terrihilliard.com https://terrihilliard.com Terri Hilliard PC - Westlake Village Tue, 10 Sep 2019 21:03:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.6 https://terrihilliard.com/2019/07/29/47748/ https://terrihilliard.com/2019/07/29/47748/#respond Mon, 29 Jul 2019 22:24:55 +0000 https://terrihilliard.com/?p=47748 On July 24th I attended a dinner celebrating the San Fernando Valley Business Journal Top 200, and I was one of the honorees! What fun that was! As always, thank YOU for your support!

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On July 24th I attended a dinner celebrating the San Fernando Valley Business Journal Top 200, and I was one of the honorees! What fun that was!

As always, thank YOU for your support!

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Ventura County Local Heroes https://terrihilliard.com/2019/07/18/ventura-county-local-heroes/ https://terrihilliard.com/2019/07/18/ventura-county-local-heroes/#respond Thu, 18 Jul 2019 22:12:31 +0000 https://terrihilliard.com/?p=47744 Hello Friends – I am honored and very pleased to report that the VCReporter has chosen me as one of their Ventura County Local Heroes. And what a wonderful group of people I’m joining – you can read about them here: bit.ly/2FQmFKN

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Estate attorney Terri Hilliard

Hello Friends – I am honored and very pleased to report that the VCReporter has chosen me as one of their Ventura County Local Heroes. And what a wonderful group of people I’m joining – you can read about them here: bit.ly/2FQmFKN

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On Our Own – Senior Planning Strategies https://terrihilliard.com/2019/07/16/on-our-own-senior-planning-strategies/ https://terrihilliard.com/2019/07/16/on-our-own-senior-planning-strategies/#respond Tue, 16 Jul 2019 19:52:57 +0000 https://terrihilliard.com/?p=47741 The earthquakes, fires, floods and emergencies force the Southern Californian to ask vital questions such as: What is Your Plan? Who are “your people?” Where will you go? Local attorney Terri Hilliard recalls the phone calls she received during the fires. “We had clients living in their cars for days during the recent evacuations without […]

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The earthquakes, fires, floods and emergencies force the Southern Californian to ask vital questions such as: What is Your Plan? Who are “your people?” Where will you go?

Local attorney Terri Hilliard recalls the phone calls she received during the fires. “We had clients living in their cars for days during the recent evacuations without a plan or place to go. A good plan simply means having a plan and that’s why education and preparation is part of my personal and legal approach.”

Feeling cut off from the world around you can be devastating. Baby Boomers born 1946 to 1964 are reaching to totals of over 70 million. They tend to live alone more often. This huge population has experienced higher divorce rates and lower number of children than any other generation, leaving many Boomers home and alone.

Robert Lewin

Robert Lewin presenting at the Terri Hilliard, PC May seminar

Recently, Robert Lewin, Principal, Resolute Associates and former Director of the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management, presented to seniors during the Terri Talks Seminar Series in Westlake Village, CA about emergency options and concerns with safety. Lewin relies on checklists and information for individuals, families and businesses as he continues to witness the startling observations of earthquakes and fires. “We have taken our collective 70 years of experience to build and implement emergency preparedness to minimize the impact and loss,” Lewin reports.

You don’t have to go it alone, if you plan well. Be aware of the local seminars and federal resources such as FEMA to provide the information for preparedness.

Residents are encouraged to register at vc.alert.org for alerts and notifications and specific Information For Older Americans is located at www.ready.gov.

Some seniors combat issues by seeking out senior communities or assisted living facilities that provide the comfort and support they need all in one place for concerns with housing, finances, healthcare, transportation, mobility, emergency assistance, social interaction and staying active.

According to Hilliard, “We are hyper focused on providing state of the art information to our clients. For the past few years, I dedicated my resources to educating our community. Since January 2019, I hosted hot topics with seminars to address how to create a legal and financial plans for a caregiver, where to find a home for aging parents, healthy aging and technology, adapting the home for an aging senior and how to interpret tax laws and legal steps to consider with Alzheimer’s diagnosis.”

For more information on 2019 Top Topics and seminar information, or if you have questions, contact Terri Hilliard PC at 805-201-2552 or e-mail clientcare@terrihilliard.com.

