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Barriers to Voting for the Elderly Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic
Seniors have a reputation of being some of the most reliable voters. There will be many more challenges ensuring that every vote counts in the 2020 election.

Seniors have a reputation of being some of the most reliable voters. There will be many more challenges ensuring that every vote counts in the 2020 election. For seniors who live independently, they may be concerned about getting out and being exposed to Covid-19 at the polls. Some of them also have issues finding a caretaker to escort them to the polls if needed.

Seniors that reside in nursing homes will struggle even more to get their vote counted because of the restrictions that prevent family and friends from visiting residents and also prevent residents from leaving the facility.

To remedy the situation, it will be important for those in the nursing home community, independent caretakers, family members or organized nonprofits to help seniors request mail-in ballots in a timely manner and help them fill them out and return them to meet the deadlines.

Election Day is Tuesday, November 3, 2020 and Maryland allows any voter to request a ballot by mail as well as offering early voting at designated polling locations.

Help a senior by assisting him or her in requesting a mail-in ballot. You can access the application here. Assist him or her in filling out the application completely and mailing it to the local election office. When the ballot arrives in the mail continue to help the senior review it carefully and make sure that it is filled out completely and returned on time.

If the senior has a Maryland driver's license or ID card you may be able to request a mail-in ballot via email. You still have to print off the ballot and mail it through the US Postal Service to your local election office.

Spread the word that this may be an issue for our elderly loved ones living throughout Maryland communities. Let's help our seniors get their votes counted. At Stouffer Legal, we care about our seniors and are always looking for opportunities to help them out. Contact us for more information about our Elder Law services in the Greater Baltimore area.

October 9, 2020
Will an Inheritance Spoil Your Children?
There two schools of thought when it comes to leaving inheritances, according to Forbes in "Why Not To Leave Too Much To Your Grown Up Kids." It is generally accepted that when parents pass away, everything they have left will be inherited by their children.

Parents face a tough decision, when it comes to leaving an inheritance for their children.

There two schools of thought when it comes to leaving inheritances, according to Forbes in "Why Not To Leave Too Much To Your Grown Up Kids."

It is generally accepted that when parents pass away, everything they have left will be inherited by their children. However, there is another approach to inheritances that a few people have always taken.

The second approach comes from a belief that if children know they will receive large inheritances from wealthy parents, then they will have little incentive to make their own money. They will become entitled and lazy.

The thinking also goes that even if the children do not know ahead of time, they will become entitled once they do receive a large inheritance.

It is true that some people do become entitled when they know they will receive considerable wealth later.

Others do not.

The best solution for parents may be to take stock of the character of their own children and make a decision regarding what is best, given those characters.

An estate planning attorney can help guide you in creating an estate plan that fits your unique circumstances and works best for the entire family. 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.

Large Estate Tax Bills May Be Looming

It would wise of people to consider an estate tax bill, regardless of the size of the estate.

There are some forgotten estate taxes that can create problems, according to Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog points out in "Don't Underestimate State Estate Taxes."

Most people will pay some attention to the federal estate taxes, because that tax receives most of the attention in the national media.

For most people that is the only estate tax they do need to worry about. It is the only one that could apply to their estate.

Most people do not need to worry too much about it, since their estates will be below the historically high estate tax exemption at the federal level.

However, eighteen states and the District of Columbia have their own estate taxes.

These state taxes often have much lower exemptions than the federal government.

The estate of someone who has planned only for the federal estate tax, might have to pay a large and unexpected bill to these states to cover the state taxes.

As is the case when the federal estate tax has not been adequately planned for, not planning for state estate taxes can create problems for estates that have few liquid assets and thus no simple way to pay the bill.

An estate planning attorney can guide you in creating an estate plan that meets 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.

Reference: Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog(June 8, 2017) "Don't Underestimate State Estate Taxes."

Suggested Key Words: Estate Tax

October 8, 2020
Top 5 Signs that Indicate It May Be Time to Move to Memory Care
Safety - Whether it is the safety of the senior or your own safety, this is often the first and Top 5 Signs that Indicate It May Be Time to Move to Memory Care

Safety - Whether it is the safety of the senior or your own safety, this is often the first and Top 5 Signs that Indicate It May Be Time to Move to Memory Care

  1. primary reason caregivers give when moving a loved one into a memory care unit. Memory care units are designed to meet the needs of people with cognitive issues and they provide 24/7 surveillance and care.
  2. Exhaustion - Taking care of a loved one with dementia is emotionally and physically exhausting. Before reaching the point of caregiver burnout, it is best to move your loved one into a memory care unit. Caregiver burnout can result in neglect, harm and even death.
  3. Personal Care Issues- Difficulty in maintaining personal hygiene for your loved one may be another sign that it is time to move to memory care. Memory care units typically include assistance with daily living activities including bathing, dressing and feeding.
  4. Loneliness- If your loved one is experiencing loneliness and isolation, they may be better served in a memory care unit surrounded by other seniors, staff and access to daily enrichment activities.
  5. Physical Decline- Mobility issues, weight changes and sleep issues may also be problems that indicate that your loved one needs more assistance. Memory care units closely monitor nutrition and wellness and can provide a more stable environment.

