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UNIQUE HEALTH CHALLENGES FACED BY VETERANS
The United States veteran population is some 20 million strong, many of whom face health challenges separate from non-Veterans. Due to their military training, Veterans have a well-defined culture that is strong on values, codes of conduct, respect of superiors, and customs to name a few.

The United States veteran population is some 20 million strong, many of whom face health challenges separate from non-Veterans. Due to their military training, Veterans have a well-defined culture that is strong on values, codes of conduct, respect of superiors, and customs to name a few. Due to this culture, Veterans face different health challenges that family, friends, and health professionals need to be aware of. Advances in medicine have allowed many more Veterans to survive once-fatal injuries. However, this often comes at the cost of mental health. A successful transition from the battlefield to civilian life rests on being able to spot the many health issues Veterans face and assisting them in getting the help they need.

A study titled “US Veterans and their unique issues: enhancing health care professional awareness” published in the US National Library of Medicine and available here, identifies several health issues specific to United States Veterans:

Mental Health Disorders

33% of Veterans are diagnosed with at least one mental health disorder. According to the US Government Accountability Office, 2.1 million Veterans received mental health treatment from the Department of Veterans Affairs from 2006 to 2010. Only about one-third of those diagnosed with a mental health issue actually seek treatment. Often, Veterans will feel embarrassed or shame about needing mental help. It is important for family and friends to help change this stigma and ensure Veterans get the help they need.

Substance Use Disorders

The extreme stress of military service causes Veterans to often seek out a vice, which may take the form of alcohol, tobacco, or drugs. A 2013 study titled, “Enhancing veteran-centered care: a guide for nurses in a non-VA setting” found that both cigarette and alcohol consumption is higher among Veterans than the general population. Treatment of an underlying condition, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), has been found to reduce tobacco and alcohol consumption in some Veterans. Sometimes, long term care is required.

PTSD

PTSD results from directly or indirectly experiencing a traumatic event. Military personnel are nearly four times as likely to be diagnosed with PTSD. The American Psychiatric Association diagnoses PTSD with the presence of four symptoms: intrusive symptoms (flashbacks), avoidance of reminders (isolation), negative thoughts and feelings, and exaggerated reactivity symptoms. Social support is a large facet of the treatment plan for Veterans with PTSD.

Depression

Depression is among the most treatable mental health disorders that Veterans face. Although likely underdiagnosed, the National Alliance on Mental Illness states that the depression rate for Veterans is 14%, but the treatment success rate is between 80-90%. If you know a Veteran who you believe is suffering from depression, it is vital that you assure them there is nothing “weak” or embarrassing about seeking help, and that depression is often treatable.

Veterans often have a challenging time acclimating to civilian life after being at war for any length of time. However, providing them with a strong support system, along with all of the help available to them through private care and the Department of Veterans Affairs, a smooth transition to civilian life can be achieved. Call 443-470-3599 if you would like to learn more or would like help with your current situation, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

March 3, 2021
Live Webinar March 10th at 6pm-Now is the time to protect and plan!
Our webinars are designed to be educational, interactive, informative and generate relevant discussion for attendees. Modern Estate Planning is more than just preparing a will and putting it in a safe.

LIVE Webinar – Click Here to Register for March 10th at 6pm

How to Protect your "Stuff" in 3 Easy Steps (Estate Planning Workshop)

This webinar covers frequently asked questions and common misconceptions regarding: Wills & Trust, Asset Protection, Nursing Home Issues, Medicaid Qualification, and Estate Taxes.

Please click to register for our webinar:

LIVE Webinar – Click Here to Register for March 10th at 6pm

Our webinars are designed to be educational, interactive, informative and generate relevant discussion for attendees. Modern Estate Planning is more than just preparing a will and putting it in a safe. Find out how a comprehensive Estate Plan will protect your assets and your family. Our experienced attorney, Wilson McManus, will be sharing stories on how Estate Planning is beneficial and sometimes crucial. In an Estate Plan, you need to know the Rules: Who's "Rule-book" controls your Estate Plan? Yours? The Governments? Someone else? You need to know your Predators: Who's a Threat to Your Stuff? The Government? Long-term Care Costs? Your Family? You need to know your Options: What Plans are out there? Does a Will work? What about a Trust? Which kind of Trust?