References and Checklists

FEMA Resource for Older Americans

FEMA Family Emergency Plan

FEMA Info for Pet Owners

Ventura County Alert Brochure

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Family Meetings Matter https://terrihilliard.com/2019/06/06/family-meeting-matter/ https://terrihilliard.com/2019/06/06/family-meeting-matter/#respond Thu, 06 Jun 2019 22:52:42 +0000 https://terrihilliard.com/?p=47710 Aging is our challenge and our privilege. Our friends or family are of great comfort as we get older, and yet we still may encounter obstacles. Family meetings are considered a major source of ongoing communication. While it is common to delay conversations and discuss wishes, the reality is that death or incapacity can come […]

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Aging is our challenge and our privilege.

Our friends or family are of great comfort as we get older, and yet we still may encounter obstacles. Family meetings are considered a major source of ongoing communication. While it is common to delay conversations and discuss wishes, the reality is that death or incapacity can come at any time.

Estate Planning Family Meetings

Being able to discuss your wishes while you are alive and well is essential to building better relationships. A discussion defining clear roles, responsibilities and expectations prevents heartache and litigation. For best results, the meeting should be calm, natural and candid, but with an agenda listing topics for discussion. Some families require a mediator which provides neutrality. While the subject of death is inferred in these gatherings, the estate plan discussion should be focused on the future.

So, when families gather, there are basic questions that can be answered. Most often, denial, fear, lack of clear goals or just not knowing where to start are problems that can be avoided. A few items to consider:

  • What are obstacles that keep me from achieving these goals?
  • What are strategies to overcome each obstacle?
  • What factors have caused me to relapse in the past?
  • What can I do to address these factors in the future?

As an estate planning attorney, I find many clients sometimes delay, avoid or don’t understand the issues to discuss with their family members or beneficiaries. Others may not want to deal with possible disagreements or confrontation concerning their wishes, including allocation of assets, and “what if I get sick?” Some clients don’t prioritize talking about things that won’t matter to them after their demise anyway.

It’s not difficult and it doesn’t need to be complicated. With careful consideration to the design of the estate plan, the peace of mind gained is immeasurable. When you enlist the support of the people that will help you be accountable to your goals, you make a commitment to the planning process so they can be encouraging and motivating to you on your journey.

Having family conversations after the estate plan is in place can minimize potential challenges, resentment or contentious and expensive probate hearings upon death. The family meeting is a simple conversation to discuss your wishes, including how your estate will be administered and by whom. Most importantly, the plan can be changed at any time.

An explanation of documents such as wills, trusts, powers of attorney and health care directives is essential “Estate Planning 101” and helps the family understand your wishes and the estate plan processes. Discussions might also include reasons for decisions, introduction of your trusted advisors, including your attorney or CPA, with whom the family members will communicate upon your death.

This session(s) would also be a good time to provide contact information for your physicians, attorneys, accountants and financial advisors. The summary of assets includes financial accounts, such as checking, savings, investments, insurance, IRAs and annuities. Typically, you won’t need to detail the dollar or value amounts at this time, but it’s good to let your power of attorney (POA), and/or loved ones know where your assets are located. One of my clients calls this file the “sick or dead file.”

Blended families, divorces, previous marriages, children, business ownership and other matters can complicate the estate planning process. If any of these factors are to be considered, they   should be discussed to make certain everyone involved has a clear understanding of how the estate plan is structured.

On the other side, if your parents or grandparents are hesitant to have a meeting to discuss their estate, you can initiate the conversation. Especially if there are developing concerns of dementia, mental or health conditions that will limit their ability to make financial or other important decisions.

Providing clarity to family and other beneficiaries regarding your intentions and addressing their expectations and documenting their understanding before you die is important. Failing to do so can lead to conflicts among parties involved, probate and the potential squandering of wealth that has taken you a lifetime to accumulate.

Finally, take time to celebrate all of the small steps you achieved along the way. Taking small steps, being realistic, and staying positive will help you keep your intentions.

Don’t delay. Family Meetings Matter! If we can help, please give us a call at 805-201-2552 or e-mail clientcare@terrihilliard.com.

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It’s National Elder Law Month! https://terrihilliard.com/2019/05/06/its-national-elder-law-month/ https://terrihilliard.com/2019/05/06/its-national-elder-law-month/#respond Mon, 06 May 2019 19:04:46 +0000 https://terrihilliard.com/?p=47664 I’m happy to report that the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys has designated May as National Elder Law Month. The NAELA is a membership organization of attorneys serving older Americans and people with special needs. One of the group’s main goals is to encourage attorneys to educate their local communities on legal options and […]

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I’m happy to report that the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys has designated May as National Elder Law Month.

