529 Gifts for Your Grandchildren

Thursday, January 9, 2014
Posted by Amara Chan
An experienced Lamkin Elder Law attorney can help you make important decisions regarding your estate and retirement plans. Whether you are a war veteran or a regular senior, you would want to leave a lasting legacy to your family after your passing. Planning for your elderly years might not be so easy; especially if you have a sizable amount of assets you would like to divide equally among your loved ones.

Gift Cards

It's vital to think about all alternatives when it comes to estates because elders may require long-term care (such as Medicaid) in the future. This requires funding, which might affect the senior's capacity to give anything at all to his heirs when the time has come. For most seniors, grandchildren have a special place in their hearts. However, they often can't decide on the best gift to give them. Will it be money or real estate? A good option nowadays is to invest in the child's education using the 529 Plan.

What Is a 529 Plan?

Named after Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code, this lets seniors give the gift of education to their grandchildren, while reducing the amount of their taxable estate. This would play an important role when applying for Medicaid later on. Nearly all states honor 529 Plans these days. 

With a 529 Plan, seniors can create accounts to pay for their grandchildren's college education and other expenses. The ones making the account are called 'college savers' or 'account owners', while those receiving the gift are called 'beneficiaries'. 

There are generally two types of 529 Plans which are:

  • Savings Plans. College savers can establish accounts where they choose among investment options to contribute for the college funds. Some of these options include mutual funds, stocks and bonds, as well as portfolios. Withdrawals from a 529 Savings Plan can be used to pay for tuition, board, or lodging in any university.
  • Prepaid Plans. These let college savers pay in part or whole of the tuition fees for a particular college or university. In some cases, Prepaid Plans are used to purchase units, credits, room, and board in selected schools.

Advantages of 529 Plans

If you're thinking about getting 529 Plans for your grandchildren, talk to your financial adviser or to an Elder Law lawyer. They can advise you of the best course of action, and may even recommend you a few people to contact for additional assistance. 

  • 529 Plans are not state-dependent. That means a senior can be in California, set up a 529 Plan in Vermont, and still be able to send his grandchild to college in Texas. However, he would need to check the guidelines of educational institutions for the types of plans they accept.
  • 529 Plans are transferable. If at any time you might not wish to make contributions to your current beneficiary anymore, you can give the plan to someone else - provided he or she is also a member of the original beneficiary's family (like a sibling or a first cousin). 
  • Earnings from 529 Plans are tax-free. As long as these withdrawals are used for college benefits, they are not subject to state income tax. 
Happy Finance Family

The gift of education is definitely a legacy worth leaving behind to the younger generation. Thanks to a 529 Plan, you can rest easy knowing your grandchildren will have a better tomorrow. 

Eligibility for the VA Program

Sunday, December 8, 2013
Posted by Amara Chan
Elder law specialists, like a Lamkinelderlaw Medicaid attorney, can provide updated advice regarding the Veteran's Aide and Attendance (AA) program. This pension is unfortunately the least known among the three levels of Veteran's Aide programs; yet provides a bigger incentive – for the veteran and the spouse - in the long run. 

If qualified for the Veteran's Aide and Attendance benefits, the veteran can receive cash assistance for assisted living, skilled nursing, and adult care. Caring for seniors can take its toll on the family after a long time. Having all the available help needed can greatly cut costs and relieve burdens for all parties involved. The veteran can also rest easy, knowing that his or her services have somehow bore fruit in his twilight years.

Senior Veterans

General Eligibility
  1. The veteran must have at least 90 days of active duty, with one day beginning or ending during a time of war.
  2. He or she doesn't need to be in a facility; however, proof that assistance for daily tasks such as cooking, dressing, and eating are required. Mental incapacity or other injuries such as blindness can also qualify the veteran or surviving spouse.
  3. Must usually be above 65 years old.
  4. Financially, a veteran must have less than $80,000 in assets, not including home and vehicles.