Please click to register for our webinar:

LIVE Webinar – Click Here to Register for March 10th at 6pm

Our workshops fill up fast, so please call (443) 470-3599 today to RSVP.

We can't wait to see you!

Today is the right day to take your first step. Click below to register for our next free workshop and learn what everyone is talking about. Attending our next free Workshops is the best way to Get Started on your New Estate Plan!

REGISTER FOR A WORKSHOP

March 2, 2021
3 Things to Consider When Your Special Needs Child Turns 18
Having a special needs child has many challenges. One of the toughest challenges faced by many parents is knowing how to best care for their special needs child as they reach adulthood.

Having a special needs child has many challenges. One of the toughest challenges faced by many parents is knowing how to best care for their special needs child as they reach adulthood. There are many areas that need consideration when planning for the transition of a special needs child to adulthood. Let’s take a look at some of these areas.

Education

During childhood, the public education system provides for the bulk of the care, structure, and services that a special needs child requires. However, once they are out of public education, this support and service abruptly come to an end. If parents don’t plan for this transition, it can be difficult for the child and the family. That is why the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that at age 14, the student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) contain a plan with steps that will be taken to help the special needs student acquire skills that are necessary to transition from school to the workforce. Schools are required to monitor progress of the students as they acquire the specific skills. It is important for parents to understand their child’s rights and for parents of children with special needs to be advocates for their child as they turn 14 and enter this time of transition.

Employment

Special needs individuals if trained in skills specific to the workforce can find ways to have a job. For example, the local Walmart hired a young lady who has special needs to work as a cashier. The young lady while in school had an IEP. From the time the young lady was in elementary school, part of her IEP include life skills goals. These goals allowed her to learn necessary skills to get and keep a job as a cashier.

Beyond preparing your child early for the workforce, it is helpful to research companies that hire people with special needs and determine the types of skills they will need to succeed. Then, parents or other caregivers, should seek out ways to develop those necessary skills in their child. The key to employment is being prepared to help your child both during and after school. Be patient with the process. Sometimes it takes time for a special needs adult to get hired. Many special needs people do not work because they are scared that they may lose benefits if they work.

Financial

Working can be a great way for special needs adults to earn some additional income. However, it is important to keep in mind that there are limits on the amount of money a special needs person can earn without affecting Social Security Insurance (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Once a child reaches 18, these benefits are based on his or her own assets. Other ways to protect the assets of your special needs child is by creating a first or third-party trust. This way, your special needs child can draw benefits while also having assets.

If you are the parent of a special needs child, it is important to begin planning early for the future of your child. Don’t wait until your child is 18. The public education system can be a great resource but you will need to do some planning on your own. The good news is there are organizations that can help you and your child find the right employment opportunities to match their skills. An elder law attorney who specializes in adults with special needs can be very helpful in planning for the financial future of your child with special needs.

If you have any questions about something you have read or would like additional information, please feel free to contact us at 443-470-3599.

March 1, 2021
Life After A Dementia Diagnosis
Many elderly people who are diagnosed with dementia are unprepared for future care. Once this type of diagnosis is received, preparing for the future can no longer be avoided.

Many elderly people who are diagnosed with dementia are unprepared for future care. Once this type of diagnosis is received, preparing for the future can no longer be avoided. If you or someone you love has received a dementia diagnosis, begin immediately to discuss and seek guidance for future care. For help in implementing the steps that need to be taken and for developing a plan, seek the guidance of an elder law attorney.

1. First, take steps to understand the diagnosis. When your elderly loved one has been diagnosed with dementia, be sure to learn as much as possible about the diagnosis and how it will affect the life of your loved one and all those involved. Be sure to go to appointments with the doctors who are testing and diagnosing. Make a list of questions to ask and get input on the long-term care needs of your loved one who has received the dementia diagnosis. If the doctors cannot completely answer all of your concerns, seek resources from reputable sources, such as Dementia Action Alliance. Having this understanding can help with legally planning for your loved one’s care.