The NAELA is a membership organization of attorneys serving older Americans and people with special needs. One of the group’s main goals is to encourage attorneys to educate their local communities on legal options and available resources.

National Elder Law Month was established as a way to encourage elder law attorneys to focus their efforts during the month of May on educating older Americans and their families on living trusts, powers of attorney, physical and financial elder abuse, Medicare, Medicaid, long-term care insurance, and other important issues.

This annual event is an opportunity for NAELA member attorneys to meet face-to-face with their neighbors in the community to answer questions on timely issues for older Americans and their families.

As part of my contribution, I will be hosting a free seminar on Disaster Preparedness for Seniors, Families and Communities. Please click here for more information.

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It’s National Health Care Decisions Day! https://terrihilliard.com/2019/04/16/its-national-health-care-decisions-day/ https://terrihilliard.com/2019/04/16/its-national-health-care-decisions-day/#respond Tue, 16 Apr 2019 18:11:00 +0000 https://terrihilliard.com/?p=47590 It’s an important topic, so important that a variety of of national, state and community organizations have collaborated to recognize April 16 as National Healthcare Decisions Day. It’s a day dedicated to ensuring that all adults in the United States who have decision-making capacity have access to the information and resources they need to communicate and document […]

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It’s an important topic, so important that a variety of of national, state and community organizations have collaborated to recognize April 16 as National Healthcare Decisions Day. It’s a day dedicated to ensuring that all adults in the United States who have decision-making capacity have access to the information and resources they need to communicate and document their future healthcare decisions.

Please download this Fact Sheet prepared by the Coalition For Compassionate Care for California. It will answer many questions you may have about the details of preparing an Advance Health Care Directive.

To download a PDF of a Basic Advance Care Directive, visit the Coalition’s website here.

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Seniors Going It Alone Need A Plan https://terrihilliard.com/2019/03/06/seniors-going-it-alone-need-a-plan/ https://terrihilliard.com/2019/03/06/seniors-going-it-alone-need-a-plan/#respond Wed, 06 Mar 2019 22:17:04 +0000 https://terrihilliard.com/?p=47552 According to the United States Census Bureau, some 27 percent of Americans 65 and older are living alone. That number of seniors is growing at a rate of about 10,000 every single day. Baby Boomers, born from around 1946 to 1964, now number over 70 million. They tend to live alone more often. This huge […]

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According to the United States Census Bureau, some 27 percent of Americans 65 and older are living alone. That number of seniors is growing at a rate of about 10,000 every single day.

Baby Boomers, born from around 1946 to 1964, now number over 70 million. They tend to live alone more often. This huge population has experienced higher divorce rates and lower number of children than any other generation, leaving many Boomers venturing out on their own in their later years.

Aging Alone

While living alone is not a bad thing, there are a number of considerations to keep in mind to help ensure positive aging in place. Seniors who choose to live by themselves need to plan for taking care of their own needs.

Without a good plan for what is being called “Solo Living,” single seniors may experience some real challenges ahead. Living on one’s own can be a contributing factor in causing poor health or feelings of isolation or loneliness – all of which are associated with higher risks of depression, cognitive disorders, and even mortality.

Moving forward, they should define how they want to live relative to their housing, finances, healthcare, transportation, mobility, emergency assistance, social interaction, and staying active. In other words, seniors living by themselves need to plan their lifestyle.

A Solo Living Plan should detail what things are necessary for an individual to be comfortable and which ones can be lived without. This gives older people confident life strategies that will serve them well for healthier, happier years ahead.

Feeling cut off from the world around you can be devastating. Especially after the loss of a spouse or going into retirement alone, it’s important for seniors to engage in activities to occupy their days and stimulate their minds. It’s essential for them to interact with others on a regular basis, such as taking classes to learn a new skill, joining a club, volunteering or, in some other way, getting out and about.

Some seniors combat these issues by seeking out senior communities or assisted living facilities that provide the comfort and support they need all in one place. There are many resources available to help those desiring the freedom of living alone without doing it alone.

