At the end of each month, we like to survey the elder law landscape and share items we found interesting or newsworthy. The April review is heavy on politics and dead celebrities, but there’s a literal pet project, too:
April Review: Politics
- Infrastructure: We learned this month that “infrastructure” can mean long-term care. Yes, President Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan includes $400 billion, tossed in with repairing roads, rebuilding the drinking water system, and building high-speed internet. The plan calls for raising wages and benefits for home-care workers and expanding access to long-term care at home under Medicaid. Reaction has been somewhat positive. Most acknowledge that the care economy needs reform and that Americans generally wish to grow old at home. But the challenges are significant. Some worry that the effort will siphon dollars from facilities, which will be left even less equipped to care for the seriously ill.
- Taxes: Biden’s expected tax plans also continue to create a stir. If you are just now starting to pay attention, here’s a primer on the two big potential changes – lowering the exemption and trimming the basis step-up — that could be coming to “death taxes.” And there could be more; this piece discusses those options plus boosts in income and capital gains tax, and stepped-up enforcement. Notable quote: “At this point, taxes are not getting any lower. They are only going to go up from here. The question is how?” One strategy that seems to have fallen by the wayside: the wealth tax. Here’s why.
Closer to Home
- Aid in Dying: Our neighbor to the east became the 11th state to legalize medical-assisted suicide. The New Mexico law takes effect June 18. New Mexico residents with six months or less to live would be able to request lethal medication. They will need to pass a mental competency screening, wait 48 hours, and take the lethal prescription themselves. Other jurisdictions where assisted suicide is legal: California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and Montana (by court ruling, not statute).
- In Arizona: Governor Doug Ducey signed SB 1390, which tweaks the law regarding the appointment of guardians ad litem (a/k/a GALs) under Title 14, Trusts, Estates, and Protective Proceedings.
- If and when the estate tax exemption gets slashed, trusts can be an important tax-avoidance tool.
- If the word “irrevocable” makes you squeamish, this Kiplinger piece might help.
- April 16 was National Health Care Decisions Day. If you haven’t made your health-care preferences clear, celebrate NHDD and do it. Your estate planning attorney can help, and here are some Arizona resources.
April Review: Celeb Estates
- Kobe Bryant: His estate has parted ways with Nike, and widow Vanessa may have other big plans.
- Prince: A ‘lost’ album, “Welcome 2 America,” is set to be released in July.
- Prince Philip: The estate of the late British monarch is expected to pass to Queen Elizabeth tax-free.
- Larry King: As expected, the broadcasters widow, Shawn, filed to become executor of his estate.
- Robert Indiana: The artist’s estate paid $8.43 million in legal fees. Now the Attorney General of Maine (looking out for the charity beneficiary) wants $3.7 million returned.
Aging in America
Researchers at seven universities are stepping up the effort to unravel the mysteries of aging – in dogs. Especially in demand: Large breeds (between 70-100 pounds); giant breeds (more than 100 pounds); hound dogs; bulldogs; pit bulls (purebred and mixed); and working dogs, such as herding, K9 and service dogs. Sign up.
That’s it for the April review. Wonder what was going on this time last year? Check out the April 2020 roundup, it’s almost Covid-free.