Could Picking Nose Increase Risk of Dementia ?

New research suggests that picking your nose could up your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia.

The New York Post’s recent article entitled “How picking your nose could increase risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia” reports that bacteria can travel through the nasal cavity’s olfactory nerve — streamlined through a pick — reach the brain and create markers that are “a tell-tale sign of Alzheimer’s disease.”

According to scientists from Australia’s Griffith University, the bacteria Chlamydia pneumoniae — a germ linked to respiratory infections including pneumonia — uses the olfactory nerve as “an invasion path to assault the central nervous system.”

The study, published in Scientific Reports, observed cells in the brain then responded to the attack by depositing amyloid beta protein, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

“We’re the first to show that Chlamydia pneumoniae can go directly up the nose and into the brain where it can set off pathologies that look like Alzheimer’s disease,” Professor James St. John, the study’s co-author and head of the Clem Jones Center for Neurobiology and Stem Cell Research, said in a press release.

While the study was conducted on mice, St. John said “the evidence is potentially scary for humans as well.”

The olfactory nerve serves as an “express route” for bacteria to reach the brain as it bypasses the blood-brain barrier, they explained. The next phase of their research is aimed at proving the same pathway exists in humans.

“We need to do this study in humans and confirm whether the same pathway operates in the same way. It’s research that has been proposed by many people, but not yet completed,” St. John said. “What we do know is that these same bacteria are present in humans, but we haven’t worked out how they get there.”

The researchers said that a loss of smell can be an early sign of Alzheimer’s or dementia. It suggests smell tests for those 60 and up as an early detector.

“Once you get over 65 years old, your risk factor goes right up, but we’re looking at other causes as well, because it’s not just age — it is environmental exposure as well. And we think that bacteria and viruses are critical.”

The professor also said, “Picking your nose and plucking the hairs from your nose are not a good idea … We don’t want to damage the inside of our nose and picking, and plucking can do that. If you damage the lining of the nose, you can increase how many bacteria can go up into your brain.”

Reference: New York Post (Oct. 31, 2022) “How picking your nose could increase risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia”


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Did Loretta Lynn have an Estate Plan?

Loretta Lynn died at her home in Tennessee. Her family’s statement to CNN read: “Our precious mom, Loretta Lynn, passed away peacefully this morning, October 4th, in her sleep at home in her beloved ranch in Hurricane Mills.”

HITC’s recent article entitled “Loretta Lynn Planned Her Funeral Service Before Death and Wanted Fans to Attend” reports that in her six-decade-long career, she produced many hits such as You Ain’t Woman Enough, One’s on the Way, Fist City and one of her most iconic songs, Coal Miner’s Daughter.

On September 30, Radar Online reported that the country music queen was planning her own funeral. Her friends said at the time that she was settling her estate before her death. She was reportedly planning to put one of her Nashville homes up for sale.

One of her friends revealed that she “wants to turn most of her physical holdings into cash, so she doesn’t burden her kids and grandkids with having to sell off stuff when she’s gone.”

The country singing icon was also planning her funeral service. She is said to have wanted her final resting place to be next to her late husband, Oliver Vanetta Lynn, as well as their late children, Jack Benny and Betty Sue, at their family cemetery in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee.

Loretta Lynn wanted her memorial service to be held at Hurricane Mills and asked that her fans to be able to attend.

The Grammy winner reportedly also asked her children and grandchildren to perform at her funeral. In addition to this, she also wanted her long-time pal Dolly Parton to “help send her off in style.”

Loretta’s journey from poverty to stardom is well-known. She and her seven siblings lived in a one-room cabin. They had no electricity or running water due to financial struggles.

She had six children with her husband Oliver, who she married at the age of 15. She was already a mother of four by the time she turned 20.

Reference: HITC (Oct. 8, 2022) “Loretta Lynn Planned Her Funeral Service Before Death and Wanted Fans to Attend”


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Is a Colorado Prisoner Tupac Reincarnated and Entitled to His Vast Estate?

