Category Archives: In The News

Keep it—Moving: Financial and legal considerations for relocation

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By Mitch Adel

AARP conducted a migration study several years ago that focused on relocation patterns among aging populations. The study attempted to answer questions about where and why people over the age of 60 are mov- ing and what motivates these relocations. Surprisingly, one of the study’s clearest outcomes was the fact that only about 1 in 10 retirees actually relocates, a conclusion that contrasts with the stereotype of retirees moving for better weather or to be closer to their children.

But while there may not be as many seniors on the move as we assume, the group of “residentially mobile” retirees still consists of millions of Americans. It is a number that is likely to grow larger as the Boomers, with a different attitude about retiring, join the ranks of retirees. If you are one of the seniors looking to relocate, a critical issue to consider is the impact that the move will have on your finances and your financial future. Out- of-state moves can be particularly trying, presenting a number of potential complications for financial and estate planning.

Make sure you know the real price tag
The cost of moving can be significant, not to mention the cost to pur- chase a new home, which can vary dramatically not only from one state to the next, but also from one community to the next. While it’s fairly easy to determine what these costs will be and to plan for them, the cost of living is more difficult to calculate, and potentially a lot more significant in terms of its impact on your long-term retirement funding and overall financial planning. You should be aware of these differences and ensure your final decision is based on the real, on-going costs, not just a one-time savings or gain.

The medical implications
Making sure that medical care and retirement benefits are uninterrupted is another area of concern. When it comes to health insurance, you should consider that you may have a new primary doctor, specialists as well as dentists and even pharmacies. There can be hiccups when transitioning to a new doctor, pharmacy, etc. It is wise to budget time to find a new doctor that you are comfortable with—and to make sure that they accept your health insurance. Before the move, make sure you compile a detailed list of your current healthcare providers so that your records can be moved to your new team. Update your list of prescriptions, stocking up on important medicines as much as possible.

The legal implications
Another often-overlooked piece of the puzzle is the impact on your legal documents and your estate plan. If you are moving out of state, be sure to update your living will, healthcare powers of attorney and financial powers of attorney as these documents have provisions that often vary by state. It may not be necessary to change your trust when you move, but you should have it reviewed by your elder law attorney for any implications. Your elder law attorney can also connect you with elder law attorneys in your new state so that you can choose the professional who will best meet your needs and those of your family.

Even if you are just moving down the block, moving should be a time when you meet with your elder law attorney to review your plan. Moving closer to a relative who may be the logical choice to serve as your trustee or financial power of attorney may require some changes to your estate plan. If you are selling your home, there is paperwork to do and it’s a good time to think through the implications if you become ill. If you are moving in with your children and helping them with their mortgage, there are some important issues to plan for if you require long-term care. The point is, you don’t have to—and probably should not—do this alone.

Making the right move
Because the financial and legal issues for seniors can be so significant, it is all too easy to overlook the most important factor of all: making the right move for you. Because nothing is more costly to your health and finances than the stress and expense of an unhappy move, making sure to move to a senior-friendly location is Job 1. Seniors tend to gravitate to cities and towns with lower crime rates, access to top-notch medical care, a strong economy, quality amenities and services as well as a range of cultural, dining and entertainment options. While civic energy and dynamism are important to some, you may prefer a small town feel: a space where you can navigate and enjoy a range of lifestyle options without feeling overwhelmed. No one can or should try to tell you what the best choice is for your retirement.

The bottom line is this: moving can be a wonderful, even life-chang- ing experience, but if you are thinking about moving, consider all of the financial and legal factors—as well as the personal factors—that should be addressed before relocating.

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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.

Financial Implications from the Graying of Divorce

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Property, retirement accounts and other questions 

By Mitch Adel

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, senior (sometimes called “gray”) divorce is at it’s highest level on record for those over 50, essentially doubling over the past two decades. Interestingly, a 2004 AARP study that found that women reported seeking divorce 66% of the time and infidelity was a factor in only 27% of the cases

The implications of the gray divorce trend on the financial health and wellbeing of seniors is significant. Divorce can be disruptive, disheartening and financially damaging at any time, but for retirees, a split can be even more devastating and costly. Social support networks can be fractured, lives can be thrown into turmoil, and the most careful retirement plans—and decades of responsible saving—can be upended. Whether it’s you or even your adult children, there are deep implications for retirement and estate planning in a divorce.

