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Ohio On The Verge of Marriage Equality? Maybe

By Attorney Keith Stevens

Screen Shot 2014-05-27 at 3.17.49 PMLast 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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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).

  3. 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.

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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.

New Data Shows Impact on Obamacare Cuts to Medicare Advantage

By: Attorney Nathan Simpson

Screen Shot 2014-05-27 at 3.09.26 PMNew 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.

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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.

Why A Trust Needs to Be Funded

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.

Screen Shot 2014-05-27 at 2.20.39 PMWhen 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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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.

Leaving Money to Minors

By Attorney Dan Vu

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

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

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

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

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

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

If my mom is making really bad financial decisions, should I have her declared incompetent?

By: Attorney Nathan Simpson

Screen Shot 2014-05-27 at 1.48.41 PMThis is a questions that comes up routinely in the course of my practice. Many children feel that the best course of action is to have a parent placed under guardianship. While in many situations this is necessary, it is a drastic step that should not be taken lightly. Guardianship proceedings place your parent under the care of a court, which means that even if you are appointed as guardian, a judge will look over every decision that you make. Additionally, court records open you and your family up to public scrutiny.

Often, the best course of action is to talk to your parent. Through use of a power of attorney, you can manage your parent's finances without court intervention. A properly written power of attorney will allow you to do everything that your parent can do with regard to property and bank accounts, while keeping your parent's finances private.

While there may be times when a guardianship is necessary, talked to an experienced elder law attorney before making any decisions.

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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.

Why Does the VA Sometime Require A Fiduciary and What Does This Mean?

By Steve Wright

Screen Shot 2014-05-27 at 1.45.30 PMWhenever the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) approves a claim for pension benefits, they send a letter called an award letter. Occasionally, in this letter, the VA will also propose to appoint a fiduciary for the pension funds. This usually occurs when medical evidence submitted with the application indicates or suggest that the applicant has some form of diminished mental capacity.

But, what exactly is a fiduciary? A fiduciary is someone the VA appoints to receive and use the VA pension funds on your behalf. The VA will give you the opportunity to choose who this person will be. You can even choose to appoint your spouse. However, the VA does not make it very clear to you that you may choose who this person will be, and if you do not indicate your wishes to the VA in a reasonable time, than the VA will appoint a third-party as your fiduciary. Usually this third party is a person employed by the VA.

If a third party is appointed, then you could face hardships such as unreasonable delays in receiving your much needed pension funds. That is why in all matters relating to your VA claim and overall estate plan, it is critical that you seek professional help before you unknowingly give up a valuable right.

The attorneys at Cooper, Adel & Associates are VA accredited attorneys who believe in helping Ohio's veterans navigate through the complex and difficult VA process. We invite you to call our office for your free consultation.

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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.

Who Can Represent Mom in a Nursing Home Situation?

By Jess LoPiccolo

Screen Shot 2014-05-27 at 1.42.47 PMThere are a few different answers to this commonly-asked question. When it comes to admitting a loved one into a nursing home, the power of attorney normally has the authority to do that. You must read the actual document to make sure that the power of attorney is authorized to do so, however. Further, it is important that the power of attorney sign any documents as power of attorney. Signing under your name, rather than as power of attorney for Mom, can make you responsible for Mom's bill!

When it comes to applying for Medicaid for an individual that is in the nursing home, you can represent your loved one, but you may find it best to go with a professional who has experience in making these applications. Consider working with an experienced elder law attorney to represent your loved one. Here at Cooper and Adel, we have a team dedicated to nursing home planning and Medicaid. Please give us a call for a free consultation to learn more about what we 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.

The History of Memorial Day

By Attorney Ted Brown

Screen Shot 2014-05-23 at 10.22.34 AMToday Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of the summer vacation season and a long weekend to relax or travel with friends and family. However, as you are enjoying your family road trip or backyard cook-out, I urge you to take a moment to remember the original meaning of Memorial Day.

Originally known as “Decoration Day”, the first observance was held on May 5, 1868 to honor the hundreds of thousand of soldiers who fought and died to preserve the Union. The holiday was first established the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union Veterans, to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers with flowers. The month of May was chosen since flowers were in bloom across the country and would remain for the remainder of the summer.

Decoration Day was became known as Memorial Day in 1882 but was not made an official government holiday until 1967. In 1968, Memorial Day was moved to the last Monday in May, creating the three-day weekend we know today.

One of the most enjoyable parts of my job is working to get our veterans the VA benefits they rightfully deserve.  

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

What happens to you if something happens to your attorney?

By Kathy Cooper

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

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

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

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

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



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