Money – The Law Firm of Myrna Serrano Setty, P.A. https://www.serranosetty.com Estate Planning, Medical Directives, Guardianship, Special Needs Planning Wed, 25 Mar 2020 01:20:23 +0000 en hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4 How do you freeze your credit? https://www.serranosetty.com/florida/estate-planning-attorney/dangers/how-do-you-freeze-credit/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=how-do-you-freeze-credit Thu, 12 Mar 2020 01:28:25 +0000 https://www.serranosetty.com/?p=2473 Are you a senior worried about identity theft? Or are you worried about a loved one with dementia becoming a victim of identity theft? Here are some tips on freezing someone’s credit. This is important if you’re trying to protect someone from elder abuse.

What does it mean to freeze credit?

A credit freeze restricts access to your credit report, making it harder for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name.

To place or lift a credit freeze, you must contact each credit bureau separately.

Once a credit freeze is in place, it secures your credit file until you lift the freeze. You can do that online, by phone, or by mail using the special PIN the companies give you when you do the credit freeze.  Once you place the credit freeze, it secures your credit file until you lift the freeze. You can unfreeze credit temporarily when you want to apply for new credit.

Does it cost anything to freeze credit?

No. Placing or lifting a credit freeze is free. Once a credit freeze is in place, it secures your credit file until you lift the freeze. You can unfreeze credit temporarily when you want to apply for new credit. Also, freezing your credit does not affect your credit score.

Should you freeze your credit?

If you’re not actively shopping for a credit card or loan, freezing your credit is wise. If you think someone compromised your data, consider a credit freeze. It’s especially important if someone stole your Social Security number. Identity theft among seniors is on the rise. So be vigilant about this issue.

Call us at (813) 902-3189 to schedule your consultation! We are happy to help you or your family.

Schedule your free 15 minute consultation.

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How much does an estate plan cost? https://www.serranosetty.com/florida/estate-planning-attorney/estate-planning/how-much-does-an-estate-plan-cost/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=how-much-does-an-estate-plan-cost Sat, 29 Feb 2020 03:25:55 +0000 https://www.serranosetty.com/?p=2444 There is a lot more than just price that goes into choosing legal documents or the lawyer that will help you.

When you’re comparing our fees to your other options, I encourage you to really understand what you are actually getting for that price. If you use an online form, you might actually cause your family a lot of headache and heartache down the road. So you want to find a lawyer that can draft you excellent legal documents in accordance with the state laws that captures everything that you want to see about how your assets go to your loved ones under what circumstances, who’s in charge.

In my office, we create relationships with my clients instead of just a transaction.

That is because your estate planning should stay up to date with your life and with the law as it changes. So that your documents, so that when it matters most, your documents work. In my office, we analyze our client’s situation and goals and what we need to do to get them there.

We charge a flat fee agreed to in advance. That way there are no surprises. We offer “a la carte” options and packages.

Many times we find that it works best for our clients to offer them packages for their estate planning so that they are covered not just after their death but during their lifetime as well. So when it comes to which estate plan package might be right for you, we help you figure out what’s right for you during our first meeting. On average, our will plan starts at $2,000 and our trust plan start at $4,000. Those prices are not for just one document. It’s a series of documents and strategy that is customized to your specific situation. We design our plans to make things as easy as possible for yourself and your family in the event that you become incapacitated or die.

What if you’re thinking? Oh I just need something simple. I just need one document. OK, maybe you do. We won’t really know what you really need until we meet in person and review your specific situation.

Sit down with me for a Planning Session. It’s a no obligation Planning Session. That way you can go over your situation and what options work best for you so that you can be on tract to make things as easy as possible for yourself and your family in the event that you become incapacitated or die.

Call us at (813) 902-3189 to schedule your Planning Session.

Check out our video about how much an Estate Plan costs.

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How can you protect your finances this year? https://www.serranosetty.com/florida/estate-planning-attorney/money/how-can-you-protect-your-finances-this-year/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=5-financial-things-to-review-annually Tue, 28 Jan 2020 17:05:10 +0000 https://www.serranosetty.com/?p=2278

How can you protect your finances this year?

