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Current Issue of the
FL Council Newsletter
Communiqué

MOAA Seal                                                                                                                                                 MOAA Shield
 
 
 
 
 

ESTATE PLANNING

 

Disclaimer:  None of the information below is to be construed in any way as legal advice, nor is it to be used as a substitute for a face to face consultation with a qualified attorney.  Readers are highly encouraged to obtain independent counsel from their own attorney before executing any of the documents mentioned in the Estate Planning Basics section below.

 

 

Table of Contents:

 

Introduction

 

Estate Planning Basics

 

Emergency Checklist

 

Bereavement Planning/Funeral Checklist   

 

ENCL :   Important phone numbers/contact info

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

Estate Planning incorporates both pre- and post-death planning considerations. Emergency planning is clearly essential to the post-death planning area; however, to make emergency planning meaningful, considerable thought should go into the pre-death planning phase.

 

Pre-death planning should include a total inventory of all assets and a detailed breakdown on how the assets are titled. Current wills, trusts, durable powers of attorney, advance health care directives and memoranda on how certain personal assets (such as jewelry, furniture, pictures, family albums, etc.) should be distributed. This list should be updated as required.

 

The next step is to determine the total value of the estate. It must account for all assets to include insurance policies, annuities, securities, real estate and personal property.  A qualified attorney should review all estate plans. Regardless of the size of the estate, the possible use of a revocable trust should be discussed with your attorney. Proper planning may not only save many legal fees, taxes, probate, family feuds and problems, but also facilitate post death administrative requirements.

 

One's death and desired funeral arrangements are often not discussed in detail. Written instructions that clarify the expressed desires of individuals are invaluable. In addition, the making of funeral arrangements is greatly facilitated when the desires of the deceased are known and so recorded. Pre-death payment of funeral expenses can at times be advantageous to lock in a discounted fee/cost.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ESTATE PLANNING BASICS  

 

NOTE:  The information below applies to Florida residents.

 

What is a will?

 

A will is a legal document that dictates the disposition of a person’s probatable assets upon his or her death.  Probatable assets are all assets owned by the decedent in his or her sole name at the time of death and the decenent’s share of those assets owned jointly with others without provisions for ownership passing by right of survivorship to the joint owner(s).  Assets held jointly with others with rights of survivorship, such as a homestead owned by husband and wife, or assets held with a proper designation of beneficiaries, such as a brokerage account with designated beneficiaries, are not probatable assets and pass to the surviving joint owner(s) or to surviving designated beneficiaries by operation of law, without having to go through a probate administration.  Assets held in trust are also not probatable assets.  Probatable assets must go through a probate administration in the court system.  A proper will designates a person or persons as executor (in Florida, personal representative) of the estate, who makes certain required notices and accountings, pays valid debts of the estate, and distributes the remaining probate assets to the beneficiaries named in the will, all under the supervision of the court.  According to the Florida Rules of Probate, a personal representative must be represented by an attorney, except in rare cases, such as when the personal representative is the sole beneficiary and there are no creditors.    If a person dies without a will and owns probatable assets, there is a probate administration in court just as when there is a will.  The court appoints the personal representative.  The personal representative’s final distribution of estate assets is made in accordance with set provisions of the probate law.  

 

What is a living will and what is an advanced health care directive?

 

A living will is a legally binding document which dictates one's wish on limiting the use of artificial life support systems if (in Florida) one is in a terminal condition, an end-stage condition, or a persistent vegetative state.   An advanced health care directive is like a power of attorney designation where the designated agent (in Florida, health care surrogate) is given the authority to make health care related decisions, such as consent to surgery, if the principal is unable to make those decisions due to some sort of incapacity.  

 

What is a power of attorney and what is a durable power of attorney?

 

A general power of attorney is a document in which the principal (the person signing the document) designates another person as his or her attorney-in-fact to be able to carry out certain legal operations on behalf of the principal.  The power of attorney ceases to have any effect if it is revoked in writing by the principal, the principal dies, or the principal becomes mentally incapacitated.  A durable power of attorney remains in effect if the principal becomes mentally incapacitated.  In most estate plans, the principal executes (signs with all appropriate legal requirements) a durable general power of attorney.

 

What is a trust and what is the difference between an irrevocable trust and a revocable trust?

