The Law Office of Angela N. Manz


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Getting a Durable Power of Attorney to Work in Your Estate Plan

Many people are at least familiar with the potential cost of long-term care. Many individuals in sandwich generation are responsible for taking care of their parents who are aging while also caring for children. This can be an overwhelming experience that prompts people to think about planning for their own future.ThinkstockPhotos-155416217

Although estate planning has traditionally been associated with how you will pass on your assets and putting together basic documents such as a trust or a will, durable powers of attorney can also be extremely crucial for managing things while you’re still alive.

What would happen to you, your assets, or your healthcare decisions if you were suddenly unable to make decisions for yourself? An unexpected consequence from living a longer life is that it is now possible for your body to outlive your mind. Becoming incapacitated could present numerous challenges for you and your family members. Durable powers of attorney can be used as a protection layer if you are unable to make good decisions for yourself or handle your affairs competently.

You can name a principle to handle legal and financial matters on your behalf. This prevents the need for an expensive and lengthy court proceeding to stipulate such a person after an incident has already occurred. You may name a durable power of attorney for asset management or a durable power of attorney for healthcare.


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Be Aware of the Risks of Online Estate Planning

Given that so much business and personal tasks can be accomplished online today, it might seem simple to use online estate planning sites to put together your power of attorney, your trust or your will. It’s appealing for those individuals who don’t want to or can’t afford to shell out money for an estate planning attorney, or for those who need the paperwork settled very quickly. However, there are dangerous aspects of handling your estate planning this way.ThinkstockPhotos-122584470

DIY estate planning can work for people who have a relatively uncomplicated estate that doesn’t require tax or trust planning. It’s also potentially economical for making tweaks to an existing estate plan. However, your relative knowledge level and what you are intending to accomplish should both be factored into the decision on whether or not to use DIY estate planning. Mistakes made can be extremely costly for your family members.

Anyone who has more complicated assets, complex family situations or out of the ordinary circumstances, such as a disabled child, needs to consult directly with an experienced estate planning attorney about the best way to approach things. Making mistakes in this process may seem easily fixed, however often the person who has put together these materials is not in the position to clarify his or her intentions and this can lead to conflict and problems for surviving family members. Talk to a Virginia estate planning attorney.



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How to Find the Right Trustee for Your Estate

Understanding the steps that you can take to protect yourself can give you a great deal of peace of mind about approaching the estate planning process. If you have established a trust to protect a substantial estate as well as your beneficiaries from the downsides of probate, this is a crucial planning step that far too many people ignore. One of the best benefits to approaching the estate trustee process is identifying a fiduciary who has a moral and a legal obligation to put the interests of the client first.

ThinkstockPhotos-491393258Not every advisor would classify themselves as a fiduciary which could leave them exposed to conflicts of interest. For example, someone could move a client’s assets into funds that ultimately pay the advisor a commission but are not generally suited to the client’s individual needs. This is why it is important to identify someone who has a personal interest in protecting your interest and rights.

A trustee will be called upon to make critical decisions about how to manage assets within a trust and they need to have the necessary background to make informed decisions. Estate trustees ideally will have a tax and investment background to help with these crucial decisions. Furthermore, bear in mind that you need to select somebody who can assist your family directly. Your family will be going through the emotional challenges of having just lost you when the trustee takes control. This means that if the person doesn’t get along with your beneficiaries or is insensitive, your family members could be the ones paying the price. Talk to a VA estate planning lawyer now.



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How to Plan for Your Estate After a Crisis Hits

Any person knows that it’s much easier to plan for a potential problem than to try to respond in the moment. That’s because the benefits of planning kick in with things like insurance policies and estate plans. When a crisis hits and you need to make decisions quickly, having previously articulated some of your intentions can make things easier for everyone involved.ThinkstockPhotos-512980962

Often, however, people don’t see the advantages of advanced planning until a crisis does hit and they’re forced to try to adapt quickly. This can be avoided, however, with a lawyer when it comes to your estate planning process.

One such example of a crisis is when a loved one receives an unexpected terminal diagnosis. Identifying that someone in your family is facing a terminal diagnosis can generate a great deal of emotions and legal challenges. With little time left after a terminal diagnosis, having the crucial estate planning documents in line is one of the first steps that you need to take.

Having an estate plan put into place that incorporates the unique needs of the spouse as well as any beneficiaries is critical. Estate planning after a crisis often creates unnecessary burdens. Rather than having the time to focus on your loved ones and the activities that matter the most, people in crisis situations have to turn their focus to work on ensuring that their estate planning is done.

You can help avoid this situation by having conversations about the materials you already have in place to protect your estate and your loved ones and taking action by updating these materials on an annual basis while in the midst of a meeting with your knowledgeable estate planning lawyer. These steps can help enable you to focus on what is most important should a crisis ultimately strike.


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Estate Planning Only for the Wealthy? Think Again.

Estate planning certainly has major benefits for anyone whose estate is over and beyond a certain point. However, falling for the belief that estate planning is only for the wealthy could end up costing you down the line. It may provide fodder for arguments between your loved ones and confusion after you pass away. Regardless of your income, you can benefit from estate planning and yet, many individuals still don’t take the necessary steps to protect themselves.ThinkstockPhotos-179433368

An estate planning lawyer may play an important role in helping to change this trend and assist clients with preparing for the future. People across the spectrum of wealth can accomplish numerous goals with proper estate planning. Some of the common goals that people approach the process with, including getting peace of mind that their home and their property is being transferred correctly to designated beneficiaries, protecting family assets in the event of a future divorce and keeping businesses in family hands. No matter the goals that you have, you can accomplish tasks that will address estate planning needs while you are still alive and after you pass away while consulting with an attorney.

