Category Archives: Recent Blogs

CFPB Rule Helps Heirs Avoid Foreclosure

A divorce or the death of a family member can create a bureaucratic nightmare for the ex-spouse or the surviving spouse and children who have to carry on the financial business of the deceased person.  A new rule by the

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Court Confirms Requirements for a Valid Will

In ruling on a recent will challenge, the Mississippi Court of Appeals restated the requirements for a valid last will and testament and what is required to make or overcome a successful challenge to a will. Mary Lou Froemel, a

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Court Confirms that Joint Ownership Trumps a Will

In 1988, Robert Ehrhardt, Sr. and his wife, Julia, purchased a home as “joint tenants with full rights of survivorship, and not as tenants in common.”  In 2000, Robert Sr. executed his last will and testament.  A provision of his

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Details Matter in Real Estate Ownership

Every person who owns a residence or other real property must be aware of the form of ownership.  Recently, I told a client that she could purchase her mother’s residence as part of planning for Mom’s nursing home care.  However,

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Divorce May Not Revoke Your Old Will

A recent Mississippi Court of Appeals decision (Chaney v. Chaney, No. 2015-CA-01613-COA, https://courts.ms.gov/Images/Opinions/CO120771.pdf) points out that a divorce by itself will not revoke one of the spouse’s earlier will. Facts: James Chaney Jr. executed his last will and testament in

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Do a Letter of Intent for Your Child

A “Letter of Intent” is a detailed description of a child (or incapacitated spouse) with a disability, including explanations of his or her medical, physical, mental, emotional, family, social, religious, educational and recreational history, abilities, preferences and dislikes.  This Letter

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Does Conservatorship End Joint Accounts?

Some folk think “estate planning” is putting their children on their bank accounts.  However, this may not be enough if the client later becomes incapacitated.  If the client does not have a comprehensive durable power of attorney (and in some

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Elder Exploitation a Growing Problem

June 15 was World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.  On June 14, Richard Courtney attended the summer meeting of the Elder Law Committee of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC) in Seattle.  A large portion of that meeting

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FALL (ING)

Last Friday at 3:02 PM Central Time, summer here was over.  Fall began.  Fall.  I have had a few thoughts about that word. For the next three months, it will be Fall.  A noun.  A season.  A beautiful time of

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Handling Mom’s Old Savings Bonds

Here’s a scenario we have seen a number of times:  A parent comes in for estate planning owning fully-matured Series E savings bonds with beneficiaries named on them.  What are the alternatives are for paying the income tax and penalties? 

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How Do Annuities Compare to Social Security?

Are you hoping to retire one day with enough income to live comfortably in your golden years?  Where will that income come from when you finally quit working?  Social Security forms one leg of the “three-legged stool” of retirement planning

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How the New Tax Bill Will Impact Older Americans

By David M. Goldfarb, Esq., and Hyman G. Darling, CELA, CAP Published May 2018 Last year’s $1.45 trillion tax re-write is certain to impact older Americans, but how? The Urban Institute’s Tax Policy Center estimates that the new law will

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Joint Custody by Grandparents Upheld by Court

More and more these days, grandparents have been called on to provide care for grandchildren due to problems experienced by their children.  A recent Mississippi case expanded the interpretation of the “grandparents visitation” law. Following a contested custody action, the

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Love-Hate on Four Legs

Furry little puppies – don’t  you just love them?  You have to love them.  Videos of a tumbly mess of awkward little furballs trying to play can make you want to run out and buy one for that puppy therapy

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Major Changes Coming for Social Security

For many of the more than 62 million beneficiaries - 42.8 million of whom are retired workers - Social Security is more than just a check. It's a financial lifeline or foundation for retired workers, the disabled, and the survivors

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Medicaid Where Assets Don’t Matter

I recently had the opportunity to help two clients who were in despair about lack of health care coverage.  One was a young single mother of a disabled child, the other a retiree widow.  The young mom told me that

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Medicare Milestones

On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Medicare, a health insurance program for elderly Americans, into law.  At the bill-signing ceremony, which took place at the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri, former President Harry S. Truman was enrolled

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Plan For Your Health Care Decision-Making

The law presumes that every adult is competent to make his or her own health-care decisions, and that no one has authority to make such decisions for the individual unless (a) the individual has voluntarily given that person authority to

