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Joint Tenants (October 2010)

To avoid probate, people sometimes put loved ones’ names on property or bank accounts as “joint tenants.”  When one joint tenant dies, his or her share automatically passes to the other joint tenants.  Joint tenancy does avoid probate.  However, there are several...

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Funding Your Revocable Living Trust (September 2010)

If you have an existing estate plan, you are probably already familiar with the benefits of creating a Revocable Living Trust.  One of the biggest advantages of a Revocable Living Trust is the ability to avoid probate.  Probate is a court process when a person dies. ...

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Stepped Up Basis In 2010 (August 2010)

In the Estate Planning Insights column for October 2009, I explained the “stepped up basis.”  When a person dies owning property such as real estate or stocks, the fair market value of that property on the date of death will become the new tax basis of that property. ...

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Why You Should Convert to a Roth IRA (July 2010)

WHY YOU SHOULD CONVERT TO A ROTH IRA Forget all the articles you have read about whether you should convert to a Roth IRA.  Forget about “Roth IRA Conversion Calculators.”  If you have a substantial amount in a retirement plan that can be converted to a Roth IRA, you...

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The New Hawaii Estate Tax (June 2010)

There is now a new Hawaii estate tax.  The bill proposing the tax (House Bill 2866) was vetoed by Governor Lingle on April 25, 2010.  The Hawaii legislature overrode the veto on April 29, 2010, and the bill became Act 74 on April 30, 2010.  It imposes a tax on the...

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Protect Your Home From Medicaid Liens – Part 3 (May 2010)

PROTECT YOUR HOME FROM MEDICAID LIENS (PART 3) Last month and the month before, I explained how to protect your home from Medicaid liens.  In my April column, I described how a parent can transfer the family residence to the children, and keep a "life estate." The...

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Protect Your Home From Medicaid Liens – Part 2 (April 2010)

PROTECT YOUR HOME FROM MEDICAID LIENS (PART 2) Last month we discussed the dangers of having the government put a Medicaid lien on your home and property if you end up in a nursing home.  Remember, a "revocable living trust" cannot protect your home from nursing home...

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Protect Your Home From Medicaid Liens (March 2010)

PROTECT YOUR HOME FROM MEDICAID LIENS More and more senior citizens are becoming concerned about nursing home costs.  No one really wants to go to a nursing home.  Nearly every elderly person would prefer to stay at home.  However, no matter how much children love...

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An Unusual Year for Tax Law (February 2010)

2010 – AN UNUSUAL YEAR FOR TAX LAW There is no federal estate tax this year.  Since the State of Hawaii has no inheritance tax, Hawaii residents can die this year with any amount of assets and pay no death taxes at all.  This is only for the year 2010.  For someone...

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Tenants by the Entirety (December 2009)

TENANTS BY THE ENTIRETY Most married couples in Hawaii buy their home as “tenants by the entirety.” Many have transferred their home to their trusts.  Which is better?  To own your home as tenants by the entirety, or to put your home into your trusts?  Let’s look at...

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New Medicaid Rules Are Now Effective (November 2009)

The February 2006 Estate Planning Insights column was entitled “Big Change in Medicaid Laws.”  On February 1, 2006, Congress passed the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005.  President Bush signed the bill into law on February 8, 2006.  This new federal law makes important...

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The Stepped Up Basis (October 2009)

In estate planning, it is important to understand “stepped up basis.”  When you buy property (for example, real estate or stocks) your “tax basis” in the property is the amount you pay for the property.  When you sell the property, you have profit or “gain” equal to...

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Small Estates

            When a person dies with $100,000 or less in assets, there are simple ways to settle the estate. One way is to use an Affidavit for Collection of Personal Property. Another way is to have the clerk of the circuit court open a Small Estate proceeding. ...

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New Rules for Nursing Home Medicaid

On February 8, 2006, President Bush signed the Deficit Reduction Act.  This federal law made big changes to Medicaid for nursing home costs.  Important parts of the new law were supposed to be effective from February 8, 2006.  However, the Hawaii Department of Human...

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Notice of Public Hearing and DHS Proposed Rule Change

The following is a copy of the Notice of Public Hearing on the proposed changes to Hawaii’s Medicaid rules found in Hawaii Administrative Rules.  The public hearing is scheduled for July 28, 2009.  Many of the proposed changes are required by the Deficit Reduction Act...

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The Special Needs Trust

THE SPECIAL NEEDS TRUST Suppose you have a child with a disability.  Perhaps the child was born with a mental disability.  Perhaps he or she was born with a physical disability.  In some cases, the child may have been normal at birth, but later in life acquired a...

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Medicaid Planning

MEDICAID PLANNING              I am thinking about a meeting I had recently.  The daughter of a client came to discuss her mother's situation.  Mother is elderly.  She suffers from congestive heart failure.  Recently, she was so weak that she was hospitalized for a...

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Proposed New Laws

PROPOSED NEW LAWS There are some proposed new rules and laws which would affect estate planning.  First, let's review the current estate tax law.  The estate tax is a federal tax.  At this time there is no Hawaii estate tax or inheritance tax.  As a result of the 2001...

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Be Careful When You Give Assets Away

Whenever you give away assets, there are laws in three different areas to consider: 1) gift taxes; 2) Medicaid rules for nursing home costs; and 3) capital gains taxes. Many people think you can give only $10,000 tax-free to each individual.  Actually, the amount is...

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Asset Protection in Uncertain Times Part Two: Beyond FDIC Insurance

The economic news continues to get worse and worse.  First, here is a brief summary of some of the advice I offered in last month's Estate Planning Insights.  Make sure that your savings accounts, checking accounts and certificates of deposit are in FDIC insured banks...

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Asset Protection in Uncertain Times: FDIC Insurance

Nearly every day now, newspapers and televisions are blasting us with information about how bad the economy is. We are in the worst economic crisis since the great depression of the 1930's. In the midst of this financial crisis, what can you do to protect your own...

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2009 Hawaii Elder Law And Estate Planning Update

How much in assets can a husband and wife have and still qualify for Medicaid to pay nursing home costs for one of them? Effective January 1, 2009, a husband and wife together can have $111,560 in assets and still have Medicaid pay for the nursing home costs for one...

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