According to court documents, Tarnell Leon Jones admits he doesn’t look like Tupac Shakur but believes he was “shot by police officers in New York City, Los Angeles and Atlanta” in the early ’90s and came back to life as the rapper.

In his lawsuit, he wanted all documents concerning the rapper’s identity, along with damages for incidents that took place in the ’90s.

In addition, Jones says if you Google his full legal name it somehow turns into the deceased rapper’s name.

A special needs trust is used to hold assets in an account to be used to support an individual with special needs.reports that while Jones doesn’t know any of the rapper’s personal information, like Shakur’s social security number, he provided music artist’s birthday and the date the “Hit Em Up” lyricist was first shot at the Quad Recording Studios in New York. That is all public knowledge.

The San Carlos Correctional Facility inmate was so confident that he even offered to take medical testing in hopes that two blood types and hearts would be discovered to prove his claims.

AllHipHop also reported that United States District Judge Hector Gonzalez wrote, “He also alleges that a backpack containing more than $1 million was ‘robbed’ from him, although he has not specified who took it or where this event occurred. [Jones] seeks reimbursement for the medical expenses that he incurred because of these events.”

The inmate claimed he was Shakur returned from the dead.

He admitted he didn’t look like him and could not remember the rapper’s social security number. He provided publicly known information, like Tupac’s birthday and the date of the infamous shooting at the Quad in New York, which many say sparked the “East Coast/West Coast” war in hip-hop.

Jones’ case was dismissed by Judge Gonzalez, and he won’t be able to refile.

“Plaintiff’s complaint is nonsensical and does not present any cognizable federal claims that could possibly have occurred within any relevant statute of limitations period,” Judge Gonzales wrote in court documents AllHipHop secured.

This isn’t the first time a lawsuit by Jones was dismissed, as he’s had two other cases dropped for the same reason.

He’s also filed 13 lawsuits in the last 10 years in the state of Colorado, where he’s currently incarcerated.

Reference: Yahoo News (Oct. 12, 2022) “Incarcerated Man Says He’s Tupac Shakur Reincarnated”


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How Do Special Needs Trusts Work?

Parents with children who have special needs know they play a pivotal role in their child’s medical, social, emotional and mental health. They also face the challenges of figuring out government assistance programs like Medicaid and how these and other programs provide much-needed help throughout a child’s life. Another important way that parents of children with special needs help is with the creation of a special needs trust, as explained in the article “Special Needs Trust (SNT): What It Is and How It Works” from Forbes.

A special needs trust is used to hold assets in an account to be used to support an individual with special needs. The funds belong to the trust and not the individual, so they are not factored into their eligibility for government benefits.

SNTs are typically set up by a parent, grandparent, or guardian. The person who sets up the account, called the “grantor,” funds the account, as may any other individuals who wish to provide for the child.

The grantor names a trustee, or a third party, who administers the trust. The trustee is a fiduciary and must act in the best interest of the beneficiary. Funds are to be distributed in accordance with the directions in the trust. The trustee will be responsible for distributing funds, following government benefit rules and requirements, and managing tax obligations, among other things.

Parents are often the trustees, although others, like siblings or close relatives, may also be trustees. Parents who are both grantor and trustee generally name a successor trustee to take over after they die, become incapacitated or resign from their role.

A person who may not be able to support themselves due to a medical condition or a disability can gain financial security from an SNT.

Someone with special needs is likely to rely on means-tested government benefits, like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid. These benefits are only available to people with limited income or assets. Anyone receiving SSI, for example, may not have more than $2,000 of countable resources.

A parent who wishes to provide support after they die must plan in advance, so their bequest does not result in the person losing their benefits. This could happen if money is left through anything except a special needs trust. An estate planning attorney will know how to structure the parent’s estate plan to protect the individual with special needs and their government benefits.

Assets in an SNT can be used for a wide variety of expenses, including out-of-pocket medical or dental expenses, personal care givers, rehab services, education, vacations, and other permissible uses.

There is a lot of complexity involved with creating a special needs trust. For one, there are several different kinds of SNTs. You’ll want to select the one best suited for your family. Laws about means-tested benefits vary across states, so you’ll need to work with an estate planning attorney familiar with the laws of your state.