In light of the growing frequency (and the potentially significant con- sequences) of senior divorce, all seniors would be wise to familiarize themselves with the basic outline of their current household finances, and to understand the top priorities and key considerations that need to be addressed.

Be prepared: Expect change
The realities of living alone can come as a surprise, especially if you have been married for a long time. It can be expensive—your monthly expenses may increase dramatically almost overnight, not to mention the legal fees associated with the divorce itself. The time period immediately following a divorce can be bewildering and challenging, which makes it all the more important to address challenges with a practical, level-headed approach. Above all, you need to take the important steps necessary to protect yourself financially and seek advice to help adjust your plan.

Update your legal documents
Make sure that you have copies of all the legal documents you will need for the divorce, and for your new single life. Who will serve as your financial powers of attorney after the divorce? Who do you want to make decisions for you in a healthcare emergency? Make sure that your healthcare direc- tives and living will match your wishes.

Update beneficiaries on your financial accounts
Think about things like insurance policies, financial statements and credit reports. Whenever possible, make copies of important joint docu- ments and keep them safe and secure until assets are divided or distributed and/or your new individual documentation is issued. Make sure you change the beneficiaries on your accounts as quickly as possible to reflect the changes you are making on your own.

Consider the impact on your retirement funds
Beyond the divorce court rulings about what happens with beneficiary designations, you are likely to want to change them after a divorce. Do not assume that your ex-spouse will automatically be removed as the benefi- ciary. You will generally need to take action.

Understand the implications for real estate
No matter what age you are, your home is almost certainly the most expensive and most prominent asset that will have to be divided as the result of a divorce. Debates over ownership and value, questions about tax liabilities, and differing opinions on when and how to sell and or divide the property, can make dealing with real estate issues contentious and often complex. Because resolving these questions and converting a real estate asset into cash often takes time, additional funds must be set aside to maintain the property. Ensure that any changes in your real estate situation are reflected in both your financial and legal plans.

We want the best, but should prepare for the worst
One question I hear often from my clients is how to protect their savings from their son or daughter’s spouse, particularly when there is possibility of divorce. A common mistake is to make your adult child a legal co-owner on accounts. This action exposes these accounts if your child is divorced. There are other methods, through trusts or powers of attorney that allow your adult child to assist you without exposing your assets to their problems.

Get the right kind of support
Finally, and perhaps most importantly of all: in the event of a divorce, make sure that you surround yourself with people who can provide you with the emotional support and legal/financial planning guidance and insight that you need to minimize the damage to your long-term financial security.

Once you are through the divorce, you should establish an estate plan or review your existing estate plan with your experienced elder law attor- ney. Remember that you must still protect your assets from catastrophic healthcare events. Things will change and your elder law attorney can help you keep your future on track.

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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.

A Living Memorial

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Memorial Day is a fitting time to make sure eligible veterans understand the specialized benefits available to them.

By Mitch Adel

The world is a dangerous place. And for those brave Americans doing their part to make it a little safer for the rest of us, it can be even more perilous. As a nation, we should appreciate these veterans who put their lives on hold and themselves on the line for our country. We must never take their sacrifices for granted. This Memorial Day is the perfect time to make sure that we all do our part to remember and to honor our veterans by making sure they have access to the full range of benefits to which they are entitled.

Far too many veterans, especially seniors who have served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, are not even aware that they may qualify for the Veteran’s Administration’s (VA) Aid & Attendance Benefit (A&A). Fewer still take advantage of this program. The A&A provides qualifying veterans and their spouses with financial support to pay for specialized in-home, assisted living or nursing home care. The monthly benefit, which ranges from a little over $1,100 for surviving spouses to over $2,000 for a married veteran, is designed to help aging veterans cover the expenses of in-home medical assistance or long-term care.

Who is eligible
One of the reasons why it is so important to spread the word about the A&A program is that so few veterans take advantage of the benefits available to them. For example, fewer than 5% of World War II veterans and spouses receive benefits through the A&A program, almost certainly due to a lack of awareness.
There are four criteria to qualify for the A&A benefit. First is the service requirement. Note that the veteran did not need to be in the actual theater of war, because these veterans supported our troops who were. The veteran must have served a minimum of 90 days of active duty, one of which was during one of the following wartime windows:

  • World War II: December 7th, 1941, through December 31st, 1946
  • Korean War: June 27, 1950, through January 31, 1955
  • Vietnam War: August 5, 1964 (February 28, 1961, for veterans who served “in country” before August 5, 1964), through May 7, 1975
  • Persian Gulf War: August 2, 1990, through a date to be set by Presidential Proclamation or Law.

