Grimaldi & Yeung LLP partner, Judith D. Grimaldi, was honored by her colleagues at the recent New York State Bar Association's Elder Law and Special Needs Section meeting held on April 5, 2019 for her service and leadership as Section Chair 2018 - 2019. Pictured is Judith Grimaldi with the Chair-elect, Tara Anne Pleat and photos including recognition award from the April meeting.
Back in the day, U.S. Savings Bonds were a great way to celebrate milestones, like the birth of a child or a wedding. If you still have any savings bonds sitting in a file or buried deep in the back of your safe deposit box, it may be time to cash them in.
First issued in 1980, and still in use today, are the Series EE bonds, the most common variety of bonds. They were designed for the long game—they pay interest for up to 30 years. With the end of calendar year 2018 now in sight, any bonds dated 1988 or earlier will soon stop accumulating interest. With no growth left, it’s time to transform them first into cash, then into retirement savings. Think of them as a gift from your past to your future.
A recent Investopedia article asks, “U.S. Savings Bonds: Time to Cash In?” According to the article, prior to the start of Series EE Bonds, a relative might have bought you a Series E Savings Bond. These bonds were issued from 1941 to 1980. They have also stopped earning interest.
Series I Bonds are more recent. First issued in 1998, these bonds pay a combined fixed and inflation-adjusted rate of interest. They’ll accumulate interest for 30 years. Thus, the earliest of them will stop gaining value in 2028.
To see the value of your old bonds, use the Savings Bond Calculator on the Treasury Direct website. You only need the type of bond, its denomination and the issue date. You can also add your bond’s serial number, but you don’t need to do that to get a value. As an example, a $50 bond issued in August 1982 that cost $25 is now worth $146.90. A $100 bond from February 1984 is now worth $230.64.
If you think you own some old savings bonds, but have lost track of them, you can submit a claim with the Treasury, by filling out Fiscal Service Form 1048, Claim for Lost, Stolen, or Destroyed United States Savings Bonds. Get the form on the Treasury website.
You can also redeem your old paper bonds at most financial institutions.
Remember that your savings-bond interest is taxable by the federal government, but there’s no state or local tax. You can report it and pay tax every year that you hold the bond—or wait until the end and pay the tax all at once. That’s what most people do. When you redeem your bonds, you’ll get an IRS Form 1099-INT that shows your taxable gain.
If you use the proceeds from the bonds issued in 1990 or later to pay qualified higher education expenses for you or your offspring, you may not have to pay taxes. Check the rules, including the related income limits, on the Treasury Direct website—the details are in the Education Planning section.
With more than 5.7 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease, you’d think we would know that Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia lead to far more than just memory loss.
The typical picture of an Alzheimer’s patient, or someone suffering from any form of dementia, is of an older, fragile person who doesn’t seem to understand who they are or where they are. Recent research has uncovered several different health issues that are now known to be linked to dementia, some of which are surprising.
Bustle’s recent article, “7 Weird And Surprising Things Linked To Dementia” reports that Dr. Luqman Lawal, MD remarked, "Dementia occurs when once-healthy neurons in the brain stop working, which results in a loss of cognitive functioning. This lack of ability to problem solve and remember things that have happened to them, affects their everyday routine."
In addition to memory loss, those with some form of dementia may experience other symptoms like an inability to focus, an impaired sense of judgment and an inability to problem solve. Others may have issues with communication. There are several different studies that have examined possible causes. Here are some of the most surprising things that have been linked to dementia, according to recent research:
Hearing Loss. A long-term study released in early 2018 found a "strong link" between hearing loss and dementia in seniors. About 33% of participants who experienced hearing loss were found to be more likely to have other major health issues like depression, disability and dementia.
Herpes. A study from Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience found connections between herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), which often causes mouth sores, and Alzheimer’s disease. Those with the herpes virus were 2.5 times more likely to develop dementia, than those who didn’t. Researchers also discovered that people infected with HSV-1 carry a specific gene associated with Alzheimer’s disease, ApoE4—known to increase the risk for getting the disease.
Constantly Feeling Sleepy During The Day. A 2018 study found links between sleep disturbances and Alzheimer’s disease. Feeling excessively sleepy during the day is a common symptom of several sleep disorders, such as insomnia or sleep apnea. The study said that those who often felt sleepy during the day, were three times more likely to show signs of Alzheimer's disease in the brain.
Taking in Too Much Sugar. A 2018 study published in the journal Diabetologia looked at more than 5,100 adults over 10 years and found that those who had higher blood sugar levels had faster rates of cognitive decline than those with more normal levels.
