Awareness of Legal Options in Specific Situations

bigstock Conversation Of Business Peop 1890374

Legal Matters

Community Partner Logo 22 FINAL 1Brought to you by: Holliman & Holliman, LLC, Estate Planning, hollimanlegal.com 

October is a busy month with art festivals and Halloween, but it is also the month for Mental Health Awareness Week on October 2-8, Stroke Prevention Day on October 29, and Domestic Violence Awareness recognized with purple ribbons all month. These three situations have legal protections that you should know if a family member or heir has one of these issues.

Domestic Abuse. In a domestic abuse situation, the abuser often attempts to control and dominate the victim mentally, physically, and financially. Preventing an abuser or spendthrift spouse from access to an inheritance gives your heir more power and options. A good estate planning attorney can create a spendthrift trust in your estate plan for an adult heir with an abusive spouse or mental health issues. If your adult heir is the one with spendthrift tendencies, a spendthrift trust can protect the adult heir, too. 

Mental Health. According to John Hopkins Medicine, one in four Americans have a diagnosable mental disorder. A durable power of attorney and healthcare power of attorney for a family member or heir with mental issues can help in future crises. Thinking long term with no crisis in sight, one grandmother set up a trust in her estate so that her grandson with significant mental disabilities would be cared for by a guardian and conservator long after she was gone. The parents were not viable options. An estate planning attorney can advise you about whether a guardian or a conservator is right for your situation.

Stroke. The CDC reports that in 2020, someone in the U.S. has a stroke every 40 seconds or about 795,000 people a year. Strokes remain a leading cause of death even though huge advances in treatment now exist. A complete estate plan including financial and healthcare power of attorney and healthcare directive can be invaluable when an individual has a stroke. While the stroke victim is in rehab, the financial power of attorney ensures that bills are paid. If the stroke victim doesn’t recover, the healthcare directive and healthcare power of attorney allow someone to make the hard decisions about life support based on the stroke victim’s preferences. And with about 37% of Americans living alone, it’s important to have an estate plan in place to manage any eventuality.

Make sure your estate plan can manage these situations.

Melanie B. Holliman-Melanie B. Holliman, JD

Partner at Holliman & Holliman, PLLC

www.hollimanlegal.com

205-663-0281

No representation is made that the quality of the legal service to be performed is greater than the quality of service performed by other lawyers.

bigstock Grandchildren Having Fun Play 428142725

Legal Matters

Brought to you by: Community Partner Holliman & Holliman, bradfordholliman.com

Community Partner Logo 22 FINAL 1Yes, 70 may be the new 50, and grandparents are redefining their roles by living more active and longer lives. More often than you might think, adult grandchildren are faced with helping their grandparents plan their golden years. Families are getting smaller and live so far away that your parents or siblings may not be available to take care of grandparents. In fact, your grandparents may be more open to sharing and working with an adult grandchild on their plans than with their own children. Consider these three key areas for subtle discussions with grandparents.

1. Independence. Many grandparents strongly prefer to live in their own homes as long as possible and do not want to move in with any of their children. You could gently encourage your grandparents to consider other options by taking “field trips” to visit independent care, assisted living, and nursing homes nearby. Take careful note of their preferences.

2. Healthcare. Find out if your grandparents have long-term care policies. Make sure each has a current Durable Powers of Attorney (with a backup!), Power of Healthcare decisions, Advance Directives for healthcare, living wills, possibly DNR orders (do not resuscitate) to share with doctors and medical facilities, and prepaid burial plans, plots, or other plans such as donating their bodies to medical research. A current list of medications is always handy for doctor visits as well as medical emergencies.

3. Financial Affairs. Make sure your grandparents have someone set up with financial power of attorney to handle bills when needed. Remember that the various powers of attorney can be split among people with different expertise. You can learn who your grandparents’ team is — CPA, investment advisor, estate planning attorney, and executors — without necessarily getting “into their business.” Asking for their recommendations for your own plans is a great conversation starter.

Make sure that their financial management is still good. Some studies found that financial literacy peaks in the late 40s or 50s and declines after 60. On the flip side, financial confidence increases up to age 85. Now that’s a potential problem! One adult son had to file for conservatorship when his 86-year-old dad started giving inordinate amounts of money to a caregiver of his invalid wife. You are truly blessed if you have grandparents, so take care of them!

