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5 Tips to Stay Organized as an Elderly Relative’s Financial Power of Attorney
In addition to managing your own family’s finances, you may find yourself in the position of taking over for your aging parents, in-laws or other elderly relatives. This can be overwhelming, especially if there are a lot of assets to manage and several accounts to reconcile.

In addition to managing your own family’s finances, you may find yourself in the position of taking over for your aging parents, in-laws or other elderly relatives. This can be overwhelming, especially if there are a lot of assets to manage and several accounts to reconcile. Here are 5 tips to help you stay organized as a financial POA:

1. Make a list of all financial institutions, a point-of-contact at each one, account info and password access. Having a master list helps keep track of monthly statements to avoid any oversights and ensures a smooth tax filing season and annual accounting.

2. Do not commingle your personal funds or accounts with any of the accounts where you serve as POA. Being a POA imposes a fiduciary duty. Any income received on behalf of your relative must be deposited into his or her account and all expenses should be paid out of the account with a detailed paper trail.

3. You may find it easier to keep track of income and expenses using a personal finance software. Be diligent in typing in notes and descriptions for expenses. The most popular software programs are Quicken and Mint. Both of these allow you to easily print customizable reports.

4. Automate as much as possible. Set up automatic bill pay with service providers and direct deposit from income providers.

5. Seek professional help when needed. You may find yourself facing issues that are outside your area of expertise or skill level. Seek the professional assistance of tax professionals, CPAs or estate planning attorneys to ensure you are getting the best information and making solid decisions as a financial agent under a POA. It is better to ask questions and get a professional involved then to try to go about it alone and risk opening yourself to any unnecessary liability.

For assistance in serving as a financial power of attorney or to develop a comprehensive estate plan for yourself or a loved one, contact the experienced attorneys at Stouffer Legal in the Greater Baltimore area. You can schedule an appointment by calling us at (443) 470-3599 or emailing us at office@stoufflerlegal.com.

March 29, 2021
Estate Planning for New Parents
Many anticipated a huge baby boom resulting from pandemic lockdowns. Sociologist and demographer, Philip Cohen at the University of Maryland monitored the changes in family planning throughout the pandemic and found that the birth rate actually dropped.

Many anticipated a huge baby boom resulting from pandemic lockdowns. Sociologist and demographer, Philip Cohen at the University of Maryland monitored the changes in family planning throughout the pandemic and found that the birth rate actually dropped. While not the huge numbers forecasted, Maryland is still seeing its share of new parents.

In the middle of late-night feedings and dirty diapers, asset protection and estate planning may not seem like a top priority, yet it needs to be. An estate plan can protect your assets and provide for your loved ones. Here are the Top 5 items that new parents should address:

1. Priority one is drafting and executing a will that names a legal guardian for your child(ren). A will also names an executor to handle the administration of your estate according to your wishes, outlines how property should be distributed to chosen heirs and provides guidance on your funeral and burial instructions.

2. Since your heirs will most likely be minors, you may want to consider including testamentary trust provisions in your will or utilize a living trust for assets that will be distributed to minors.

3. Next up is reviewing and updating your beneficiary designations on assets such as 401(k)s, IRAs, annuities and life insurance policies. If you named a spouse, you may still want to add a child as a successor or joint beneficiary.

4. Plan for incapacity as well as death by executing a durable power of attorney and a health care power of attorney. These documents take affect at such time as you are deemed incapacitated and unable to manage your financial and health affairs. The agent you name in these documents steps in and makes decisions in your best interests.

5. Finally, outline instructions for your funeral and burial. This may be done within your will or it may be a separate document. It can be as general or specific as you wish. It helps your next of kin know how to proceed and plan accordingly.

Being a new parent comes with new responsibilities. Having a comprehensive estate plan in place is one of those responsibilities. Do not put off this task. Checking it off your list will give you peace of mind. Contact the estate planning attorneys at Stouffer Legal in the Greater Baltimore area to get started. You can schedule an appointment by calling us at (443) 470-3599 or emailing us at office@stoufflerlegal.com.

March 26, 2021
Senior Adults and Identity Theft – How to Protect Against It
Senior adults can be more susceptible to identity theft than others. Identity theft is a crime that is on the rise. It involves a criminal stealing personal identifying information to create a new identity or to steal money from the victim.

Senior adults can be more susceptible to identity theft than others. Identity theft is a crime that is on the rise. It involves a criminal stealing personal identifying information to create a new identity or to steal money from the victim. Senior adults are targeted for a few reasons. One reason is that they often have more money saved after a lifetime of working than younger people. Another factor is that personal information for elderly adults often passes through more hands, especially those in hospitals and nursing homes. Senior adults can be more trusting of people and often do not pick up on warning signs. Finally, aging adults are far less likely to report identity theft crimes. They fear that their independence might be taken away by their loved ones. It is important for senior adults and their caregivers to know how to protect themselves against identity theft.

