Legal Resources

Legal Resources

Legal resources for older adults The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) is a professional association of lawyers who are committed to improving the quality of legal services provided to individuals as they get older and people who have special needs. The organization provides elder law attorneys with continuing legal education opportunities and provides support to other organizations that work with people as they age. The Missouri Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys This is the official website of the Missouri Chapter of NAELA. Visitors can learn about the organization, recent events, and browse through their listing of elder law attorneys. ADA.gov Homepage The link above is to a government website containing information and technical assistance on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). People who visit the site can read the text of the law, learn about design standards the law mandates, obtain technical assistance materials, and learn about the way the ADA is enforced. Missouri Probate Forms The website maintained by the Missouri Courts providing various forms that may be required in various probate actions. Missouri Revised Statutes Chapter 456 Missouri code regarding trusts and trustees. Missouri Bar Informational Brochure on Wills The link provides takes visitors to an informational brochure regarding wills published by the Missouri Bar. Healthcare resources for seniors The Official U.S. Government Site for Medicare The Medicare program helps millions of seniors and people with disabilities meet the costs of their medical care. This official government website provides information regarding the program and allows users to sign up for Medicare. Healthcare.gov Healthcare.gov is...
Can Beneficiary Deeds Protect from Medicaid Estate Recovery in Missouri?

Can Beneficiary Deeds Protect from Medicaid Estate Recovery in Missouri?

Medicaid is a federal program that aims to provide low-income individuals and families with basic medical care. As such, there are stringent qualification requirements for people who wish to receive benefits under the program.  Likewise, because of the extensive cost of the Medicaid program to the federal government and the states, each state is required under the federal law to recoup the costs associated with the medical care of Medicaid recipients after the  Medicaid participant passes away. According to the Department of Health and Human Services1 (HHS), in order for a state to receive reimbursements for Medicaid recipients, the state is required to pursue recovery for the costs associated nursing home or long-term institutional care, home and community-based services, prescriptions drugs and hospital care while a person is a resident of a nursing home or home or community-based services, and any other costs, at the option of the state. Despite the requirement that a state receiving Medicaid reimbursement must attempt to recover assets, each state individually defines the recovery process and rules.  Some states may collect on any asset, whether or not it was required to be administered through probate or not.  This is called “expanded recovery.”  Missouri’s rule limits recovery to those assets that pass through the probate estate of a Medicaid recipient, and some cases in Missouri do limit the recovery to this standard.  Further, typically the only asset that a Medicaid recipient will own of value at the time of their death is their home.  This is because the home is exempt from being counted against them for Medicaid eligibility purposes during the application period or...
Does My Will Cover My Long-Term Care Needs?

Does My Will Cover My Long-Term Care Needs?

A Last Will and Testament is direction to a judge administering your probate estate about your wishes to pass the property in your estate after you pass away.  It is the estate planning tool with which most people are most familiar, and many people believe that is the only tool they need to worry about getting. While a Will is important, a Will only takes effect on your death and it is generally not enough on its own to constitute a comprehensive estate plan. Specifically, a Will does not adequately account for your long-term care needs or your end-of-life decisions.   The following are some of the additional legal documents that are imperative to ensure that your long-term care needs are met:  Health care power of attorney – Also known as a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare, a Healthcare Power of Attorney is the document that determines who will make decisions regarding your health and medical care if you become incapacitated. You should carefully choose someone who respects and understands your wishes and values regarding health care and will be capable of making decisions in line with your instructions and not based on their own belief system, including whether to place you in a long-term care facility or continue life-sustaining treatments near the end of your life. Living will – Also known as a Healthcare Directive, a Living Will is a document that contains your wishes for medical care toward the end of your life. For example, you can instruct whether you want to be placed on life support, artificial breathing(???— I think you mean “ventilator support”), have a...
How Do You Choose a Capable Trustee?

How Do You Choose a Capable Trustee?

If you have decided to create a trust, you must choose someone to serve as the trustee to ensure the trust is administered according to your wishes. The trustee1 is the manager of the trust assets.  The rules the trustee must follow are contained in the trust document itself.  The trust tells the trustee the people who benefit from the trust, when those beneficiaries will receive distributions, and generally contains other rules to instruct the trustee of his or her duties.  When the trust is first formed, the trust creator is often also the trustee until their death or incapacity.  A trustee can also be a beneficiary of the trust property, usually at the death of the creator.  At the death or incapacity of the creator, or at any other time that the creator decides, a person or institution will be named as the “successor” trustee to manage the trust assets. The person or institution you name in the trust document as successor trustee should be carefully considered because an unreliable trustee can result in mismanagement and unnecessary waste of your assets. Additionally, because a trustee has significant power, there is also the possibility of abuse of that power that harms your beneficiaries. Despite the importance of this decision, too many individuals hastily choose a trustee without much thought. Though it is always wise to consult with an experienced trusts attorney regarding a trustee, the following are some examples of factors you should consider: Ability to do the job – Trustees have a number of duties and responsibilities in the management and administration of your trust. They must have...
Why Do I Need a Comprehensive Estate Plan?

Why Do I Need a Comprehensive Estate Plan?

Contrary to what many people may believe, all of us have an estate. A person’s estate is comprised of everything that he or she owns, including his or her personal property, real estate, bank accounts, retirement accounts, and other assets. When a person passes away, these assets will be dispersed amongst various beneficiaries according to the wishes of the deceased or state laws of intestate succession. Each state has “intestacy” default rules, which governs the passing of a person’s property when there is probate property and when the deceased person does not have a Will. In many instances, the default rules or laws regarding the disposition of a person’s assets do not reflect the deceased’s wishes, so it is important for everyone to discuss their situation with an experienced estate planning1 attorney as soon as possible. Probate avoidance Probate is the process through which an estate is wrapped up after a person’s death. Probate generally involves establishing the validity of any will that may exist, ensuring that assets are transferred to their rightful heir or beneficiary, the payment of debts, and settling tax liability. The process can be lengthy and legally complicated, and proper estate planning can keep a person’s estate from being administered through the probate process at all. There are several ways to avoid probate, including the creation of a trust, designating accounts as payable-on-death, or utilizing different types of joint ownership. Minimizing tax liability Planning for purposes of avoiding estate taxes has declined because the lifetime exemption for taxes is now in excess of $5 million for each person’s estate (greater than $10 million for a...