if your heirs divorce or are in a high-risk profession.

INVESTMENT GUIDANCE. A trust allows you to appoint a professional trustee to handle a family business or investment properties, so that your heirs are protected from making expensive mistakes due to their inexperience.  The trustee can stay in place for younger heirs until they reach an age that you feel is mature enough to let them manage their own money.

Please contact us for more information or to schedule a free estate planning consultation!

(Image:  Google/thebalance.com)

Relevar Home Care recently published a very helpful article for caregivers.    The article noted that nearly three-quarters of all seniors are diagnosed with at least two chronic diseases, and are seeing an average of different four medical specialists.

So, if you are the advocate for an aging parent, you need the be the “quarterback” that is coordinating the care.  Relevar listed four great questions you could use to start the conversations:

  • Are all of these medications necessary?  You should keep a detailed list of all prescriptions and review them with both the doctor(s) and the pharmacist.  You want reassurance that there isn’t duplication or negative interactions between the meds.  And don’t assume that all of the doctors have a complete list of all the medicines your loved one takes. You may need to provide that list to them.
  • What are the side effects of any new medication? It is difficult to weigh the benefits of a new medication if you don’t know the risks.  Even if the doctor says that “most patients don’t experience any problems”, you should dig deeper to see if your loved one fits the category of patients who DO experience side effects.
  • What’s the best way to reduce pain and discomfort?  Naturally, you want to be cautious that pain killers don’t become a problem or an addiction. But unaddressed pain can slow down healing and cause significant emotional stress for the patient.
  • If this were your mom or dad, what would you do? Asking the physician to step into your shoes can often lead to suggestions for less invasive or aggressive means to manage a problem, and you may want to try those first. 

(Image:  Google/123RF.com)

As some of you may be aware, the amount of money you can pass at your death has seen a lot of ups and downs in the past few decades.  In 2018, the amount was doubled from $5 million to $11.4 million per person ($11.5 million in 2020).  The tradeoff is that the amount is scheduled to go back to $5 million in 2026.

So, a smart estate planning strategy might involve making gifts during the next 5 years while this exemption amount is at record highs.  Those gifts can be made tax-free now and “deducted” from the lifetime exemption when you die.  However, many taxpayers have worried about what would happen if they make gifts during the next five years, but die after 2026 (when the exemption might be much lower).

 The IRS recently finalized rules to ease these concerns:

  • Gifts made through 2025 will not be subject to future (possible much lower) estate tax limits.
  • An estate will be allowed to choose either the higher exclusion in effect when the gifts were made, or the exclusion in effect at the date of death.
  • If one spouse dies without using all of his tax-free amount, his spouse can use the balance, even if that second spouse dies after the exemption amount has decreased.

And please remember, even without this clarification, a taxpayer can still gift $15,000 per recipient per year without incurring any gift tax. If you have questions about making lifetime gifts, or other estate planning issues, please call us.  

(Image:  Google/Kiplinger)

By Executive Order on June 1st, law offices can now re-open for business.  So, we have returned to our usual business hours.

We have made some changes since March 24th, however.  We want to keep you safe and make sure you are comfortable when you meet with us.  So, we have implemented the following protocols for you:

  • We will have you wait in your car until we have a conference room ready for you, so you will never sit in our lobby.
  • We will wear a mask when we meet with you.
  • If we will be passing you documents to sign, we will be wearing gloves.
  • If you need to sign documents, we will give you a never-used pen in a plastic sleeve.
  • We will have thoroughly wiped down the conference room between uses.

We understand if you are not yet comfortable meeting us in person.  We are still offering Zoom conferences and good old-fashioned telephone calls!  Just let us know how we can best serve you.  We look forward to working with you again very soon. 

(Image:  Clipart Library)

It’s pretty certain that the Coronavirus quarantine has sent all of us to our electronic devices more than ever as we search for reliable information about the virus (or just pass the time playing Candy Crush!).  Merrill Lynch recently sent a timely warning about protecting your online financial and personal information during these unusual times.

The article pointed out that online scams, such as fake websites and phishing emails, are being revised to look like they offer health information or pointers for how to stay safe. In reality, these scams can steal your personal information or load malware onto your computer.

Recent scams include:

An App to track Coronavirus cases. This app uses maps that resemble those from legitimate health organization but contains malware that can freeze your computer.

Phishing Scams. A fraudulent email may say it is from the World Health Organization or the Centers for Disease Control but requests personal information and has links to malware-infected sites.

Robocalls. The caller offers to help collect government stimulus payments as a cover for gathering your personal information.

How do you protect yourself?

Use secure wireless networks that require a password.

Don’t use public wi-fi networks.

Don’t respond to emails from unknown sender and don’t click on the links in the email.

Verify messages even if you know the sender.  If something seems suspicious, then call the sender to verify whether he sent the email.

Stay up-to-date with the latest software and security patches.

If you’ve been targeted:

          Don’t delay, act quickly after any suspicious activity.

          Call the police and file reports.

          Document everything about the incident.

          Change all passwords.

          Contact your bank to freeze transactions immediately.

Tell friends and family to be on alert for suspicious emails that appear to come from you.

          Monitor your bank accounts for anything unusual.

For even more information about these types of scams, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s advice page. Please stay safe!

(Google Image from kitchenertoday.com)

Legal Strategies, P.C. 

Terri North is the Macomb County, Michigan attorney who heads up the Legal Strategies practice. Legal Strategies assists clients in the areas of estate planning, probate and real estate. 
BOOK APPOINTMENT
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram