Monday, March 26, 2012

JB Elder Law - Seniors Living Together

The US Census Report has confirmed what we have all suspected; more and more seniors are living together without first getting married.  In fact the number of seniors age 65 and above living together has more than tripled in just the last decade.  Actual numbers may be even larger, considering the social taboos within the senior community against cohabiting couples.

While a majority of seniors still regard marriage as important, the increasing trend in cohabiting reflects a more relaxed attitude towards marriage.  Only half of all adults reported being married during the 2010 Census, but nearly sixty percent of adults stated they lived with a partner.

For seniors, it’s not just changing social mores.  Money concerns often overshadow marriage considerations.  Many widows and widowers would forfeit retirement survivor’s benefits or Social Security benefits if they were to remarry.  Additionally, children by prior marriages often complicate estate planning. 

Significantly, with remarriage come legal obligations for support and care.  If a spouse becomes ill and requires long-term care, the cost of nursing care, now more than $70,000 per year, falls upon the combined finances of the family, potentially impoverishing the family.

Sometimes our clients suggest they have a “common law” marriage.  Nevada, however, has not recognized common law relationships for nearly 90 years and our statutes expressly reject common law marriages.  What Nevada does have are excellent pre-nuptial laws.  Seniors considering remarriage should always have a prenuptial agreement. 

Yes, there is an unromantic element to a prenuptial agreement, but for most seniors cohabiting or married; their relationship is based upon companionship and sharing experiences with a sense of belonging and connection with another person.                 
If you are a senior and are considering remarriage, you should consult with your partner the wisdom of a prenuptial agreement.  Here at JeffreyBurr, we have helped hundreds of senior couples plan for the legal complexities of either cohabiting or remarriage.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What Assets Can a Judgment Creditor Obtain?

We all have heard the overused phrase that “we live in a litigious society.”  For many of us, being a named defendant in a lawsuit is often an uneasy proposition.  Even if a person believes that he or she is not at fault for another’s injuries, that person is relying on what many believe is an imperfect justice system to find the truth.  In recent times, the area of law known as asset protection has become increasingly popular both as a practice for attorneys and as a solution for their clients.  However, what many people do not fully understand is that they may own protected assets which did not require the assistance of an attorney in obtaining protection. 

Many of these protected assets are contained within the Nevada Revised Statute (NRS) at Section21.  The following is just a partial list of such assets:
·       Necessary household goods, furnishings, electronics, wearing apparel, other personal effects and yard equipment, not to exceed $12,000 in value, to be selected by the judgment debtor.

·      The dwelling of the judgment debtor occupied as a home for himself or herself and family, where the amount of equity held by the judgment debtor in the home does not exceed $550,000 in value and the dwelling is situated upon lands not owned by the judgment debtor.

·      One vehicle if the judgment debtor’s equity does not exceed $15,000 or the creditor is paid an amount equal to any excess above that equity.

·         Money, not to exceed $500,000 in present value, held in an IRA.

·       All money, benefits, privileges or immunities accruing or in any manner growing out of any life insurance policy.

This list does not include cash accounts, business interests and assets, or investment property.  In order to protect those assets, a person will need to seek the advice of an attorney to properly establish what we at JEFFREY BURR, LTD. call an “Integrated Estate Plan.”  An Integrated Estate Plan not only provides asset protection for unprotected assets, but it will also provide solutions for avoiding probate and guardianship.

At JEFFREY BURR, LTD., we have the knowledge and experience necessary to assist our clients in creating an Integrated Estate Plan.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

New Nevada Probate Legislation

In its most recent session, the Nevada Legislature passed the “Independent Administration of Estates Act.”  The new act is intended to expedite the probate process in Nevada and reduce the administrative costs of probate by allowing the personal representative of the probate estate to act more independently.  Although the Independent Administration of Estates Act still requires the court to supervise the probate process, the act reduces the amount of court involvement in the probate process by allowing the personal representative to accomplish more tasks without the court’s involvement. 

Even though the court’s involvement is reduced under the new act, the act still provides for checks and balances to protect the probate estate and beneficiaries.  The personal representative is required to send notice to interested parties before taking certain actions.  A party receiving notice may object to the personal representative’s action and can involve the court if necessary.  In addition, major actions taken by the personal representative still require the court’s approval. 
The Independent Administration of Estates Act has been enacted in others states.  We are excited to see the new act in Nevada.  We anticipate that the act will lower administration costs and help expedite the probate process in Nevada.  Even though the new act will help lower probate costs, we still generally advise our clients to engage in estate planning and avoid probate in most cases. If you have any questions about the new Nevada probate laws or any estate planning needs, feel free to contact our office for a free consultation. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

A Case To Watch

In late March the US SupremeCourt will hear arguments on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obama Care.
The stakes couldn’t be bigger.  Recognizing the significance of this case, the Supreme Court has allocated 5½ hours for oral arguments over 3 days, the most time allocated to a Supreme Court case in nearly 50 years.
One question to be decided by the Supreme Court is that portion of the new law that mandates individuals purchase health insurance or face a penalty.  The Court will also question the enormous expansion of Medicaid and its impact upon states. It is this expansion of Medicaid that may present the most difficult questions for the Supreme Court.
Medicaid is a federal-state program enacted in 1965 as a health care provider for the poor.  Obama Care will add more than 30 million uninsured Americans to the Medicaid program.  Medicaid budgets have exploded with a projected rise in cost of 7.9% just this year and an expected budget cost of $434 billion by the end of the decade.
The expansion of Medicaid has caused concern in state legislatures and budget offices throughout the nation.  Nevada, and many other states with significant indigent health care costs, now expends nearly as much on Medicaid as on education, and under Obama Care this amount could grow to almost 60% of Nevada’s total budget.
In our practice we are increasingly asked to assist families plan for the costs of uninsured  care.  These costs can arise from loss of job benefits, exhausting insurance coverage, or the need for long-term nursing home care.  Significantly, we are seeing more families with special needs children when their child’s medical coverage ends as their child reaches adulthood. 
While the stakes are high, especially in an election year, the fact remains that our health care system must change if it is to remain solvent.  Medicaid is nearly broke, Medicare will be broke by 2017, and the wave of Baby Boomers is poised to become large consumers of health care. 
At Jeffrey Burr we are paying close attention to our national debate on the future of health care. Please contact us if you or a family member has questions; we are here to help.