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What’s the Difference Between Retirement Planning, Financial Planning and Estate Planning?
While some may attempt to use these three terms interchangeably, they should not be used that way because each type of planning has a very different set of objectives.

While some may attempt to use these three terms interchangeably, they should not be used that way because each type of planning has a very different set of objectives.

Financial Planning

Traditional financial planning primarily focuses on a client’s long-term goals as they relate to accumulation and management of wealth. This process also includes planning for emergencies by having adequate savings established and setting up disability and life insurance policies.

Retirement Planning

Retirement planning primarily focuses on shorter term goals as they relate to how much you need to save for retirement, when you will reach these savings goals so you can retire, and the types of investments that are appropriate for your situation and risk tolerance. Retirement planning also considers issues such as paying off a mortgage or other debts, cash flow needs for your retirement years and when to initiate withdrawals. Using this information, retirement planners can see what your finances will look like five, ten or twenty years into the future.

Estate Planning

Estate Planning primarily focuses on what you leave behind to your loved ones once you pass away. Without proper planning, those left behind may face obstacles in distributing your assets, paying off your liabilities or incur unnecessary estate administration expenses or estate taxes. Comprehensive estate planning also includes considering what will happen should you become incapacitated as well as planning for end of life measures.

For more information on estate planning services in the Greater Baltimore area, please contact Stouffer Legal at 443-470-3599.

February 6, 2020
What You Need to Know About Dementia
When you first think of the term dementia, memory loss is often the symptom that comes to mind. Dementia presents itself with issues involving language and speech, problem-solving capabilities and changes in mood and behavior.

When you first think of the term dementia, memory loss is often the symptom that comes to mind. Dementia presents itself with issues involving language and speech, problem-solving capabilities and changes in mood and behavior. Dementia is a broad term that encompasses several variations of the disease:

- Alzheimer’s Disease: This is the most common form of dementia and shows up as difficulty finding the right words, making decisions and short term memory loss. It hugely impacts day-to-day living.

- Frontotemporal Dementia: Abnormal proteins form inside the nerve cells of the front and side portions of the brain. This leads to changes in personality and behavior as well as difficulty with speech.

- Vascular Dementia: This typically occurs after a stroke due to the narrowing or blockage of blood cells which cause brain cells to die. Most patients with Vascular Dementia suffer from symptoms like migraines and difficulty concentrating.

- Dementia with Lewy Bodies: Small structures known as Lewy Bodies develop inside brain cells which can cause hallucinations and make it difficult to judge distance.

Different types of dementia affect people differently depending on the part of the brain affected and the length of time it has been impacted. Knowing the specific type of dementia can help everyone involved understand the symptoms better and find ways to manage those symptoms.

Dementia is diagnosed by a series of observations over a period of time and at this time there is no cure for it. Many new treatments can address some of the symptoms. For example, blood pressure medication can often slow the progression of vascular dementia, although it will not reverse the effects. Antidepressants have been shown to help those with frontotemporal dementia. And the popular Aricept medication is improving alertness in those with Alzheimer’s.

Some non-medication treatments that help alleviate symptoms of dementia include cognitive behavioral therapy, dietary modifications and regular exercise.

Keep in mind that a loved one diagnosed with dementia will need to put some very important legal safeguards in place while they are still competent. For more information, contact Stouffer Legal at 443-470-3599 in the Greater Baltimore area.

February 6, 2020
Upcoming Workshops
Our workshops are designed to be educational, interactive, informative and generate relevant discussion for attendees.

Our workshops 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 join us for one of our Upcoming Workshops:

February 11th at 6pm or February 18th at 6pm

All workshops are held at the Stouffer Legal Estate Planning Center located at 658 Kenilworth Drive, Suite 203, Towson, Maryland 21204.

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

February 6, 2020
How to Choose an Elder Law Attorney
Elder Law attorneys handle many types of issues such as estate planning, probate, drafting trust agreements, business succession planning, Medicaid and Medicare, and long-term care planning.

Elder Law attorneys handle many types of issues such as estate planning, probate, drafting trust agreements, business succession planning, Medicaid and Medicare, and long-term care planning. When you need assistance in one of these areas, follow this checklist to choose an Elder Law attorney that will best fit your needs.