Start with reviewing the following documents at least once this year.

1. Estate Planning Documents 

To help ensure that your property and money ends up where you want it, look over your will, trusts, and other estate planning documents at least once a year to see if there is anything you’d like changed.

For example, you may want to make a change if you’re recently married or divorced, added a new child to the family, received an inheritance, or experienced any number of other major life events. Or you may simply want to make a change because you’ve changed your mind about some part of your estate plan. Review your choices for who would manage your finances and health care if you ever become incapacitated. Are you still satisfied with your choices?

We can update your documents for you, as well as review them to see if adjustments are needed due to any changes in the tax laws. How much does an estate plan cost?

2. Life Insurance Policies 

Things can change quickly in life, and the life insurance coverage that was sufficient to protect your family five or ten years ago may not be enough in your current financial situation. To help ensure that your life insurance coverage keeps pace with changes in your life (marriages, new children, new home, new business, pay increases, etc.), it’s a good idea to review your coverage at least once a year.

3. Beneficiary Designations 

You should review your beneficiary designations annually and when major life events (marriages, births, deaths, etc.) occur. Regardless of the instructions in your will, the beneficiaries you put down on your forms will generally inherit those assets.  Assets that you may have named a beneficiary for include checking and savings accounts, annuities, medical and health savings accounts and life insurance policies.

4. Credit Reports

Not checking your credit report regularly may cost you. Errors that creep into your credit report and that are not caught may result in you being denied credit or paying higher interest rates than necessary or new credit cards or loans. It could also keep you from you from getting a new job, and cost you more for your car insurance.

Check your credit reports for errors at least once a year and before applying for a new loan or job. And while you are looking for errors, also look for signs of potential fraud such as accounts you did not open. You are entitled to a free credit report once every twelve months from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. You can order your free reports online at www.AnnualCreditReport.com or by calling 1-877-322-8228.

5. Social Security Statement 

Even if you are a long time away from retirement, review your Social Security Statement annually. Make sure that your earnings for the prior year have been accurately recorded. That is because your earnings record determines the amount of your monthly Social Security benefit in retirement. If there are any earnings missing from your record, you may receive lower benefits in retirement than you deserve. Review your statement online at www.ssa.gov/myaccount.

Do you want more smart ideas for your finances? Check out this article on bright ideas for your money.

This article is a service of the Law Firm of Myrna Serrano Setty, P.A. We don’t just draft documents. We help you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we offer a Planning Session. Call our office today to schedule a Planning Session. Mention this article to learn how to get this $500 session at no charge. 

Call us at (813) 902-3189.

Are you a senior worried about student loans?

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Will These Life Insurance Mistakes Hurt You? https://www.serranosetty.com/florida/estate-planning-attorney/life-insurance-mistakes-that-can-hurt-you/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=5-life-insurance-mistakes-that-can-hurt-your-family Tue, 21 Jan 2020 18:25:08 +0000 https://www.serranosetty.com/?p=2022 Life insurance is an important part of estate planning and taking care of the people you love after you pass away. Here are some common mistakes that you should avoid.

1. Not naming a beneficiary

Too many people forget to name a beneficiary or backup beneficiaries. Those mistakes can result in your life insurance proceeds having to go through the probate court process. That can tie up your money for months and even open up the life insurance proceeds to your creditors. And that can wipe out your funds.

2. Naming an individual as beneficiary to take care of that money for someone else

You might be tempted to list someone you know and trust as beneficiary of your life insurance, with the understanding that he or she would use that money to take care of another person that you have in mind. This could result in a number of problems. For example, you list your sister as beneficiary of your life insurance so that she can take care of your daughter.

3. Not keeping your beneficiaries up to date

Too many people forget to update their beneficiary designations.  You should review your beneficiary designations at least once a year so that you can make sure you update them upon events like divorce, deaths, and births.

4. Naming a minor as beneficiary

We see this ALOT. And it can result in expensive and time consuming complications for your family. That is because in Florida, minor children can’t directly inherit assets over $15,000. If a minor is listed as the beneficiary, the proceeds of your insurance will be distributed to a court-appointed custodian (guardian of the property), who will be in charge of managing the funds (often for a fee) until the age of majority, at which point all benefits are distributed to the beneficiary outright.

