The Social Security and Medicare 2016 Outlook

The Social Security and Medicare 2016 Outlook

The Social Security and Medicare 2016 Outlook
NOVA Estate Lawyers – Leesburg, Virginia

How are Social Security and Medicare’s financial outlook for 2016? According to the Trustees for Social Security and Medicare trust funds, they pulled a financial burden of 41% of federal program expenditures in 2015. Due to economic and demographic factors, there are fewer workers paying into these funds than previously, resulting in decreasing income from payroll taxes. This is also worsening as more and more baby boomers reach retirement age and since they are living longer, are experiencing higher health care costs.

Social Security

The combined trust fund reserves (OASDI) for Social Security will continue to increase through 2019, then annual program costs are projected to exceed total income. This will cause the U.S. Treasury to begin drawing from its reserves to help pay benefits. Without Congressional action, these reserves will be depleted in 2034. Once depleted, payroll tax revenue alone will pay approximately 79% of scheduled benefits in 2034, falling to 74% by 2090.

The Social Security Administration is projecting that beneficiaries will receive a small cost-of-living adjustment of 0.2% for 2017.

Medicare
Since 2008, Medicare annual costs have exceeded tax income annually, although slight surpluses are predicted from 2016 to 2020. The HI Trust Fund has a projected depletion date of 2028, two years earlier than predicted in 2015, and once it is depleted, tax and premium income would still cover 87% of estimated program costs. It would decline to 79% by 2040 but gradually increase to 86% by 2090.

Due to the small cost-of-living adjustment, approximately 70% of Medicare beneficiaries may see only a small increase in the Part B 2017 premiums. A “hold-harmless” provision in the law limits the increase in Medicare Part B premium to the dollar increase in a person’s Social Security benefit. However, the remaining 30% may be subject to a much greater premium increase. This includes new enrollees, wealthier beneficiaries and those who choose not to have their premiums deducted from their Social Security benefit. They could see a rise in base premiums. Part B premiums could also increase for those subject to income-related premiums.

The reports urge Congress to address these challenges now, so the solutions may be implemented gradually. Proposals include:
• Raising the current Social Security payroll tax rate by 2.58 percentage points.
• Raising the ceiling on wages currently subject to Social Security payroll taxes
• Raising the retirement age beyond the currently scheduled age of 67 for anyone born in 1960 or later.
• Reducing future benefits, especially for the wealthier beneficiaries.
• Changing the benefit formula
• Recalculating the annual cost-of-living adjustment for benefits

A full report of the 2016 Social Security and Medicare Trustees reports can be found at www.ssa.gov and www.cms.gov.

Contact Your Attorney
At the Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor, P.L.L.C., attorneys Patricia Tichenor and Camellia Safi specialize in estate planning. If you have questions about your benefits or any other issues surrounding estate planning, please contact us today.

Estate Planning and the Single Parent

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Estate Planning and the Single Parent
NOVA Estate Lawyers – Leesburg, Virginia

You may be a single parent by many means: a spouse may have died, you divorced, you adopted a child, or had a child on your own. In any case, you are the primary caretaker of your child or children and need to consider estate plans in the event of your death.

Poor planning can cost your children a substantial portion of your children’s inheritance, and it is frustrating to see that happen when simple safeguards can easily be put into place. No matter how small or how large your estate is, it makes sense to protect it.

An experienced attorney, such as those at Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor, can walk you through the processes of how to protect your children’s family home or other assets you’ve built up from probate and other taxes, as well as from predators who can steal from your unsuspecting children.

Create a Will or Trust
If you die without a will, this often results in your estate having to be subject to probate, along with the expenses associated with it and the paperwork , which can tie up your assets for an indeterminate amount of time and cost a substantial amount of money.

Sometimes parents set up a trust for their minor child or children. Through it, assets will be handled and controlled by a trustee of the trust and have primary responsibility for the management and distribution of assets. These funds will be used to provide the ongoing financial support for your minor child.

