National Ice Cream Day: June 7, 2021
Chocolate, Strawberry, Rocky Road, Cookies n’ Cream…. have you guessed with I am thinking of? You got it: Ice Cream! There is nothing better than ordering a creamy delicious ice cream cone and attempting to eat it before it drips down over your hands. Let’s face it, we have seen children with smiles of delight, holding onto their beautiful, swirled ice cream cones, ready to devour the deliciousness. It is untouched, perfect, flawless, and ideal.
As time passes and the heat consumes it, the ice cream starts to melt. The mess gets smeary, and it no longer has that beautiful swirl on top. This is a lot like what can happen if we are not prepared for our future. Life happens! We all know this; we have experienced it. We face losses and sticky situations. The Law Offices of Samantha K. Wolfe, LLC want you to be prepared and ready for those less-than-ideal situations. We want your assets and belongings to stay in that beautiful and pristine spot that it is now we can help with asset protection. Call The Law Offices of Samantha K. Wolfe for your FREE initial consultation at (717) 655-2676 or email Amy at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule!
By: Samantha K. Wolfe, Esquire, LL.M. in Taxation
My grandmother loves the beach, so usually every year my grandparents would travel to the Outer Banks for a week during the summer months. There was always an open invitation for my family to come down and spend that week at the beach. The only problem—my dad hates the beach. For several years my entire family, including my dad, would travel to North Carolina with my grandparents. My dad was such a good sport. Oh sure, complained incessantly about how hot it was, how crowded it was, or how, once again, he had sand in places he didn’t want sand, but he endured. When my sisters and I entered the teenage years, my dad decided he had enough of the sand and decided that if we wanted to go to the beach with my grandparents we were old enough that he didn’t have to endure the horrors of the beach.
One particular summer just my mom and I went to the beach with my grandparents, two aunts and uncles, and four cousins. It had been a few years since we had made the annual trip. Both my mom and I love to read, especially romance novels, so we packed a handful of books to read on the beach. My idea of a great vacation revolved around parking myself in a beach chair, under an umbrella, reading a great Nora Roberts book. The most important part of my vacation, however, means that I don’t have a schedule. It is vital that I not be required to be at any location at a designated time. I want to wake up when I want, read when I want, and sleep when I want. Needless to say, my cousins had other ideas of what a vacation should include; it didn’t involve a beach chair, umbrella, or a romance novel. They wanted to build sandcastles and play volleyball at the resort gym all on a specific timetable. They nagged me to be at the gym at a certain time or build my sandcastle a certain way. It was a long week.
Perhaps if my extended family and my mom and I had discussed what we planned to do while on vacation before we arrived at the beach, it would have saved me and my cousins some aggravation. I know I would have finished my Nora Roberts book; I am much nicer on vacation if I have the opportunity to read my romance novel. The discussion needs to occur when planning for retirement.
It surprises me how often I meet with a married couple on the cusp of retirement who haven’t even discussed their retirement plans and, assuming that you want your partner to share in your glory years with you, it might be a good idea to make sure you both are on the same page. Does one spouse want to travel the world, while the other plans to park him or herself next to the shuffleboard court?
When I enter discussions with clients about their shared plans for retirement plans, the financial aspect fades into the background a little. The financial side of retirement is the objective aspect of retirement planning. The subjective nature of retirement planning involves the goals, dreams, and desires of both spouses. There is no mathematical formula to help you calculate the correct answer. Instead, both spouses have to have an open dialogue and be willing to compromise a little, if needed. The most important thing to remember is this: It is always best to start your retirement years on the right foot and with the correct expectations. Make sure you know if your spouse expects you to be at the volleyball court at 8 a.m. or if you can sleep late and read a romance novel.
By: Samantha K. Wolfe, Esquire, LL.M. in Taxation
One of my favorite toys growing up was a talking Mother Goose. She had a tape cassette player hidden under her one wing. When I would insert a tape into the player Mother Goose would read me a story. I would follow along in the book while she read to me. I love when someone reads to me, so I loved Mother Goose. I received Mother Goose as a gift for my sixth birthday. My younger sister’s birthday is the same month as mine, so we usually have a shared birthday party. My younger sister received Teddy Ruxpin the same day I received Mother Goose, at her fourth birthday party. Because I thought Mother Goose was such a great gift, I offered to share Mother Goose with my younger sister if she shared Teddy Ruxpin. My thought was that we could maximize our reading fun if we shared gifts.
