Category Archives: Asset Protection

SCAM ALERT: Phone Scam Alleging Association with USDA Farm Service Agency

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It has been brought to the attention of USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) that a phone scam is being perpetrated on FSA customers.  

The caller, who identifies themselves as a Farm Loan Services representative out of Washington, D.C. states that FSA “owes” you disaster assistance funds and proceeds to request your checking account information or requests a credit card number alleging that funds will be credited to these accounts.

SHOULD YOU RECEIVE A SIMILAR CALL, DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, PROVIDE PERSONAL OR FINANCIAL INFORMATION TO THE CALLER. 

Leaving Money to Minors

By Attorney Dan Vu

If you are a parent or a grandparent of a minor, and you wish to leave money to the minor, there are a few things you need to consider. First, a minor cannot manage their own inheritance. They will need a custodian or guardian appointed. If you have not chosen one, when the time comes, the courts will choose one for you. But like anything that goes through the court system, there are problems: you will likely end up paying a significant amount of attorney's fees, and of course, the court-appointed guardian could end up being someone you would never have chosen. So if you wish to leave something to a minor, make sure you appoint the custodian that will manage the inheritance until the minor is of age.

Ohio has adopted the Uniform Transfer to Minors Act (UTMA). This allows you to easily name a custodian to manage, lets say, the bank CD you plan on leaving to the minor child. You will simply have to notify your bank in advance that the CD, upon your death, should be payable to “John Smith, custodian for Jane Smith.”

However, in many cases we encourage our clients to take it one step further and not rely solely on the Uniform Transfer to Minors Act. One reason is that the law only applies to minors until they are reach age 21. That means at age 21 the child now has full access to the account – what might they do with the money? How about going directly to the nearest dealership with the fastest, most expensive cars. The State may believe that a 21 year old can make sound financial decisions, but many would agree that most 21 year olds do not!

Screen Shot 2014-05-27 at 1.58.58 PMSo instead of relying on the Uniform Transfer to Minors Act, we often recommend that you use a trust. You can create a trust in which you not only name the trustee but also how that money may be used when they get full access to their inheritance. For example, your trust could state that John Smith shall be trustee for the benefit of Jane Smith, until Jane reaches the age of 25 (or age 30 or whatever age you think is appropriate), and furthermore, before that age, the trustee shall only use the funds for Jane Smith's health and education. You can also build additional benefits into the trust by making sure that the inheritance you leave is protected from future creditors, bankruptcy, and divorce.

If you plan on leaving an inheritance to minors, let us know, we may be able to suggest a better way.

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DISCLAIMER – Every case is different because every case is different. This blog does not give legal advice. This blog does not create an attorney client relationship. You are not permitted to rely on anything in this blog for any reason. This blog is an entirely personal endeavor. Every person's situation is different and requires an attorney to review the situation personally with you.
No attorney-client relationship is created by this site.
The use of the Internet, this blog or email for communication with this firm or any individual member of this firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Before we represent any client, the client and the attorney will sign a written retainer agreement. If you do not have a written, signed retainer agreement with us, we are not representing you and will not be taking any action on your behalf.

What happens to you if something happens to your attorney?

By Kathy Cooper

How many attorneys work in your attorney's law firm?

Screen Shot 2014-05-13 at 12.35.40 PMWe see many clients who are left in the lurch when their attorney gets out of the law business due to death, disability or retirement. Your attorney may have a plan to sell their business to another attorney. How do you know if you will click with this new attorney? Do they have the experience you expect? Worse yet, your attorney may have no plan at all. Where does that leave you?

At Cooper, Adel & Associates, we have had a succession plan for several years. We believe that it is your right to have the peace of mind that comes with a firm that has a plan to support you in the future. We know – and you have the opportunity to know – who you will be dealing with in the future. You can meet them now – it won't be a surprise if something happens to Thom or Mitch so that they are unable to continue working on your case.

So, don't worry, we won't leave you in the lurch. We have a plan to be here for your future.

