Author: Thyden Gross and Callahan LLP

Women Are Happier with Less Attractive Husbands

by James J. Gross

A man should be taller, older, heavier, uglier, and hoarser than his wife.” ― E. W. Howe

Is your wife more attractive than you?  Don’t worry.  She’s probably happier that way.

A study by Florida State and Southern Methodist Unversities found that the wives with more attractive spouses felt pressure to obsess over their execise and diets.

Women with less attractive husbands, on the other hand, tested as happier and more appreciated.

Tabloid Calls Divorcing Princess a Gold Digger

by James J. Gross

Gold digger: a woman who becomes or tries to become romantically involved with a rich man in order to get money and gifts from him.  Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

A Belgium tabloid has called Princess Tessy of Luxembourg a gold digger after she filed for divorce from Prince Louis.  What do you think?

The couple met while they were serving in the army in Kosovo. They have been married for 11 years and have two children.  The Princess spent her time raising the children and working for charities in Britain on behalf of young women and teenage girls.

She filed for divorce on the basis of the Prince’s unreasonable behaviour.  Her attorney said she made a fair and sensible proposal for a settlement and it was rejected.  The terms of the proposal are restricted by the court.

The Princess lose the title of princess and royal highness once the divorce becomes final.  She also stands to lose the home in London, where she lived with Prince Louis and raised their children.

 

Special Needs Trusts

by Michael F. Callahan

The Problem 

If you are disabled or elderly  you may not qualify for certain government benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid , because your income or “countable assets” are too high.   Generally your home, furnishings, vehicle and certain other specific types of property are not counted, while  bank and financial accounts and the like are counted.

If you are already qualified, and your countable assets increase, you can lose your benefits.  For example, a parent or grandparent leaves assets to a loved one receiving government benefits and this disqualifies the loved one from receiving the benefits.  This can happen when the onset of disability is after the Will or other planning is done, or if the effect of the inheritance on government benefits is simply not addressed.  It can result in the recipient having to “spend down” the entire inheritance, i.e. pay out-of-pocket what the government benefit used to pay for.  When the entire inheritance is gone, the recipient is again eligible for benefits, but in the meantime  the entire inheritance has been wasted.

The Solution

Set up a special needs trust.  Special needs trusts, also called supplemental needs trusts, are trusts  designed to permit the beneficiary to enjoy the benefits of the assets owned by the trust without those assets being counted when qualifying for SSI or Medicaid.

A trust is an arrangement under which one person, the trustee, holds legal title to assets for the benefit of one or more other persons (the beneficiary or beneficiaries).  The trust agreement will contain  directions regarding administration, investment and distribution of trust assets.

First-Party Self-Settled Special Needs Trusts

Trusts funded with the disabled person’s own money are called first party special needs trusts.  They must meet strict requirements of federal law.  The trust must be irrevocable and established before age 65.  The trust must be for a disabled person and the trust assets can only be used for that person’s  benefit.  The trust must include a “payback” requirement.  That means any assets in the trust at termination, often at the death of the disabled person, must be paid to the state up to the amount of government benefits provided.  These trusts are often used when a disabled person comes into money, for example, upon settlement of a personal injury suit.

Third Party Supplemental Needs Trusts

Third party supplemental needs trusts are the solution to the inheritance problem.  Rather than leaving assets outright, the parent or grandparent leaves them to a trustee who receives them with the instructions to provide for the loved one’s needs – those that the government program does not cover – generally anything other than food and shelter.

It is important that the trustee has some discretion and is not required to distribute any income or principal to the beneficiary.  Also, the disabled person cannot have the right to demand payment of any income or principal of the trust from the trustee.  The trustee’s discretion and the beneficiary’s lack of a right to demand distributions are what keeps the trust assets from being countable resources under the SSI and Medicaid rules.

So long as the trust document provides trustee discretion and does not entitle the beneficiary to demand distributions, the trust can be very flexible otherwise.  These trusts are not subject to the strict federal requirements applicable to self-settled trusts.  For example, there can be other beneficiaries and their need not be a pay-back requirement.  Because the future is uncertain, every Will should contain  supplemental needs trust provisions that are triggered whenever a gift would be made under the Will directly to a person eligible for government benefits such as SSI or Medicaid.