Organizations such as Senior Concerns at www.seniorconcerns.org and others can give you guidance. Also, ask your financial and estate advisors for direction and options that may be available to you.

You don’t have to go it alone, if you plan well. If you have questions, contact Terri Hilliard PC at 805-201-2552 or e-mail clientcare@terrihilliard.com. You can also sign up for our newsletter.

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Who is Caring for the Caregivers? https://terrihilliard.com/2019/02/08/who-is-caring-for-the-caregivers/ https://terrihilliard.com/2019/02/08/who-is-caring-for-the-caregivers/#respond Fri, 08 Feb 2019 23:15:06 +0000 https://terrihilliard.com/?p=47520 Terri Hilliard, PC is a proud Bronze Sponsor of Senior Concerns’ “Caregiver Recognition Day.” As we age, most of us will need some assistance along the way. Whether it’s help with grocery shopping, transportation, cooking, cleaning, managing medications, banking, and myriad other tasks, caretakers are important aides to many as they grow older. While caregiving […]

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Terri Hilliard, PC is a proud Bronze Sponsor of Senior Concerns’ “Caregiver Recognition Day.”

As we age, most of us will need some assistance along the way. Whether it’s help with grocery shopping, transportation, cooking, cleaning, managing medications, banking, and myriad other tasks, caretakers are important aides to many as they grow older.

While caregiving can be very rewarding, it is also often challenging and even exhausting for the individual or family providing the needed support. Frankly, many caregivers can sometimes become overwhelmed with their responsibilities. Some may even deny their own health, socialization and other needs in favor of those whom they are helping.

So, who takes care of the caregivers? Who gives them the emotional, physical and even financial support to carry on?

In the Conejo Valley, a major resource is Senior Concerns, which offers a complete program of support for family caregivers. The non-profit organization provides information and guidance, group interaction, consultations, education and training classes, advocacy, and financial and legal aid. Senior Concerns even offers daily Meals on Wheels services and options that allow caretakers to take needed breaks from taxing care schedules.

If you or someone you know is a caregiver, find out more. Come to Senior Concerns’ “Caregiver Recognition Day.” This special event is designed to: “Share your story. Embrace your fears. Renew your spirit.” Join us Friday, March 15 from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Los Robles Greens, 299 Moorpark Road, Thousand Oaks. Admission is FREE with advance reservations. Register online at www.seniorconcerns.org or call 805-497-0189.

Even if you can’t attend, if you need help and guidance, contact Senior Concerns’ Caregiver Support Center at 855.318.5921 or email caregiversupport@seniorconcerns.org.

Caring for someone requires physical and emotional energy, financial resources, a great deal of time, and a careful, thoughtful plan. When I can help you with your future caregiving needs and/or for those of your family, contact me at 805-201-2552 or e-mail clientcare@terrihilliard.com.

P.S. The special guest for the Caregiver Recognition Day is broadcaster and comedian Fritz Coleman. He’ll bring a smile to your face and give you a nice break. Remember, you don’t have to do it all alone!

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The IRS May Be a Friend to Higher Net Worth Taxpayers https://terrihilliard.com/2019/02/07/the-irs-may-be-a-friend-to-higher-net-worth-taxpayers/ https://terrihilliard.com/2019/02/07/the-irs-may-be-a-friend-to-higher-net-worth-taxpayers/#respond Thu, 07 Feb 2019 22:17:53 +0000 https://terrihilliard.com/?p=47514 The IRS recently proposed regulations and announced increased gift and estate tax exemption amounts that offer significant opportunities for higher net worth taxpayers who want to make large asset gifts to others. Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the lifetime federal gift and estate tax exemption amount increased from $5 million to $11.18 million […]

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The IRS recently proposed regulations and announced increased gift and estate tax exemption amounts that offer significant opportunities for higher net worth taxpayers who want to make large asset gifts to others. Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the lifetime federal gift and estate tax exemption amount increased from $5 million to $11.18 million per individual for 2018 and will increase to $11.4 million in 2019.

If you have a higher net worth, you now have enhanced gifting options to potentially save on taxes. However, you might not want to delay any such moves and act before the proposed “sunset” date of December 31, 2025, at which time the exemption reverts to the previous $5 million per person (adjusted for inflation). Another consideration of your timing in implementing your gift giving is that any future government administration could possibly change the law again. It may be a use it or lose it proposition.

