Thursday, December 31, 2015

Finding Your Space for Disability Parking

Disability parking placards allow you to park in areas designated for disabled drivers. Before applying for a handicap placard for your car, be certain you meet the criteria set by your Department of Motor Vehicles, says Melissa Crumish of dmv.org. If you’re an Indiana resident or an out-of-state resident receiving treatment in Indiana, you’re be eligible for a placard if:
  •  You have a temporary or permanent physical disability that requires you to use a  wheelchair, walker, braces or crutches
  •  You have temporarily or permanently lost the use of one or both legs
  •  You are certified by a doctor as being severely restricted in mobility, either temporarily or  permanently, by a heart condition, arthritis or orthopedic or neurological impairment
  •  You are permanently blind or visually impaired
  •  You transport eligible handicapped persons
  •  You are a certified disabled veteran
A disabled person who is eligible may use the placard in any vehicle in which he or she is riding, with the placard itself displayed on the vehicle’s dashboard. It is against the law to misrepresent your eligibility for a placard or to use the placard when no one in the car at the time is eligible, caution the authors of Indiana Laws of Aging.

So how do you go about acquiring a disability placard?
You fill out State Form 42070 (Application for Disability Parking Placard or Disability Plate).  The form must be certified by a physician with a valid and unrestricted license.  The form may be returned to the address shown on it or to any Indiana license branch..

This application may be downloaded from the website http://www.in.gov/bmv/2347.htm

How much does a placard cost?
A temporary disability placard costs $5.00 and is valid for six months or up until the date indicated by the certifying physician is reached, whichever comes first.  A permanent disability placard is free.

What about lost, stolen, or destroyed placards?
No fee is charged to issue a duplicate card to someone who is permanently disabled. Temporary placards cost $5 to reissue.

What’s the difference between a disability license plate and a disability placard?
A license plate is for your personal use on your own car. A placard can be moved from one vehicle to another.




- by Ronnie of the Rebecca W. Geyer & Associates blog team


Monday, December 28, 2015

Elder Law and Estate Planning - All About People

Completing her studies at Indiana University Maurer School of Law, Columbus, Indiana native wasn’t sure exactly what specialty area of the law she wanted to make her life’s work. She knew only that her career needed to be devoted to helping people. True to that intention, she spent years serving on countless boards of non-profit groups and clubs. Most recently in law school, Lewis served on the executive board of the pro bono Tenants Assistance and was an active member in the pro bono Immigration Project and Women in the Law Society.

When it came time for her to clerk for the summer, Lewis asked friends and colleagues for recommendations. Serendipitously, she was steered to Geyer & Associates, where she served as a summer associate both her 1L and 2L summers. Learning, to her delight, the extent to which the Geyer & Associates’ mantra “Compassionate Counsel for Every Generation” had become an integral part of every aspect in the practice, Lewis knew she had found the right place to launch her career. 

Today, as Geyer & Associates’ newest associate attorney, Ms. Lewis is a member of the Indiana State Bar Association, where she has become active in the Elder Law and Probate, Trust & Real Property Sections.  Ms. Lewis is also an active member of the Indianapolis Bar Association, where she participates in the Estate Planning and Administration Section and its Women and the Law Division.

Kimberly Lewis has gotten involved in the local community since joining Geyer & Associates, joining OneZone, the Hamilton Country Chamber of Commerce and its Young Professionals Division.

Lewis’ excitement over finishing law school and launching her law career was marred when, earlier this year, she lost her own beloved father. Lewis hopes the experience of losing a loved one and serving as administrator for his estate will help her better guide clients through the process of estate administration and make her a better attorney.

Every day, Kimberly Lewis becomes more and more involved in her work in elder law, estate planning and estate administration at Geyer & Associates.  As she’d always imagined as a student, elder law and estate planning are all about helping people.



- by Ronnie of the Rebecca W. Geyer blog team


Kimberly Lewis

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Directives for Home and Hospital

Documents appointing an agent to act and providing instructions about your health care wishes when you are not able to make them yourself are called health care advance directives, explains Charles Sabatino, director of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Law and Aging.

There are several different types of advance directive documents, and it’s very important to understand how each of these documents functions, and to document your wishes appropriately.  Indiana’s most recent advance directive is the POST form.  The Indiana POST Program went into effect in July of 2013, for persons with advance chronic progressive disease, frailty, or terminal conditions. Unlike a living will, which may be used by any adult, the POST form is not intended for persons with a long life expectancy, and it must be executed in conjunction with a physician and the individual (or the individual's Authorized Representative, Guardian or Power of Attorney).

An individual with a POST form should expect that the declarations on the form be complied with across all healthcare settings, which means that the form is legally acceptable by EMS Providers,  extended care facilities, hospitals and hospice Care.

