End of Year Thoughts
Somehow it is (already) again the Holiday season. We recently attended our extended family’s holiday party which has been held for decades. The aunts and uncles are gone now, but for my last surviving Aunt, 97, who sadly didn’t attend this year. And my cousins and I are now the older generation…..makes you think…..
We hope you enjoy the holidays (and are taking reasonable steps to avoid the flu).
I read an article recently that says the heightened possible negative outcomes of surgery, even minor surgery, for those who are deemed “frail”, might not be fully understood by doctors, and patients might not be getting fully informed before consenting to procedures You can find the story here:
Frail Older Patients Struggle After Even Minor Operations
I attended an interesting seminar last month, the topic of which was hoarding. This is now a diagnosis under the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association DSM-5 defined and is defined in part as “Persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions, regardless of their actual value”. I had not been that aware of how serious this condition can be, and how it can create real life threatening danger not only to the person afflicted, but to firemen and other first responders who may be at risk when trying to enter a home that is so full of belongings that one can’t safely get through the house. There are laws that pertain to these hazards including fire codes, and the seminar gave us some information and suggestions as to how to proceed where this condition is found. (And given what my attic looks like, I think I’d better start throwing some things out before someone reports me….)
Do you know a person who has gotten married later in life, after signing a Will? Surprises can be in store for the beneficiaries under any Will signed by a person who gets married after signing a Will and does not take steps to sign a new Will or amend the existing Will. There are laws in Connecticut that in effect change the terms of any Will signed by a person who signs a Will and then gets married and does not sign a new Will or codicil. Any person who plans to marry after signing a Will needs to see a lawyer to review their documents. And it can make sense to consult with a lawyer even if you simply intend to start living with another person, and not get married.
Connecticut adopted the Uniform Trust Code, and it comes into effect January 1. This law will have far reaching consequences. If you are the Trustee of any trust that is an irrevocable trust, the duties you have to the beneficiaries including but not limited to providing financial reports may be changed by the passage of this new law, and you should plan a visit to see your attorney soon, so that you can be advised about how to properly discharge your responsibilities under the new law.
Have you taken any Required Minimum Distribution you are required to take before the end of this year? If not, failure to do so can result in very painful penalties! Please contact your financial advisor or tax advisor right away if you are not certain you have taken mandatory distributions.
What does it mean to “avoid probate” in Connecticut? Should you? I spoke to a fellow today who thought you can’t “avoid probate” in Connecticut, and I told him well, you can avoid having your assets administered through the probate court at your death if you employ a trust and re-title your assets into that trust (or have them distributed upon beneficiary designations or other similar devices), but in any case an estate tax return is required, and a probate court fee will be due. “Avoiding Probate” can be a smart thing for clients to do, but it is not advisable or necessary in every case, and there are many clients who do not need a trust. Each client’s situation is different, and what is right for one client, may not be right for another.
In this dark time of year, the stars often burn brighter, and the sunsets are very beautiful…..(I do wish they didn’t happen at 4:30…..)
Best wishes to you and yours…..Jim.