HOBBIES ARE GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH

Do you have a hobby? Hobbies can give meaning and purpose to your life in retirement. As Robert Putnam points out in his book, Bowling Alone, it’s easy to discount the importance of hobbies and social engagements. Putnam details the widespread decline in civic engagement, from PTA memberships to neighborhood potlucks and bowling leagues. Over a couple of generations, Americans have misplaced the concept of free time.

SPECIAL PLANS FOR YOUR SPECIAL PEOPLE

Lily is a beautiful, active and full of personality toddler who happens to have Down syndrome. Lily’s parents and I have been friends for years and I have the continuing pleasure of watching Lily and her siblings grow up. While Lily is becoming a physical therapy rock star and hitting all her milestones in a timely fashion, her parents have started planning for the future.

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WHY WE ENJOY OUR HOBBIES

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a hobby as “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation, engaged in especially for relaxation.” Hobbies include anything from playing a musical instrument to gardening, bird watching or sewing. A hobby is a way of focusing on something you enjoy just for the sake of that enjoyment. It may also be a way to clear your mental palette. You could be stressed out by a situation at work or the challenges of raising children and need an escape.

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spouse can receive a portion of your estate. In the case of a blended family, planning is especially important in order to make sure all your loved ones are provided for in the way you desire. Early planning and discussions can help keep family squabbles at bay.


Additions to your assets. If you acquire significant assets such as a large inheritance or a business after your estate plan was first drawn up, you may need to use some additional planning methods. For business owners, business succession planning is part of your estate plan.


Changes in health. Changes in your health or the health of your spouse or child may necessitate revising your plan. If you or your spouse will need long-term care, it may be wise to realign ownership of your assets. Additionally, if you have a disabled spouse or child, there are proper ways to make sure they are cared for without disrupting any government benefits to which they are entitled. Further, powers-of-attorney should be created for adults who are ill or disabled if they have not yet created them. This gives your family the ability to care for your loved one without having to seek a guardian- ship through the courts.


2. Changes in the Law

Changes to the law are made every year, but you may not hear about them. For estate plans drafted before 2012, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ACTRA) drastically changed how you should view estate planning. The act unified the estate gift and generation- skipping transfer tax exclusions amounts. In 2016, the exempt amount was $5.45 million (or $10.9 million for a couple). The exemption amount is adjusted annually for inflation. This is a huge difference from the exemption amounts in previous decades.


Due to the large estate tax exclusions, the focus of estate planning for most clients has shifted from minimizing estate taxes to planning how to increase the step-up in basis for estate beneficiaries. Today’s risk of wealth loss is the imposition of capital gains tax on the sale of assets after death.


Finally, Kentucky enacted the Uniform Trust Code in 2014. These provisions create new ways for Kentucky trusts to be modified and terminated. The provisions further specify the responsibilities and duties of the Trustees. These provisions apply to most trusts currently in existence.


Everyone needs to be aware of life changes and remain flexible in addressing them. An estate plan is not one-size-fits-all. Your attorney is uniquely qualified to tell you what estate planning techniques are right for you, your family and your specific situation.

At our firm, we recommend clients personally review their estate plan every two or three years and have an attorney review them every five years or whenever they experience a major life-event.


There are two reasons for this. First, major life events can affect your existing estate plan. Secondly, laws change and generally citizens are unaware of these changes and how they will personally affect their estate plan.


1. Major Life Events

Any major life event should trigger a review of your estate plan by an attorney. These events may include deaths, births, marriages, remarriages, divorce, inheritance, a new business interest or a change in health.


Death of a loved one. Unfortunately, the death of a loved one not only causes you to experience grief, but it can break your estate plan. If a beneficiary of your estate predeceases you, there may be unintended consequences. Depending on how your will is worded, your bequest could lapse or go to another unintended person or that beneficiary’s children. If there is no named person remaining in your estate plan, your estate will go to your legal next-of-kin under Kentucky’s rules of intestate succession. This may or may not be the person(s) you wanted to inherit your estate.

LONG TERM CARE - YOUR ESTATE PLAN MAY BE BROKEN

A greater problem may occur when the deceased beneficiary’s children inherit. If these children are minors, steps will need to be taken to properly manage the inheritance. This may mean a guardianship, conservatorship or a trust. Planning in advance can simplify these difficulties.


Divorce. Likewise, when you go through a divorce, your estate plan needs a major revision. A divorce causes your ex-spouse to be treated as if they predeceased you for purposes of distribution of your estate. Post-divorce, you will also need to update your beneficiary designations on non-probate assets. In some states, designations of the ex-spouse as a beneficiary on your insurance policies and retirement accounts will be void unless you re-designate that per- son after the divorce.


Marriage or Remarriage. When you marry, it is important to consider how your estate plan will affect your new spouse and any children you may have from a previous relationship. If you made your will before your marriage and did not update it to include your spouse, he or she will not benefit from your estate unless they go through a process called “electing against the will.” Through this process, your

MARY ELLIS PATTON

Mary Ellis Patton is an associate at Bluegrass Elderlaw, PLLC in Lexington, Kentucky. In her practice, Mary uses customized Powers-of- Attorney, Wills, and Trusts to help clients to achieve their financial, legal, and health care goals. Mary is licensed to practice law in both Kentucky and Ohio. She is the author of Chapter 13, Age Discrimination, of the Kentucky Practice Series, Elder Law Volume.

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