2. Next, assemble family members and discuss how to proceed with care planning. It is important to be unified as a family in order to best meet the needs of your loved one with

dementia. It is important to communicate clearly and to get input from all interested parties. This includes listening to the wishes of your loved one. During this process, look to present and future needs. Make plans together for how these care needs are going to be met. Remember to be patient with other family members. This type of diagnosis affects everyone differently.

3. Then, get legal and financial plans in place. Deciding on a person who will be authorized to make health care and financial decisions for the dementia patient is one major part of the plan. In addition, plans for how long-term care will be executed and paid for should be put into place. This is where an elder law attorney can be beneficial. The attorney can assess resources, find the best pay to pay for long term care, and help the family to get all the necessary documents in place. A healthcare power of attorney is the person who will make health care decisions when your loved one is no longer capable. A financial power of attorney is another document that is necessary. The agent named in the financial power of attorney will be able to execute financial affairs of your loved one with dementia.

4. Finally, understand and explore options for long-term care. This can be done through web searches and by meeting with agencies who specialize in dementia care. Care needs can change over time. In the beginning stages of dementia, in-home respite or companion care, home health services, and adult day cares may provide for your loved one’s care needs. However, care needs increase as the disease progresses. This is when facility care may become necessary. It is important to understand the differences between the various types of facilities and what is best for your family’s needs. Some of these facilities include nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and memory care facilities. Be prepared with an understanding of long-term care options before the time comes and your family will be able to make the best care and financial decisions for your loved one with dementia.

Once a dementia diagnosis has been given to your loved one, do not waste time in beginning to understand and prepare for the future with the diagnosis. Planning and preparations can take some of the stress from families and allow them to best support their loved one with dementia. Seek proper guidance from attorneys and organizations who have experience with planning for care of a dementia patient. Most importantly, support, love, and respect your loved one with dementia.

If you have a loved one with dementia, please give us a call at 443-470-3599 to discuss how we can help.

February 26, 2021
5 Things to Include in an Estate Plan
Estate planning is important for people of all ages, but as we age, the need for planning becomes even more critical. Many people avoid estate planning, because they do not want to think about the end of life, failing health or disability.

Estate planning is important for people of all ages, but as we age, the need for planning becomes even more critical. Many people avoid estate planning, because they do not want to think about the end of life, failing health or disability. Others believe that an estate plan is only for rich people. However, an estate plan is helpful for the senior adult and their families regardless of overall wealth.

The estate is all the property owned both individually and jointly, including bank accounts, real estate, jewelry, etc., and what is owed. Without an estate plan, it is very difficult to carry out a person’s wishes and can bring on a long, drawn out probate that can be very expensive for the family. If an estate plan is in place, it can provide peace of mind for the senior adult and their family, as well as protection for the wishes of the senior.

Below are some basic guidelines for what should be included in an estate plan.

1. Will. A will provides for an executor of the estate, who will take care of managing the estate, paying debts, and distributing property as specified. The distribution of assets can be outlined in the will. This can be as broad or detailed as a person wishes. In a will, beneficiaries and guardians for minor children should be assigned. It may not seem necessary to discuss minor children when discussing seniors and estate planning, but with the rise of grandparents raising grandchildren, this may indeed be an important part of the will. A senior adult can spell out, in the will, how they want their funeral and burial to be carried out as well.

2. Living Will. A living will outlines a senior’s wishes for end of life medical care. It can include, in as much detail as the senior wishes, what medical treatments the senior would or would not like to have in specific situations. A living will takes the stress of making those decisions off of family members and helps to keep peace in families during times that can be difficult and emotional.

3. Healthcare Power of Attorney. A healthcare power of attorney is also a key part of an estate plan. This legal document provides for someone to legally make healthcare decisions for a senior adult. A durable power of attorney will remain in effect for the senior if the senior becomes unable to make decisions.