Second, the veteran or surviving spouse must have a medical need for the “aid and attendance” of another. The A&A program is not just for wounded veterans. A family doctor can verify the veteran’s need for this care, it is not necessary for a Veterans Administration doctor to do the examination.

Third and fourth are an income test and an asset test. Many veterans assume that they don’t qualify because think they have too much income or too many assets, but that is not necessarily the case. You are not automat- ically disqualified because this benefit depends on your medical expenses and your life expectancy. For instance, recurring expenses such as Assisted Living costs, reduce the amount of income that is counted.

How to apply
Qualifying for A&A benefits requires successfully navigating the appli- cation process, which can be cumbersome and time-consuming. The single most important step in the process is gathering the right documentation for application. For a thorough review of forms that might be due and the process, you may wish to start with the Veterans Administration website, U S Department of Veterans Affairs – Pension.

Veterans benefits are just one of many benefits that may be available to help cover the costs of long term care. The problem is that what you do to qualify for one program, such as Aid and Attendance, can disqualify you from other programs you might need down the road. You would be wise to seek the counsel of an experienced and certified elder law attorney to help you craft a comprehensive plan that takes all potential benefits into account as well as your specific circumstances and wishes.
Memorial Day is a time to remember. But it should also be a time to honor those veterans who are still with us, and to give back to those who have given so much. Do your part this May by sharing information about the A&A with a veteran or their surviving spouse who may be eligible for this important benefit. As grateful citizens, it is the least we can do.

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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.

Little-Known Benefit for Veterans

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(Columbus, Oh.)-veterans with long-term disabilities can receive up to $2,000 a month, widows of veterans more than $1,000 a month through the "aid and attendance" benefit.

The benefit is available to veterans and their spouses who served 90 days of active duty during World War II, Korea or Vietnam, even if they didn't go overseas.

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 8.00.18 AMMitch Adel an Attorney with Ohio-based Cooper, Adel and Associates -specializes in veterans affairs.

He says you must have a "health need"–something that requires the regular assistance of another person for completing basic everyday tasks, like eating, bathing and getting dressed.

Adel says while the individual can apply for the benefit themselves, it helps to use an attorney.  Approval can take 6 to 8 months.  If you're denied and want to re-apply, you have to start the process all over again.  If you're approved, though, you're eligible for benefits retroactive to the day you applied.

More information can be found at

http://www.benefits.va.gov/pension/aid_attendance_housebound.asp

Read more: http://www.700wlw.com/articles/local-news-119585/littleknown-benefit-for-veterans-12391512#ixzz33ZogidqP

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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.

Plan Early, Plan Often to Combat Rising Costs

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By Managing Partner, Mitch Adel

 

  We’re told that we live in a time of low inflation, but seniors continue to see costs rise. Whether its additional taxes or growing health care expenses, retirees are squeezed from all directions. But, even with these challenges there are steps every senior can take to reduce their expenses and their exposure to many of these encroaching costs.The most important step is to create a plan, then revise it as the circumstances change and new challenges emerge. This type of plan—often legal as well as financial—is not something we can “set and forget.”

 

  Let’s look at three areas where costs are rising, but where smart seniors can take control.

 

Choose Wisely: Medical expenses and long-term care
The most difficult costs to forecast—and some of the most difficult for seniors to manage—come from health care and long-term care. Even with Medicare coverage and some positive affordable care act changes, out-of-pocket costs are rising and means-testing is taking a bigger bite out of the budgets of higher-income seniors.

 

  As provisions of the Affordable Care Act roll out over the next few years, the system will continue to shift, so seniors should watch their costs and their insurance choices closely to make sure they are keeping up with the changes. Recent ACA revisions also mean that seniors may be able to restart an existing plan that was slated to be canceled. Seniors also have access to new Medicare plans under the law that are worth a look as they may increase prescription drug coverage for some seniors.

