Mississippi Elder Law: Protect your senior investments

According to the National Organization of Elder Abuse, approximately 1 in 10 Americans aged 60 and over have experienced some form of elder abuse. Some estimates for the amount of elders who are abused each year have reached as high as 5 million. One study estimated that only 1 in 14 cases of abuse are reported to authorities.

As we get older, financial scammers tend to become more prevalent. Elder financial abuse is one of the top forms of elder abuse and the rate is steadily growing each year. It is important to protect yourself and loved ones from potential fraud.

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While you think about your future financial security, be very cautious where you choose to invest monies and with whom. The various types of investment fraud include pyramid schemes, unrealistic returns promised and unlicensed dealers.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), an organization that regulates firms and professionals selling securities in the United States, has implemented two new rules in early 2018 to help investment brokers and advisers protect the accounts of their senior clients (65 and older) from exploitation.

First rule, the broker must ask the investor (senior client) for the name of a trusted contact person. Allowing the broker to contact a trusted person when suspicious activity is detected. The second rule allows the broker to put a temporary hold on disbursements from an account if those disbursements seem suspicious. Allowing The broker time to investigate the investment.

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FINRA also has the Securities Helpline for Seniors as a resource for investors. They have received more than 12,000 calls and recovered more than $5.3 million for seniors whose investment funds were illegally or inappropriately distributed since the helpline opened in 2015. For more information regarding the new rules and FINRA, visit FINRA.org.

If you or a loved one is in need of a skilled Elder Law attorney in the metro Jackson area, contact The Wade Law Firm, PLLC. 

Metro Jackson areas we serve: Jackson, Ridgeland, Yazoo county, Hines county, Madison, Canton

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Posted in Elder Law, Estate and Life Planning, The Wade Law Firm

Ways to Help Your Child Through Divorce

Divorce can be a challenging time for any family. When children are involved, divorce can be even more challenging and lead to long lasting emotional effects on the children. Although not all emotional distress from divorce can be avoided, there are some ways to make it easier for yourself but also for the children involved. Here are some ways to help a child through divorce and make the process overall easier for the family.

  1. Uncontested Divorce 

If you have decided that divorce is the best option, strive for an Uncontested divorce.
Uncontested divorce is basically a divorce with no conflicts or issues. Issues and matters are worked out prior and agreed upon by both parties. This creates a “quick” and less pricey process. This route allows your family to avoid any excess tension, animosity, and drawn-out proceedings which is ultimately better for you, your ex-spouse, and any children involved.

The uncontested process also allows for more privacy. Divorce proceedings are public record as well as any information that is a part of the proceedings. Less information is filed to the court, therefore less on public record.

  1. Emotional Support Through Family Discussions

Uncontested or contested, children need emotional support. Honest family conversations or family therapy, if a mediator is needed, show that regardless of you as parents breaking up, the family can still be a family. It is important that the child knows that the divorce is not their fault. Be sure to acknowledge the child’s feelings about the divorce as they are valid. Tailor answers to the “why” and “how” questions to the child’s age and emotional development level.

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However, keep in mind to preserve the child’s innocence and mental health! They do not need to know every single detail of the divorce and reasons behind it. Remain mature and try not to include the children in any picking of sides or defamation of the ex-spouse.

  1. Maintain a sense of normalcy and discuss next steps

Discuss what comes next and what the future will look like moving forward. It’s best to try to continue a sense of normalcy or routine for the children. If they have a set schedule of schooling and extra curricular activities, coordinate with your ex-spouse, family, or friends to try your best not to disrupt those constants in your child’s life.

  1. Take care of YOU!

Protect your mental health. A strong you can be strong for your children. If you neglect your own emotional needs, it can ultimately be detrimental to your health and your children.

For more information on how to protect and support your child emotionally through divorce check out kidshealth.org https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/help-child-divorce.html.

For assistance with moving forward with an uncontested divorce in the metro Jackson, Mississippi area contact The Wade Law Firm today!

 

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Diagnosed with a debilitating disease? Next steps…

If you or a family member have recently been diagnosed with a debilitating disease like Alzheimer’s, now is the perfect time to start estate planning or update an existing plan.