In any event, look at this as a gifting bonus that, if employed, should be initiated sooner than later. You should first look at your overall financial picture, including anticipated future earnings, asset appreciation, taxes and other income. Then, with your qualified estate attorney and tax planners, you will want to consider possible rates of inflation, how to protect your assets, minimize tax consequences, and reduce future liabilities that may be related to your gifting.

Let’s look at a quick example and say that Mr. Smith has $15 million in assets and decides to give away the maximum allowable exclusion of $11.4 million in 2019. This means that he will have $3.6 million remaining for his own living expenses after making the gift

If this proposed regulation is not passed and the tax exemption exclusion reverts to $5 million after 2025, it is possible that Mr. Smith’s estate would get a huge tax bill if he were to die after 2026. Basically, the tax system would still account for all $15 million in assets, regardless of gifting, resulting in about 40% of his estate being taxed. Even with the $5 million exemption, he is still paying $4 million in tax from his original total. Obviously, much of the exclusion is lost, which is often referred to as a “clawback.”

However, if the proposed regulation does pass, there would not be a clawback and therefore no tax on the assets that had been gifted. Therefore, Mr. Smith would only owe taxes on his remaining $3.6 million and his gift would be exempt and tax free. This would result in a huge tax savings comparatively, and it would act as a way to avoid a clawback.

The IRS is holding public hearings in Washington, DC in March to finalize the regulations, but, considering the benefits, it’s doubtful that taxpayers will object to the proposal. Even if you are not a high net worth individual, there are many tools at your disposable to protect you and yours while you are alive and after your death. If you have questions, contact Terri Hilliard, PC at 805-201-2552 or e-mail clientcare@terrihilliard.com, and sign up for our newsletter.

Photo courtesy of Alpha Stock Images – alphastockimages.com

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Leaving Your Assets To Your Kids https://terrihilliard.com/2019/01/03/leaving-your-assets-to-your-kids/ https://terrihilliard.com/2019/01/03/leaving-your-assets-to-your-kids/#respond Thu, 03 Jan 2019 22:54:06 +0000 https://terrihilliard.com/?p=47458 When you die, how will your assets be imparted to your children? What if the kids aren’t old enough or mature enough to handle their inheritance after you pass? If you have more than one child, how will your assets be divided? What happens to your legacy, if the children inheriting your wealth die? These […]

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When you die, how will your assets be imparted to your children? What if the kids aren’t old enough or mature enough to handle their inheritance after you pass? If you have more than one child, how will your assets be divided? What happens to your legacy, if the children inheriting your wealth die?

These and other issues should be carefully considered to ensure your wishes are carried out and your children and the assets you are leaving behind are protected.

Estate Planning

For children less than 18 years of age, look at putting your assets in a trust that is administered by a trusted guardian or qualified conservator of your choosing. Even when your child reaches his or her majority, you can designate in advance how and when the money and other assets may be doled out to more effectively help your offspring handle their inheritance.

Also, consider establishing a Lifetime Trust, which can conserve assets and act as liability protection for your children. A trustee you assign would have control of how monies would be distributed. Once the kids take money from the trust, it becomes subject to creditors or any future divorce. Further, if you have a child with some kind of addiction, such as with drugs, alcohol or gambling, a Lifetime Trust can serve as a governor on how the assets are taken.

Even if your kids are responsible and you believe they can handle their own finances, you might want to disperse the money in chunks over time to help them better manage their new-found “wealth.” Often, this is defined in the estate trust by the age of the surviving child. For instance, you could decide to have the trust release some of the funds at age 25, more at age 30, and the rest at a later birthday.

If you have more than one child, think about dividing the trust into equal shares for each recipient. In this way, the kids have their own assets to do with what they desire, which is much more equitable and may save future disagreements among the siblings.

So, you’ve laid out the trust to allocated assets to your children after your death, but what happens if there are assets remaining in the trust and your child dies? One thing that can be done in advance is to set up a “powers of appointment” within your trust. This can authorize your children to alter your original trust agreement after you are gone to pass along any assets to their children.

Planning ahead can seem overwhelming, but your professional advisors can provide the guidance you need. If you have questions on how we can help you and yours, contact Terri Hilliard PC at 805-201-2552 or e-mail cleintcare@terrihilliard.com.

Image courtesy Alpha Stock Images.

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