Melanie B. Holliman-Melanie B. Holliman, JD 

Partner at Holliman & Holliman, PLLC

www.bradfordholliman.com

205-663-0281

No representation is made that the quality of the legal service to be performed is greater than the quality of service performed by other lawyers.

bigstock Happy Family Having Fun Time A 450288511

Legal Matters 

Brought to you by: Community Partner Bradford & Holliman, www.bradfordholliman.com 

Community Partner Logo 22 FINALWhile attending a baby shower, a friend in her late 60s wondered if the parents-to-be had taken time to consider very carefully who they would like to be their baby girl’s guardians if they were both gone. That’s so much more important that the nursery wall color.

Sometimes a guardian choice is obvious such as a sibling whose parenting style you like. But siblings often live far away. Perhaps close friends are better choices so your children would already know them well, and your children’s day-to-day life would have more continuity after major trauma. If you’ve set up trusts for your children through your estate plan, the trustee is another possible guardian. However, you may like your trustee’s financial expertise more than their parenting expertise.

Not only is selecting potential guardians for your children a major decision, but your will should include at least two backups of either couples or single individuals. When reviewing their five-year-old will, one couple was stunned to realize that of the three couples they had selected, all three were now in drastically different situations. The wife of their primary choice had died, and her husband was dealing with grief and had moved to Georgia. Their secondary choice had divorced and had a complicated relationship. The third couple had divorced, and both had married other people. This situation is a perfect example of why we encourage clients to review their wills at least every three years.  

Your own life may change in ways that should trigger a reassessment of your choices of guardians such as moving to a different state. If you have more children, perfectly competent guardian possibilities with larger families of their own may become inappropriate because they would be stretched too thin to raise your children, too. Obviously, you need to keep your wills updated. Long before you meet with your estate planning attorney, talk seriously with each potential guardian, and get their agreement to serve as guardian. Ask them to let you know if their situation changed in ways that would prevent them from accepting the responsibility. And then update your will.

Melanie B. Holliman-Melanie B. Holliman, JD 

Partner at Holliman & Holliman, PLLC

www.bradfordholliman.com

205-663-0281

No representation is made that the quality of the legal service to be performed is greater than the quality of service performed by other lawyers.

 

bigstock Silhouettes Of Soldier With Us 453495003

Legal Matters

Brought to you by: Community Partner Holliman & Holliman, www.bradfordholliman.com 

Community Partner Logo 22 FINALVeterans and their families make up nearly 400,000 of Alabama’s population which ranks 7th highest per capita in the nation. The Veterans Administration (VA), several non-profit and volunteer organizations, and VA-accredited Alabama elder law attorneys help veterans understand Alabama’s VA benefits. 

VA-accredited Alabama elder law attorneys develop strategies that consider veteran benefits and any civilian work benefits both while the veterans are alive (disability benefits) and for their families, after they are gone (Aid and Attendance). These attorneys can assess veteran benefits in the context of long-term care, Alabama Medicaid, asset protection, conservatorships, wills, and trusts.  

The attorneys can explain both pension and service-connected claims and Department of Defense benefits so that a veteran can make the best choices at the right times. Sometimes, a non-service-connected pension is a better choice. Without understanding CRSC (Combat-Related Special Compensation) and CRDC (Concurrent Retirement and Disability) payments, a veteran could lose out on benefits. Many veterans are eligible for Tricare for Life or CHAMPVA health insurance which provide important free health coverage. VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (VA DIC) is best known for benefits for veterans’ surviving spouses and children, and perhaps “loco parentis.” It is easy to miss these options without VA-accredited legal advice. An article by Military.com outlines other Alabama veteran benefits including:

  • Ad valorem property tax exemption on home and 160 acres if the veteran meets certain criteria
  • Ad valorem property taxes exemption on VA-specially adapted homes
  • State, county, and city income tax exemption on military pay, survivor benefits
  • No license or ad valorem tax on motor vehicles paid by VA
  • 5 points added to state employment exam scores, and 10 points for spouse of certain disabled or deceased veterans
  • Tuition waiver for Purple Heart Medal recipients to two and four-year technical, community, or junior colleges
  • Alabama GI-dependent scholarship that waives $250 per semester hour and $1,000 for books per semester for up to five years if certain criteria are met
  • Free admission to state parks
  • Discounted fishing licenses to 20% disabled veterans
  • Special hunting license for disabled veterans
  • In-state license fees for non-resident active-duty military and families
  • Free retired military pistol permit
  • Alabama State Veterans Cemetery in Spanish Fort, Alabama

Alabama’s four existing VA homes have waiting lists ranging from 80 to 350+. With projections of 1,440 veterans needing care by 2045, the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs is building a fifth veterans’ home for long-term care located in Enterprise that will house some 175 veterans after it opens in 2023. If you are a veteran or a veteran’s family, thank you for your service! Please consider talking to a VA-accredited attorney about your VA benefit options soon.