Trusts also protect children after they turn the legal age of 18. Even though they are now considered adults, they may not have the knowledge, skills or maturity to properly manage their inheritance. Your trust can designate yearly funds or delay inheritance of the entire estate to a later date.

Designate a Standby Guardian
Unfortunately, many people put off making a will because they don’t know who to designate as guardian for their child or children. You should designate a person or who is to have physical custody of your minor child, who is referred to as the guardian of the person.

This may or may not be the same person who is designated as the guardian of the estate, or manager of the financial resources. Sometimes it is wise to have different people managing money and children, as they have differing skills and qualifications. One may be better at parenting, while the other is a whiz at financial investing. If two people are designated, they will need to work together in the best interests of the child.

Some items to consider when designating a guardian include:
• Whether your child should receive an allowance.
• Whether the guardian should move into your home to care for your children, and if so, what is their legal responsibility for care of the home.
• Whether the guardian will be compensated.
• Religious concerns.
• Whether the person you want to be the guardian will accept the responsibility. Always ask before designating anyone.

Also to consider, if you have sole custody and pass away without guardianship security, the surviving parent may automatically be given custody, which may not be in the best interest of the child if the marriage dissolved due to abusive issues, a criminal record or homelessness.

As you can see, there are many issues that need to be discussed as you put your estate plan into place. That’s why you need the advice of an experience attorney.

Contact Your Attorney
At the Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor, P.L.L.C., attorneys Patricia Tichenor and Camellia Safi specialize in family law and estate planning to assist people with family law issues. Contact us today to set up your will, trust or guardianship plans.

Child Custody and Relocation

The Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor, P.L.L.C Virginia

Child Custody and Relocation
NOVA Estate Lawyers – Leesburg, Virginia

When two parents divorce, the issue isn’t just between the two; it involves the children. Mistakenly, many couples think that once the custody issues have been settled it will be smooth sailing from then on. That is not normally the case because many other issues can crop up as life’s circumstances change.

One of the more complicated issues we encounter at the Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor is when one parent wants or needs to relocate out of state because of a job offer or marriage to someone who lives in another state, or a parent who will work outside the state where the existing custody order is issued.

A parent who wants to relocate must establish that the relocation independently benefits the child. There is no “unity of interests” approach in Virginia; just because a move benefits a parent does not mean it will automatically be deemed to benefit the child.

No court can prohibit a parent from moving. If he or she wants to move, it is a matter of their constitutional rights to associate with and live wherever and with whomever he or she likes. However, courts do retain the right to control whether the child moves along with that parent.

Factors a Court Considers in Relocation Impact
There is no simple black or white solution. To consider whether the relocation is in the child’s best interests, the courts look at these factors:

If the relocation will substantially interfere with the non-moving parent’s ability to maintain a strong bond with the child as it exists at present, the judge may not agree that it is in the best interest of the child to be relocated with the moving parent. Courts also consider the reason the relocating parent wants to move with factors that include being closer to extended family, employment opportunities and economic advantages.

Courts can also take into consideration the existing relationship between the remaining parent and the child. If there is little or no contact, judges are more likely to side with the relocating parent and the non-relocating parent will have less success in blocking a child’s relocation.

It should be noted also that under Virginia law, the burden of proving that the relocation will be in the best interest of the child lies with the relocating parent.

If it is deemed that the move is in the best interest of the child, modifications to the existing custody arrangement need to be put into place. These can include weekends, summer vacations, or other variations that allow longer visitation times in exchange for the reduction in frequency as not enabled by the farther distance.

Contact Your Attorney
At the Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor, P.L.L.C., attorneys Patricia Tichenor and Camellia Safi specialize in family law and estate planning to assist people with family law issues. If you are seeking to relocate with your child or attempting to block a parental relocation,  contact us today.

Avoid the Common Pitfalls of Estate Planning

The Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor, P.L.L.C Virginia

Avoid Common Pitfalls of Estate Planning
NOVA Estate Lawyers – Leesburg, Virginia

Surprisingly, even well-educated Virginians can err when it comes to planning their estates. No matter what one’s financial situation is, there are elements to a solid estate plan that need to be set in place that often get overlooked.

