Category Archives: Asset Protection

Common retirement planning mistakes made by seniors

By Roy Whited

This information was taken in part from a newsletter posted by Life Health Pro in November 2012. The content reminded me of certain issues that we see our clients facing almost every day.

Thinking only in terms of “me” and not “we”. At the death of the first spouse, the surviving spouse will lose a social security benefit, see a possible reduction in a pension income, and likely an increase in their tax bracket when going from a joint return to an individual return. Eighty percent of all men die married, while 80% of all women die single. Additionally, 75% of all women living in poverty were not poor before they were widowed. Early income and retirement planning decisions should be made with the survivor benefits in mind to ensure that both husband and wife are protected.

In addition to making the correct choice for income planning it is also very important to protect other assets such as the home. The home is many times one of the larger assets owned by a couple and can be used to create additional income if needed.

Remember, not all trusts are created equal. Not all trusts are designed to protect your home. In fact most are not designed to protect your home from being lost to the cost of your poor health.

Call the Cooper and Adel law firm and take advantage of a one hour free consultation to learn about how you can protect your home and other assets. 1-800-798-5297 

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.


No Hanky Panky with Honey Boo Boo’s moola


By Meredith Gard

Reality TV stars aren't known for their scrupulous money management. But Mama June, matriarch of the clan starring in TLC's Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, is out to change that. According to People Magazine, the famous family is making approximately $20,000 an episode for the spinoff from the Toddlers and Tiaras franchise, and no one is going to to be able to accuse her of squandering it. They are still living on the income from from her husband's job as a contractor.

So where has the TLC money gone? Straight into trusts that Mama June set up for her four girls. That's right, the show isn't changing how the family lives, but changing the future for Honey Boo Boo, Pumpkin, Chubbs and Chickadee by creating trusts to hold the earnings until the girls are 21 or need the funds for their education.

The Honey Boo Boo family is just one example of how trusts can be a part of a sound money management plan that will help you prepare for, and safeguard against, the future. The experienced attorneys at Cooper, Adel & Associates can help put together a plan that protects you and your family. After all, as Mama June says, “I want my kids to look back and say, 'Mama played it smart.'”



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.


Don’t Be a Victim


By Roy Whited

The information below came in part from the Ohio Department of Insurance newsletter.
Department of Insurance Director Mary Taylor is advising Ohioans who suffered storm damage tips on how to avoid becoming a victim of contractor fraud.
Obtain a list of reputable contractors from your insurance carrier, the Better Business Bureau or a specialized consumer organization.
Contact multiple contractors and obtain more than one estimate.
Do not allow a contractor to inspect your property when you are not home.
If you give a contractor permission to inspect your property, personally watch them conduct the inspection.
Obtain, in writing, the terms and conditions of the project.
Avoid signing a contract until the document is reviewed fully and/or discuss the terms of the contract with a legal representative or a trusted adviser.
Pay the contractor by check or credit card, rather than in cash, and do not pay in full until all work has been finished.
Ohioans with insurance questions can call the Department's consumer hotline at 
1-800-686-1526.  Those who have been victimized by contractor fraud should contact the Department's fraud hotline at 1-800-686-1527.  Visit for more information.
In addition to protecting your property from the perils of mother nature you should consider making plans to protect your home and other assets from being lost to the cost of health problems.  A good place to start is to meet with a qualified elder law attorney like the staff of Cooper, Adel & Associates.  Call 1-8-00-798-5297 to schedule a free consultation to learn more.  Remember, don't lose your wealth to your poor health.

Protecting Yourself From Identity Fraud and Scams


By Dolly Wilkerson

It seems the holiday shopping season starts earlier every year. Along with it comes phone calls from charities asking for your help and your mailbox becomes full of advertisements stating you won a “prize”. Your computer e-mail suddenly becomes full of coupons for free items if you simply fill out the questionnaire. How do you know which charities are legitimate and what can you do to protect yourself from fraud and scams?

The Ohio Attorney General's office offers a free pamphlet titled “Elder Fraud”.

Listed below are some of the warning signs to watch out for:

  • You are asked to wire money to a stranger.

  • You've won a contest you've never heard of or entered.

  • You are pressured to “act now!”

  • You have to pay a fee to receive your “prize”.

  • Your personal information is requested.

  • A large company refuses to provide written information.

  • A company has no physical address, only a P.O. Box.

The Attorney General's office also offers this advise to protect yourself!

  • Research business and charities. Check with the Attorney General's office and the Better Business Bureau. Ask family and friends for recommendations or if they have ever heard of this company or charity. Never do business with a company that refuses to give you written information, a phone number or physical address.

  • Read the fine print. Read all the terms and conditions of any agreement before you sign. Review contracts with a trusted attorney or family member. If a fraudulent charge appears on your bank or credit card statement, immediately notify your bank.

  • Remember your rights. Ohio consumer law protects you from unfair, deceptive and unconscionable practices in consumer transactions. For example, advertisements must list exclusions and limitations.

  • Reconsider the purchase. Take time before you make a decision. Never give personal information to someone you don't know or trust. Don't give in to high-pressure sales tactics.

