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  • June 13, 2013

    June 13, 2013   Veterans Benefits

    Recent Happenings in the VA Pension Area

    Senate HearingYesterday the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs held a hearing on S. 748, the pending bill before the Senate that would impose, among other things, a penalty period for transfers made by veterans or surviving spouses prior to filing an application for VA pension.Curtis L. Coy, Deputy Under Secretary for Economic Opportunity, Veterans Benefits, testified on behalf of the VA. (NAELA also submitted written testimony prepared by the VA Task Force of which I am a member, and that is Chaired by EC member Dawn Weekly.)The entire testimony of Curtis Coy can be found in the link below (you will have to scroll down to S. 748 as there was testimony on several bills today). However, there are two paragraphs of that testimony below that were very interesting, as the VA recognize... Read More


  • June 4, 2013

    Per Stirpes—The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

    "Per stirpes," "by representation," and "per capita at each generation" are all descriptors that tell the reader how to allocate a gift among a person's descendants.  They are not shorthand for contingent beneficiary provisions.  (While this discussion applies to all three, I will use per stirpes for the rest of this blog.)The Good: It's easy.To use per stirpes correctly, you just have to follow one rule:  Always make the gift to a person's descendants, like "to [person's] descendants, per stirpes."  Note a couple of things: (1) in general, the person should be one person, not a class of people; and (2) the word "descendants" (or "issue") must always appear.  Here are some examples:-- to my... Read More


  • May 13, 2013

    May 13, 2013   Veterans Benefits

    Round 2: What Changes Will Be Coming to the VA Pension Program?

    Last year S. 3270 was introduced, proposing numerous changes to the VA pension program, including a lookback period and a penalty period for transfers made prior to qualifying for the VA pension program.  The bill was not passed, and on April 17th, a nearly identical bill was introduced, S. 748.A hearing is set for May 15, 2013 before the United States Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs.  For more information on S. 748, visit http://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/senate-bill/748?q=s748.ElderCounsel is closely monitoring these activities and will post updates as they become available.... Read More


  • August 16, 2012

    ElderCounsel® has announced two new National Advisory Board members who will also serve as the organization’s Special Needs Content Co-Editors.

    Bradley J. Frigon and Stephen Dale will assist ElderCounsel in expanding their current special needs planning document offering and will take active roles in teaching special needs planning courses for ElderCounsel.“We are pleased to have two of the top special needs planning attorneys in the country joining us,” said Valerie Peterson, Executive Director.  “Special needs planning attorneys provide a valuable service to individuals with disabilities and their families.  ElderCounsel is committed to providing the best planning documents and education possible for attorneys practicing in this area.”Dale and Frigon join existing National Advisory Board members Michael Gilfix, Frank Johns, Tim Nay, Rene Reixach and Mary Schmitt Smith, each of whom are elder law and special needs plann... Read More


  • August 13, 2012

    Planning for the Generations Symposium

    With over 500 attorneys in attendance, ElderCounsel, LLC, along with WealthCounsel, LLC and The Advisors Forum, hosted the 4th Annual Planning for the Generations Symposium July 18th – 20th at the Denver Hyatt Regency.Known as “The Premier Event for Estate, Elder Law and Financial Professionals” the Planning for the Generations Symposium offered 28 different breakout sessions for attendees to choose from focused on 4 distinct tracks:  Essentials Planning, Elder Law, Advanced Estate Planning, and Business Planning.  The Symposium also offered 4 plenary sessions ranging from new developments in elder law to practice management.While the official start of the Symposium was July 18th, there were educational events for attendees earlier that week.  ElderCounsel offered a course on July... Read More


  • June 13, 2012

    June 13, 2012   Veterans Benefits

    Text of Senate Bill 3270 Affecting VA Pension Benefits

    Key Provisions:S. 3270 was introduced on June 6, 2012, by Senator Ron Wyden (OR).  The text of the bill is found in the link below, but some of the key points include:• A lookback period of 36 months, beginning the date of application.• A period of ineligibility for assets transferred prior to application, including transfers to trusts, annuities or other financial products.• The period of ineligibility will be calculated by taking the amount transferred and dividing it by the monthly pension amount the applicant would have received.• Hardship provisions for a veteran or surviving spouse.• The ability to fully cure a gift.What is not contained in the bill:• Any provisions for exempt transfers.Effective DateOne year after the bill is passed.  The provisions will apply to appli... Read More


  • June 6, 2012

    June 6, 2012   Veterans Benefits

    VA Changes

    Subject:  What Changes Will Be Coming to the VA Pension Program?A lot has been happening in the VA pension world recently.  Today, the GAO released a report following an extensive investigation where a GAO investigator contacted 19 different companies, posing as a veteran’s son seeking advice about  the VA pension program.  The report provides transcripts of three phone calls (and excerpts of the recorded phone calls).  The GAO report suggests the following recommendations to the pension program:“Congress should consider establishing a look-back and penalty period for pension claimants who transfer assets for less than fair market value prior to applying, similar to other federally supported means-tested programs. VA should (1) request information about asset transfers and other a... Read More


  • May 3, 2012

    May 3, 2012   Medicaid Planning,   Veterans Benefits

    May is Older Americans Month

    Older Americans Month was first established in 1963.   It was called “Senior Citizens Month” until 1980 when President Jimmy Carter proclaimed it to be “Older Americans Month.” The Growth of the Senior Population. In 1963, only 17 million Americans had reached age 65.  In 2004, approximately 36.3 million U.S. citizens were age 65 or older, and accounted for approximately 12% of the U.S. population according to the U.S. Census Bureau.  Today, the number of persons age 65 or older is over the 40 million mark. By 2050, the U.S. Census Bureau predicts there will be 86.7 million citizens age 65 and older living in the U.S. and will comprise 21% of the total population.  People in the 65 and older age group will grow by 147% between 2000 an... Read More


  • April 16, 2012

    April 16, 2012   Veterans Benefits

    Does National Guard Service Qualify for “Veteran” Status?

    In order to qualify for Veterans Benefits, in particular, Compensation or Pension, an individual must meet the definition of veteran, and must also meet the active duty requirements contained in the Code of Federal Regulations, specifically 38 C.F.R. §3.6.  Often the question is asked whether a person who served in the National Guard can qualify for Veterans Benefits.  The answer, with applicable Code citations, is below.National Guard members are only eligible for VA benefits stemming from their federal service, which includes periods during which they were ordered into federal service by the President under 10 U.S.C.S. §12401 to perform duty under the provisions of 32 U.S.C.S. §§316, 502, 503, 504 or 505.   National Guard members who are ordered into the active service of a state... Read More


  • March 16, 2012

    March 16, 2012   Medicaid Planning,   Veterans Benefits

    ElderCounsel Principal Named President-Elect of NAELA

     ElderCounsel Principal Howard S. Krooks, J.D., CELA, CAP,has been named President-Elect of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys(NAELA) for 2012-2013!As President-Elect, Howard will help develop recommendations and plans forinnovative opportunities on issues and trends relevant to NAELA and Elder andSpecial Needs Law.“I am thrilled to be provided with the opportunity to shape policy withinNAELA, an organization devoted to assisting its members with providing the verybest legal services to seniors and people with disabilities, two groups thatare sorely in need of advocacy and legal representation," Mr. Krooks said.Howard S. Krooks is a partner of Elder Law Associates PA and is admitted topractice law in Florida and New York. His practice is dedicated to elder lawand trusts, al... Read More