Greetings - Welcome to our firm's Blog! Curious to learn more about topics of interest in regards to Estate Planning, Medicaid Planning/Asset Protection and other elder law matters in general? Be sure to check out our online blog! 

To see a listing of our website blog articles tagged and sorted by their own specific topics,  just click on their corresponding 'Blog Categories' links below, located directly under the 'Contact Us Today' field on the lower right of this page. (If viewing this on a desktop or laptop computer.)

Prefer to listen to podcasts on the go instead? Our newest media offering from the firm is an ongoing podcast put out by Robert and Cricket Haley, called 'Aging Intelligently'. 

Welcome to Aging Intelligently, where we walk with you down the path of getting older and together, climb those obstacles that seem insurmountable. Information and preparation can change your perception of aging. To learn more, we invite you to also check out our Aging Intelligently website, located here.

Certified Elder Law Attorney®, Robert W. Haley, and his wife, Cricket, a Certified Elder Care Manager, share their journey from fat to fabulous. They discuss their research, personal experience and interview other experts in the fields of Elder Law, Care Management, Finance, Nutrition, Fitness, and even Travel, so you too, can be holistically well and secure wherever life's path may lead.

*This podcast is accessible through many applications, including AppleSpotify, Anchor, Breaker and Google podcastsSubscribes Welcome! 

Robert and Cricket begin a countdown of 10 celebrity estate planning mistakes that can happen to anyone who hasn't properly planned for their death. While things might make perfect sense to us and our family, what the law requires is often different, and preparing your estate plan is often misunderstood or completely ignored. In this episode, we begin the discussion of several prominent people whose mistakes serve as clear examples of what can happen to any of us... and how they can be avoided.

Welcome to Aging Intelligently, where we walk with you down the path of getting older and together, climb those obstacles that seem insurmountable. Information and preparation can change your perception of aging.

Certified Elder Law Attorney, Robert W. Haley, and his wife, Cricket, a Certified Elder Care Manager, share their journey from fat to fabulous. They discuss their research, personal experience and interview other experts in the fields of Elder LawCare ManagementFinanceNutritionFitness, and even Travel, so you too, can be holistically well and secure wherever life's path may lead.

Thank you to our sponsor www.crunchyhydration.com. Use the code cricket15 for 15% off of your order! *This podcast is accessible through many applications, including AppleSpotifyAnchorBreaker and Google podcastsSubscribes Welcome

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We have all heard of the Britney Spears drama, but did you know she was diagnosed by a retired geriatric psychiatrist with dementia? In this episode, Cricket and Robert discuss her diagnosis, as well as the court rulings and management of her guardianship and conservatorship. Was this Conservatorship of the Estate and the Body needed? Was Britney railroaded by her own father? What effect has 13 years of court supervision had on her personally and how would you feel in her place? Join us to learn more about her case and your rights.

Welcome to Aging Intelligently, where we walk with you down the path of getting older and together, climb those obstacles that seem insurmountable. Information and preparation can change your perception of aging.

Certified Elder Law Attorney, Robert W. Haley, and his wife, Cricket, a Certified Elder Care Manager, share their journey from fat to fabulous. They discuss their research, personal experience and interview other experts in the fields of Elder LawCare ManagementFinanceNutritionFitness, and even Travel, so you too, can be holistically well and secure wherever life's path may lead.

Thank you to our sponsor www.crunchyhydration.com. Use the code cricket15 for 15% off of your order! *This podcast is accessible through many applications, including AppleSpotifyAnchorBreaker and Google podcastsSubscribes Welcome

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We assist many of our clients and their families everyday with protecting their hard-earned savings and assets through proper Asset Protection/Medicaid Planning. Often, there is some confusion on what Medicaid is compared to Medicare, as they are not the same!  The similarity here is that they are both government programs designed to help Americans afford health care. 

Medicaid is available if you meet your state’s income eligibility and other standards. The federal government and each state fund it. The type of Medicaid Planning our firm assists with specifically, has to do with long-term care. A lot of people may think that they have no choice but to 'spend-down' their entire life's savings, but the simple truth is that everyone has options under Medicaid rules and regulations. Reach out to us to see how we can help!

Medicare, on the other hand, provides health care coverage for Virginians aged 65 or older, or younger if they have certain disabilities. More than a million people are enrolled in Medicare plans in Virginia, and eligibility and benefits for Original Medicare are nationwide. While many people qualify for premium-free Part A, the monthly cost can be as much as $471. Everyone pays Part B premiums, which are about $148 per month. Alternately, you can sign up for Medicare Advantage, with 95 plans available in various counties throughout the state. 