Thankfully for me my younger sister didn’t want to listen to Mother Goose read her stories very often; she preferred good ole Teddy. But there was that one time that my younger sister decided her story would sound better coming from Mother Goose’s beak. I recognize that she probably didn’t mean to hurt poor Mother Goose but to this day I remember the devastation when I realized that she had carried Mother Goose around by her neck. Since my sister was used to handling Teddy, she didn’t realize that Mother Goose was never to be carried around by holding only her neck. She had no idea she was wrecking Mother Goose’s reading capabilities. Mother Goose never worked after that day.
It was hard to be mad at my sister because she was as equally distraught as I was when Mother Goose didn’t read any more stories; after all, Mother Goose was half her toy too. I learned my lesson about shared toys, and whenever clients ask me if I think they should add their children’s name to the title of an asset I think about Mother Goose and her broken neck.
Occasionally clients come into the appointment with the thought that titling real estate or any other property in both their names and a child’s name would be a simple way to accomplish transferring ownership to the next generation. The thought is that adding the child’s name will mean that the asset will not need to be probated and the tax burden will be minimal when the clients pass away. Similarly, I thought sharing two toys would be a great idea, but I didn’t foresee that my younger sister, one of the joint owners, would make a mistake that cost me my treasured Mother Goose.
Adding a child’s name to ownership of property opens up each owner to the mistakes of the other owners. For example, if a father owns a family farm and wants to ensure that the farm is given to his oldest son who actively works on the farm currently, the father may decide to add his son’s name to the deed and makes his son a joint owner of the property. What the father may not realize is that by adding his son’s name to the title of the farm he is exposing the farm to the son’s creditors. Depending on the actual titling of the asset, if the son is sued, the creditor may be able to seek judgment against the jointly owned property.
Anytime you are considering adding another individual’s name to the title of the asset remember Mother Goose and consider what you are risking and whether the reward is worth a beloved toy with a broken neck. In many cases there are other ways to transfer the asset to future generations without risking the actual asset. I recommend consulting a professional legal advisor anytime you are titling assets to learn all the options. Sometimes people wait too long before they consult their legal advisor. Some people wait until they are actually in the crisis situation. I recommend that you consult your legal advisor prior to the occurrence of a disaster, so that you can select the best option to transfer ownership and protect assets. Do not wait to long to discuss your planning options. There are always more options planning-wise when you plan prior to actual situation when the planning is needed. Check out my sump pump story next to understand the importance of planning for a disaster.
My all-time favorite board game is the Game of Life. Growing up, every time we had a snow day, my younger sister, Jess, and I would break out the Game of Life. Nothing in the world was better than drinking hot chocolate and playing Life while watching the snow pile up outside the window. Even at the age of 12, I already had my Game of Life strategy mapped out. I knew I was taking the “college” route. I knew what career I wanted. I knew how many children I wanted. Jess and I even kept lists of our children’s names. We were (and quite honestly still are) obnoxious when we play this game. Naturally, I always want to pass my love of the game to anyone that wants to play it with me. Beware: I will make you name your children and I will want certain career and house cards, so play at your own risk.
Last summer, my sister was down to visit so I dusted off my Game of Life board game so I could play it with my six year old nephew, Austin. He didn’t quite appreciate my excitement over the game, but we had fun playing. Last weekend, I had the opportunity to visit Austin in New York. When I got there he was so excited to tell me that he had gotten the Game of Life to play with me while I was visiting. Interestingly, the version he had was not a board game. It was a card game with the same general premise. I loved it! We probably played that game at least four times over my three day stay. I think I may have found a fellow Game of Life addict. Austin even agreed to name his children while we were playing, and he didn’t get too mad when I insisted that I had to earn a degree during our game.
Weirdly, what struck me the most while I was playing the Game of Life over the weekend were all the tax issues that cropped up while playing the card game versus the board game. For example, when Jess and I played the board game version of the Game of Life, you had to borrow money in order to take the college route. Every time I have played the game, I have to add loans to my stack of money since I always choose the college route. In the card version of the game, you don’t have to take out a loan. Instead, you attend college, when you draw a “degree” card. Once you receive the “degree” card, you have ten points. At the end of the game, you tally up all of the points indicated on each card, and the person with the most points win. You can even draw multiple “degree” cards. My favorite game was when I drew three “degree” cards, but still ended up being a popstar because that was the career card that I drew. Why is it when I played the board game I had to have loans to take the college route, but for the card game I didn’t have to take out a loan? My real life would have been so much easier if I didn’t have to take out loans to attend college.
