Lack of Coordination: The Potential for Best Laid Plans to Go Awry

By: Martin S. Shenkman and Sandra D. Glazier[1]

This article was originally published in Leimberg Information Services, Inc. (LISI).

In 1786 Robert Burns wrote his insightful poem commonly referred to as “Mousie”. In it he reflects that upon plowing his fields he undoes the foresight of mice who unfortunately built their nest in Burns’ field. He pens the oft used phrase that “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”.[2] In the realm of estate planning, a lack of coordination in the designation of agents, assets and/or beneficiaries frequently causes even the best laid plans to go awry. While subsequent changes to designations made by a client may be beyond our control, attention to the potential difficulties arising from conflicting directions and designations of agents may be a discussion worth having. At least the client who is “forewarned is forearmed”.[3]

Generally, clients come to us with some general, or perhaps even specific, ideas of how they wish to dispose of their property upon death. As part of a comprehensive approach to the client’s estate plan, it’s incumbent upon us to ask who they want to be responsible for administering those assets, not only upon death but also in the event of incapacity. Because the issue of asset management and control can fall under the auspices of different fiduciaries, consideration of who they will be and how they might interact and relate can be extremely important. Creating a comprehensive plan for clients often goes beyond simply drafting estate planning documents.

Planning for aging (and incapacity) requires more than just the traditional preparation of a Will, durable power of attorney (“DPOA”) (and perhaps a revocable trust). The multitude of fiduciary and quasi-fiduciary appointments clients make, almost entirely without professional input, can create conflicts and inconsistencies in the administration of the client’s affairs. Practitioners can provide great assistance to their clients when they expand the scope of their inquiry and client discussions to address issues relating to such appointments and the importance of coordination of fiduciaries named under primary legal documents. Doing so can forewarn the client of pitfalls that could undermine the safeguards the planning team is endeavoring to create. As estate planning remains extremely relevant in implementing client desires, it’s important for practitioners to evolve and consider a broader range of practical, non-technical, considerations that can make our services beneficial to all spheres of client echelons.

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Steven Malach Administers Multi-Million Dollar Charitable Estate Plan and Trust for Prominent Judge

Steven MalachSteven Malach, Founder and Director of the Center for Estate Planning (CEP), a subsidiary of the Lipson Neilson law firm, has completed the administration of the multi-million dollar estate plan and trust of the Honorable Judge Michael Stacey. This estate plan and trust provided for numerous charitable endeavors including:

  • Increasing care for those suffering the ravages of Alzheimer’a in the metro-Detroit area through the Dorothy and Peter Brown Adult Care program in West Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
  • Establishing Palliative care as a go between medical and hospice care for individuals via the Jewish Hospice & Chaplaincy Network in West Bloomfield, Michigan.
  • Supporting child cancer research at the St. Jude’s Hospital.
  • Variety: The Children’s Charity
  • Yad Ezra food pantry for impoverished people who rely heavily on government assistance programs, including food stamps.
  • ENSURE: A non-profit charity that specifically supports pediatric surgical research at Children’s Hospital of Michigan.

Judge Michael Stacey graduated from Wayne State University Law School and was admitted into the State Bar of Michigan in 1951. Before becoming a judge, he was in private practice and ran one of the first mediation panels in Michigan. Judge Stacey was appointed by Michigan Governor William Milliken to the Wayne County Circuit Court in January, 1974. He retired from the bench in 1994 and continued in private practice as a pre-eminent Mediator and Arbitrator.

An attorney for more than 30 years, who has handled cases in every county in Michigan, Mr. Malach heads Lipson, Neilson, Cole, Seltzer, & Garin, P.C.’s estate planning practice group and is the founder of the Center For Estate Planning (CEP). With offices in Michigan and Arizona, the CEP specializes in all aspects of estate planning, from estate administration to lifetime counsel and probate administration work. CEP attorneys work with individuals, closely-held businesses and charitable organizations. Mr. Malach’s practice specializes in elder law, estate planning, probate, wills, trusts and trusts administration.

