Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Free Rent, But Not a Free Ride

Ann wants to ‘properly document’ her arrangement for her living situation now that she has moved in with her daughter, Letty, permanently after her recent debilitating stroke. 

Ann has decided (with Letty’s agreement) to put an addition onto Letty’s house and live there so long as she is able.  She thinks that will best preserve her money and maximize her comfort in the years she hopes she will be living there. 

One reason to put it in writing is to clarify and assure that the house addition will not be considered a gift to Letty.  As a gift, it could prevent Ann from later receiving Medicaid if she ever needs help for nursing home costs. 

After talking with her attorney, Ann has decided what she wants.  Ann will pay all the expenses of adding the two rooms to Letty’s home from selling her own house.  In exchange, Letty will give Ann a lifetime right to reside in Letty’s home rent-free.  However, Ann will contribute to the costs of food and household utilities. 

Importantly, Ann will pay at least monthly for her care, driving, or other needs -- whether done by her children or by others, based on their written logs of help provided. 

Ann is protecting her eligibility for Medicaid as a precaution.  She is trying to prevent misunderstandings between relatives as a mother who both needs and loves her children. 

To discuss your options for formalizing how your family is handling changes, call our office at (815) 436-1996 to set an appointment.  ©2012 Gruber Law Office, Ltd.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

More Than Peace in the Family

Ann is planning to get the arrangement to add on to her daughter Letty’s house down on paper.  She’s not sure what the arrangement will be yet, but she is sure that it is the best decision to preserve money and maximize for comfort for her years after her stroke.

She is mostly thinking of making sure her son, Manny, and Letty understand that it isn’t just Letty getting a bigger house, even though Ann will not reduce Letty’s share of her inheritance.  There will likely be more for both Letty and Manny and Ann gets to live the way she wants.  Everyone wins the way Ann sees it. 

If, however, Ann eventually needs nursing home care and runs out of money to pay for it, her plan for being careful about the house addition arrangement will again be important.  It is key that paying for the addition on Letty’s house not be considered a gift from Ann – or Ann could be disqualified from Medicaid covering the needed nursing home costs. 

A timely written agreement is crucial to avoid have any of what Letty receives to be characterized as a gift.  The agreement should cover if Ann will receive a right to right to reside with Letty, if any rent will be paid, and how food, cleaning, household expenses, and care Ann may receive from Letty (or Manny) will be paid for. 

Non-family issues also loom large in setting up new family living situations.  For advice about changes within your own family, please call our office at (815) 436-1996 for an appointment.  ©2012 Gruber Law Office, Ltd.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Resetting Expectations

Letty and Manny generally get along well, better than many other adult siblings.  But their mother’s recent stroke is making ‘push come to shove’ regarding Ann’s living arrangements and money. 

Ann now needs more help from her children than she’d ever hoped.  Ann wants Manny to help her get her home ready for sale, and she wants to live in a small addition Ann plans to build onto Letty’s house after her own home sells. 

In the long run, Ann’s plan will likely save money both for her to live on and for her children to inherit.  The longer she can live in the addition, the better the savings will be. 

But if she were to die or need full nursing home care less than six months after doing the addition, for example, it might appear to Manny that Ann gave an unfair large gift to Letty by building on the addition she barely got to use. 

So, for the benefit of her kids’ relationship (also for other Medicaid eligibility reasons we will address in later columns), Ann thinks she should try to head off trouble by getting an arrangement down in writing – and then discuss it with her children. 

Appropriate adjustments can be made several ways.  She wants to determine the options – for her estate planning and life care planning purposes. 

To discuss your options for adjusting your plans to respond to your own family’s changes, call our office at (815) 436-1996 to set an appointment.  ©2012 Gruber Law Office, Ltd.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Change and Balance

Ann has new needs after her permanently disabling stroke, and that means many changes, some day to day, some long term.  These changes are not only for Ann.  Her whole family is working to re-balance their relationships. 

Ann plans to make her temporary rehabilitation stay at her daughter Letty’s house permanent and sell her house in order to meet her new needs.  Letty and her family will be impacted daily, up close and personal, especially since Ann wants an addition on their house.

Ann’s son Manny may not be facing such obvious day to day changes as Letty, but he is impacted too.  Ann needs his help getting her house ready to sell and desperately does not want Manny to feel less important to her just because she will live with Letty.  She still needs her son, his perspective, calls, visits, good sense, and love. 

Ann does not want her addition to Letty’s house make Manny feel unnecessary to her or short changed.  Ann wants both of her children to understand why Letty’s ‘gain’ is not Manny’s ‘loss.’ 

Ann needs more now from both her children than she’d hoped.  And what she needs from each one is different with different costs and benefits.  Ann realizes that this stroke means there will less for both of her children to inherit after her death.  She wants to keep it fair.  And she wants them to understand.

That means changing her estate plan and resetting expectations.  If you have adjustments to make, understand, and explain in your own estate plan, call our office at (815) 436-1996 to meet together and learn about your options.  ©2012 Gruber Law Office, Ltd.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Letty Gets More?

After a permanently disabling stroke, Ann wants to add on to her daughter Letty’s house and live long term with her.  Ann plans to use part of the money she clears from selling her own house.  Ann’s son Manny is worried that Letty is taking advantage of Ann to get a bigger house she can’t afford herself. 

Manny wants to make sure Letty will pay for the addition or at least have to pay most of the cost back after Ann passes away.  After all, when Ann isn’t using it anymore, why should Letty just get to keep it for nothing?

Ann sees it differently.  She thinks Letty’s whole family is paying by letting her live there and tear up a side of their house to put on her extra space.  She’s sure that Letty wouldn’t even want an addition if Ann weren’t going to live there.  In fact, Letty is a bit worried that adding on will make the house too big for the neighborhood and hard to sell later.

Ann can explain to Manny why she definitely does not want Letty to repay the cost of the addition.  Mother and son talking now will be far better than Letty and Manny arguing about it after Ann is gone and can no longer explain why she thinks more will be left for both kids to inherit if she lives with Letty. 

Parents and siblings need to work together to balance and understand the real situation when life changes how things work.     As attorneys, we help families sort through their options and consider new ways to talk and think about new arrangements.  If you wish consider adapting your own family’s plans to new changes, call our office at (815) 436-1996 to set an appointment. 

©2012 Gruber Law Office, Ltd.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Starting the Project

Ann is hoping to add a main floor bedroom with sitting area and a roll-in shower bathroom onto her daughter’s house.  Her sink will be outside the shower and toilet area, so it can double as part of a small eating area.

Because Ann’s recovery from her recent serious stroke isn’t enough to allow her to live in her own house again, she plans to sell it and upgrade her temporary living quarters with Letty and her family by making the addition. 

There are a ‘few things’ to figure out.  Her house needs preparation for sale, and Letty’s addition needs planning, design, cost estimates, and construction.  Zoning laws must be checked and construction companies considered. 

But there are other burning issues to address before taking major action and investing lots of time and effort in the design.  Sometimes it is hard to determine what should be first considered. 

We believe that family relationships are most important.  Letty and Manny, Ann’s son, will have to work together to make any living situation good for Ann.  Ann wants her family to remain close and intact while she lives there, and after her death.

Ann should consult with her attorney about clearly adjusting her estate plan to keep things fair between her children.  As a young mother long ago, she learned that her kids get along better when she explained how she’s being fair. 

If you wish to decide how your plans might adapt to your own family’s changes, call our office at (815) 436-1996 to set an appointment.  ©2012 Gruber Law Office, Ltd.

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