McManus Weighs In on Critical Healthcare Issue during NPR Episode

The Leonard Lopate Show covers issues of interest to New Yorkers, from contemporary art to current events. It’s in the NPR family and is produced by WNYC.

Yesterday, the radio show explored the extremely important topic “How to Access the Best Healthcare” with guest Leslie Michelson, author of The Patient’s Playbook: How to Save Your Life and the Lives of Those You Love. The episode, which focused on how to be a smarter health care consumer, was introduced with the fact that 400,000 Americans die every year from preventable medical errors. And many others “receive less than optimal care, even though it’s readily available to them and their insurance will cover it.” With priceless advice on how to avoid being a victim of this crisis, Michelson discussed how to choose the right doctor, coordinate the best care, and make good medical decisions.

John O. McManus, who has decades of experience ensuring that families are prepared and protected when faced with dire medical situations, called in during the show to add a key observation: It’s critical to name people who will step in and act on your behalf, if you are ever incapacitated. Without choosing representatives to serve as our advocates, we’re left at the mercy of the medical community.

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Top 10 “Non-Run-of-the-Mill” Ideas as You Prepare to See Your Child Off to College

“YIKES! My child is leaving for college in two months.”

The summer before a child enters his or her freshman year of college is filled with excitement and consternation, happiness and remorse, confidence and concern. McGraw Hill Education notes that 25 percent of college students drop out of their first year due to not being academically, emotionally, or financially prepared for college life and adulthood. Now is your chance to help your child in his or her final preparation.

Because Family Mission Planning is a cornerstone of McManus & Associates’ approach to estate planning, the firm has compiled a list of ideas and research that can help families stay on track with their individual mission statements as college-bound children leave the nest. Here are 10 pieces of advice that you may not have gathered from your high school guidance office, selected universities or friends with adult children, but that we think might hold an equal amount of wisdom:

LISTEN HERE: “Top 10 ‘Non-Run-of-the-Mill’ Ideas as You Prepare to See Your Child Off to College”

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MarketWatch Draws on Advice from McManus for “5 Estate-Plan Strategies for Boomers”

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Andrea Coombes, Ways and Means columnist for Dow Jones, last week published an interesting piece for MarketWatch sharing estate planning strategies for baby boomers. To bring readers closer to achieving their goal of putting together an estate plan, Coombes boils down advice, with the help of McManus & Associates Founding Principal John O. McManus, to offer “5 estate-plan strategies for boomers.”

Here are Coombes’ must-do estate-plan tasks:

1. Create a will or trust

2. Create a power of attorney

3. Create a health-care power of attorney and living will

4. Check the titling of your assets

5. Start with your family

In tackling the first tip “Create a will or trust”, a testamentary trust that goes into action when someone dies is given as an example to prevent unexpected consequences with regard to where your money ends up. Coombes draws from McManus’ comments to illustrate:

“The trust is actually built into the will,” said John McManus, founder of law firm McManus & Associates in New Providence, N.J.

He offered an example of what can happen without such a trust: “Say I die and leave my wife a couple of million bucks. Now it’s her in name. She then remarries, and then she dies two weeks later. Her new spouse will get one-third of those assets — even if we intended that money to go to our kids.”

The precise fraction promised to the surviving spouse will vary by state, but McManus said one-third is common.

Some boomers also may want to create a revocable living trust. There are a variety of reasons for considering such a trust.

Here’s one: If you have property or assets in more than one state — say, you live in New Jersey and own a condo in Florida — this document allows your estate to avoid the costly and time-consuming probate process in each state — with one document. A revocable living trust is portable. It will follow you across state lines, McManus said.

For the fifth tip “Start with your family”, Coombes turns again to McManus, who points out that estate planning isn’t only about you. From the piece:

McManus said boomers’ first estate-planning task is to ensure their elderly parents’ estate-plan documents are in order, and their second task is to focus on the estate-plan documents of their adult and minor children.

Coombes goes on to shed light on a potential pitfall:

Here’s one example of what can go wrong: Often people intend to divide their estate equally among all of their children. Their will may state as much, but if one child is named on a joint account, say, to help with bill-paying, that account will pass to that one child “by operation of law,” McManus said.

“Even though the parents intended that it be divided equally, the assets in joint names with their one child will result in that child being disproportionately favored,” he said. In his experience, he said, adult children in that situation “almost never” square up with the other family members.

To avoid the problem, your parents could adjust the will such that larger portions of other assets are given to the siblings or, rather than making that child a joint account-holder, give him or her power of attorney over the account, McManus said.

To get the full story with more expert advice from McManus, click here. And to discuss what your must-do estate plan items are based on your unique circumstances, give us a call at 908-898-0100. We can help.

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Conference Call: Top 10 Challenges to Estate Plans

McManus & Associates today hosted the June installment of its Educational Focus Series. Over the course of the firm’s 25 years in the field of Estate Planning, we’ve seen all manner of challenges to estate plans. From will contests to litigation, we are always aware of areas where even the slightest degree of risk might reside. Constantly working to protect against this, we are in a perpetual state of research and development to create the most comprehensive, state of the art plans that protect against even the most remote possible risks.

During this 30 minute recording, McManus & Associates Founding Principal John O. McManus reviews some of the areas of potential risk, discussing what we can learn from them. He also highlights effective strategies that the firm has created and employed to minimize risk and fortify your clients’ plans.

LISTEN HERE: “Top 10 Challenges to Estate Plans”

Top 10 Challenges to Estate Plans
  1. Will manipulated by third party and abuse of durable power of attorney. Undue influence by family members resulting in last minute changes to a will.
  2. Marshaling and valuing for tax purposes, international assets.
  3. Where has Generation Skipping Tax Exemption been utilized? You may be unaware of the significance of automatic allocation rates.
  4. Distributions to charities and notifying the attorney general/government agencies.
  5. Fiduciary’s responsibility to preserve and maintain the estate. (Stock fall in value, sale of home, house broken into, and unclaimed property.
  6. Significant gifts made during life that affect intended outcome of the estate plan.
  7. Failure to use a firm familiar with the sophistication of the planning documents to administer the estate. Failure to correctly interpret the documents.
  8. Personal property disputes after death of a loved one. Fighting in families over whether to sell or keep items to memorialize loved ones. Beneficiaries challenge distributions to surviving spouse from trust.
  9. Failure to title assets correctly. Joint accounts versus convenience accounts. Revocable Living Trusts not properly funded result in probate issues.
  10. Are there sufficient liquid assets available to continue to operate family business, preserve the family retreat and pay estate taxes?

We would be happy to answer your questions. Give us a call at 908.898.0100.

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