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Looking at Ways the 2020 Pandemic Will Impact Long Term Care Insurance
Long term care insurance covers care when placed in a nursing home facility and depending on the terms of the specific policy, may also cover some types of in-home care. Many now wonder how the pandemic of 2020 will impact long term care insurance now and going forward.

Long term care insurance covers care when placed in a nursing home facility and depending on the terms of the specific policy, may also cover some types of in-home care. Many now wonder how the pandemic of 2020 will impact long term care insurance now and going forward.

The older you get, the more difficult it is to qualify for long term care insurance. Obviously, to make money the insurance company musts weigh out the collection of premiums against the output of benefits for care. Some insurance providers are also adding additional requirements regarding COVID19 exposure. These vary by policy and carrier but typically require a waiting period to qualify after a positive COVID19 test or risk of exposure. It may also preclude you from obtaining the best rates.

On the positive side, long term care insurance providers are becoming more flexible than before the pandemic on the issue of leaving the nursing home to pursue at-home care options. This seems to be a favorable outcome for both the insurance company and the patient as it lowers risk of COVID19 exposure.

Each policy varies on the amount allowed for in-home care and recently many caregivers have increased their pay rate to offset the risks they are taking with their own health. Some policies also place restrictions on the number of caregivers who can enter your home, and most carriers are consistent about not paying relatives as caregivers.

The bottom line is that long term care insurance is evolving with the virus just like other businesses. At Stouffer Legal, we continue to stay up-to-date with these changes and will offer you assistance in long term care planning by carefully evaluating the best options for your situation. Contact our Maryland office for more information at 443-470-3599.

July 24, 2020
3 Common Mistakes with Pet Trusts
Whether it is your precious pup, a thoroughbred horse or an exotic tiger, it is important to consider how your beloved pet will be cared for in the event you pass away, become incapacitated or simply can no longer provide sufficient care. We often advise clients to create a pet trust which is a legal document that offers instructions for the continuing care of your pet(s).

Whether it is your precious pup, a thoroughbred horse or an exotic tiger, it is important to consider how your beloved pet will be cared for in the event you pass away, become incapacitated or simply can no longer provide sufficient care. We often advise clients to create a pet trust which is a legal document that offers instructions for the continuing care of your pet(s).

However, there are three common mistakes when it comes to planning for your pet’s future without you in it:

1. Invalid DIY forms. Search online and you will discover many do-it-yourself forms for pet trusts, some of them are even available at no cost. The problem with DIY estate planning forms is that they often fail to measure up to state specific legal requirements. Each state takes a different approach to pet trust requirements and if a Maryland resident chooses a DIY form not in accordance with Maryland’s laws, that may render all or a portion of the pet trust form invalid. This can lead to intended consequences regarding your pet’s care.

2. Relying on a Will. While pets are considered personal property and your will designates how personal property is distributed, the clauses contained in most wills do not address the specifics of the care needed for your pet. These clauses also fail to address how the care for your pet will be funded. Pet trusts are much more specific as to who should be providing the on-going care, successor caregivers, type of care and amount of funding for that care. Relying on a will also creates a problem for your pet because it is only triggered in the event of your death. A will does not address how your pet will be provided for in the event of incapacity.

3. Failing to Properly Fund a Pet Trust. The third common mistake with pet trusts is failing to properly fund it. It may be difficult to predict the life expectancy and on-going expenses accurately. It is best to overestimate the expenses, allocate proper funds for the pet’s care and then name a remainderman beneficiary to receive any unused portions of the funds after the pet dies. The remainderman beneficiary can be any person or charity you desire.

Call today 443-470-3599 to ensure your pet is properly cared for if you pass away or become unable to provide care contact one of the compassionate attorneys at Stouffer Legal to set up a pet trust in accordance with Maryland state laws.

July 23, 2020
Integrated Family Wealth Planning
A trend is emerging in wealth planning where multi-generational as well as extended family members come together for integrated family planning to ensure a united and longer lasting legacy.

A trend is emerging in wealth planning where multi-generational as well as extended family members come together for integrated family planning to ensure a united and longer lasting legacy.

Preserving wealth and developing a strategy to pass it from generation to generation can be challenging yet it helps to integrate younger generations and all relevant family members in the process. Legacy planning provides families with the opportunity to create shared long term objectives for their wealth while still considering near-term cash flow needs. This type of integrated strategic planning aligns the family’s investment strategy with long term philanthropic and legacy goals.

Families using this type of integrated approach often find they preserve more wealth, provide for more future generations and teach existing younger generations to be more financially responsible because they emphasize the need to preserve for common reasons (whatever those may be).