Melanie B. Holliman-Melanie B. Holliman, JD 

Partner at Holliman & Holliman, PLLC

www.bradfordholliman.com

205-663-0281

No representation is made that the quality of the legal service to be performed is greater than the quality of service performed by other lawyers.

bigstock Work Using Mobile Phone Typing 446059529

Legal Matters

Brought to you by: Community Partner Bradford & Holliman, www.bradfordholliman.com 

Two axioms that we estate planning attorneys know only too well are that “no one knows his expiration date,” and “no one checks out leaving a clean desk.” However, you should still leave an estate plan that your executor and heirs can use to finalize your affairs. You also need to designate a personal representative who can oversee your affairs even if you’re incapacitated. Here are six reasons why a very key component of your estate plan is a current list of passwords and accounts to manage your digital identity. 

Community Partner Logo 22 FINAL1. Online orders: If you have standing repeat orders for items such as pet supplies or your favorite bagels, keep previous invoices to help your personal representative cancel the orders. 

2. Online banking and autopay bills: In most cases, utilities, insurance premiums, car, and mortgage payments need to be kept paid if you are incapacitated. In the case of your demise though, certain payments will need to be canceled. Leave details with your papers.

3. Social media accounts: You can now designate someone to oversee these accounts in their settings.

4. Online access to financial accounts and health insurance: A durable power of attorney helps, but having the company names, accounts, passwords, and type of account will help, especially if needed for your care.

5. Two-step encryption: This security tool is used increasingly to thwart hackers of online services. Make sure your personal representative’s email and cell phone are set up as options within the accounts. 

6. Device Passwords: When one 45-year-old died unexpectedly, her executor was left with a smartphone full of photos that are not accessible and a two-month-old tablet that cannot be re-used. Ten months later, the executor is still trying to get these devices unlocked through the manufacturers so that they can be cleaned and resold. 

If you are a very private person, store this information in a sealed envelope with your personal representative or executor right along with your Durable Power of Attorney, Healthcare Directive, and Last Will. And be sure to update the info regularly. You’ll have the peace of mind that your affairs will be easier to manage for your personal presentative or executor. 

Melanie B. Holliman-Melanie B. Holliman, JD 

Partner at Holliman & Holliman, PLLC

www.bradfordholliman.com

205-663-0281

No representation is made that the quality of the legal service to be performed is greater than the quality of service performed by other lawyers.

 

bigstock Portrait of a young female gra 36382984

Legal Matters

Brought to you by: Community Partner Holliman & Holliman, www.bradfordholliman.com

Two major new chapters of life are newly graduated seniors heading off to college and mature seniors retiring and downsizing their homes to retirement communities or even assisted living. Both new chapters need a fresh look at estate plans.

Community Partner Logo 22 FINALLate Teens. For the late teen heading off to college for the first time, a healthcare and durable power of attorney is critical. Students who go to college in other states may suddenly become adults legally meaning that parents have less authority to handle medical emergencies or finances. For example, Alabama’s age of majority is 19 while Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, and Louisiana’s age of majority is 18, and Mississippi’s age is 21. If a college student’s parents have been serving as custodians of a Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA) account, their custodial role ends when the student becomes a legal adult. The student now has complete control of the account. A durable power of attorney authorizes parents to continue directing investments and expenditures on behalf of their student. A will is also advisable unless the parents want their student’s assets to revert to them if the student were to die intestate (with no will).  For example, one adult college student set up his will naming his younger brother as the beneficiary of his “college account.”

Mature Seniors. If mature seniors have moved to Alabama from another state (and many do!), a local estate planning attorney can advise them about key differences in estate law. Pension beneficiaries should be checked, and new addresses provided to the former employers. An old estate plan should be cleaned up eliminating guardianship terms for minor children who are now fully grown. All beneficiaries, trustees, and executors should be verified and updated. Although Alabama does not require an executor to be an Alabama resident, an executor who lives near you is usually best. Terms relating to incapacity should define who will serve as either trustee or personal representative, keeping in mind who is qualified and nearby. When mature seniors set up new accounts, careful thought should be given to the beneficiaries so that it aligns with the rest of their estate plans.  

New chapters of life are exciting and sometimes scary, but a good estate planning attorney can make sure that your legal affairs are in order to address the new chapter… and that offers peace of mind.

Melanie B. Holliman-Melanie B. Holliman, JD 

Partner at Holliman & Holliman, LLC

www.bradfordholliman.com

205-663-0281

No representation is made that the quality of the legal service to be performed is greater than the quality of service performed by other lawyers.

