We are providing this information as a public service.  We practice elder and disability law, but counseling and representing veterans in connection with VA benefits is a specialized field and we do not offer these services.  Don’t stop, read on …

This is the benefit that changes:

Vets and their spouses who are 65 or older, served during a period of war, and have trouble performing tasks of daily living (bathing, dressing, toileting, etc.) are eligible to receive up to $26,036 annually in non-service connected benefits through the VA to help pay for long-term care, including home health care and nursing home care.  The program is means-tested so there are income and countable asset limits.  Proper advance planning can help veterans qualify under these limits.

Here’s what changed:

On September 18, 2018, the Veterans Administration (VA) published new rules that make it more difficult to qualify for this important benefit. Beginning October 18, 2018, any gifts that you made in the past 36 months, either to a family member or to an irrevocable trust, will be penalized. This means you could be prohibited from qualifying for VA pension benefits for up to 5 years, depending on the amount of the gift.  But the new rules are not retroactive; transfers before October18, 2018 will not be penalized.

There are other requirements to the new rules, but the rule on transfers is the most important and the one that requires urgent action.

Here is what you need to do:

You can still plan under the old rules where there is no penalty for making gifts or transferring funds to an irrevocable trust but you have to act quickly. The new rules go into effect on October 18, 2018, and you must have all planning done by that date.

If you’ve already looked into collecting VA pension and Aid & Attendance benefits but you’ve yet to move forward with your planning, it’s time to take the final step.   And if  you are an older wartime veteran or spouse (or you care about someone who is), and this is the first time you are hearing about these benefits, it’s time to take the first step.  You need to call a VA accredited lawyer right away and get started.

You must get your planning done and make any necessary transfers before October 18th to take advantage of opportunities while they still exist before the new rules go into effect.  It may be advantageous to file your application for VA benefits before October 18, 2018.

If you’re a wartime veteran or spouse and you don’t need care now, the time to plan for the care you may need in the future is still right now. You can work to appropriately arrange your finances today, so that when you apply for benefits down the road, you can qualify without a penalty.

If you don’t know where to start, call me at 301-907-4580 x104 right away.  I’ll refer you to someone who can help.

 

Most college-bound freshman are over 18.  The law says that makes them adults; parents know better. They are grown-up but new to the world of managing their money, bills and contracts.  New to the world of managing their own medical appointments and follow-ups.

If you need to talk to the bursar’s office about tuition, grants, or loan disbursements you will need your freshman’s authorization.  Ditto if your want to talk to the doctor or nurse-practioner who examined your freshmen.  Other examples abound.

So now is a good time to consider suggesting your new adult appoint you his or her agent under a durable power of attorney and medical agent under a health-care directive and HIPAA release.

Contact us  if you want to look into this off-to-college planning.

It is a lament divorce judges frequently hear.  Since alimony and child support are based on income, you can’t blame the judges for being somewhat cynical.  It is a law of the Universe.  Income decreases in the year of divorce.

But what if you make a million dollars a year?  Carol Rose, estranged spouse of former baseball star, Pete Rose, says that Pete makes at least $100,000 a month signing autographs and making personal appearances.  However, according to Carol, he has spent most of it on high stakes gambling and still owes significant amounts to the casinos and the IRS.

Carol is asking the court to compel Pete to reveal the full details of his finances in their divorce.

Will 2018 be the year you make a Will and complete your estate and disability planning?

If you kick it down the road another year it won’t matter … unless 2018 is the year you die or become incapacitated or disabled.  In that case, those you care about will wish you had planned better, especially if they are financially dependent on you.

If you don’t make a Will before you die you leave an “intestate” estate.  The state has rules governing who gets your property, who has priority for appointment as your personal representative and how any of your property received by minors will be managed.  If you are confident that you and your loved ones will be perfectly satisfied with the state’s choices about all this, you don’t need a Will.

If your beneficiary designations on life insurance, retirement accounts and other financial accounts are based on the state of your family and finances five, ten or more years ago, payment from your financial assets may be delayed or directed to the wrong people.

If you have an inadequate financial power of attorney, or none at all, a court proceeding called guardianship of property may be necessary to manage your property at a cost of thousands of dollars and many wasted hours.