The only solution I could come up with was that my Game of Life parents must have made transfer directly to the educational institution on my behalf. How generous! Apparently, the makers of the card Game of Life must be familiar with Internal Revenue Code Section 2503(e). This section provides that any transfer made for tuition directly to the education institution is a qualified transfer and not treated as a transfer of property for gift tax purposes.
In real life, if my parents wanted to transfer money to me, they could transfer the annual exclusion amount, which is $15,000 per donor/per donee for 2020, without having to file a federal gift tax return (Form 709). If they gifted me anything over the combined $30,000 then they would have to file a gift tax return (Form 709), but there would be no federal gift tax unless they exceeded their lifetime gifting exemption of $11,580,000 in 2020.
What Section 2503(e) provides is that a transfer made to an educational organization for tuition or to a medical institution for medical care is not treated as a transfer of property by gift. That means that my Game of Life parents could pay my tuition directly to the educational organization and then still gift me $28,000/year for gift tax purposes without having to file a gift tax return (Form 709) or pay any gift tax. In the game where I drew three “degree” cards, they paid the tuition directly to the educational organizations during my three college stints. Importantly, the transfer to the educational organization has to be for tuition. It cannot be for room or boarding expenses.
I usually don’t play the Game of Life with clients during their appointments, so we don’t get to discuss the “degree” cards and the non-transfers made when my fake tuition is paid, but frequently, when I meet with clients they reference the $10,000 they can gift annually. To me, that is like discussing the “degree” card. That $10,000 they are referring to is the annual exclusion amount for federal gift tax purposes. The annual exclusion amount is the amount you can transfer during a year that is not considered a taxable gift for federal gift tax purposes. The text of Section 2503(b)(2)(A) does indicate $10,000 may be transferred annually without tax consequence, but that amount is adjusted periodically for cost of living. The annual exclusion amount that was originally $10,000 is now $15,000 in 2020 because of those adjustments.
To add more confusion to the mix, the amount you can gift for federal purposes is different than the amount you can gift for Medical Assistance purposes. It is important to note, that neither the board game version of the Game of Life, nor the card game version addressed Medical Assistance. I guess no one in the Game of Life needs Medical Assistance. For Medical Assistance purposes, an individual can only gift $500/month. A transfer of more than $500/month results in a transfer which means that an individual may trigger a penalty period in which they have to privately pay for care and not eligible to receive Medical Assistance.
What is important to remember in all of this, is that you can gift the annual exclusion amount of $15,000/year, but $14,500 of that gift is considered a transfer for Medical Assistance purposes and that may impact any benefits you may be receiving. Just because the Game of Life doesn’t address it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen in real life.
Who would have thought that a card I drew while paying the card game version of the Game of Life would prompt such an in-depth explanation regarding the difference between a non-transfer of property, annual exclusion amount and gifting, and a gift for Medical Assistance. Thankfully, I did not share this information with Austin while we were playing. I was afraid that he wouldn’t want to play with me in the future. Perhaps, as Austin gets older I will integrate these fun factual nuggets as part of our game. I will feel like I have earned my ten points when I draw a “degree” card.
May 3rd- May 7th Teacher Appreciation:
The dream begins, most of the time, with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you on to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called the truth. -Dan Rather
Education is the building block for our future. All of us can recall our favorite teacher, one whom encouraged us, invested in our lives, made learning an adventure, and even helped guide our future. Teachers are known to push students and expand on their creativity. Teaching is a very difficult job but one that has such a huge impact that can last a lifetime.
We thought it would be fun to kick-off teacher appreciation with some fun facts about teachers:
Teachers face challenges every day and take care of shaping the minds of students. At The Law Offices of Samantha K. Would, LLC we would like to say thank you to those teachers. Any teacher that calls and schedules a FREE consultation during May 3-May will receive a 10% discount on their Estate Planning as a thank you from our office. Call (717)-655-2676 to schedule today. We cannot wait to work with you!
“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” -Benjamin Franklin
“They may forget what you said but they will not forget how you made them feel.” -Carl Buechner
[i] www.factretriever.com/teacher-facts (last visited 4.29.2021)
Happy Nurses’ Week!
May 6-12, 2021 is Nurses’ week. Please join our office in thanking all of the nurses in our community. Thank you for all that you do to keep the community health and safe. We appreciate you!
