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Is divorce a good solution if my spouse goes into a nursing home?

By Attorney Nathan Simpson

Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 12.45.07 PMMany clients come into the office asking if their only option when faced with a catastrophic medical situation is divorce. They have heard that this is the only way to not be required to spend everything in the Nursing Home. Thankfully, that isn't the only way. While there may be a rare case where divorce is the best option, for the vast majority of people there are more palatable ways to protect assets from a Nursing Home spend down. Through strategic use of the rules relating to Medicaid and Veterans Benefits, an elder law attorney can protect assets without resorting to divorce.

Additionally, Medicaid rules even have special exemptions and benefits that only apply to married couples. Hastily filing for divorce in a Nursing Home situation can eliminate your eligibility for these benefits, and actually harm you financially. The best course of action when facing long term care expenses is not to call your divorce attorney. The best plan is to talk to an Ohio Elder Law attorney, and schedule a free consultation to create a plan that protects your assets, qualifies you for benefits, and does not force you into any unnecessary legal proceedings.

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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.

Your Estate Plan Should Reduce Your Legislative Risk, Not Increase It

By Senior Associate Attorney, Dan Vu

Too often estate planners do not consider their client's legislative risk. In other words, they plan without consideration to the very high probability that the current rules will change. In Washington and Columbus, every new bill passed by the legislature is touted as the new permanent law of the land, but in reality it is only “permanent” until the next time they decide to change it. So if your plan does not provide the flexibility for the changing rules, you can actually be in a worse position than you would without any plan.

Let's review an example that just recently occurred in Ohio. Governor Kasich was able to defeat the odds stacked against him when he was able to repeal the Ohio Estate Tax, effective January 1, 2013. Few thought this would actually occur, since Ohio, like most states, is facing budget constraints. For many Ohioans, this law made their current estate plan obsolete. Tradition revocable trust planning contained provisions that were meant to shelter the estate from the Ohio Estate Tax. These types of trusts were called A/B Trusts. But now that the Ohio Estate Tax has been repealed these these older trusts are not only not helpful but they can even now be hurtful. For example, an A/B Trust would now have a less favorable capital gains treatment than having no trust at all!

Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 12.37.12 PMHowever, just as it is not a good idea to keep an obsolete trust, it is also not a good idea to pretend that the repeal of the Ohio Estate Tax is permanent. A trust should be flexible. We have for many years used “Spousal Options Trusts.” These trusts allow our clients to utilize the traditional benefits of an A/B trust if an estate tax is in effect at the time of death. If there is no Ohio Estate Tax at death, the same trust can instead opt into obtaining favorable capital gains treatment and ignore the estate tax provisions.

All of our trusts have similar types of built-in flexibility. For example, our Heritage Trust is a trust that allows you to leave to your children a protected IRA “stretched” over their individual lifetime. But since we know that the IRA rules may change, it has built-in provision that allows for tax changes to be made even after you and your spouse have long passed away.

So, of course, not planning at all is not the answer. You just need a plan that builds in flexibility so that as the laws change you can always avail yourself to the advantages that the new laws provide and protect yourself from the disadvantages that new laws might impose.

How can you tell if your plan has built-in flexibility? Consider meeting with an experienced elder law attorney for a review.

 

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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.

Don’t Go Broke in a Nursing Home

By Lori McBride

Over the past few months, we have been rolling out a new seminar to help education seniors and their families throughout Ohio, most recently in Chillicothe, Johnstown and Delaware. Here are some of the topics:

  • In a Nursing Home NOW? …. You may still protect your assets
  • Hidden Medical Taxes
  • New Rules for Assisted Living Waiver
  • Can You Give Away $14,000/Year Without a Medicaid Penalty?
  • Veteran's Benefits to Cover Healthcare Costs
  • Medicaid Planning for Home Care Coverage
  • ​Will you lose your home to Estate Recovery?

Certified Elder Law Specialists Thom Cooper and Mitch Adel will be holding a series of workshops informing Seniors that it's never too late to preserve and protect your assets. For a list of upcoming workshops in your area, please call me, Lori McBride at 1-877-401-2175 for more information.

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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.

Scam Alert: Bogus Funeral Notifications

By Carmen Potterton

Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 11.55.47 AMIt seems that every time you turn on the news, there is yet another scam being reported and unfortunately, many of them tend to target senior citizens.