Research – Look up the attorney online. Read relevant reviews, blog posts and other publications that showcase their reputation and knowledge. Determine from their biography how much experience they have with particular types of cases and the convenience of where the office is located.

Initial Phone Call - Call the attorney’s office and inquire as to how long the attorney has practiced Elder Law and how much of his or her time is spent specifically on Elder Law. Ask about fee structures and initial consultations.

Attend an in-office consultation so you can get a sense of the attorney’s demeanor and personality. You can also assess whether you are comfortable in the office and with the staff. It is vital that you feel comfortable sharing your financial information and estate planning goals. You need to know that the attorney is trustworthy and genuinely capable of helping you reach your goals.

Make sure you understand the fees the attorney will charge. Some work on an hourly basis while others use a flat fee structure. Ask all relevant questions to make sure you fully understand what you will pay and what you will receive in return for your legal fees. At Stouffer Legal, we strive to make this consultation process as informative and comfortable as possible. Call today at 443-470-3599 to schedule your appointment.

January 30, 2020
Deconstructing a Trust Document
A trust is a document created by a grantor that holds assets and appoints a trustee to manage those assets for the benefit of the intended beneficiaries.

A trust is a document created by a grantor that holds assets and appoints a trustee to manage those assets for the benefit of the intended beneficiaries. Here are a few tips to help you read and understand a trust document:

· Identify all the parties. Who is grantor? The person creating the trust. Who are the beneficiaries? Those who receive the assets and/or income from the establishment of the trust. Who is the trustee? The person (or corporate fiduciary) who manages the assets and distributes them according to the terms of the trust.

  • Is the trust revocable or irrevocable? If the trust is revocable, the grantor is allowed to make changes or terminate it completely. If the trust is irrevocable, the grantor will not be able to make any changes.
  • Determine when the trust ends. Is it a certain date or upon the happening of an event?
  • How are the assets to be distributed and does the trustee have any discretion with regard to distributions?
  • What are the accounting requirements?
  • Also review the boiler plate language regarding the laws that impact the trust, tax concerns and modification requirements.

For assistance in reviewing or creating trust documents in the Greater Baltimore area, please contact Stouffer Legal at 443-470-3599.

January 29, 2020
Estate Planning for Entrepreneurs
Many entrepreneurs know that keeping enough cash assets in the business and having the right insurance is necessary in protecting the business itself, employees and family members. If the owner does not have the right personal planning documents in place, then the business may still suffer dire consequences at the owner’s death.

Many entrepreneurs know that keeping enough cash assets in the business and having the right insurance is necessary in protecting the business itself, employees and family members. If the owner does not have the right personal planning documents in place, then the business may still suffer dire consequences at the owner’s death.

Step one is making sure you have a financial power of attorney (FPOA). This allows you to transfer authority to your agent who can make and execute financial decisions for you should you become incapacitated. This includes business operations, tax preparations and many other necessary tasks to ensure your business continues to operate smoothly.

The second step is having an updated Last Will and Testament. This should provide instructions for business succession, asset distribution and key management/operations decisions. To avoid probate, having the assets in a trust may make the transition easier.

For more information on business succession planning and preparing the documents you need to protect your business in the event of your incapacity or death, please contact Stouffer Legal at 443-470-3599 in the Greater Baltimore area.

January 28, 2020
Upcoming Workshops
Our workshops are designed to be educational, interactive, informative and generate relevant discussion for attendees.

Our workshops 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 join us for one of our Upcoming Workshops:

February 4th at 6pm or February 5th at 10am

All workshops are held at the Stouffer Legal Estate Planning Center located at 658 Kenilworth Drive, Suite 203, Towson, Maryland 21204.

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

January 27, 2020
How a Mediator Can Help the Estate Planning Process
Most people tend to think of bringing in a mediator for divorce or contract disputes, but do not realize how beneficial it can be during the estate planning process. The potential for family conflict arises in many estate plans, especially large estates and those with family businesses.

