We'd like to congratulate Jon Stevenson who will be starting law school at Capital University. Good luck Jon!
We'd like to congratulate Jon Stevenson who will be starting law school at Capital University. Good luck Jon!
The Stars and Stripes, Flag of the United States of America! The world-wide hope of all who, under God, would be free to live and do His will.
Upon its fold is written the story of America – the epic of the mightiest and noblest in all history.
To what man or woman is given words adequate to tell the story of the building of this nation? That immortal story is written in blood and sweat, in heroic deeds and unremitting toil, in clearing the primeval forests and in planting of vast prairies where once the coyote and buffalo roamed. Onward swept the nation, spanning wide rivers, leaping vast mountain ranges, leaving in its path villages and farms, factories and cities, till at last this giant nation stood astride the continent from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
This is the heritage of the people of the United States. It has been repurchased by each succeeding generation and must be rewon again, again and again until the end of time, lest it too shall pass like the ancient Empires of Greece and Rome.
“The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.” What was won at Lexington and Concord and Bunker Hill had to be repurchased at Ticonderoga and Yorktown.
What John Paul Jones achieved upon the high seas in the War of Independence had to be repurchased by Commodore Perry on Lake Erie in the War of 1812.
The prestige of Admiral Dewey's victory at Manilla Bay in 1898 was rewon by the naval battles in the seas about the far-distant islands of the Pacific, after the sneak attacks upon Peal Harbor and Manila in 1941 had summoned our country to assume its role in World War II.
What our troops achieved under the Stars and Stripes at Chateau-Thierry and Flanders in World War I, their sons were required to repurchase in World War II in the bloody trek across northern Africa, on the beachheads of Europe and in the Battle of the Bulge.
The Flag our American men raised at Iwo Jima was the same Flag later raised in the defense of Inchon, Pusan and Pork Chop Hill in far-off Korea. Then another generation under the same Flag bled to stem the threat of communism in far-off Vietnam.
Our young people were again called to carry our Flag in the defense of a free world in the actions in Grenada and Panama. Willingly, our brave men and women carried our Flag and the honor of the American people into battle in Operation Desert Storm.
And who among us will ever forget the sight of firefighters raising our Flag over the ruins of the World Trade Center, the military personnel draping our Flag on the side of the Pentagon, or the citizens of Somerset County, Pennsylvania, placing our Flag near the site where brave Americans died fighting the hijackers of Flight No. 93? No other symbol could have offered such comfort, as we still, today, endure the horrors of that day.
Today, American Armed Forces carry our Flag in the villages of Iraq, the mountains of Afghanistan and the jungles of the Philippines and where ever terrorism may reside. Their struggle against the sponsors of terrorism is the hardest battle yet, and this threat to our Nation, and to our way of life, is certainly as great a challenge as our Flags has ever seen.
The resurgence of patriotism since September 11, 2001, has rekindled respect for our Flag. Today, we see the Star Spangled Banner wherever we turn, on homes, businesses, automobiles and billboards. Such displays stimulate our love for our Nation and for what it stands; they remind us of the sacrifices being made by the men and women of our Armed Forces around the world; and, they are a tribute to the heroes of the Police and Fire Departments the Nation over.
The greatest significance of this Flag, however, lies in the influence it has in the hearts and minds of millions of people. It has waived over the unparalleled progress of a nation in developing democratic institutions, scientific and technological knowledge, education and culture. It has served as a beacon for millions of poor and oppressed refugees abroad and stands as a promise that the under-privileged will not be forgotten.
What is the meaning of the Flag of the United States? There can never be a definitive answer to that question. There are people in this world who see it as a symbol of imperialism; others see it as a destiny of the people. But reference to these and similar views of the Flag was resolved by Woodrow Wilson when he said: “This Flag, which we honor and under which we serve, is the emblem of our unity, our power, our thoughts and shape of this nation. It has no other character than that which we give it from generation to generation. The choices are ours.”
Only love, true love of our fellow man, can create peace. The emblem and token of that love is the Stars and Stripes, the symbol of the American way of life.
Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks Ritual for Flag Day.
It has been brought to the attention of USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) that a phone scam is being perpetrated on FSA customers.
The caller, who identifies themselves as a Farm Loan Services representative out of Washington, D.C. states that FSA “owes” you disaster assistance funds and proceeds to request your checking account information or requests a credit card number alleging that funds will be credited to these accounts.
SHOULD YOU RECEIVE A SIMILAR CALL, DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, PROVIDE PERSONAL OR FINANCIAL INFORMATION TO THE CALLER.
