Philip J Hoskins, Attorney at
Welcome to the Fall edition of my
Newsletter. This newsletter is meant to give you useful information
regarding issues that impact your life.
Contents (click a title)
Nursing Home Alternatives
Improving the Lives of LGBT Older Adults
Do you have a current estate plan?
Is Your Estate Plan up to date?
If you have a loved one that has begun to show
signs that they may need more care than what you can provide, you may be
thinking about a nursing home. This can be a very traumatic experience
for both the person being admitted to the facility, as well as those
that have to make this decision.
Before your loved one becomes incapacitated,
make sure they have executed an Advance Health Care Directive giving you
or someone else the authority to act on their behalf regarding medical
decisions. At the same time have them execute a Durable Power of
Attorney for Financial Matters so that money and legal decisions can be
made once they become legally incapacitated.
Without these important documents, a court
supervised conservatorship may be the only solution. They are expensive,
public and time consuming.
It is not easy to come to the decision to put
a parent in a nursing home, and often people just don’t know how to
recognize when it is truly time to do this. Some of the signs to look
for to determine if your parent or loved one requires more care than
they can get from family members include:
- Inability to live independently
- The need for 24-hour supervision
- They need help with everyday personal care, such as bathing,
eating, walking, etc.
- There are excessive demands on your time and finances, which is
causing a major strain on your family.
If the above describes your parent or loved
one, they may be ready to live in a an environment providing
professional care. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a nursing home.
Much depends on the extent and type of care that your loved one needs.
- Home Health Care – This is one alternative to a nursing
home. Home health care will keep your loved one at home where they
will be happiest, but they will get visits from nursing assistants,
nurses, doctors, and even therapists. This will help ease the burden
on you, the family.
- Adult Day Care – This is an option that more and more
people are choosing; the loved one goes into the facility during the
day so that their family can work, and during the evening they
return home. This alternative also works well when combined with
home health care.
- Retirement Community – There are many assisted living
retirement communities that will provide a number of services to
their residents; these services include housekeeping, meals, social
events, and even personal care. Although these services are
available, your loved one will still have their own apartment and
the ability to prepare their own meals and care for their own needs,
if they are capable.
No one wants to put their loved ones in a
nursing facility, especially considering the risk of abuse, but there
may come a time when you are no longer able to care for them. Before
choosing a facility, consider the alternatives to find the best possible
choice for you and your loved one. Speak with their physician, ask
friends, family and neighbors if they have any experience or
recommendations. And of course, online searches can sometimes yield
Improving the Lives of LGBT Older Adults
Although largely invisible until very
recently, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older adults
make up a significant (and growing) share of both the overall LGBT
population and the larger 65+ population. While confronted with the same
challenges that face all people as they age, LGBT elders also face an
array of unique barriers and inequalities that can stand in the way of a
healthy and rewarding later life. The additional challenges to
successful aging faced by LGBT elders are gaining visibility with the
aging of LGBT Baby Boomers, who are the first generation of LGBT people
to have lived openly gay or transgender lives in large numbers.
for the S.A.G.E. website.
Improving the Lives of Older Adults examines these additional challenges
and how they make it harder for LGBT elders to achieve three key
elements of successful aging: financial security, good health and health
care, social support and community engagement. The report also offers
detailed recommendations for improving the lives, and life chances, of
LGBT older Americans. To read more,
As part of the 2001 tax act, Congress
increased the amount persons were permitted to give away tax-free at
death (the "Exemption Amount"), with the increases phased in over a ten
year period. The Exemption Amount increased over the years, reaching
$3,500,000 in 2009 and ultimately became unlimited this year.
However, because the votes of 60 Senators
could not be obtained back in 2001, the tax law changes were limited to
a duration of 10 years, meaning that in 2011, the estate tax will be
reinstated with an Exemption Amount of only $1,000,000 and a rate of tax
equal to 55%, the exemption and rate of tax that were in effect before
the 2001 tax act was passed. Certain larger estates will be subject to
an extra 5% surtax that was repealed altogether in 2001, but which will
also be reinstated in 2011.
Estates in excess of the exemption amount must
file tax returns within nine months of the decedent’s death and taxable
estates usually wait as long as possible before filing. Thus, most
returns filed in 2007 were for people dying in 2006 when the estate tax
exemption was $2 million. About 2.4 million people died in that year; of
those, only 1 in 73 (.01%) generated an estate tax return and only 1 in
163 (.006%) had to pay any estate tax.
In 2009, the estate tax exemption increased to
$3.5 million. It is anticipated that 14,900 estate tax returns will be
filed for people who died in that year, of which only 5,500 will owe
estate tax totaling about $13.8 billion.
After a single year hiatus in 2010, the estate
tax will return in 2011 with a $1 million exemption and many more
estates will have to file returns. It is anticipated that 108,200
estates of people dying that year will file estate tax returns and
44,200 of those estates will pay taxes totaling $34.4 billion.
Thus, in recent years the estate tax has only
affected a exceedingly small percent of the population. However, if the
2001 legislation is not changed, a much larger percentage of estates
will be required to file returns and pay estate taxes.