4. Financial Power of Attorney. A financial power of attorney names an agent who has the power to act in the place of the senior adult for matters relating to finances. The durable financial power of attorney stays in effect if the senior adult becomes unable to handle their affairs. By having a financial power of attorney in place, the stress and expense of a guardianship can be avoided, and the senior has the final say in who will make decisions relating to finances.

5. Trust. Setting up a trust can be beneficial for the distribution of specific assets or pieces of property. The benefit of a trust is that it does not go through probate, as compared to a will. Property is still distributed at the death of the trustmaker, but it is done without the need of a court. This also allows for privacy of the trustmaker, where with a will and a probate, all of the deceased person’s assets and the the terms of their will is made public.

Having an estate plan is necessary if you or your senior loved one wishes to have a say in what happens in the end of life and with assets after death. Consulting and planning with an elder law attorney will help to ensure that all options are explored and the best possible solution is utilized. The elder law attorney can walk you through all of the necessary parts of the estate plan, provide explanation, and prepare the paperwork. Elder law attorneys will help take the guesswork out of estate planning.

If you have any questions about something you have read or would like additional information, please feel free to call (443) 470-3599 today and schedule a consultation with one of our experienced Maryland Estate Planning Attorneys to learn more about Estate or Elder Law.

February 25, 2021
Can You Visit Nursing Homes After Vaccinations?
As more and more COVID-19 vaccines are being distributed to nursing homes throughout Maryland, residents are hopeful that the pandemic is coming to an end. They are also hopeful that increased visitations will begin to occur in nursing home facilities.

As more and more COVID-19 vaccines are being distributed to nursing homes throughout Maryland, residents are hopeful that the pandemic is coming to an end. They are also hopeful that increased visitations will begin to occur in nursing home facilities.

Current status in Maryland:

Facilities that have decided to reopen and meet certain requirements, visitors may schedule outdoor visits during specified hours. Indoor visits are still limited to compassionate care situations. Visitors and residents must wear masks and practice physical distancing. Get the latest status updates from AARP’s nursing home tracking app here.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that nursing homes only allow indoor visitors if the facility has had no COVID-19 cases for the previous 14 days. Some other recommendations to ensure continued safety for residents include:

- Experts recommend waiting until two weeks after your loved one gets the second dose of the vaccine before visiting.

- It is also recommended to make sure that all of the residents and staff have been vaccinated.

- Visitors should also consider getting vaccinated prior to visiting.

- The CDC still recommends wearing a mask when visiting regardless of vaccination status.

- If possible, get tested prior to a visit to a nursing home.

- Continue to maintain 6 feet of social distance when possible.

- If the weather is nice, consider having your visit outdoors if the resident can physically handle the transition.

At Stouffer Legal, we care about our seniors. We know that it has been a tough year for nursing home residents. While we hope that the vaccinations offer more opportunities for in-person visits, it is important to follow the advice of healthcare experts to keep our seniors safe. For information on Elder Law issues, contact the experienced attorneys at Stouffer Legal in the Greater Baltimore area. You can schedule an appointment by calling (443) 470-3599or emailing us at office@stoufflerlegal.com.

February 24, 2021
Live Webinar March 2nd at 10am-Now is the time to protect and plan!
Our webinars are designed to be educational, interactive, informative and generate relevant discussion for attendees. Modern Estate Planning is more than just preparing a will and putting it in a safe.

LIVE Webinar – Click Here to Register for March 2nd at 10am

How to Protect your "Stuff" in 3 Easy Steps (Estate Planning Workshop)

This webinar covers frequently asked questions and common misconceptions regarding: Wills & Trust, Asset Protection, Nursing Home Issues, Medicaid Qualification, and Estate Taxes.

Please click to register for our webinar:

LIVE Webinar – Click Here to Register for March 2nd at 10am

Our webinars are designed to be educational, interactive, informative and generate relevant discussion for attendees. Modern Estate Planning is more than just preparing a will and putting it in a safe. Find out how a comprehensive Estate Plan will protect your assets and your family. Our experienced attorney, Wilson McManus, will be sharing stories on how Estate Planning is beneficial and sometimes crucial. In an Estate Plan, you need to know the Rules: Who's "Rule-book" controls your Estate Plan? Yours? The Governments? Someone else? You need to know your Predators: Who's a Threat to Your Stuff? The Government? Long-term Care Costs? Your Family? You need to know your Options: What Plans are out there? Does a Will work? What about a Trust? Which kind of Trust?