 

  In addition to medical costs, the average senior will require three years of long-term care in their lifetime, and these costs (which can range from $40,000 to more than $70,000 per year) are cove-red by Medicaid only after a “spend down” of available assets. The past year has seen a drastic shift in the long-term care insurance market, with policies become much more expensive if they are offered at all. More and more, families are turning to estate planning solutions to problems to avoid losing assets such as houses and farms to cover these costs.

 

New taxes, new challenges, some relief

There are a number of new taxes coming into effect in 2014 that will have an impact for many Ohio seniors with high incomes:

  • 3.8 percent surtax on net investment income
  • 0.9 percent Medicare tax on earned income

Screen Shot 2014-03-31 at 11.08.31 AMWhile both of these new taxes will affect higher-income families ($250,000 for couples and $200,000 for individuals), they will combine to add on to the extra burdens of the ACA and means-testing for Medicare.
 

That said, the modest inflation we’ve had in 2013 (after several years of very low or nonexistent inflation) will amount to modest savings for most taxpayers in 2014, as federal income tax brackets and a multitude of other provisions adjust automatically to keep pace with inflation. This relief will make an impact, but seniors will also be paying more for many basic items because of the inflation, so it can’t be counted on as true savings.

 

You don’t have to do it alone

  With any of these financial challenges, the best advice is always to plan ahead and take advantage of the many financial and legal experts that can help you along the way. Navigating the maze of retirement and estate planning has never been more complicated, so it’s critical to find the advice and support your family needs to make the best possible choices.

 

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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.

An Uncertain Future

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Evolving retirement and financial security realities in 2014 

By Mitch Adel

When it comes to retirement and estate planning, retirees face a notably different set of challenges that their parents did. Unlike the “Greatest Generation”—who retired with a basic social safety net that covered the two most important components of retirement— income and healthcare—Baby Boomers find themselves in much less certain (and far more turbulent) circumstances.

When WWII veterans and their contemporaries were retiring, So- cial Security and Medicare were relatively healthy programs, sup- ported by a booming population of working Americans. The prob- lem, however, is that this favorable demographic imbalance has not continued.As Baby Boomers begin to move into retirement, the bur- den of funding retirement programs has become far more difficult to bear their children.There are three primary factors that have further muddied the retirement and estate planning waters: the ongoing problems with government pension management, a new wave of complex tax laws that have made years of estate planning obsolete, and the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).The cumulative ef- fect of these issues—much of them taking place shortly after many Americans have only just begun to recover from the stresses of the recent recessionary cycle—is to make planning for a safe and secure retirement a far more complex proposition today than it has been in the past.

The reality is that the rules of the game have changed in some significant ways. If Boomers do not adjust their legal, financial and healthcare planning strategies to evolve and adapt to these new realities, they are in trouble. Boomers who base their retirement on what their parents did will likely experience poor or even disas- trous results.

A worrisome diagnosis
Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 9.38.37 AMOf all the issues that today’s retirees need to be factoring in to their thinking with regard to retirement and long-term financial planning, the Affordable Care Act is potentially the most significant. While the true near-term and longer-term impacts of the Affordable Care Act remain to be seen, there is little doubt that healthcare fun- damentals going forward will be very different for America’s seniors. One of the defining characteristics of the ACA is the way in which it recalibrates the social contract: instead of younger Americans sup- porting their parents, seniors are now being asked to take on some of the burden of supporting today’s youth.

For Medicare recipients, reimbursement rates to healthcare pro- viders will be reduced by $716 billion over the next decade.The ACA achieves these cuts by scaling back the Medicare reimburse- ment rate from its current level of around 81% of what private in- surance pays, to a leaner (and, some would argue, unsustainable) 56%—which is the current reimbursement rate for Medicaid.While doctors, hospitals, clinics and other healthcare professionals will bear some of that burden, it seems difficult to envision a way that se- niors will not take a hit. Some estimate that seniors may be forced to ante up more than $450 billion over the next ten years—this would be, by far, the largest share of the costs needed to fund the changes mandated by the ACA.

Seniors who currently utilize Medicare Advantage programs may also be in for some cuts in the next ten years. Participants in the program, which permits Medicare recipients to supplement their coverage with private insurance, may see their benefits trimmed by about $136 billion. The bottom line for seniors? With increased costs and reduced accessibility to healthcare providers, traditional assumptions about how much money you need to safely retire may quickly become obsolete. At a time when there are more retiring seniors than ever before who will require healthcare, this is a wor- rying trend. 