Contact: Steven Malach
Phone: 248-593-5000
Email: SMalach@lipsonneilson.com

Steven Malach Participates in 2017 NAELA Annual Conference

Steven MalachSteven Malach, who heads up the Probate, Trust and Estate Planning section of Lipson Neilson, recently attended the 2017 Annual NAELA (National Association of Elder Law Attorneys) Conference in Boston, Mass. Mr. Malach participated with attendees from across the country in various sessions led by experts in their respective fields including the following topics:

  • The future of aging.
  • Fiduciary access to digital assets.
  • 50 Shades of Gray Hair; Romance in the Nursing Home.
  • Updates on Litigation to ensure a client’s wishes are upheld.

The above meetings were held against the backdrop of the historical local background in pursuing life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Mr. Malach is a twenty year active member of NAELA which is active legislatively at the local, State and Federal levels.

Steve Malach Participates in Casey Kasem’s Seminar

Steven Malach, who heads up the Probate, Trust and Estate Planning section of Lipson Neilson, recently attended a webinar narrated by Casey Kasem’s daughter, discussing the unfortunate circumstances involving the late Casey Kasem’s affairs. Mr. Kasem passed away on Father’s Day of 2015. He was an iconic disc jockey of national renown and known for the Casey Kasem top 100 song countdown.

In addition to suffering the ravages of dementia, his children were isolated and told they were not allowed to see their father by his second wife. This is an unfortunate textbook example of what can go wrong with or without an estate plan that can lead to very dramatic and dynamic probate related litigation during a person’s lifetime or even after they passed away.

National Elder Care Law Expert Mary T. Schmitt Smith Presents at Second Annual ICLE Elder Law Institute

Schmitt SmithMary T. Schmitt Smith, a Partner at the Lipson Neilson law firm and a nationally recognized Elder Care Law expert, presented “Drafting Your Legal Representation Agreement” at the Institute of Continuing Legal Education’s (ICLE) second annual Elder Care Law Institute. This two-day event was held during September 15-16, 2016. Mary’s presentation provided attendees with valuable insight into topics including identifying who is and who is not your client, establishing the essential terms of the representation agreement, laying the groundwork for timely payments, keeping “the file” and for how long and in what format, and when to end the relationship. Mary also discussed the topic of being involved after the client’s passing, and how an attorney could address this potential with a client and secure consent in advance.

Mary T. Schmitt Smith advises clients about estate planning, tax, and probate options, with a distinct focus on drafting and administration of Special Needs Trusts. She is Michigan’s first Certified Elder Law Attorney. Ms. Smith served on the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys Board of Directors and was recognized as a Fellow of the Academy in 2003. In 2005, she established the Theresa Law Center PC. She has received an AV-rating from Martindale-Hubbell for the past 17 years, and has been recognized as a Super Lawyer for the past ten years.

Ms. Smith became the ninth annual recipient of the national Theresa Foundation Award in recognition of her community service for people with disabilities in 2003. She received the EP Maxwell J. Schleifer Distinguished Service Award at Disability Awareness Night at Comerica Park in August 2011. Ms. Smith is a past president of the ARC of Oakland County, the nation’s sixth-largest ARC, and served on the Board of Directors for a dozen years, then on the Advisory Board for more than a decade. She is also a member of the ElderCounsel Advisory Board.

Ms. Smith is a founding member of the Special Needs Alliance, a national network of lawyers dedicated to disability and public benefits law. She has presented on probate, tax, estate planning, and special needs trust topics for bar associations and law schools in Michigan, Florida, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Texas, and New Jersey, as well as NAELA. Ms. Smith is admitted to practice before the U.S. Tax Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals (6th Circuit), where she successfully appealed a federal district court decision interpreting Medicaid law in favor of a Trustee of a Special Needs Trust. She has published numerous articles in such publications as Michigan Bar Journal, the Oakland County Bar Association’s LACHES magazine, and publications distributed by national Elder Care organizations. To learn more please visit www.LipsonNeilson.com.

