It’s Medicare Open Enrollment Time: Is Your Plan Still Working for You?

Senior couple discussing over medical bills in living room

Every year Medicare gives beneficiaries a window of opportunity to shop around and determine if their current Medicare plan is still the best one for them. During Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, which runs from October 15 to December 7, beneficiaries can freely enroll in or switch plans.  During the seven-week period, you can return to traditional Medicare (Parts A and B) from a … Read More

What is an Elder Law Attorney and Do I Need One?

elder law attorney

hen Should I Hire an Elder Law Attorney? What does Medicaid planning involve? Do I Need a Durable Power of Attorney? ow do I Find an Attorney Qualified to Handle My Elder Law Needs? Find answers to these questions and more.

How to Have a Financial Management Conversation with an Elderly Loved One

Older man sitting and talking with son while they touch hands

Guest Blog By SilverBills Having a conversation with an older adult relative about financial matters may be challenging. However, conversations such as these are essential as they provide an opportunity to talk about what a loved one may need help with as he or she ages. Starting these conversations can sometimes be problematic, as the idea of allowing others to … Read More

FDA Fast-Tracked New Alzheimer’s Treatment to Mixed Reviews

Alzheimer’s is a debilitating brain disorder affecting memory and, eventually, language, reasoning, and social behavior. Diagnosed in nearly 6.2 million Americans, Alzheimer’s is a progressive, irreversible disease with treatments mainly focusing on symptoms, such as delaying memory loss, and not the underlying cause—that is, until now. In June of 2021—just in time for Alzheimer’s Awareness Month—the U.S. Food and Drug … Read More

President Biden Proposes Billions in Increased Funding for Home Health Care

a woman healthcare professional taking the blood pressure of an older man in his home

President Biden has introduced a plan to spend $400 billion over eight years on home and community-based care for the elderly and people with disabilities. The money would go to expand access to care and support higher-paying caregiving jobs.  As the elderly population grows, our long-term care system is becoming increasingly strained. The AARP found that in 2020, more than … Read More

How You Can End Up in Medicare’s Doughnut Hole, and How You Get Out

photo of an elderly woman wearing bright blue and pink holding two pink donuts, looking concerned

Medicare prescription drug (Part D) plans can have a coverage gap—called the “doughnut hole”–which limits how much Medicare will pay for your drugs until you pay a certain amount out of pocket. Although the gap has gotten much smaller since Medicare Part D was introduced in 2006, there still may be a difference in what you pay during your initial … Read More

Do It, Teach It, Lead It: National Healthcare Decisions Day 2021

Guest Blog By Jennifer O’Brien Originally published April 16, 2021 About a thousand years ago, I was the administrator for an otolaryngology department. The department put on a CME course on endoscopic sinus surgery, that attracted everyone from PGY1s to seasoned, community surgeons because it included a cadaver head lab and numerous didactic sessions, culminating with a world renowned cranial base … Read More

If You Have an ABLE Account or Special Needs Trust Do You Need the Other?

ABLE Accounts and Special Needs Trusts serve different purposes but can be used together to give the beneficiary the most freedom and independence possible. An ABLE Account is a tool that was created by federal law (the same part of the tax code where we find 529 Education plans) to help people with disabilities save some money and be as … Read More

Getting Engaged? In Sickness and in Health… Here Comes the Will

Thinking of getting engaged this Valentine’s Day? You are not alone! Valentine’s Day is one of the most popular days to pop the question. Love often makes us see the world through rose-colored glasses with romantic notions and dreaming of riding off into the sunset into your “happily ever after.” While all these things are to be celebrated, there are … Read More

DIY Divorce

As a family law attorney, one of the most common questions I get asked from my friends and family is, “Do you have to have an attorney for a divorce or custody case?”  And the answer is: it depends! Part of answering this question is to help people understand that lawyers can assist you in a number of different ways. … Read More

How to Spot the Signs of Elder Abuse

Elder care can be challenging for families to navigate. Whether they arrange care at home or decide to move a loved one into a facility, families want to make sure their loved ones are well cared for. Unfortunately, elders’ social isolation, mental impairment (such as in instances when they are facing dementia), and reliance on others for care makes them … Read More