First step is to appoint a power of attorney. Health Care Directive, Health Care Power of Attorney and Living Will are commonly interchanged. Regardless of the term used, this is a legal device that allows a person to make decisions about their health care before they become sick and/or mentally incapacitated. This should be done as soon as possible, the earlier the better while mental capacity and ability to make sound decisions is at its highest. A properly crafted health care directive designates your health care agent. You may designate one of your adult children or spouse as the person legally allowed to make decisions in your place. If you are mentally unable to decide how to treat your illness, this person will have the power to make decisions in your best interests. Your directive authorizes your agent to consult with your treating physicians about your care to ensure the course of treatment, medication, and life sustaining measures.

Next you should consider finances and long-term care. Confirm insurance and how continued care will be covered. Out of pocket or insurance? Long-term care insurance is available, but often individuals cannot gain coverage due to their health and the high costs of premium may bar others from signing up before they need the benefits – buying the policy early in life will help defray the costs.

Medicaid is an option, but only for those at the lower ends of the income ranges.  The annual income limit for individuals in 2018 is $15,800.00 (before deductions) – quite low indeed. Chances of receiving are even lower if your individual resources exceed $4,000.00.

There can be many boxes to check but it doesn’t have to be stressful. We are here to help. Get in touch with The Wade Law Firm, PLLC today to learn more about how we can help.

With more than 20 years of legal experience and focusing now almost entirely in all facets of Family Law, Wills, Estates, and Life Planning, Attorney Vangela M. Wade, located in the Metro Jackson, MS area, offers representation based on a flat fee basis for many uncontested cases and affordable consultation fees. This is a huge plus for anyone looking to smoothly and affordably plan their legacy.

Get in touch with The Wade Law Firm, PLLC in Ridgeland, Mississippi to find out about our flat-fee solutions today, (601) 856-9967.

 

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Asset Protection and Accounting for Long-Term Care

An often-overlooked element of Estate Planning is ensuring you’re on good financial footing if your health becomes a bit of a handful. For more than half of Americans, that will mean paying for long-term care at an average total cost of $138,000 for a period under two years. So how best do you ensure you are prepared to shoulder the costs – and that your assets are protected along the way?

First, consider your current health, family health history, and current level of income and/or savings for retirement. The money you can save in advance of needing long-term care may affect the type of care you can afford. In Mississippi, the average monthly costs of care can run from less than $1,000 per month for Adult Day Health Care to more than $6,500 for a private room in a nursing home. Either way, saving in advance is key.

But what about those of us that just don’t have the money to cover these costs out of pocket? Long-term care insurance is available, but often individuals cannot gain coverage due to their health and the high costs of premium may bar others from signing up before they need the benefits – buying the policy early in life will help defray the costs.

Medicaid is an option, but only for those at the lower ends of the income ranges.  The monthly income limit for individuals in 2017 is $2,205.00 (before deductions) – quite low indeed.  If you think that’s low, it gets even worse if your individual resources exceed $4, 000.00. Under Medicaid eligibility guidelines, resources are assets that you own individually and/or jointly and include real and personal property. However, certain types of resources are not counted toward the $4,000.00 limit. These include:

  • Home property – one (1) home may be excluded.
  • Income-Producing property- property may be excluded if it produces a net annual return of at least 6% of the equity value.  Certain restriction exists.
  • Automobiles – up to two (2) vehicles may be excluded.
  • Household goods – these items are excluded.
  • Personal property – there is a $5,000.00 exclusion limit for personal property.
  • Life Insurance – the cash value of whole life insurance policies may be excluded if the face values of  all policies on an insured are $10,000.00 or less.  Term life insurance is not counted.
  • Burial funds & plots – burial spaces for family members are not counted.  Money set aside for burial up to $6,000.00 is not counted.

Do not even think about transferring or giving away assets attempting to qualify for Medicaid Long-Term Care. Transfers of assets is subject to 5-year look back period to determine if assets have been transferred with the intent to qualify for Medicaid. If assets have been transferred, a transfer penalty may apply whereby Medicaid will not pay the nursing facility for your care or for Home & Community Based Services (HCBS) waiver participants, you will not be eligible for Medicaid.