Please click to register for our webinar:

LIVE Webinar – Click Here to Register for March 2nd at 10am

Our workshops fill up fast, so please call (443) 470-3599 today to RSVP.

We can't wait to see you!

Today is the right day to take your first step. Click below to register for our next free workshop and learn what everyone is talking about. Attending our next free Workshops is the best way to Get Started on your New Estate Plan!

REGISTER FOR A WORKSHOP

February 23, 2021
Creating an Estate Plan that Benefits a Child with Special Needs
Children with disabilities may require more financial assistance and on-going personalized care that requires significant planning and structure. Most parents find that a special needs trust is their best option for accomplishing their goals to provide continued assistance.

Children with disabilities may require more financial assistance and on-going personalized care that requires significant planning and structure. Most parents find that a special needs trust is their best option for accomplishing their goals to provide continued assistance. There are many benefits to having a special needs trust in place. The main benefit being that the child is permitted to receive assets such as gifts, inheritances and other income while retaining their eligibility for certain government benefits such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

There are three main types of special needs trusts:

First-Party Trust

A first-party trust is designed to hold the beneficiary's own personal assets. The funds in the trust will be used for the beneficiary’s benefit during his or her lifetime and then when the beneficiary passes away any remaining assets will be used to reimburse the government for the cost of medical care. These trusts are useful for beneficiaries who are receiving Medicaid SSI or other government benefits and who come into large amounts of money such as an inheritance or a lawsuit settlement. The trust allows the beneficiary to retain their benefits while still being able to use their own assets when necessary.

Third-Party Trust

A third-party special needs trust is most often used by parents or other family members who want to financially contribute to a loved one with special needs. A third-party trust functions like a first-party special needs trust in that the assets held in the trust do not prevent a beneficiary from receiving certain government benefits, but a third-party special needs trust does not contain the payback provision found in the first-party trust. This means that any funds remaining in the trust can pass to other family members or to charity when the beneficiary passes away without those assets having to be used to reimburse the government.

Pooled Trust

A charity essentially sets up a pooled trust that allow beneficiaries to pool their resources with those of other trust beneficiaries for investment purposes while still maintaining separate accounts for each beneficiary's needs. When the beneficiary passes away, the funds remaining in the account reimburse the government for care but a portion also goes towards the nonprofit organization responsible for managing the trust.

Adding Life Insurance to the Mix

In addition to setting up a special needs trust it is also advisable to consider a second-to-die life insurance policy. This type of policy only pays out after the second parent dies and it has the benefit of lower premiums than regular life insurance policies. A life insurance policy can pay directly into a special needs trust and it does not have to go through probate or be subject to estate tax. List the name of the trust on the beneficiary designation, not the name of the person with special needs. Using a life insurance policy helps to guarantee future funding for the trust after the parents die while keeping the parents’ estate intact for other family members.

Setting Up an ABLE Account

Finally, consider setting up an ABLE account. ABLE stands for Achieving a Better Life Experience and these accounts were created by Congress in 2014. Modeled after 529 plans for higher education, ABLE accounts allow people with disabilities to set aside up to $15,000 per year in tax-free savings accounts without affecting their ability to qualify for government benefits. To qualify the person with disabilities must have become disabled before his or her 26thbirthday. There are many limitations and regulations with these accounts so discuss it thoroughly with your estate planning attorney to make sure it fits in with the comprehensive plan.

For more information on creating an estate plan to benefit a child with special needs, contact the experienced attorneys at Stouffer Legal in the Greater Baltimore area. You can schedule an appointment by calling (443) 470-3599or emailing us at office@stoufflerlegal.com.

February 22, 2021
The Biden Tax Plan – Will It Be Retroactive? What This Could Mean for 2021 Estate Planning
There has been a lot of speculation about the new Biden tax plan and whether it will be enacted with retroactivity causing the new legislation to take effect on January 1, 2021. The start date matters because high net worth individuals are looking for ways to maximize the federal estate tax exemption allowed under the Trump administration.

