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Medicaid Planning – Planning for Your Future Health Costs

Skillern Law is excited to be adding Medicaid/Nursing Home Estate Planning to our practice areas. It’s a new type of estate planning in the law, and it’s becoming more and more important as the baby boomers are growing older. A lot of people do not know what it is or what it entails exactly. Let’s answer all those questions today on Tulsa Estate Planning Blog.

First of all, there are a lot of misconceptions about Medicaid and what it provides for. Medicaid is not a welfare program. It was before 1989, however Congress passed the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act in 1988 after Congress saw that Americans were getting older, and nursing homes were rising in costs. This act changed Medicaid to make it a Federal insurance program that helps middle-class America pay for long-term care costs.

Medicaid Estate Planning, or “nursing home planning” as it is commonly called, helps qualify a client for Medicaid benefits for future assistance. The planning helps qualify the future Medicaid applicant, which will help pay for nursing home costs, prescription drug costs, and medical expenses. Medicaid planning can help families save money from having to be spent on nursing homes and prescription drugs. This is especially true in the case of family held farms or businesses. Most people spend their lives paying into the Medicaid system, and Medicaid planning will help middle-class families from having to spend their retirement fund solely on health costs.

The essential thing to remember about Medicaid or nursing home planning is to get it done early. While there are planning methods to be used in “emergency 911” situations, that planning is expensive, can be time-consuming, and will not be able to get as much Medicaid help as early planning can. Preventative Estate Planning should happen years before the client is expected to be in need of Medicaid money. Typically, it is good to get done when you get your other estate planning documents drafted. At least five (5) years before an expected need, but the earlier the better in the case of Medicaid planning.

The exciting news is that Skillern Law Firm offers Medicaid, VA & Social Security Benefit planning in conjunction with Senior Resources & Benefits, LLC. Please feel free to look at SRB’s website here.   Set up an appointment today to discuss your options!

Estate Planning for Veterans

We live in a great country. In large part, this is due to the great sacrifice that our veterans have made, and the sacrifices that men and women in uniform make every day.

Statistics say that one in two Americans will need long-term care. There are many ways to curtail the financial burden that long-term care creates, but veterans are able to take advantage of special programs through the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. One of the programs that the VA offers is the Aid and Attendance pension. The pension ranges from $1000 to $2000 per month and is paid directly to the veteran recipient to be spent for expenses incurred.

The Aid and Attendance pension is available to any veteran or surviving spouse if the veteran served at least 90 days of active duty, of which at least one day was during war-time.

If you or someone you love is a veteran who needs some assistance covering long-term care costs, please contact Skillern Law Firm, PLLC today. Taking care of our veterans is an honor.

The exciting news is that Skillern Law offers VA, Medicaid & Social Security Benefit planning in conjunction with Senior Resources & Benefits, LLC. Please feel free to look at SRB’s website here.

Stepchildren, adopted children, and half-blood relatives: No Child Left Behind.

Oklahoma has some unusual laws when it comes to step-children and half-blood relatives, especially in the intestate inheritance laws. Just as a reminder, intestate merely means that the person who passed away died without a will, and so the state’s inheritance laws are in effect. Oklahoma’s statute, Okla. Stat. tit. 84, § 213 (1994), is the state’s Intestacy law/code, if you are interested in reading the statute yourself.

Stepchildren are not able to inherit through the intestate system in Oklahoma. Only blood children are able to take from the estate. It’s as simple as that. If you want your stepchildren to inherit part of your estate, you need to get estate planning in place (a will is a good place to start), so that they are able to. Otherwise, your blood children, spouse, and other blood relatives will take from the estate.

In Oklahoma, half-blood children have their own special rules, which can be viewed as harsh. Half-blood children/relatives are not be able to inherit “ancestral property,” but are able to inherit all other property and assets. “Ancestral property” is property that the decedent (half relative who passed away) acquired by gift, devise, or inheritance. In other words, half-blood children or relations will not be able to receive any intestate property that was given to the decedent by an ancestor who is not also an ancestor of the half-blood relation. Okla. Stat. tit. 84, §222. However, half-blood relatives are able to inherit ancestral property when full-blood relatives are more remotely decended. See In Re Estate of Robbs. Therefore, a half-blood would not be able to inherit ancestral property if there is whole-blood kindred of the same or closer degree of relative. For example, if A & B were full blood relatives, and B & C were half-blood relatives, A would receive the B’s entire ancestral estate, leaving C to receive 1/2 or whatever portion he was entitled to without ancestral property included. Half-blood intestate inheritance can be a little confusing, and is a major source of probate litigation in Oklahoma. If you have any questions, feel free to call us today for any explanation of the law and to see how you can avoid this problem with a will.

