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CzepigaDalyPope LLC
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Got an irresponsible adult child?

In our latest newsletter, we discuss how to leave money to said child through inheritance.

Also learn facts about life insurance and nursing home resident rights.

Read all about it here:

https://www.czepigalaw.com/files/spring2017_news_online.pdf

#estateplanning #elderlaw #connecticut

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Special Needs Trust vs. Supplemental Needs Trust. Both are great planning tools for individuals with disabilities... but what is the difference between the two? And which is right for you? Claudia explains in our latest video.

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How to talk to aging parents

We are free-wheeling and in control of our lives. We want to keep moving the ball down the field. We like to solve a problem and then move on to the next.

But our command and control attitude toward decision-making often comes into conflict with our loved one’s way of looking at things. We cajole, we coax, we coerce, but the more we press, the greater the resistance.

Consider some of the typical issues we think of as critical to our loved one’s safety and well-being:

-Mom can’t live on her own anymore but she refuses to move to assisted living.

-Dad won’t give up the car keys even though his vision is very bad.

-Uncle Fred refuses to have that prostate test his doctor recommended.

-Aunt Mary changes the subject every time I urge her to finalize her estate planning documents.

How to break down resistance?

So how do we break the logjam? How do we get our uncooperative loved ones to be reasonable? The first step is to recognize that they may have a different agenda than ours, as well as a different timeline.

In his book, How to Say It to Seniors: Closing the Communication Gap with Our Elders, author David Solie poses the question, “What are the developmental tasks associated with getting old, and how can knowledge of them enhance our ability to communicate with this age group?”

Developmental tasks? Aren’t older adults declining and diminishing at this stage, and not continuing to develop? Isn’t that why they forget they’ve told us the same stories again and again, even as we roll our eyes and check our watches to signal our impatience?

Isn’t their resistance to our well-conceived ideas a sign that their judgment has gone out the window?

Maybe not. Solie identifies two main tasks of older adults:

-To maintain control

-To discover their legacy

By legacy, he means much than the material wealth they may leave behind. It’s the entire context of their life, their values, and how the want to be remembered.

Let’s look at a couple of examples from Solie’s book that illustrate how older adults might be helped along in dealing with their issues, instead of locking horns with the people in their lives that think they know better.

The Wisdom of Ceding Control

An elderly widow was still living in the family home that was in a state of disrepair. She could no longer safely climb the stairs, but there was only one bathroom, and it was upstairs. Money wasn’t the issue – she had it to spare. Her son and daughter tried everything but a crowbar to pry her loose and move her to an assisted living facility, but she refused.

Finally, they met with a counselor to get some advice. The counselor wisely told them to stop fighting and start facilitating. So they got quotes for all the things in the house that needed to be repaired or modified. The mother surprised them by saying NO. The house wasn’t worth it. She made the decision to move to an assisted living facility herself.

The Right Legacy

A wealthy, retired businessman met with his estate planning attorneys to discuss their plan to protect the estate from taxes so he’d have more to leave to his ne’er do well son. The man walked out of the room in a huff. Clearly, he wanted a different kind of legacy. But what?

One of his advisors learned from the man’s wife that he had started out poor, attended college during the Depression, and couldn’t pay his tuition. The college forgave his debt. That was the key to the legacy the man was searching for. He met with the college president and donated funds anonymously for a scholarship program as well as a new expanded wing for the school of engineering.

There’s a right and a wrong way to approach our elderly loved ones. The right approach can make all the difference. Consider these examples from the book of how we can close or open the dialogue with our choice words:

To someone who resists using a walker:

How NOT to Say It

“Yes, it’s hard to rely on a walker, but you may fall if you don’t use it and then you might need a wheelchair instead.”

How to Say It

“I understand how devastating this loss of mobility is. Talk to me about ways you are limited in your daily activities. I want to help you figure out how to cope.”

We can only imagine what it will be like when we are old. When we get there, we would want to be respected, and have our autonomy supported. We can’t walk a mile in our loved one’s shoes, but if we adopt a different attitude, we can transform the relationship, assist them in the transition to the end of life, and help them discover their legacy.

#seniors #parents #communication #talk #connecticut #aging
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My Family Can't Agree

What happens when family members find themselves at an impasse over a decision about how to care for an aging parent or a loved one with disabilities? Or manage that person’s financial assets?

How can you move forward when it seems as if you’ve exhausted all avenues of communication, but everyone is still divided?

Complex and emotionally charged family relationships can become strained during times of stress or crisis, making even the simplest conversations impossible. Our experience helping hundreds of families navigating complicated decisions has shown us time and again that most families can benefit from having an impartial third party facilitate family conversations.