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Power of Attorney – to Keep You in Control

The Constitution of the United States and the privacy laws that have emanated from its protections guarantee the right of each competent adult to act in her own behalf regarding all personal and property matters.  It is essential to establish

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Power of Attorney, Gifts and Self-Dealing

A recent Mississippi court case examined the legality of an attempted transfer of jointly-owned bank CDs by use of a power of attorney and how transactions done through the use of such powers of attorney may be overturned where the

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Powers of Attorney and Divorce

This recent Mississippi court case points out two things: people can do some devious things after a divorce, and a power of attorney agent cannot do things that the principal clearly would not do. Facts: In 1972, Carroll and his

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Shifting Sands of Health Care Coverage

How to pay for health care in America has been a major public policy issue for several years.  Federal legislation, regulations and court cases have both expanded and limited options for health insurance coverage and the obligations of health insurers. 

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Social Security Clarifies Special Needs Trust Rules

We regularly help attorneys and families of disabled children or adults who have public benefits like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid.  These programs have limits on the “countable” assets recipients may own to be eligible.  When the size of

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The Four Principles of Long Term Care Planning

The four principles: Knowledge is the key to success. Professional help is crucial in saving time, money and stress. When money is available for care, caregiver stress is reduced and care options are expanded Success is assured through a written

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The New Reality of Old Age in America

People are living longer, more expensive lives, often without much of a safety net.  As a result, record numbers of Americans older than 65 years of age are working — now nearly 1 in 5.  That proportion has risen steadily

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The Who, What, When and How of Medicare

What is it?  Medicare is a medical insurance-type program developed to pay medical costs for retired or disabled persons who have paid into the Social Security system.  Medicare Part A pays for hospital costs and Part B pays for doctor

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Two Breaks for Disabled in New Tax Bill

The recent Tax Cuts and Jobs Act threatened to remove some important provisions for persons with disabilities from the law.  However, two important provisions were kept after the tough negotiations over the Republicans’ overhaul of the tax code. Medical Expense

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Two Different Types of Special Needs Trusts

This article is reprinted with permission of the Special Needs Alliance - www.specialneedsalliance.org. There are two types of Special Needs Trusts (SNTs), commonly designated as first-party and third-party SNTs. It is important to determine which type of SNT you have or

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Two Different Types of Special Needs Trusts

There are two types of Special Needs Trusts (SNTs), commonly designated as first-party and third-party SNTs. It is important to determine which type of SNT you have or need. This depends upon whose property is funding the SNT. If the

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Upcoming Events and Presentations

Below are some upcoming presentations by Richard Courtney on various elder law and special needs planning topics, followed by important information about some great events to be put on by a variety of non-profit groups.  (Contact us if you would

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What About Hiring a Caregiver?

Many spouses, children and siblings of persons with disabilities or incapacitated elders hire non-family caregivers.  If non-family caregivers are paid to provide such services, they are either employees or independent contractors.  This article addresses how this determination is made and

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What is Protection & Advocacy, and What Can It Do for You?

Protection and Advocacy Systems (P&As) work at the state level to protect individuals with disabilities by empowering them and advocating on their behalf. The first P&A program - PADD (Protection and Advocacy for People with Developmental Disabilities) – was created

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When a Court Can Undo Joint Ownership

When a widowed parent begins to lose the ability to care for himself, children may move in and take over the management of the parent’s finances.  In some cases, the managing or caregiver child may change the ownership of assets

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When I’m Sixty-Four . . .

When I get older losing my hair Many years from now, Will you still be sending me a Valentine, Birthday greetings, bottle of wine If I'd been out till quarter to three Would you lock the door Will you still

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When is a Lease a Will?

Rose Greer leased land to David and Jene Nunnery.  Section 3 of the lease - which extended until July 31, 2025, in automatically renewing one year terms - stated: In the event of the death of the Lessor, this lease

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Where Can Service Animals Go?

by Richard A. Courtney, CELA Service animals can change lives. My daughter, Melanie, who’s had service dogs for years, comments that beyond the many helpful tasks they perform and the unconditional love they provide, they open up opportunities for social

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Why Do-it-Yourself Wills Don’t Work

From time to time, clients have come into our office with wills or powers of attorney they had prepared or printed from an online source.  In most cases we have found that those “do-it-yourself” documents did not achieve the clients’

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