The result is that many middle-class and lower income people may find themselves in a difficult situation as they age. On the one hand, they may be unable to afford the long-term care they need on their own budget. On the other, they may find themselves unable to qualify for Medicaid due to the money they do have. What to do?

This is when a skilled Elder Law Attorney can truly save the day.

Through smart, legal, and ethical means, a Life Planning attorney may work with you to structure your savings and assets using methods which would allow you to qualify for Medicaid benefits, securing your long-term care, while also ensuring that as much of your wealth as possible is passed along to your loved ones or whatever charitable causes you may choose. Along with planning for your long-term care, quality counsel may also help you to plan for other life planning needs, such as establishing a living will, durable Power of Attorney, and advanced healthcare directives. A little bit of planning can go a long way.

Attorney Vangela M. Wade

Whether you’re approaching your golden years or not, saving for your care is an important step to take. Just as important is seeking the guidance of a skilled Mississippi attorney. You’ll want to be sure that your care – as well as that of your loved ones – is fully accounted for.

With more than 18 years of legal experience and focusing almost entirely in all facets of Family Law, Wills, Estates, and Life Planning, Attorney Vangela M. Wade offers representation based on a flat fee basis for many uncontested cases and affordable consultation fees. This is a great option for anyone looking to smoothly and affordably resolve his or her legal matter.

Get in touch with The Wade Law Firm, PLLC in Ridgeland, Mississippi to find out about our flat-fee solutions today.

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BYC Spotlight – Vangela Wade

University of Mississippi School of Law: Bessie L. Young Council

Vangela Wade (JD 1996)
Founding Member

Attorney Vangela M. Wade

“When Professor Bell called and invited me to come to the interest meeting for the Bessie Young Council, I initially went because when Professor Bell calls, you answer,” joked Vangela M. Wade (JD 1996). “Once I learned the purpose and vision of the Bessie Young Council, I wanted to be a part of the visionary approach to helping nontraditional law students. You see, I was such a student in 1993.”

Vangela M. Wade began law school in 1993 as a recently divorced single mother. She left her job in Atlanta to seek a better life for her seven year old son, Ryan, and herself.  At the age of 31, she was one of the older students in her class.

Just before she began her first semester, Vangela had her yearly checkup, and the doctor discovered a lump in her breast.

“I had just quit my job and made the decision to start law school after waiting nine years.  The plan was for me to go to law school, and as far as I was concerned, nothing was going to deter that,” she said.

She made the decision to postpone having a biopsy. During her three years of law school, she continued regular health exams, but refused to get a biopsy until she was finished with school.

“I remember my last visit to the campus doctor who told me that I should really have the lump biopsied, and I said ‘not until I finish,’” she said. “I just kept praying ‘Lord, take care of me and my child,’ and he did.  I was and remain a firm believer that prayer with faith works!”

In addition to stressful health issues, Vangela dealt with the financial burdens of being a single parent in school as well as the isolation that can accompany the path of the non-traditional student. The social life and life experiences can be a gulf between the older student and the recent graduate entering law school.

“Living on student loans, there weren’t a lot of extras, but Ryan and I made it through,” said Vangela. “I was very welcomed and supported by many of the faculty and staff.  I believe they understood the path I’d taken and my commitment to accomplishing my goal.  Goodness, I can’t tell you the number of meals I ate in the home of  Sandra Cox-McCarty and her family and the support they freely gave to me and Ryan during my three years.  Former Dean Westerfield and  Professors Bell, Bradley, Davis and Mason always had time for sit-downs.  These were not all formal mentoring relationships, but looking back that’s exactly what those informal meetings and conversations amounted to for me.”

Vangela graduated from UM Law in 1996 and began working as a Law Clerk for Judge Leslie D. King, of the Mississippi Court of Appeals. Once she began working, she finally got the biopsy so many doctors had encouraged her to get.  The tumor was malignant, and after surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, she is now 21 years cancer-free.

Vangela’s husband Thandi is also a 1996 graduate of UM Law.  After completing chemotherapy and radiation, they had twin boys, Garrison and Christian, in 2000.  They reside in Madison and the twins are seniors at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School where they are Student Body President and Vice President.  Thandi is a partner with Tatum & Wade, PLLC in Jackson.