PBWS Attorney Named to Special Needs Alliance

PBWS Attorney Named to Special Needs Alliance Albuquerque, NM —  January 6, 2021 — Attorney Margaret A. “Peggy” Graham of the law firm of Pregenzer, Baysinger, Wideman and Sale, PC (PBWS Law) has been selected as the newest member of the Special Needs Alliance. Established in 2002, the Special Needs Alliance (SNA) is a national, non-profit collective of many of … Read More

Why Everyone Needs A Will

Estate planning with happy multi-generation family

Between one-third and two-thirds of Americans do not have a will — a legally binding document that is part of an estate plan and records your wishes about the distribution of your property and assets after your death. Wills are not just about your material things; they are also about people. Wills allow you to name a guardian for minor … Read More

Paying Family Members to Provide Care for Special Needs Individuals

The Special Needs Alliance recognizes, paying a relative to care for a family member with disabilities can solve several challenges. This solution allows the individual requiring care to remain at home, where they likely feel most comfortable. As The Caregiver Space observes, paying a family member also acknowledges the important work they do and compensates them for the financial sacrifices … Read More

Understanding child custody rights when going through a divorce

Often the most stressful aspects of divorce for people who have children is custody rights and visitation.  Here are some general principles to keep in mind if you find yourself in this type of situation. New Mexico law presumes it is in the best interest of a child to have a strong relationship with both parents, if possible. For that … Read More

COVID-19 Virus Concerns for a Law Practice

The legal needs of New Mexicans did not go away when COVID-19 came calling and disrupted everyone’s lives. In fact, the virus made legal issues more urgent, particularly for individuals who needed an estate plan or Powers of Attorney. Many of our clients are older adults, one of the most at-risk groups for the virus. Rather than delay addressing their … Read More

CARES Act: Required Minimum Distributions (“RMDs”) for 2020

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or “CARES” Act enacted by Congress and signed into law by President Trump on March 27, 2020, aimed to provide financial relief and incentives to American families and businesses.  The highlights many people may be familiar with are: Eligible taxpayers received $1,200 checks; Forgivable loans to businesses to maintain their employees and … Read More

When Is It Time to Revise Your Will or Trust?

Couple relaxing on bed in their new home

When completing a Will or Trust, oftentimes people believe it will never need to be changed. But typically, life is filled with changing circumstances, and it is important to revise your Will or Trust following major changes in your life. There are several major changes in your life which should prompt you to update or revise your Will or Trust: … Read More

A Lesson in Elder Financial Abuse: It Can Happen to Anyone

Larry was 84-years old when he passed away last year.  His wife of 62 years died in 2018.  His only child, David, lived overseas and he had no other living family.  Larry was fiercely independent and was reluctant to ask for assistance with anything.  Concerned for his well-being and knowing that he would never consider moving into an assisted living … Read More

How Will Divorce Affect My Credit Score?

Man taking credit card out of wallet

As a family law attorney, a common question clients ask is, “How will the divorce affect my credit score?” The answer is: it depends. Below I discuss some factors in which divorce may affect your credit score. The Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA) and Your Credit Score In a divorce in New Mexico, the Court requires several documents to terminate the … Read More

PBWS Law Recognized as a “Best Place to Work” for 2020

Pregenzer, Baysinger, Wideman & Sale, PC is pleased to announce that they have been named one of 31 finalists in “Best Places to Work 2020” in New Mexico by Albuquerque Business First.  As a finalist, PBWS Law is recognized for providing a comfortable job atmosphere for its staff and employees and going above and beyond to provide benefits and job … Read More

Summary of the SECURE Act and Retirement Savings: What You Should Know

Rolled up U.S. Money

The most significant change to estate planning law in 2019 was the passage of the SECURE Act in late December. The Act is intended to increase and encourage retirement savings. Benefits of the SECURE Act to Retirement Savings The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement, or SECURE, Act, is meant to address the fact that many Americans do not … Read More

How to Make Life More Enjoyable Through Prolonged Quarantine

Older woman checking phone at home while ironing

As quarantine for COVID-19 continues, many people are wondering how much longer they can stand it. But there are ways that seniors, caregivers, and parents can help make the stay-at-home orders bearable for those that still need to stay home. Excitement as States Reopen The Governor of New Mexico recently announced that the state was lifting some restrictions that had … Read More