For more information, program options and resources on the topic of Medicare specifically, check out this link for current Medicare options available in Virginia: Medicare in Virginia | MedicarePlans.com

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In honor of Halloween, Robert and Cricket discuss some of the many paranormal experiences they and their friends have had in their haunted house. Lovingly named Ithaca Estate, built in approximately 1930, unexplained activity and disembodied voices started the first night they stayed in the home 16 years ago.

Welcome to Aging Intelligently, where we walk with you down the path of getting older and together, climb those obstacles that seem insurmountable. Information and preparation can change your perception of aging.

Certified Elder Law Attorney, Robert W. Haley, and his wife, Cricket, a Certified Elder Care Manager, share their journey from fat to fabulous. They discuss their research, personal experience and interview other experts in the fields of Elder LawCare ManagementFinanceNutritionFitness, and even Travel, so you too, can be holistically well and secure wherever life's path may lead.

Happy Halloween! We would like to thank our newest sponsor, Crunchy Hydration. They have 4 light, refreshing flavors which are matched to each chakra center. Ingredients include amino acids, extracts of green tea, hemp, chamomile, holy basil, and Himalayan salt. Nourishing your body while you rehydrate. I really enjoy my Crunchy Hydration treats not only because it fits easily into my meal plan, but matches the Aging Intelligently goal of having a healthy lifestyle with a purpose. Crunchy Hydration, mindful hydration that fuels the brain and uplifts the soul. 

Thank you to our sponsor www.crunchyhydration.com. Use the code cricket15 for 15% off of your order! *This podcast is accessible through many applications, including AppleSpotifyAnchorBreaker and Google podcastsSubscribes Welcome

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Asset Protection is a technique that is used to save your life's earnings from being spent down when a person needs to enter long-term care in a nursing home. This is our specialty and often people come to us for help after attempting to protect assets on their own. Needless to say, this isn't often easily done. In this episode, we discuss common pitfalls and what can happen.

Welcome to Aging Intelligently, where we walk with you down the path of getting older and together, climb those obstacles that seem insurmountable. Information and preparation can change your perception of aging.

Certified Elder Law Attorney, Robert W. Haley, and his wife, Cricket, a Certified Elder Care Manager, share their journey from fat to fabulous. They discuss their research, personal experience and interview other experts in the fields of Elder LawCare ManagementFinanceNutritionFitness, and even Travel, so you too, can be holistically well and secure wherever life's path may lead.

Thank you to our sponsor www.crunchyhydration.com. Use the code cricket15 for 15% off of your order! *This podcast is accessible through many applications, including AppleSpotifyAnchorBreaker and Google podcastsSubscribes Welcome

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If you currently provide care for a child or loved one with special needs (such as mental or physical disabilities), you must have contemplated with concern about what may happen to them when you are no longer able to provide and care for them: We can help!

https://vaelderlaw.com/practice-areas/special-needs-planning

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Organics, Vitamins, Amino Acids, Creatine.... it can all be confusing. In this episode, Robert and Cricket discuss the supplements they use to help them be strong, well, and healthy as they get older and what they specifically used to fight against illnesses they had been diagnosed with and successfully mitigated with nutrition.

Welcome to Aging Intelligently, where we walk with you down the path of getting older and together, climb those obstacles that seem insurmountable. Information and preparation can change your perception of aging.

Certified Elder Law Attorney, Robert W. Haley, and his wife, Cricket, a Certified Elder Care Manager, share their journey from fat to fabulous. They discuss their research, personal experience and interview other experts in the fields of Elder LawCare ManagementFinanceNutritionFitness, and even Travel, so you too, can be holistically well and secure wherever life's path may lead.

Thank you to our sponsor www.crunchyhydration.com. Use the code cricket15 for 15% off of your order! *This podcast is accessible through many applications, including AppleSpotifyAnchorBreaker and Google podcastsSubscribes Welcome

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Have you been told you don’t need a Will? In this episode we discuss a few of the serious issues that can arise from poor planning or when you don’t have a Last Will & Testament.

Welcome to Aging Intelligently, where we walk with you down the path of getting older and together, climb those obstacles that seem insurmountable. Information and preparation can change your perception of aging.

Certified Elder Law Attorney, Robert W. Haley, and his wife, Cricket, a Certified Elder Care Manager, share their journey from fat to fabulous. They discuss their research, personal experience and interview other experts in the fields of Elder LawCare ManagementFinanceNutritionFitness, and even Travel, so you too, can be holistically well and secure wherever life's path may lead.

