At its most recent monthly meeting, the OCBA Elder Law Section presented the Orange County Public Law Library with a donation in honor of its continued work and support of the Orange County legal community. The Orange County Public Law Library is dedicated to providing reference materials and research on statutes and case law, and supporting the legal community with the help of its highly knowledgeable staff.
Josh Ramirez (OC Elder Law); Michelle Lepich (McGonigle & Hunsaker LLP); Anh Nguyen (ATN Law Office); Albert Rasch (Albert J. Rasch & Associates); Mary Ruth Storer (Orange County Law Library); Christina McGonigle (McGonigle & Hunsaker LLP); Gisselle Amini (Mission Legal Group); William Wise (Legal Aid Society of Orange County); Brooke Weitzman (Public Law Center)
With the recent election of Donald Trump, along with continued Republican majorities in the House and Senate, our estate planning attorneys predict that we might see some cuts to federal programs that benefit senior citizens in the near future.
According to the Tax Policy Center, President-elect Trump has proposed a $6.2 trillion tax cut—one of the largest in modern US history. The question is: Where will the money come from, and how will it affect seniors?
Over the course of his campaign, Mr. Trump has promised to leave Social Security and Medicare as is. However, our estate planning attorneys believe that programs like Medicaid and other senior services funded through the Older Americans Act could begin to feel the pressure of the cuts.
Regardless, over the last several years funding for most of these programs has remained constant even though the number of people using benefits has grown. As a result, budget cuts may make a significant impact on current or new beneficiaries and will undoubtedly keep elder law attorneys across the country very busy.
As a more specific response to our previous query, President-elect Trump has endorsed a plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and cap federal spending for Medicaid while calling for cost savings in the Medicare drug program.
Repealing the controversial ACA, referred to commonly as “Obamacare,” is one of Trump’s first top priorities once he arrives in the Oval Office. While most of the current debate on the ACA highlights increasing premiums, the law also includes important changes in the way health care is delivered under Medicare. These changes will be especially important for seniors who are suffering from multiple chronic conditions. If the new administration follows through with repealing the ACA, many of those impactful reforms will also be lost.
Medicaid, which provides long-term support and services to millions of seniors, may also experience some changes. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) is among many who support Trump in his plan to limit the federal contribution to Medicaid, which is also funded in part by the states. In turn, Medicaid will have a lower amount of money available to reimburse nursing homes and other providers, inevitably reducing their care capacity.
Finally, capping the government’s share of Medicare and Social Security has been discussed by Ryan and other members of congress for years. Doing so would likely lead to huge jumps in premiums for seniors and/or limit their benefits. Again, President-elect Trump said he would oppose such changes, but many believe he may consider accepting further changes endorsed by Congress.
There is no way to know exactly how much, or when President-elect Trump and Congress may enact any changes to these programs, but considering Trump’s campaign promises, older adults and their families should be prepared to make adjustments.
Since 2002, our estate planning attorneys in Orange County have focused on all aspects of elder law, including long-term care and Medi-Cal planning. If you or a family member is in need of assistance in any of these areas, please contact us today.
In this month’s issue of Forbes, OC Elder Law is featured as a California Leader in Law! In the article we were able to tell Forbes about our commitment to serving seniors and the variety of services that we provide to families to help provide them ease of mind. Put best by Managing Partner Joshua D. Ramirez “OC Elder Law is dedicated to developing a plan for how families are going to take care of themselves now and how they’ll handle things if a crisis occurs in the family or if they suffer a disability. They know who will be able to make decisions for them and what will happen, so they don’t have to worry.” No need to worry if you don’t have a subscription to Forbes, we’ve included a copy of our article below. Enjoy!
In my time as an estate planning attorney in Orange County, I’ve discovered that many people do not develop a necessary estate plan simply because they think it is too complicated. This is an understandable perception, and some of the topics may be uncomfortable or even painful to talk about to the full extent necessary. However, avoiding these critical discussions can make things much more difficult for you and your family in the long run.
Of course, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when addressing the topic of wills and trusts, especially if you don’t really know where to get started. However, this process is not as challenging as you may think! Just like planning for many other future goals, all it takes to be successful is an organized strategy that breaks the entire process down into a simple step by step checklist.
Conveniently, Go Banking Rates recently laid out a simple 10-step plan to help you identify goals and kick start your estate planning process:
Appoint a general power of attorney so someone you trust can manage your financial and legal decisions for you in the event that you are unable to do so. OC Elder Law’s document library can assist you in this process.
Designate a durable healthcare power of attorney for medical decisions as well so someone can help you take care of your medical needs and enact an end-of-life care plan if necessary.
Create a living will so doctors and hospitals will have on record what medical procedures and/or care you want to receive if you are unable to make your own healthcare decisions.
Write out a complete will to ensure all of your final wishes will be carried out in the manner you see fit. This includes naming a guardian for any children and bequeathing any financial assets.
Draft a living trust so your property does not have to go through the expensive and lengthy probate process and can instead be directly given to your heirs. However, to make the trust effective you must go through the process of actually transferring your assets to it, which may not be right for everyone.
Write out funeral or memorial instructions for your final burial wishes. This should be in a separate document to ensure that your instructions are addressed in a timely manner, as opposed to being lost in the inevitable drawn-out shuffle of sorting through a will.
List all of your accounts and important legal documents such as bank accounts and insurance policies. Also, make copies of estate planning documents, deeds, and titles for cars or other property. Store them in a secure place so family members can access your information easily if something happens to you.
Plan for your pets to be cared for by someone you trust after you pass away. It’s also a good idea to choose back-up beneficiaries in case your first choice is for some reason unable to do so.
Organize digital accounts for social media profiles and various digital information to ensure someone can access your digital accounts after your pass away.
Review your plan every year to make sure it is comprehensive, up to date, and will still work with any future changes to laws around estate taxes and other estate planning issues.
Don’t leave your estate plan to chance! Contact us today to engage with an experienced estate planning attorney in Orange County that will guide you through each step of the process. You’ll be relieved that you did!