Integrated family wealth planning requires an exorbitant collaboration effort and effective leadership. Many family members, of all ages, must be in sync with several trusted advisors - CPAs, estate planning attorneys, insurance advisors and wealth planners. This complex process requires various perspectives, creative thinking and a team with multi-disciplinary skills.

Having and maintaining the core vision for your family legacy will allow it to evolve as needed based on changing circumstances while staying on track to provide the legacy envisioned. To get started on an integrated family wealth and estate plan, please contact Stouffer Legal at 443-470-3599 in the Greater Baltimore area.

July 22, 2020
Live Webinar July 29th 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 July 29th at 10:00 AM

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 July 29th at 10:00 AM

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 July 29th at 10:00 AM

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

July 21, 2020
Document Signing While Social Distancing
The recent pandemic has made the issue of signing documents, especially executing a will, more difficult due to the social distancing requirements and personal safety concerns. Law firms, as well as other businesses, have been forced to rethink many procedures that relate to document signing.

The recent pandemic has made the issue of signing documents, especially executing a will, more difficult due to the social distancing requirements and personal safety concerns. Law firms, as well as other businesses, have been forced to rethink many procedures that relate to document signing.

Many types of estate planning documents can be signed remotely with the use of online notaries. This is typically conducted via a web call where the notary compares state issued identification to the person signing and watches as the signature is completed. The documents are then scanned and emailed.

However, this process is more problematic with executing wills. In Maryland, a will must be signed by the person making the will in the presence of two credible witnesses. The person making the will is called the testator. The testator must be at least 18 years old and have legal capacity, meaning they understand the purpose of the document they are signing.

In addition, the witnesses to the will execution are required to sign an attestation clause. An attestation clause states that the witnesses signed the will in the testator’s presence. The witnesses should also be at least 18 years old and not named as beneficiaries in the will. The problem is that an attestation clause cannot be conducted remotely and abide by the statutory requirement of being in the testator’s presence.

This issue has become unchartered legal territory because Governor Hogan authorized remote witnessing on April 10, 2020 as a response to a public health emergency. This order suspends the requirements for in person witnesses for wills, powers of attorney and advance directives.

Some clients are concerned whether a will signed and witnessed remotely in accordance with Governor Hogan’s order will later withstand any contests or other litigation. We cannot say for certain how this will later play out in Maryland’s Orphan courts. Until the first will is contested based on the issue of remote witnessing and a decision is rendered, we can only use the protection provided by the Governor’s order.

If you have concerns over social distancing and safety, yet want to execute a will or other estate planning documents right away, call our office to discuss the issue further. At Stouffer Legal, we will work to find a solution to ensure your safety without compromising the validity of your documents.

July 20, 2020
Creating a Life File and Keeping it Digitally Safe
A “Life File” consists of any documents or log in credentials that would be required to assist your executor or guardian in accessing and managing your health and financial affairs should you die or become incapacitated. Everyone over the age of 18 should have an up-to-date “Life File” and provide the means for it to be accessed by a trusted friend or family member.

A “Life File” consists of any documents or log in credentials that would be required to assist your executor or guardian in accessing and managing your health and financial affairs should you die or become incapacitated.

Everyone over the age of 18 should have an up-to-date “Life File” and provide the means for it to be accessed by a trusted friend or family member.

Step 1: Compile

- List of banking and investment accounts with account numbers, name and location of the institution and log in credentials

- Estate planning documents

- Life insurance policies

- Titles to assets (home, vehicles, boats, etc.)

- Medical information and advance directives

- Birth certificate and Social Security card

- List of liabilities (credit cards, student loans, personal loans, etc.)

- List of recurring subscriptions that will need to be modified/canceled.

Step 2: Safekeeping

Once you compile the “Life File” the next step is to ensure the contents are kept safe both physically and digitally. There are numerous online providers of digital security products. You will need to conduct research to determine which service meets your needs and budget. Safe deposit boxes are excellent options for keeping physical documents secure.

Step 3: Inform a Trusted Person

Select someone you trust with information on how to access the “Life File” when the time comes.

As part of our comprehensive estate planning services, we help clients create a “Life File” and implement a process to keep the contents safe but accessible when needed. For more information, contact Stouffer Legal at 443-470-3599 in the Greater Baltimore area.

July 17, 2020
Organ Donation as Part of Estate Planning: A Provision for Anatomical Gifts
In the United States, all states have enacted some version of the Uniform Anatomical Gifts Act which governs the process of organ donation for the purpose of transplantation. Any adult may choose to become an organ donor. You make this choice by either registering with the MVA or indicating your intentions in your estate planning documents.

In the United States, all states have enacted some version of the Uniform Anatomical Gifts Act which governs the process of organ donation for the purpose of transplantation. Any adult may choose to become an organ donor. You make this choice by either registering with the MVA or indicating your intentions in your estate planning documents. Most living wills include a provision stating the signor’s preference toward organ donation.