Webinar: Planning Ahead for Dementia Caregivers

On Tuesday, May 19, 2020, PBWS attorneys Daniel J. Monte and Margaret A. “Peggy” Graham joined the Alzheimer’s Association of New Mexico to present a webinar to their Dementia Caregivers group discussing legal options for caregivers. If you have a loved one who has been diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s or are wanting to ensure you have your documents in … Read More

Erin Wideman, PBWS Managing Partner, in Albuquerque Journal Regarding Wills

Many individuals are seeking to update their existing wills or start their estate plans due to the uncertainties around COVID-19. Erin Wideman, Managing Partner at Pregenzer, Baysinger, Wideman & Sale, spoke with The Albuquerque Journal about why the pandemic is driving people to update their documents, and the legal process involved. Read the story

Webinar: Special Needs Planning 2020 Update

On May 7, 2020, the attorneys of PBWS presented an update on Special Needs Planning, with a focus on: The ABLE Act IEPs special education Medicaid/Medicare the SECURE Act family law If you missed the Webinar, you can access it here. You will need to register with your name and email address and use password 9U#A2t55. If you would like … Read More

Legal Custody v. Physical Custody

Mother and two children walking in New Mexico open space

If you are involved in a custody proceeding in New Mexico, you will most likely hear the terms “legal custody” and “physical custody”. These two terms mean completely different things, are not interchangeable, and are often not explained in court. What is legal custody in New Mexico? Legal custody involves the decision-making power for your child. New Mexico has a … Read More

Estate Planning Signing Safeguards

With the world in disarray due to COVID-19, you may feel more pressure than ever to ensure your estate planning documents and powers of attorney are updated and in place. In times of uncertainty, it is the small things that help bring us piece of mind. Our attorneys are working diligently to ensure our clients are taken care of when … Read More

Co-parenting During COVID-19

Co-parenting with your child’s other parent can be stressful on a good day. Add in a worldwide pandemic, and the concept of co-parenting seems overwhelming and impossible. The most important thing you can do for your child right now is clearly communicate and continue to co-parent with their other parent, while putting your child first. Communication is vital right now, … Read More

How Divorce Can Affect Your Finances Later in Life

Older man and woman sitting on a bench by the beach

Divorce is generally a tumultuous time, no matter when it occurs. Financial issues are a common cause of strain during the divorce process, from how resources will be divided to alimony or childcare payments and which assets are included in the calculations. But you may be surprised to learn that those who divorce after the age of 50 are in … Read More

What Is Co-Parenting and Why Is It Important?

family holding hands

Co-parenting is when two parents, who are not in a relationship, share the parenting duties for their child. Joint legal custody is very common in New Mexico, and this means both parents must communicate and work together to make joint decisions for their child. The parents must agree on everything, such as: changing the child’s pediatrician, switching which school the … Read More

Get Along With Your Ex for Your Kids’ Sake

Break-ups are hard, even more so if children are involved. Maybe you and your husband or wife of 15 years just separated, or you and your long-term partner just broke up, or you just got out of a volatile relationship. Regardless of the situation, if you have children together, you will be tied to this person until your children are … Read More

Where Should I Keep My Estate Planning Documents?

Esther was 78-years-old when she passed away peacefully in her sleep.  She was a widow and the mother of four children.  Esther had always been a very private person who shared very little with her children about her finances, her end of life wishes, her funeral and burial wishes, and her estate plan.  Two years prior to her death, Esther … Read More

I was just served divorce papers. What do I do next?

You were just served divorce papers. You were most likely served with a Summons, Temporary Domestic Order, and the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. First – take a deep breath and try not to panic. The divorce process is stressful, but our attorneys are here to help you navigate the process and the court system. Second – do not call … Read More

5 Ways to Be a Better Caregiver When a Loved One Gets Sick

Did you know, more than 40 million Americans are caring for a loved one, whether it be an elderly parent or another family member. No one is ever prepared to become a caregiver. Caregiving is often a full-time job, yet many people who are caring for a loved one find they must continue to work to pay their own bills. … Read More

Does Common Law Marriage Exist in New Mexico?

