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A few weeks back, Mitch Album, the well known columnist for the Detroit Free Press, wrote an interesting article about death and taxes. The article follows the effects of the death of George Steinbrenner and the New York Yankees.

The article examined the benefit of passing away this year. Unknown to most people, is that the federal government, repealed the estate tax for one year and one year only.

Prior to 2010, the federal estate tax exemption steadily increased from one million dollars to three and a half million dollars as part of the taxpayer relief act of 2000. The idea was to increase the estate tax exemption over time to mirror inflation and the growth of the middle class, with an end result of repealing the estate tax altogether for the year 2010.

On October 13, 2009, VA Secretary Shinseki decided to establish service connection for Vietnam veterans with three conditions; Parkinson’s, B cell leukemias, and ischemic heart disease. These join the already established conditions

In the case of a surviving spouse, either the veteran’s death certificate should list one of these presumptive diseases as cause of death OR the cause of death must be linked to one of these diseases.

The decision to add these three new conditions was based on scientific evidence linking these conditions to exposure to Agent Orange, an herbicide sprayed in Vietnam. As in all other conditions, the VA typically requires proof of “boot on the ground” in most cases or proof of direct exposure to Agent Orange.

Unfortunately, the sting of our economy in Detroit, with the struggles of the automotive industry, has reached beyond individual consumers and into seniors’ pocketbooks. With the increase in unemployment, foreclosures and other difficult times, the Michigan State Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Attorney General have noticed a correlation in elder abuse. Not physical or mental abuse; but, financial abuse.

Most commentators agree that the best way to avoid access to joint accounts or misuse of funds is to establish an effective long term care plan that includes estate planning documents that contemplate planning for disabilities or governmental benefits. By working with an accredited individual or an elder law attorney you can put together the best defense possible against elderly financial abuse.

In todays Detroit News, I came across a great article on point. The article can be found here, or I have included it as an excerpt to this post.
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Today I appeared on the “Ask Your Neighbor” radio show with Bob Allison. The topic that we discussed was the use of estate planning documents for disability and long term care planning. You can listen to the segment on the 690 am website.

Among the highlights that we discussed were the use of power of attorney documents to engage in Medicaid planning and VA benefit planning. Like my last post, we discussed the importance of establishing power of attorney documents prior to the onset of illness. These documents are important as they can allow your designate attorney-in-fact to preserve resources and accelerate the qualification process for Medicaid.

Next week, I will be discussing the A & A benefit in more detail. Tune in if you would like or call our office! (586) 264-3756

If you live in Michigan and have questions about estate planning, VA benefits and/or Medicaid planning, tune in to AM 690 WNZK and listen to the “Ask Your Neighbor” radio show hosted by Bob Allison. I appear as a special guest every Friday morning from 9:00 am until 9:30 am to cover estate planning, probate, medicaid planning, VA benefit planning and other legal topics. I am also pleased to announce that we will be working with Towne Centre Financial, located in Warren Michigan to assist their clients with all of their legal needs.

Today I discussed the “ins” and “outs” of Trusts. Next week we will be specifically targeting the use of Medicaid benefits for long-term care planning. This week we identified the advantages to incorporating a living trust into your estate plan.

Next week I hope to discuss the basics of using trusts and other estate planning documents to accomplish long term care planning goals.

I am excited to announce that I will be appearing on the “Ask Your Neighbor” radio show, every Friday morning, to discuss legal and elder law topics.

Bob Allison, the host of the show, has been a local Detroit radio icon for over forty (40) years. Ask Your Neighbor, can be heard Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 11:00 am on 690AM. Our firm will serve as a special guest host every Friday from 9:00 am to 9:30 am. If you would like more information about the topics I discuss on this blog, feel free to tune in and call in for some practical advice.

Next week, Kristina Barsch will be discusing Special Needs Trusts and Estate Planning.