In the process of buying, selling, or refinancing your home? BEWARE! Wire fraud is on the rise in Connecticut!
There are some recent wire transfer scams occurring that the State of Connecticut is encouraging everyone to be aware of. The Connecticut Department of Banking states that it has recently received complaints concerning wire transfer scams, which centered on scammers attempting to redirect mortgage and payroll funds into fraudulent accounts. This means either you or your lender may be a target for this type of scam.
For example, according to the Federal Trade Commission, it appears scammers have hacked the e-mail accounts of real estate professionals (lenders, attorneys, realtors) to discover details regarding real estate transactions and closing dates. As the dates approach, these hackers e-mail the mortgage company posing as the attorney for the buyer requesting they wire the money for the closing to a different account. This turns out to be a scam and the money is sent to the fraudulent account.
Banking Commissioner Jorge L. Perez wants to ensure that financial institutions in Connecticut – which includes banks, credit unions and mortgage companies – are fully aware of this fraudulent scheme in order to protect themselves and prevent this from happening to them. At Floman DePaola, we feel that it is also important for the consumers to be aware that they can also be directly targeted and affected by this type of scam.
Take the following precautions when conducting wire transfers:
• If you are wiring funds and receive a change in wire transfer instructions via e-mail, always verify the source, and always make sure the person you are sending the money to is legitimate.
• Be skeptical of last minute changes regarding the wire transfer. Place a call directly to the person you had been working with regarding the transfer of funds. Most, if not all, attorneys do not change their wire instructions often, and will not do so right before your closing. This type of change should ALWAYS be verified by speaking with your attorney directly. Call the office number that you have been using from the beginning. The scammer may give you a different number or email address that may seem valid.
• Always ensure your security software is up to date.
Report suspected scams immediately to the Department of Banking Consumer Affairs Division, at 860.240.8170 or toll-free, at 1.800.831.7225.
Gift and Estate Tax:
- The federal lifetime exemption for property passing to non-spouse beneficiaries has been increased to $5,490,000.00.
- The Connecticut lifetime exemption for property passing to non-spouse beneficiaries remains the same at $2,000,000.00.
- There is still an unlimited gift/estate deduction for property passing to a spouse; however, in order to qualify for the unlimited gift/estate deduction the spouse must be a U.S. citizen.
- The amount that can be gifted to any one person without needing to file a gift tax return remains the same at $14,000.00 per recipient.
- Additional gifts can be made for qualified medical expenses and qualified education expenses without needing to file a gift tax return.
Long Term Care Provided in a Nursing Home:
- If one spouse is living at home (“Community Spouse”) and the other spouse is living in a nursing home, the amount of non-excluded assets the Community Spouse can keep increased to $120,900.00.
- If one spouse is living at home and the other spouse is living in a nursing home, the minimum amount of monthly income the Community Spouse can have has been increased to $2,002.50, and the amount it can be increased to, without an administrative hearing increased to $3,022.50.
- If one spouse is living at home and the other spouse is living in a nursing home, the amount of equity in the family home that can be excluded increased to $840,000.00.
Long Term Care Provided in Your Home:
- The amount of monthly income you can have and still be eligible for the Connecticut Home Care Program for Elders (CHCPE) has been increased to $2,205.00.
- Use of a pooled trust for excess income to establish eligibility or to avoid co-pays remains a viable option.
If you are interested in learning more about how these 2017 numbers affect you and your family please visit our website and read our blog for recent posts. For advice specific to you or your family, please contact the office. We would be glad to meet with you for a no hassle, no charge initial consultation, no matter how long it lasts.
There sometimes comes a time when the person you love can’t safely be cared for at home, at an assisted living facility, a continuing care retirement community, or any other community type setting. In that situation, 24/7 care at a skilled nursing facility (“nursing home”) may be the only choice. As part of the admission process, the resident (or family members acting for the resident) will be asked to sign a package of admission documents. Almost always, the admission documents include an arbitration agreement. Typically, the arbitration agreement says if any dispute arises between the resident and the nursing home, the dispute will be resolved by private arbitration, not the Court system. Although there sometimes are advantages to private arbitration, that is not always the case. For example, if your family member sustained a physical injury that was preventable, you almost always would want a Judge or a jury to hear your case, not a single arbitrator. Since Connecticut recognizes the legality of an arbitration agreement, if you signed one at the time of admission, you are stuck with arbitration. On September 28, 2016, however, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (“CMS”), a division of a federal agency that has regulatory authority over nursing homes receiving funds from Medicare or Medicaid, banned these pre-dispute arbitration clauses in agreements signed after November 28, 2016. Pre-dispute arbitration clauses in existing admission agreements are not affected by the prohibition. If you are admitting a family member to a nursing home it almost always is advisable to have the admission documents reviewed by an attorney of your choosing before signing anything.
You took the time to plan ahead and execute your Last Will and Testament. You hide the Will deep in your filing cabinet where you are certain it won’t be tampered with. But, what happens if no one else can find it?
Although we’re glad you see the importance of executing a Will and making sure it is safe, it is equally important that someone can find your Will after your death so that your wishes may be carried out. If you bury your Will in your files, under your mattress, or even in a safety deposit box that no one knows about, your children and/or executor may have no idea where to find it.
Creating a Will takes careful consideration as well as your hard-earned money, so make sure you store it somewhere your family easily can locate it after you have died. Here are a few suggestions:
Where to keep your Will:
- Tell your attorney where you will be keeping your Will so he/she can note its location in his/her file. Leave a Memorandum letting family members know that they can contact your attorney for information.
- If you choose to keep your Will at home, keep it in a safe place and/or on a high shelf in a heat-proof, waterproof, fire-proof safe. Make sure that only the most trustworthy people have the safe’s combination or know where to find the key.
- If you choose to keep your Will in a safety deposit box at your local bank make sure that your executor knows the name and location of the bank where your safety deposit box is located. Ideally, a second trusted person should be an authorized user of the box.
If you are interested in learning more about Wills and other estate planning documents, please call the office to schedule an appointment. We would be glad to meet with you for a free, no hassle initial consultation, no matter how long it lasts.
Connecticut has a new Power of Attorney Statute.
The 2015 and 2016 sessions of the Connecticut legislature enacted the Connecticut Uniform Power of Attorney Act. This is the first major revision to Connecticut’s Power of Attorney law since 1965. Here are six facts about the new law that may be helpful.
Fact 1: The law became effective on October 1, 2016, but if you have a Power of Attorney Instrument that was signed before October 1, 2016 it remains valid.
Fact 2: The person you name to act for you now is called an “Agent.”
Fact 3: The Power of Attorney Instrument is effective when signed. If you don’t want it to be effective until the happening of a certain event, you need to say that, expressly.
Fact 4: The legislature provided two sample forms that can be used if you want to do that, but you are not limited to those two forms. Other versions of Power of Attorney Instrument with provisions that are tailored to your specific needs also are acceptable.
Fact 5: In most cases a financial institution is required to accept an acknowledged Power of Attorney Instrument, even if it is old and even if it is not on a form recognized by the financial institution.
Fact 6: If those who care about you think your agent is abusing the authority granted, the Probate Court can be asked to look into what is going on.
If you are interested in learning more about the Connecticut Uniform Power of Attorney Act and how it affects you and your family, please contact the office. We would be glad to meet with you for a no hassle, no charge initial consultation, no matter how long it lasts.