For this reason, we are pleased to announce the addition of Amy Sereday, a Family Meeting Facilitator, to the CzepigaDalyPope staff. Amy, who will facilitate collaborative family meetings, holds a Master’s degree in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution from Columbia University and is excited to provide expert support to families who need help finding common ground and a way forward.

To give you a sense of what a Family Facilitator is and why and how it could help families, we recently asked Amy a few questions. Take a look:

What brought you to this field, Amy?
I began my legal career as a paralegal, but felt that my communications and family dynamics expertise could be put to more direct use for our clients. Facilitating family meetings lets me help people on a deeper level by providing a framework in which individuals and groups can be heard and work productively through hard conversations.

What is the difference between facilitation and social work or family therapy?
Unlike social work and family therapy, which are primarily forms of counseling, facilitation focuses on building consensus and planning a way forward. At its most basic, it is a pragmatic approach to help families organize their thoughts. Facilitation is less about finding all the answers and more about asking the right questions so that we make difficult conversations more productive. We articulate the problem, identify the possible options for dealing with the problem, and create a roadmap for progress.

How does family facilitation complement elder law?
I reduce family members’ anxiety by “translating” the sometimes overwhelming legal aspects of a case into more manageable pieces. On the flip side, helping families work through the emotional issues helps streamline communications with the attorneys. In my role, I bring value to both sides – the family and the attorneys – ultimately enabling a more efficient and cost-effective process.

Is it unusual for a family to require facilitation services? What typically creates such a need?
Most families can benefit from working with a facilitator, but many either don’t have access to one or feel awkward taking advantage of them. Needing facilitation doesn’t mean that your family is broken or dysfunctional. It just means that you’re in unfamiliar territory and need a little guidance to get everyone on the same page.Many of the situations we deal with at CzepigaDalyPope involve life transitions that cause family members’ individual responsibilities and roles to change in unexpected or challenging ways. I help ease families through those changes so they can adapt more easily and effectively to their new reality.

Some families engage me before things get complicated, but many reach out when they’ve reached an impasse. Sometimes, this happens because they’ve jumped into a solution before they fully understood the problem. Other times, distance between family members creates a communication pattern that makes some parties uncomfortable. Whatever the case, I have a wide range of tools to help resolve whatever problems are stalling the conversation.

The facilitation process helps families deal with all of their concerns and worries in a very non-confrontational and productive way. It helps them arrive at a mutually beneficial solution without jeopardizing their personal relationships. This is the kind of value family facilitation can bring to almost any situation related to elder law or special needs planning. It’s a value that I’m very happy to bring to the table for CzpeigaDalyPope’s clients.

To learn more about how Amy works and how a collaborative family meeting may help your family, call us at (860) 236-7673.

#family #disagree #mediate #collaboration #connecticut
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Housing for a loved one with special needs

Shelter is one of life’s basic necessities. Yet simply because something is necessary, does not mean that it is easy to acquire.

Perhaps this sobering truth is best known by aging parents of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), who wonder where their adult child will live, and how he or she will be cared for, when they are no longer around.

Housing for individuals with I/DD is a complex mosaic with pieces uniquely shaped to each person’s particular needs and circumstances. In crafting this mosaic, there are three key questions that will help to guide you along the way:

Where is Your Future Home?
The first piece of the mosaic is identifying where the individual would like to live. In the past, many individuals relied upon the Connecticut Department of Developmental Services (DDS) to provide a house for their loved one, often referred to as a group home. It is true that DDS still operates some group homes, as well as other types of living arrangements. For example, Governor Malloy’s proposed budget for 2018/2019 allocates $1 million in funding for Community Companion Homes, which are akin to foster homes for adults with I/DD. However, despite the fact that these housing options are still technically available, there is a long waiting list to access these locations. Most often, individuals on the waiting list are only served in an emergency situation, meaning that they have no living parent or alternative caregiver. As a result, families of individuals with I/DD are left to search for the brick and mortar location that their loved one will call home. This typically means independently finding a house, condominium, or apartment to purchase or rent.

How to Pay for Your Future Home?
Of course, a necessary component of where an individual will live is how the housing expenses will be paid. Parents need to consider what public and private resources are available to cover the carrying costs of the home, as well as other living expenses. Public resources may include social security benefits, rental subsidies, energy assistance, food stamps, and more. In addition, parents may also consider whether roommates would be able to help defray living expenses, such as the cost of rent and utilities.