Moving your loved one to a memory care unit can also take a lot of pressure off family members and allow family to spend more quality time together while professional staff is left to deal with the actual caregiving. For more information on long-term care planning and other related Elder Law issues, please contact the compassionate attorneys at Stouffer Legal in the greater Baltimore area.

October 7, 2020
Live Webinar October 14th 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 October 14th 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 October 14th 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 October 14th at 10AM

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

October 6, 2020
Protecting an Inheritance from Your Adult Child’s Spouse
During the course of estate planning discussions, many people communicate to their estate planning attorneys that they simply want to leave their inheritance in such a manner that it stays in their bloodline. The fact that approximately 50% of all marriages in the United States end in divorce makes those same people weary of a son-in-law or daughter-in-law

During the course of estate planning discussions, many people communicate to their estate planning attorneys that they simply want to leave their inheritance in such a manner that it stays in their bloodline. The fact that approximately 50% of all marriages in the United States end in divorce makes those same people weary of a son-in-law or daughter-in-law. This is understandable given that it is quite possible for a son-in-law or daughter-in-law to remarry after the death of the spouse and then to leave the inheritance to his or her future spouse and/or future children.

The best way to prevent this scenario is to create a living trust which upon the death of the parent splits assets into another trust for each child’s lifetime. Known as Lifetime Asset Protection Trusts these trusts can limit distributions made to current or future spouses and they can ensure that assets transfer specifically to bloodline heirs and rightful grandchildren. These trusts also have the benefit of protecting your child's inheritance not only in the matter of divorce but also from bankruptcy, lawsuits and some creditors.

These types of trusts only allow the assets to be used for the beneficiaries’ health, education maintenance and support (known as HEMS). Health and education expenses are self-explanatory and usually easy to determine. Maintenance and support may have broader standards but there is a considerable amount of case law dealing with what falls under these terms.

When creating these types of trusts you will need to select and appoint a trustee. This can be a family member or you can appoint a professional trustee such as a trust company or a law firm. The trustee will ensure that the money will be used only for the benefit of the beneficiary and not for his or her spouse. The downside of using a professional trustee is the expense. They charge a fee for the service and the amount varies.

It is best to communicate with adult children about the terms of the trust and your reasoning behind creating it. Help them to understand that it is being done for their protection and future legacy.

For assistance in creating a Lifetime Asset Protection Trust, please contact Stouffer Legal in the greater Baltimore area.

October 5, 2020
Should I Take or Waive Executor Fees?
Under Maryland state law, executors/personal representatives are entitled to payment for their work in administering an estate. Often the wording included in a Last Will and Testament will state a flat fee, contingency fee (based on transactions or size of the estate) or simply claim an executor is entitled to ‘reasonable compensation’.

Under Maryland state law, executors/personal representatives are entitled to payment for their work in administering an estate. Often the wording included in a Last Will and Testament will state a flat fee, contingency fee (based on transactions or size of the estate) or simply claim an executor is entitled to ‘reasonable compensation’. Even if the will does not have a compensation clause, state law provides a formula for arriving at a reasonable fee.

Some people feel uncomfortable accepting payment because they fear other family members will think that it is greedy or unfair. Being an executor requires a considerable amount of time and effort and it is a big responsibility. Anyone who accepts the job of executor has a fiduciary duty to place the interests of the beneficiaries over his or her own. The deceased may have chosen a particular person to serve in this role because of his or her professional background or simply trustworthiness. The role requires that the executor inventory all assets and liabilities, deal with creditors, maintain property and once all debts have been settled, distribute assets to beneficiaries. It is a very time-consuming role and deserves adequate compensation.

A Notable Exception – When to Waive Executor Fees

If someone is serving as the executor and is also the sole beneficiary then it may be better to waive the executor fees because they are considered taxable income while the money that will be in inherited will not be considered taxable income.

The Maryland statutes say that the maximum executor fee is 9 percent of the estate's value if the estate is worth $20,000 or less. If the probate judge thinks the amount in the will is unreasonably low, the court can raise it. Probate judges have considerable leeway in determining the appropriateness of fees. If you need assistance in determining how to go about your role as an executor, contact the experienced probate attorneys at Stouffer Legal in the Greater Baltimore area for help.

