The information discussed and/or provided is not intended as legal advice and persons should not rely on anything posted on this blog. Please also be advised that no attorney-client relationship is established until the firm has been contacted by telephone and an appointment made to discuss your situation with us.

Difference Between a Joint Account and a Durable Power of Attorney

March 24, 2017

A joint account can be a useful device for pooling resources and eliminating the time and expense of maintaining two separate accounts. Under a joint account, two (or more) people have individual control over all assets in the account. Any of the joint account holders are free to contribute to and withdraw from the account without the need for explicit approval from the other joint account holders. When one of the joint account holder dies, the account does not need to go through probate since the assets in the account are already the property of the remaining account holder(s). The deceased account holder is merely removed from the account.

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How Does Life Insurance Affect Medicaid Eligibility?

March 16, 2017

Medicaid can be a valuable resource in paying for a stay in an care facility, but there are financial eligibility rules for various assets that make applying for Medicaid complicated. Life insurance is one type of asset that can affect Medicaid eligibility under certain circumstances.

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IRS Warns of Increase in Email-Based Tax Scams

March 8, 2017

The IRS recently reported that email-based tax scams, i.e. phishing or malware, increased by over 400 percent last year.

A “phishing” attack is when you receive an imitation email from someone posing as a trusted institution or person that tries to either ask you for personal information directly or tries to get you to visit a website that will ask you for personal information or passwords. Phishing emails and websites can even appear to have official logos and imitations of official login screens in order to dupe visitors into turning over personal information. Typically, phishing scams have had obvious flaws such as odd graphics or poorly phrased text that increase the suspicions of discerning individuals, but in recent months scammers have become increasingly more sophisticated to the point it can be difficult for even experts to tell the difference between scam sites and the real ones.

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Charitable Giving, Investments, and Taxes

February 24, 2017

If you are considering making a significant charitable donation, making a direct gift of appreciated stock or mutual fund shares may be a great way to avoid capital gains taxes, maximize your charitable giving income tax deduction, and maximize the value of your charitable donation.

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Quality of Life and the Elderly

February 17, 2017

While different people have different preferences, there are a number of factors that affect a person’s quality of life as they get older whether they live at home, with younger relatives, or in a care facility.

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Do-It-Yourself Estate Planning

February 9, 2017

While the idea of do-it-yourself estate planning may be tempting, the risks of things going wrong more than outweigh any potential savings.

What may seem like a reasonable estate plan at the present moment may end up becoming unreasonable over time. If a person decides to create their own will by dividing what seem like equally valuable assets now to various beneficiaries, there is no guarantee that those assets will retain the same relative value over time. Real property and stock holdings may gain or lose value at vastly different rates. Additionally if a person’s property changes, then the entire distribution plan may be obsolete.

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Digital Life After Death

January 31, 2017

One modern aspect of estate planning that can get overlooked is what happens to a person’s online accounts after they die. If left unmentioned in your estate planning documents, a person’s executor, spouse, or other beneficiary may be unable to access a decedent’s accounts.

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When You Should Take Social Security Retirement Benefits

January 19, 2017

Social Security presents people with a choice as to when to take Social Security retirement benefits. People can elect to take retirement benefits as early as 62 years old, at full retirement age, or as late as 70.

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Estate Planning Isn’t Just for the Elderly

January 12, 2017

The recent deaths of Carrie Fisher at the age of 60 and George Michael at the age of 53 are a reminders that death or incapacity does not necessarily wait until old age to strike. If even wealthy, well-connected individuals still seemingly in the midst of productive lives can be struck down, then the same could happen to any of us. It is important for all adults to plan, not only for death, but also a potential incapacity due to illness or disability.

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Providing for a Disabled Child’s Future

January 5, 2017

When planning for the support of children with disabilities a living, or stand-alone, special needs trust can be an important tool. On a basic level, a special needs trust is a trust designed to receive and hold assets while still allowing the trust beneficiary to maintain eligibility for government benefits. In the absence of a trust, gifts or assistance given to a disabled individual could endanger their eligibility for means-tested government benefits. In terms of Medicaid coverage, a loss of eligibility could mean they lose access to health care until they regain eligibility.

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Martha C. Brown & Associates, LLC assist clients with Estate Planning, Elder Law and Probate in St. Louis City, St. Louis County, St. Charles County, Jefferson County, Franklin County and the surrounding areas including Arnold, Ballwin, Barnhart, Bellefontaine Neighbors, Black Jack, Bonne Terre, Brentwood, Bridgeton, Cedar Hill, Chesterfield, Clayton, Crestwood, Creve Coeur, Crystal City, Des Peres, DeSoto, Ellisville, Farmington, Fenton, Festus, Ferguson, Florissant, Fredericktown, Frontenac, Hazelwood, Herculaneum, High Ridge, Hillsboro, House Springs, Imperial, Kirkwood, Ladue, Lake St. Louis, Manchester, Maplewood, Maryland Heights, Mehlville, Normandy, O'Fallon, Olivette, Pacific, Pevely, Richmond Heights, St. Ann, St. Charles, St. Clair, St. Peters, Ste. Genevieve, Sunset Hills, Town & Country, University City, Union, Valley Park, Washington, Webster Groves, Wentzville , Wildwood.