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Up the river without a paddle – is one power of attorney as good as the next?

Posted on Nov 15, 2018

Not all powers of attorney are created equal.  When planning for future incapacity, particularly if you anticipate requiring governmental benefits such as Medicaid, it is important that your financial power of attorney provide your agent(s) with all the powers he or she might need to provide for your elder law or special needs objectives.  These powers may include, but are not limited to, the ability to: -          Create and fund revocable, irrevocable, or supplemental needs trusts; -          Make gifts above the annual exclusion amount or to him or herself, if...

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We get by with a little help from our friends – Supported Decision-Making Agreements for functionally impaired adults.

Posted on Nov 5, 2018

In April 2018, the Wisconsin State Legislature passed legislation to create Chapter 52 of the Wisconsin Statutes, authorizing the use of Supported Decision-Making Agreements in the State of Wisconsin.   Wis. Stat. § 52.01(6) defines “supported decision-making” as “a process of supporting and accommodating an adult with a functional impairment to enable the adult to make life decisions… without impeding the self-determination of the adult.” Accordingly, a Supported Decision-Making Agreement can authorize the principal’s supporter (or supporters, if the principal desires more...

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Medicare vs. Medicaid: Do you know the difference?

Posted on Oct 1, 2018

When speaking about public benefits, people often confuse Medicare and Medicaid.  After all, they do basically the same thing, right?  Not exactly… Medicare is available to all individuals age 65 and older, in addition to chronically disabled individuals of any age, irrespective of resources (i.e., assets).  It is federally administered and beneficiaries are often responsible for co-pays and premium payments.  Medicare has four parts, each providing distinct benefits: 1.       Part A (Hospital Insurance) – provides coverage for hospital costs and related           services...

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What is guardianship and how do you avoid it?

Posted on Aug 23, 2018

Guardianship is a court procedure in which an individual is appointed to make certain decisions for another person (the “ward”). The purpose of a guardianship is to protect or assist an individual who, due to mental incapacity, is unable to make decisions, defend him or herself against exploitation, or otherwise provide for his or her needs. The proposed ward may require a guardian of the estate and/or a guardian of the person.  A guardian of the estate handles the ward’s financial matters, similar to a power of attorney for finances, whereas the guardian of the person handles...

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Special Needs Trusts

Posted on Aug 2, 2018

Are you planning to leave assets to a disabled beneficiary upon your death?  If so, consider establishing a special needs trust (“SNT,” also known as a supplemental needs trust) for your beneficiary’s benefit. An SNT is an irrevocable trust (i.e., the trust cannot be revoked or amended) established for the benefit of a disabled individual and managed by a trustee.  Because the trust is not owned by the beneficiary, the trust assets can be used to provide for the disabled person’s needs over and above the essential primary care provided to the disabled person through public...

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What is Elder Law?

Posted on Jul 2, 2018

Elder Law is a fast-growing practice area due to the steadily aging population of both Wisconsin and the nation as a whole.  However, many may not have a good understanding of what Elder Law is, or the services an Elder Law attorney can provide. The practice of Elder Law encompasses the provision of legal services to older and disabled individuals and their families.  For older clients, this can include planning for incapacity and long-term care needs, coordinating available private and public benefits, and working with the client’s family, healthcare providers, other advisors, and...

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