Air Pollution. A 2017 study from the University of Southern California found connections between air pollution and dementia in older women. Tiny air pollution particles, which mostly come from power plants and cars, can get inside the body via the nose and then travel into the brain. Breathing in toxins can increase inflammation in the body. Research said that if a person had the Alzheimer's gene, excessive exposure over time to those toxic particles can "exacerbate and promote" the disease. The adverse effects were found to be much stronger in older women who had the gene. More research still needs to be performed. However, if it’s confirmed that air pollution causes dementia, it may the cause for over 20% of dementia cases.
Sense of Smell. A 2016 study found a connection between a person's sense of smell and Alzheimer’s disease. Participants who were unable to correctly identify certain odors like menthol, strawberry and lemon, were the people who were at risk for having the disease. Researchers believe that a person’s poor sense of smell can possibly be an early indicator of Alzheimer's disease.
Loneliness. A 2018 study published in the Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences looked at data of over 12,000 people over 10 years. The researchers found that those who reported to having greater feelings of loneliness, were 40% more likely to get dementia. While there's no one clear explanation as to why, researchers believe some people may cope with feelings of loneliness by behaving in ways that can damage the brain, like binge drinking or being sedentary.
Again, these studies show possible links to dementia—it doesn't mean these things can cause it.
There simply are no guarantees about what you can do to prevent developing dementia of any kind, but a healthy lifestyle, lowering your risk of concussions by wearing proper headgear and staying active are a good prescription for giving your body the tools it needs to combat illness in general.
It’s pretty straightforward to pass along liquid assets like stocks, bonds and cash. However, “hard” assets like property, art and jewelry can present some problems. The reason for this is that families don’t maintain a good inventory of these assets, the value of the assets may be outdated or unknown, and family members may have different ideas of how to handle them. Many individuals are also reticent to discuss the issue with their heirs.
Because of this, hard assets can be totally overlooked, despite discussions about their potential value. Similar to liquid assets, illiquid assets must have a formal plan that starts with a dialog between the family decision-makers, your estate planning attorneys and an appraiser. To get the illiquid assets distribution discussion going, consider these three key questions:
What’s it worth? Begin with its fair market value, which is the first step for any plan. That’s because it attaches an actual, current dollar figure to an item that has probably changed in value over time.
When getting an appraisal for an asset, look for an experienced, certified appraiser—especially for artwork. The reason is that there’s a big financial risk of mispricing your assets. Don’t rely on online art price guides, advice from your brother who used to be a painter, or even the original seller (who may have a conflict of interest). The appraiser should be certified by one of the main accrediting bodies, like The Appraisers Association of America or the International Society of Appraisers. For a large collection, the cost of the appraisal is well worth it, so you will know its true value and how that value will impact your estate.
Which heir(s) want it? Along with the actual monetary value, consider the emotional or sentimental value of your hard assets. Your children may have strong attachments to specific assets. This should be taken into account.
If several heirs want the same asset, look at whether and how it can be divided. If it can’t be divided equally, think about how you can equitably divide other assets. If some, but not all, of your heirs want to keep the asset, look into an equitable buyout situation that transfers ownership to the heirs who’d like to keep it.
How do I pass it on? There are several ways to pass on illiquid assets. Typically, it’s best to let an heir inherit the asset itself. Illiquid assets get a step-up in cost basis that reduces or eliminates the capital gains tax, even if the heirs decide to sell it. You can also place the asset in a trust, family partnership, or LLC and formalize the transfer of ownership in a tax-efficient way, at the same time saving on future estate taxes. Finally, if you don’t think your heirs understand the asset enough to sell it for a fair price, you can sell it yourself, or authorize your executor to sell it at your death, or pay the appropriate taxes and distribute the sale proceeds in your estate plan.
Having this conversation may be as difficult as the one about your estate plan and wishes for your funeral. However, it is just as necessary. Consider it an opportunity to teach your children, even if they are adults.
Grimaldi & Yeung LLP would like to take this opportunity to offer you our thanks as we join together to celebrate Social Work Month this March! You have touched the lives of many of our clients, neighbors and fellow New Yorkers. The dedication with which you serve makes our future strong - one individual, one family and one community at a time.
The theme for this year is "Social Workers: Elevate Social Work." This theme is so relevant for social work and all the helping professionals, which demonstrate leadership and advocacy for our clients. You uplift individuals who are overcoming some of life's most difficult challenges and can bring positive changes in the basic needs of all people by your showing of dignity and respect, especially the aged and disabled. This theme is relevant to our firm as well, as we all advocate for our clients and help them find solutions to some of their life's most pressing challenges. Since we began in 2008, our firm's motto is "In Legal Matters, People Matter", thus we share this year's theme in our common goal of helping the elderly and disabled.
