Estate Planning Update from The 53rd Annual Heckerling Institute

In January 2019, Aaron spent a week at the 53rd Annual Heckerling Institute. The Heckerling Institute teaches about estate planning pitfalls, taxes, expenses, and other important topics for people wanting to transfer assets to loved ones with as little expense and tax as possible. The focus at Heckerling also included asset protection from creditors, spouses, and estranged family members. This intensive Continuing Legal Education (CLE) course was put on by the University of Miami School of Law in Orlando, Florida. Morrie has also attended the Heckerling Institute twice in recent years.

Here at Doll & Sievers, we provide the following services:
1. Trusts – Irrevocable & Revocable
2. Last Wills & Testaments
3. Powers of Attorney
4. Healthcare Representatives
5. Living Wills
6. Beneficiary Needs
7. Estate Expenses/Taxes
8. Gifting Advice
9. Medicare Planning

Do you have questions about your current estate plan? Or, do you need to discuss which estate plan might be the best option for you?

Please contact Doll & Sievers for a Free Consultation: https://www.dollsievers.com/free-consultation/.

Expungement of Criminal Records in Indiana

Do you have a criminal record?  Did you have a youthful indiscretion and you would prefer it no longer be a matter of public record?  Is a criminal conviction is keeping you from a better job?  Perhaps you had a rough past, but have lived a law-abiding life for many years.  All of these are reasons you may want to take advantage of Indiana’s expungement laws, which have been made available to many more people through legislation in the last two years.

In the past, expungement of criminal records was limited to situations where arrested persons who were not charged or had their charges dismissed could later show:
1) no crime committed,
2) no probable cause to charge an already arrested person, or
3) the arrested person’s identity was mistaken for the real culprit.

Obviously the application of these factors was very limited and more often resulted in prosecuting attorneys and attorneys for the arrested persons agreeing that one of these nearly-impossible-to-prove grounds had been met when a deserving person sought relief many years after the fact.

The Indiana legislature within the last two years has determined that it ought to be easier to expunge records of arrests and convictions.  An arrest record, with either no conviction or the conviction was overturned, can be petitioned to be SEALED in as little as one year after the arrest occurred or the conviction was overturned.  The only eligibility requirement is that you do not have a current charge pending, or be on pretrial diversion or deferral.

Criminal convictions can now be expunged. Whether you are able to do so depends on the severity of the crime, and how long it has been since being convicted of a crime (in categories of 5, 8 and 10 years).  Also, you must have no other cases pending.  You can expunge multiple convictions in multiple counties, but you have to do so at the same time and only once in your life.  The categories are complicated, but legal counsel can help you navigate this process.  The law allows for the prosecuting attorney to agree to a shorter waiting period and effective counsel is crucial to convincing the prosecutor why a shorter waiting period is appropriate.

Persons convicted of certain crimes are not eligible for particular categories of expungement.  An attorney can help determine your eligibility.

Expunged records will still be available for the most part to law enforcement and those in the legal system.  Records can range from sealed from public view to available to the public but marked as expunged.  Your attorney can factor this information into the result you desire.

The process is complicated but the result can be tremendously beneficial–no more embarrassment, a better job, and affirmation of a life changed for the better.

Contact Doll & Sievers, Attorneys at Law, LLC at (812) 858-5200 or (812) 886-0000 to schedule an appointment to discuss your unique circumstances and needs.

–John

This article is general in nature and should not be taken as specific legal advice by any person. Everyone’s facts and circumstances are different. Consult an attorney for specific legal advice which is appropriate to your needs.

Getting Medicaid Without Losing Your Property

Is now too soon to begin planning for long term health care costs under Medicaid?

As each of us age, we should be asking ourselves when do we need to start asset planning to protect our important property, in case we need long-term, skilled nursing home care under Indiana Medicaid covered services.

Most commonly, to be eligible for Indiana Medicaid, you must:

  • Be a resident of the State of Indiana, and a U.S. citizen or an eligible immigrant
  • Demonstrate medical need
  • Be an individual age 65 years old or older, be blind or disabled.
  • If single, not have monthly income in excess of $674 or assets exceeding $1500, and if a couple not have monthly income in excess of $1,011 or assets exceeding $2,250, subject to change based on the Social Security costs of living adjustments.

If you meet the eligibility requirements and Indiana Medicaid pays all or a portion of your long term nursing home costs, once the Medicaid recipient dies, the State of Indiana will seek to recover from their estate, proceeds equal to the amounts which were paid by Medicaid for medical expenses. The Indiana “Estate Recovery Program” will seek to recover all such medical payments expended on behalf of the nursing home resident after they turn 55 years old. So the older we get, and therefore the more likely we are that we may need long term nursing home care, the greater the likelihood the State of Indiana will come looking after the patient’s death for repayment of those expenses. And the place Indiana will look is at the assets and property owned by the Medicaid recipient at the time of his or her death. This includes real estate and personal property.

In order to avoid the Estate Recovery Program’s attachment of your assets, such as your home, after your death, it sometimes is possible to use an irrevocable trust to take title to your valuable assets, which after the passage of time will no longer be subject to a Medicaid lien attachment. This “look back period” concerning the transfer of your assets for less than fair market compensation is 5 years. The number of months of Medicaid ineligibility incurred by such a less than fair market value disposition is calculated by dividing the uncompensated value of the asset transferred by the average monthly costs of nursing home care.

The reason for doing this asset protection planning sooner rather than later is because since February 8th 2006, such “ineligibility period” now does not begin until you are eligible for Medicaid such as the commencement of nursing home level care. So protecting your assets sooner rather than later, such as transferring the title to your major assets into an irrevocable trust, to start the countdown of time so that later when you need long term Nursing Home, Home or Community-Based Services, your transaction is safely beyond the 5 years “look back period” may be your best asset protection strategy, if you believe you may ultimately need Medicaid assistance to pay for your medical care.

Naturally, each legal action usually has additional consequences which you need to consider. Individuals who wish to review the effects of the new rules on their current estate plans or want to review asset protection options under the new rules should contact Doll & Sievers Attorneys at Law, LLC at (812) 858-5200 or (812) 886-0000 to schedule an appointment.

–Morrie

This article is general in nature and should not be taken as specific legal advice by any person. Everyone’s facts and circumstances are different. Consult an attorney for specific legal advice which is appropriate to your needs.

Considering Bankruptcy?

Do you cringe when the phone rings? Get nervous sorting your mail? Worry that you might lose your home or vehicle due to unpaid debts? If so, you are not alone. In this economy, countless Americans are struggling to make ends meet. Depending on the severity of your situation, bankruptcy may provide an opportunity for you to make a fresh start.