A well-drafted estate plan, incorporating a special needs trust, will provide your loved one with the resources to maintain as much normalcy as possible as they adjust to life without their parents.

Reference: Forbes (Sep. 22, 2022) “Special Needs Trust (SNT): What It Is and How It Works”


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Could Your Estate Plan Be a Disaster?

You may think your estate plan is all set.However, it might not be. If you met with your attorney when your children were small, and your children are now grown and have children of their own, your estate could be a disaster waiting to happen, says a recent article “Today’s Business: Your estate plan—what could go wrong?” from the New Haven Register.

Most estate planning attorneys encourage their clients to revisit their estate plan every three to five years, with good reason. The size of your estate may have changed, you may have experienced a health issue, or you may have a new child or a grandchild. There may be tax law changes, statutes may have been updated and the plan you had three to five years ago may not accomplish what you want it to.

Many people say they “have nothing” and their estate is “simple.” They might also think “my spouse will get everything anyway.” This is wrong 99% of the time. There are unintended consequences of not having a will—accounts long forgotten, an untimely death of a joint owner, or a 40-year-old car with a higher value than anyone ever expected.

Your last will and testament designates who receives your assets and provides for any minors. A will can also help protect your wishes from a challenge by unwanted heirs after your passing.

The federal estate tax exemption today is $12.6 million, but if your will was created to minimize estate taxes when the exemption was $675,000, there may be unnecessary provisions in your plan. Heirs may be forced to set up inherited trusts or even sub-trusts. With today’s current exemption level, your plan may include trusts that no longer serve any purpose.

When was the last time you reviewed your will to see whether you still want the same people listed to serve as guardians for minor children, executors, or trustees? If those people are no longer in your family, or if the named person is now your ex, or if they’ve died, you have an ineffective estate plan.

Many adults believe they are too young to need an estate plan, or they’ve set up all of their assets to be owned jointly and, therefore, don’t need an estate plan. If one of the joint owners suffers a disability and is receiving government benefits, an inheritance could put all of their benefits at risk. Minor children might inherit your estate. However, the law does not permit minors to inherit assets, so someone needs to be named to serve as their conservator. If you don’t name someone, the court will, and it may not be the person you would choose.

What about using a template from an online website? Estate planning attorneys are called in to set things right from online wills with increasing frequency. The terms of a will are governed by state law and often these websites don’t explain how the document must be aligned with the statutes of the state where it is signed. Estate plans are not one-size-fits-all documents and a will deemed invalid by the court is the same as if there were no will at all.

If you don’t have an estate plan, if your estate plan is outdated, or if your estate plan was created using an online solution, your heirs may inherit a legal quagmire, in addition to your coin collection. Give yourself and them the peace of mind of knowing you’ve done the right thing and have your will updated or created with an experienced estate planning attorney.

Reference: New Haven Register (Oct. 29, 2022) “Today’s Business: Your estate plan—what could go wrong?”


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Can Loved One’s Funeral Expenses Be Deducted?

Many people ask if funeral expenses are tax-deductible. The answer depends on who is paying and what kind of estate is left behind, says MSN’s recent article entitled “10 Tax-Deductible Funeral Service Costs.”

Unfortunately, funeral expenses are not tax-deductible for individual taxpayers. This means that you can’t deduct the cost of a funeral from your individual tax returns. While individuals cannot deduct funeral expenses, eligible estates may be able to claim a deduction, if the estate paid these costs. However, if your estate is below the $12,060,000 federal estate tax exemption limit (2022 tax year), you can’t use this deduction.

If your estate is above the $12,060,000 federal estate tax exemption limit, you’ll want to claim eligible deductions to reduce taxes. To claim funeral expenses on the estate’s tax return, you’ll need to complete Schedule J of Form 706. All of the eligible expenses should be itemized to adequately describe the purpose of each expenditure. If the estate was reimbursed for any funeral costs, that reimbursement must be deducted from your total tax deduction. This includes payments from Social Security, Veterans Affairs, final expense insurance and other sources.