The Law Offices of Samantha K. Wolfe is proud to introduce the newest member of the team: Jessica Blair. We know you will love Jessica as much as we do. Jessica’s arrival is quite timely. May 6-12 is Nurses’ Week and Jessica is a nurse by education. We invited Jessica to share her thoughts about why she became a nurse:
“All my life I have wanted to care for individuals, whether it be a newborn baby or the elderly. Around the time I graduated high school, I would get asked the obvious question, “What do you want to do when you grow up”? and I would proudly answer: I want to be a nurse. Anytime I was playing with my friends or sisters, I would be there with my medical kit ready to aide when a crisis arose (not that any ever did). My love for the medical field never wavered, so when I graduated high school, the next step was to attend college and get my Bachelor of Science in Nursing. I loved my time at college. I learned so much, met so many amazing patients, and got to do what I truly loved. After graduating and obtaining my B.S.N degree I was blessed with two girls and chose to be a stay-at-home mom. It was an amazing six years of caring for them and being able to invest in their upbringing. I felt that it was not the time to return yet to the nursing field due to our schedule and still missing out on my girls being so young, so I got a job at the Fairfield School District. I loved my time there and I am so thankful to have taken that journey; however, my path was headed to a different place. Recently I joined The Law Offices of Samantha K. Wolfe, and I am so excited and honored to be working here. I am looking forward to this new journey and where it will take me!”
Interesting Facts about Nurses: DID YOU KNOW?
There are a lot of interest tidbits about nurses that you might not even know…Did you know that:
Nurses have a tough and rewarding job caring for others. The Law Offices of Samantha K. Wolfe, LLC would like to honor the nurses in the community, during the week of May 6th- May 12th. Any nurse that calls during May 6- May 12 and schedules a FREE consultation will receive a 10% discount on their estate planning as a thank you from our office. Call (717)-655-2676 to schedule today. We cannot wait to work with you!
[i][i] 14 Most Interesting Facts About Nursing || EveryNurse.org (last visited 4/29/2021).
[iv] https://nhcps.com/you-should-know-these-ten-remarkable-facts-about-nursing/ (last visited 4/29/2021).
[v] 14 Most Interesting Facts About Nursing || EveryNurse.org (last visited 4/29/2021).
(last visited 4/29/2021).
[vii] https://www.nursebuff.com/facts-about-nursing/ (last visited 4/29/2021).
May is National Elder Law Month! At The Law Offices of Samantha K. Wolfe, we are excited to celebrate all month long. You might ask yourself, what is Elder Law and why does our firm celebrate it? Elder Law is a specific area of law that addresses the diverse legal needs of our aging population. Elder law focuses on Medicaid planning, disability and special needs planning, long-term care planning, estate planning, estate administration specifically settlement, guardianship or conservatorship, and elder abuse.
At the Law Offices of Samantha K. Wolfe, we focus on Medicaid planning, long-term care planning, estate planning, and estate administration. Elder Law is so important to us that we wanted to include our focus on elder law in our mission statement:
At The Law Offices of Samantha K. Wolfe, it is our mission to provide mindful legal direction for you and your future generations. We consider it a privilege to serve you. We are committed to fulfilling our mission to our clients by adhering to the following principles:
C-Collaborating with your accountant and financial advisor to create the best team for you.
A-Advocating for you and your family in times of crisis.
R-Reinforcing your estate plan with asset protection strategies.
E-Ensuring efficient administration upon your death.
We CARE. We are looking forward to serving you!
We wanted to provide you with some basic facts help kick-off Facts National Elder Law Month:
1. Medicare and Social Security Do Not Provide Everything You Need:
3. It is Not Just About Dying:
 Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2013) Long- Term Care Services. Retrieved (January 2015) from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nsltcp/long_term_care_services_2013.pdf
A Last Will and Testament is a legally binding document where you disclose how you would like your estate to be handled upon your death. Not only can a Last Will and Testament legally protect your spouse, children, and assets, it can also spell out exactly how you would like things handled after your death. Here are a few reasons why you should have a Last Will and Testament:
We Want You To Relax And Enjoy Life!
Don’t stress! Let us help you limit some uncertainties in your life. You can count on us to help you through today and tomorrow.
Looking more in depth at each Power of Attorney
Financial Power of Attorney- A Financial Power of Attorney is (1) effective during your life unless revoked, and (2) upon death this document is no longer effective, and your Last Will and Testament governs.
Typically, if you have a springing power of attorney, the agent cannot act until two physicians agree that you are incapacitated, which may take a period of time. Our thought is that if you are appointing someone that you trust to serve as your agent, then in an emergency, you would want them to act immediately.
What powers should be included in my Financial Power of Attorney?
Health Care Power of Attorney- A Health Care Power of Attorney is effective if you cannot express your wishes to the physician, but are expected to recover from the medical issue. A Health Care Power of Attorney is the first part of your Advanced health Care Directive.