Instead of naming a minor as beneficiary, consider setting up a trust to receive the insurance proceeds, and name a trustee to hold and distribute the funds to a minor child you would want to benefit from your insurance proceeds. By doing so, you get to choose not only who would manage your child’s money, but also how and when the funds are distributed and used.

5. Naming an individual with special needs as beneficiary

If a loved one has special needs, chances are you want to help provide for a lifetime of care and protection. But if you leave the money directly to someone with special needs, it could disqualify that individual from receiving much-needed government benefits. Consider creating a “special needs trust” to receive the insurance proceeds. That way the money won’t go directly to the beneficiary upon your death, but it would be managed by the trustee you name and dispersed according to the trust’s terms, without affecting benefit eligibility.

You owe it to your loved ones to get this right.

Naming life insurance beneficiaries might seem pretty straight forward. But if you mess this up, you can create pretty big problems for the people you love.  But don’t worry, we can support you in planning for the people you love, whether it’s through life insurance or other tools such as wills or trusts.  Schedule an estate Planning Session to get started.

Call us at (813) 902-3189.

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How Will The Coming Wealth Transfer Affect Your Family? https://www.serranosetty.com/tampa/estate-planning-attorney/beneficiaries/how-will-the-coming-wealth-transfer-affect-your-family/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=how-will-the-coming-wealth-transfer-affect-your-family Mon, 19 Aug 2019 14:03:40 +0000 http://www.tampaestateplan.com/?p=1559 Whether it’s called “The Great Wealth Transfer,” “The Silver Tsunami,” or some other catchy-sounding name, it’s a fact that a tremendous amount of wealth will pass from aging Baby Boomers to younger generations in the next few decades. In fact, it’s said to be the largest transfer of inter-generational wealth in history.

Because no one knows exactly how long Boomers will live or how much money they’ll spend before they pass on, it’s impossible to accurately predict just how much wealth will be transferred. But studies suggest it’s somewhere between $30 and $50 trillion. Yes, that’s “trillion” with a “T.”

A blessing or a curse?

And while most are talking about the benefits this asset transfer might have for younger generations and the economy, few are talking about its potential negative ramifications. Yet there’s plenty of evidence suggesting that many people, especially younger generations, are woefully unprepared to handle such an inheritance.

An Ohio State University study found that one third of people who received an inheritance had a negative savings within two years of getting the money. Another study by The Williams Group found that inter-generational wealth transfers often become a source of tension and dispute among family members, and 70% of such transfers fail by the time they reach the second generation.

Whether you will be inheriting or passing on this wealth, it’s crucial to have a plan in place to reduce the potentially calamitous effects such transfers can lead to. Without proper estate planning, the money and other assets that get passed on can easily become more of a curse than a blessing.

Get proactive

There are several proactive measures you can take to help stave off the risks posed by the big wealth transfer. Beyond having a comprehensive estate plan, openly discussing your values and legacy with your loved ones can be a key way to ensure your planning strategies work exactly as you intended. Here’s what we suggest:

Create a plan

If you haven’t created your estate plan yet—and far too many people haven’t—it’s essential that you put a plan in place as soon as possible. It doesn’t matter how young you are or if you have a family yet, all adults over 18 should have some basic planning vehicles in place.

From there, be sure to regularly update your plan on an annual basis and immediately after major life events like marriage, births, deaths, inheritances, and divorce. We maintain a relationship with our clients long after your initial planning documents are signed, and our built-in systems and processes will ensure your plan is regularly reviewed and updated throughout your lifetime.

Discuss wealth with your family early and often

Don’t put off talking about wealth with your family until you’re in retirement or nearing death. Clearly communicate with your children and grandchildren what wealth means to you and how you’d like them to use the assets they inherit when you pass away.