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DISCLAIMER – Every case is different because every case is different. This blog does not give legal advice. This blog does not create an attorney client relationship. You are not permitted to rely on anything in this blog for any reason. This blog is an entirely personal endeavor. Every person's situation is different and requires an attorney to review the situation personally with you.
No attorney-client relationship is created by this site.
The use of the Internet, this blog or email for communication with this firm or any individual member of this firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Before we represent any client, the client and the attorney will sign a written retainer agreement. If you do not have a written, signed retainer agreement with us, we are not representing you and will not be taking any action on your behalf.

What is a TOD deed?

By Tricia Applegate

Using a transfer-on-death deed is a lot like using a payable-on-death (POD) designation for a bank account. You name one or more beneficiaries now, who then inherit the property at your death without the need for probate court proceedings.

To name a beneficiary, you use a special kind of deed, one that's tailored to the law of your state. The deed looks pretty much like any other real estate deed; it names the current owner, describes the property exactly, and names the person the property will be transferred to at your death. But a TOD deed contains an additional statement, making it clear that the deed does not take effect until the current owner's death.

The beneficiary you name to inherit the property doesn't have any legal right to it until your death—or, if you own the property with your spouse or someone else, until the last surviving owner dies. The beneficiary doesn't have to sign, acknowledge, or even be told about the deed.

Screen Shot 2014-05-13 at 12.30.44 PMIn the deed, you can also name an contingent beneficiary who will inherit the real estate if your first choice isn't alive at your death. If you don't name an alternate, and your first choice doesn't survive you, state law determines who will inherit the property – usually this requires a probate proceeding.

After you've signed the deed, you must record it with the local county land records office before your death. Otherwise, it won't be valid.

You keep complete ownership of and control over the property while you're alive. You pay the taxes on it, and it's not protected from your creditors. You can sell it, give it away, or mortgage it. Because the TOD deed does not make a gift of the property, there's no need to concern yourself with federal gift tax.

Later, if you change your mind about who you want to inherit the property, you are not locked in. You can revoke the TOD deed or simply record another TOD deed leaving the property to someone else.

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DISCLAIMER – Every case is different because every case is different. This blog does not give legal advice. This blog does not create an attorney client relationship. You are not permitted to rely on anything in this blog for any reason. This blog is an entirely personal endeavor. Every person's situation is different and requires an attorney to review the situation personally with you.
No attorney-client relationship is created by this site.
The use of the Internet, this blog or email for communication with this firm or any individual member of this firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Before we represent any client, the client and the attorney will sign a written retainer agreement. If you do not have a written, signed retainer agreement with us, we are not representing you and will not be taking any action on your behalf.

Should I deed my property to my kids?

The Most Common Do-It-Yourself Estate Planning Mistake

By Attorney Ted Brown

Screen Shot 2014-03-11 at 12.17.42 PMAnswer: No. Not unless you (and your children) understand the risks and drawbacks.

In an effort to protect their real estate from nursing home or from estate taxes, many people consider deeding their real estate to their children. This is a very risky strategy for a variety of reasons.

Taxes – By transferring real estate to a child while you are still alive can create a future tax time-bomb for that child.

A gift of property during the owner's lifetime results in what is known as a carry-over in basis. Basis is the IRS term for the value of the property when you received it, being either the price you paid for it or the value it was worth when you inherited it. Basis is important when the property is sold. The sale price, minus your basis, equals your capital gain which is taxable at roughly 29% between Federal and State taxes.

For example, if you buy a piece of land for $100,000 and you sell it for $225,000, you have a capital gain of $125,000.

So if you have a piece of property that was worth $150,000 when you bought it and now it is worth $400,000, you have a lot of taxable appreciation. If you deed that property to a child, you pass on that taxable appreciation. Moreover, if the child holds onto the property for another 20 years and the value increases to $750,000 then they will owe tax on a $600,000 gain when they sell. This could result in $174,000 being lost to taxes.

Liability - if the property is owned by someone else, it is subject to the liabilities of that person.

Suppose you gift property to a child. Your child now owns that property. It is considered to be their personal asset, even if you continue to live there. If that child were to get a divorce, then that property is up for grabs along with all of their other assets.