Technology

The rapid growth of technology has given identity thieves many new outlets for preying on seniors. Many thieves use email to present themselves as a reputable group or company. In the emails, they request personal information. Seniors give their information and the thief has what they need to steal from them. Identity thieves also use phone calls to gain personal information from elderly adults. They may pose as representatives from companies or the government, and ask for personal information. Unsuspecting seniors, then give them personal information. Social media is another place that identity thieves comb to find the personal information of senior adults. To protect their identity, seniors should never give any personal information through unsecured sources, such as email or over the phone. Seniors should avoid sharing personal information on social media. Even information like the exact date of birth can allow identity thieves to obtain information to steal from an unsuspecting adult.

Paperwork

Papers, including mail, are an excellent way for thieves to get personal information. Keep tabs on all important documents and store them safely in a file cabinet that locks or a safe. If a senior adult is in the hospital or travelling, it is important to stop mail delivery or arrange for daily pick up. Monitoring credit and bank accounts on a regular basis also helps to protect the identity of senior adults. Shred old paperwork, mail, and receipts instead of just throwing them away and be careful when throwing away receipts in places like hotels.

Protection

The starting point for for seniors to be protected from identity theft is to be informed. Seniors and their loved ones should educate themselves and their loved ones on common scams that identity thieves use. Another way to protect identity is through a monitoring service. For a small fee, companies can monitor online accounts and a person’s social security number to help prevent identity theft.

There are also a variety of legal planning tools to help protect seniors and their loved ones from identity theft. The way assets are titled can play a large part in whether those assets can be stolen. Planning with trusts can also provide a layer of protection against identity theft and fraud. A thorough legal plan combined with knowledge and awareness is the best defense.

If you have any questions or would like additional information, please 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 and how we can help you.

March 25, 2021
How is Step-Up in Basis Calculated?
Tax basis is the amount of the taxpayer’s investment in a particular asset. The basis is used to calculate depreciation and amortization for tax purposes.

Tax basis is the amount of the taxpayer’s investment in a particular asset. The basis is used to calculate depreciation and amortization for tax purposes.

Step-up in basis is used to calculate taxes owed on inheritances. This is done by readjusting the value of an appreciated asset. When someone inherits property either as a beneficiary of a will or trust, and then subsequently sells the asset, capital gains taxes may be owed. The value at the time of the transfer is likely higher than the value when the grantor originally acquired the property. The step-up in basis provision kicks in and readjusts the tax basis of that asset. It allows the basis to “step-up” or increase to the amount at the time of death rather than the amount invested when the asset was originally acquired by the deceased.

For example, a grandfather purchases his vacation cottage for $75,000 in 1980 and leaves it to his grandson in 2021. The beachfront cottage is now worth $875,000. The step-up in basis makes the readjusted basis the value at the time of death ($875,000) rather than the $75,000 original purchase price. In the future, when grandson sells the cottage, he owes capital gains on any appreciation over the $875,000 value. That is a huge difference in owing capital gains on anything over $75,000.

This tax provision has long been criticized as a tax loophole allowing the wealthy to avoid taxes. Many tax avoidance strategies are built around these step-up in basis allowances. Stocks and real estate can be placed into trusts for future heirs allowing those heirs to inherit the assets with a step-up in basis and minimize the taxes owed on the value of property.

With the many changing tax laws on the horizon, it will be imperative to watch for any legislation that eliminates the step-up in basis provisions. Eliminating it will impact anyone inheriting any property – even those who are not especially wealthy.

For more information on estate planning and estate administration, contact the knowledgeable attorneys at Stouffer Legal in the Greater Baltimore area. Understanding how tax regulations and changes impact overall estate planning is essential in ensuring your overall planning goals are reached. You can schedule an appointment by calling us at (443) 470-3599 or emailing us at office@stoufflerlegal.com.

March 24, 2021
Live Webinar March 31st 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 31st 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 31st 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 31st 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 23, 2021
Helping Seniors Survive Allergy Season
Coughing, sneezing and watery eyes can be greatly feared symptoms during the current COVID-19 pandemic, but during the spring, the culprit could simply be allergies. As pollen fills the air, seniors may find themselves struggling to breath and presenting with cold/flu/COVID-like symptoms.

Coughing, sneezing and watery eyes can be greatly feared symptoms during the current COVID-19 pandemic, but during the spring, the culprit could simply be allergies. As pollen fills the air, seniors may find themselves struggling to breath and presenting with cold/flu/COVID-like symptoms. Studies show that changes occur to the immune system as we grow older putting us at a higher risk for allergy inflammation. Many seniors also battle other chronic conditions that can make diagnosing and managing seasonal allergies even more difficult.

