Estate Planning: How to Encourage Your Aging Parents to Start the Process

One can never truly be prepared for the death of a parent. It is a thought many of us don’t even want to think about, much less discuss. However, death is a reality we all must face for ourselves and our elders. Putting the conversation of estate planning off until they are no longer able to participate only makes hard decisions harder. Once a parent passes or becomes incapacitated, emotions run high and thoughts become unclear. That is not the time to decide how personal belongings and affairs should be disposed of.  In fact, these discussions should be had not at the end of life, but much sooner, while the parent is still in good health and of clear mind.  Waiting until they are sick or in hospice is nearly as bad and traumatic as waiting until after death.

Depending on your parent’s disposition and views on their own mortality, you may need to broach the topic multiple times before they are willing to discuss. For some parents, discussing their final arrangements is a reminder of their age. It makes them feel helpless and afraid, so they avoid it. In such cases, it can be helpful to ease them into it by discussing your own estate planning first. The following example could help you segue into the appropriate conversation: “I want to make sure the kids are taken care of if anything happens to me. I had a lawyer draw up some official documents. I want everyone in the family to have a copy.” Most grandparents have a soft spot for their grandchildren, so they will at least look it over and have a few questions to ask. When the moment is right, offer to help them create something similar. If they seem overwhelmed or confused, tell them a lawyer will help straighten it all out. If they are too resistant, wait a while before bringing it up again. Be persistent yet considerate of their feelings.

However, some parents feel empowered by the thought of planning the final details of their lives. It gives them solace to know their arrangements will be handled exactly as they see fit. Parents like these are motivated, so they will probably approach you about planning their estate. They may ask you for lawyer recommendations or ask you to attend a meeting they’ve already arranged. Be sure all important parties (siblings, aunts, uncles) are in attendance. If they cannot attend physically, consider conference calls or video chats to ensure everyone understands the wishes of the parent.

Depending on the number of assets, estate planning can be as simple as drafting a basic will or as complicated as establishing trusts, guardians, executors and/or POAs (power of attorney). The complexity and amount of detail will vary from person to person and can be as specific as listing explicit instructions to follow for funeral arrangements.  If large amounts of money or property are involved, disputes may arise among family members as details are finalized, but as the decisions will be coming directly from the owner of the will, it is better than any disputes due to the absence of any estate planning at all. Doing this with a lawyer will help create a safe space for the parent to speak honestly. Overall, the important thing is that your parent has the opportunity to handle the disposal of their own affairs, and later give their loved ones guidance during a stressful time. Planning ahead will also give you peace of mind knowing you are carrying out their direct wishes.

If you or family need assistance with planning your estate in the metro Jackson area, please don’t hesitate to call our offices, 601-790-0043, to set up a consultation with Attorney Vangela Wade.

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

Consider These 3 Questions Before Filing for a Divorce

If you are already at the point of wanting a divorce, it may seem too late. You probably feel too much has been said and too many feelings have been hurt, but that is not always the case. Just as hearts can be broken, they can also be mended. Answering the following questions can help you decide if a permanent split is truly the best option for you and your family.

1. Do you have realistic expectations?

Most of us learn early in childhood that marriage is our “happily ever after.” We are taught to see it as an intimate, two-person party that we’re lucky enough to get to enjoy for the rest of our lives. However, after the honeymoon is over and the wedding cake is all eaten, the realities of everyday married life can be shocking if you aren’t prepared for them. The truth is that your marriage will not always be fun. You won’t always like your partner, and you won’t always feel hopelessly in love. Marriages, even those that are healthy, have a natural ebb and flow. You will feel in sync and smitten at times, disconnected and annoyed at others. This is natural. It is not a sign that “we’re just not meant to be.” What is important is that you maintain respect and commitment during those trying times.

2. Has your partner crossed a major boundary?

There is typically a simple yes or no answer to this. We all have deal breakers, things we are absolutely unwilling to negotiate on. Has your partner crossed one? For example, has your partner had an extramarital affair or multiple affairs? Have they had a child with someone else? Are they addicted to drugs and/or alcohol? Are they abusive to you or your children? These are common deal breakers that many, understandably, are not willing to work through. However, if this is not the case, if no major boundary has been crossed, you may want to invest more time in rebuilding and reconnecting. A good couples’ therapist can help you achieve this.

3. Have you already given up?

This is quite common. Many people give up on their marriage long before they get to the point of asking for a divorce. They go through the motions of trying to improve the relationship but never put forth real effort, because they assume it is pointless. This tends to happen when one party is already interested in someone else. (This doesn’t always have to be a sexual affair. It can be emotional.) In these cases, the uninterested party stops trying because they already have one foot out the door, on the way to be with the other person they perceive to be a better match. This is not the proper way to end a marriage. You cannot start a new relationship while already in one. You owe it to your partner to be honest and to end any relationship that disrespects your marriage. Only then can you see clearly the true potential of your relationship.

If after considering these questions you still feel a divorce is the best course of action, your next step will be to discuss it with your partner, family and lawyer.

For skilled legal assistance with an uncontested divorce within the metro Jackson, MS area, call our offices now to set up a consultation.

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Posted in Family Law & Divorce, The Wade Law Firm

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.

Photo by Nicole De Khors from Burst

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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Posted in Family Law & Divorce, The Wade Law Firm

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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Posted in Debilitating Diseases, Estate and Life Planning, life planning, The Wade Law Firm

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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