What may be even worse is if that child gets sued, even for something that is no fault of their own, the entire property could be lost to pay their liabilities or judgement creditors, potentially leaving you without a place to live.

It is very important to understand the many potential consequences of gifting any assets, particularly real estate, before embarking on such a plan. You should seek the assistance of Elder Law Attorney to discuss the best strategies for protecting assets before taking on the challenge yourself.  

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DISCLAIMER – Every case is different because every case is different. This blog does not give legal advice. This blog does not create an attorney client relationship. You are not permitted to rely on anything in this blog for any reason. This blog is an entirely personal endeavor. Every person's situation is different and requires an attorney to review the situation personally with you.
No attorney-client relationship is created by this site.
The use of the Internet, this blog or email for communication with this firm or any individual member of this firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Before we represent any client, the client and the attorney will sign a written retainer agreement. If you do not have a written, signed retainer agreement with us, we are not representing you and will not be taking any action on your behalf.

Seniors Beware- Consumer Alert- Potential Scams

By Roy Whited

Screen Shot 2013-07-15 at 10.46.22 AMThis information was taken in part from a recent newsletter from the Ohio Department of Insurance. Columbus- Ohio Lieutenant Governor and Insurance Director Mary Taylor have issued a consumer alert after reports have surfaced that telephone con artists are using the confusion surrounding the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to attempt to steal Ohioans personal information. The scammers are claiming to be representatives of a health insurance exchange, Medicare, or a “government program”.

Taylor said, “ No one from an official government program should be calling you requesting personal information. If you are contacted by a suspicious caller, do not provide your personal information, including your Medicare, Social Security and bank account numbers.”

Scammers are:

  • Claiming to be authorized to help people navigate the health insurance exchange created under ACA and they need to verify the person’s name, address, and social security number.
  • Claiming to be a Medicare representative and that because of the ACA the person’s information needs to be verified in order to receive a new Medicare card.
  • Claiming they need the person’s Medicare number to provide them an updated medical emergency alert device. One of the brand names mentioned is Lifeline.

Avoid Becoming a Victim:

  • Medicare or government program representatives do not make house calls or solicit by telephone.
  • Protect your personal information. Do not give out your Medicare, Social Security, or bank account numbers.

Contact the Ohio Department of Insurance:

  • If you are contacted by a suspicious caller seeking your personal information, call the Department’s fraud hotline at 1-800-686-1527. You can also report it at www.insurance.ohio.gov

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DISCLAIMER – Every case is different because every case is different. This blog does not give legal advice. This blog does not create an attorney client relationship. You are not permitted to rely on anything in this blog for any reason. This blog is an entirely personal endeavor. Every person’s situation is different and requires an attorney to review the situation personally with you.
No attorney-client relationship is created by this site.

The use of the Internet, this blog or email for communication with this firm or any individual member of this firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Before we represent any client, the client and the attorney will sign a written retainer agreement.
If you do not have a written, signed retainer agreement with us, we are not representing you and will not be taking any action on your behalf.

 

Cautions for Family Caregivers

By: Attorney Nathan Simpson

Screen Shot 2013-07-15 at 10.18.51 AMAs seniors need more care, many are choosing to move in with their adult children in order to avoid a Nursing Home stay. This is beneficial for both comfort and financial reasons. Because of the care provided by the adult children, it is common to see that the senior wants to help their child out with bills, food expenses, or even financial compensation for the time and care they provide.

While this arrangement can be beneficial for everyone involved, it can raise issues with regard to eligibility for long-term care benefits. If the proper procedures are not followed, these payments may cause the State to refuse coverage for Nursing Home bills that would otherwise be covered. Handling these payments incorrectly may also interfere with the ability of a Veteran to receive benefits they may be entitled to. Also, many people do not realize that there may be tax consequences for these payments.

If you or a family member wish to set up a family caregiver arrangement, please contact Cooper, Adel & Associates to set up an appointment with an Elder Law Attorney.

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DISCLAIMER – Every case is different because every case is different. This blog does not give legal advice. This blog does not create an attorney client relationship. You are not permitted to rely on anything in this blog for any reason. This blog is an entirely personal endeavor. Every person’s situation is different and requires an attorney to review the situation personally with you.
No attorney-client relationship is created by this site.

