The Voice(r), the Official Newsletter of SNA August, 2017 - Vol. 11, Issue 5

Loving parents set up a special needs trust (SNT) for their child with disabilities and name themselves as trustees. They intend to fund it with assets upon their deaths and provide for the appointment of the husband's sister as the successor trustee when both parents are gone. The lawyer who drafts the trust realizes that the sister might not be available to serve as successor trustee when the time comes because she is about the same age as the parents. However, no other family members or friends are suitable to serve, so the drafter recommends naming a local younger attorney to serve. In all likelihood, the younger lawyer will survive the parents and still be available to serve as successor trustee for the child. How could this plan go wrong?

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It's Just Stuff, After All

It is not surprising that only 42% of adults in the U.S. have a documented estate plan. It is easy to put estate planning off until tomorrow rather than confront the uncomfortable truth that we will some day die, and face the difficult decisions that are best made in advance of that day. One of the harsher realities of today – one that was not necessarily true for the generations before us – is that family heirlooms are not always the precious treasures they once were. Today, chances are your stuff is just stuff.

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Planning Ahead: Asset Protection Trusts Joy A. Trueworthy

How do I protect my house? My family camp? My life savings? Those are the most common questions I hear when meeting with a client to discuss planning for long-term care. Long-term care services can include a variety of supports in a facility or in the home. These services are extremely expensive. Seventy percent of people will need long-term care during their lifetime, and the average amount of time for which some type of long-term care will be needed is three years.

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2017 MSBA Elder Law and Estate Planning Institute

Maine Elder Law Firm Attorney Jane Skelton and Rudman Winchell Attorney Jennifer Eastman both presented at the Maine State Bar Association’s Elder Law and Estate Planning Institute on May 5 and 6, 2017. This year’s Institute featured Attorney Natalie Choate as the keynote speaker. Ms. Choate is the author of Life and Death Planning for Retirement Benefits and The QPRT Manual.

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Proposed Maine Law: An Act to Support Death with Dignity

The joint standing Committee on Health and Human Services heard public testimony on LD 347 and LD 1066 on Wednesday, April 5, 2017. Representative Jennifer Parker introduced LD 1066 titled An Act to Promote Life with Dignity1. The Committee reported out as Ought Not to Pass on April 25.

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Survivor Benefits Plan: Protecting Military Survivor Benefits for a Child with Disabilities

Military families who stay in the service until retirement can easily provide survivor benefits for a child with disabilities without effect that child’s eligibility for public benefit programs.

In December of 2014, the Disabled Military Child Protection Act was signed into law. Prior to the enactment of this law, a military parent had to choose whether to assign his or her Survivor Benefits Plan to a child with disabilities, thereby risking the child’s eligibility for public benefits. The prior law required that the Survivor Benefits Plan be paid to a person...

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Gifting Powers in Financial Powers of Attorney

A financial power of attorney (also called durable power of attorney or general power of attorney) is an important part of your estate plan. If you become incapacitated and are unable to act and make decisions for yourself, a financial power of attorney authorizes another individual to act for you. In the document, you are the “principal,” and the individual you appoint is your “agent under power of attorney”. With a financial power of attorney, your agent would be able to pay bills, open and manage accounts, and contact financial institutions on your behalf.

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Enactment of the Special Needs Trust Fairness Act

On Tuesday December 13, 2016, President Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act. Several pieces of the legislation focus on medical breakthroughs. It also includes the Special Needs Trust Fairness Act. Elder law attorneys across the country have been advocating in support of the Fairness Act for years. The passage of the Fairness Act means that individuals with disabilities are now able to establish their own first-party special needs trusts to be funded with that individual's own assets.

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Changes to the Federal Nursing Home Requirements

In order for skilled nursing facilities and nursing facilities to receive payment under the Medicare or Medicaid programs, the facility must meet certain requirements. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has recently released a final rule revising these requirements. This is the first comprehensive update to long-term care facility requirements since 1991.

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Stetson Special Needs Trusts Conference 2016

Jane Skelton presented at the annual National Conference on Special Needs Trusts and Special Needs Planning in St. Petersburg, Florida, on October 20, 2016. This is the 18th year that the Stetson University College of Law has provided this nationally recognized, in-depth review of major issues in special needs planning and in the creation, administration and monitoring of special needs trusts.

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2016 WealthCounsel and Elder Counsel Symposium

Attorneys Rachel Trafton and Kristy Hapworth recently returned from the Washington D.C. area where they attended the Symposium, an annual educational event for estate planning and elder law professionals. The conference is collaborative and full of interactive and practical learning opportunities. It provides valuable guidance to both new and experienced attorneys on how to advance an elder law and estate practice.

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Updates to the MaineCare Eligibility Rules Regarding Real Estate

The MaineCare program, administered by Maine's Department of Health and Human Services, provides important medical and long-term care benefits to many Mainers. There are a variety of MaineCare benefits, based on the type of services and the basis for qualifying for benefits. DHHS encapsulates the rules for these subsets of the MaineCare program within the MaineCare Eligibility Manual (the "Manual"). The rules are based on both federal Medicaid law and state policy. The Manual is updated regularly to adjust to changing conditions, incorporate updates from federal law, and provide greater clarity to existing rules.

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Consider Sole Benefit Trusts for Medicaid Spend Down

LLong-term care is expensive, and an older individual may consider Medicaid to pay for that care. If the individual has a family member or friend with a disability, a sole benefit trust could be considered. If drafted correctly, transfers of the individual’s assets to a sole benefit trust would hasten Medicaid eligibility for the individual and not disrupt eligibility for means-tested benefits for the beneficiary of the trust...

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Important Developments Regarding the Laws on Delegation of Parental Rights

For various reasons, sometimes parents are unable to care for their children. For example, a child may be taking a trip out of state with a school or extracurricular program and an unrelated adult supervising the trip needs authority to make medical decisions if a problem arises. Other situations might be more long-term, such as a parent wanting someone reliable to care for her child for multiple months while she attempts to gain control over a mental or physical illness. In either example, the parent trusts the other adult to care for the child, but third parties...

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The CARE Act: Support for Maine’s Caregivers

Caregiving from family and friends is an invaluable help, particularly for older individuals who wish to continue living in their homes. Fortunately, many Mainers support each other by assisting with the multitude of daily living tasks. According to Valuing the Invaluable: 2015 Update by the AARP Public Policy Institute, 178,000 Mainers each provide an average of 165 hours of care annually, which AARP calculates to have an economic value of $2,220,000. As Maine’s population continues to age, the amount of informal caregiving will likely increase.

Maine’s Act to Allow...

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Maine Policy Review On Aging Now Published

A special issue of Maine Policy Review on aging (2015, Vol. 24, No. 2) has now been published. The issue was a collaborative effort between the Center on Aging and the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center, which publishes the journal.

You will find...

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Disabled Military Child Protection Act

The Voice is the e-mail newsletter of The Special Needs Alliance. This installment was written by Special Needs Alliance member Kelly A. Thompson. Kelly has been a lawyer for 36 years, practicing law in Arlington, Virginia for the last 20 years. Her...

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Should I Tranfer My Home to My Children?

From the Bangor Metro, written by Joy A. Trueworthy, Esq of the Maine Elder Law Firm

What to Consider Before Gifting Your House or Other Real Estate.

Many people wonder whether they should transfer real estate, usually their home, to their children...

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