 

A trust is basically a contract in which the executing person, called the settlor, grantor, or trustor, agrees to convey property to a trustee or trustees for the benefit of named beneficiaries.     Unless the trust document provides otherwise, the trust is irrevocable, meaning it cannot be changed (in most cases) or revoked once it is executed.  Sometimes irrevocable trusts are used in estate plans, usually due to tax considerations.  A revocable trust, often called a living trust, can be changed or revoked at any time by the settlor.  The settlor, trustee, and beneficiary can all be the same person.  Living trusts are widely used in estate plans.  Assets held in a trust (irrevocable or revocable) are not probatable assets, and upon the death of the settlor, are distributed by the trustee(s) to the beneficiaries in accordance with the provisions of the trust, free of any probate court proceedings.  A trust document is useless unless assets are actually conveyed to the trustee(s) by the settlor after the document is executed.

 

Is it better to have a will or a trust?

 

The Florida probate code provides that a personal representative is entitled to compensation from the estate assets of 3% of the value of the assets up to $1million, with decreasing percentages for amounts over $1million.  Most family personal representatives do not ask for the compensation.  The probate code also provides that the attorney for the personal representative is entitled to reasonable compensation, paid from estate assets, for his or her services.  Reasonable compensation for the attorney is set forth in the code as $1,500 for estates of $40,000 or less, $2,250 for estates of more than $40,000, but not more than $70,000, $3,000 for estates of more than $70,000, but not more than $100.000, and 3% on the next $900,000 of estate value, with decreasing percentages for amounts over $1,000,000.  The personal representative and the attorney may agree to an attorney fee which does not follow the statutory scheme.  These fees for a probate administration can be eliminated if probate is avoided through the use of a living trust.  When the settlor of a living trust dies, there is an administration of the trust, but there is usually very little court involvement, and the legal fees may be significantly less than for a probate administration.  In most cases, a living trust costs much more to have prepared than a will.   Living trusts are often promoted as being private, whereas filings in a probate administration are part of the public record.  This is true, but it should be noted that the most sensitive part of the probate filings, the estate inventory and accounting are not available to the public unless the member of the public can demonstrate that they have an interest in the estate.  There is a general two year statute of limitation on claims on a decedent’s property.  This limitation applies if one has a trust.  However, the limitation period can be reduced to three months with the publication of a notice to creditors, which is available only in a probate administration.  Probate costs can also be reduced or eliminated by owning assets jointly with right of survivorship or owning assets in vehicles which allow for the designation of beneficiaries who take the assets by operation of law upon the owner’s death.  There are pros and cons to both wills and trusts.  In the final analysis, this decision should be reached only after careful consultation with one’s attorney.

 

 

EMERGENCY CHECKLIST/CONSIDERATIONS                   

 

It is of utmost importance that both spouses participate in this planning and are familiar with the location of all pertinent documents. As a minimum:

Document the location of your wills, discharge papers, retirement documents, insurance policies    (Life insurance, Long term care, Home and liability policies, Property and Car insurance etc.) 

Have valid durable powers of attorney and health care directives.

Provide the names and telephone numbers of your attorney, family physicians, and tax preparer.    

List all brokerage houses, mutual funds and bank accounts.

Ensure trusts are funded and assets are properly titled

Prepare appropriate biographies

Keep your executor (in Florida, the personal representative) informed

Keep a list of important phone numbers.          

Plan for home care assistance or support.  There are many options available in our local community. Consult your primary health care provider for the best provider for your specific situation.

In the event of a Medical Emergency - call 911,   Do not drive the patient to the hospital - use the

ambulance service. There is no charge for this service.

In event of death of a military retiree, a Casualty Assistance Officer may provide key support.  Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS), Cleveland OH must be notified as soon as possible of Retiree's Death by calling 1-800-269-5170 or 1-800-321-1080.  See phone/contact sheet at enclosure 2 for other important numbers

 

 

 

 

FUNERAL CHECKLIST

 

NOTIFICATION

Family

Friends

Organizations – Church, Fraternal & Veterans Organizations,

Newspapers

 

NOTIFY FUNERAL HOME

 

Secure help from family or friends to take all phone messages at home.

Speak only to individuals with whom you really want to talk.

Try not to talk to anyone who you do not know personally.

Be especially skeptical of someone wanting money or your approval to do something in honor of the deceased. 

 

Identify a trusted individual to coordinate funeral arrangements

Select preplanned times to contact individuals who are making arrangements for you (they will have a difficult time calling in).

Take extra security precautions at home from now through completion of funeral activities. Examples: Homes unoccupied at times of services and viewings.

Where possible identify responsible individuals in advance, such as chief pall bearer, so they can handle notifications and make coordination for you.