The use of the Internet, this blog or email for communication with this firm or any individual member of this firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Before we represent any client, the client and the attorney will sign a written retainer agreement.
If you do not have a written, signed retainer agreement with us, we are not representing you and will not be taking any action on your behalf.

 

Four Threats to your Retirement Income?

By Roy Whited

Screen Shot 2013-05-29 at 12.08.24 PMThe following came in part from information posted on Yahoo Finance.

Just Explain It”, April 18, 2013. What four events are most likely to drain your retirement savings?

#1 Medical expenses. These shouldn’t be unexpected, but they’re probably the number one threat to a retiree’s financial security. Most people don’t plan adequately for this. And a lot of retirees don’t understand that Medicare doesn’t pay for costs related to a long-term stay in a nursing home. With the cost of a nursing home stay reaching to $70,000 – $100,000 a year, this can quickly deplete the retirement nest egg for a lot of retirees.

Some financial planners and insurance professionals suggest that retirees buy long-term care health insurance to protect their assets. While this type of insurance can be a good idea, many retirees can’t afford the cost of the insurance and others have health problems which limits their ability to qualify for the insurance.

#2. Unexpected travel cost. For some in their golden years, surprise travel costs can take a chunk out of their savings. One-time events, like a graduation or a wedding are unplanned expenses that sneak up on retirees. Caring for an out-of-state family member or friend can also require taking money out of savings.

#3. Taxes. Sudden take hikes can also cause unwanted stress on a retiree’s finances. Tax increases this year will affect households at different income levels. Plus the increased cost of property taxes can also be an additional burden.

#4. Maintenance and repairs. Replacing a old or damaged roof, a car, or a home appliance can be a drain on the retirees savings. Unanticipated expenses like these– which are almost impossible to forecast or even avoid– tend to add up over the years.

Experts suggest creating a rainy day fund for unexpected bills. For example create a separate savings account and contribute to it on a regular basis.

Special note. Retirees should remember that these rainy day funds are usually not protected from the cost of long-term care expenses. However, these funds can be arranged in a way that they are protected from being lost to the cost of long term care. For more information on how to protect your assets, call the Cooper, Adel & Associates law firm at 1-800-798-5297 for a free 1 hour consultation.

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Contact us for a free consultation.

DISCLAIMER – Every case is different because every case is different. This blog does not give legal advice. This blog does not create an attorney client relationship. You are not permitted to rely on anything in this blog for any reason. This blog is an entirely personal endeavor. Every person’s situation is different and requires an attorney to review the situation personally with you.
No attorney-client relationship is created by this site.

The use of the Internet, this blog or email for communication with this firm or any individual member of this firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Before we represent any client, the client and the attorney will sign a written retainer agreement.
If you do not have a written, signed retainer agreement with us, we are not representing you and will not be taking any action on your behalf.

 

It’s Your Funeral: The costs and consequences of funeral-related expenses and tips to protect your family at your death

By Mitch Adel

Screen Shot 2013-04-22 at 1.52.19 PMOne of the tragic complications that often arise when a loved one passes away is that families can be faced with a wide range of surprisingly costly short-term expenses at a time when they are least equipped (emotionally or financially) to handle them. The average cost of a funeral has increased to nearly $9,000 in today’s market, and it is quite common for the price tag to exceed $10,000.

The need for immediate cash to cover these unwelcome but necessary funeral-related expenses is prompting many families and individuals to consider pre-planning and pre-paying for funerals or purchasing pre-need insurance policies. While these options are increasingly popular, seniors should review their options within the context of a comprehensive estate plan. Of course, it is prudent to discuss these options with family members. Should you plan now or can you wait until you are “older”? Think about this: if you become incompetent or die unexpectedly, you will not be able to make your wishes known to those you love.