*This podcast is accessible through many applications, including AppleSpotifyAnchorBreaker and Google podcastsSubscribes Welcome

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Have you checked in with your estate planning attorney lately? Current estate, gift and generation-skipping transfer tax exemptions and tax rates may be affected if new tax legislation passes. For example, President Biden’s American Families Plan would eliminate the 'step-up' in basis upon death.

The proposed 'For the 99.5% Act' includes provisions that could significantly affect how wealth is transferred and restrict widely-used estate planning techniques. Proposed tax legislation has been introduced that could significantly impact individual tax as well as estate tax planning. While it is not clear if, or when, any of these proposals will actually come into law, it is vitally important to be prepared and plan ahead!

Proposed 2021 Legislation

While many of the provisions enacted under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act are set to expire in the next few years, changes may occur earlier if any of the recently proposed legislation is enacted. The American Families Plan, announced by the Biden administration, aims to close tax loopholes that are seen as allowing wealthy individuals to avoid tax on inherited wealth. The For the 99.5% Act, sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Sheldon Whitehouse, aims to curtail planning strategies used mainly by 0.5% of wealthy Americans to avoid tax.

Current Law in 2021

The current estate, gift and generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax exemption is $11.7 million per person, with a top tax rate of 40%, which is set to “sunset” at the end of 2025 to pre-2018 levels to approximately $6 million ($5.6 million adjusted for inflation). An annual exclusion of $15,000 per donee/per year is also available to individuals, without any limit on the number of donees. Upon death, certain assets will receive a “step-up” in cost basis, meaning its basis becomes its value at death. This can certainly result in the elimination of taxable gains on inherited assets! Capital gains and dividend tax rates are presently 23.8% (including the net investment income tax), and the top individual income tax rate is 37%.

Proposed Changes Under the American Families Plan

Through its American Families Plan (the Plan), the Biden administration has proposed an elimination of the step-up in basis. While it has not been specified exactly how that will be implemented, it will most likely mean that upon one’s death, a capital gains tax would be imposed upon all unrealized gains that exceed $1 million. Under current law, if a person buys a stock for $10, never sells it, and the stock is worth $100 when the person dies, the $90 of gain is never taxed, and the basis of the stock in the hands of the heirs will be increased (or “stepped up”) to $100. 

In practical terms under the Plan, the $90 of gain would be taxed, but only if and to the extent that the total gain in all unsold assets exceeds $1,000,000. Accordingly, if a person buys a business for $250,000 and it is worth $2,000,000 when the person dies, the untaxed gain would be $1,750,000, and $750,000 of that would be subject to a capital gains tax. The $1 million exemption is intended to exclude smaller estates, and would not apply to charitable gifts.  The $250,000 exemption for principal residence gains would remain in place, and be in addition to the $1 million.  Exceptions would apply for certain family-owned businesses and farms, with a 15-year payment plan allowed for illiquid assets.  It is unclear if this would be in place of, or in addition to, the imposition of any estate tax on larger estates – potentially subjecting estates to historically high effective tax rates.

In addition, capital gains and dividend tax rates could go as high as 43.4% (39.6% plus 3.8% net investment income tax) for those making greater than $1 million gross income (although, it has been suggested that this threshold could be as low as $400,000). The top marginal rate for individuals earning more than $400,000 would be similarly increased to 39.6%.  

The estate tax exemption was not addressed specifically under the Plan, although it has been suggested that Biden would propose a reduction to $3.5 million. The Plan as announced has a proposed effective date starting on January 1, 2022.

Proposed Changes Under the For the 99.5% Act

In late March 2021, the For the 99.5% Act (the Act) was introduced to Congress, and proposes several changes that could significantly affect how wealth is transferred. Some of these changes include:

Gift Reductions to Exemptions and increases to Tax Rates

For gifts and estates occurring after Dec. 31, 2021, the Act would reduce the estate and gift tax exemptions from their present high level and increase  top tax rates. Gift Tax Exemption would be reduced to $1 million. Estate and Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax Exemption would be reduced to $3.5 million.

Estate Tax Rates:

  • $3.5 million-$10 million: 45%
  • $10 million-$50 million: 50%
  • $50 million-$1 billion: 55%
  • $1 billion and greater: 65%

Reductions to Annual Exclusion Gifts

Starting in 2022, the act would reduce the annual exclusion to $10,000 per year/per donee, and limit the donor to $20,000 annual exclusion gifts in total. These limits will greatly restrict an individual’s ability to make gifts without using their lifetime exemption.