  • Report scams and unfair practices. If you have a problem with a purchase you made, notify the company in writing. Explain your complaint and give a deadline for resolution.

If you suspect a scam or cannot resolve the problem on your own. The Ohio Attorney General's Office suggest you file a complaint with them at: or call 800-282-0515.

You can also use the above information to receive a copy of the pamphlet “Elder Fraud”




The Dangers of Gifting Real Estate

By Attorney Ted Brown

In previous blogs, I have discussed ways to use an irrevocable trust to reduce estate tax liability. I have discussed a technique known as controlled gifting. One issue that arises in many of these situation is that of capital gains tax.

Capital gains tax applies to the sale of appreciated assets such as land or stocks. The tax is based on the profit that one earns on the sale. 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. This is subject to a tax rate of 15-25% plus an additional 5% of state income tax on the gain.

In an effort to get assets “out of their estate” so as to be protected from estate tax as well as a nursing home , many people consider deeding their real estate to their children. This is a very risky strategy for a variety of reasons.

A gift of property during the owner's lifetime results in a carry-over of the original sales price to the recipient. When the recipient eventually sells, they will owe capital gains tax on the difference between the sale price and the price that the original owner paid. Depending on how much the property has appreciated over time, this could result in a stifling capital gains tax problem for the recipient.

Moreover, if the property is in the hands of someone else, it is subject to the liabilities of that person. Suppose the recipient gets sued or divorced. The entire property could be lost to pay their debts leaving you without a place to live.

Finally, the Medicaid rules count a gift of any kind made within 5 years as if it is still yours. Even though you no longer own the property, you will not qualify for Medicaid until its value is “spent down.”

It is very important to understand the many potential consequences of gifting any assets, particularly real estate, before embarking on such a plan. An Elder Law Attorney can explain the many complexities of gifting and asset protection.  

Son Held Responsible for Mother’s Nursing Home Bills


By Attorney Nate Simpson

Earlier this month, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania held that in Pennsylvania, a son liable for his mother’s nursing home bills. Health Care & Retirement Corporation of America v. John Pittas, 2012 PA Super 96 (May 7, 2012). This Pennsylvania case could mark the beginning of a change in the way states cope with the rising costs of long-term healthcare.

John Pittas' mother was injured in a car accident, and following her rehabilitation, she went into a nursing home from September 2007 until March of 2008. During the time she was in the nursing home she accumulated a bill of over $90,000. Pittas' mother withdrew from the nursing home in 2008 and moved to Greece, leaving the bill unpaid.

Under Pennsylvania’s “filial responsibility” law, the nursing home brought a lawsuit against her son, even though there was a pending Medicaid application. The Superior Court held that under state law, her son was responsible for the bill based solely on the fact that she was his mother. Under Pennsylvania law, a child is responsible for their parent's medical bills if their parent is indigent, and the court determines that the child can afford to pay the bills. This law is particularly onerous since it permits a private company (e.g. nursing home), rather than a state agency, to sue the child for the debts of the parents. The law also allows the nursing home to choose which child it sues, and did not require the court to consider the pending Medicaid application.

A majority of states currently have these types of statutes on their books, but up until now they have rarely been enforced. Ohio is one of over 30 states that currently has a filial responsibility law on the books. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. 2919.21 Ohio's law places responsibility on children to provide for their parents. Ohio is different than the Pennsylvania law in that the Ohio Revised Code makes it a CRIMINAL offense to fail to provide adequate support to your parents. As budgets around the state tighten, we could see a change to follow the example set by Pennsylvania to also permit private parties, such as nursing homes and care facilities, to sue children civilly for the unpaid costs of care for their parents. Pennsylvania borders Ohio, and it is not a stretch to imagine the State government getting ideas from its neighbor. In 2005, the National Center for Policy Analysis released a paper arguing for increased enforcement of these laws in order to reduce the strain on state budgets.

So what can be done? For children, it is important to make sure that you are helping your parents plan for future long-term care expenses. There are many options available which will enable your parents to preserve a parent’s assets while also protecting their children from civil or criminal actions. This includes long-term care insurance, sound financial planning, and well as securing Medicaid benefits in a timely manner so that medical bills are not left unpaid. It is important to note that if you help your parents plan ahead and PROPERLY qualify for Medicaid, your parent's bill will be paid by Medicaid and you will not be liable. The bottom line is that you can help your parents to preserve their assets and also avoid filial liability, but planning is essential.

If you or a loved one are concerned about future long-term care costs, an elder law attorney such as Cooper, Adel & Associates can help guide you through the process.


Dangers of a GPS


By Attorney Mitch Adel


A few summers ago I was speaking a workshop for retired teachers, prior to my presentation on retirement and long term care planning, a woman spoke about the dangers of a GPS.  I had never really given this much thought until recently.  This past week I was scheduled to give a seminar for a group of seniors at a community center/fitness facility.  As I was walking from my car to the facility, I remembered that I had left my GPS on my dashboard.  Not wanting to invite a potential break-in, I went back and removed it.  On my way back to the car, I must have passed a dozen cars where people had also left their GPS devices on their dashboards.  Clearly, one danger in leaving your GPS in plain view is that you welcome people to break-in and steal your device.  But as the speaker a few years ago taught me, that is not the biggest worry.  