What seniors can do
The first and possibly most important step that any retiree or pre-retiree can do is to appreciate the scale and scope of the problem. It is never a good idea to take your financial security for granted—today more so than ever. Business as usual will not get it done. Educate yourself and your family about these new realities, and consider how they will impact your current retirement plan- ning strategies. Be proactive and be engaged: plan carefully for your financial and legal future, and do so with the understanding that the foundations of financial stability for seniors have changed in some profound ways.

With approximately 10,000 Boomers turning 65 every day until the year 2029, none of these structural problems are likely to get bet- ter anytime soon. The burden of responsible investment, sufficient savings for a healthy and happy retirement, and the implementa- tion of sophisticated estate planning strategies falls directly upon the backs of Boomers. Subsequently, it is almost always a good idea to secure the counsel and guidance of a trusted retirement planning and wealth management professional or a certified elder law attor- ney to help develop a retirement and savings strategy that accounts for these changes. 

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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.

The downsides of downsizing

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Consider the financial and emotional costs of relocating—as well as the benefits 

My parents, in their early 80s, moved recently from their East Coast home to be near my sis- ters in California. It was in many ways a classic retirement downsizing. They replaced a five-bedroom colonial with a small ranch, profiting after 43 years of ownership. In their new residence, they’re thrilled to benefit from lower utility costs and property tax- es, milder weather, and the company of two young grandsons who live four blocks away.

Despite those benefits, my parents and I discovered that moving in retirement also has unique financial and emotional challenges. They gave up a neighbor- hood, friends, and a place of worship they knew and loved well. They discovered costs to moving that they hadn’t anticipated.

IS RELOCATING FOR YOU?
Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 8.22.04 AMAs much as people talk about simplifying their lives by downsizing in retirement, most don’t choose it. When Consumer Reports National Research Center recently asked retired Consumer Reports subscribers ages 55 to 75 about moves they’d made in retirement, only 10 percent said that they’d downsized.

That figure doesn’t include the experience of older retirees, who may end up moving to a smaller, more manageable space or moving in with family. But the survey finding rings true for Ed Kohlhepp, a certified financial planner in Doylestown, Pa. “Clients don’t necessarily want go from 2,400 to 1,500 square feet, or from three bedrooms to one,” he says.

Rather, many want to keep conveniences they’re used to and even add new ones.

Kohlhepp moved in his early 60s to a house about 10 miles away that’s a bit larger than his previous one. In their new community, he and his wife pay a monthly fee for all outside maintenance. “It was al- most a parallel move financially, but we get someone else doing the outdoor chores, security, and a master bedroom on the first floor,” he explains.

If you’ve owned your home for decades, you may well gain from selling it, despite the recent downturn in many real estate markets. But too large a gain can subject you to significant taxes. Couples and unmar- ried widows or widowers must pay federal capital gains tax on home-sale profits that exceed an exclu- sion of $500,000. (For single and divorced people, the exclusion is $250,000.) If your marginal income tax rate is 15 percent or less in the year you sell, you may not owe any tax on the profit. But high earn- ers can face a federal long-term capital gains rate of 20 percent plus a new, 3.8 percent net investment income tax, as well as any state capital gains taxes.

Even without a tax bill, a move generates signifi- cant expenses. Major costs include fees for real estate brokers and lawyers, and movers’ expenses. My par- ents paid someone to haul carloads of unwanted stuff from their house to the dump, and another person to sweep up before the closing.

They paid for an appraisal fora piano they wanted to donate. And they left me with an old car that they feared wouldn’t pass California’s emissions standards.

Some expenses may be higher in your new digs— or at least no less costly. Kohlhepp says his condo’s initial maintenance fee of $240 per month was about equal to what he used to pay on average for shoveling, landscaping, and other outside work. But his property taxes—for a larger, newer space—were higher. 

WILL YOU LOSE BENEFITS?
A home sale could affect other aspects of your financial life. If, for instance, Veterans Affairs provides you with health care benefits based on your income, home-sale profits that improve your financial status could trigger an end to that ben- efit, says Mitch Adel, an elder law specialist and senior partner at Cooper, Adel & Associates in Centerburg, Ohio. Veterans receiving benefits are required to report to the VA any changes in net worth and growth in household income, among other bottom-line developments.