Limits on Planning for the GST Tax

The GST tax is assessed on transfers of wealth to generations two or more removed from the donor, in addition to gift or estate tax.  However, like the gift and estate tax, an exemption is available.  Trusts can be structured to maximize the use of this exemption to pass wealth to multiple generations without being subject to GST tax.  The Act, however, is proposing to lower the GST exemption and cap the duration of trusts that are exempt from GST tax to 50 years – presumably assessing GST tax at the end of the period at the same rate as the estate tax. This change would be effective upon enactment.

Limits on Valuation Discounts

Currently, closely held business interests can be discounted for lack of marketability and for minority interests – allowing a greater amount of assets to be transferred at a lower estate tax cost.  The Act proposes to eliminate or reduce allowable discounts for businesses not actively engaged in a trade or business, thereby curtailing planning for family entities frequently used in estate planning to effect an efficient transfer of wealth.  This change would be effective upon enactment.

Changes to Taxation of Irrevocable Grantor Trusts

Irrevocable grantor trusts remove assets from an individual’s taxable estate, but are structured so that the individual is deemed to own the trust assets for income tax purposes.  By having the grantor pay the income tax, it leaves the trust property intact, meanwhile further reducing the grantor’s taxable estate.  The Act would require that grantor trusts be included in the taxable estate of the grantor upon death, and any distributions to beneficiaries would be subject to gift tax.  This proposal would also apply to insurance trusts, which would affect more than just the ultra-wealthy! This change would be effective upon enactment.

Changes to Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts

(GRATs). GRATs are a common planning technique to transfer appreciation on assets outside the taxable estate. A “zeroed out” GRAT allows for a transfer with little to no gift tax due.  The GRAT pays the grantor an annuity for a certain term (usually two years), and the appreciation of the trust’s assets that exceed the applicable rate are transferred out of the taxable estate to the beneficiaries.  The shorter term allows for greater leverage to capture upswings in the market, without having to account for the inevitable downswing.  The Act would require a minimum GRAT term of 10 years, and require a gift tax to be assessed on the greater of $500,000 or 25% of the value of the property used to fund the trust. This would eliminate the most beneficial aspects of using this type of planning.

Considerations for the Year Ahead

If any of these tax proposals are enacted as currently suggested, common estate planning techniques used to effectively and efficiently transfer wealth to future generations will be greatly restricted or eliminated. Now is the time to consider taking advantage of the existing tax provisions and rates and consult with your attorney to see how it could affect your planning both now and in the future should laws and regulations evolve and change!

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In an average year, 3 million older Americans go to the ER after a fall. Studies show that 28.7% of older adults fall every year in the U.S. Given today’s population, that’s about 36 million total falls. In an average year, 3 million older Americans go to the emergency room after a fall.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that falls among seniors are getting more common and more deadly. Death rates from falls have increased 30% in the past 10 years, and by 2030, the CDC expects total falls to increase from 36 million to 52 million.

Thankfully, there are proven measures to help reduce the risk that an older adult will experience a fall.

What Is Fall Prevention?

Fall prevention strategies comprise different areas such as technology, education, physical therapy, and safety devices designed to reduce the risk of falling. Walkers are an example of a fall prevention device. Tai chi is a fall prevention exercise. Medication reviews, which can evaluate whether certain medications or drug interactions are causing excessive drowsiness or dizziness, are a common fall prevention tactic.

To read the article, check out this link: https://www.singlecare.com/blog/fall-prevention-for-seniors/

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Not every Power of Attorney document is created equally. What you don't know in this case, can hurt you. Robert and Cricket discuss: Why you need a POA, what happens if you don't have one if you become incapacitated, how your agent is to use the POA, and even why an internet POA may be worse than not having one. Join us in today's podcast for this interesting conversation.

Welcome to Aging Intelligently, where we walk with you down the path of getting older and together, climb those obstacles that seem insurmountable. Information and preparation can change your perception of aging.

Certified Elder Law Attorney, Robert W. Haley, and his wife, Cricket, a Certified Elder Care Manager, share their journey from fat to fabulous. They discuss their research, personal experience and interview other experts in the fields of Elder LawCare ManagementFinanceNutritionFitness, and even Travel, so you too, can be holistically well and secure wherever life's path may lead.

*This podcast is accessible through many applications, including AppleSpotifyAnchorBreaker and Google podcastsSubscribes Welcome

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