What is an estate plan, and why do I need one?

Posted on Oct 9, 2020

At its most basic, an estate plan dictates how your assets will be managed and distributed upon your death. An estate plan can, and should, however, encompass more than just the disposition of your assets. It can include planning for future incapacity, estate tax mitigation, and burial and funeral arrangements, among other things. The following are some of the fundamental benefits of implementing an estate plan: You decide who inherits your assets upon your death. Without an estate plan, state law determines who inherits your assets. You decide how and when your beneficiaries receive their...

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Yet Another Estate, Gift, and Generation Skipping Transfer Tax Senate Bill

Posted on Aug 12, 2019

In an earlier post, “Dueling Estate, Gift, and Generation Skipping Transfer Tax Senate Bills,” we discussed two different Senate bills concerning the federal estate, gift, and generation skipping transfer (GST) tax rates and exemption amounts.  On June 25, 2019, Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md) introduced yet another bill, the “Strengthen Social Security by Taxing Dynastic Wealth Act.”  This bill would simultaneously reduce the federal estate, gift, and GST lifetime exemption amounts while increasing the applicable federal estate, gift, and GST tax rates. The bill would reduce the...

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Medicaid Eligibility – What is a “divestment” and why should I care?

Posted on Jun 11, 2019

The Medicaid application process uses various terminology to refer to eligibility requirements.  For example, what is a divestment?  A “divestment” is defined as any transfer of income, non-exempt assets, or homestead property belonging to the Medicaid applicant and/or his or her spouse for less than fair market value. Any divestment during the applicable look-back period triggers a period of Medicaid ineligibility, with certain limited exceptions.  The look-back period is 60 months and is measured from the date that the applicant is institutionalized and applies for certain Medicaid...

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Medicaid Eligibility – How do I know which assets to count?

Posted on May 24, 2019

As referenced our previous post, Medicaid 101 – What is it and who is eligible?, Medicaid applicants can have no more than $2,000 in available, non-exempt assets, which raises two questions: when are assets available, and which assets are exempt? An asset is “available” if: (1) the asset can be sold, transferred, or disposed of by or on behalf of the applicant; (2) the applicant is entitled to receive the proceeds from the sale of the asset; (3) the applicant can legally use the proceeds to provide for his or her support and maintenance; and (4) the asset can be made available in less...

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Medicaid 101 – What is it and who is eligible?

Posted on Apr 8, 2019

Medicaid, also known as Medical Assistance (“MA”) or Title XIX, is a health insurance program, jointly administered by the federal and state governments, for the benefit of certain elderly, blind, and disabled Wisconsin residents. Because Medicaid is essentially a welfare program, eligibility is subject to strict income and asset limitations. Income limitations depend on whether the applicant is single or married, whether the applicant is “categorically needy” (is already eligible for Social Security Income), and whether the applicant is “medically needy” (resides in a nursing...

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Dueling Estate, Gift, and Generation Skipping Transfer Tax Senate Bills

Posted on Mar 15, 2019

Earlier this year, two very different bills relating to the federal estate, gift, and generation skipping transfer (GST) taxes were introduced in the United States Senate. On January 17, 2019, Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) introduced a bill that would reduce the federal estate, gift, and GST tax rates to a flat rate of 20%.  Under current law, these transfers are subject to a progressive tax rate that maxes out at 40% for transfers in excess of $1 million (subject to the federal lifetime exemption amount of $10 million, as adjusted for inflation). Conversely, the “For the 99.8 Percent...

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