Can a guardian be paid for services after the ward has died?

Battley v. Banks (Md. App. December 20, 2007)

The Gatesman Law Office assists clients in the appointment of a guardian for persons who become incapacitated and cannot make personal or financial decisions for themselves. Guardians are entitled to be compensated for their services, but they must petition the guardianship court for approval of such compensation.

When the disabled person, called the “ward” of the court, dies, the guardian must prepare a final account of the ward’s assets. That account should include the guardian’s final request for compensation.

Whether the guardian may pay such compensation to himself out of the guardianship assets before the ward’s assets are turned over the personal representative of the ward’s probate estate depended on the county in which the ward resided. The courts in different counties applied different rules.

Now, however, the rule is clear. Continue reading “Can a guardian be paid for services after the ward has died?”

Appeals Court Imposes Augmented Estate Rules

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.

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Can I give assets to my children and still get Medicaid to pay for nursing home care?

Many seniors have heard that giving assets to one’s children is a way to safeguard those assets so that they will pass on to the younger generation upon the senior’s death even if nursing home care is required. However, the law governing Medicaid has changed and it now appears that Medicaid will not be available to those who make such gifts.

Nevertheless, while the strategy of making gifts to children in anticipation of requiring nursing home care is much more complex under the new law, it still may be possible for you to preserve assets in this manner.

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What is the value of a life estate?

A technical notice for Maryland elder law professionals.

When a homeowner executes a deed retaining for himself a life estate, such action will be considered a transfer of resources for Medicaid eligibility purposes. However, the homeowner has not given away the entire property. What the homeowner has given away is a remainder interest, that is, the right to own the property after the homeowner dies.

The value of the transferred remainder interest depends on the age of the homeowner who retains the life estate. Maryland uses a table, Schedule MA-7, to assign value both to the transferred remainder interest and to the retained life estate. You may view that table by clicking here: Life Estate and Remainder Interest Table.

My spouse needs nursing home care; Can I keep all of our money?

Medicaid law allows an individual whose spouse needs nursing home care to keep as much as $101,640 in 2007, as well as the house, a car, certain life insurance policies and a few other assets. But this rule is misleading. Consider the following example.

Husband and Wife own a house, a car, and $100,000 in investment assets. Suppose that Husband needs to go to a nursing home. One would think he could get Medicaid immediately because there is only $100,000. However, the rule says that the spouse in the community can keep half of the total assets (the house and car are exempt and not included in this computation) but not more than the maximum amount, or $101,640.

In other words, in this example, Medicaid will not pay the nursing home costs until the couple has spent $50,000 because Wife is allowed to keep only half of the $100,000 they had when Husband entered the nursing home.

Is this the end of the story, or can Wife do something to enable her to keep the whole $100,000?

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Fed up with complicated legal language?

“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.

Does everybody need a revocable trust?

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.

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Using Fiction to Obtain Medicaid Eligibility

A technical article for Maryland elder law professionals.

Another lawyer called recently and asked me how to resolve a problem faced by one of his clients. When I told him what to do, he remarked: “You’re making that up!” He was right about my “making that up” because my solution involved employing a fiction to obtain the desired result.

There are two ways an asset preservation planner may use fiction to help a client to qualify for Medicaid benefits. The first is getting a court order nunc pro tunc, and the second is to use a special power of attorney.

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Gifts by Spouse Cause Medicaid Ineligibility

A technical notice for consumers and Maryland elder law professionals.

In a dramatic shift in Medicaid policy, Maryland now will look at asset transfers by a spouse living in the community to determine whether the spouse in the nursing home may continue to receive Medicaid benefits. Previously, once Medicaid eligibility was granted, the community spouse could make gifts of assets or create a life estate deed with no adverse consequence to the spouse in the nursing home. Now, however, the Maryland Medicaid authorities state that such actions by the community spouse will cause the spouse in the nursing home to lose Medicaid benefits. Click the Contact Us link at the top of the page if you would like to learn more about this recent development in the law.

Intense Scrutiny for Third Party Trusts

A technical article for Maryland elder law professionals.

Elder law lawyers are familiar with third party trusts authorized by the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 (OBRA ’93), which third party trusts are addressed in 42 U.S.C. 1396p(c)(2)(B). With such a trust an individual can set aside assets for a disabled person under age 65 and not cause such disabled beneficiary to lose Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid benefits. Moreover, the person who creates and funds the trust will not become ineligible to receive such benefits as a consequence of funding the trust.

The Gatesman Law Office now is negotiating with the Maryland Medicaid authority over Maryland’s imposition of strict requirements not found in the law allowing the use of such trusts. In particular, for a so-called c2B trust, Maryland will require the following:

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