Simplified Ancillary Administration in Maryland

If an out of state resident dies owning real property in Maryland, can the executor of the estate simply transfer the Maryland property with a deed? In many states other than Maryland, the executor would be required to open a probate estate in the deceased individual’s home state and also open a second probate estate in the state in which the real property is located, this latter probate proceeding being referred to as “ancillary administration.”

While the executor of the out of state decedent’s estate can do an ancillary administration in Maryland as well, there is a much simpler process available under Maryland law.

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Will Helping your Child Cause you to Lose Medicaid Benefits?

Parents have traditionally helped their adult children or their grandchildren in times of need. If an adult child faces foreclosure, for example, many parents with sufficient resources provide financial assistance to help their child avoid financial devastation. Others make significant gifts to assist grandchildren with their college education costs.

Unfortunately, the Medicaid rules in Maryland provided that any transfer of funds for which no return was received was assumed to be for the purpose of avoiding nursing home costs, assumed to be for the purpose of depleting one’s resources so Medicaid would pay for those nursing home costs.

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Solving a Thorny Property Ownership Problem

Mom is in a nursing home. As part of an asset preservation plan, Mom’s house will be transferred to her children and she will apply for Medicaid benefits.

In digging into the matter, however, the family discovered that “Mom’s house” actually is titled in Dad’s sole name (Dad died in 1989) and Dad’s former wife, as co-owners. Mom and Dad have resided in that house since they were married and everyone assumed that when Dad died, Mom owned the house (as is typical when a husband and wife live in a property that they own together). However, Mom never was on the deed.

To make matters worse, Dad died without a will and nobody bothered to open a probate estate in 1989 to deal with the real property. Even more complicated is the question as to whether Dad’s former wife survived him, which would mean that the house belonged to someone else, and not to Mom.

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Ten Myths About the Dying Process

The following article, Bury the Top 10 Myths About the Dying Process, is by Tani Bahti, RN, CT, CHPN, Founder and Executive Director of Passages – Support & Education in End of Life Issues, and Author of “Dying to Know – Straight Talk About Death & Dying.”
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The current debate about end of life decision-making in healthcare is avoiding the most important ingredient; understanding the natural process of dying. It is critical that this information be provided compassionately and thoroughly before those facing a potentially terminal illness can make a truly informed decision.

Those of us who work directly with the dying understand that the body has a natural wisdom built into it, to protect itself and promote comfort.

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Legislature Tinkers With Power of Attorney Law

The Maryland legislature once again has tinkered with the law governing powers of attorney in Maryland. That law includes Power of Attorney Forms, which if used, or if one’s power of attorney is “in substantially the same form” as one of the form documents, then the law bestows certain rights on the holder of the power of attorney, namely, the right to obtain payment of one’s legal fees from the person or institution who refuses to honor the power of attorney where a legal action is taken to compel acceptance. This right to legal fees differs from the general “American rule” of jurisprudence which holds that each litigant in a legal action must pay his own legal fees.

Unfortunately, the forms in the statute are generally not sufficiently comprehensive and lack certain important provisions.

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When a Mere Guardianship is Not Enough

Father, who had been enjoying late middle age, had a brain aneurysm and now is in a permanent coma. Unfortunately, he did not have a power of attorney or advance directive, so his adult son could not access his bank account, in which he had $20,000. He has no other assets. Father’s hospital and nursing home bills now exceed $300,000.

Son applied for Medicaid for his father but was denied benefits because Medicaid will not be allowed if Father has more than $2,500. Unfortunately, without a power of attorney, no one has the authority to spend the funds in Father’s bank account so that he can get Medicaid benefits.

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Gifts to Disabled Children

Medicaid law allows a parent to gift any amount of assets to a disabled son or daughter and still get Medicaid to cover the parent’s long term care in a nursing home. If the child who receives the gift is not disabled as determined by the Social Security Administration, however, then any such gift, if made within five years preceding the date of the Medicaid application, will cause Medicaid ineligibility for the parent who made such gift.

The Medicaid rules state that both outright gifts to a disabled child, and gifts to a trust for the sole benefit of a disabled child are exempt transfers — that is, transfers that do not cause Medicaid ineligibility for the parent who makes the gift.

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The Other Side of Caregiving

Several months ago, I shared with you Carol Allen’s Reflections of a Non-Expert Care Giver in which Carol discussed how the experience of caring for her mother, who suffered from dementia, enabled Carol to shift her attention from the outer expression of life to its inner reality. For Carol, this was a positive, life affirming experience.

For others, such experience is a struggle of monumental proportions. Such is the case for Sandra Tsing Loh who relates her experiences managing her aging father’s care in the article/book review entitled Daddy Issues in the March, 2012, issue of the Atlantic magazine.

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