The short answer is no, with one exception. Common Law Marriage is defined as a couple living together for a period of time and holding themselves out to friends and family as “being married,” but not having actually obtained a marriage license in their state. Common law marriage is not recognized in the State of New Mexico as valid and … Read More

What to Expect Once Your Divorce is Finalized

Congratulations! Your divorce is final! You have made it through one of the most stressful times of your life. What do you do next? The divorce process lays out how the marital assets are divided and this is documented in the Final Decree and Marital Settlement Agreement. Once you and your ex-spouse know how things will be divided, the next … Read More

Choosing Fiduciaries from a Litigator’s Perspective

An essential part of estate planning is the selection of fiduciaries—those persons who will carry out your wishes; your agent, personal representative, or successor trustee.  What is a fiduciary? A fiduciary is a person who has a legal or ethical relationship with another.  In estate planning, we choose a fiduciary to manage our assets, either during life or at our … Read More

5 Things to Know Before Your Initial Appointment with a Divorce Attorney

You or your spouse may have decided to initiate divorce and now you are getting ready to meet with your divorce attorney. It can be a daunting process and it certainly can be stressful. Below are a few tips to keep in mind when meeting with your divorce attorney for the first time. Has a case already been filed? If … Read More

What is a MOST Form and Do I Need One?

MOST is an acronym for “medical orders for scope of treatment” and is specific to New Mexico. A MOST form is a great tool for outlining patients’ wishes for medical interventions and end-of-life care when individuals have a serious or life-threatening illness. It consists of a set of medical orders which are integrated into the patient’s medical record and are … Read More

Pregenzer, Baysinger, Wideman & Sale, PC Announce Two New Attorneys

Wesley L. Enns and Jensen N. Wallace Join the Team September 3, 2019 ALBUQUERQUE — August 27, 2019 — The attorneys at Pregenzer, Baysinger, Wideman & Sale, PC (PBWS Law), a woman-owned law firm specializing in estate planning, probate, special needs planning, family law, guardianships and conservatorships, and fiduciary litigation are pleased to announce Wesley L. Enns and Jensen N. … Read More

What Happens to My Debt When I Die?

I have a classic lawyer answer to this question- it depends.  Here are some factors to consider when thinking about this question: Do you co-own the debt with another person? Is it a joint credit card with your spouse?  Did your parents co-sign the loan with you? If so, that person may continue to have an obligation to pay the … Read More

Common Mistakes Made When Estate Planning Without a Legal Professional

A close friend of mine and his wife obtained estimates from two contractors to remodel their kitchen. Shocked by the estimates, my friend somehow convinced his wife (and himself) that he had all of the necessary tools and the skills to undertake the project himself, and to complete it for nearly half of what the contractors were going to charge. … Read More

You Do Not Have to Wait Until You Die to Share

Recently my dad relayed to my sister and I that after his death, he has a playlist of songs he wants all of us kids to have to remember him by. He went on to say that he has an individual song for all eight of us. As an estate planning attorney, I asked him if he had written this … Read More

What is the DD Waiver and Why Does it Matter for Special Needs Families?

The DD Waiver is the Developmentally Disabled Waiver in New Mexico. It is a Medicaid program that provides services to qualifying individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Often people ask what the “waiver” part means. One of the qualifying questions for the DD Waiver is whether the individual would otherwise qualify for nursing home level of care (NHLOC). If so, … Read More

Using Estate Planning to Prevent Family Conflict

“My kids all get along great and would never fight or argue about the disposition of my estate after I’m gone.” This is a very familiar statement made by clients to their estate planning attorneys. Unfortunately, the reality is oftentimes very different from our perceptions and hopes. There is no question losing a parent is one of the most difficult, … Read More

3-Part Vlog Series on Guardianship: Part III

Our firm is pleased to announce the final vlog, Part III in our 3-Part Series on Guardianship. In Part III, Kellie Knapp, talks with PBWS attorney, Bridget Mullins, to ask four final questions about guardianship in the state of New Mexico. The four questions are: 1) What does the Qualified Healthcare Professional report need to contain? 2) How long does … Read More

Final Regulations Applicable to Eligibility for VA Needs-Based Benefits

The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) proposed new regulations in 2015 regarding net worth, asset transfers, and income exclusions for needs-based VA benefits. These regulations have been finalized and are effective as of October 18, 2018. A couple of the most significant changes are highlighted below: New bright-line evaluation of net worth; New 36-month look-back period for asset transfers. … Read More

Engagement Ring: Who Gets To Keep It?