Typically, an Advanced Health Care Directive consists of a Health Care Power of Attorney and Living Will. The Law Offices of Samantha K. Wolfe separates the health Care Power of Attorney and Living Will into separate documents since each document is legally effective at different times.
What should a Health Care Power of Attorney include?
Living Will- A Living Will is effective if you cannot express your wishes to the physician and have a terminal diagnosis with no realistic hope of recovery. A Living Will is the second part of your Advanced Health Care Directive.
Typically, an Advanced Health Care Directive consists of a Health Care Power of Attorney and Living Will. The Law Offices of Samantha K. Wolfe separates the Health Care Power of Attorney and Living Will into separate documents since each document is legally effective at different times.
What should a Living Will include?
Mental Health Power of Attorney- A Mental health Power of Attorney is used in 2 situations:
1. When an individual has a history of mental illness; or
2. When an individual is planning for the second half of life and wants to address treatment for dementia or Alzheimer’s.
An agent under your Health Care Power of Attorney cannot consent to experimental treatment, and sometimes for federal funding purposes, a drug is labeled experimental, and you may want your agent to be able to consent to that treatment, after consulting with your treating physician and determining that is in your best interest.
Recommendations: The Law Offices of Samantha K. Wolfe recommends executing a Mental Health Power of Attorney to grant your agent the maximum amount of power he or she can receive under Pennsylvania law, so that your agent does not have to petition the court in order to have the authority to act in that manner.
**Please note that under Pennsylvania law, your Mental Health Power of Attorney automatically expires every 2 years. If you have capacity at the end of 2 years, we recommend that you execute an updated Mental Health Power of Attorney.
Because of all the years I spent in school, I arrived on “the real world” scene a little late. College and law school has a way of distorting your view about the world. Your world revolves around classes, studying, and, let’s face it, not much else that is important. You may pay bills and work a job around your class schedule, but you aren’t really playing by the same rules as everyone else.
About ten years ago, I arrived in the real world. Crashed into the real world may be a more accurate description. I remember my dad telling me right after I started my first “career” job that I should make a budget. I think I was respectful enough at the time not to laugh in his face. I’m not laughing now, in fact, I’m not even cracking a smile. See, like usual, my dad was onto something a decade ago, and it only took a few months of buying shoes galore and then sweating it out when the school loan bill came to realize it. The fact that I had the realization really wasn’t a surprise to me because I have learned that I should always listen to my dad. It goes without saying that he is always right. Please don’t laugh, but my realization was this: Budgets are invaluable.
Budgets give you direction and keep you accountable. Like in most areas of my life I need a goal. Some days that goal is just to get through the day without eating the entire bag of chocolates I have hidden in my bottom desk drawer. I can have big goals with my budget or small goals. For example, not long after buying my first house I decided that I was going to save up to buy a couch so I didn’t have to sit on my futon while I watched television (my parents generously gave me the television when they bought their new flat-screen television). That was a small goal. Paying off my student loan is a much bigger goal.
There are lots of ways to make a budget, but this is the method I use to make my budget:
1. Determine what my income will be on a monthly basis
For some people determining their monthly income may be relatively easy because they are salaried and their monthly amount is predetermined. For other individuals who work hourly and have the potential to earn overtime, this number may be more flexible. Whatever the method, find some way to ballpark the amount you know you will receive on a monthly basis.
2. Determine what expenses I know I will need to pay every month
For example, I know that I will have a student loan payment due every month. I also know I will have to pay my electric, water, and sewer bills. I estimate my utilities based on what I have paid the previous year. There may be a mortgage payment or car payment to factor into your monthly expenses.
3. Determine what I want to save every month
For me I decide what I want to save on a yearly basis and then typically break it down on a monthly schedule. I like easy numbers so I select a certain percentage of my yearly net paycheck, after I have subtracted the mandatory expenses, and then divide that by twelve months.
4. Determine if I want to pay additional on any of my debts
One of my goals is to pay off my student loans and mortgage before the end of the term.
After I have done all of that I then know what I have as surplus to spend on shoes, romance novels, and chocolate. I consider that my reward for creating a budget in the first place.
I also recommend that you review your budget and spending habits every year. What was important to you one year may not need to be in your budget the next year. For example, my sister got married a few years ago and she and her husband saved the year leading up to the wedding for the honeymoon. Obviously, my sister hasn’t set aside that same amount in the years since her wedding since she is not planning to go on a honeymoon every year.
Other people may have a different way to create a budget based on their goals and priorities. It really doesn’t matter how you create the budget, what is important is that you create a balanced budget that fits your lifestyle and still allows you to pay all your expenses so you can enjoy the “real world.”