An estate plan (usually a Last Will and Testament or Revocable Living Trust) does more than just pave the way for a smooth transition of property to your heirs. It coordinates with your lifetime plans for retirement, gifting, transfer of business or property, your insurance, and any care expenses you may have. It may also involve a Medicaid protection Trust or Family Trust for family property. It also helps you avoid problems that keep your loved ones from receiving the benefits and protection they deserve, and it limits the taxes that might be due to the minimum you owe. A well advised estate plan prepared the right way will give you peace of mind that your Will and/or Trust will function as you need it to. Many forms and programs exist today purporting to allow you to ‘cheaply’ prepare a Will or Trust – but do you really want to take that chance? Documents prepared by an attorney at Vogel & Dubois have the firm’s many years of experience and knowledge of Maine law behind them.
Sudden illness strikes you or your family member, a car wreck, a catastrophic event. How will you respond when unexpected disability strikes? The Law Firm of Vogel & Dubois has developed tested disability planning strategies to protect financial, legal and personal rights while ensuring you have an advocate and will receive the best possible quality of life if you are incapacitated.
Our attorneys can explain how Maine law provides for various kinds of fiduciaries, including Agent under Financial Power of Attorney, and Trustee, to handle your property and finances in the event of incapacity. We can review with you how to navigate the options under the Maine Health Care Decisions Act, and advise about appointment of a health care agent and review end of life choices (advance directive) in a Power of Attorney for Health Care.
At The Law Firm of Vogel & Dubois we help our clients plan for long-term care using proven asset protection strategies and long-term care plans. We may assist with Social Security retirement benefit eligibility, veterans’ benefits, or Social Security disability benefits or refer to a specialist in those areas for appeals. We may advise on health insurance, Medicare, or community MaineCare health coverage. And we represent seniors and fiduciaries in application, qualification and appeals for MaineCare long-term care financial assistance (Medicaid) to pay for nursing home care, assisted living / boarding home care, and home based nursing care (waiver program).
When we represent clients in establishing MaineCare eligibility, protecting a spouse, protecting a home, and protecting assets, we do so because we know that a family can be placed at risk if everything is consumed in paying for very expensive or lengthy care. The regulations and law that govern these government programs are complex, the application process intimidating and overwhelming, and the DHHS bureaucracy can be daunting. We can help you protect your family, your home, and your savings by advance planning and proven Medicaid protection strategies. We also do crisis MaineCare planning when your family member needs placement, or is running out of funds to pay. See us a soon as you can – advance planning for public benefits is always best.
When a loved one or family member suffers from a mental illness, brain injury, or cognitive decline, or is in an incapacitated state due to stroke, coma, or other physical ailment, there may come a time when he or she is no longer capable of making sound decisions. It can be a difficult family moment, or personal crisis, when you realize that someone else must be placed in charge of your family member’s or spouse’s affairs. This is where guardianships, conservatorships, and protective proceedings may be used.
In Maine, a court may appoint a guardian for an individual who is incapacitated and unable to make or communicate responsible decisions regarding his or her physical person. The Probate Court may appoint a conservator or other more limited fiduciary in protective proceedings for an individual who is unable to manage his or her money and property. The Law Firm of Vogel & Dubois is prepared to represent the applicant, the incapacitated person, or any interested party family member in such court proceedings. We have substantial experience dealing with contested matters and family disputes during what can become a contentious matter for otherwise cooperative families.
The Law Firm of Vogel & Dubois also can help you create estate plan solutions for family members with disabilities. If you have a disabled child or family member, your life consists of navigating caregiver services, housing, public benefits, and ensuring access to means-tested public benefits including Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and MaineCare. We can help if you need assistance in these areas.
But what will happen when you age, if you become disabled, or when are gone? How will your disabled family member get along? Who will assist them? We can help you form a plan by appointing a Trustee and protecting assets in a first or third party special needs trust, or assisting with establishing a sub-account in the Maine Pooled Disability Trust. A special needs trust is a trust tailored to a person with special needs that is designed to manage assets for that person’s benefit while not compromising access to important government benefits. It should be part of a plan to create a team to assist them, when you can no longer do so.
Probate is a court process for closing out a loved one’s affairs after their passing. Assets and property are gathered by the appointed fiduciary, and after payment of creditors, distributed to beneficiaries according to the decedent’s Last Will and Testament or Maine intestacy law. Probate does not need to be complicated, but likely you will want to be represented by an attorney if you are the fiduciary appointed in the Will, called the Personal Representative.
The Law Firm of Vogel & Dubois handles estates both with and without a Will, both informal (not contested) and formal (contested), when there is are creditors, and when there is property to be sold. Some estates also involve trusts for family property, pets, disabled children, or a surviving spouse or partner. Let us help you navigate the process in what is always an emotional and difficult journey.
If you have won a lawsuit filed due to medical malpractice, a car accident, an issue with a nursing home or some other situation that left you with serious injuries, or if you have received an inheritance, the funds you receive should help you—not prevent you from receiving the public benefits (MaineCare, Social Security, subsidized housing,or long-term care assistance) you were previously receiving. Without proper guidance, you may risk losing the benefits you currently have or be deemed ineligible to receive benefits in the future. The Law Firm of Vogel & Dubois can review supplemental needs trust options, rules regarding expenditures and exempt assets, consequences of gifting, and rules regarding deeming of family income. We ca help you make the best decision regarding your settlement or inheritance, and create a plan for (re-)establishing continued benefit eligibility.