Is it Time to Think about Conservatorship over Mom

Is Mom (or dad, of course) making poor decisions?

 

Was she always on top of her bills, but now is getting collection letters?

 

Is she asking you to take over her finances, and, or her decisions?

 

Does she have legal documents naming a power of attorney over her finances, health decisions and mental health decisions?

 

If you believe that mom needs to have someone oversee her decisions including financial there are two (2) questions that need to be answered:

 

  • Is she physically or mentally incapable of making important decisions for herself?

  • Does she already have legal documents in place that cover decisions about her personal and financial matters? (Such as, a living will and a power of attorney for financial matters.)

    • If she hasn’t prepared a power of attorney for finances, she might need a conservator of the estate.

    • If she doesn’t have a medical directive or living will, she might need a conservator of the person to make healthcare decisions.

    • Even if she has a medical directive, she might still need a conservator of the person to decide health matters that aren’t covered in the medical directive. (If the medical directive doesn’t already name an agent to make those decisions.)

    • Even if she has a power of attorney for both health care and finances, she might need a conservator of the person to make decisions about her personal life - - where she is to live, for example, or who is allowed to spend time with her.

 

 

The Complicated Trip Down Medicare Lane

Most people know something about the basics of Medicare:

  •  I can get Medicare when I turn 65

  • There are two parts

  • There is some sort of prescription drug plan

However, did you know there are benefits  for individuals that do not fall within the eligiblity of Medicaid?

To qualify for these program you must meet these requirements:

  • You live on a limited income

  • You are eligible for Medicare

  • You earn to much to be eligible for Medicaid

 

First there is QMB or Qualified Medicare Beneficiary Program. This program will pay Medicare Part A&B as well as all co-payments and deductibles. In addition if you are a QMB recipient you automatically qualify for "help" with Part D premiums.

 

To be eligible you must:

  • Earn less than $981.00 per month for individuals

  • Earn less than $1,328.00 per month for married couples

  • There is an extra allowance of $20.00 per month you may earn.

The good news is that in Arizona there is no asset limit unless you have assets in other states that do impose a limit.

 

Second, there is SLMB or Special Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary Program. This program will pay your Medicare part B premiums as well as help with part D.

 

To be eligible you must:

  • Earn less than $1,197.00 per month for an individual

  • Earn less than $1,613.00 per month for a married couple

  • In addition there is $20.00 per month that is not counted

The asset restrictions remain the same.

 

Third, there is QI or Qualifying Individuals this program may help pay your Medicare part B as well as extra help with part D.

 

To be eligible you must:

  • Earn between $1,197.00 and $1,345.00 for an individual

  • Earn between $1,613.00 and $1,813.00 for married couples

 

Finally, what does "extra help" mean? It means that you may have your part D copayments and or deductibles eliminated or reduced. You may be eligible for a benefit so it is worth looking into during the open enrollment period. Especially if your assets are only in Arizona.

 

Don't Use Online Documents for your Estate Plan!

Often I have had people ask me why they should hire an attorney for their estate planning.  Their argument is simple:  it is much cheaper and easier to simply go online and find a sample of a Trust or Will.  This saves them the time required to meet with the attorney and the cost of hiring the attorney.

 

To answer this question I want to make sure everyone understands what you are paying for when you hire an attorney.  You are paying for their knowledge, experience and expertise.  To be clear, you can represent yourself in ALL legal matters.  You CAN represent yourself in court.  You CAN negotiate and draft a contract.  You CAN represent yourself in a Divorce.  But should you? 

 

Often, I find myself sitting in the gallery at Court waiting for my case to be called.  I’ll watch as individuals without counsel go up in front of a judge to plead their respective cases.  These individuals usually have no grasp of the legal process.  They simply go to plead the mercy of the court and fail to provide a concrete argument.  This approach almost always fails to persuade the judge.  Actually, it usually ends up with the judge scolding the individual for their failure to proceed properly. Unfortunately, I am not allowed to help.  I find myself wanting to get up, walk to the front of the court, pull that individual aside and tell them how to proceed.

 

These individuals should have gotten legal counsel.

 

In a similar respect, you should find competent legal counsel to help you with your estate plan.  There are many things to consider when planning. Such as:

  • Do I need a Trust?

  • Is a Will sufficient? 

  • Who should I put in charge of my Estate?

  • How can I legally distribute items to my beneficiaries? 

  • Are there any Tax Consequences for what I want to do? 

  • Do I have the forms properly filled out and executed?

  • How do I name beneficiaries on my accounts? 

  • How do I make sure my kids are taken care of? 

  • What do I do with my minor children? 

  • What if I have a special needs child?

  • How do I Fund my Trust? 

  • What items should I place into the trust? 

  • What do I do with my home? 

  • How does this affect investment accounts?

  • What are Powers of Attorney?

  • Etcetera. 

I can keep going.  These questions and many more are things that I often see overlooked when individuals try and take the least expensive and “easy” way out by not hiring an Estate Planning Attorney.

 

Let me share a couple of personal experiences that may illustrate the importance of hiring an attorney to help with your estate plan:

  1. Last week a client came in with her late mother’s trust.  The trust document was one she had downloaded off the internet.  In her efforts she neglected to change certain key provisions in the trust and left them with the default language.  As a result, the trust is no good and we will have to probate the estate.  This is going to cost the estate substantially more than if the documents had been prepared correctly.

 

  2. Second I would like to  briefly discuss the estate of a late friend of mine.

     My friend, a serial entrepreneur who owned several businesses, a mover

    and a shaker, a wonderful man and devoted father. Unfortuately, he and

    his wife did not see eye to eye and had begun divorce proceedings with

    three small children involved. Before the divorce was finalized my friend

    was involved in a roll over car accident in Mexico where he was killed.   

 

After grieving, we began the process of administering his estate. Come to find out that a few years earlier my friend had downloaded a Trust form from a well-known legal Trust document site and filled it out. Unfortunately, he did not do so correctly.

As a result there is now a long and protracted litigation between his wife and business partners.

Further, my friend's desires, which were plainly outlined in the trust he attempted to fill out will be disregarded and his assets will be distributed according to state statutes.

 

What a Mess! In their efforts to cut costs these individuals have both nullified their own desires and cost the estate MORE money. Unfortunately, this happens far more often than it should.

    

Don’t take shortcuts when it comes to planning your estate.  See a competent  Attorney who can guide you through the complicated field of Estate Planning.

 

To Contact Craig for an appointment Call 623-583-1040 or Email Info@themiltonlawfirm.com

Disclosure: The information on this website is for educational purposes only and is expressly not intended to be considered legal advice. Our free consultation is limited to understanding the nature of a potential client's issue, informing the potential client if the Milton Law Firm would consider representing the potential client in connection with the matter, and under what terms and conditions the Milton Law Firm would represent the potential client. Before the Milton Law Firm can provide legal advice to any person or entity, there must be a signed fee agreement setting forth the firm's scope of representation and the fees that will be charged.

 

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