There has been a lot of speculation about the new Biden tax plan and whether it will be enacted with retroactivity causing the new legislation to take effect on January 1, 2021. The start date matters because high net worth individuals are looking for ways to maximize the federal estate tax exemption allowed under the Trump administration. If these individuals start gifting amounts allowed under the previous legislation and the Biden policy is enacted with retroactivity, this gifting strategy could backfire with seriously expensive consequences. So what should high net worth individuals do?

First, let’s look at the likelihood of the Biden Plan getting enacted. The Democrats control both the House and the Senate, including their tax-writing committees, although it is very close in the Senate with Democrats only holding 50 seats. It typically takes 60 votes to avoid a filibuster and pass the tax legislation. There is another way forward. A process, referred to as budget reconciliation, allows for tax legislation to move forward with a simple majority vote. VP Harris then gets that tiebreaker vote. So, it is probable that the Biden Plan will advance under the budget reconciliation process.

Next, we have to consider the likelihood of retroactivity. As stated earlier, the enactment date of the Biden Plan is very important for estate planning strategies. The Biden Plan intends to decrease the federal estate tax exemption significantly - from $11.58 million to $5 million per individual. Some have even speculated the exemption amount may decrease even lower to $3.5 million per individual. Furthermore, the Biden Plan may include repealing the step-up in basis on death and tax unrealized capital gains at death at a higher tax rate. These changes have the ability to impact any gifting strategy implemented after January 1, 2021, if the laws become retroactive. Depending on how long it takes for this legislation to pass, the enactment date may not be until January of 2022. This would allow high net worth individuals an entire year to implement a gifting strategy.

Given all of this uncertainty, what is the best plan of action? Experienced estate planning attorneys can offer some creative strategies to mitigate the risks. One such strategy is known as disclaimer planning. It allows one beneficiary of a trust to disclaim on behalf of all trust beneficiaries. This provides a time buffer to wait out the Biden Plan’s enactment date and still disclaim or “return” the gift.

In these uncertain times, getting sound advice from a knowledgeable team of estate planning attorneys is crucial to protecting your assets. You can schedule an appointment with Stouffer Legal in the Greater Baltimore area by calling us at (443) 470-3599 or emailing us at office@stoufflerlegal.com.

February 19, 2021
It Is Wise to Consider Medicaid Carefully
A key mistake when it comes to Medicaid, is not carefully planning for your assets, according to the Pauls Valley Daily Democratarticle titled "Misunderstandings create traps in planning."

One has to be very careful with their assets, when it comes to qualifying for Medicaid.

A key mistake when it comes to Medicaid, is not carefully planning for your assets, according to the Pauls Valley Daily Democratarticle titled "Misunderstandings create traps in planning."

Nursing home care is a major expense for many who are considering qualifying for Medicare. However, a key mistake when it comes to Medicaid, is the handling of assets.

The mistake is a simple one to explain, but it is important to make sure you understand it so you will not make it. You cannot give your assets to your children just before you go into a nursing home at Medicaid's expense.

Unfortunately, that is just what many people are planning to do and it will not work.

What is the problem?

Medicaid has a five-year lookback window, which means that the program will look at any asset transfers the applicant (or anyone on his or her behalf) made within five years of needing long-term care.

If those transfers were not made at market value, then Medicaid will not pay for care until the expenses start to exceed the value of the transferred assets. There is a formula to calculate the “penalty period” that will be applied.

An elder law attorney can answer any of your questions about assets and advise you on the best actions that meet your unique circumstances. Call (443) 470-3599 today and schedule a consultation with Maryland Attorney Britt L. Stouffer to learn more about Estate or Elder Law and how she can help you.

February 18, 2021
We can't wait to see you!
Today is the right day to take your first step. Click below to register for our next free workshop and learn what everyone is talking about.

Attending our next free Workshops is the best way to
Get Started on your New Estate Plan!
REGISTER FOR a WORKSHOP