According to the VA, household income of $31,443 or more could disqualify certain ben- eficiaries. Similarly, downsizing can create nightmares for seniors receiving Medicaid as- sistance for in-home care, Adel says. Your home is exempt from Medicaid’s asset-based eligibil- ity formula, but a home-sale profit that raises your assets above a given threshold could negate those benefits temporarily. You would have to spend down that profit on out-of-pocket medical expenses before Medicaid would resume your benefit, Adel explains.

And uprooting has emotional costs, even when seniors are moving nearby. You’ll need to familiarize yourself with a new routine and neighbors, and per- haps new places to worship and shop. That may in part explain why only 35 percent of respondents in our survey said they’d moved since retiring.

Kohlhepp says that even his 10-mile relocation required adjusting. “Your neighbors are not your friends anymore,” he says. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

14 Money Valentines to Gift Your Sweetheart

Screen Shot 2014-02-12 at 8.01.55 AMby Sheryl Nance-Nash

Your typical Valentine’s Day conjures up images of flowers, candy and a candlelight dinner. Money—other than what you paid for the champagne and oysters—probably doesn’t come to mind.

But if you’re serious about making sure that your love story has a happy ending, you can use the romantic holiday to give each other gifts that say both “I love you” and “I want us to have a secure future together.”

Whether you’re in a serious relationship, engaged or already married, we’ve gathered ideas for 14 financial Valentines that you can gift your sweetie this year.

1. A Couple’s Financial Consultation

Normally, telling your significant other that you both need professional help isn’t a great sign for the longevity of a relationship. But signing up for a couple’s consultation with a financial planner may be a gift that actually increases your relationship’s long-term staying power, says Jennifer S. Faherty, a Certified Financial Planner™ and founder of Redbird Partners.

That’s because fighting about money is why most married couples split up, according to a study by Kansas State University researcher Sonya Britt. She found that couples who argue over money early on in their relationships were at a greater risk of divorce—regardless of their income, debt or net worth levels.

By meeting with an adviser, you’re making sure that both of you are involved in financial decision-making, and that you are on the same page when it comes to your bigger goals and how you’ll reach them.

2. A Life Insurance Policy

Ensuring that your partner is taken care of in the event that something happens to you—and vice versa—offers the gift of peace of mind. “You never know where the road of life will take you, and planning ahead for illness or death as well as having life insurance can help couples be ready,” says Mitchell Adel, a certified elder law attorney and managing partner at Cooper, Adel & Associates, a law firm specializing in estate planning and elder law.

Life insurance is especially important if you think that your loved one might have difficulties meeting monthly living expenses and paying one-time costs in the event of your death, like funeral expenses, as well as such longer-term bills as a mortgage—not to mention just the general cost of raising children.

RELATED: Checklist: I Want to Get Life Insurance

3. A Will

Death isn’t the most romantic dinner date topic, but being proactive about crafting a will can ensure that your money and belongings are distributed to the people you love, rather than leaving it up to the law. If you haven’t put your wishes down on paper yet, you’re not alone: Some 41% of Boomers and 71% of those under 34 polled by AARP said that they didn’t have a will.

Currently, intestacy laws (those related to the succession of your assets if you don’t have a will) don’t take into consideration cohabitation or domestic partners—making wills all the more valuable if you are unmarried. And even if you are married, all assets don’t automatically go to your spouse—much of it depends on state laws, says Josh Fatoullah, founder and C.E.O. of JR Wealth Advisors LLC.

RELATED: Death Dinners: Why Dying Is a Supper Topic Du Jour

4. A “Special Occasion” Fund

One study of more than 1,200 Americans conducted by psychologists Leaf Van Boven and Thomas Gilovich found that people derived greater happiness from investing in life experiences, like travel or a concert, rather than from purchasing material goods. “So creating a special savings fund toward these types of experiences is a good idea,” Faherty says.

What’s more romantic than having an account labeled “Second Honeymoon” or “My Sweetheart’s 40th Birthday Bash”? Once you’ve set up a separate bank account for a short-term goal that you share, create a priority goal folder for it in your LearnVest Money Center, so you and your honey can watch the money grow. After all, those shared experiences could be what gets you through the challenging times.