Senior Planet recently posted a scam alert concerning funeral notifications. An email is sent that is supposedly a notification that a friend has died. In order to get the details, you have to click on the link provided and once you do, the scammers infect your computer with malware. Malware generates viruses and spyware that allows the scammers access to your computer.

What you can do to avoid the scam:

  • If you get an email with the subject line “Funeral notification,” put it straight in the trash. Contact the funeral home or the family if you’re concerned the email might be for real.

  • If you get any email from someone you don’t personally know that has a link in it, do not click on the link.

  • Call or write the person or business who sent the email – or supposedly sent it – and get the information from them directly. If it’s a business, you can use Google to track down contact information.

  • Same goes for an email from someone you do know that sounds a little fishy. Call before you click!

http://seniorplanet.org/another-scam-alert-funeral-notifications/

 

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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.

Purchasing A New Life Insurance Policy – Two important questions

By Senior Law Clerk, Steve Wright

Shopping for a new life insurance policy can be daunting with all of the options available. Not only do different rules apply to each policy, but the premiums that you will have to pay will vary depending on a multitude of factors. Choosing the wrong policy could have negative financial consequences, so knowing what you need out of a life insurance policy can mean the difference between purchasing the correct policy for you and your family or shelling out large amounts of cash for premiums on a policy that may expire or provide inadequate benefits for those you leave behind.

With that in mind, there are some important things to consider and keep in mind before you purchase a life insurance policy?

Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 11.33.21 AMThe first thing you need to know before you purchase a policy is how much coverage you actually need. This will allow you to ensure that when you talk to an insurance agent, you will be able to have the agent show you the correct range of products that will suit your need. Knowing the amount of coverage you require will depend on what stage of life you are in when you purchase the policy. For example, if you are retired with no kids left at home that are under 18 or that depend on your income for support, then the amount of coverage that you will need should be less then a person that is still working age with minor children. However, do not overlook the need to support your surviving spouse which may cost more with age.

Second, you should know how long you want your policy to be in force. Are you seeking a whole life policy that will be in force for your entire life? On the other hand, do you only need more coverage for a limited period of time, such as when you have mortgage payments and small children who might need that support if something happens to you?

Knowing these two important questions will allow you to find not only the policy that fits your needs, but also a premium that is affordable so that your policy does not lapse causing you to loose valuable cash assets. Of course, you should approach the life insurance question as part of a comprehensive estate plan. An experienced elder law attorney can help you answer these questions in the context of your overall life plan.

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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 you always delay taking your Social Security retirement benefits until age 70?

Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 11.13.53 AMBy Roy Whited

This information was taken in part from a March 16, 2014 post from the Wall Street Journal where two financial advisors locked horns over which is the smarter move; taking the sure thing now, or holding out for the larger payment down the road. One of the advisors said it is better not to wait, while the other advisor said that waiting is by far a better option.

In reality they could both be right or wrong depending on the individuals situation. The choice as to when you should start receiving Social Security retirement benefits can be effected by many things. For example, your health, your money, your family, or your current employment opportunities.

A case for not waiting. One spouse is a retired school teacher and is receiving a state teacher monthly pension. Should the retired teacher die their spouse will continue to receive a pension from the deceased spouse pension. However, should the spouse who is getting a monthly Social Security check die, the retired teacher does not receive any monthly retirement benefits from Social Security. Why not take the monthly payments from Social Security at age 66 and use part of it to purchase life insurance that could be used to provide an additional pension for the spouse who is going to lose the Social Security benefits of their deceased spouse?

Regardless of the individuals situation it is very important that retirees understand their options. It is equally important for retirees to understand how they can use certain planning techniques to protect their homes and other assets from being lost to the cost of health care including the costs of a nursing home stay. Todays cost of long term care can be over $80,000 a year.

Why not call the professionals at Cooper, Adel & Associates to schedule a free 1 hour consultation and learn how to protect your assets. 1-800-798-5297 or fill out our online form.

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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.

Pet Trusts – Not Just For Cats & Dogs

By Attorney Keith Stevens

What do you think of when you hear the word “pet”? Dogs, cats, goldfish, maybe parrots are the first things that occur to most of us. Some people may also think about their geckoes, pythons, and tortoises. There is a staggering variety of creatures being kept as pets and it is only growing.