Required Documents
  1. Discharge papers (Form DD-214) available online, in local Veteran service centers; or ordered by mail through the National Personnel Records Center
  2. Marriage certificate (for married veterans)
  3. Social Security award letter
  4. Financial statements such as: bank accounts, bonds, annuities, stocks, trusts, net worth information, etc.
  5. Proof of income (from pensions, retirement funds, investments, etc.)
  6. Medical forms or physician statements which include: medical status, current diagnosis, capabilities, nursing home eligibility, etc.
  7. List of doctors and hospitals over the past year
  8. Personal information like name, mailing address, and banking details (for depositing the monthly payments)

Take Note:
  1. NEVER mail in original copies. Getting these documents are often difficult, lengthy processes and there's chance that these important papers would get lost along the way. Make duplicates and secure one of each for personal reference.
  2. If the veteran or spouse is above 90 years old, include a letter asking that the application be expedited. 
  3. Application process normally takes nine months or more. There are exceptions – but be guided and prepared for all possibilities.
  4. To start the file of an application while securing all needed documents, go ahead and submit a Statement in Support of Claim (Form 21-4138). It serves as an informal claim showing the intent of the applicant without the proper papers yet. Once it has been submitted, there's a one year allotment for all documents to be collected and sent. 
  5. Remember to keep ALL correspondence from the VA (Veteran's Administration) regarding AA claims
  6. The VA does not allow a proxy to file a claim for the veteran; however, they can hire a consultant or Elder Law specialist to help with inquiries and other professional advice. 

What is Elder Law?

Sunday, December 1, 2013
Posted by Amara Chan
Elder Law

Elder Law shares a big role for our senior citizen, it is a legal term designated to cover legal practice focusing to issues involving the elder population. This is to protect then during their twilight moments and to secure that they are not being abused or been taking advantage by other individuals around them. If abuses to the elders came to life, legal responses can be a big help as well as legal references, this is done in order to keep things in order.

Veteran’s Aide and Attendance Program: An Overview

Thursday, November 14, 2013
Posted by Amara Chan
Growing old is actually a difficult phase in life. Some even say it's like being born backwards: with reality hitting them hard every day. Certain situations like financial debt and illnesses make matters worse – not only for the seniors themselves, but also for their friends and family. It's important that society lend a hand as well in caring for these elders who gave years of their lives to serve the community and their country.

US Veteran

Veterans are an example of those who badly need assistance; particularly those who have disabilities or require nursing aide. Even though the government has allotted an appropriate budget for veteran programs, it's unfortunate that many are not aware of these benefits. 

What is Veteran’s Aide and Attendance Program?

Also called the A&A, this pension provides assistance to veterans and their surviving spouses who are legally (but not totally) disabled. This means that they would regularly need the help of another in everyday tasks such as dressing themselves, cooking, eating, and bathing. This includes veterans who need nursing home assistance due to physical or mental incapacity. 

What are the benefits if qualified?

Unknown to many, one in every four seniors can actually qualify for A&A – but so many people are just not educated about it. Once the pension is approved, a veteran can receive up to $2,000 a month, depending on their medical and financial condition. They can also file for their sick spouse with up to $1,300 per month in pension.  

How to qualify for A&A

Any war-time veteran who has served 90 days of active duty, with one day beginning or ending during a time of war, can be qualified. There's been plenty of misconception since many believe one needs to be completely incapacitated to get the benefits. This is not true. However, medical proof is needed that the veteran or spouse does indeed require assistance for daily tasks. 

The entire procedure for application can be lengthy and arduous, as testified by those who have similar experiences. Sad as it may, but even the forms provided can be confusing to fill out. Several documents are also required such as income verifications, insurance policies, marriage certificates (for those with spouses), proof of living and caregiving expenses, income tax returns, and medical examination papers. Even so, the Veteran's Administration – the organization in charge of accepting and approving petitions – might request more paperwork. 

Need for an Elder Law attorney

During this long and tiring process, the guidance and services of a skilled elder law attorney can be of much help. It's good to hire someone with years of experience and whose practice focuses solely on elder laws and its aspects. 

His knowledge isn't only useful during the application, but even more for preparing all the necessary forms. Since each veteran situation is different, an elder law lawyer's expertise will come in very handy; especially for sensitive issues. He will act as a medium between the VA and the veteran to ensure that the procedure will be successful. 
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