5. A Beneficiary Designation

Even if you’ve named your sweetie in a will, you’re not off the hook with important paperwork. You still need to name your significant other as a beneficiary to your retirement savings, financial accounts, trusts—anything with a deed or title. That’s because “beneficiaries supersede what’s written in a will, and assets with named beneficiaries avoid probate,” which is the court process that administers a will, Fatoullah points out.

So it’s important to make the designation official on accounts like your IRA or pension. Your 401(k), by law, goes to your surviving spouse, unless you’ve made arrangements for another beneficiary (you can only do this with your spouse’s consent). Even so, it’s still better to have it on record, especially in the case of a domestic partnership, so you can solidify your relationship even further in the eyes of the law, whether the partnership is officially registered or not. “Show your commitment by making sure your beneficiary understands their next steps and their options when you pass away,” Adel says.

RELATED: 6 Documents Everyone Should Have to Protect Their Finances

6. A “Gift Card” Redeemable for Financial Duties

Often one partner assumes the heavy lifting when it comes to managing household finances. If your significant other is typically the one who makes sure that the bills get paid on time, Faherty suggests offering a Valentine that lets you switch roles for a period, so you can both be involved in money matters.

As an added bonus, you could pair your symbolic gift card with a real one that can be used toward an activity that replaces your partner’s bill-paying time, such as a massage or dinner with friends.

7. A College Fund

Maybe you already have small children … or maybe you just have babies on the brain. In either case, as soon as you both know that kids are part of the picture, it’s smart to start saving for their college education. Although it will be years until they hit campus, planning early will help save you and your sweetheart some financial worry in the future: Inflation in college tuition has historically outpaced regular inflation—sometimes as much as 2 to 1.

So explore the various vehicles together, and be sure to get professional advice before you pick an investment route. “Especially if children are not yet in the picture,” Adel says, “work with financial and legal professionals to ensure you’re setting up an account that takes advantage of tax incentives.”

RELATED: 9 Mistakes Not to Make With 529 Savings Plans

8. A Monthly ‘Money Date’ Night

It’s not pillow talk, but it’s just as necessary. Smart financial planning between couples is all about communication, after all. And Valentine’s Day can serve as the perfect opportunity to launch a monthly financial meeting of the minds, so to speak. It doesn’t have to be formal, either—it can be a once-a-month “date night with purpose”. “To keep the mood light, open a bottle of wine, play music and order takeout,” Faherty says.

What’s important is that you devote the time to discuss whatever financial issues are on your mind. You could plan to tackle one financial to-do each month, such as investigating how to reduce your cable bill, shopping around for cheaper car insurance or even just seeing how well you’re both sticking to your monthly budget.

9. A Joint Charitable Gift

Love begets love, and giving back can be a gift that warms both of your hearts. Have a heart-to-heart about the societal ills that concern you both, and then research charities that are working to address those problems.

To check that a charity is worthy of your money, go to reputable sites like charitynavigator.org and guidestar.org. And remember that the organization must be recognized as a 501(c)(3) by the IRS in order to get a tax credit for your donation.

10. An Investment Account for Your Future

Now, for a Valentine that represents your long-term goals. There’s nothing that says commitment more than saving up for a future home or the globetrotting you’ll do in retirement. Whatever the ultimate objective, starting an extra nest egg outside of your retirement savings helps you to both picture a future together.

As with your special-occasion fund, connect the account to a specific, future goal and determine when you want to accomplish it. This will not only remind you of the goal, says Faherty, but it will also help determine the best investment vehicle and asset allocation to fund it. Use this checklist to learn how to get started.

RELATED: 3 People, 3 Portfolios: What the Ups and Downs of the Stock Market Have Taught Me

11. A Plan to Pay Off Student Loans Together

In 2013, student loan borrowers owed the federal government more than $1 trillion. That’s a hefty debt—and what you owe as a couple could be keeping you both from other financial rites of passage, such as buying a first home.

Although student loans are better debt to carry than, say, credit card debt, it’s still ideal to have a plan to steadily pay them off together, says Faherty. “When my spouse and I got married, we had about $15,000 in combined student loans, and we put the money we received as wedding gifts toward paying them off,” she says. “We wanted to begin our lives together fresh. With this burden off our shoulders as soon as possible, we would be able to focus on and work toward other financial goals.”

RELATED: I Want to Pay Off My Student Loans

12. An Emergency Savings Fund

Every couple gets hit with the unexpected at some point, whether it’s a job loss, illness or even natural-disaster-related repairs. An emergency situation can put even more stress on a relationship if there isn’t a cushion of money to get you through the ordeal.