People often wonder if they have to return the diamond ring if the engagement is called off. The answer in New Mexico, as in most other states, is a resounding “it depends”. However, it is usually a pretty clear choice. An engagement ring is a conditional gift. This means if the condition, in this case, the wedding, occurs, the condition … Read More

Swedish Death Cleaning

A client of mine recently brought up “Swedish Death Cleaning,” which is a concept that is trending with the fairly recent release of a book entitled The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter by Margareta Magnusson. I had not heard of it, but I was curious because of … Read More

3-Part Vlog Series on Guardianship: Part II

Our firm is happy to share Part II in a 3-Part Series on Guardianship. In Part II, Firm and Marketing Manager, Kellie Knapp, talks with associate attorney, Bridget Mullins, to ask four more questions about guardianship in the state of New Mexico. The four questions are: 1) Are there alternatives to guardianship? 2) What should someone expect at a guardianship … Read More

The Attorney-Client Privilege: When Does It Exist?

Much is talked about in the legal world about the “attorney-client privilege” and what exactly it entails.  The rules of evidence are lengthy and complicated.  Law students devote countless hours trying to figure them out and lawyers and judges routinely debate their applicability and relevance in the courtroom.  The attorney-client privilege belongs to the client.  Only the client can waive … Read More

3-Part Vlog Series on Guardianship: Part I

Pregenzer, Baysinger, Wideman & Sale, PC presents a 3-Part Series on Guardianship: Part I. In Part I, Firm and Marketing Manager, Kellie Knapp, sits down with attorney, Bridget Mullins, to ask four basic questions about guardianship in the state of New Mexico. The four questions are: 1) What is guardianship? 2) What is the initial process in getting a guardianship? … Read More

Update on Special Needs Planning Seminar 2018 Video and Handouts (April 11, 2018)

The Update on Special Needs Planning Seminar was held on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The seminar was hosted at the New Mexico Society of CPAs from 3:00pm to 5:00pm. Presented by: Pregenzer, Baysinger, Wideman & Sale, PC (PBWS) Zia Trust, Inc. The Arc of New Mexico ARCA Presentors: Elaine Solimon, Community Relations Director of ARCA Bridget … Read More

Care-Taker Roles Reverse

Generally speaking we don’t plan on spending a Saturday afternoon in the local Emergency Department.  However, as parents age, we as their adult children find ourselves more and more in the care-taker role, which often means accompanying them to doctor’s appointments and sometimes to the Emergency Department.  As I sat with my mother and father in the Emergency Department on … Read More

Who Should I Appoint As My Fiduciary?

As part of a comprehensive estate plan, each one of us should appoint fiduciaries to act on our behalf in the event that we are no longer able to do so during life or at our death.  Simply appointing a spouse, child, sibling, or good friend may not be the right choice in all situations. What many people do not … Read More

What is a Fiduciary?

A fiduciary is an individual or an entity in whom someone has placed significant confidence and trust to manage his or her financial and/or personal affairs either during their lifetime or after their death.  The fiduciary has a legally enforceable obligation and duty to act in the best interest of the person(s) the fiduciary serves.  Common examples of fiduciaries are: … Read More

PBWS Tenth Anniversary

Pregenzer Baysinger Wideman & Sale is approaching an exciting milestone—our tenth anniversary!  Our firm opened for business on August 4, 2008.  You may remember 2008, the year that the U.S. economy almost collapsed.  In September of that year, when our firm was operating out of a small office in the basement of our building, using camp chairs and boxes for … Read More

Intra-Family Conflict After Death – It Can Be Expensive

We all hear horror stories about siblings becoming estranged after the death of a parent because they couldn’t agree about who should get their mom’s teapot.  Unfortunately, most estate planning and probate attorneys can tell you these stories have a basis in fact.  What you might not realize is that those family conflicts can also become incredibly expensive.  It is … Read More