The woman at the seminar told the story of how homes were being broken into and the connection between the burglaries was that the thief would break into a car, steal the GPS and rob the house.  If you are having trouble seeing the connection, think about this:


When most people purchase a GPS, the directions ask that the first thing you do is program in your home address and label it “HOME”.  So if someone has your GPS, they know where you live, couple that with how convenient it is that the device will show them the FASTEST way there.  Now, lets say that you are parked at a seminar, movie, church, fitness facility, airport, ball game, visitor parking at a nursing home or assisted living, etc.  There is a reasonable expectation that you will be there for a few hours.  Now the thief, breaks into your car, takes the GPS, turns it on, pushes the HOME button and knows a place where you will likely not be for a few hours, add to it the time it will take for the police to show and investigate the break in of the car, all the while your home could be under attack.  


I am certainly not telling people not to purchase a GPS, as I said above, I have one and love the convenience.  Instead, I would ask that not only do you take measures to properly hide the device when you reach your destination, but you also remove the your personal information from the HOME button.  My advice would be to enter an address in the HOME button that is not your home but that you know how to get home from, like a fast food restaurant or a grocery store.  


Preventing Predatory Guardians


By Attorney Keith Stevens

One of the most basic things that we do with our clients is to help them structure their estates to prevent the need for a probate proceeding after death. But probate courts have other functions than just overseeing the distribution of a decedent's assets. Probate courts also handle adoption, mental competency proceedings, and the appointment of guardians for those who cannot care for themselves.

Where the probate of an estate is burdened with time and cost, a guardianship proceeding leaves a ward open to exploitation by an unscrupulous guardian. One story that has been making the rounds lately concerns Josephine Smoron, a Connecticut woman whose court-appointed conservator has plundered her estate, according to a memorandum from the state's Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel. In the memo, the state's ethics office alleges that attorney John Nugent used his position as Ms. Smoron's conservator to create new trusts to hold Ms. Smoron's property with himself as trustee and three churches—rather than Ms. Smoron's son—as the beneficiaries against her stated wishes. As Ms. Smoron was dying, her conservator was busy selling her property and tying up the proceeds in the two trusts.

All the while, the state probate courts turned a blind eye to Nugent's actions. Three years after Ms. Smoron's death, her son is still struggling through probate, civil, and disciplinary proceedings against Nugent.

Any attorney who has practiced in the probate or elder law field has come across instances where a ward has been assigned to a predatory guardian. Ohio recently tightened the law to prevent predatory guardians, but it is not fool proof. However, pre-planning your estate and representation documents can prevent both the need for guardianship in case of incapacity and the chance that a stranger could be appointed. Contact an Ohio elder law attorney at Cooper, Adel & Associates today for more information on how to protect yourself if you are even in this vulnerable position.


What age should you start planning to protect your assets?


By Jessica Lopiccolo

I have been working with a client’s daughter, taking care of her father’s assets. He was 80 years old and in a nursing home receiving Medicaid benefits. He retained a Life Estate in his property, so when he passed away, the life interest that he held in his property was subject to Ohio’s Estate Recovery. Our attorneys are now negotiating with the State to reduce the amount that the daughter will have to pay in order to remove the lien from the property.

Even though this is not an ideal situation, the daughter has retained us and we are still able to help her. When I was meeting with her to gather information about her father, she asked the age when most of our clients come in to start protecting their assets from a nursing home situation. This individual was in her early 50s. She had already scheduled an appointment to meet with Attorney Cooper to get started.

There is no exact age when you must begin planning to protect your assets against a catastrophic healthcare situation – the sooner the better. If you want to make sure that your assets pass on to your family or friends, then you should call and schedule an appointment to get started. 

Special Child, Special Trust


By Angie Miracle

October 1, 2011 was a pretty big day for me. In one fell swoop I became a wife, a daughter-in-law, and a stepmother. The role as wife and daughter-in-law are pretty smooth, I chose a great family to marry into (I now have an uncle who was once the Key West arm-wrestling champion, and believe me, the stories only get better!). Having never been a mother before, the role as stepmother has been an adjustment, but a rewarding one.

My stepson is 8 years old. He is so creative and intelligent, and can be incredibly focused. Just last month he built a Lego structure that included over 3,000 pieces…all on his own…in two days. He stopped only to eat, sleep, and take his medication, which he takes six different kinds of throughout the day.

Tyler had an intestinal transplant when he was 14 months old, and because of this condition he is completely dependent upon those medications to survive. As you can imagine, healthcare costs are astronomical. Our family is fortunate to have wonderful insurance, however, when Tyler becomes an adult, he will never qualify for his own insurance plan. That is why a Special Needs Trust has been put in place for him. This trust is specifically designed so that Tyler's financial needs will be met as an adult. Without the added stress of financial concerns, he can focus simply on his health, which is the way it should be.

Should your family have special needs, Cooper, Adel & Associates can design such a trust for you. Please call us to learn more about a Special Needs Trust.             

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