shutterstock_65729302Some words in your Last Will and Testament may seem like a foreign language to you, but they could have significant impact on your beneficiaries. Per stirpes, a Latin phrase that means “by the roots,” is used in many Wills to define how your estate is divided upon your death.

But what does it mean?

A more common phrase, per capita, may help you understand the meaning of per stirpes. Per capita means “by the head.” Here’s a situation to illustrate the difference between per capita and per stirpes.

Say you’re a widow. The value of your estate at the time of your death is $1 million. You have two children, Jennifer and Ryan. Jennifer has two children, and Ryan has one. Continue reading

AdobeStock_44262084-300x200How do you feel when you’ve had a poor night’s sleep?

I imagine it’s the same for us all. Everything is affected – our mood, our energy, our decision-making. Our entire day!

So it’s no surprise that science has discovered that disrupted sleep does considerable damage to the brain, which suffers from unbalanced thinking and an inability to regulate emotional responses.

By E. Jennifer Reale

AdobeStock_208851607-300x212Contesting a Will or other transfers on the grounds that the person signing the Will lacked the capacity to do so, is both difficult and emotional. But it’s something that comes up quite frequently in my practice.

In Connecticut there are two different standards to determine capacity:

 

By Carmine Perri

When we help clients develop their estate plans, one of the advance directives we encourage them to create is a Designation of Conservator. You decide ahead of time who will manage your affairs – and under what certain circumstances – if you become incapacitated.

So what is a conservator?

A conservator is a person appointed by the Probate Court to oversee the financial and/or personal affairs of an adult who is determined by the Probate Court to be incapable of Continue reading

AdobeStock_141959265-300x200There are few planning tasks more daunting than applying for Medicaid. The process is intimidating and can quickly become overwhelming, not merely because it’s complicated but also because it opens up a Pandora’s Box of legally nuanced questions and concerns.

This is not a task anyone can afford to botch, and it’s something that you have to get right on the first try.

Because of the challenges, most people seek help navigating the Medicaid labyrinth. While there are many reputable Connecticut elder law attorneys who assist with Medicaid applications and asset protection planning, there is also a dangerous new breed of “senior planning” providers that is preying on elderly nursing home residents, often reducing them to financial ruin. 

FYI-300x200Wolters Kluwer came out with their annual inflation adjustment projections which reflect several increased thresholds and ceilings you should be aware of. The IRS is expected to release the official amount later this year.

Of particular note:

1)  The trust and estate maximum income tax bracket (37%) is reached at $12,750, up from $12,500.

Thinking of creating your own Will or other estate planning documents? After all, there are lots of web sites with legal document templates available – they make it sound easy.

And of course there’s the cost savings. Why pay a Connecticut estate planning lawyer for something you can do on your own?

The answer is simple: There’s a darn good chance that do-it-yourself legal documents might end up costing you, and your loved ones, more than you think.

If it’s not tailored to where you live…

…then there’s a chance that the document template language isn’t relevant for the state or county you live in. Each jurisdiction has its own laws and regulations – and they change. Filing a document that isn’t appropriate for your state could render your papers null and void.

Think about how that could impact your loved ones after you die.

Continue reading

AdobeStock_35685286-182x300By E. Jennifer Reale

It happens more often than you might imagine. After losing a loved one, family members discover that the deceased’s life insurance policy is about to be paid out to an unexpected beneficiary. Such news can come as a nasty shock, and—unfortunately—it can herald an uphill battle to get the situation resolved.

Given that a life insurance or annuity is a direct contact between the insured (the deceased) and the company providing the insurance/annuity, the claims are settled independently from any Will or Trust that the deceased may have had in place.

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