Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Is Someone You Love Battling Alzheimer's or Dementia?

If you said "yes," then I want to invite you to join me at the Alzheimer's Association's Education Summit, "Making Sense of Memory Loss" on April 9th here in Lubbock. This all-day event will be an invaluable opportunity for you to gain new insights on the disease, with breakout sessions to include information on caring for your loved one, dealing with caregiver stress, and the legal challenges and strategies you can use to protect your family. The Summit will feature keynote speaker Dr. Sid E. O'Bryant of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. Dr. Bryant is an expert on the biomarkers of Alzheimer's, and is a member of the Texas Alzheimer's Research and Care Consortium.

Seating will be limited, so RSVP today by calling 1-866-426-8362.

Alzheimer's Education Summit
Saturday, April 9
8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (Registration Begins at 7:30 a.m.)
Breakfast and Lunch provided.

Covenant Medical Center's Knipling Center (21st and Louisville --6th Floor of the West Parking Garage).

See you there!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Why is it important that your Medicaid Planning & Asset Protection advice come from a licensed attorney?

First, let me say that financial planners provide important services that can help a family be prepared for the future. But Medicaid Planning should not be one of them. Why?

The answer has two parts:

1. Texas State law forbids non-attorneys (such as financial planners) from doing Medicaid Planning for pay.

There is a good reason for this: Medicaid Planning involves legal advice!

If a financial planner skirts this law by forming a loose association with an attorney who does not actually meet with the client to assess their legal needs, problems can arise. Why? An understanding of a host of complicated legal issues of Estate Planning and Asset Protection must inform your Medicaid Planning decisions. Financial planners do not have the legal expertise to advise you on these issues. If you're not working with an attorney, you could end up with flawed advice and strategies, resulting in documents that later cause you or your family more harm than good.

2. Financial planners doing "Medicaid Planning" may sell financial products you don't need.

We do not sell financial products nor benefit in any way from those who do. We call it "having a dog in the fight." If the place you're counting on to give you legal advice is going to make money by by selling you an annuity or other financial product, how unbiased is their advice going to be? In our work with West Texas families, we find that sometimes a financial product is in order when planning for Medicaid, but other times it would be a waste of money.

The bottom line is this: if you call a place for Medicaid Planning, and they ask you to meet with an annuity salesman, not an attorney -- move on!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

10 Common Mistakes Texans Make in Medicaid Planning and Estate Planning

Today, I thought I would take some time to give you the top ten mistakes I routinely see people make in Medicaid Planning and Estate Planning. These are for your information, and as always, I encourage you to seek legal advice for your specific situation if you think you may be about to make one of these missteps.

1. Failing to seek competent legal advice and to sign legal documents prepared to fit your family's particular needs. Generic plans can't anticipate your family's individual circumstances.

2. Gifting away your home or other assets to get them out of your name. Gifts can cause you to become ineligible for Medicaid for five years or more and create tax problem for your children.

3. Listening to coffee shop myths and "conventional wisdom" about Medicaid Planning. The conventional wisdom is often simply not true, and could cost your family its home and assets. The laws and regulations affecting Medicaid Planning and eligibility are constantly changing. Don't bet your life savings and well-being on outdated information.

4. Naming one child as a co-owner of real estate or bank accounts, and believing that the Will (that was set up to require equal distribution between all children) controls who gets the account. IF the account has a co-owner or "beneficiary designation," then that designation controls who gets it, not the will.

5. Selling your home in order to pay for nursing home care. A good Medicaid Planning attorney can usually protect your home from the government and the nursing home and allow you to pass it on to your loved ones when you are gone.

6. Failure to have properly detailed Powers of Attorney in place as part of your Estate Plan. The right kind of financial and medical Power of Attorney can help you in Medicaid Planning.

7. Using form wills bought online or at a store, without consulting an Elder Law attorney. So many unforeseen things can go wrong with these documents. They are penny-wise and pound-foolish.

8. Not making the changes needed to wills or trusts after one spouse enters a nursing home. A surviving spouse in a nursing home can be disqualified from Medicaid benefits if he or she inherits assets from a spouse who has passed away.

9. Not using Special Needs Trusts (SNT) to leave assets to disabled children or adults with special needs. This can cause your loved one to lose valuable benefits.

10. Failing to take advantage of Medicaid Planning strategies while you still have mental capacity. Texas courts will, generally, not permit you to do Medicaid Planning for your family once you become incapacitated and are in a court-supervised guardianship.

For more information on these or any other issues related to Elder Law and Estate Planning, I invite you visit Nathan Ziegler & Associates at, or call us at 806-765-8801.