ABLE Accounts Now Available in Four States; Three Are Open to Out-of-State Beneficiaries

September 1, 2016

Two years after the passage of the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, four states — Florida, Nebraska, Ohio and Tennessee -– have ABLE plans up and running, and all but Florida allow out-of-state beneficiaries to open accounts.

States have been slow to create the appropriate regulations governing ABLE accounts, in part because the IRS and the Social Security Administration took a long time proposing regulations covering them. But now that the federal agencies have finalized their rules, it appears that more states will bring ABLE accounts online.

As you can see in this comparison chart, each state currently offering ABLE accounts differs slightly from the others when it comes to fees and funding minimums, although in most cases the charges are reasonable. All of the accounts have at least four different investment options to choose from, and Nebraska even offers a state tax deduction for contributions into an account.

We will try to keep you updated as more states begin offering plans, but for immediate updates and more information about ABLE’s rollout, you can visit the ABLE Resource Center’s website.

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What Is Undue Influence?

Saying that there has been “undue influence” is often used as a reason to contest a will or estate plan, but what does it mean?

Undue influence occurs when someone exerts pressure on an individual, causing that individual to act contrary to his or her wishes and to the benefit of the influencer or the influencer’s friends. The pressure can take the form of deception, harassment, threats, or isolation. Often the influencer separates the individual from their loved ones in order to coerce. The elderly and infirm are usually more susceptible to undue influence.

To prove a loved one was subject to undue influence in drafting an estate plan, you have to show that the loved one disposed of his or her property in a way that was unexpected under the circumstances, that he or she is susceptible to undue influence (because of illness, age, frailty, or a special relationship with the influencer), and that the person who exerted the influence had the opportunity to do so. Generally, the burden of proving undue influence is on the person asserting undue influence. However, if the alleged influencer had a fiduciary relationship with your loved one, the burden may be on the influencer to prove that there was no undue influence. People who have a fiduciary relationship can include a child, a spouse, or an agent under a power of attorney. For more information on contesting a will, go here.

When drawing up a will or estate plan, it is important to avoid even the appearance of undue influence. For example, if you are planning on leaving everything to your daughter who is also your primary caregiver, your other children may argue that your daughter took advantage of her position to influence you. To avoid the appearance of undue influence, do not involve any family members who are inheriting under your will in drafting your will. Family members should not be present when you discuss the will with your attorney or when you sign it. To be totally safe, family members shouldn’t even drive or accompany you to the attorney’s office. You can also get a formal assessment of your mental capabilities done by a medical professional before you draft estate planning documents. For more information on preventing a will contest, go here.

July 14, 2016

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