The POST form has six sections which allow a patient to determine the type of care he or she wishes to receive based upon his/her medical condition:

Section A:      Code Status - does the patient want full resuscitation or not?
Section B:      Level of Medical Intervention – does the patient want full medical intervention such as IVs, fluids, and cardiac interventions, or limited medical intervention with only pain medication and items to help keep the patient comfortable?
Section C:     Antibiotics – does the patient wish to receive antibiotics or not?
Section D:     Artificial nutrition – does the patient want food via artificial means?
Section E:     Documents that a discussion occurred with the patient or the 
                      representative with appropriate signatures
Section F:      Physician signature and identifiers

A recent landmark study by the Institute of Medicine concluded that 70% of older adults facing treatment decisions are incapable of making those decisions themselves. At Geyer & Associates, we believe YOU have the right (and the obligation - to yourself and your loved ones) to choose who will make health care decisions should you become incapacitated.

Advance directives ensure that your wishes will be respected and carried out.

by Rebecca W. Geyer

Monday, December 21, 2015

Directives Need To Be Done in Advance

“Advance care planning is a process for setting goals and plans with respect to medical care and treatment,” explains Charles Sabatino, director of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Law and Aging. Documents appointing a representative and setting forth instructions about your health care wishes when you are not able to make them yourself are called advance directives.

Advance directive documents include:

1.   Living will – allows you to determine if you want your life artificially prolonged by tubes and machines;

2.   Durable Healthcare Power of Attorney – allows you to appoint someone to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to make them for yourself;

3.   Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment – allows individuals with a chronic or terminal illness or chronic frailty to determine the scope and extent of treatment they wish to received related to the illness from which they suffer.

Sabatino wants to debunk many of the myths and misunderstandings people have about advance directives:

Myth: Each state has its own form and you have to use that form for your document to be valid.  Truth: Most states do not require a particular form, but there may be witnessing requirements for documents.

Myth: Advance directives are legally binding and doctors have to follow them.
Truth: Doctors can refuse to comply with your wishes if they consider them medically inappropriate, but they have an obligation to help transfer you to another health care provider who will comply. 

Myth: An advance directive means “do not treat”.

Truth: The document can express both what you want and what you don’t want.  You should always be given “palliative care” to keep you pain-free and comfortable, addressing medical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs.

Myth: If I name a health care proxy or representative, I will be giving up the right to make my own decisions. 
Truth: You always have the right to override the decision or revoke the directive.

Myth: If my advance directive says “do not resuscitate”, emergency technicians will not resuscitate me if 911 is called.
Truth: EMS must attempt to resuscitate you and transport you to a hospital except in the case of people with terminal illnesses who have in place out-of-hospital DNR orders.

Myth: Advance directives are only for older people.

Truth: Every adult should have an advance directive.

Directives need to be done in advance!  We encourage all individuals to have health care documents in place, and even more importantly, to discuss their specific wishes with their family.


- by Corinna A Smith of Rebecca W. Geyer & Associates

Friday, December 18, 2015

Social Ssecurity Strategy and Your Estate Plan

If you’re part of a couple and younger than age 62, some new rules about Social Security that were included in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 may have you making some changes in your estate plan.
(Older than that? Well, if you’re going to be turning 66 by April of 2016, there might still be time to take advantage of the Social Security system before the new rules take effect.)

Quick review of what’s going away:
  • The earliest age to claim retirement Social Security benefits is 62.
  • “Full retirement age” is 66 for those born between 1943 and 1954, 67 for those born in 1960 or later.
  • The latest age to claim maximum benefits is age 70.
  • “File and suspend” strategy: An individual waiting to file until full retirement age had the option to elect the spousal benefit (one-half of his or her spouse’s social security amount) as early as age 62 and then switch to the worker’s benefit by age 70.Meanwhile, the worker’s benefit would continue to increase with deferral credits, allowing them to draw more at age 70.

The “file and suspend” strategy allowed couples to collect some money in additional income now, and still benefit from the increase in benefits later. “Without the ability to get that spousal benefit to supplement their other income, many couples wouldn't have been able to delay taking the worker's primary benefit until a later age, missing out on higher benefits for the rest of their lives. The alternative would have been to give up on spousal benefits potentially for years, costing tens of thousands of dollars in lost Social Security payments,” explains Dan Caplinger of motleyfool.com

The new budget deal eliminates those “file and suspend” benefits, because, if the primary worker suspends, his or her spouse or children (who are getting benefits based on that worker’s earnings history) will have their benefits suspended as well.
While the attorneys at Rebecca W. Geyer & Associates do not offer tax advice, estate planning and tax planning overlap. At Geyer & Associates our goal is to coordinate our efforts with those of other advisors in order to address all aspects of clients’ financial plan.  We can assist you in maximizing your Social Security benefits to achieve the most income during your retirement years.
- by Ronnie of the Rebecca W. Geyer & Associates blog team

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Is Making an Anatomical Gift Part of Your Estate Plan?

