What is a Trust Protector?

Kris Maser Attorney at Law

A Trust Protector is neither a trustee of the trust nor a beneficiary of the trust. Generally, the Trust Protector should also not be the grantor, the grantor’s spouse or any other person who has contributed or will contribute funds to the trust.

The Trust Protector is the person named in the trust to provide independent oversight to accomplish the stated purpose of the trust. Trust protectors can enhance the trust’s original purpose specifically when the Trust Protector is included in a Special Needs Trust. For example, a Trust Protector in a Special Needs Trust could be given the responsibility to over see the beneficiary’s needs and advise the trustee as to what is needed for the care and comfort of the beneficiary. The Trust Protector could also be empowered to determine appropriate placement for the beneficiary and to follow up on the care provided to the beneficiary.

Do Your Homework When Working With A Financial Advisor

Kris Maser Attorney at Law

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc., (FINRA) the brokerage industry’s largest regulator, has issued a warning against financial advisors using authoritative-sounding titles like “certified senior advisor” or “certified retirement counselor” because the use of these misleading designations has become so wide spread. Sometimes these designations are no more than “weekend” designations obtained by attending a hotel seminar. Some of these designations don’t require a high school education or a college diploma.

Go to FINRA Regulatory Notice 11-52 for more information.

When working with a financial advisor please do your homework: ask for references, review the financial planner’s background including the time she/he has been in business as well as his or her education history.

Steep Decline In Estates Owing Estate Taxes

Over the last decade there has been a steep decline in estates owing estate taxes to the federal government. Only 0.6 % of those who died in the USA in 2008 owed any estate tax.

Because of the increase of the filing threshold, the number of estates that needed to pay taxes dropped from 108,000 in 2001 to less than 34,000 in 2009. Of these estates filing returns in 2001 only 51,700 paid a tax. In 2009, the figure dropped to 14,700 of the 34,000 returns filed.

What To Do With Virtual Assets In Your Estate Planning?

Kris Maser Attorney at Law

Digital assets can range from items of financial value like online bank and brokerage accounts to domain names, Twitter accounts and social-media pages. Sometimes accounting for these assets after the death of the owner can be a nightmare. It becomes even more difficult if the decedent paid bills or filed tax returns on line. Without login information to access web accounts you may need to resort to hiring a computer forensics expert or obtain a court order for access to material.

Without access into the accounts of the decedent there is no way to stop automated bill payments or other automated services.

Suggestion: take inventory of all digital accounts and store a list of passwords and other necessary information on a flash drive. Put the drive in a safe deposit box or lock it in a safe. Remember to keep the inventory updated.


Irish Proverb

Kris Maser Attorney at Law

I found a quote in the paper today and I think I will keep it on my desk
in the office.

‘Do not resent growing old. Many are denied the Privilege.’

Medicaid Long-Term Care

If the current health care trend continues, more than 35% of the state’s budget will be needed for Medicaid by 2030. Of this amount, ½ will be needed for Long-term care services.

This information comes from the Article by Deloitte Development LLC “Medicaid Long-term Care: the ticking time bomb.”

Are Limited Duration Long Term Care Insurance Policies a Viable Option?

So what if you think you don’t have the funds to purchase a long term care insurance policy? Perhaps you could consider a limited duration long term care insurance policy. Typically these policies can be used to keep the cost of long term care insurance affordable. According to the American Association of Long Term Care insurance in 2009 almost 1/3 of people buying individual policies purchased a 3 year benefit period policy.

Men with a 3 year policy who begin a claim on their policy at age 82 have a 12.4 % likelihood of outliving their benefits. Women who begin using their policy at age 82 have a 23.5% chance of outliving their benefits according to a consumer guide published by the industry trade association.

A policy that pays benefits for 3 years costs somewhere between 42% to 54% less than a policy that will pay for an unlimited number of years. It appears that the risk is smaller for men than for women. When considering a long term care insurance purchase perhaps less insurance can provide benefits sufficient to cover some, if not all of one’s health care costs.

An experienced insurance person should be able to discuss with you the cost benefit analysis of any policy of interest to you.

Receiving SSA Benefits While Living Abroad (Part 2 of 2)

What was true for obtaining Medicare coverage overseas is not true for receiving one’s Social Security benefits. People who decide to retire to another country or who travel outside the United States for more than 30 days in a row must comply with Social Security’s rules for collecting their benefits.

Thankfully the Social Security Administration (SSA) will send checks to anyone who is eligible for benefits and chooses to live abroad. There are a few countries where the SSA is not allowed to send checks. If you retire in Cuba or North Korea, the SSA will not send checks into these two countries. You can receive your checks if you go to a country where the Social Security checks can be sent.

You could have your Social Security check directly deposited into a bank account in the United Sates or check to see if your check could be directly deposited in an account in the country in which you choose to live. But be careful, some countries may tax your Social Security benefits. To find out whether a country imposes a tax on your Social Security benefits, you can contact the country’s embassy in the United States.

For more information go to the Social Security website.

Will Medicare Cover Health Care Costs While One is Traveling Overseas? (Part 1 of 2)

While many of us look forward to roaming the world once we have retired, we need to be prepared.  Traditional Medicare does not provide coverage for hospital and medical costs outside the United States.  Exception: Medicare does cover residents of Puerto, Rico, Guam, the US Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands and Samoa.

Private Medicare plans may provide benefits for health care when a participant of the plan travels outside the United States.  Be sure to look at your  plan before leaving the country.   If your plan does not cover foreign travel you will need to purchase health insurance from another source.

Medicare beneficiaries can purchase health coverage through either a short term travel insurance policy or a Medigap policy that covers foreign emergencies.   Medigap plans lettered C through J offer travel insurance for the first 60 days of any trip.  The benefit covers 80% of emergency care provided outside of the country.

There are travel policies that one can purchase from private companies that will cover health care expenses overseas.

You can find more information at the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs.  The Bureau also has a list of companies that offer travel medical insurance.

Travel often, travel safe, travel insured.

Your Vote Counts!

I can’t stand it anymore.  I open the paper, turn on the television, the radio, or pick up the telephone and I am bombarded with campaign ads. And I assume this can only get worse after Labor Day as we head in to the home stretch towards the election in November.

In the last election for the president 75 million eligible Americans chose not to vote.  That is roughly 36% of our eligible voting population. This year every House seat and 33 senate seats are open, in addition to the Presidency.  The next set of elected officials will be making decisions about our health care, social security, Medicare, and Medicaid programs that could affect all of us.

I might be crabbing now about the deluge of political campaign advertising that is invading my life but as my kids so aptly say “put up or shut up”.  I guess that applies to me.

It is time for me to get down to business and research the candidates, figure out who are the best people I want to elect into office and then go and vote. This may be a very close election for many of the positions currently open.   Al Franken finally won his seat in the Senate by 312 votes, nearly 8 months of recounting the ballots and a court Challenge.

Each of us has the right to choose who makes the decisions that run this country.  No matter who we are, our vote counts.  Value your vote. Get out there and do it.  Then we can celebrate a period of time when there will be no campaign ads,  until the next election cycle.

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