Most people tend to think of bringing in a mediator for divorce or contract disputes, but do not realize how beneficial it can be during the estate planning process. The potential for family conflict arises in many estate plans, especially large estates and those with family businesses.

Mediators often add substantial value to the estate planning process by helping estate planning lawyers prevent or resolve disputes while mitigating some ethical concerns about representation of multiple parties. Many spouses meet with estate planning attorneys together and enter into joint representation. This can lead to issues if one spouse is not able to speak candidly about issues that will impact the estate plan in front of the other spouse.

The attorney cannot meet separately for ethical reasons under joint representation. Bringing in a mediator alleviates some of those ethical concerns and allows the mediator to meet with all relevant parties individually, including other family members, and put together all the pieces that will provide a clearer picture.

A mediator can be extremely helpful when a family business is involved or when there appear to be issues with any of the intended beneficiaries that may alter how assets should be distributed – such as special needs, addiction issues or spending problems.

When an estate is large enough, intended beneficiaries may retain their own legal counsel to help determine their legal rights and negotiate on their behalf. When this happens, the estate planning process tends to lean towards a more adversarial environment. A mediator helps to clarify everyone’s interests and uncover misunderstandings while providing a more collaborative approach.

Consider adding a mediator to the estate planning process in some of the following scenarios:

- Family business

- Blended families

- Disparity among heirs

- Special assets (one-of-kind assets that cannot or should not be liquidated)

Mediation aids the estate planning process and often results in keeping family disputes private, promotes reconciliation, and affords an opportunity for creative resolutions that may not otherwise occur. For more information, contact Stouffer Legal at 443-470-3599 in the Greater Baltimore area.

January 24, 2020
Who Gets Your Bitcoins When You Die?
For those who own Bitcoins and other digital currency, those assets are part of their estate after death. They will be distributed to the heirs according to the owner’s will, or via laws of intestate succession if the owner died without a will.

For those who own Bitcoins and other digital currency, those assets are part of their estate after death. They will be distributed to the heirs according to the owner’s will, or via laws of intestate succession if the owner died without a will. While this sounds straightforward, it may not happen as seamlessly as cash money in a regular banking institution.

If the owner fails to leave proper instructions for accessing this digital currency it may be lost forever. Typically, Bitcoins are stored in a digital wallet, accessible via an app. The security and encryption process is very high level to prevent cyber attacks. It is possible to pull the information offline and keep a physical copy of the serial numbers in a safe or safe-deposit box.

Ensuring that your digital currency is both safe and accessible to your heirs should you pass away takes some prudent planning. For assistance in securing your digital assets as part of your estate planning, contact Stouffer Legal at 443-470-3599 in the Greater Baltimore area.

January 23, 2020
Why You Should Never Count on an Inheritance
As Baby Boomers continue to age, their Gen X children and millennial grandchildren may expect to receive an inheritance. Counting on such an inheritance is not wise financial planning. More than half of those who expect to inherit do not.

As Baby Boomers continue to age, their Gen X children and millennial grandchildren may expect to receive an inheritance. Counting on such an inheritance is not wise financial planning. More than half of those who expect to inherit do not. The reasons behind those statistics include increased longevity among today’s seniors, expensive long-term care costs and the rising cost of living in most parts of Maryland.

In a recent report by The Lifetime Medical Spending of Retirees, economists predict that seniors will incur an average of $122,000 in healthcare costs between age 70 and date of death. Most of these expenses will be paid out-of-pocket, reducing the assets that will be passed down to the next generation. Lower income individuals may depend more heavily on Medicaid to shoulder these expenses.

Many seniors are also looking to reverse mortgages to help pay for the rising cost of living. This in turn depletes the equity in the home, which is often the largest asset of the estate. For all these reasons, much less will pass by way of inheritance than many think (and hope) will occur. It is not wise to assume an inheritance can bail out any present day spending.

A responsible financial plan should be developed around the assumption that no assets will be inherited and current income can meet living costs including healthcare, saving for retirement and saving for emergencies. Inheritance, if received, can then be brought into the financial plan and goals reassessed. For more information on estate planning in the Greater Baltimore area, please contact Stouffer Legal at 443-470-3599.

January 22, 2020
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