As we provide in-depth counseling to individuals and families, Geyer & Associates fields many questions about the most personal type of bequest any person can make to another – an anatomical gift.

The authors of the Indiana Laws of Aging Handbook discuss the medical need for anatomical gifts. There is a need for not only organ transplants such as heart, kidneys, pancreas, lungs, liver, and intestines, but also a need for tissues such as cornea, skin, bone marrow, heart valves and connective tissue to treat otherwise catastrophic illnesses. “Donation of one’s (entire) body can, if appropriately planned, reduce or eliminate funeral and interment costs,” they add.

Who can make an anatomical gift in Indiana for a transplant or for use in medical education or science?
  • Any individual of sound mind who is at least 18 years of age
  • Persons under 18 who have the consent of a parent or guardian
  • A family member or guardian after your death

There are several ways in which you can direct that an anatomical gift be made:

  • In your will
  • By completing a donor card
  • By indicating your wish on your driver’s license
  • In a document signed by you and by two witnesses
    (Remember, you can change or revoke a gift at any time.)
.
Regardless of how you indicate the gift, the Handbook authors advise you should discuss your wishes with your family, with caregivers, and with one of the following organizations:
  1. Indiana Organ Procurement Organization   www.iopo.org
  2. Indiana Lions Eye & Tissue Transplant Bank  www.tbionline.org
  3. I.U. School of Medicine Anatomical Education Program  www.anatomy.irpui.edu/anatomical
  4. General Organ Donation Information (national)   www.organdonor.gov

One of the most frequently asked questions of I.U Anatomical Education Program’s staff is “Do whole-body anatomical gift donors typically have a funeral?“  The answer: “Some people have a funeral service after which the body is brought to the Anatomical Education Program; others have the body brought to the Medical Center, with a memorial service at a church or funeral home at a later time.”

At Geyer & Associates, we can discuss your organ donation options with you and ensure that your wishes are carried out at your death.
- by Ronnie of the Rebecca W. Geyer & Associates blog team

Friday, December 11, 2015

Is Your Safety Deposit Box in Sync With Your Estate Plan?

“Renting a bank safe-deposit box can help secure important personal documents, collectibles, and
family heirlooms," says Paul Bomberger of
bankrate.com, "but it's important to make
wise decisions about what goes in the box and to stipulate who has access to it."

 
Items experts recommend storing in a safety-deposit box include, Bomberger says:
  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage certificates
  • Insurance policies
  • Property deeds
  • Rare coins
  • Jewelry
  • Irreplaceable family photos
  • Stock or bond certificates
  • Foreign currency

Items that should be left out of the box include:
  • Cash (it will not be insured by FDIC)
  • Wills (a court order usually is needed to retrieve it once the box holder dies)*
  • Insurance cards (you need to be able to access these quickly)

When clients of Rebecca W. Geyer & Associates request that we keep their documents, we retain their originals in a fireproof area, and we keep electronic copies that are backed up every fifteen minutes.

Who has access to a bank safe-deposit box while the box holder is alive?
  • All people whose names are listed on the signature card at the bank
  • An individual who has power of attorney for the box holder

Who has access after the box holder dies?
  • Anyone who is a co-renter of the box
  • A trustee appointed to oversee assets in the trust. The probate courts may require the items in the personal box to be reviewed under probate to determine if they are qualified as trust assets or not. This is why naming the trust as the owner is the best move.
  • The executor of the estate (but not necessarily immediately)

Many people don’t realize this: a power of attorney loses authority to act on your behalf upon your death.  This means that unless a co-renter is listed on the box, probate will likely be needed to open and access the box’s contents.
At Geyer & Associates, we can assist with the proper management of your documents, and the titling of your assets, including safe deposit boxes.

- by Ronnie of the Rebecca W. Geyer & Associates blog team


Thursday, December 10, 2015

When Going Joint Causes Problems


Joint ownership - whether of property or of bank and investment accounts - is convenient.  And yes, joint ownership of assets is one way to avoid probate.  But as we often find it necessary to remind our clients, it’s important to understand the consequences of joint ownership.