How Are Services and Supports Provided in Your Future Home?
The last and most critical consideration is how the individual’s particular needs will be met within the living environment. This includes identifying the public benefit programs, such as Medicaid, that will provide the necessary supports and services in the home. If an individual’s service needs cannot be met, then the entire living arrangement will fall apart. Once again, roommates may help to reduce the costs of vital supports and services. For example, if two individuals with I/DD need an overnight caregiver, the roommates can split the cost of one caregiver, essentially doubling their overall service budgets.

While shelter is a basic necessity, finding appropriate and sustainable housing for individuals with I/DD is a complex mosaic that can be challenging to craft.

When you need a hand putting all the housing pieces in place for your child, give us a call. We can help guide you so that you are able to rest easy, knowing that your child will have a home and supports that are best tailored to his or her lifelong needs.

#specialneeds #connecticut #housing #care #idd
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Giving a $14,000 Gift

One of the most common questions we get on a daily basis is about annual gifting. In particular, clients ask about giving away $14,000 a year.

Can you? Should you? Are you limited to that amount? How does that affect taxes?

In response to these questions, I have to ask another: Do you have over $2 million?

If you have less than $2 million

If you have less than $2 million, then you don’t need to worry about gift tax. You can give away as much as you want and pay no tax. My clients are relieved to hear this, but also a little confused.

If I’m not limited to $14,000 gifts, then why do I keep hearing about it?

It is a common misconception that all people are limited to annual gifts of $14,000 per year. It is true that everyone, including you, me, and Warren Buffet, can give away $14,000 per person per year tax-free.

That means that I can hand $14,000 in cash to every person I see at the supermarket until I run out of money and I won’t pay any gift tax. However, for most people, this misses the larger point. As of 2017, every person also has a $2 million lifetime exemption amount in Connecticut, and a $5.49 million lifetime exemption (indexed annually for inflation) for federal taxes. Rather than spread my wealth around at the supermarket, I can give $2 million to one very lucky shopper, and I still pay no gift tax!

But what if you do have over $2 million?

In that case, making $14,000 (or $28,000 for a married couple) tax-exempt gifts per year is a smart way to reduce the size of your taxable estate. Giving away more than this amount will incur gift tax or eat into your estate tax exemption for the amount over the annual exemption. Under federal and Connecticut law, the gift tax and estate tax systems are unified, which means that the same credit applies to both types of taxes.

Here is how that works in practice. Let’s say you have $2.5 million and you give away $1 million to your daughter. You have used $986,000 (after subtracting the $14,000 annual exemption) of your $2 million estate and gift tax credit. You only have a little over $1 million left to use, but you still own $1.5 million when you die. The difference (a little less than $500,000) is exposed to Connecticut estate taxes.

Remember that Connecticut estate tax rates are between 7.2% and 12% of the amount over the exemption, and the federal estate tax rate is 40% of the amount over the $5.49 million exemption. A large gift can therefore expose yourself to greater estate taxes when you die. Not only that, but making a taxable gift also requires the filing of a gift tax return, which means extra costs for an accountant.

Now, let’s say that instead of giving $1 million to your daughter in one lump sum, you give $14,000 to ten different people every year for ten years. You will have spent $1,400,000 in total, and paid no gift tax on any of it. You will have also reduced your total estate from $2.5 million to $1.1 million. Now you have a non-taxable estate when you die.

Begin gifting early

Individuals with over $2 million in assets should begin an annual gifting plan if they have not already. If you have less than $2 million, you may want to make annual gifts too, just to be safe.

The $2 million exemption has been constant for several years, but it could change soon. Governor Malloy just proposed an increase in the exemption to $2.6 million in 2018, $3.6 million in 2019, and to the federal exemption amount (currently $5.49 million) in 2020. That is good news for taxpayers, but it would also generate less revenue for a State with perpetual budget woes. If the legislative needs to collect more revenue in the future, it could just as easily lower the lifetime exemption amount to $1.5 million or even $1 million.

Gifting and Medicaid

Finally, the $14,000 rule does not apply for Medicaid. The State may scrutinize any gifts you made over the past five years over $1,000, and large gifts can trigger significant penalties.

If you want to move assets out of your name, there is a right way and wrong way to do it, and we recommend calling us if this is your goal.

#gift #connecticut #gifting #tax #medicaid #federal
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Are You Ready to Become Your Parent’s Primary Caregiver?

All major life transitions require preparation and adaptation. Graduation, moving into your first apartment, landing your first job, getting married, having kids, changing careers, retiring — each of these life events typically comes with a lot of planning. Becoming a caregiver for an aging parent, however, is an event that takes many people by surprise.

Sometimes, there’s a sudden health crisis like a stroke or a deteriorating chronic condition. Other times, the turning point is a long time coming, but is obscured by denial.