When discussing wealth with your family members, focus on the values you want to instill, rather than what and how much they can expect to inherit. Let them know what values are most important to you, and try to mirror those values in your family life as much as possible. Whether it’s saving money, charitable giving, or community service, having your kids live your values while growing up is often the best way to ensure they carry them on once you’re gone.

Communicate your wealth’s purpose

Outside of clearly communicating your values, you should also discuss the specific purpose(s) you want your wealth to serve in your loved ones’ lives. You worked hard to build your family wealth, so you’ve more than earned the right to stipulate how it gets used and managed when you’re gone. Though you can create specific terms and conditions for your wealth’s future use in planning vehicles like a living trust, don’t make your loved ones wait until you’re dead to learn exactly what you want their inheritance used for.

If you want your wealth to be used to fund your children’s college education, provide the down payment on their first home, or invested for their retirement, tell them so. By discussing such things while you’re still around, you can ensure your loved ones know exactly why you made the planning decisions you did.

 Secure your wealth, your legacy, and your family’s future

Regardless of how much or how little wealth you plan to pass on—or stand to inherit—it’s vital that you take steps to make sure that wealth is protected and put to the best use possible.

Call our office today at (813) 902-3189 to schedule a  Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $500 session at no charge.
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Can An Adult Child Be Liable for a Parent’s Nursing Home Bill? https://www.serranosetty.com/florida/estate-planning-attorney/1215/elder-law/can-an-adult-child-be-liable-for-a-parents-nursing-home-bill/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=can-an-adult-child-be-liable-for-a-parents-nursing-home-bill Thu, 07 Mar 2019 22:42:45 +0000 http://www.tampaestateplan.com/?p=1215 Although a nursing home cannot require a child to be personally liable for their parent’s nursing home bill, there are circumstances in which children can end up having to pay.

This is a major reason why it is important to read any admission agreements carefully before signing.

Federal regulations prevent a nursing home from requiring a third party to be personally liable as a condition of admission. However, children of nursing home residents often sign the nursing home admission agreement as the “responsible party.” This is a confusing term and it isn’t always clear from the contract what it means.

Typically, the responsible party is agreeing to do everything in his or her power to make sure that the resident pays the nursing home from the resident’s funds.

If the resident runs out of funds, the responsible party may be required to apply for Medicaid on the resident’s behalf. If the responsible party doesn’t follow through on applying for Medicaid or provide the state with all the information needed to determine Medicaid eligibility, the nursing home may sue the responsible party for breach of contract. In addition, if a responsible party misuses a resident’s funds instead of paying the resident’s bill, the nursing home may also sue the responsible party. In both these circumstances, the responsible party may end up having to pay the nursing home out of his or her own funds.

In a case in New York, a son signed an admission agreement for his mother as the responsible party. After the mother died, the nursing home sued the son for breach of contract, arguing that he failed to apply for Medicaid or use his mother’s money to pay the nursing home and that he fraudulently transferred her money to himself. The court ruled that the son could be liable for breach of contract even though the admission agreement did not require the son to use his own funds to pay the nursing home. (Jewish Home Lifecare v. Ast, N.Y. Sup. Ct., New York Cty., No. 161001/14, July 17,2015).

Although it is against the law to require a child to sign an admission agreement as the person who guarantees payment, it is important to read the contract carefully because some nursing homes still have language in their contracts that violates the regulations. If possible, consult with your attorney before signing an admission agreement.

Another way children may be liable for a nursing home bill is through filial responsibility laws.

These laws obligate adult children to provide necessities like food, clothing, housing, and medical attention for their indigent parents. Filial responsibility laws have been rarely enforced, but as it has become more difficult to qualify for Medicaid, states are more likely to use them. Pennsylvania is one state that has used filial responsibility laws aggressively.

We recommend that your Health Care Directives explicitly lay down a financial liability shield for your agents.

This one provision can save great grief and money.

This article is a service of the Law Firm of Myrna Serrano Setty, P.A. We don’t just draft documents, we help you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we offer a Planning Session, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. Call our office today to schedule a Planning Session. Mention this article to learn how to get this $500 session at no charge. 

Call us at (813) 902-3189.

