This office has recommended, and most estate planners will agree, that one should consider appointing a trusted individual to make health care decisions for you in the event you are unable to do so. I wrote a comprehensive article on that topic on October 7, 2007.
Maryland law not only allows one to appoint a Health Care Agent, the statute provides forms one may use to do so. While I have always recommended that one seek experienced legal counsel when appointing a Health Care Agent – one of the statutory forms curiously omits a significant provision – such advice is even more compelling in light of a new ruling by Maryland’s Attorney General.
Continue reading “Tying the Hands of Your Health Care Agent”
Schoukroun v. Karsenty (Md. App. December 11, 2007). A Technical Article for Maryland Elder Law and Estate Planning Attorneys
The Maryland Court of Special Appeals, in a seismic shift to the estates and trusts law of Maryland, issued an opinion on December 11, 2007, imposing augmented estate rules on the State of Maryland. This decision has significant consequences affecting Medicaid asset preservation planners, estate planners, family law practitioners and CPAs.
Prior to this decision, the Maryland legislature, despite years long advocacy by some members of the Estates and Trusts section of the Maryland State Bar Association, refused to add augmented estate rules to the estates and trusts law of Maryland.
Continue reading “Appeals Court Imposes Augmented Estate Rules”
“Whereas, Wherefore, Where art thou?” Did you ever wonder why lawyers use such archaic language in their legal documents? One reason is that lawyers like to stick with tried and true methods. Another reason legal documents tend to be so complex is that lawyers want to be sure to cover all the bases, so they write paragraphs full of synonyms for the same descriptive term just in case one of the synonyms has a slightly different shade of meaning to ensure that the legal document will be effective in all relevant circumstances. But is this really necessary?
The Gatesman Law Office has undertaken the task of simplifying our legal documents. However, we must exercise great care to ensure that our more simple language does not result in a document that fails to cover all the bases. After careful review, we have created a five page, easy to understand Will to accomplish sophisticated estate tax planning that replaces our more archaic fifteen page document.
While there has been a movement in the legal profession that supports the use of “plain language” documents, it does not appear to have caught on with most lawyers. We are doing our best to promote the plain language ideal to simplify matters for our clients.
Many of you have heard the clarion call – “You need a revocable trust!” This cry emanates from the full page newspaper ads touting the one-day seminars on revocable trusts. This cry emanates from the 60-second spots on the radio informing you that your estate plan is not complete without a living trust. Such marketing tactics might lead one to believe that everyone should use a revocable trust. But is it a good idea for you?
While revocable trusts can be good estate planning tools, they are not for everyone. Any advertisement that implies this is misleading. Indeed, by using a revocable trust, seniors can lock themselves out of a powerful asset preservation strategy. Before reviewing that strategy, however, lets take a closer look at revocable trusts.
Continue reading “Does everybody need a revocable trust?”
Like the shoemaker whose children run around barefoot, there are lawyers who have no estate plan. Even more numerous are non-lawyers who have never done any estate planning. Some folks might reason that such planning is unnecessary because they don’t have vast wealth or that all of their wealth is tied up in retirement assets that will pass to their named beneficiaries. While it is true that such people may not require sophisticated estate planning, all adults would be prudent to ensure that appropriate personal and financial decisions will be made for them should they lose the ability to make such decisions themselves. There are several basic estate planning documents that enable people to appoint trusted individuals to make such decisions on their behalf.
Continue reading “Power of Attorney and Advance Directive”