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Upstate Estate Law, P.C. Blog

Why Is My Last Will and Testament So Long and Complicated?

October 30, 2019

My simplest Last Will and Testament is currently about 15 pages long. Admittedly, this can be a lot of pages for a client to read through. And a large portion of the Last Will is filled with legal terms and phrases that do not make for the best leisure reading. So why does your “simple Last Will” have to be so long and complex? I see two major reasons why this is the case.

Firstly, when I draft a Last Will for a Client, I am thinking about what will happen to the estate and estate beneficiaries if the unexpected happens. If we could all be certain that our estates will be administered exactly according to plan, perhaps the Last Will could be simpler and shorter.

But life does not always go as we think it is going to go. Lots of events could occur that change the effectiveness of a Last Will. An estate beneficiary could unexpectedly pass away or run into issues of financial mismanagement, divorce, disability, or drug addiction. Particular assets could be sold off or lost. Nominated Executors can pass away or find themselves not approved by the Probate Court after your lifetime. Since some of these issues can reasonably be anticipated and planned for, you will find that even my simple Last Will contains many provisions and clauses for dealing with these kinds of events.

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Filed under: Estate Planning, Legal Posts

Posted By: Christopher Miller

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Update 2019 | Federal Estate Tax Exemption Amount

October 27, 2018
Federal Tax Exclusion 2018

In 2019 the federal Estate Tax Exemption is 11.4 million for an individual or 22.8 million for a married couple.

So how does this effect you? 
Put simply, this will only effect you if the total value of your estate exceeds the estate tax exemption amount. The vast majority of estates do not approach this level, so estate tax planning does not have to be a concern for most people. Which is nice, because now much more focus in estate planning can be on other issues, such as asset protection, income tax, and taking care of your family, over having to plan around the estate tax, which in its day was quite onerous.
What if your estate is over the estate tax exemption amount?

Then we should talk about an estate tax plan. If your estate is over the estate tax exemption amount, then your estate will be required to pay a marginal estate tax rate of 40%. This can be avoided through advanced estate planning and protection planning. Sometimes just an irrevocable life insurance trust is enough to adequately deal with estate tax concerns.

The new 2019 Estate Tax Rate will be effective for the estates of decedents who passed away after December 31, 2018.

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Filed under: Estate Administration, Estate Planning, Legal Posts

Posted By: Christopher Miller

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Special Needs Trusts For A Disabled Spouse

January 10, 2017

If your spouse is disabled and has qualified to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and/or Medicaid benefits, you will need to carefully consider how to provide your Spouse with an inheritance, or else those benefits be endangered. The resource and income limits required in order to qualify for SSI and Medicaid are very low. A poorly planned inheritance to your Spouse can result in disqualification from these vital programs.

There are a number of planning techniques that can be utilized in order to prevent this disqualification. They include converting counted resources into exempt resources, such as using the inheritance to fund the purchase of a home, car, a pre-need funeral contract, or a qualified-Medicaid annuity for the benefit of the disabled Spouse. Another technique is the establishment of a third-party Special Needs Trust.

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Filed under: Estate Planning, Legal Posts, Medicaid, Trusts

Posted By: Christopher Miller

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Medicaid Update: Special Needs Trusts

December 14, 2016

Medicaid Special Needs Trusts have received much needed legislative attention from the United States Congress and President of the United States. HR 34 was signed into law by President Obama on December 13, 2016. Title 5, Section 5007 of HR 34 is entitled “Fairness In Medicaid Supplemental Needs Trusts” and contains exactly two sentences designed to correct a 23 year old omission made in the Social Security Act.

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Filed under: Legal Posts, Medicaid, Trusts

Posted By: Christopher Miller

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The ABLE ACT – Achieving a Better Life Experience

October 14, 2016

The Stephen Beck, Jr. ABLE Act (Achieving a Better Life Experience) was conceived and championed by Stephen Beck, Jr., a Virginia father of a daughter with Down’s Syndrome, who thought up a new way to allow disabled people to save money without impacting their qualification for Medicaid and SSI benefits. The Act was signed into law by President Obama on December 19, 2014. This Act’s purpose is to provide a new account type specifically for special needs individuals which enables them to save money without losing their needs-based public benefits like Medicaid and SSI.

Under the ABLE Act, the individual states set up the savings program for people with disabilities. This savings program is similar to how 529 college savings accounts work. With certain restrictions, an account can be established for use by a beneficiary with special needs. On April 1, 2016, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley signed SC’s ABLE Act-enacting legislation into law.

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Filed under: Legal Posts, Medicaid

Posted By: Christopher Miller

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