If you are eligible to deduct funeral expenses on your estate’s tax returns, note that not all funeral expenses are tax-deductible. The following expenses qualify for a tax deduction for eligible estates, as long as they are reasonable in nature:

  • Embalming or cremation
  • Casket or urn
  • Burial plot and burial (internment)
  • Green burial services
  • A tombstone, gravestone, or other grave marker
  • Funeral home facility costs and director fees
  • Funeral service arrangement costs, including floral and catering services
  • Transportation costs for the deceased and immediate family members
  • Religious leader service fees; and
  • Catering food at the reception.

Keep a copy of receipts for all expenses. This makes it easier to keep track of the total funeral cost.  You’ll also need them in the event of an audit.

Non-deductible funeral expenses include travel expenses for funeral guests and any costs paid by a burial or final expense insurance policy or any other life insurance policy.

Reference: MSN Oct. 6, 2022) “10 Tax-Deductible Funeral Service Costs”


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What Does New Research Tell Us About Muhammad Ali’s Parkinson’s Disease?

“Based on extensive long-term clinical and cinematic follow-up, it is clear that Muhammad Ali had young-onset tremor-dominant idiopathic Parkinson’s disease,” reported Michael Okun, MD, of the University of Florida in Gainesville and co-authors of new research.

MedPage Today’s recent article entitled “New Evidence Sheds Light on Muhammad Ali’s Parkinson’s Disease” reports that the pattern of Ali’s symptoms showed his disease was prolonged, progressiv and responsive to dopamine, the group wrote in a viewpoint published in JAMA Neurology.

“This viewpoint represents the first time that a group of physicians who continuously evaluated him over the years has, with permission from the family, spoken on the record,” Okun told MedPage Today. “Ali is a vitally important part of our history and it is important we accurately document his Parkinson’s disease symptoms and his disease course.”

“There remains a substantial amount of uncertainty in the degree to which Parkinson’s disease versus repeated hits to the head contributed to Muhammad Ali’s progressive tremor and cognitive impairment,” he said.

“Thirty-plus years of a progressive, asymmetric, dopamine-responsive resting tremor, accompanied by other classical features, provides strong evidence for a diagnosis of idiopathic Parkinson’s disease in Ali,” Okun noted. “Post-traumatic syndromes with tremor have a different presentation.”

Ali’s symptoms were clear in a video that showed him lighting the 1996 Olympic torch, Okun and co-authors say. He manifested a classic Parkinson’s disease left-arm rest tremor, which was suppressed as he raised his left hand to steady his right arm in order to light the torch.

From 1995 until his death in 2016, the boxer received his neurological care largely at Emory University in Atlanta. Okun and co-authors presented information from 20 years of clinical reports when Ali had in-person visits, testing, and hospitalizations at Emory.

“Muhammad Ali’s disease course, from his late 30s until his death at age 74 years, was chronic and progressive,” they wrote. “He manifested fatigue, hypophonia, bradykinesia and a masked face, as well as many of the visible motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. He was clearly responsive to levodopa, as documented in his several examinations in the early 1980s, a feature usually not present following traumatic brain injury.”

Ali’s fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) PET scan at Emory in 1997 showed progressive bilateral striatal hyperactivity, the researchers said. A fluorodopa F 18 PET scan in 1998 showed classic low striatal uptake. “Like the FDG PET, this study was consistent with Parkinson’s disease and not traumatic brain injury,” the authors wrote.

Dopamine transporter scanning to differentiate Parkinsonism from essential tremor was not available at the time. MRI revealed brainstem atrophy, third ventricular enlargement and a cavum septum pellucidum.

“Over the course of many years, Ali’s face became gradually more masked, his speech more hypophonic, and he developed the classic late-stage symptoms of idiopathic Parkinson’s disease, including a stooped posture, shuffling steps, postural instability and falling,” Okun and colleagues observed.

Polysomnography confirmed Ali had rapid-eye movement sleep behavioral disorder. His weight slowly declined. Serial neuropsychological testing showed progressive frontal and memory impairments.