Contact: Mary T. Schmitt Smith
Phone: 248-593-5000
Email: msmith@lipsonneilson.com

The ARC: Special Needs Attorneys Who Share Your Values

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Lipson Neilson attorney Mary Schmitt Smith is a Past President of The ARC of Oakland County, Inc., the nation’s sixth largest ARC, and served on the Board of Directors for twelve years. Mary is also charter member of the Special Needs Alliance, a national network of lawyers dedicated to Disability and Public Benefits Law. Click here to view the most recent newsletter from The ARC.

The Special Needs Alliance’s (SNA®) three-year partnership with The Arc has been built on shared values. Like The Arc, our member attorneys advocate on behalf of individuals with I/DD in their quest for inclusion, self-determination and personal fulfillment. We are a national non-profit comprised of legal professionals who assist people with disabilities and their families with public benefits, special needs trusts, special education and supported decision-making.

Moving to a New State can get Complicated

By Wendy H. Sheinberg, CELA; July 5, 2016

Moving to another state is a challenge for most families. If a family member has disabilities, that challenge is even greater. State benefit programs vary, and states administer federal programs at the local level making it even more complex. When a member of your family has disabilities, it pays to do plenty of upfront research and to construct a “safety net” to protect against unanticipated gaps in service, problems and delays.

Health Care

Over the years, you have probably spent considerable time scouting for doctors, therapists, and other service providers to meet your loved one’s specific needs. Be prepared to start over.

First, there’s the question of insurance. If you have a private policy, perhaps through an employer, moving to a new state may mean a new policy with different coverage or different premiums. If you have purchased coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) through a state insurance exchange, you will need to learn what is available in the new location. ACA typically provides for a 60-day special enrollment period when a permanent move requires a change in health plan. To be safe, check on eligibility requirements early.

Medicaid is even more complicated, since you must reapply once you have moved. It can take anywhere from 15 to 90 days for approval to come through, although coverage will be retroactive. In the meantime, you will need to make other arrangements to handle critical needs.

Medicare is a federal program. Moving to a new state should not affect Medicare benefits. However, it is important to review and confirm that your Medicare supplemental policy and your prescription drug plan provide coverage in the new state.

Once you understand how you will be paying for health care, you will need to determine what resources are available. Local advocacy groups─ such as chapters of The Arc─ will likely be a source for advice and referrals. To minimize disruptions, establish as much of your new provider network as possible ahead of time.

Interview early intervention services and doctors before you relocate—ideally face-to-face, or by traditional or video teleconference, if necessary. Have medical records sent ahead to new physicians and schedule visits as soon as possible once you’ve moved. Ask your new insurance provider to pre-authorize prescriptions, and bring at least a 30-day supply of important medications with you.

Special Education

While the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires your new school district to provide services and supports comparable to those provided in the existing Individualized Education Program (IEP), you may have to renegotiate the IEP. Additionally, a 504 plan or other modified curriculum may also require renegotiation. The good news is that your existing records should provide a strong foundation for new discussions. In fact, if it’s time for the current plan to be updated, do so before the move so that your assessments and supporting materials are as current as possible. It can be hard to get school files during the summer, if you are moving during the summer, be sure to get the needed copies before classes end.

For military families, who generally relocate every few years, this is a recurring problem. Check out the Department of Defense’s special ed checklist.

Decision-Making Supports and Guardianship

Decision-making support can vary from state to state. If your adult child has executed a power of attorney, health care proxy or a supported decision-making agreement, consult with a special needs attorney in the new state to confirm their validity.

If your family member has a court-appointed guardian, you should consult a special needs attorney in both locations to understand your particular situation. Some states require that the guardian obtain court approval before the person under guardianship moves to another jurisdiction. You may also want to take this opportunity to explore a less restrictive means of providing support in the new state.

Many states do not recognize guardianships granted elsewhere. Unless both states have signed a reciprocity agreement, you could face different definitions of capacity, restrictions on a guardian’s role and more. Even if your new state will recognize a guardianship originated in your home state, most uniform guardianship statutes require some form of filing with the court in the new state.

SSI/SSDI

If you inform the Social Security Administration of your new address early, there should be no disruption to your SSI (Supplemental Security Income) or Social Security disability benefits. However, the amount of your monthly SSI payment could change, since it has both federal and state components. There will be no difference in Social Security disability benefits, based on work history of the individual or their parent.

