ADVICE FOR YOUR BUCKET LIST

Do you know what a bucket list is? Most people think it is a list of things you want to do before you die. A typical guess is people want to visit a particular place before dying. Based on an unscientific poll about bucket lists, that is not a bad guess. Travel appears to be a frequent bucket list ambition.  Anne is an American who is proud her ancestors lived for centuries on the group of small islands in the English Channel between the southern coast of England and mainland Europe.

REDUCE STRESS, INCREASE ENJOYMENT FOR A HAPPY 2018

Family caregivers provide practical assistance and enhance the quality of life for frail seniors who might otherwise require placement in a long-term-care facility. Typically, caregivers are spouses or adult children, many of whom are seniors themselves. Their role involves physical, psychological, emotional and financial demands. It can be a heavy load.  If you are a caregiver, consider the following strategies for not only surviving but thriving in the year ahead.

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DISCOVER A LOVE OF LIFELONG LEARNING

Curiosity, exploring interests and engagement are a few crucial ingredients to healthy and happy longevity. Enrolling in a class just for the love of learning is a great way to do this. The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at the University of Kentucky offers educational and enrichment courses, forums, shared interest groups, trips and more for adults age 50 years and older. Membership for the full year is $25; summer programs are at a prorated fee.

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*. “Supplemental Needs Person” means a person who: is disabled or is receiving, or is eligible to receive, assistance or other benefits under a means based government program (such as Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income). “Disabled” is defined under USC Title 42, Section 1382c(a)(3), KAR Title 907 Chapter 20:005, or under any Kentucky law related to means based government programs. “Assistance” is defined in United States Code Title 42, Section 1396d(a), or under Kentucky law related to means based government programs, and in particular KRS 205.510.

The main way most American families save for the future is through private retirement savings plans such as 401(k)s and IRAs.  These plans offer the opportunity to designate a beneficiary upon the death of the account holder.  These designations allow the account assets to bypass probate and pass directly to the named beneficiaries. Often, individuals make these decisions when initially setting up the account and never reconsider them.


Typically, the account holder names a primary beneficiary and a contingent (or back-up) beneficiary.  The contingent beneficiary only receives the account assets if the primary beneficiary predeceases the account holder.  The account holder can generally name more than one person.  Some financial institutions will allow the account holder to name a class of beneficiaries, such as “my children.”   


However, for individuals who have children or loved-ones with special needs*, being the beneficiary of a retirement account could wreak havoc on their needs-based government benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid, or housing assistance. This is not simply a problem for large retirement accounts, many of the needs-based programs have very strict income and asset limits.  A Special Needs Person could lose access to these programs which provide medical coverage, housing, and other neces-sities if they inherit

PREVENTING BENEFICIARY DESIGNATIONS FROM WREAKING HAVOC ON SPECIAL NEEDS BENEFICIARIES

assets or income in their individual name.


Proper planning can prevent a Special Needs Person from losing their government benefits.  Creating a Special Needs Trust to receive the funds on behalf of the Special Needs Person will accomplish this goal. The account holder merely designates the trust as the beneficiary. If properly drafted, the trust can receive funds from a retirement account without negative income tax implications and the funds can be used to assist the beneficiary without compromising government benefits.  The purpose is to supplement the benefits.


A Special Needs Person may be provided for through designating their Special Needs Trust as the beneficiary of a 401(k) or an IRA account. There are also other ways to fund Special Needs Trusts, including designating the trust as a beneficiary of a life insurance policy and giving assets to the Special Needs Trust in a Last Will and Testament.


Routinely review your retirement account beneficiary designations and Estate Planning Documents, especially for the Special Needs Person in your life.       

AMY E. DOUGHERTY

Amy E. Dougherty has been with Bluegrass Elderlaw, PLLC since 2012. Amy focuses her practice on assisting older persons in qualifying for Medicaid long term care using Wills, Powers-of-Attorney, Advanced Directives, and Trusts.  She also advocates for clients before Social Security, Medicare, and Medic-aid agencies and defends against involuntary dismissal from long term care facilities. Previously, Amy practiced elder law for Legal Aid of the Bluegrass.

more articles by amy e. dougherty