“He had mild occasional depression,” the physicians wrote. “Ali remained generally positive and embraced his diagnosis, despite the realization it was chronic and progressive.”

Ali died of sepsis on June 3, 2016. While his medical team discussed autopsy with him, he declined for religious reasons.

“Given the lack of a final tissue diagnosis, we rely on the detailed clinical follow-up and serial PET imaging studies to understand Ali’s medical condition. A 34-year chronic progressive presentation with asymmetric levodopa-responsive resting tremor, accompanied by other classical features, provides strong evidence for a diagnosis of idiopathic Parkinson disease,” Okun and colleagues stated.

“In contrast, post-traumatic tremor is commonly transitory, and manifests as a postural and/or kinetic tremor,” they continued. “In addition, post-traumatic tremor is not accompanied by progressive cogwheel rigidity and bradykinesia, both observed in Ali.”

Head trauma is a known risk factor for later onset of Parkinson’s disease, the authors explained. “However, a causative association in the Ali case cannot be determined.”

Reference: MedPage Today (Oct. 24, 2022) “New Evidence Sheds Light on Muhammad Ali’s Parkinson’s Disease”


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Bargain Sale – There are Ways to Transfer Home to Your Children

Bargain Sale – Kiplinger’s recent article entitled “2 Clever Ways to Gift Your Home to Your Kids” explains that the most common way to transfer a property is for the children to inherit it when the parent passes away. An outright gift of the home to their child may mean higher property taxes in states that treat the gift as a sale. It’s also possible to finance the child’s purchase of the home or sell the property at a discount, known as a bargain sale.

These last two options might appear to be good solutions because many adult children struggle to buy a home at today’s soaring prices. However, crunch the numbers first.

If you sell your home to your child for less than what it’s worth, the IRS considers the difference between the fair market value and the sale price a gift. Therefor., if you sell a $1 million house to your child for $600,000, that $400,000 discount is deemed a gift. You won’t owe federal gift tax on the $400,000 unless your total lifetime gifts exceed the federal estate and gift tax exemption of $12.06 million in 2022, However, you must still file a federal gift tax return on IRS Form 709.

Using the same example, let’s look at the federal income tax consequences. If the parents are married, bought the home years ago and have a $200,000 tax basis in it, when they sell the house at a bargain price to the child, the tax basis gets split proportionately. Here, 40% of the basis ($80,000) is allocated to the gift and 60% ($120,000) to the sale. To determine the gain or loss from the sale, the sale-allocated tax basis is subtracted from the sale proceeds.

In our illustration, the parent’s $480,000 gain ($600,000 minus $120,000) is non-taxable because of the home sale exclusion. Homeowners who owned and used their principal residence for at least two of the five years before the sale can exclude up to $250,000 of the gain ($500,000 if married) from their income.

The child isn’t taxed on the gift portion. However, unlike inherited property, gifted property doesn’t get a stepped-up tax basis. In a bargain sale, the child gets a lower tax basis in the home, in this case $680,000 ($600,000 plus $80,000). If the child were to buy the home at its full $1 million value, the child’s tax basis would be $1 million.

Another option is to combine your bargain sale with a loan to your child, by issuing an installment note for the sale portion. This helps a child who can’t otherwise get third-party financing and allows the parents to charge lower interest rates than a lender, while generating some monthly income.

Be sure that the note is written, signed by the parents and child, includes the amounts and dates of monthly payments along with a maturity date and charges an interest rate that equals or exceeds the IRS’s set interest rate for the month in which the loan is made. Go through the legal steps of securing the note with the home, so your child can deduct interest payments made to you on Schedule A of Form 1040. You’ll have to pay tax on the interest income you receive from your child.

You can also make annual gifts by taking advantage of your annual $16,000 per person gift tax exclusion. If you do this, keep the gifts to your child separate from the note payments you get. With the annual per-person limit, you won’t have to file a gift tax return for these gifts.