Vangela is a solo practitioner of The Wade Firm, PLLC. She primarily practices in the area of uncontested Family Law, Wills and Estates, and Life Planning.  She is active in local, state and national legal organizations.  Vangela currently serves on the Board of Trustees of St. Andrew’s Episcopal School and the Board of Directors of the Mississippi Center for Justice. She is a native of Verona, MS and a 1979 graduate of Tupelo High School.

Vangela decided to get involved with the Bessie Young Council to help students who were like her in law school.  “Students in law school, whether they are trying to make better lives for themselves and decide law school is a way to start over, or if it’s something they’ve always wanted to do, they need support. I think the mission of BYC is a great way to offer financial support and to help create intentional mentoring relationships.”

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Life Planning: Per Stirpes, Per Capita, and Perfecting Your Final Wishes

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While all phases of life are accompanied by important decisions, those that come later—such as Life Planning–certainly require the help and advice of trusted legal counsel.

How will your spouse and children be taken care of after you pass on? What will happen to your property, bank accounts, or other financial interests you hold? Taking a little time to plan for these matters in advance will ensure that your wishes and the best interest of your loved ones are taken care of in your absence.

When many of us think of Life Planning, we first think of a will – who gets what when you pass away? It seems straightforward enough, but it’s not as simple as designating a few names and listing properties beside each. Life happens – you may pass away after one of your children or loved ones. Then what? If you leave your life savings to your daughter but she dies a few days before you, who would receive the money?

Consider our example above: Here we have a classic instance of two estate planning options – allocation of assets Per Stirpes vs Per Capita. Luckily, trusted legal counsel can help you sort through issues such as these.

So, below let’s consider our outcome based on a scenario where you (A for Adult) have three children:

B = Betty
C = Charlie
D = Debra

Your kids have a total of three grandchildren (B1, B2, D1)

What happens if your will grants equal shares to each of your three children (Betty, Charlie, and Debra), but two of these children (Betty and Debra) pass away before you do? What would your grandchildren receive?

Per Stirpes: Think of this is “by the stripe” or “down the line” allocation of assets. Grandchildren receive an equal portion of their deceased parent’s original share.

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  • Betty’s two surviving children each get one-half of Betty’s share (1/2 x 1/3 = 1/6th share each).
  • Charlie is living, so he gets his 1/3rd share.
  • Debra’s one surviving child gets Debra’s 1/3rd share.

As you can see, the grandchildren receive their share “by the stripe” or “down the line” based on what portion their deceased parent would have received.

Per Capita: This term more or less means “by the head.” This is more akin to simple division, once we account for the first generation.

  • Your living child (Charlie) will get exactly what you granted to him (1/3rd). Easy enough.

But what about the surviving grandchildren? Well, (similar to per stirpes) per capita allocation takes whatever interests your deceased children would have received, but divides it among the surviving grandchildren “by the head.”

  • Once Charlie gets his 1/3rd interest, 2/3rd of the assets remains left over for the grandchildren. This remainder is lumped together, then we split this remainder among the grandchildren “by the head.” The surviving grandchildren each receive an equal share (2/3 divided by 3 grandchildren = 2/9th share each).

While not overly complicated here, understanding these theories takes some time. And they can become a bit of a mess – especially based on an individual’s family structure, specific wishes, and the simple unpredictability of life. Without a doubt, a qualified Mississippi attorney will go a long way to helping you navigate these matters.

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If you aren’t confident that your life plans are where they should be, you’d be wise to contact an experienced Life Planning Attorney.

With more than 18 years of legal experience and focusing now almost entirely in all facets of Family Law, Wills, Estates, and Life Planning, Attorney Vangela M. Wade offers representation based on a flat fee basis for many uncontested cases and affordable consultation fees. This is a huge plus for anyone looking to smoothly and affordably resolve legal matters and/or planning their legacy.

Get in touch with The Wade Law Firm, PLLC in Ridgeland, Mississippi to find out about our flat-fee solutions today.

Attorney Vangela M. Wade

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Caring for a Special Needs Loved One: Where to Start?