Conclusion

Government benefits can be very important for the safety and security of the disabled and the elderly.  However, they are not very generous.  Through proper planning, a parent or other donor can ensure that their gift enhances the recipient’s quality of life and adds to  government benefits, rather than eliminating or reducing the government benefit.

 

Therapy

by James J. Gross

“Why don’t men want to go to therapy?” my wife asked me as we rode to work together.  Shes works in an office three blocks away from mine.

“John Grey, in Men Are from Mars and Women Are from Venus,” I told her, “says that women solve their problems cooperatively with friends, while men solve their problems alone.  To ask for help would be a sign of weakness in a man.”

“That’s idiotic,” she retorted.  “We are all on the same planet, which is Earth.”

“Yes, but we have evolved differently.”  Rob Becker in Defending the Caveman says that prehistoric women would gather spices, fruits and vegetables, and had to communicate and trade information with one another.  Prehistoric men, on the other hand, had to be silent while stalking the woolly mammoths.

“If women have a better idea,” said my wife, “men ought to try it.”

“Men are not  just women in men’s clothing,” I replied, “They are different.”

When I got to my office, my first appointment was in the waiting room.   I escorted her to my office.  “What seems to be the problem?” I asked.

“My husband doesn’t want to go to therapy.”

Don’t Touch That Thermostat!

by James J. Gross

So goodbye, goodbye
I’m gonna leave you now
And here’s the erason why
I like to sleep with the wiodwopen
And you kee0 the window closed
So goodbye
Goodbye
Gooobye

It turns out that thermostat settings are one of the biggest causes of conflict in marriages.  The wrong setting can cause one spouse to be too cold or too hot, and result in talks of divorce.

It’s not just mental either.  Scientists say that women have a lower body mass to surface area, slower resting metabolism and less muscle mass than men.  Therefore, they may feel more comfortable with warmer temperatures.

Financial considerations might come into play as well.  In the summertime, you can save between one to three percent on your air conditioning bill for each degree you set the thermostat over 72 degrees.

Is Your Spouse a Trump Supporter?

by James J. Gross

terThis morning my wife alerted me to an article in Harpers Bazzar last week called “If You Are Married to a Trump Supporter, Divorce Them” by Jennifer Wright.

“Supporting Trump at this point does not indicate a difference of opinions,” my wife said quoting the author. “It indicates a difference of values.”

“The problem is,” I replied, ”my spouse voted for Trump is not grounds for divorce in DC, Maryland or Virginia.

The Tissue Box

by James J. Gross

A new divorce client was in my office yesterday.  She didn’t cry as she was telling me her story, but she came close.

I was rummaging around the supply room next to the kitchen for some more ground coffee for the machine.   I happened upon a carton of tissue boxes.    I grabbed a box, went back to my office, and tossed them on my desk within easy reach of the client chair.

The tissue box is one of the most important things to have in your office if you are a divorce lawyer.  There are lots of tears in a divorce practice, but the stories are more interesting than say, “How do I get the most oil depletion allowance on my tax returns?”

Today I have already received calls from a client whose spouse said the police are on the way, a next-of-kin who wants to stop a cremation by an estranged spouse, and an opposing counsel who wants to enter into a consent order with respect to parenting time with the children.  It’s not even noon yet.  Better get another tissue box.

Selling Your Engagement Ring

by James J. Gross

We found another way to raise money for your divorce.  Worthy.com is a website that has online auctions where professional jewelry buyers will bid for the diamond in your engagement ring.

Unlike mining diamonds from the earth, which can harm indigenous peoples and the environment, Worthy.com mines the largest cache of diamonds on earth – us.  After all, there is no physical difference between a new diamond and a used diamond.

Worthy.com will grade your diamond, take pictures and post it for auction.

Crowdfunding Divorce

by James J. Gross

Can’t afford a divorce lawyer?   Need new furniture for your divorce apartment?  Plumfund.com is a website where you can ask people to contribute money for your divorce.

The site describes itself as “Free online crowdfunding for the people we love.”  It has different categories, from baby to funeral, to create a registry for your life events.

You can register your wedding and honemoon under the Honeyfund category.  I found the divorce requests under “divorce” by using the site search function.