Reference: Kiplinger (Dec. 23, 2021) “2 Clever Ways to Gift Your Home to Your Kids”


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IRS Announces New Lifetime and Gift Tax Exemptions

Federal Tax Exemption – There’s big news from the IRS for people who use gifting as part of their estate planning. The annual exclusion increased from $16,000 in 2022 to $17,000 in gifts in 2023, without needing to use up lifetime gift and estate tax exclusion or paying a gift tax. The article “Lifetime Estate and Gift Tax Exemption Will Hit $12.92 Million in 2023” from Forbes provides details.

The “unified credit,” aka the lifetime estate and gift federal tax exemption, will also jump to $12.92 million in 2023, up from $12.06 million in 2022. Couples may combine their exemption, so a wealthy couple making gifts in 2023 can pass along $25.84 million.

Here is another way to look at what this change means. If you’ve already maxed out on non-taxable gifts, you can give an extra $1.72 million to heirs in 2023, in addition to making $34,000 per couple ($17,000 x two) in annual gifts to every child, grandchild, siblings, niece or nephew or anyone you’re feeling generous towards.

In addition to making these generous $17,000 gifts, you can also pay an unlimited amount towards someone else’s tuition or medical expenses without any impact to your lifetime exemption. An important detail: the payments must be made directly to the school or the medical provider.

The estate tax is still 40%, but the $12.92 million per-person lifetime exemption is just one of many strategies used to transfer wealth. Others include the use of GRATs and other trusts to leverage the exemption. The bear market provides numerous planning opportunities.

Keep in mind the $12.92 million Federal Tax Exemption is not forever. Under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the lifetime exemption will sunset in the start of 2026, and the decrease will be more than half its current value.

Whether the estate and gift tax exemption will actually drop so dramatically depends on the politics of Congress and the White House and the budget and deficit pressures of the year. An early version of the Build Back Better proposal would have cut the exemption in half but did not win enough votes to pass.

Another reason to make these lifetime gifts sooner rather than later? As of 2022, seventeen states and the District of Columbia still have state estate taxes and/or inheritance taxes. For wealthy families, these exemptions can make a big difference in estate tax liabilities.

Reference: Forbes (Oct. 18, 2022) “Lifetime Estate and Gift Tax Exemption Will Hit $12.92 Million in 2023”


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Is Spouse Automatically Your Beneficiary?

People make a grave error when they don’t have a will because they think their surviving spouse will automatically inherit all of their worldly goods. The laws of intestacy work differently, as explained in a recent article “Estate Planning: The spouse doesn’t always get everything” from

The surviving spouse rarely receives everything under the intestate laws. This often comes as a surprise to people. The usual response is “Oh, that can’t be right.” Oh, but it is!

In many states, one half of the decedent’s probate assets are distributed to the spouse and the other half are distributed to the decedent’s child or children.

If it’s a second or third marriage and the couple didn’t have children of their own, the surviving spouse ends up with even less.

Assets are divided between the spouse and biological children.

Bear in mind the intestate laws only apply to probate assets. Assets owned jointly will go to the other joint owner, as well as assets listing the surviving spouse as the beneficiary.

If you’d prefer to leave more to your spouse, you need a will. Intestacy literally translates to dying without a will. If you have a will and then die, you haven’t died intestate, and the provisions don’t apply.

However, there’s more to consider. Depending on your state’s laws, if you die and there are no living children, the spouse still doesn’t necessarily inherit everything. If your parents are living, they are also entitled to a portion of the estate.

This is another reason why it’s so important to have a complete estate plan, including a last will and testament, powers of attorney and health care power of attorney.

Trusts are used to control how assets are distributed, either during life or upon death. You can create a trust to be used by your spouse by creating the trust, funding it with assets and setting the terms of the distribution.

Each state has its own laws of intestacy, so an estate planning attorney who practices in your state needs to be contacted to determine what would happen to your spouse if you didn’t have a will. Your best recommendation is to meet with an experienced estate planning attorney and create a plan to protect your spouse and your children

Reference: (Oct. 23, 2022) “Estate Planning: The spouse doesn’t always get everything”


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