Serving the Public Good

Lawyers have an ethical responsibility to provide pro bono services to indigent or other deserving clients.  Rule 16-601 says that a lawyer should aspire to at least 50 pro bono publico (“for the public good”) legal services per year.  “For the public good” means undertaking professional work voluntarily and without payment. Recently in Albuquerque, the guardianship and conservatorship community was … Read More

People’s Motivation to Do Estate Planning

There are many reasons clients are motivated to do their estate planning, but the two I hear most are they are going to be travelling, usually overseas, or they have an upcoming surgery. Nothing like flying across the ocean or going under the knife to get you thinking about your mortality. Along those lines, my observations suggest people equate estate … Read More

Alternative Dispute Resolution for Seniors and Their Families – Blog Series Part 3

This is the third and final installation of the 3-part series: Alternative Dispute Resolution for Seniors and Their Families. Taking into account the previous questions addressed in this series, we will be discussing how to work through disputes with family members and the process for mediation. There are many reasons disputes might arise among families that act as caregivers. It … Read More

3 Simple Tips for Enjoying the Holidays with Special Needs Kids

Tis the Season- Holidays can be a stressful time in general, but particularly for children with a disability such as autism, Asperger’s or a sensory processing disorder. All of the hyped-up energy, excitement and new adventures is multiplied by ten for them, and can be really difficult to handle. I have seen how the holidays can overwhelm my typically developing … Read More

Reverse Mortgages – What Are They and Are They Right For You?

What is a reverse mortgage? Created in 1989 by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, a reverse mortgage is a home-equity loan for homeowners that are aged 62 or older. A reverse mortgage allows a homeowner to access the equity in their home, by turning equity into tax free cash. The homeowner does not have to make a … Read More

What Are the “Powers” in Powers of Attorney?

What are the “powers” in Powers of Attorney? It is very common for clients to say to us, “My mom/dad/friend/sister/etc. just made me their Power of Attorney.  What does that mean?” Here are some general rules to keep in mind if you find yourself in that situation: Read the forms In New Mexico, there are two types of Power of … Read More

7 Things You Don’t Know About a Special Needs Parent

About 6 million kids in America receive special education, according to the U.S. Department of Education. One out of every 10 children under the age of 14 has some type of special need, which includes any physical, cognitive, or medical disability, or chronic or life-threatening illness. Raising a child with any disorder, condition or special need, is both a blessing … Read More

Giving Myself Elder Law Advice

There is a saying that when a lawyer represents themselves they have a fool for a client.  Giving myself elder law advice as I navigate the aging process with my elderly parents is proving it. How many times have I sat at a conference room table and given sage advice to adult children of parents with dementia about where their … Read More

How can an attorney help you with probate?

When a loved one passes away, families often face a huge amount of logistical hassles and tasks in the midst of their grief.  The last thing you want to deal with on top of all the other arrangements are court systems and unfamiliar procedures.  That is one of the reasons many people turn to a lawyer for help with probate.  … Read More

Charitable Giving and Tax Benefits

Do you have a charity that is close to your heart? Maybe your church, your favorite animal shelter, or your alma mater. Consider including them in your estate plan and/or in lifetime gifts. If you don’t have a particular charity you want to support, but there is a cause that is important to you, like homelessness, animals, kids, education, arts, … Read More

Medicare Eligibility After Hospital Observation Status

Hospitals must now give Medicare recipients notice when they are in the hospital under observation status. The notice requirement is part of a law enacted in 2015 but that just took effect. Signed by President Obama in August 2015, the law was intended to prevent surprises after a Medicare beneficiary spends days in a hospital under “observation” and is then … Read More

Alternative Dispute Resolution and Divorce

The Ugly There are many unflattering descriptions of the divorce process: “Knock down/drag out”, “scorched earth”, fight to the death”, “battle” and so on. Sadly, many divorces live up to these pejorative terms. Former partners fight for months or years. Unlike most lawsuits which occur between strangers, divorces or custody battles involve intimate partners who were once in love and living … Read More

Probate – I’m Scared of Probate, Is It Necessary?

