NO NEW THING

NO NEW THING

By Tim Barkley. March 2020. Jack and Jill (not their real names) were sipping coffee when the attorney came into the conference room. “Thanks for calling,” the attorney greeted them. “I understand you want to update your estate plan.” “Well, really, we want to create one,” Jill clarified. “Jack got some papers a long time ago from a lawyer at his old work, but it doesn’t really deal with our situation now.” “Let’s see … two of you. Any kids?”...

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HOME ALONE II

HOME ALONE II

By Tim Barkley. February 2020. Last month’s offering to our readers considered the effect of the Inheritance Tax on folks without spouse, siblings or children as estate beneficiaries.  This month’s article offers practical steps to ease the task of your surviving nieces, nephews, friends or other loved ones as they try to sort out your affairs. First, and most basically, be sure your estate planning documents are up-to-date, and...

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HOME ALONE

HOME ALONE

By Tim Barkley. January 2020. Estate planning is often discussed in the context of the “typical American family” – Mom, Dad and 1.8 happily adjusted children.  But what if that’s not you? Planning for unmarried, divorced or widowed clients who have no children presents a special challenge to the planning professional, and requires ingenuity and resourcefulness to avoid the traps for the unwary. The parents of the “typical American...

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BACK TO BASICS

BACK TO BASICS

By Tim Barkley. December 2019. Billy and Joan had lived across town. He was her only child, and as she grew older, helped with her care. Joan, a widow, had just been admitted to a nursing home with dementia. Immediately after her admission to the home, Billy suddenly and catastrophically died. There was no one to handle Billy’s estate. He had never married and had no children. There was no one to take care of Joan, either. No family or friends...

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TANSTAFL (The Medicaid Balancing Act)

TANSTAFL (The Medicaid Balancing Act)

By Tim Barkley. November 2019. Susan sat across from the table and leafed through a manila file folder.  “What do you need to know?” “Well, to figure out whether and when Mom might qualify for Medicaid,” replied the lawyer, “we need to know what she owns and what it’s worth. “There are two basic categories of assets: Exempt and Countable.”  He stood up, went to the whiteboard in the corner, and wrote the titles boldly, underlining each....

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FREE RIDE

FREE RIDE

By Tim Barkley. October 2019. Susan caught the lawyer by his elbow in the restaurant. “I thought that was you.  Can I ask you a question?” “Sure,” he replied, “what’s on your mind?” “I was talking to a friend who told me that we should put Mom’s houses and money in a trust so that a nursing home won’t take everything.” “Here’s the scoop,” the lawyer told her. “If your mother needs a nursing home to care for her, she has...

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FSBO – FOR SALE BY OWNER

FSBO – FOR SALE BY OWNER

By Tim Barkley. September 2019. Ricky and the lawyer sat at the conference table. “I know it’s not the usual thing, to move right after your spouse has died, but I have a chance at a promotion at work if I transfer to the Dallas office. And my neighbor wants to buy the house so his daughter can live there. He wants his grandkids closer than Hagerstown. “What do we need to do?” The lawyer affirmed, “You’re right, it’s usually...

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NOW WHAT?

NOW WHAT?

By Tim Barkley. August 2019. The phone rang. The voice on the other end was subdued, but firm. “This is Ricky. You met with Susan and me about our mother. My wife just passed away.” Pause. “She had a heart attack and died at work yesterday. I need to know what to do – she didn’t have a will. Is the State going to take everything?” “I’m so sorry,” the lawyer empathized, then reassured, “and there’s nothing you really need to...

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NUPTIALS

NUPTIALS

By Tim Barkley. July 2019. It was Susan on the phone: “Can we get together?  I need you to look at a paper my fiancé gave me.” She came to the office with a large envelope in hand.  “My boyfriend finally asked me to marry him.  Then he gave me this and said I had to have a lawyer look at it.  It’s a prenup.” “When are you tying the knot?” “Oh, not for awhile, but he said he wanted me to think about this before we got too far down the...

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MOM’S TRUSTEE

MOM’S TRUSTEE

By Tim Barkley. June 2019. The lawyer greeted Susan as she entered the office.  She waved a large maroon notebook.  “I think we might have found the trust.  Is that what this is?  It’s about a million pages long.  We were going through some boxes in the basement and found this last night.” The lawyer carried the notebook to the conference room and leafed through it while Susan seated herself.  “Yep, this is a trust form used by lots of...

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LOST TRUST

LOST TRUST

By Tim Barkley. May 2019. Susan sounded uncharacteristically jubilant on the phone: “Big news! Mary was picked up for a DUI and has disappeared! I don’t think she’ll be causing any more trouble.” “That’s a relief,” replied the lawyer. “We’ll have to talk to your mother’s lawyer and see what she says about the guardianship, now that Mary’s out of the picture.” “I think it’s more than just the DUI,”...

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FLIP-FLOP

FLIP-FLOP

By Tim Barkley. April 2019. “Hi, Susan!” The attorney appeared to be talking nonsensically to himself, but everyone who saw him pacing outside his office could make out the telltale flashing blue light at his ear that indicated otherwise.  “Late-breaking news!  I’m going to be frank: you’re not going to like this but hear me out. “I just heard from your mother’s court-appointed lawyer, and she says that, after interviewing you...

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CONSTERNATION

CONSTERNATION

Consternation. March 2019. By Timothy S. Barkley, Sr. “Well, thank you for your time, your Honor.”  The hearing on emergency guardianship had concluded in manner not entirely satisfactory to Susan and her brothers. “All rise!” directed the bailiff, as the judge departed the courtroom.  Mary smirked at her siblings and left, wheeling her mother out.  Susan turned to the lawyer with a stunned expression: “What just happened?” “Well,” began her...

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WHAT DO I NEED?

WHAT DO I NEED?

What Do I need? February 2019. By Timothy S. Barkley, Sr. The handshakes concluded, the Johnsons sit across from the lawyer. “We need to get wills. We’re both in our seventies, and we’ve never had a will. And we think we might need a trust.” Mrs. Johnson interjects, “My cousin told me we should have a trust. She has one.” “Thank you,” responds their lawyer. “Tell me a little bit about yourselves. I see the two of you … kids?” “We have three,...

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