You can also register as a donor at any Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration branch when you obtain a new driver's license or state identification card or when you renew your license or ID. Either approach to stating your intentions is considered an advance directive that alerts health care providers whether you wish to allow the facility to recover upon your death any usable organs, tissues or eyes. Over 3.5 million Maryland residents are registered organ donors.

For information on how organ donation works, you can read this step-by-step process or watch the video. While it is great to register through the MVA, some clients have more specific desires and intentions surrounding the issue of organ donation. If you draft a living will, you can address those more specific concerns. You can designate certain body parts while preventing the donation of other body parts. You can also provide more specific instructions for how each part should be used such as transplantation, research or the advancement of medical science.

At Stouffer Legal we provide in depth consultations on the effects of including organ donation preferences in your living will or advance directives. Contact us at 443-470-3599 to set up a consultation as part of your comprehensive estate plan.

July 16, 2020
Initiating Estate Planning Conversations with Aging Parents
Both aging parents and adult children may be apprehensive about broaching topics related to long term care, incapacity and/or estate planning. Children may not want to appear greedy while aging parents may not want to show any vulnerability.

Both aging parents and adult children may be apprehensive about broaching topics related to long term care, incapacity and/or estate planning. Children may not want to appear greedy while aging parents may not want to show any vulnerability.

The problem with silence is that it often leads to later conflict. At least knowing a parent’s wishes helps promote harmony even if everyone involved fails to understand the reasons behind those wishes. It is best if these conversations take place while the parent is still of sound mind. Once signs of dementia set in, it may be too late.

Tips for Initiating these Conversations:

1. Request the meeting in advance and set a time/place that is comfortable and appropriate.

2. During the meeting, ask questions but respect your parents’ privacy as needed. For example, you do not necessarily need to know specific numbers as they relate to their finances. You need enough information to ensure they can accomplish their long term goals, but not every detail regarding their net worth.

3. Start out by determining what estate planning has been done thus far. Do they have an existing will, trust, power of attorney or any other type of estate planning document(s)? Ask who they have chosen as executor and/or trustee.

4. Discuss their wishes for long term care. Take notes during the conversation so you have something to reference later. Do they want to be in a nursing facility or do they prefer in-home care? Is there as specific facility or location they desire? Is there a particular person they want as a caregiver?

5. Determine whether they have long term care insurance. You may want to ask someone knowledgeable in this area to review the policy to ensure its terms match their long term care goals.

6. What are your parents wishes for burial/cremation and funeral/celebration of life services?

A few final tips to make these conversations go smoothly:

- Include all relevant family members

- Take accurate notes

- Be patient

- Empathize

- Do not argue with them, and

- Consult an experienced estate planning attorney like Stouffer Legal in the Greater Baltimore area.

July 15, 2020
Live Webinar July 22nd 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 July 22nd at 10am-Now is the time to protect and plan!

LIVE Webinar – Click Here to Register for July 22nd at 10:00 AM

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 July 22nd at 10:00 AM

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 July 22nd at 10:00 AM

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

July 14, 2020
Top Five Questions to Ask Nursing Home Administrators About the Pandemic
If you have a loved one currently in a nursing home, you may be concerned about the care received, risk of exposure to COVID19 and other deadly illnesses, and precautions being taken to ensure safety.

If you have a loved one currently in a nursing home, you may be concerned about the care received, risk of exposure to COVID19 and other deadly illnesses, and precautions being taken to ensure safety. Here are 5 questions to ask the nursing home administrator:

1. Has anyone tested positive? Start by asking if anyone has tested positive for COVID19. This includes patients, providers and staff.

2. What preventative measures are in place to detect infections? Ask if they are using thermometers to take the temperature of staff and visitors. Have they added plastic barriers at the front desk to prevent the exchange of respiratory droplets between staff and visitors, including delivery services and others that come into contact with the staff.

3. Are they using personal protective equipment (PPE) correctly and effectively? Do they have enough supplies? Make sure they have the resources they need in regards to PPE like masks, gloves and shields so that they can follow CDC guidelines and change between each patient interaction.

4. How often does the nursing home communicate with patients’ families and what efforts do they make to keep everyone connected and up-to-date? Learn the frequency and method of communication for updates on the virus as well as the rules for maintaining contact with loved ones.

5. Are they adequately staffed?Ask for patient to provider ratios to ensure the facility is not short staffed. Not having enough staff leads to exhausted, overworked and disgruntled employees who may not provide the level of care needed to stay safe during a pandemic.

For more information on long-term care planning, Medicaid planning or other Elder Law issues, please contact Stouffer Legal at 443-470-3599 in the Greater Baltimore area.

July 8, 2020
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