Caregivers of elderly persons should inform the patients’ medical providers as soon as they notice any allergy symptoms. Traditional symptoms include sneezing, coughing, congestion, runny nose, and watery eyes. Patients with dementia-related illnesses or any type of cognitive decline may not be able to communicate these symptoms and advocate for assistance on their own. Allergies can be treated so it is important to seek treatment as soon as possible so that allergies do not impact other medical issues.

Prolonged, untreated allergy symptoms in seniors with other conditions like cardiovascular or lung disease can lead to life-threatening complications. Caregivers should not attempt to diagnose and treat allergy symptoms without the direction of a medical provider. While most people treat their allergies with over-the-counter antihistamines, those may be dangerous to the elderly, especially in combination with other medications.

Some doctors prescribe nasal steroids or look for holistic approaches to managing seasonal allergies in seniors. There may also be ways to minimize exposure to allergens. Medication may then be approached when some of these more natural options are exhausted.

At Stouffer Legal, we care about the health and well-being of our seniors as well as their caregivers. Allergy season can be a trying time, but there are ways to cope without putting loved ones in danger of being over-medicated or worse. For more information on caring for elderly loved ones contact the experienced elder law attorneys for a consultation on any of the following issues:

- Drafting caregiver compensation agreements.

- Developing estate planning documents like wills, trusts, power of attorney forms, and medical planning forms like DNRs, advance directives and living wills.

- Creating long-term care plans that take into account living arrangements, medical needs and affordability.

You can schedule an appointment at Stouffer Legal in the Greater Baltimore area by calling us at (443) 470-3599 or emailing us at office@stoufflerlegal.com.

March 22, 2021
Tax Breaks for Family Caregivers
Tax season is in full swing with the filing deadline quickly approaching on April 15. Many family caregivers who provide time and money to elderly relatives may qualify for some tax advantages that will reduce the amount of taxes owed.

Tax season is in full swing with the filing deadline quickly approaching on April 15. Many family caregivers who provide time and money to elderly relatives may qualify for some tax advantages that will reduce the amount of taxes owed.

Medical and Dental Expenses

With the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, the standard deduction was raised to help simplify tax filings so that most taxpayers no longer have to itemize deductions. If you are caring for a qualifying relative and paid for their medical and dental expenses, those still may be deducted. The threshold for deductible medical and dental expenses has fluctuated up and down over of the last several years. It is increasing again this year to 10% of adjusted gross income. If you paid bills more than 10% of your adjusted income for any and all qualifying relatives, you may be eligible to deduct these expenses.

Claiming a Relative as a Dependent

To get the most tax advantages from being a caregiver, you need to determine whether you can claim the elderly loved ones as dependent. To qualify all of the following requirements must be met:

- The person you attempt to claim as dependent is a U.S. citizen, U.S. resident alien, U.S. national or a resident of Canada or Mexico.

- No one else can claim you (or your spouse if filing jointly) as a dependent.

- The person you attempt to claim as dependent meets the criteria imposed by the tax regulations as a “qualifying relative”. To be a qualifying relative, the person cannot be claimed as a dependent by anyone else. The person must be related to you by blood or marriage OR live with you all year as a permanent member of your household. Note the “or” in that requirement. Someone related by blood or marriage does not need to live with you.

- Additionally, the qualifying relative that you want to claim as a dependent cannot earn more than $4,300 in gross income for the 2020 tax year. Social security income and stimulus checks are not included as income for the purposes of this calculation.

- Finally, you must have provided more than half of the person’s financial support for the 2020 tax year. To calculate the amount of support provided, add up the total amount of support the person received and compare the amount you contributed. If other family members contributed, be sure to collaborate on how to approach everyone’s tax return filings.

Being a caregiver to a senior loved requires a lot of time, money and effort. Make sure you get all the benefits and tax breaks possible. For more information on issues related to caregiving, elder law or long-term care planning contact the experienced attorneys at Stouffer Legal in the Greater Baltimore area. You can schedule an appointment by calling us at (443) 470-3599 or emailing us at office@stoufflerlegal.com.

March 19, 2021
What to Consider in Retirement Planning
Most people dream of the day they can retire. The problem is that many do not move beyond dreaming to planning.

Most people dream of the day they can retire. The problem is that many do not move beyond dreaming to planning. Planning can be done no matter what your age, but experts encourage people to start as early as possible. Retirement planning can seem like a daunting endeavor for many people as they focus on day-to-day financial obligations. Many people have no idea where to start. A few simple questions can help people of any age plan for retirement.

What does retirement look like to you?

This is an essential question to ask when beginning to plan for retirement. A good starting place is to start jotting down your ideas and, if married, your spouse’s ideas for retirement. Maybe travel is in your plan. If not travel, then how do you plan to spend your time? Will you want to downsize your home? Many people find that the home where they raised their family is too large or more than they wish to maintain. Will you continue working? If so, how much do you wish to work. Part-time or contract work can give more flexibility while still providing a source of extra income.