SNAP (Food Stamps)

Check regulations in your new home state ahead of time, since there are differences in how this federal program is implemented locally. In some areas, there are significant asset limits for people with disabilities.

Social Service Agencies

Day care, in-home services, social programs, career assistance and other supports vary greatly from state to state. Do your research well in advance to understand what awaits you.

Medicaid Waivers

While Medicaid eligibility is based on federal law, the eligibility standards, services, and support available through Medicaid waivers vary dramatically between states. These services include case management, residential services, employment services, and other non-residential services. An important consideration is that many states have years-long waiting lists for services, and new residents must reapply and go to the end of the line.

Housing

  • Home Ownership– Accessibility features may be high on your list, and it could be necessary to make alterations to your new residence. Architects or housing planners may be willing to view properties on your behalf and to advise on costs, which can differ sharply from state to state.
  • Section 8 vouchers – This is a national rent subsidy program, so if you already have a voucher, it will be recognized anywhere in the U.S. However, you will be responsible for letting your current Public Housing Authority know that you wish to move, working with the Public Housing Authority in your new area to locate your own housing, and terminating your current lease in accordance with its terms. “Portability” in Section 8 housing is very complicated and there are many pitfalls. See: https://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=DOC_35623.pdf

Special Needs Trusts (SNTs)

Have any special needs trusts (SNTs) checked by a special needs attorney in your new home state as soon as possible, since it may be necessary to have technical corrections/amendments made.

ABLE Savings Accounts

At this writing, 46 out of 51 states have enacted ABLE Act legislation, and many states are beginning to launch their ABLE programs. The original ABLE account legislation required the creation of the ABLE account in the individual’s state of residence. The December 15, 2015, amendment of the Able Act, as part of the Tax Extenders Package, removed the residency requirement. If the individual moves to a new state, the move will not affect the validity of the existing ABLE account. When moving, it is important to remember that each individual may only have one ABLE account. While you do not have to open a new account in the new state, if you decide to have a local account, be sure to follow all procedures to transfer the account so that there is only one account in existence.

Disability Parking Permits

To avoid delays in obtaining a disability-parking permit, try to register cars and vans ahead of time by having a family member relocate early. You’d be surprised how long this can take in some states.

The regulations and paperwork involved in crossing state lines can be dizzying. Delays and omissions can have serious repercussions for your loved one’s quality of life. Unfortunately, there’s no way to make this process easy, but if you begin planning early, you can lower your family’s stress level.

Think about keeping a binder with important documents that you update each year. Another option is scanning and filing documents online in a “cloud” account, which will save you from combing through boxes upon arrival in your new home.

Mary Schmitt Smith resized 1The Special Needs Alliance (SNA) is a national non-profit comprised of attorneys who assist individuals with special needs, their families, and the professionals who serve them. SNA is partnering with The Arc to provide educational resources, build public awareness, and advocate for policies on behalf of people with intellectual/developmental disabilities and their families. Lipson Neilson attorney Mary T. Schmitt Smith is a charter member of the Special Needs Alliance. To learn more please contact Mary by calling 248-593-5000, or by email to msmith@lipsonneilson.com.

Attorney Emily J. Scholler Joins the Firm’s Bloomfield Hills Office

Emily Sholler Estate Planning AttorneyWe are proud to announce the addition of Emily J. Scholler as an Associate Attorney.

Integral with Ms. Scholler’s corporate practice is providing clients with estate- and succession-planning advice. Ms. Scholler has more than four years of experience practicing business and tax law prior to joining Lipson Neilson. In addition, Ms. Scholler previously clerked at the State of Michigan Tax Tribunal and worked at the State of Michigan Corporations Division.

A graduate of the University of Michigan, Ms. Scholler earned her J.D. at Michigan State University College of Law and also earned her LLM in taxation at New York University.

Click here to view Ms. Sholler’s biography.

Taxmageddon

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We’ve Vaulted the Fiscal Cliff

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