October 2, 2020
Anosognosia: How Aware Are Dementia Patients?
The word anosognosia is derived from Greek roots meaning ‘without knowledge of disease’. Many seniors suffering from dementia and/or Alzheimer's disease are unaware that they need assistance or that they have any cognitive decline.

The word anosognosia is derived from Greek roots meaning ‘without knowledge of disease’. Many seniors suffering from dementia and/or Alzheimer's disease are unaware that they need assistance or that they have any cognitive decline. This can be very difficult for caregivers, especially when the senior refuses appropriate care, medication or assistance with basic care and hygiene.

Changes in the brain can cause these individuals to truly believe that there is nothing wrong with them. The decline in mental function affects one's ability to understand and acknowledge the extent of any impairment. Many seniors in this situation insist that they can continue driving, refuse in-home care and demand to live independently. Many also believe that they are fully capable of performing daily activities independently despite clear evidence to the contrary. Many even react angrily when confronted about any mental impairment because they are fully convinced that such a decline does not exist. When this occurs, it is evidence of anosognosia.

When confronted with this type of situation, many caregivers and family members get to a point where they must stage an intervention. Prior to staging the intervention, take notes including dates and occurrences that demonstrate cognitive decline that cause concern for safety. Make sure that all family members are aware of the issues and have a plan in place to protect the senior. At the intervention, try to include a neutral friend or religious leader to keep the conversation on track and peaceful. Outline the steps that are about to take place whether they are simply to get a neurological examination or whether you have already made arrangements for a new living situation.

At Stouffer Legal, we care about our seniors and we know that dealing with dementia-related illnesses and the anosognosia that often accompanies the diagnosis can be very difficult for all involved. For more information on Elder Law issues such as long-term care planning please contact Stouffer Legal in the greater Baltimore area for a consultation.

October 1, 2020
Live Webinar October 7th 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 October 7th 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 October 7th 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 October 7th at 10AM

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

September 30, 2020
Vaccinations for the 2020-2021 Flu Season in Light of Covid-19
There are many different flu viruses and they are constantly changing. Now add to that Covid-19 and you may wonder how the elderly will survive the 2020-2021 flu season (October through March). There are two new vaccines licensed for use during this upcoming flu season. One is specifically for older adults - a high-dose vaccine for use in adults 65 years and older. September and October are generally the best time to get vaccinated.

There are many different flu viruses and they are constantly changing. Now add to that Covid-19 and you may wonder how the elderly will survive the 2020-2021 flu season (October through March). There are two new vaccines licensed for use during this upcoming flu season. One is specifically for older adults - a high-dose vaccine for use in adults 65 years and older. September and October are generally the best time to get vaccinated. Currently, vaccine manufacturers are reporting that vaccines will be readily available without any significant delays. Simultaneously these manufacturers are working diligently for the approval of a Covid-19 vaccine.

The flu and Covid-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses that are caused by different viruses. For this reason, you will need to be vaccinated for both to prevent both illnesses. It is possible to have the flu and Covid-19 at the same time although health experts believe this to be uncommon. Since the symptoms for both are so similar, the 2020-2021 flu season will require significant testing capabilities to determine which illness is present when symptoms exist.

Getting a flu vaccine will not protect against Covid-19; however, flu vaccines have been shown to reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalization and death. Getting a flu vaccine this fall will be more important than ever not only to reduce your risk from the flu but also to help conserve potentially scarce healthcare resources.

You can safely get a flu vaccine at multiple locations including your doctor's office, health department and pharmacies. The CDC will announce who can get Covid-19 vaccines and where to get them once a vaccine is approved by the FDA and made publicly available. When going to get any vaccine be sure to practice safety precautions such as wearing a mask, social distancing and frequent handwashing.

Many people at higher risk from flu are also in the high-risk category for Covid-19. If you are high risk, it is especially important for you to get a flu vaccine this year. The timing of the flu is difficult to predict and can vary in different parts of the country and from season to season. Vaccinations should be postponed for anyone with suspected or confirmed Covid-19 regardless of whether they have symptoms. When scheduling or confirming appointments for vaccinations notify the provider's office in advance if you currently have or develop any symptoms of Covid-19. The best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated every year.

During these trying times, Stouffer Legal strives to provide updated information the help the seniors in our Maryland communities. Contact us for more information on Elder Law issues.

September 25, 2020
Live Webinar September 30th 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 September 30th 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 September 30th 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 September 30th at 10AM

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

September 22, 2020
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