Consumer Price Index – Portland: up 3.1% 1/2011 to 1/2012

From: http://www.bls.gov/ro9/cpiport.htm

Area prices up 1.3 percent over the past six months, up 3.1 percent from a year ago

Prices in the greater Portland area, as measured by the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U), advanced 1.3 percent in the second half of 2011, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Regional Commissioner Richard J. Holden noted the latest six-month increase was influenced by higher prices for shelter and food. (Data in this report are not seasonally adjusted. Accordingly, month-to-month changes may reflect seasonal influences.)

Over the past 12 months, the CPI-U rose 3.1 percent.  Energy prices jumped 16.9 percent, mainly due to an increase in the price of gasoline. The index for all items less food and energy increased 1.8 percent over the year.

FinCEN Assesses Civil Money Penalty Against Maine-Based Money Transmitter

FinCEN has levied a civil money penalty against Sarith Meas for violation of the registration and anti-money laundering requirements of the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and associated regulations issued pursuant to the BSA. Meas was fined $12,500 for the violations.

Full Settlement Agreement. Excerpts and summary below:

Meas acted as an independent money transmitter located in Maine operating out of Meas’s residence. Meas executed funds transfers for customers located in the United Stated. In a typical transaction, a customer provided Meas with cash, checks, or money orders, along with instructions to transmit funds to a specified beneficiary, and Meas deposited those funds into her U.S. deposit accounts. Once the funds cleared, Meas instructed U.S. financial institutions to wire transfer funds to designated financial institutions in Cambodia (a jurisdiction classified by the United States Department of State as suffering from money laundering deficiencies), where the funds were retrieved by Meas’ affiliate(s) and made physically available to beneficiaries in the designated currency.

Meas operated as an independent money transmitter by engaging as a business in the transfer of funds. She was required under the BSA to register as an MSB with FinCEN and implement a written anti-money laundering program. FinCEN determined that Meas was an unregistered money transmitter from January 2006 through October 2010, in violation of BSA registration requirements for money transmitters.

After considering the seriousness of the violations and the financial resources available to Meas, FinCEN has determined that the appropriate penalty in this matter is $12,500.

FinCEN Launches new MSB Registration Website

FinCEN has launched a new Money Services Business (MSB) registration website. The website is intended to help improve the availability of MSB registration information. The website will replace the MSB Registration lists that were previously available.
As part of FinCEN’s paperless efforts, FinCEN will no longer send acknowledgement letters to MSBs. MSB registration information will be available approximately two weeks after the MSB electronically files Form 107. If the MSB files the paper form, it will take 60 days before the registration is processed and posted on the MSB Registration Website.

Income Cap Trust in Oregon

The sole purpose of an Income Cap Trust is to qualify an individual for Medicaid assistance. When an elder has fixed income over a certain limit (in 2011 it is $2,022 a month gross income), the elder will be unable to qualify for Medicaid assistance. When the current average cost of assisted care is over $5,000 a month, the Medicaid limit would make it impossible for many elders to get assistance. When the gap between the Medicaid limit and the cost of care is so wide, many elders would be without a place to live. This is where an Income Cap Trust comes in.

The elder can create an Income Cap Trust to receive all of the elder’s fixed income. The trustee for the Trust would then use the income to pay the elder’s monthly expenses as required by Medicaid law. Such expenses include: personal needs allowance and maintenance; trust administrative costs; community spouse allowance; health insurance premiums; burial plans; incurred medical expenses; other reserves; and patient liability to care facility.

There are three parties to the Income Cap Trust – the grantor who signs the trust, the beneficiary who benefits from the trust, and the trustee who administers the trust. Usually the grantor and beneficiary are the same person. The beneficiary cannot be the trustee and usually the trustee is a family member or friend of the beneficiary.

To establish the Income Cap Trust, the legal document creating the trust is drafted by an elder law or estate planning attorney. The document is executed and the trustee deposits the income into a new bank account established by the trustee in the name of the Income Cap Trust. The trustee then pays expenses according to the budget prepared by the attorney and approved by the Medicaid case worker.

After the elder passes, any remaining funds in the trust will go to the state. Generally, however, there will be no funds remaining in the trust when the elder passes away.

Special Needs Trusts

A special needs trust holds assets, and possibly income, for the beneficiary’s quality of life expenses. The trust can be established by the beneficiary or by a third party, such as a relative. A third party trust can help to increase a beneficiary’s quality of life without disqualifying the beneficiary for Medicaid. The income from a special needs trust can be used for supplemental needs that include costs of hobbies, vacation trips, recreational activities and socialization programs, as well as augmenting training in vocational and independent living skills.