 

Points of Contact:

Funeral Home

Church/Chapel - Request meeting with minister conducting service.

Burial Location/local cemetery/national cemetery

 

Set time, place of funeral

Confirm Burial Site

Designate & Identify Charities for contributions in lieu of flowers

Contact appropriate newspapers for publication of obituary

Identify Celebrant and Individual to provide Eulogy

Review Service with clergyman/chaplain

Select other chapel service participants

Select music for march to gravesite and gravesite services

Special prayers or tributes

Confirm honorary pallbearers

Prepare and publish bulletin for services

Review gravesite services

Review funeral home visit

Plan reception following services

Acknowledge condolences

 

 

Enclosure

 

Important Phone Numbers, websites, and e-mail addresses

 

NOTE: Not all the below numbers are relevant to personal affairs, estate planning, or survivor assistance.  Contact info is always subject to change.

 

IMPORTANT PHONE NUMBERS

Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS)

Casualty Reporting ................................................... 800-321-1080

Retired Pay Customer Service .................................. 800-321-1080

SBP Annuitants ......................................................... 800-321-1080

Note: The Survivor Assistance Office, MacDill AFB offers comprehensive

assistance. See below:

Coast Guard Retired Pay ........................................................ 800-772-8724

Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) 800-538-9552

Social Security Administration .............................................. 800-772-1213

Department of Veterans Affairs ............................................. 800-827-1000

Sarasota National Cemetery .................................................. 877-861-9840

Medicare Hot Line ................................................................... 800-638-4227

Retired Activities Office, MacDill AFB ................................... 813-828-4555

SURVIVOR ASSISTANCE

Army RSO, MacDill AFB ............................. 813-828-0163

Air Force SAO, MacDill AFB ............................ 813-828-2503

Navy SAO, MacDill AFB................................. 813-828-2503

Marine Corps SAO, MacDill AFB................................. 813-828-2503

Coast Guard Retirees and Annuitants ......................... 800-772-8724

MOAA Personal Affairs Dept (ext. #116) ......... 800-245-8762

 

 

HEALTH CARE

TRICARE Tampa Office .............................................……............813-902-3000

Beneficiary Services ........................................................................800-444-5445

Claims Customer Service ................................................................800-403-3950

Health Care Finder .....................................…………….................800-444-5445

Pharmacy MacDill Hospital PharmaCare refills…..........................813-828-5367

MacDill BX Mall (Automated PharmaCare refills) ........................800-272-0201

MacDill Immunization Clinic ........................................... ..............813-827-9375

MacDill AFB

Telephone Information ............................................................ 813-828-1110

ID Cards ................................................................................. 813-828-2276

Officers Club ........................................................................... 813-837-1031

Honor Guard ........................................................................... 813-828-5190

Space “A” Travel ..................................................................... 813-828-2485

Retired Activities Office (Bldg 205) ......................................... 813-828-4555

Tickets & Tours ....................................................................... 813-828-2478

________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

MACDILL AFB FACILITY HOURS OF OPERATION

 

COMMISSARY

(813) 828-4832

Daily 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM

BASE EXCHANGE

(813) 840-0511

Monday- Saturday 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM

Sunday 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM

The Base Exchange is open each day of the year except Thanksgiving and

Christmas

CLASS VI STORE

(813) 840-2323

Monday- Saturday 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM

Sunday 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM

VISITOR RECEPTION FACILITY

(813) 828-2737

Monday – Saturday 6:00 AM – 6:00PM

After hours, all passes are issued at the Dale Mabry Gate.

PASS & IDENTIFICATION

(813) 828-2278

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 7:30 AM – 3:30 PM

Wednesday 7:30 AM – 12:00 PM

Call for appointments on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.

LEGAL ASSISTANCE

(813) 828-4422/4423

The MacDill AFB Law Center, located in Bldg 299, offers a variety of

services to include legal assistance, wills and power of attorney. All

services are available on an appointment basis.

Powers of Attorney and Notarizations are provided on a walk-in basis.

