What Happens When the Unthinkable Happens?

By Jeff Wagoner, W M Law President

I attended a continuing legal education seminar a couple of weeks ago.  There were some very good speakers and some very good topics, but one speaker really caught my attention.  It wasn’t because he was a particularly good speaker or that he had great information for us.  It was because he shared a very personal story about heartbreak and turmoil in his own life.

 When he was a child, his family was in an horrific automobile accident.  It killed his mother, father and one of his siblings.  He was very young at the time, about 5 years old.  His younger sister, about 3 at the time, also survived the accident.  Unfortunately, his parents did not have an estate plan of any kind.  Luckily, well sort of, he had family on both his mother’s and father’s sides of the family that could care for him and his sister.  The problem was that the family could not agree on who would be the best to take care of the 2 surviving children.  So, a court case was opened to allow a judge to make that decision.

The judge temporarily placed […]

By | November 8th, 2018|0 Comments

Estate planning is so NOT Important-and that’s why it is SO Important

By Doug Sisson, Probate and Bankruptcy Paralegal

At W M Law, we specialize in Estate Planning and probate. We breathe wills, trusts, affidavits, petitions so on and so forth.  We enjoy the fulfillment that our work brings us…But let’s stop for a second and inject a little honesty and perspective to the estate planning process.

Estate Planning: What IS Important vs. What IS NOT

Compared to life and death, love and grief – estate and financial planning seem pretty frivolous, and in the grand scheme of things – not that important. Here are a few examples:

  • Nurturing family relationships, grief, emotions and protecting family assets VS. Choosing who gets dad’s classic car, or mom’s jewelry set, or the family coin collection.
  • Recognizing the importance of keeping the family home, remembering the blood, sweat and tears put into paying off the home, and the importance of the memories created at the home Losing your home to qualify for Medicaid.
  • Admitting the relevance of decades of work spent building funds to secure a strong retirement Maximizing the tax and asset protections for inherited property.

Estate Planning – Allows loved ones to Focus on What Matters Most

Estate planning tools – powers of attorney, medical directives, wills and […]

By | October 3rd, 2018|0 Comments

Why Do College-Bound Kids Need a Power-of-Attorney in Place?

By Ana Ballesteros, W M Law Paralegal

As parents race around the next few weeks to buy their college-bound children dorm items, clothing, supplies and teach them last-minute life lessons, there is one more item they should add to their to-do list:  put in place a power of attorney.

Why would a college-bound child need a power of attorney? First of all, these college-bound students are now 18 years of age or older and legally we parents may not be able to protect them quickly in dire moments if we do not plan ahead.  When they were kids and something would happen, we would come to their rescue and were legally able to do so because we were their guardians. Once that child turns 18, parents cannot even access their college grades or health records without permission from the adult child.

Parents do not want their minds to wander to the “unthinkable” but what if their child is in an accident, or experiences a medical condition while away and is unable to make decisions or speak for themselves? Who will communicate their wishes? What if decisions need to be made quickly?  These situations do occur and in some cases require drawn-out legal procedures.

So, […]

By | August 10th, 2018|0 Comments

Estate Planning vs. Elder Law

By Doug Sisson, W M Law Probate and Bankruptcy Paralegal

Many clients and even attorneys are perplexed by the differences between estate planning and elder law.  Not all estate planning requires elder law, and elder law does not always require estate planning.  So, what’s the difference?

Estate PlanningWhat happens if I die?

An estate plan determines who, when, and how assets are divided upon your passing.  This is assuming you have assets left to distribute at the end of life. Any myriad of events could happen to you or loved ones between the creation of an estate plan and one’s passing – personal injury, mental incapacitation, inheriting other assets, becoming permanently disabled etc. etc.

Elder Law – focuses on the opposite, what happens if I live?  

The best estate plan in the world can’t protect against all the “what-ifs” that happen while you are still alive.  Elder law helps you stay in control as you age which entails everything from your healthcare decisions, to how you pay for a care, preservation of money now, income and assets, and what can be used for your benefit and care while you’re still alive.

So which do I need?  It really boils down to: is your […]

By | July 9th, 2018|0 Comments

Importance of Guardianship Decisions Prior to Leaving for Vacation

By Ana Ballesteros, W M Law Paralegal

With summer vacations starting, many of us are starting to plan or getting ready to leave for a family vacation. Whether the vacation is going to visit family or out to a different destination it is important to plan for the worst case scenario. What would happen to our dependents if something were to happen to us?

We do not like to think of such things but it is never wrong to prepare for the worst. Normally, the Judge looks for an immediate family member such as the grandparents or an aunt or uncle, whoever is willing and able to take care of the children. But what if the parents want someone else to take care of the kids? What if the parents do not trust crazy uncle Joe or fear that grandma and grandpa are too old to care for the kids?

There is only so much we can prepare for. As parents, we can write a request for the Judge to assign a Guardian for our children. The Judge will review the request which will impact the decision as to who will care for the children. There are many factors that go into the […]

By | June 7th, 2018|0 Comments

Tres sugerencias clave para evitar conflictos en su proceso de planificación patrimonial

 

Por Doug Sisson, W M Law Paralegal

El cariño de los beneficiarios para uno con el otro puede esté  fuera de su control, en vida o en muerte. Con esto en mente, los siguientes consejos y consideraciones le ayudarán a evitar futuros litigios, o al menos minimizarlo para evitar que los altos honorarios de abogado que muchos no tienen en cuenta: como dijo Robert Frost – “la tarde sabe lo que nunca sospechó la mañana.”