 

bigstock Interior Of The Attic Of House 401723648

Legal Matters

Community Partner Logo 22 FINALBrought to you by: Community Partner Bradford & Holliman, bradfordholliman.com

Visiting your mother for Mother’s Day in May or your dad for Father’s Day in June? Consider a small spring-cleaning project in any attics, she-sheds, barns, or storage units. One lady in her seventies measures her progress by the trunk loads she takes to thrift stores. Be sure to suggest items that other siblings or grandchildren could use, and you will not come across as the greedy one. Masking tape makes great labels.

List the items and their locations and ask your parents to share their plans with the beneficiaries. These bequests do not have to be in their wills. In fact, your parents may get more pleasure by giving these items now rather than waiting for a will to be read. If they agree, update the inventory when items are given. Items could be valuable such as collectible paintings, woodturning tools, and jewelry, or nostalgic such as a grandmother’s very antique flour sifter, well-worn quilts, or notated Bibles. Your parents may enjoy an afternoon talking about the items in detail. 

Executors of wills and trusts have a lot of responsibility such as making interim and final estate reports back to the Probate Court. Make executors’ lives easier by giving personal items to recipients early or by creating a separate document with the details of who gets what. One elderly lady with ten grown children made a copy of her will for each child and wrote on the back what that child was to receive from her personal effects even down to the refrigerator. There is an old saying that you do not know a person’s character until you have divided an estate with him. Estate distributions often trigger family arguments, long-term grudges, and will disputes. A well-used lawnmower triggered a will dispute in one family. That may sound ridiculous, but when grief, high emotions, and childhood grievances are involved, logic often goes out the window. We strongly recommend that our clients share their estate plans with their beneficiaries while they are here to address any questions or concerns. The same goes for personal effects.

Take a shot at spring cleaning yourself so you can be an example to your parents. And keep your estate plan current with regular reviews with your estate planning attorney. You will all have a sense of lightness to go with the lengthening days.

Legal Matters bradford Holliman head shot Melanie Bradford 07 cropped print-Melanie B. Holliman, JD 

Partner at Bradford & Holliman, LLC

www.bradfordholliman.com

205-663-0281

No representation is made that the quality of the legal service to be performed is greater than the quality of service performed by other lawyers.

Woman behind a desk working

Legal Matters 

Brought to you by: Community Partner Bradford & Holliman, www.bradfordholliman.com

Community Partner Logo 22 FINALDo you understand your finances? Here are four reasons to know your finances even if your spouse usually manages them. 

1. Since women live longer than men and often have older spouses, women are likely to be the surviving spouses impacted by their husbands’ wills and property law. 

2. Divorces trigger the division of assets. Overall, the divorce rate in the U.S. is falling, but the divorce rate of couples over 50+ is increasing, and that means there are more assets to divide.

3. If you are considering a second marriage and have children from your first marriage, you may want to consider a prenuptial agreement and estate plan that protects those children’s inheritances. In the U.S., 19% are second marriages.

4. Setting up your estate plan so that both parties can manage affairs easily on their own when needed due to the incapacity or demise of one spouse.

Know how all your assets are titled. Your attorney needs to know how assets’ titles and beneficiaries to advise you for your estate plan. Individual ownership can be more advantageous than joint ownership due to direct gifts, grants, inheritances, and assets a spouse may have before marriage. But it was not always this way. 


Did You Know? Women’s Rights Related to Assets Have Really Changed! 

In honor of Women’s History Month, let’s take a quick view of how women’s rights relating to assets have improved:

  • 1846- Women could own, but not control, property in their own names.
  • 1849- Married women could own and manage property in their own names during the incapacity of their spouses. 
  • 1867- Married women were granted separate economy which meant they could have a separate estate.
  • 1870- Women were no longer considered property of their husbands or fathers.
  • 1960s- Women could open their own bank accounts. 
  • 1974- Women could have their own credit cards with no co-signers.
  • 1974- Women could buy a house alone.
  • 1981- For a husband to have sole control of marital property became unconstitutional by a U.S. Supreme Court case. 
  • 1981- Alabama’s intestate or probate law was changed to be gender neutral. 

A couple’s finances require day-to-day management, long-term strategic plans, and estate plans. You and your spouse should talk about finances on all these levels to make sure you are both “rowing in the same direction…” and then make sure your estate plan is in line with your direction.