Many people also believe that estate planning only has financial benefits. While the most obvious benefits of conducting an estate plan have to do with your finances, there are many other nonfinancial benefits such as naming a guardian for your pets or your children and protecting nontraditional assets like a stamp or gun collection. Since trusts aren’t a matter of public record, you can also gain the benefit of privacy by engaging in the estate planning process.

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High School Graduates Need Estate Planning, Too

In the flurry of preparing for moving off to college and enjoying summer activates like graduation parties, it’s easy to neglect the legal consequences of failing to have documents in place as your child prepares to go off to a higher education in the fall. However, once a child reaches age 18, they are no longer under the responsibility of their parents and this can generate problems if something were to happen to your college aged student’s health once they enter college.ThinkstockPhotos-86528401

It’s time to have a chat with your adult child about whether or not it makes sense to name you as a power of attorney in case something happens. No one wants to think about the potential for a serious accident or medical condition to render your child incapacitated, but having these documents in place will enable you to make decisions quickly and effectively if the time comes.

You should have a medical power of attorney outlined such that parents or another appointed individual is eligible to make decisions on the loved one’s behalf. It’s easy to let things like this go and assume that a child is unlikely to experience health related problems, but an accident can happen at any time and being equipped with the appropriate documentation gives you the most flexibility and opportunity to correct problems as they arise. Do not hesitate to discuss these options with an experienced estate planning lawyer.


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Should You Consider Using a Charitable Lead Trust?

Do you want to leave behind a legacy for charity in addition to accomplishing your estate planning goals? If so, read on to learn more about the options available with a charitable lead trust.

A family that intends to give to charity while also minimizing estate and gift taxes should consider all possible strategies recommended by an experienced estate planning attorney.

ThinkstockPhotos-524226911A charitable lead trust may be one such tool that is effective for families looking to accomplish this goal. These trusts work the best in a low interest rate environment so the present conditions for taking advantage of a charitable lead trust are favorable. Interest rates may have increased somewhat over the last couple of years but are still historically low. There are two major types of charitable lead trusts.

The first is known as a charitable lead unitrust, which pays out a set percentage of the assets inside the trust recalculated on an annual basis. The second type is known as a charitable lead annuity trust which makes annual payments to the charity associated with a fixed percentage of the initial value of the trust assets or a fixed dollar amount.

Consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney can help you identify which one of these options is most appropriate for you and how you can accomplish your estate planning goals using tools like charitable lead trusts.




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Do You Have Inherited Assets? Estate Planning is Even More Important

Estate planning can be complicated no matter who you are, but knowing how your assets and investments will be divided among your beneficiaries after passing on can give you a lot of peace of mind and it can also decrease your stress level about the potential pitfalls that your beneficiaries might have to cope with due to lack of planning.ThinkstockPhotos-645670208

One common issue for many people is wondering how their stock portfolios will be transferred from one individual to another when a person dies and who should have access to those investments before or after this occurs. If the stock portfolio is part of an individual’s trust, then the choice may be out of your hands and you may not be able to add another individual to the account even if you wanted to. Another important component is where the person lives when they pass away. Inheritors could be tied up in the court system, trying to obtain rightful assets with a revocable trust if the proper planning procedures have not been taken.

Receiving an asset as an inheritance someone else is a special opportunity, but if you’re not going to exhaust that inheritance while you’re still alive, you should consider how you’ll add it to your own estate planning.

If you have inherited assets, you need to think not just about how these will be used over the course of your lifetime but how you intend to pass them on to others. Consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney is one of the most important steps that you can take to protect your interests.



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Nursing Homes Versus In-Home Care

Geriatric facilities in general are moving away from providing long term care beds and are instead increasing the number of rehabilitative beds offered.ThinkstockPhotos-547537462

This is largely due to financial reasons since Medicare will pay up to $600 per day for rehabilitative bed whereas Medicaid will only pay approximately $125 per day for a long-term care bed. This means there is decreasing availability of long term care beds and seniors will find it increasingly challenging to find places in high quality facilities. This is why increasingly home services are becoming an option.

A senior can initiate this process on their own or family members may sit down and discuss the benefits of having an elderly loved one receive aging at home care. In-home healthcare can provide a sense of familiarity and clear structure for a loved who needs additional assistance. Home care options can frequently be much less expensive than placement in a permanent facility, given that according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, home care options cost around $6500 per month.

This allows for an increased mental health status, better feelings of dignity, and decreased healing time when a person is able to stay in their own home. Furthermore, family members may still continue to provide caretaking assistance while also knowing that they have a professional who is on hand to help as necessary. To learn more about the aging in place process, discuss this with your experienced estate planning lawyer.

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Parents of Special Needs Children Must Incorporate Advanced Estate Planning

Having a proper plan for the purposes for your estate is critical for any family, but it is even more important for someone who has a special needs dependent. Any mistake made along the process could jeopardize the child’s future.

ThinkstockPhotos-495759142It is important to consult with an experienced attorney who has years of experience with special needs planning. Traditional planning is much different than helping a child with special needs. There are two different generations involved in the estate planning process and the financial plan for these families is about more than the education, car, marriage or house.

However, it also includes incorporation of the financial requirements over the child’s lifetime. Knowing that the child will likely outlive the parents, this planning has to go beyond the lifetime of the first generation involved. There are two generations to consider in the retirement planning process as well. The estate plan needs to incorporate a careful consideration of what funding opportunities will assist the child in continuing to qualify for government benefits. Certain trusts and other strategies can be identified with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney.

Turning to someone who has helped other families with special needs dependents helps to ensure that the child’s access to critical government benefits is not jeopardized and increases the chances that he or she will have peace of mind about their future. A special needs child requires a different type of planning approach than traditional estate planning.  Contact a Virginia estate planning lawyer today to learn more.


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