What assets do you have?

This is the beginning of financial planning for retirement. Look not just at your bank account and retirement accounts, but also property you own. Other assets to consider are collections that have significant financial value. Also, take stock of other investments that will be used to fund your retirement.

How is your health?

Personal health can play a large factor in retirement planning. The first step is to make sure you are up to date on all of your health screenings and check-ups. Once your health has been evaluated, you can better assess your plans for retirement. Health can affect finances and quality of life in retirement. There is no better time than the present to evaluate lifestyle and, if necessary, improve health habits to improve your quality of life and extend it.

When should you take social security?

There is no easy answer to this question and it is really a case-by-case decision that an attorney or financial professional can help you make. In the most basic terms, waiting longer to take benefits will increase the monthly benefits you receive. However, for many, this is not an option. It is important to assess your expenses and make the most informed decision possible with help from informed professionals.

How can I cut expenses to save more?

This is an excellent question for people of any age to consider. Cutting expenses can provide for extra savings to throw into your retirement plan. Cutting expenses can also help when creating a budget for retirement. If you can cut in some categories, then you can reallocate to other categories in order to be able to live more comfortably in the future. Paying off debt also becomes more manageable when other expenses can be cut.

How do I need to plan for the unexpected?

There is never any guarantee that the retirement you plan becomes reality. Many unexpected events can and will arise in retirement. These events can put a financial strain on a family, so it is important to plan a contingency for these events. This also good time to talk family and think about future care needs. Good health today does not guarantee it in the future – in fact, the possibility of needing long term care increases with each year we grow older. Creating a plan that includes legal and financial considerations helps get all family members on the same page and can greatly reduce stress should the unexpected occur.

Considering these questions can help you to begin working on a retirement plan that will fit your needs in the future. An attorney can also help you with the legal side of planning for retirement, especially when considering the possibility of needing long term care in the future. The destination (retirement) is easier when the roadmap is clear and you have a plan for bumps in the road.

If you have any questions about something you have read or would like additional information, please 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 and how we can help you.

March 18, 2021
Webinar Saturday, March 20th 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.

Click Here to Register for Saturday, March 20th 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:

Click Here to Register for Saturday, March 20th 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:

Click Here to Register for Saturday, March 20th 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

March 17, 2021
Setting Boundaries with Elderly Loved Ones
It can be challenging to provide care for elderly loved ones even in the best of situations. It can be considerably more difficult when the loved one has a history of being emotionally abusive or is suffering from loss of control due to some type of cognitive impairment.

It can be challenging to provide care for elderly loved ones even in the best of situations. It can be considerably more difficult when the loved one has a history of being emotionally abusive or is suffering from loss of control due to some type of cognitive impairment.

There are many families that have endured toxic relationships for many years and now are placed in a position where they need to make financial and health care decisions for other family members. Having a difficult childhood and carrying that into adulthood can lead to additional psychological harm when forced to continue to provide care for abusive family members.

In the case of dementia or Alzheimer's disease, a loved one who was previously mild mannered may now be combative, manipulative or even violent. Because of the nature of these illnesses and the fact that they are progressive in nature, a lot of unpredictability may be causing undue stress.

Seniors who are incapable of controlling their moods, words or behavior will need loved ones who can establish appropriate boundaries. Some mental health professionals suggest using a method of setting boundaries referred to as detachment. This simply means that you create emotional distance from the actions of the toxic loved one. Using this process, you acknowledge that you cannot control this individual nor gain his or her approval.

After practicing detachment consistently for a period of time the toxic individual will begin to see that they are no longer able to trigger negative emotions in you. Once you change this pattern, the toxic individual will likely respond by also changing. This is not necessarily always a change for the better, but a change nonetheless, is likely to occur.

Often in these situations it is best to step aside as a primary caregiver and place the individual in some type of adult daycare, enlist the assistance of an in-home provider or set up residency at a long-term care facility. Your absence and clear commitment to sticking with the plan often helps to provide the consistency needed for the senior to accept the caregiving and living arrangement provided.

Also call in reinforcements whenever you need them whether temporarily or permanently. It is always better to arrange for someone else to take over as caregiver than for you to become burned out or even abusive yourself. In some cases, it may even be best for a non-family member to take over not only providing care but also making decisions. An estate planning attorney can advise you on the best options for setting up a guardianship or power of attorney.

For assistance in developing a plan for an unstable or toxic senior, contact the compassionate and understanding elder law attorneys at Stouffer Legal in the Greater Baltimore area. You can schedule an appointment by calling us at (443) 470-3599 or emailing us at office@stoufflerlegal.com.

March 17, 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