The authors of the Indiana Laws of Aging Handbook agree. They remind readers that there may be some unintended consequences when property is held jointly:

  • There may be tax consequences in any transfer of change of ownership in real estate.
  • Any party to a joint account may withdraw all or part of the funds without the consent of the other.
  • You cannot assume that money left in a joint account will be divided according to the provisions in your will.
  • If, after your death, your bills and expenses cannot be satisfied by other assets in your estate, your joint bank accounts can be used to cover allowable expenses and taxes.
In Your Living Trust & Estate Plan, Harvey J. Platt points out three more potential hazards of joint ownership:

  • The creation of a joint interest may be subject to gift taxes.
  • If joint owners die simultaneously, assets could pass to those not intended (absent a valid will or living trust, the nearest blood relatives of each joint owners would each receive half the value of the account).  
  • From an estate tax point of view, there is a very distinct potential downside to joint ownership of property - the “stepped-up value” factor of the property is lost. What does that mean? When an individual property owner dies, the income tax basis value of the property for estate tax purposes is increased to the fair market value at the time of the owner’s death (or in certain cases, the value six months after death). That “step-up” can reduce or even eliminate capital gains tax on the property.
Joint ownership of property has its advantages, to be sure, including convenience and probate avoidance. It also, as shown here, carries with it distinct downsides. At Rebecca W. Geyer & Associates, our goal is to tailor each estate plan to take advantage of joint ownership while stepping around the pitfalls!.

- by Rebecca W. Geyer

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Going Joint

“It’s important to understand the consequences of joint ownership of property,” caution the authors of the Indiana Laws of Aging Handbook. At Geyer & Associates, we agree. As we provide in-depth counseling to individuals and families, we find that in many instances joint ownership seems in accordance with clients’ objectives, but it should not be used as a substitute for a will or trust. 

There are three basic types of co-ownership of property:
  1. Joint ownership with right of survivorship
  2. Tenancies in common
  3. Community property (this applies in only nine states, not including Indiana)

Real estate ownership
It’s common for spouses to hold title to their home or other real estate in joint name with rights of survivorship. Under this arrangement, upon the death of either spouse, the property passes automatically to the other (no matter what the will might say to the contrary).  Two individuals not married to each other can hold property in this way as well.

Two people, whether married to each other or not, can also share ownership of property as tenants in common. When one dies, ownership of the property does not pass automatically to the other, but follows the instructions in the deceased person’s will.

Bank accounts
Spouses often have joint bank accounts and investment accounts. It’s also quite common for older people to have joint accounts with a child or other trusted relative.  Sometimes this is done for convenience, because the older person might have trouble getting to the bank or is anticipating an illness or recovery from surgery. As the Indiana Laws of Aging Handbook points out, “Typically the elderly person has no intention of giving the child or relative any rights to take and keep the money now.”

Under Indiana law, any party to a joint account may withdraw all or part of the funds without the consent of the other. Any money remaining in the account when one joint owner dies belongs to the survivor named in the account (even if the will says otherwise).

Bank accounts may also be set up as “Transfer on death” (TOD) or “pay on death” (POD), which is like putting a beneficiary designation on a bank account. Money in such accounts remains the sole property of the person who opened the account, and stays completely in that person’s control during his/her lifetime. Only upon death is money transferred to the persons named as recipients.

Joint ownership of property has its advantages, including convenience and probate avoidance. It also, as Harvey J. Platt points out in Your Living Trust & Estate Plan,  carries with it distinct downsides. We’ll be discussing some of those downsides in our next blog post….


- by Corrina A. Smith of Rebecca W. Geyer & Associates

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Guardianship - Yes or No?

When a person can no longer manage property or provide self-care, a guardianship may be appropriate,” explains the Indiana Laws of Aging Handbook. On the other hand, the Indiana Bar Foundation authors caution, “Sometimes guardianships are unnecessarily imposed on persons who are capable of making their own decisions.”

What, exactly does the term “guardian” mean? A guardian is someone appointed by a court to make decisions for an incapacitated person.  In Indiana, conservator and guardian mean the same thing.
Who can serve as guardian or conservator?
  • Any capable adult
  • A county Division of Family and Children
  • A private charity
  • A corporation

What makes a person “incapacitated”? They are incapable of providing self care, of managing their property, or both, due to:
  • Infirmity
  • Insanity
  • Mental illness
  • Alcoholism
  • Excessive drug use

“Old age is never a basis upon which guardianship can be granted,” the authors stress.
And what is more, a person who has one or more of the problems listed above is not necessarily incapacitated, because, even people with one of those conditions might be capable of providing self care and managing their own affairs..

Any interested person may file a petition for the appointment of a guardian of an incapacitated person, but the filer will not necessarily be the person who will be appointed guardian. Notice that a petition has been filed must go to:
  • The person alleged to be incapacitated
  • Parents
  • Spouse
  • Adult children
  • At least one person closely related by blood or marriage (of there are no living parents, spouse, or adult children)

“The court should always look to the least restrictive alternative available to protect the interests of the incapacitated person,” creating limited guardianship wherever appropriate to encourage the self-improvement, self-reliance and independence of the protected person, the Handbook authors caution.



- by Rebecca W. Geyer