Here are some of the common pitfalls of estate planning:

1. No Will. Without a will, assets are distributed in accordance with state law. This can result in unintended allocations. Having a will gives you the opportunity to decide who gets what and when assets are distributed.

In addition, you should try to avoid the one-size-fits-all estate planning documents so often found via the Internet. They often fail to take into account the unique facts and circumstances of your life. What’s more, because Virginia law contains several nuanced requirements, these computer-generated documents might end up being invalid.

2. Life Insurance Proceeds Not Transferred. Life insurance proceeds can affect estate taxes. If an insured person owns their insurance proceeds at death, the proceeds become part of the estate and are, therefore, taxable. However, an insured person can transfer ownership of their life insurance proceeds before death through a trust, for example, thereby minimizing estate tax liability.

3. Not Using Gift Exclusions. Several available gift exclusions are provided in the Tax Code, where you can gift portions of your estate to others prior to your death without tax penalties. Giving gifts can be an effective and fulfilling way to decrease future estate tax liability.

4. Naming the Wrong Executor. The person you assign to handle your estate upon your death can be demanding. Be sure your executor is up to the job.

5. Not Planning Ahead. It is important to start planning as soon as possible, although it is never too late to create an estate plan. An estate plan provides the opportunity to plan your healthcare wishes and create financial strategies for a number of different situations.

6. Not Updating Your Estate Plan. If circumstances change in your life, you should revise your estate plan accordingly. Failing to do so could result in problems transferring your estate down the line.

At the Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor, P.L.L.C., we are specialists in   estate planning procedures and can help you draft and solidify your plan for a secure and rewarding future. Please call (703) 669-6700 to schedule an appointment with either Patricia Tichenor or Camellia Safi, attorneys at law.

How Do You Pick the Right Divorce Lawyer?

The Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor, P.L.L.C - Virginia

How Do You Pick the Right Divorce Lawyer?
NOVA Estate Lawyers – Leesburg, Virginia

Thinking about divorce? While it’s not a pleasant topic, it is an unfortunate reality for many couples. As divorce attorneys at the Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor, we counsel parties through the sometimes intricate matters surrounding divorce, and have listened to their concerns and heeded their wishes concerning their interaction with the attorney as well as their case.

Common themes seem to recur, and their concerns will aid you in your search for the right divorce attorney for your case. I’ll share some of my tips here:

1. Interview your attorney. You want to find a comfortable synergy with your lawyer, since you will be working closely together and revealing intimate information. Make an appointment to discuss your case and see how you feel about working with that person. If it doesn’t feel right, look elsewhere.

2. Look for a straight shooter. Don’t choose an attorney who tells you want you want to hear. Select one who will tell you what you need to know in order to make your best decisions.

3. Don’t always assume litigation. A good divorce lawyer knows when to settle and when to litigate. It is more often a better solution to work out a settlement rather than go to court.

4. Make sure they are interested in you. Unfortunately, some lawyers look at divorce cases for the money they’ll make rather than taking a genuine interest in the client and your best interest. Find one who looks out for your bottom line, not their own.

5. Seek empathy. A good attorney understands that “winning” is also “losing.” Anyone going through divorce is most likely losing something: a marriage, a partner, custody or visitation, a lifestyle, and assets. It is a time of great unsettlement and often grief, and you should not feel as if you are ramrodded through a system. Seek an attorney whom you feel offers understanding of what you are going through and options for resolution.

6. Expect education. Hire an attorney who will educate you on the ramifications of your actions between you and your child, you and your ex-spouse, and the process of divorcing. You should feel comfortable asking questions and expect to receive answers and explanations.

7. Require personalization. Cookie-cutter approaches to custody schedules and visitations don’t work. Your attorney should look at your particular situation and devise a plan of action that works for you, your children and your ex-spouse.

Contact Your Attorney

At the Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor, P.L.L.C., attorneys Patricia Tichenor and Camellia Safi specialize in family law and estate planning to assist people with family law issues. Call us today.

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