Our tools for dealing with a variety of animals should be equally flexible. If you were to pass away tomorrow, would your family have access funds to get veterinary care for your horse? If you became mentally incapacitated, would they know how to properly maintain your chinchilla?

Dogs and cats may be the most mainstream of American pets, but they are not the only ones that would benefit from planning. What animals are good candidates for a Pet Trust?

  1. Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 10.43.46 AMThe long lived. If a friend or family member commits to taking care of your pet after death or incapacity, the longer the pet lives, the greater the potential strain on the caretakers. By providing financially for the pet, you can relieve the stress of an inherited pet. Examples include parrots and tortoises at the extremes, but horses, dogs, cats, even tarantulas and some aquarium fish may live more than twenty years.

  2. The expensive or high maintenance. Some animals simply require more resources for their care than others. If you leave a horse behind, how many people could afford to feed it, let alone house it? For animals that need a greater commitment of resources, a legal solution is the best way to provide for them.

  3. The exotic. A quick search of the Internet reveals Ohio breeders marketing a wide range of exotic pets, including patagonian cavies, kinkajous, African pygmy hedgehogs, flying squirrels, porcupines, lemurs, and even leopards. These make more familiar exotics like ferrets, sugar gliders, llamas and alpacas look routine. If you own an unusual pet, the likelihood that your appointed caregiver will have the resources to meet its unique needs are slim. Using a Pet Trust, you can provide not only financial resources for the pet's care, but also instructions and guidance to its eventual caretaker.

To learn more about planning for your pets, contact the offices of Cooper, Adel & Associates today.

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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.

Medicare cost increases will affect seniors negatively

By Kathy Cooper

Kaiser Family Foundation recently reported that increase in seniors' share of the cost burden for Medicare under Obamacare will negatively affect most seniors. The purpose of the Kaiser study was to determine how well seniors would be able to absorb rising Medicare premiums, co-pays, deductibles and related costs. The study concluded that most seniors are of modest means – low income, low savings and low home equity.

Screen Shot 2014-04-07 at 1.32.34 PMBaby boomers are just finding out how Medicare works and how much they will end up paying for normal healthcare expenses as they enter retirement. Medicare premiums, co-payments for doctor visits and some other services such as tests are deducted from their monthly Social Security checks and typically account for over 15% of those checks. Medigap insurance policies can help but often do not cover all of these out-of-pocket expenses. This picture does not include Part D which takes the cost to over 24% of their Social Security check this year. Unfortunately, the picture is only getting worse as you can see in this chart from the government estimating retiree medical costs.

Screen Shot 2014-04-07 at 1.32.50 PMFurther, Medicare does not pay for long term care and 50% of seniors have less savings that would be required to pay for just one year of care in a nursing home. According to Kaiser, half of Medicare beneficiaries have savings below $61,400.

If you are in the 94% of seniors below $1.1 million in savings, you need a plan and some good counseling to find benefits that may help you pay for healthcare in the future. Even if you have over a million dollars in savings, long term care can significantly reduce the amount you can leave your children or grandchildren – if you do not plan. An experienced elder law attorney can help.   

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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

Screen Shot 2014-03-31 at 11.03.40 AM

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.

Informational Elder Law Workshops Available Around Ohio

By Lori McBride

In spite of the storms this winter, Attorneys Thom Cooper and Mitch Adel have been on the road, providing free informational workshops to seniors and their families throughout Ohio.

In February, we were in Ahsland, Clintonville, Frankfort, Greenfield, Westerville, Etna, Granville, Mount Gilead, Hilliard, Deleware, Upper Arlington, Urbana , Bellefontaine, Loveland, Milford, Spencerville and Cridersville.

Screen Shot 2014-03-27 at 8.51.15 AM

The topics of discussion included:

  • How to protect your assets from Catastrophic Illness and Nursing Home cost without purchasing Nursing Home Insurance.

  • Expanded Estate Recovery Law- Government liens placed on Seniors' Real Estate.

  • How to lower your income taxes and avoid Capital Gains Tax.

  • How to Avoid Probate.

  • Pros and Cons of the Revocable Living Trust.

  • How to Avoid “Tax Traps” when transferring assets to children.

  • Emerging Trends where children are becoming responsible for their Parent's Healthcare.

If you missed one of our seminars in your areas or would like to make reservations for an upcoming workshop, please call me, Lori McBride, at 1-877-401-2175.

 



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