And don’t think it can’t happen to you: In a poll conducted by Bankrate.com, only 24% of those surveyed said they had enough to cover six months of expenses. Spare yourselves the future drama, and commit to building at least six months’ worth of expenses for those “just in case” moments. Figure out how much you can sock away each month, and then contribute together.

13. A Long-Term-Care Insurance Policy

Picture yourself growing old together. Now picture yourself growing old together without stressing over home- or health-related costs. Sounds better, right? Long-term-care insurance can help cover costs associated with assisted living or nursing homes, as well as expenses tied to receiving care at home, so the grayer versions of you and your sweetie can have peace of mind.

That time of life may seem far off, so why look into a policy now? Because the earlier you sign up for it, the better value you can expect for your premium dollar. And often, when you sign up together, says Fatoullah, you get a discount.

So be sure to start looking into long-term care insurance for you and your partner once you hit 50, and if you’re under 40, you may want to consider coverage for your parents. Almost nothing is less romantic than having your mother-in-law move in with you because she didn’t have a proper plan in place for her own long-term care!

RELATED: Long-Term Care Insurance 101

14. A Financial Filing System

According to Faherty, much of your personal financial success depends on one major factor: organization. Paying bills, rebalancing accounts, updating beneficiaries and locating documents for filing taxes are all less likely to fall through the cracks if you’ve nailed down a system for keeping them in one place.

A user-friendly, soup-to-nuts system, such as File Solutions’ Home Filing System, can give you the boost you need to start early on a couple’s spring-cleaning project. There are also digital options, like these apps, which can help you get virtually organized. Or you can use something as low-key as color-coordinated binders and folders to organize paperwork, adds Faherty.

Organization lessens stress. And the less stress you have, the more you’ll be in the mood for romance.

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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.

Elder Law Workshop provides help for seniors

By Portia Williams
 

PDT Staff Writer
 

AR-301089965WEST PORTSMOUTH — Senior Financial Survival in 2014 was the theme of a workshop offered to senior citizens Wednesday at Shawnee Lodge and Conference Center.
 

Cooper and Adel Financial Agency LLC offered information in a workshop designed to enlighten senior citizens to vital information about laws. Attorneys Tom Cooper and Mitchell Adel, are both certified Elder Law Specialists who facilitate the workshops.
 

Lori McBride, seminar coordinator for Cooper and Adel Financial Agency LLC, said the information being shared at the workshop is critical for many senior citizens.
 

“We are having a Elder Law workshop which is geared toward senior citizens in trying to help them, and give them planning strategies with regards to nursing homes, to protect their assets,” McBride said.
 

McBride said the information shared in the workshop is critical to the senior citizen population.
 

“It is critical because I think that a lot of people don’t think there is anything that they can do preserve their assets. I have seen people that have had farms in their family for generations, and if mom or dad gets sick and has to go into a nursing home, then they had to sell off the farm in order to help pay for that,” McBride said.
 

McBride said the workshop helps the public within the law to avoid conflict and to maintain their assets.
 

The workshop also deals with veteran benefits, and the benefits available to veterans.
 

Workshop topics include:

  • Pros and Cons of the Revocable Living Trust,
  • How to lower your income taxes and avoid Capital Gains Tax,
  • How to protect your assets from catastrophic illness and nursing home cost without purchasing nursing home insurance,
  • How to avoid tax traps when transferring assets to children,
  • Expanded Estate Recovery Law – Government liens placed on senior’s real estate,
  • How to avoid probate; and,
  • Emerging trends where children are becoming responsible for their parent’s health care.

 

“Basically, the workshop covers anything pertaining to senior citizens and the protection of their assets and how they can structure those assets should any type of catastrophe should occur in their lives,” McBride said.
 

The workshops are free, and open to the public.
 

Cooper and Adel Financial, Agency LLC has four offices in central Ohio, including Centerburg, Monroe, Sidney, and their newest location in Chillicothe. For more information regarding the Elder Law Workshops, call 1-877-401-2175.

Qualifying for Veterans Benefits

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Attorney Mitch Adel was a guest on Fox 28 recently to talk about veterans benefits and how to qualify. For even more information on the qualifications, be sure to check out our veterans benefits page

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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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