Scared of Probate?! First of all, you probably shouldn’t be.  Probate in New Mexico is not that expensive or overly drawn-out process that you might have heard about in other states.  The cost of opening probate in New Mexico is small, and without complicating factors, can be completed in between four and six months. However, there are options for people who … Read More

Powers of Attorney – What They Are and Why You Need Them

Do you have financial and healthcare powers of attorney? Most people equate estate planning only with dying, but there are other important components of an estate plan that are relevant while you are alive, one of those is powers of attorney (POAs). In New Mexico, there are financial and health care powers of attorney. There are many benefits to having … Read More

Special Needs Trust Fairness Act (SNTFA)

The Special Needs Trust Fairness Act (SNTFA) was signed into law by President Obama, after being approved by the House and Senate, in 2016. While Special Needs Trusts have been since the Omnibus Reconciliation Act was passed in 1993, there was an oversight when the Act was drafted. Before the SNTFA was signed into law, individuals with disabilities who had … Read More

Special Needs Children – Know the Types and Know Your Rights

18.5% of American Children under age 18 are Special Needs Children.  That doesn’t mean that they aren’t smart, talented or capable.  Just that they have specific challenges that a “normal” student would not face. There are four major types of special needs children: Physical – muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, chronic asthma, epilepsy, etc. Developmental – down syndrome, autism, dyslexia, processing … Read More

The Alzheimer’s Association Report – Increasing Costs and Impact

The Alzheimer’s Association released a report on March 7, 2017 with updated statistics related to the number of Americans with Alzheimer’s dementia and the growing cost and impact of the disease on families and the economy.  Some startling findings: Unless a cure or improved treatments are discovered, the number of people age 65 or older with Alzheimer’s dementia may nearly … Read More

Do You Need A Trust?

Many clients come to us because they have heard they should have a trust. The usual reason for this is to avoid probate. Although trusts can accomplish the purpose of avoiding probate, if this is the only purpose to be served by establishing the trust, then in New Mexico, it is not that important. Probate is the process of transferring … Read More

When Should You Review Your Estate Planning Documents?

First, let’s clarify what your estate planning documents are. Of course, they include your Will and any Codicils, and perhaps your trust or trusts. But they also include any powers of attorney (both financial and health care) as well as all beneficiary designations for life insurance, retirement plans, annuities and transfer on death accounts. A thorough review of your estate … Read More

Is There an Age Limit for Special Needs Trusts?

As usual, the answer is, it depends. Special Needs Trusts (SNTs) are a way to save money for disabled persons that do not risk a person’s eligibility for government funded programs, such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). There are three (3) types of Special Needs Trusts. They are: Self-Settled Special Needs Trust Third-Party Special Needs Trust and Pooled … Read More

Five Truths and One Lie About Guardianship

Guardianship and conservatorship is the process where a court authorizes another to make decisions for someone who is incapacitated; i.e., someone who is partially or completely functionally impaired to the extent that he is unable to manage his/her personal and/or financial affairs. A guardian has authority to make personal decisions for the person who is incapacitated, including medical decisions and … Read More

When is a trust necessary or helpful?

There are many causes of mental and physical incapacity and there are many people who are very bad a managing money, and for one reason or another, should not be left in charge of their own investments.  In these cases, a trust may be a good idea.  It can be a revocable trust or it can be an irrevocable trust. … Read More

Having Difficult Conversations with Your Aging Parents

When Elder Law is a primary focuses of your law practice, you often have clients come to you to discuss their aging parents. They start seeing the signs: the yard is not being cared for the house is in disrepair and is not the neat and tidy home you are used to seeing the refrigerator is full of food that … Read More

Community Service: The Constitution for 4th

Working for the law firm Pregenzer, Baysinger, Wideman & Sale allows me to participate in different pro bono activities in our community. Last month I had the opportunity to talk to a class of 4th graders about the Constitution. The class had been learning about the Constitution for about a month. The teacher asked me to come discuss how the … Read More

Should I Create a Trust to Avoid Probate?

Avoiding probate is a common reason for creating trusts. One thing to note is that only a funded trust will avoid probate. Meaning, only assets that have been transferred and titled in a trust will avoid probate.  When properly funded, the trust document and not a Will controls the disposition of the assets and avoids the necessity of opening a … Read More