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A Guide to Updating Your Estate Plan https://www.serranosetty.com/florida/estate-planning-attorney/1181/estate-planning/guide-to-updating-your-estate-plan/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=7-reasons-to-update-your-estate-plan https://www.serranosetty.com/florida/estate-planning-attorney/1181/estate-planning/guide-to-updating-your-estate-plan/#respond Tue, 05 Mar 2019 22:24:36 +0000 http://www.tampaestateplan.com/?p=1181

Even if you put together a solid estate plan, it might end up proving worthless if you don’t keep it updated. That’s because estate planning isn’t something you just do once and forget about it. If you’re life circumstances change, your estate plan needs to keep up too.

No matter who you are, your life will inevitably change. Families change. Laws change. Assets change. Even if you haven’t had any major life events, we recommend reviewing your plan annually to make sure its terms are up to date.

But you definitely need to update your plan ASAP if the following life events have occurred….that is if you care about keeping your loved ones out of Court and conflict.

#1 You get married.

Marriage not only changes your relationship status, it changes your legal status. Regardless of whether it’s your first marriage or fifth, you must take the proper steps to ensure your plan properly reflects your current wishes and needs.

After getting hitched, some of your most pressing concerns include: naming your new spouse as a beneficiary on your insurance policies and retirement accounts, granting him or her medical power of attorney and/or durable power of attorney (if that’s your wish), and adding him or her to your will and/or trust.

#2 You get divorced.

Since divorce can be so overwhelming, estate planning often gets overshadowed by the other dramatic new changes happening. But failing to update your plan for divorce can have devastating consequences.

Once divorce proceedings start, you’ll need to ensure your future ex is no longer eligible to receive any of your assets or make financial and medical decisions on your behalf—unless that’s your wish. Once the divorce is finalized and your property is divided, you’ll need to adjust your planning to match your new asset profile and living situation.

#3 You give birth or adopt.

Welcoming a new addition to your family can be a joyous occasion, but it also demands entirely new levels of planning and responsibility. At the top of your to-do list should be legally naming both long and short-term guardians for your child. Our Kids Protection Plan offers everything you need for that.

Once you’ve named guardians, consider putting planning tools, such as trusts, in place for your kids. These documents can make certain the assets you want your child to inherit will be passed on in the most effective and beneficial way possible for everyone involved. Consult with us to learn which planning strategies are best suited for your family.

#4 A loved one dies.

The death of a family member, partner, or close friend can have major consequences for both your life and estate plan. If the person was included in your plan, you need to update it accordingly to fill any gaps his or her absence creates. From naming new beneficiaries, executors, and guardians to identifying new heirs to receive assets allocated to the deceased, make sure you address all voids the death creates as soon as possible.

#5 You get seriously ill or injured.

If you’ve been diagnosed with a serious illness or are involved in a life-changing accident, you may want to review the people you’ve chosen to handle your healthcare decisions as well as how those decisions should be made. The person you want as your healthcare proxy can change with time, so be sure your plan reflects your current wishes.

#6 You move to a new state.

Since estate planning laws can vary widely from state to state, if you move to a different state, you’ll need to review and/or revise your plan to comply with your new home’s legal requirements. Some of these laws can be super complex, so consult with us to make sure your plan will still work exactly as you desire in your new location.

#7 Your assets or liabilities change significantly.

Whenever your estate’s value dramatically increases or decreases, you should revisit your plan to ensure it still offers the maximum protection and benefits for yourself and your loved ones. Whether you inherit a fortune, take out a new loan, close your business, or change your investment portfolio, your plan should be adjusted accordingly.

Count on us for ongoing guidance and support. In fact, we have built-in processes to make sure this happens—be sure to ask us about them.

We see reviewing your estate plan as a meaningful ritual that lets you see where your family has been and where you plan to go. But however you look at it, a regular review will put you at ease, knowing your family is protected and provided for no matter what happens. 

This article is a service of the Law Firm of Myrna Serrano Setty, P.A. We don’t just draft documents, we help you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we offer a Planning Session, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. Call our office today to schedule a Planning Session. Mention this article to learn how to get this $500 session at no charge. 

Call us at (813) 902-3189.

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