Special Needs Trust_Jackson MS Lawyer

Life planning takes many forms for many people. And while we most often hear of efforts taken to care for aging family members or minor children, family members with special needs – whether mental or physical – may also benefit greatly from a little advanced planning. So what steps should legal guardians take to ensure that a special needs child is taken care of after the death of a caretaker? What should a family member do to ensure that a disabled adult under his or her care will be provided for?

The Wade Law Firm, PLLC, is here to help.  We look forward to serving you in the Ridgeland, Metro Jackson, Central Mississippi and the Mississippi Delta areas.

First, know that contributions of assets to a disabled person – whether property or money –  may affect that loved one’s eligibility for certain public benefits, such as disability income or unemployment compensation benefits. In short, new income for the disabled individual may be treated as evidence of a reduced need for public assistance.

But what if you’d like to ensure that a disabled loved one is able to benefit from a portion of your estate when you are gone?

Consider a Special Needs Trust.

Set up with the help of an experienced attorney, a Special Needs Trust is established for the sole benefit of a disabled individual who is under the age of 65 by a parent, grandparent, legal guardian, or a court of law. This trust may contain assets contributed both by the disabled person and others, and is considered an “excepted trust” in that income and assets held in this trust are treated differently than others.  

Importantly, this excepted status means that a Special Needs Trust may also benefit the disabled individual without affecting his or her receipt of public benefits – IF it is created and administered in accordance with Mississippi Medicaid requirements.

Here are the basics:

First, to qualify as an excepted trust, the trust account must be established for a disabled individual, as defined in Section 1614(a)(3) of the Social Security Act.

Second, the Special Needs Trust must contain a provision which states that, upon the death of the disabled individual or termination of the trust for any other reason, the Mississippi Division of Medicaid will receive all amounts remaining in the trust, up to an amount equal to the total amount of Medicaid assistance paid to the disabled individual.

Essentially, the trust must repay any benefits the disabled individual received from the Mississippi Division of Medicare while also receiving financial benefits from the trust.

For example, let’s say a Special Needs trust is created and contains $100,000. Over the next few years, in addition to money from the trust, the disabled beneficiary also receives $20,000 in Medicaid benefits before his or her death. At the disabled individual’s death, the trust must transfer $20,000 of any remaining funds to the Mississippi Division of Medicaid to reimburse it for the benefits received.

As you may have noticed above, these trusts are meant to be established for individuals under the age of 65. This is not to say that payment of benefits will end after the disabled individual reaches the age of 65, but any new contributions added to the trust after the beneficiary reaches this age will not be eligible for the all-important “excepted status” and may affect the disabled person’s eligibility for public assistance benefits, as well as incur other liabilities.

Consider Your Estate Planning Structure

Thankfully, Special Needs Trusts are not necessarily required to “stand alone” and separate from your other estate planning vehicles. This means that the funds in a singular “Pooled Trust” – say, for the benefit of all of your grandchildren, only one of whom may be special needs – may incorporate a Special Needs Trust among any separate arrangements. In this way, your assets may earn investment interest and other financial benefits as a whole while being managed by a singular Trustee, say a loved one or your trusted attorney.

A Special Needs Trust may be incorporated into such a “Pooled Trust” so long as the Pooled Trust is established and managed by a non-profit entity that has been granted tax exempt status by the Internal Revenue Service and each beneficiary of the Pooled Trust is associated with a separate account.

Essentially, a Special Needs Trust may be created on its own for the benefit of a single disabled individual, or established as a specific part of a larger trust for the benefit of many loved ones. So long as you follow the rules, this trust can be structured as best fits the needs and desires of you and your family.

Needless to say, the information here is meant only to be a primer on the subject of Special Needs Trust, and does not incorporate every angle and element that can affect how your estate. If you think that a Special Needs Trust may be right for your specific situation, we implore you to contact an experienced and qualified attorney. It’s worth it!

Based in Ridgeland, Mississippi, The Wade Law Firm, PLLC, represents clients with a full range of quality uncontested matters in the Jackson Metro Area and throughout Central Mississippi. We’re able to offer a predictable schedule of flat fees for many of your legal needs.

To arrange a consultation, get in touch with Vangela M. Wade at 601.790.0043 or fill out our contact form.

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