If you’re like many pet owners, you probably think of your furry friends as members of your family. You might be surprised to find out that the law sees your pet as nothing more than your personal property. Failing to include your pet in your estate plan can create special problems. These problems can range from expensive fights over who gets to keep a deceased loved one’s pet to animals becoming homeless due to the fact that there’s no one to take care of them once their owner passes away.
At the very least, you should have a discussion with your family members and formulate a plan for who will take care of your pet. You may want to consider establishing a pet trust, especially if you have an older pet or an exotic animal, as these types of pets tend to be more expensive. With a pet trust, you formalize in writing who will care for your pet when you pass away and establish guidelines for the type of care your pet is to receive. You also name a trustee and put the trustee in charge of money that you provide for the care and feeding of your pet.
A pet trust ensures that your pet is adequately cared for in your absence, and it minimizes conflict in case more than one person wants to take over as owner of your pet. For more information about pet trusts, check with your estate planning attorney.
When someone is terminally ill and not expected to recover, Hospice can make their last days more comfortable, and help loved ones through the ordeal as well.
If you’re considering using Hospice for yourself or someone you love, you’ll want to take some time to become familiar with what services are offered.
Hospice care is different from traditional medical care. The traditional method of caring for a terminally ill patient is to use procedures that will cure or extend that person’s life, even if chances of overcoming the illness are zero. Hospice cares for a patient by trying to make them as comfortable as possible during their last days.
In addition to providing care for the patient, Hospice provides services for the family by helping them to understand what their loved one is experiencing, as well as training them to care for that loved one. Hospice will also provide someone to care for the patient when the family is unable to do so.
Hospice care is available in-home, in the hospital, or in a nursing home. Some of the services that are available include:
Medical care provided by a Hospice physician
Nursing care throughout the whole time it is needed, or only to provide checkups and injections
Medical supplies and equipment
Counseling services to patient and family
Help with financial matters, such as insurance
Bereavement care following death
Hospice services cover a broad array of areas that are meant exclusively to help the patient and family deal with imminent death and its aftermath.
In order to qualify for services from Hospice a doctor must sign a certification that states that the patient has less than 6 months to live. Although this timeline may not be entirely accurate, this certification is required before insurance companies or Medicare will cover the costs of Hospice services.
If someone does enter Hospice care, they are not obligated to continue with these services. For example, if someone changes their mind and wants to try treatment to save their life, they can discontinue the use of Hospice until a later time.
Finding Hospice care when it is needed is fairly simple. You can search on the Internet to find the facilities in your area that offer Hospice services. Another place to get information on these services is from your doctor, or family and friends that have used Hospice.
Just like preparing your will and getting your other affairs in order is important, so too is looking at end of life care. If you are considering using the services of Hospice, find out as much as you can about the Hospice provider prior to the time you will need their services. Maybe you will never need to use Hospice, but if you or a loved one does, it is always nice to know where to turn for help.
The Washington state Legislature has proposed a bill that would double the state inheritance taxes for residents. Under the current law estates above 2 million are subject a 10% inheritance tax. That rate climbs to 19% for estates above 9 million. The proposed legislation would double those rates to 20% up to 38%. This tax is on top of the Federal Estate Tax which could be as high as 55% next year. If this bill is passed a washington resident could pay high as 75% in death taxes.
A number of our wealthy clients are already considering leaving the state because of the current high inheritance tax. If this bill is passed it will be much worse. "We are contacting our state representatives to make sure they understand this.”