  1. Planifique cuando usted esté bien de salud

Cuando usted se enferma, todos sus recursos mentales y físicos deben estar dedicados a mejorarlo, no a redactar un plan de sucesión.  Uno debe idear un plan de patrimonio y reflexionar sobre su dinámica familiar mientras usted está bien y de mente sana.  Si espera a que se enferme para redactar su plan, puede que esté mal redactado o que no se complete en absoluto.  Diseñar un plan mientras que usted está bien también aliviará la carga de los miembros de familia para que no tengan que conjeturar sus deseos finales o decisiones médicas.

  1. Busque asesoramiento jurídico independiente de calidad sin influencia indebida

Recursos online (como este blog) pueden ayudarle a darle una idea aproximada de lo que va a […]

By | May 25th, 2018|0 Comments

Fideicomisos de Medicaid ó Miller fideicomisos ó fideicomisos de ingresos calificativos

 

Cuando se trata de necesidades de atención médica, siempre tratamos de retrasar lo inevitable, prepararnos para nuestras necesidades futuras. El costo promedio de por mes para un centro de cuidado de ancianos es de aproximadamente $6.000 más visitas hospitalarias y gastos de medicamentos costosos.

La forma en que Medicaid trabaja es que ellos pueden ayudarle a pagar sus gastos, pero sólo si sus ingresos demuestran que usted no tiene suficiente dinero para pagar la atención que necesita. Entonces, ¿qué sucede cuando sus ingresos se califican pero su cónyuge también trabaja, y lo pone por encima del requisito de ingresos de Medicaid? ¿o qué sucede si sus ingresos se califican pero usted tiene su casa pagada y tal vez algunos activos adicionales como un ira/401 (k) o una casa de vacaciones?

Medicaid puede poner gravámenes en su propiedad después de que ya no necesite el programa de asistencia o que usted haya fallecido. La mala noticia es que si usted no toma medidas de protección, puede perder todos los bienes que usted adquirió trabajando duramente.  La buena noticia es que hay un instrumento especial que usted puede crear para proteger sus activos y asegurarse de que puedan pasarse  a su familia como usted […]

By | May 25th, 2018|0 Comments

Three Key Suggestions to Avoid Disputes in your Estate Planning Process

By Doug Sisson, W M Law Paralegal

Your beneficiaries’ fondness of one another may be out of your control, in life or death. With that in mind, the following tips and considerations will help you avoid future litigation, or at least minimize it to avoid that steep attorney bill many fail to account for:  “The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.” – Robert Frost

  1. Plan when you are healthy 

When you fall ill, all of you mental and physical resources should be devoted to getting better, not drafting an estate plan.  One should devise an estate plan and ponder their family dynamics while you are well and of sound mind.  If you wait until you fall ill to draft your plan, it may be poorly drafted, or may not be completed at all.  Devising a plan while you are well also relieving the burden from family members who may be left guessing your final wishes or medical decisions.

  1. Seek quality independent legal advice free from undue influence

Online resources (such as this blog) can aid in a rough idea of what you will need, but not much more than that.  DIY estate plans can also create a huge liability as they […]

By | March 14th, 2018|0 Comments

Two Misconceptions about Estate Plans

By Doug Sisson, W M Law Paralegal

Misconception #1 – Estate Planning is only for old people

Accidents happen, unless you are immortal…  A living trust is an important tool to safeguard a single person or family of any age.  Think of a trust as your “invisible buddy” that can speak for you when you are unable to. A living trust not only guards your assets, it guides your loved ones and keeps them from guessing as to your intentions. Another valuable tool is managing money should you leave your estate to a young person or even a minor child. With a trust you can appoint a person to manage the trust until your children (or grandchildren) are of an age you decide.

Misconception #2 – Estate Plans are for the Ultra Wealthy 1% of the Population

If you own property, you need an estate plan. A Revocable “Living” Trust is a very versatile tool to help divide and protect your assets and leave instructions for your own healthcare as well as others. A living trust can benefit you in many of the following ways:

  • Avoiding Probate: Probate litigation is a costly and lengthy process your loved ones will want to avoid.
  • Avoiding Taxes: A […]
By | January 30th, 2018|0 Comments

Estate Planning in Kansas and Missouri

By Jeff Wagoner
W M Law President
Estate Planning in Kansas City is complicated somewhat by the Kansas/Missouri border that runs through our metropolitan area.  At WM Law, we are licensed in both Kansas and Missouri and represent both Kansas and Missouri clients (even though sometimes we have to keep those Tigers and Jayhawks and Wildcats separated in the waiting room!).
One big difference in estate planning stems from the types of real estate ownership available in the two states.  Both Kansas and Missouri offer tenancy in common and joint tenancy with the right of survivorship.  However, only Missouri offers tenancy by the entireties.  Tenancy by the entireties is only offered in about 20 states and that type of tenancy varies significantly among those states.  Tenancy by the entireties is an old, rather odd concept in real estate ownership that dates back to the middle ages.  Back then, when a man took a wife, the wife came with a “dowry” – maybe a cow, 5 pigs, and some chickens.  Now, if the man was down at the local pub one night and got to gambling, he might incur a gambling debt that the winner would try to collect by coming to the homestead […]

By | April 7th, 2017|0 Comments