Despite gains in many areas, married women still choose traditional roles, when it comes to finances. When divorce is in the picture, that creates big problems, for the present and the future.
The upheaval presented by divorce and the probability that the woman will be the surviving spouse is difficult for the entire family, but women who have not been an active participant in family finances, often find themselves at a loss when it comes to managing money. It’s another part of their lives that often has to start from the beginning again.
Forbes’s recent article, “The Top Estate Planning Mistakes Divorcing Women Make,” notes that even though you may be dealing with a lot of emotion at the start of a divorce, it's important to focus on certain issues, like your inevitably changing financial situation. This is especially important, if you have children. You may be busy taking care of many aspects of your immediate financial needs, but this is also the time to consider your future as well. It's never too early to address this often-overlooked task and learn how to protect yourself (and your children), while avoiding these estate planning mistakes that divorcing women commonly commit.
Reviewing Your Will. When you divorce, your will should be reevaluated and updated. If your spouse was named as a beneficiary on any accounts, you may also want to make changes to those.
Reviewing the Children's Guardianship. If you don’t name a guardian, there's no knowing who gets custody of your children if you were to die. If you and your spouse already created a guardianship plan before you divorced, and you now have custody, review this plan. That’s because the appointed guardian may be one of your former spouse's family members. This may be someone with whom you’re no longer comfortable.
Failing to Plan for All Assets. You may be entitled to some of your former spouse's deferred savings plans, like a 401(k), IRA or other eligible savings plan. After you've claimed your share, be sure to designate beneficiaries (such as your children) for these plans.
Failing To Incorporate Trusts Into Your Estate Plan. A trust can help to protect your assets (and have them distributed according to your wishes) in certain circumstances. Creating a trust can ensure that your money still goes to whom you want after you pass. Trusts can also be used to defer asset distributions, until your minor children are legal adults.
No Planning Whatsoever. The biggest estate planning mistake a person can make is not having a plan at all. When someone dies without a will or estate plan, their assets go through probate. Your children, grieving your loss, will have to spend a great deal of time and money on this process. State law will determine who inherits assets when there is no will or estate plan in place. The final decision may also end up being against your wishes. Estate planning may be the last thing on your mind right after a divorce, but it's important to make it a priority.
Trying Not to Work with an Estate Planning Attorney. The help of an experienced estate planning attorney is particularly important, when dealing with divorced families. Who will be the guardian of any minor children, if something should happen to a parent? You may not want your ex raising them without another guardian in the picture. If your assets are inherited by minor children, who will be in charge of those assets for their benefit? An estate planning attorney can help focus you on these and other issues and create a legally enforceable plan.
The family caregiver is often overlooked, because by their nature they are giving souls. However, you can give a thoughtful gift to show your appreciation.
You’re just now catching your breathe—so much rushing about for the holidays! However, one gift that you would never overlook would be that for the person (or people) who gives of themselves, all year long. The family caregivers on your list deserves a special consideration during the holiday season.
Caring for a family member involves an exhaustive amount of paperwork, and an equally exhaustive amount of time coordinating all the financial crunching and logistical planning. At the same time, the caregiver’s own life and responsibilities still need to be addressed.
Take care of a chore. A caregiver may not have time to arrange for some of the basic chores around that house. You could pay for a lawn service, snow removal, meal delivery or handle the car maintenance tasks, such as an oil change. Be creative and thoughtful. You might even do these chores yourself!
Hire an elder pro. With caregiving, the idea that “knowledge is power” takes on a significant role. An hour with an elder attorney, insurance specialist, or geriatric specialist can assess where the patient is now and how to help them plan for the future—that’s an invaluable gift that keeps on giving.
Professional Respite. Not everyone qualifies for this, unless they meet the eligibility factors. Even if you do qualify, funding and availability can be scarce. Call a home health agency and ask them if they’re willing to create a respite package, which would include a block of weekly respite visits. Or provide them or yourself and give the caregiver a scheduled break. Pick a date and do it.
Gift card. It is a bit impersonal, but it’s like a tiny nugget of indulgence that a caregiver rarely gives themselves hidden away for a special day.
The gift of time. If you have this kind of relationship with the caregiver, give that person the most precious resource of all—your time. That may be an afternoon together, a walk in the nearby park, or something you both enjoy. Perhaps you both enjoy crafting or baking. Make time to let them know, just how much you appreciate them.
Our firm now has a licensed social worker on our staff, Young Mee Kim, who can meet with you and develop a plan for your stressed family and caregiver. We can help you give this gift to the caregiver.