Many of the 65 million Americans who provide care for a loved one wish they could go back and take more time to prepare. They wish they had known which questions to ask, which steps to take, and how to best assess the situation so that they could guarantee the best quality of life for their parents and themselves.

Assessing Your Capacity To Provide Care

If you’re considering taking on a caregiver role, your first step needs to be an honest assessment of what support you can realistically provide. You need to consider logistical matters such as

--availability
--financial flexibility
--physical capability
--skill level

But additionally, you must consider your emotional capacity to handle what can be a stressful situation.

You should also give some thought to how taking on caregiver responsibilities will affect other relationships in your life.

Examples of the kinds of questions you might ask yourself include:

--How much time do you have available on a regular basis?
--How will becoming a caregiver affect the time you spend on other parts of your life?
--Is your working situation flexible enough to accommodate the additional responsibilities of care giving?
--Where can you reduce other responsibilities in your life?
--Do you have the skills necessary to provide the kind of care that’s needed?

While your initial response might be to just do whatever needs to be done to ensure your parent’s well being, it’s important to step back and ask the hard questions that will help you determine if becoming a caregiver is the best solution for everyone involved.

Planning Proactively with Your Parent

Perhaps even more difficult than asking yourself hard questions is sitting down with your parent for a frank and personal conversation about what lies ahead. In the best-case scenario, you will cover a range of topics to ensure that you are as prepared as possible for any eventuality.

Health

Having advanced directives in place allows you and your parent to specify wishes in case of a medical emergency.

--A living will helps to clearly define your parent’s preferences if they are unable to speak for themselves.
--In addition, though they may be difficult to discuss, having a health-care proxy and — if it’s what your parent wants — a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order in place are important elements of a proactive plan. It’s traumatic enough to see your parent endure any kind of medical crisis, but even more so if you also have to bear the burden of making critical decisions without the benefit of knowing your parent’s wishes.

Finances

Likewise, getting up to speed on your parent’s entire financial situation is an important step that will help avoid confusion and inconvenience later on.

In addition to having a firm grasp of your parent’s overall financial situation including assets (real estate, stocks, bank accounts, and any other valuables such as might be stored in a safe deposit box), you also need have detailed knowledge of insurance policies and coverage. Make sure that you have access to and the authority to manage all the relevant accounts in case of an emergency.

On a related note, it’s critical to have early conversations about how to handle the disposition of various assets in preparation for potential developments that might require applying for Medicaid or some other benefit that will be granted based on financial need. Talking to one of our Connecticut elder law attorneys who can provide guidance on the best way to preserve your parent’s financial assets can make a world of difference.

Getting Support for You

Finally, it’s of the utmost importance that you take the time to explore all the support resources available to you. Caring for an elderly parent is not an easy task. The demands of managing the day-to-day care are only one aspect of the responsibility.

On top of those tasks, there are the complexities of dealing with insurance companies, healthcare professionals, and other groups and individuals. Failing to take care of your own needs will put you at risk for physical and mental burn out.

Remember that you don’t have to do everything yourself. Even if you don’t have friends or family who are willing and able to lend a hand, there are many support groups, state resources, and even national organizations and online communities that can help you navigate your experience and provide logistical and emotional support.

Amidst all this assessment and documentation and other preparation, it’s also important to acknowledge that transitioning a parent from independence to an assisted living arrangement — even one where the care is provided at home by a relative — is a difficult journey for both the parent and the caregiver.

As much as your life is changing, so is your parent’s. Try to be patient with your loved one and with yourself.
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Proposed Budget Could Prevent You From Getting Home Care in Connecticut

Governor Malloy has revealed his new budget plan to reduce a deficit close to $1.7 billion. The plan includes cuts designed to freeze the number of recipients of who may be eligible for the “Category 2” Connecticut Home Care Program for the Elders. These are recipients who need care at home, but whose asset levels exceed Medicaid eligibility requirements.

Under the Governor’s plan, the current 2,500 slots would be frozen by June 30th. If anyone were to leave the program after that, then a new person could enroll.

This is stunning news for a Connecticut demographic that is continuing to age and is expected to have 25% of its residents be over the age of 60 by 2030, according to Connecticut AARP.

By freezing the number of applicants in the program, the state will force people to spend down their assets and become eligible for the “Category 3” Medicaid program. Some people may be unable to remain at home which will cause a greater need for skilled nursing and institutionalized care.

Stay tuned to see if these budget cuts will remain in Governor Malloy’s final budget plan.

#connecticut #homecare #budget #malloy #nursinghome #estateplanning #attorney #lawyer 
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