If you have an inadequate advance medical directive and health care power of attorney, or none at all, health care decisions may be adversely impacted.

If you decide you are going to take care of these matters this year, contact Thyden Gross and Callahan, LLP.   We can help.

“Alice is mad at Wayne,” said my wife as we were driving to work together yesterday.

“Oh?  What did he do to make her mad?” I asked.  Alice and Wayne are friends of ours.

“He told her that it must be nice to go out with her friends for lunch while he works to pay for it all.”

“Was he serious or joking?” I said.

“Joking, but in a mean way.  He’s always making little digs at her like that.” my wife replied.

“Did he say it in front of her friends?”

“Yes.  She wrote him an email telling him how much it hurt her,” my wife responded.  “I told her to send him the article on how much it would cost to replace a stay at home mom with private services.”

“It sounds like what he is really trying to say is they need to sit down and work out a budget and agree on how their resources should be allocated,” I said in my most reasonable lawyer voice.  I was trying to find some middle ground to stand on.

“No!” said my wife.  “He calls it his money, but it is really their money.  She gave up a successful career for him.”

“Perhaps he is just using the wrong words to express himself,” I answered.  “What he means is he earns the money that belongs to both of them and he would like to share in the decision of how it is spent.”

“She doesn’t spend any money!” exclaimed my wife.

I told her, “But you just said she went out to lunch with her friends.  Maybe he would like that money  to go into their pension plan.”

‘Their pension plan is fully funded.  He makes lots of money and she spends very little of it,” my wife explained.

“Well, your view is that he’s the bad guy, but I see both sides of it.”

Readers, what do you think?

 

So goodbye, goodbye
I’m gonna leave you now
And here’s the erason why
I like to sleep with the wiodwopen
And you kee0 the window closed
So goodbye
Goodbye
Gooobye

It turns out that thermostat settings are one of the biggest causes of conflict in marriages.  The wrong setting can cause one spouse to be too cold or too hot, and result in talks of divorce.

It’s not just mental either.  Scientists say that women have a lower body mass to surface area, slower resting metabolism and less muscle mass than men.  Therefore, they may feel more comfortable with warmer temperatures.

Financial considerations might come into play as well.  In the summertime, you can save between one to three percent on your air conditioning bill for each degree you set the thermostat over 72 degrees.

We found another way to raise money for your divorce.  Worthy.com is a website that has online auctions where professional jewelry buyers will bid for the diamond in your engagement ring.

Unlike mining diamonds from the earth, which can harm indigenous peoples and the environment, Worthy.com mines the largest cache of diamonds on earth – us.  After all, there is no physical difference between a new diamond and a used diamond.

Worthy.com will grade your diamond, take pictures and post it for auction.

Can’t afford a divorce lawyer?   Need new furniture for your divorce apartment?  Plumfund.com is a website where you can ask people to contribute money for your divorce.

The site describes itself as “Free online crowdfunding for the people we love.”  It has different categories, from baby to funeral, to create a registry for your life events.

You can register your wedding and honeymoon under the Honeyfund category.  I found the divorce requests under “divorce” by using the site search function.

Greg is talking to experienced divorce lawyer, Jeb, about property distribution in a divorce.

“We have separate bank accounts and that $60,000 is in my name alone,” Greg says.

“Doesn’t matter,” Jeb advised, “it’s still marital property.”

“What if I should spend the $60,000 before the divorce?”

“It depends on how you spend it.  If you buy a car or a Rolex, those items become marital property.  If  you buy consumables, then the money is gone and the court can’t divide it.”

“What if I give it to my brother as a gift?”

“That won’t work,” Jeb told him.  “The court can undo that gift.”

(to be continued)

 

by James J. Gross

Randy Work and Mandy Gray married 22 years ago.  Randy  was an executive at Lone Star Funds and their marital estate was worth $225 million dollars by the time they divorced in 2015 in England.  The court split the money equally between

Work appealed and argued that he should receive 61% because of his special contribution.  U.K. judges have distinguished cases where success is of a “wholly exceptional nature” and people who’ve become very wealthy through ordinary means.

The three judge appeal panel ruled against Work, however, and upheld the lower court’s finding that the fortune was the result of “being in the right place at the right time, or benefiting from a period of boom,” not professional genius on the part of Randy.