Adopted children in Oklahoma have an advantage not available in many states to them: double inheritance. In Oklahoma, an adopted child can inherit from and through his/her natural parents as well as their adopted parents. The converse is not available, however. The adopted parents cannot inherit through the child they gave up for adoption. Adopted children, therefore, will be able to inherit through intestacy just as if the child was a maternal or paternal child.

Skillern Law Firm can help craft all different types of wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents that allow your children (of all sorts) inherit your property without worrying about Oklahoma Intestate Law. Please call us today for more information.

Estate Planning for Everyone

A few years ago, my mother sent me the  Jessica’s morning affirmation video. I haven’t woken up every morning with Jessica’s joie de vivre, this morning I did. My whole house is great. I can do anything good. I realized that I can really make a difference for same-sex couples with estate planning. I’m not as sure about my hairs or haircuts, but that’s a moot point.

The actual point: estate planning can solve many problems that the law creates for same-sex couples living in states that do notrecognize same-sex marriages.

Same-sex couples are  not able to benefit from inheritance laws that enable spouses to take property under homestead laws. Oklahoma intestacy laws would not allow for a same-sex spouses to inherit anything. Therefore it is much more imperative for same-sex couples to invest in estate planning than hetero couples.

Both wills and trusts can establish inheritance for same-sex couples. Trusts offer basically the same inheritance options that wills do (please see our previous post), with the added benefit of privacy. Wills are open to the public when they are entered into the probate court after death, but trusts are only public in so much as that one has been created.

Same-sex families that adopt face unique child custody issues facing the death of one parent. Oklahoma laws allow only one parent of same-sex couples to be the adoptive parent. Parental rights follow this parent. If that parent passes away, then the other parent has no legal parental rights over the child. A will or trust can remedy the situation by specifying who will raise the child after death.

This is not to say that estate planning is a substitute for marriage. I in no way want to insinuate that signing a trust document provides the same joy that saying I do ever will. However, this is an option that Oklahoma provides that same-sex couples should take advantage of today. Skillern Law Firm  can set up a trust for you and your spouse to help you with your estate planning needs.

Check out other posts at Tulsa Estate Planning Blog.

SCOTUS

The Supreme Court of the United States’ (SCOTUS) October session started yesterday, October 3rd. I was looking forward to this term, since there are a lot of interesting and important cases coming up on the Court’s docket. There are 48 cases on the Court’s docket thus far. There are, however, plenty of important cases being petitioned to be taken by the court. One of the most newsworthy is the ObamaCare lawsuits that are petitioning to be heard in front of the SCOTUS. So far, the case has not said whether or not it would be willing to take that case.

I have to say, I love listening to oral arguments. Last year, the Supreme Court started posting their oral arguments of the week each Friday on their website. I would suggest you check them out, if you are so interested, here: http://www.supremecourt.gov.  This was a big deal for the Supreme Court. The (mostly conservative) Justices have always disliked media in courtrooms, even disallowing cameras in lower courts (re: the Prop 8 California gay-marriage case). So, when the Court started releasing oral arguments the week they were argued, I was estatic! In the past, they have released important cases’ oral arguments the day they were released, but the rest of the lesser-known cases’ arguments were not released until after the term was up.  It’s nice to be able to listen to them the week they are argued.

Anyways, for more information on the Court’s new term, read updates, and get analysis on the Court’s case, check out my favorite Supreme Court blog, http://www.scotusblog.com.

Also, if you are interested to read oral arguments from past Supreme Court terms, check out http://www.oyez.org.

Check out other posts at Tulsa Estate Planning Blog!

Welcome to the Tulsa Estate Planning Blog and the Skillern Law Firm!

Welcome to Tulsa Estate Planning Blog, created by the offices of the Skillern Law Firm, PLLC in Tulsa, Oklahoma. If you’ve read our profile over there on the right, then you already know a little about us and a little about what we want this blog to be about.

Penni Skillern, Esq. has had a passion for helping Tulsans with their estate planning needs for a very long time.  The ofices of Skillern Law Firm concentrates on the areas of  wills, trusts, estate planning, business law, and  probate law. We feel confident that we can translate some of our knowledge, and what we learn on the way while we are practicing, onto the blog. We hope this blog helps you in your questions about wills, trusts, real estate law, and business associations formation, as well as just give you general knowledge about some other types of laws we find interesting, but don’t necessarily practice in.

Please feel free to call the offices of Skillern Law Firm for any and all of your estate planning and business incorporation needs.

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