Congress has yet to act on this issue and
several proposals are under consideration, ranging from abolishing the
estate tax to raising the exemption amount to $5 million. The proposal
which seems to have the most support would raise the exemption amount to
$3.5 million and keep the tax rate at 45%.
click here If you would like to read an analysis of current
If you might be at risk for estate tax
exposure there are a number of planning options available to you.
- Making lifetime gifts to loved ones. You can make a gift of
up to $13,000 per year to as many people as you wish. Doing so
lowers your taxable estate and if done over a number of years, this
may bring your estate under the exemption amount.
- Insurance. In addition to the traditional uses for life
insurance, you can buy a policy that is designed to cover the amount
of estate taxes which you expect will be applied to your estate. Of
course, since few of us know when we will pass on, this can only be
a rough estimate. There are minefields with regard to insurance
policies that can make the problem worse, so I urge you to talk with
me about your insurance policies so that they do not add to your
estate tax problems rather than solve them.
- Charitable giving. Gifts to federally recognized charities
are exempt from estate taxation and can be a benefit to both the
charities and your other beneficiaries. In some cases a gift to a
charity will reduce your estate below the exemption amount and
actually increase the amount your other beneficiaries receive. If
you wish to discuss charitable giving techniques, please call me to
set up a meeting.
If you think your estate may be subject to
estate tax, I encourage you to speak with me or your tax advisor about
what you can do to minimize the problem.
Do you have a current
If you have done nothing to create your own
estate plan, the State of California has made one for you. It is called
the laws of intestacy (click
here to see the
State’s plan for you). To protect yourself, those who depend upon you
and those who may have to take care of you in your later years, I
encourage you to develop your own estate plan.
To make this process easier for you, I offer
affordable packages that not only hold down the costs but provide high
quality documents with your convenience in mind. I know that in these
times money may be tight, but estate planning actually saves money – in
some cases a great deal.
For example, if you or a loved one becomes
incapacitated and cannot take care of their financial or personal needs,
a court supervised conservatorship would need to be set up. The
inconvenience and expenses associated with a conservatorship can eat up
remaining resources rapidly.
Likewise, without a proper estate plan, when a
loved one dies, their estate may need to go through court probate, where
fees can take as much as 6 or 7% of the gross value. Good estate plans
avoid both of these unfortunate results and also make sure your estate
goes exactly where you want it.
As a way of making Estate Planning affordable
and available to all, I have special package offers for you. Each
package comes with a Client Guide and easy to complete forms for you to
complete so that I know what your desires are.
Included in the fee are as many meetings,
telephone calls or e-mails as you may need to make your selections.
Some clients prefer to complete the process entirely online at their
convenience. I can often arrange to meet at your home if necessary.
All documents are custom drafted by me to suit
your individual needs. Other online services use non-attorneys to
prepare documents but I believe you deserve the individual attention of
an experienced attorney.
The Individual Complete Package includes, at
your option, a Revocable (Living) Trust, a Will, a Health Care
Directive, and a General Durable Power of Attorney. The low price for
this complete estate planning package, including a Client Guide and all
meetings, phone calls, etc., is only $895.00. A minimum payment of $450
The Couples Complete Package – for Married
Couples, Unmarried couples or Domestic Partners – includes, at your
option, a Living Trust, a Will, a Health Care Directive, and a General
Durable Power of Attorney for each of you. The low price for this
complete estate planning package, including a Client Guide and all
meetings, phone calls, etc., is only $1,195.00. A minimum payment of
$600 is required.
Additional optional fees which depend on your
individual needs include a deed to transfer real property to your trust
at $100 per deed and recording; if you wish to sign and notarize at my
office there is a fee of $10 per notarization; and if you wish me to
assist with the transfer of other assets it is at my hourly rate.
For more information or if you want to get
started in the comfort of your home, please go to
or call for an appointment to 310-209-8080.
Is Your Estate Plan up
It is important to check whether your estate
plan documents are up to date at least once every year. Use this
checklist to make sure you are fully protected and current:
- Is everyone named in your documents as a successor trustee,
executor or agent still alive, available and willing to act as you
- Are all of the people you have named to receive your estate
still alive and is this still the way you want your estate to be
- If you created a revocable trust, have all of your assets been
transferred to the trust?
- If you purchased new assets since the trust was created did you
properly designate the trust as owner?
- If you refinanced your real estate did the property get
transferred back into your trust? Often in a refinance you will be
required to transfer the property from the trust to yourself –
frequently the property is not put back into the trust when the
refinance is completed.
- Have you had children, formed a new relationship, married, or
divorced since your trust was created? Each such event can
invalidate the documents if you do not take steps to take into
account these changes.
- Have laws changed since you created the estate plan documents?
As noted elsewhere in this Newsletter, estate tax laws are in a
state of flux and may require you to re-evaluate your overall estate
- Finally, if you have not yet done so, I urge you to scan your
Advance Health Directive and Durable Power of Attorney documents and
copy them to a USB drive so that you can take them with you when you
travel. Emergencies can happen and having a signed digital copy may
save time, money and even your life. If you do not have a digital
copy let me know and I can provide one for you free of charge.
Nothing contained in this email is intended as
advice on any issue discussed nor is it intended to create an
Philip J. Hoskins
Attorney at Law
10940 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1400
Los Angeles, CA 90024
310-209-8080; fax 310-208-8582