By Attorney Ted Brown
Today marks the 70th anniversary of D-Day, Known as “D-Day” it marked the beginning of the Allied invasion of Europe during World War II. The invasion remains the single largest military operation in the history of the world and was undertaken not for the purpose of conquest but rather to liberate an entire continent from the oppression and terror of Nazi control. The message “Ike” shared with his forces the night before the invasion says it best:
“Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you.The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers in arms on other fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.”
-General Dwight D. Eisenhower, June 5th 1944
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.
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.
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:
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.
By Attorney Keith Stevens
Last year, Judge Timothy S. Black of the Southern District Court of Ohio (the federal trial court) ruled that Ohio must recognize a validly-performed out-of-state same sex marriage and list the name of a deceased man's husband on his death certificate as his spouse. Obergefell v. Wymyslo, 962 F. Supp. 2d 968 (S.D. Ohio 2013). The holding was specific to that couple and did not apply to Ohio's statutory and constitutional prohibitions on same-sex marriage as a whole.
A few weeks ago, Judge Black went further. Hearing the petitions of four same-sex couples, all legally married in states that allow same-sex marriage, Judge Black not only ruled that the state Bureau of Vital Statistics must list both spouses on the birth certificates of their children, he also found that Ohio's statutory and constitutional prohibitions on same-sex marriage were completely unconstitutional on their face and therefore invalid. Henry v. Himes, Case No. 1:14-cv-129 (S.D. Ohio 2014).
Does this mean that Ohio will start performing same-sex marriages next week? No, and it is important for us to realize that this ruling is limited. The decision repeatedly says that it does not require the state to perform same-sex marriages, simply that it cannot make such marriages illegal and, more specifically, it must recognize validly-performed out of state same-sex marriages.
The impact of the decision is also limited for now. Judge Black stayed broader application of his decision beyond the plaintiffs pending appeal to the appellate court and, possibly, to the Supreme Court of the United States. Ohio's federal districts are part of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, along with Michigan, Tennessee, and Kentucky. All four states in the Sixth Circuit have appeals from lower court decisions requiring recognition of out-of-state same-sex marriages or invalidating state constitutional prohibitions on same-sex marriages pending.
This decision is part of an increasing trend from the Sixth Circuit and beyond, to states such as Virginia, Utah, Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. These states and others have taken the decision by the Supreme Court of the United States in Windsor last year, a decision which required that the federal government recognize legally-performed same-sex marriages, and applied the same arguments and rationales to invalidate state prohibitions on same-sex marriage. More states have similar decisions pending.
If this decision stands, there will be an immediate impact in a variety of state benefits and processes. Estate planners in particular will see changes in their major areas of practice:
Probate courts will be required to give equal treatment to a same-sex spouse as to an opposite-sex spouse, including protections against disinheritance, recognition as legal heir, and access to more streamlined versions of the probate process.
Medicaid will be required to take both spouse's assets into account when determining eligibility for one, which may result in a benefit (the sick spouse would be able to transfer assets to the healthy spouse as part of qualification), or a downside (the healthy spouse's assets will also be considered).
If the Ohio estate tax returns in a similar form as it existed prior to January 1, 2013, this will allow for the transfer of wealth from one spouse to another at the first death without taxation and would open new estate tax planning avenues to the couples.
Beyond the civil rights importance of this decision, if it stands it also will impact estate and tax planning. Same sex couples are urged to reach out to their legal advisors to determine what their next steps should be.
By: Attorney Nathan Simpson
New data has been released showing the effects that the Affordable Care Act's cuts to the Medicare Advantage Program will have on American seniors. In Ohio, we are expecting to see a $55-$65 decrease in benefits or premium reduction each month for members of the Medicare Advantage program. This is just the first of many negative impacts that the Affordable Care Act could have on Ohio Seniors.
For a more detailed breakdown of how the Affordable Care Act will affect Ohio and other states, see the following link: http://www.ahipcoverage.com/2014/03/11/new-state-by-state-data-show-impact-on-seniors-of-proposed-cuts-to-medicare-advantage/.
If you would like to learn more about how the Affordable Care Act and the rising cost of long term care may affect your estate plan, please call an Ohio Elder Law Attorney today.
By Bethany Smith
Your trust has been signed so everything is now probated-protected and can be put in the drawer and forgotten – correct? False. This is one of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to the creation of a trust. A signed trust serves no purpose if there are no assets funded to it.
When we talking about funding a trust what does that mean? Funding a trust involves retitling assets to the name of the trust in order to avoid probate. For example if a checking account is held in a your individual name with no beneficiaries identified, then it will have to go through the time consuming and sometimes expensive process of being probated with the court. However if the same account has been titled to your trust, then it will avoid probate and follow the distribution you set up in your trust.
Therefore if you have a turst it is important to remember when it comes to funding your trust is to properly title new assets to your trust so they are also protected from probate.
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