Plan ahead

Funeral planning should be part of a comprehensive estate plan. Elder law attorneys are experienced at counseling clients on such

matters and can help you clearly define how you want to carry out your last wishes. Your attorney may suggest that you write down your wishes in a legal document called a testamentum mortis that clearly states, for instance, whether you will be buried or cremat- ed, whether you want flowers or would prefer contributions to a charity, whether you want calling hours or a small, private service. If your family, like many, is reluctant to discuss your funeral plan, it can make it more difficult for them at your death.The written plan makes sure that your family knows what is important to you. It is your preferences in writing.

Once you’ve established your preferred funeral arrangements, it’s time to look at how to pay for your funeral options. You will need to evaluate how much you are willing to spend to fulfill your wishes. From there, your estate planning team can recommend solutions that work well with your overall plan. This may include writing a burial contract, creating a dedicated savings account or designating part of an existing trust to cover anticipated costs. Beyond these initial steps, there are a multitude of choices available, including funeral insurance that is typically offered by an insurance company and prepayment options offered by funeral homes, but not all are created equal. Funeral insurance plans typically allow your family the flexibility to determine which funeral home makes sense at the time of your death, rather than locking you in to a specific home.

Do your homework

Your estate planning team should do the basic research for you so that you have a range of options, but there are still important questions to ask before settling on a particular path or product.

If a pre-paid funeral plan is recommended, make sure you understand the risks. While these plans are increasingly popular, on occasion they can lead to an unfortunate surprise if a funeral home is mismanaged, goes out of business, consolidates with a national brand or enters into bankruptcy.While the vast majority of funeral

home operators are professional and trustworthy, your options can be limited in these cases. You should also consider what happens if you move out of state for warmer weather or to live with a child.What happens to the money you invested with a specific funeral home?

If funeral insurance is recommended, you should make sure you understand what happens at your death. What decisions will your family still have to make? How will your family get the money to the funeral home they choose? Are there any delays or other complica- tions they must face?

The bottom line is that planning to help your family deal with funeral expenses is a critical piece of a comprehensive estate plan. Protectingyourfamilyinaresponsiblewayfromcostlyfuneral-related expenses involves working closely with a qualified team of estate and

financial experts.Your team should understand your financial circum- stances and priorities so that they can advise you as to the pros and cons of the available plans.

However the finances are handled, make as many decisions as possible up-front to ease the burden on your family.

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DISCLAIMER – Every case is different because every case is different. This blog does not give legal advice. This blog does not create an attorney client relationship. You are not permitted to rely on anything in this blog for any reason. This blog is an entirely personal endeavor. Every person’s situation is different and requires an attorney to review the situation personally with you.
No attorney-client relationship is created by this site.

The use of the Internet, this blog or email for communication with this firm or any individual member of this firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Before we represent any client, the client and the attorney will sign a written retainer agreement.
If you do not have a written, signed retainer agreement with us, we are not representing you and will not be taking any action on your behalf.

 

Running Out of Money Trumps Death

By Bob Kueppers

In a recent infograph, running out of money trumps death as the top fears about getting older. When I look at my parents and grandparents, I know that this is a fear they will never experience, mostly because they knew how to save throughout their life time and didn’t wast money on a new fancy car or exotic vacations every quarter.

However, when I look at my generation it’s the exact opposite. I see a lot of my friends living pay check to pay check and trying to outdo each other with who has the most expensive car or new gadget on the market and maxing out credit cards. Before working at Cooper, Adel and Associates, I was just like my friends. Working around estate planners has made me realize that it’s never too late to start planning. While my friends are trying to outdo each other I’ll continue working on saving for my future and setting up my estate plan to make sure death will always outweigh running out of money.

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DISCLAIMER – Every case is different because every case is different. This blog does not give legal advice. This blog does not create an attorney client relationship. You are not permitted to rely on anything in this blog for any reason. This blog is an entirely personal endeavor. Every person’s situation is different and requires an attorney to review the situation personally with you.
No attorney-client relationship is created by this site.

The use of the Internet, this blog or email for communication with this firm or any individual member of this firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Before we represent any client, the client and the attorney will sign a written retainer agreement.
If you do not have a written, signed retainer agreement with us, we are not representing you and will not be taking any action on your behalf.

 



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