He is 80 years old but looks like mid-60s. When I told him that, he remarked, “Thanks, but the old noodle is giving out. Doctor says I’ve got dementia.” His wife nodded in vigorous affirmation. She added, “He goes to the store with a list, but always messes it up.” She was not trying to be hurtful—rather, she just wanted me to know how things really sit. This time, he nodded in animated agreement. They have been clients for years, and they had urgently called to “get their affairs in order.” He has his brain scan results, and she has emphysema and COPD. She has already signed a DNR for herself. As I listened to the facts, she threw me a bombshell. “I heard about the five-year Medicaid look-back rules, so I cashed in my IRA and gave $10,000 to each of our four adult children.” I gulped and said, “That was a mistake. Based on what you have told me about your health and your assets, it is highly likely that one of you will need nursing home care before 2015. Your gifts to your children will create a six- to eight-month penalty period of ineligibility for Medicaid nursing home benefits. She asked, “What should we do?” I answered, “You should call your family members and tell them that you made a mistake and to please give you back the money.” Her look told me that she would never do that. Her husband said, “We screwed up, huh? We should have called you first.” Most elderly clients who give away money due to a medical crisis will need long-term care within a short period of time. If you know a client or a client family member who is thinking about giving away assets “to protect them from being lost to nursing home expenses,” please tell them to call an elder law attorney first. Our firm can be reached at 630-585-5200 or firstname.lastname@example.org
A number of times I have had clients tell me that they love their adult children, but they have a child who has chosen a destructive lifestyle. Sometimes it’s a mental health issue, or sometimes it’s just a matter of making very bad choices. These parents do not want to abandon any of their children—but they also do not want to give money to fuel the fire that is consuming their child. They come to me and ask me what to do. These are not persons with a legally defined disability—but they will squander all of their inheritance unless their parents find a way to provide “lifetime love and protection” over estate assets. The answer is what I call the Lifetime Love and Protection Trust (LPT). A Love and Protection Trust is designed to be a legal tool to provide protection, motivation, and encouragement for an adult child who is unable to make careful and supportive decisions with his or her money. The LPT works to ensure that your investment in your adult child is used to further your caring purposes, positive values, and enduring concerns for his or her well-being. A professional trustee will follow your written trust instructions and safeguard your property to benefit your child. Trained investment professionals will safeguard the money and work to maximize a reasonable and profitable return on the assets that you have left to be invested. By law and by the trust document itself, the trustee must make prudent and intelligent decisions to protect your child and your trust monies. Unfortunately, it happens all too often that adult children squander their entire inheritance unless you take control and help them by making a final gift of love and protection by using a lifetime trust. The LPT prevents an adult child from foolishly spending, wasting, and losing your hard-earned estate. Your investment in your child is protected from creditors, failed marriages, and other predators. Some adult children consistently make destructive choices and therefore are extremely vulnerable to creditor lawsuits and many other types of legal claims. An LPT can be designed to discourage substance abuse and to provide for the special needs of your adult child. You can and should build protective walls around the legacy that you have chosen to leave your child. Build a fortress with this trust. At its most basic, a love and protection trust will be there for your child long after you are no longer able to be directly involved. Your legacy of love, protection, and sound investment management will give your adult child the best chance to still have money available if and when he or she eventually chooses to seek help to make a positive life transformation.