If the beneficiary is under the age of 65, the beneficiary can establish the special needs trust with their own funds and assets. If the beneficiary is 65 or older, the beneficiary cannot use their own assets and funds to establish the trust.

Special needs trusts are governed by strict rules that require careful planning and drafting by an attorney.

Family and friends can set up a special needs trust for loved ones receiving Medicaid. These trusts can be set up during the donor’s lifetime or at the donor’s death.

The beneficiary of a special needs trust cannot also be the trustee of the trust. A trusted individual or a professional trustee will need to be appointed as trustee. The trustee has a fiduciary duty to the beneficiary to manage the trust assets in a prudent manner for the benefit of the beneficiary. A common solution to the trustee liability problem is to have the trust administered and managed by a non-profit pooled trust.

FREE Nonprofit Company Information

The Nonprofit Association of Oregon

This association is a statewide network that provides resources to nonprofit organizations.  They provide training, classes, and other resources.

Web Site:  http://www.nonprofitoregon.org/

They also publish a great handbook titled The Oregon Nonprofit Corporation Handbook.  This is highly recommended for all non-profit clients.

Print copies may be available at:

5100 SW Macadam Avenue, Suite 360
Portland, Oregon 97239
P: 503-239-4001

 Please call to confirm pricing and that they have copies available.

Oregon Secretary of State

The forms for incorporating your nonprofit can be found at:

http://www.filinginoregon.com/pages/forms/business/dnc.html

The Secretary of State also has a Resource Page for nonprofits:

http://www.filinginoregon.com/pages/business_registry/nonprofit.html

Oregon Real Property Transfer on Death Act

The Oregon legislature has passed the Real Property Transfer on Death Act (SB 815), which is effective January 1, 2012. The Act is based on the Uniform Real Property Transfer on Death Act.

The purpose of the act is to provide a reliable and inexpensive probate-avoidance tool to allow an individual to execute and record a Transfer-on-Death Deed. When the owner dies, the act provides for the transfer of title to pass to the designated beneficiary. Beneficiaries must be specifically named and a class or group of beneficiaries cannot be designated as beneficiaries (such as “all my living children” etc.).

A Transfer-on-Death Deed is revocable at any time prior to the owner’s death and the owner retains exclusive control, ownership, and interest in the real estate up until the owner’s death. A designated beneficiary obtains no rights or ownership in the real estate prior to the death of the owner.

Upon the death of the owner, the real estate is transferred equally to the beneficiaries. The real estate property is transferred subject to all encumbrances, liens, and restrictions.

As with a will, the Owner must have “capacity” to execute a Transfer-on-Death Deed.

One of the potential problems created by Transfer-on-Death Deed is that it is likely that “due-on-sale” clauses found in mortgages and other loan documents will be triggered upon the death of the owner when title transfers to the beneficiaries. Lenders may not be willing to waive the due-on-sale provision resulting in the beneficiaries being forced to sell or refinance the property to pay off the debt or risk seeing the real estate going through a foreclosure sale.

Another issue to keep in mind is that there is an 18-month cloud on title following the death of the owner. Creditors and other claimants have 18 months to set aside the Transfer-on-Death Deed. If the owner’s estate has insufficient funds to pay off claims, those claimants and creditors can recover against the real estate. Other claimants can set aside the Transfer-on-Death Deed on the grounds of capacity, fraud, or undue influence. For these reasons, it may be very difficult for beneficiaries to sell the property during the 18 months following the owner’s death.

FinCEN Assesses Civil Money Penalty Against Tribal Casino

Click Here For Full News Release.

FinCEN assessed a $250,000 civil penalty against Jackpot Junction Casino Hotel of Morton, Minnesota. The casino violated Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) requirements for casinos when it failed to implement internal controls for gathering and recording information required by the BSA as well as failed to implement adequate training for employees.

The Casino also failed to develop and implement effective procedures for the preparation, review and filing of BSA reports, resulting in multiple failures to timely and accurately file Currency Transaction Report by Casino forms (CTRCs) and Suspicious Activity Report by Casino forms (SARCs).

FinCEN Assesses Civil Money Penalty Against Unregistered Money Transmitter

Full News Release

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) assessed civil penalties totaling $40,000 against two brothers for non-compliance with Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) money transmitter registration requirements. The brothers, doing business as Halal Depot of Wyoming, Michigan operated a money transmission business at their grocery store by sending funds on behalf of their customers to beneficiaries in Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Uganda, Ethiopia, Qatar, Europe and the United Arab Emirates. At no time did the Sufi brothers register with FinCEN as a money services business (MSB) as required by the BSA.