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By Nathan Vinson, attorney
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

estate debtWhen a spouse, parent or child passes away, it’s incredibly difficult to handle. Beyond your own grief, planning the funeral and handling a thousand different tasks, you may receive calls or letters from creditors who try to convince you that you should pay the debt of the person who died.

In one recent case, a widow received a collection letter from an agency that specializes in collecting debt for creditors of deceased people. The estate had been closed for about a year. She didn’t owe that debt, but the collection agency tried to convince her that she did.

Collecting decedent debts

By law, you don’t owe a debt for someone who died (unless, of course, you owed the debt jointly with the decedent or as a guarantor). Once the person passes away and the proper steps have been taken to handle the probate estate, the opportunity for a creditor to collect unsecured debt is gone.

Credit agencies, especially the less reputable ones, may use all manner of intimidation and even threats to get people to pay debts. These calls can be troubling and confusing for people, especially those who are older or who don’t know the law. It’s important to understand how debt is collected to protect yourself and the people you love.

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By Nathan Vinson

elderly womanBetween our phones and our e-mail, everyone in America (and likely around the world) is hit with scams every day. We’re promised millions by the wife of a dead African dictator, or told that the caller is from the IRS and needs payment of back taxes immediately. Door-to-door sales people tell us there is something wrong with our roof. Insurance flyers attempt to scare us into thinking that something horrible will happen if we don’t buy their insurance.

Most of us brush this stuff off without a thought. We hang up on the scammers, delete those spam e-mails and move on. But for the elderly, it’s hard to tell the difference between a genuine offer that needs our attention and fraud.

While we all fear looking stupid or gullible, what’s truly frightening for an elderly person is the prospect of looking dumb in front of someone we love and trust. Asking for help as you get older is difficult. Scammers know this – and push the elderly into it by insisting their offer is for a limited time or that dire consequences can result if they don’t act right now.

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By Nathan Vinson, Attorney

English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

IRA gift provisionOver the past decade, Congress has passed a law – usually at the last minute – that allows for gifts directly from Individual Retirement Accounts to charitable organizations with favorable tax treatment. The gifts can be up to $100,000 to qualifying organizations, but it has to be made directly to the charity. The IRA gift provision has been a popular way for some to give to their favorite organizations, for two key reasons:

  • The gift counts towards your required minimum distribution from your IRA for the year. As you may know, seniors ages 70.5 and up are required to take a minimum distribution from their IRA each year.
  • The gift is excluded from taxable income. The money won’t be included in your taxable income (as it would otherwise) if the money is paid directly to the qualifying charity.

Only those who are 70.5 or older can take advantage of it.

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Elizabeth McKinney

Attorney Beth McKinney at ELPO’s offices in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Local attorney Elizabeth McKinney joined our firm on September 1 as a partner and attorney. She will work primarily in the areas of estate, probate, wills and taxation. We’re thrilled to have her on our team.

Beth has been an attorney for 20 years. She is also a licensed Certified Public Accountant, working as an accountant prior to her career in law.

Besides estate planning, wills, probate and taxation, Beth will work with business clients, such as corporations, limited liability companies and partnerships on a variety of business and corporate issues. She has advised numerous new business owners with respect to the choice of the entity formed for new businesses. In addition, she has represented business owners in the transition and continuation of closely held businesses in the preparation of asset purchase agreements, buy-sell agreements, shareholder or stock restriction agreements and other business succession planning matters.

Before coming to ELPO, Beth had her own solo law practice, but decided she wanted to come back to a law firm environment. “There are very experienced staff here and terrific attorneys,” Beth says. “This is where I want to spend the rest of my career.”

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