Online resource center to help you explore these key issues, and others, regarding your estate.

Practice Areas

Mr. Miller has many years of experience in designing and implementing a comprehensive variety of Trusts, Wills, and other estate planning documents, as well as settling estates in the most expedient and appropriate method. Further, he counsels and assists clients on becoming eligible for VA benefits and Medi-Cal.

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VA Pension/Aid & Attendance/Medi-Cal

Mr. Miller has been active in the area of VA Pension and Medi-Cal for well over a decade. He uses various specialized types of Trusts as well as non-trust strategies to gain eligibility for his clients and save the family money.

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Probate & Estate Administration

Mr. Miller has been settling estates (both simple and complex) for well over 40 years. The starting point is always to create a strategy to settle the estate in the most efficient manner possible with a minimum of taxes. Often times the strategy created allows the family to bypass Probate Court proceedings.

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The Hidden Costs of Good Health…

By merv,

  Filed under: Blog, Elder Law, Medi-Cal Benefits

During the recently concluded presidential election, we were consistently reminded of how dysfunctional the relationship between Democrats and Republicans had become.  With the threat of the fiscal cliff looming, it seemed especially important that we, as voters, make the right choices in the election.  At stake were the estate tax, the Bush era income tax cuts, the payroll tax cut, and the fate of Obamacare.  However, now that the election is over, the debate over how to resolve the nation’s financial issues is beginning anew with another iteration of last year’s debt ceiling debate thrown into the mix.

To add to the concerns at the federal level, the states are getting involved as they decide whether to participate in the expansion of Medicaid (MediCal in California) mandated by Obamacare.  As the debate continues, it will largely be a conversation about costs, deficits, and other money matters.  However, after Medicare and Medicaid, the third largest federal health expenditure is a tax break you may not even realize you have!  If you are fortunate enough to have employer-provided health insurance, that benefit is not generally subject to income tax even though it is part of your compensation.  By taxing this benefit and eliminating the “loophole,” the federal government stands to increase revenue by $250 billion.

The main groups of individuals who are taxed on these benefits are same sex married couples and registered domestic partners.  Because the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) specifically excludes same-sex relationships from marriage and the word “spouse,” same sex couples who are covered on their partner’s employer-provided health insurance must pay income tax on the value of the benefit received.  In some cases, the increase in taxes is dramatic.  Although there are no serious proposals to begin taxing all Americans’ health insurance benefits, there does appear to be a possibility that this little-known insurance subsidy could be expanded to include same sex married couples and registered domestic partners if DOMA is ruled to be unconstitutional.  The Supreme Court is currently considering whether to take on the cases involving DOMA and California’s Proposition 8, among other similar laws.  Multiple lower courts have ruled that DOMA is unconstitutional.  The effect of this ruling could dramatically impact planning for MediCal  and estate taxes.

Even though there are no proposals to make health insurance coverage taxable as income across the board, Obamacare does include some taxation of health benefits as one of its new tax increases.  The tax will be imposed beginning in 2018 against health insurers on high-premium health insurance policies.

Part of the argument for taxing health insurance or, as Obamacare does, health insurers, is that low income individuals are less likely to be covered by employer-provided healthcare and, therefore, less likely to be harmed by this tax approach.  As states look for ways to cover the existing gaps in Medicaid and to fund an expansion to cover even more individuals while also creating and implementing health insurance exchanges, perhaps the tax reform discussion will turn toward taking back this tax break.  After all, both sides have said everything is on the table!

VA Aid & Attendance–How Can I Correctly Choose Help for my Application Process?  FREE REPORT:  This complimentary report focuses on the various kinds of people one can consult when applying for the Veterans Aid & Attendance benefit. Who one chooses can mean the difference between success and failure. Remember, if you are denied, you may not be able to reapply for up to a year or longer. Download our complimentary report for a behind the scenes look at the different types of people you can consult and the dirty underbelly of the Veterans Aid & Attendance industry.

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About Living Trusts

About Living Trusts is hosted by the Law Offices of Merwyn J. Miller, as your online resource center to help you explore these key issues, and others, regarding your estate.

Merwyn J. Miller, J.D.

  • Board Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law
  • Co-Author of legal text book and of “Don’t Go Broke in a Nursing Home
  • Teacher of law courses at public and private colleges
  • Continuing Education Instructor for attorneys
  • Columnist for largest regional newspaper in San Diego County and professional journals for 15 years, Contributing author to the book “In Your Service: The Veteran’s Friend”
  • Masters Degree in Financial Services - Estate Planning

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