Monday - Friday 7:30 AM – 4:30 PM

Additional MacDill AFB phone numbers can be found at

http://www.macdill.af.mil/library/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=8175

 

IMPORTANT EMAIL ADDRESSES

Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) www.dfas.mil

Online account access- mypay.dfas.mil

Social Security www.ssa.gov

Medicare www.medicare.gov

TRICARE South www.humana-military.com

Retail/Mail Order Pharmacy www.express-scripts.com/TRICARE

TRICARE Contact Information www.tricare.mil/contactus

Veterans Administration www.va.gov

St. Pete VA Regional Office www.benefits.va.gov/stpetersburg

Florida Dept of Veterans Affairs www.floridavets.org

Army Retirement Services www.armyg1.army.mil/rso

Air Force Retirement Services www.retirees.af.mil

Navy Retired Services

www.public.navy.mil/bupers-npc/support/retired_activities

Defense Commissary Agency www.commissaries.com

Army & Air Force Exchange www.shopmyexchange.com

Navy Exchange www.mynavyexchange.com

Marine Corps Exchange www.mymcx.com

Arlington National Cemetery www.arlingtoncemetery.org

Federal Long Term Health Insurance www.opm.gov/insure/ltc

Navy Lodge Reservation Service www.navy-lodge.com

Armed Forces Recreation Centers www.armymwr.com

 

TRICARE

TRICARE is the DOD health care program for active duty dependents and retirees who

are not under MEDICARE. The TRICARE Management Activity (TMA), under the

authority of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs), manages the program.

TRICARE has three options from which to choose – “PRIME,” “STANDARD,” or

“EXTRA.” Contact the TRICARE Service Center @ 1-800-444-5445 if you have any

questions.

TRICARE PRIME: TRICARE Prime is a health maintenance organization (HMO)-

style plan available to active duty personnel, retirees from the Active Component, retirees

from the Reserve Component age 60 or older, and their eligible family members. Under

TRICARE Prime, beneficiaries must choose a primary care physician and obtain referrals

and authorizations for specialty care. There is an annual enrollment fee for TRICARE

Prime for military retirees and their family members ($260/individual, $520/family), and

retiree beneficiaries are responsible for small co-pay for each visit. There is no

enrollment fee for active duty military and their family.

TRICARE STANDARD: TRICARE Standard provides a similar benefit to the original

CHAMPUS program and is available to active duty personnel, retirees from the Active

Component, retirees from the Reserve Component age 60 or older, and their eligible

family members. Under TRICARE Standard, beneficiaries can use any civilian health

care provider that is payable under TRICARE regulations. There is no enrollment fee for

TRICARE Standard, but the beneficiary is responsible for payment of an annual

deductible ($150 individual/$300 family), 25% of allowed charges, and may be

responsible for certain other out-of-pocket expenses.

TRICARE EXTRA: TRICARE Standard beneficiaries can elect to use the TRICARE

Extra option by using a civilian health care provider from within the regional contractor's

provider network. In this way, TRICARE Extra represents a preferred provider

organization (PPO). When using TRICARE Extra, the beneficiary's annual deductible

($150 individual/$300 family) is the STANDARD deductible, but the coinsurance

amount is reduced to 20%. There is no additional fee for use of the TRICARE Extra

benefit.

TRICARE FOR LIFE: Effective October 1, 2001, DoD implemented the Tricare For

Life (TFL) program for all Medicare eligible retirees and their qualifying family

members and survivors as the secondary Supplement coverage. The program pays for

any Medicare deducible or co-payment. There is no enrollment necessary for TFL. To be

eligible, you must be TRICARE and Medicare Eligible and have purchased Medicare

Part B coverage, receiving retired pay or veterans disability compensation, and also

registered in DEERS (800-538-9552). In some instances TFL is the primary payer when

the services are normally a TRICARE benefit but not covered by Medicare. TFL does

not pay patient liability for services that are not a TRICARE benefit even though

Medicare may pay them, such as chiropractic benefits. The policy limitations applying to

TRICARE also apply to TFL and must therefore be deemed medically necessary and

require skilled care. Custodial care therefore is not covered.

TRICARE PHARMACY PROGRAM: TRICARE provides a world-class pharmacy

benefit to all eligible uniformed service members, retirees, and family members,

including beneficiaries age 65 and older. Pharmacy Coverage is the same regardless your

beneficiary category or which health plan option you are using. TRICARE offers four

convenient ways to fill your prescriptions: Military Treatment Facility, Retail Network

Pharmacy, Pharmacy Home Delivery, and Non-network Pharmacy.

Express Scripts is the TRICARE contractor providing home delivery and retail network

pharmacy services. They can be reached at DoD.customer.relations@express-scripts.com

or 877-363-1303.


Suggestions for improvement will be greatly appreciated. Please contact Mike Borders, MBor57@aol.com and at telephone 863-402-8292.