Legal Matters bradford Holliman head shot Melanie Bradford 07 cropped printMelanie B. Holliman, JD 

Partner at Bradford & Holliman, LLC

www.bradfordholliman.com

205-663-0281

No representation is made that the quality of the legal service to be performed is greater than the quality of service performed by other lawyers.

bigstock Wheeler Semi Truck On The R 217541947

Legal Matters

presented by: Frank S. Buck P.C., Personal Injury

What to Do to Protect Yourself. Due to the hectic demands of life, we often find ourselves on the road. Daily interstate travel brings many drivers in frequent contact with larger vehicles like 18-wheelers or semi-trailer trucks. Many truckers work lengthy hours, driving long distances hauling cargo, which can result in fatigue and distracted driving, both of which can lead to catastrophic crashes. In addition, truckers often face strict delivery deadlines, causing some to disregard speed limits. Many drivers do not realize how different a car wreck involving an 18-wheeler is from one involving two average vehicles. 18-wheeler trucks can weigh up to 80,000 lbs. which often causes serious and substantial damage to the cars involved in this crashes and sometimes fatal consequences. One in every eight automobile wreck fatalities involves a large truck like an 18-wheeler. If the past is any indication, more people will be killed in traffic accidents involving large trucks this year than have died in all the domestic commercial airline crashes over the past 45 years. Because of statistics like these, there are strict laws and regulations that apply to trucking companies and their drivers, which do not apply to non-commercial drivers. Examples of such regulations include limitations on the amount of time that truck drivers can spend driving before they take a break and what they can haul.

If you are in a wreck with an 18-wheeler, it is important to call an attorney who handles trucking collisions immediately. The trucking company will begin investigating the wreck right away with a team of experts and lawyers on the case to protect itself, so time is of the essence for you to hire an attorney to begin investigation to protect yourself.  There is valuable evidence such as black box data or other GPS recording devices from the truck that need to be preserved promptly by an experienced attorney working on your behalf. A “black box” is a recording device that is triggered by certain events to start recording important data about the truck and its movement and speed. Black box data can provide critical evidence later for an expert such as an accident reconstructionist to determine what happened in the wreck. If this data is not requested early, there is nothing preventing the trucking companies from destroying it. It is also important to document the wreck with photographs of the vehicles at the scene of the collision to show exactly what occurred. An attorney can also investigate the background of the trucking company as well as the driver. It is important to have someone who will fight for you after an 18-wheeler collision.

Frank S. Buck, P.C., Attorneys at Law have been offering professional legal services and serving Alabama citizens for over 44 years. We have experienced trial attorneys who have over 100 years of combined trial experience. You can reach us 24 hours a day at 205-933-7533 or visit us at www.franksbuckpc.com. Please call us for a free consultation.

Click Here To Learn How To Reach A Christian Audience in Alabama.

bigstock Loving Young Couple On A Date 432336401

Legal Matters

Brought to you by: Community Partner Bradford & Holliman, www.bradfordholliman.com

What is a Legal Matters article doing discussing date nights to enrich your marriage? Legal matters such as estate plans are a spectacular way of letting each other know now just how important your marriage is by making sure you are on the same page. Each spouse should be ready to manage family affairs if the other is not there. Estate lawyers often talk about the peace of mind that a current estate plan provides clients. That estate plan can also provide a long-term sense of love and caring long after one of you is gone.

Community Partner Logo 22 FINALPlan a date night to discuss each of your individual thoughts on your estate plans (you do at least have wills, don’t you?), beneficiaries on IRAs, pensions, life insurance, and financial situations of elderly family members. You may be surprised by the assumptions each of you hold. Date night without kids in tow is a great time to talk about best guardians for any minor children. With 50% of children impacted by a divorce, the specifics of divorce decrees are a major factor in setting up estate plans. If you have adult children who are in stressful marriages or who do not manage finances well, you may want to talk about how your estate plan could be structured to prevent your child from losing inheritances in a bitter divorce or how to keep your adult child from misusing any future inheritance.

If one spouse exclusively manages family finances, make the discussion for one date night about how finances are managed and who the key contacts are – financial advisors, accountants, and even personnel contacts at employers. A one-month swap of day-to-day financial duties can be eye-opening for the spouse who does not usually manage it. Such as swap often increases the appreciation for the spouse who manages it.

In fact, these discussions could take several date nights even beyond February. These conversations are key to have even before you call your estate planning attorney. An experienced estate planning attorney can provide options you may not know about such as spendthrift trusts and can also make sure that your estate plan aligns with current Alabama estate laws. Add a little candlelight and tasty food, and your date nights can enrich your marriage and give you both peace of mind for a long time.

Legal Matters bradford Holliman head shot Melanie Bradford 07 cropped print-Melanie B. Holliman, JD 

Partner at Bradford & Holliman, LLC

www.bradfordholliman.com

205-663-0281

No representation is made that the quality of the legal service to be performed is greater than the quality of service performed by other lawyers.

Get More Good News! E-subscribe to Birmingham Christian Family