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“Do it Yourself” Advice is Cheaper now, but More Expensive Later…

 

By Attorney Mitch Adel

For years, I have been a subscriber of Real Simple magazine. I love the short quick reads that offer advice on how to solve everyday problems that come up in life and around the house. Nothing beats a simple “fix it” or input from another reader about how to solve common problems in ways you might not of thought of yourself. I seen an article that is related to what I do everyday, but that all changed this month. In the March 2013 issue there is an extremely useful article on “5 tough parental talks.” As it says in the tagline of the article, it is not easy to discuss death and dying with your folks but it's important all the same. The topics in the article are written as questions and are terrific, but please BE CAREFUL, some of the cost- cutting advice can have the opposite effect.

The second question in the article, an important one, asks “Do you have a Power of Attorney?” This is an extremely important document, and the advice on how to start the process with someone's parent is spot on. The author and her source explain that the best option is to contact an elder law attorney. Now, if you have read some of our elder law firm's blogs in the past, I can see how you might think my writing about this article is self serving, but in addition I want to share with you the reasons why.

The first question asks “Do you have a will?”, again a great question and a document that everyone should have, but be careful about the advice that is given. The author's source explains that not having a will means that the probate court judge will divide the assets and this process can cost thousands of dollars. Depending on the complexity of the assets that the deceased person had this can be true, but please also understand that even if you have a Last Will and Testament, your family may still have a costly probate experience. In fact, if you rely solely on a will for an estate plan, your estate will go through probate. This answer to the first question, again ends with the advice of how to start the process and shares that an attorney is the preferred option, but the scariest part is next. Their advice is to offer a cheaper alternative – a “do it yourself” (DIY) website. In the writer's defense they do acknowledge that using the DIY method should only be used if you have no property and few or no investments. My worry here is that some people will only see this as a cheaper solution and again, if not used properly a “simple” will can have the opposite effect.

The most hair-raising question in this article is “Do you have an authorized user on your bank and investment accounts?” Again, great question and putting the financial institution on notice of the above mentioned power of attorney is the best answer. However, in the article it says that families should meet with their bank or brokerage house to fill out the appropriate paperwork to have another family member listed as a co-owner and then list the account joint with rights of survivorship. This will allow the other family member (child) to withdraw funds and close accounts if the parent becomes incapacitated or passes away. While both the ability to access the funds and close accounts outside of the probate court are true, the article fails to mention that if the child, while the parent is still alive, has any creditor issues such as a car accident that leads to a lawsuit, a divorce or a bankruptcy, all of the money in the parent's account is exposed to that co-owner's (child's) creditors. In order to avoid having the children's problems affect the parent's assets, families should rely on a properly drafted power of attorney to access the funds while the parent is alive and a beneficiary designation on the account or a revocable living trust to avoid the probate court's involvement at death.

Every year the number of “do it yourself” (DIY) websites increases and with it an increasing amount of information available to you without your having to leave your couch. I cannot stress enough the importance of being extremely careful with how you utilize that information, no matter how reputable the source. You should never replace professional legal advice with something you read online or even in a magazine. If you have any questions or would like to discuss your individual situation please call our office 800-798-5297 to schedule a free one hour consultation.

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.

 

Paper or eBooks?

By Kathy Cooper

Are you ready to start eBook-reading or are you holding out? Do you simply like the experience of reading a “real” book, holding it in your hands, marking it up, turning the pages … maybe even prefer hardback books? I read an article this week that says the ebook readers are better for those of us who are Baby Boomers and older. They are easier on your eyes, believe it or not, according to some recent studies.

I have to admit, however, that I have been slow to adopt the iPad for reading novels although I consider myself moderately tech-savvy. In a previous career, pre-Cooper & Adel, I was deeply involved in technology. Today, I am involved with technology in our firm but I also spend a lot of personal time thinking about, reading about and generally messing around with the internet, my iPad and my iPhone.

I have been reading news articles and short subjects on my iPad for some time now. Pleasure reading was my last hold-out, like many of you. What are the benefits of e-reading? There are several:

  • You can decide the size of the font. I find it easier these days to have a little larger font.

  • You can choose the background color. That may sound strange, but contrast makes it easier to read as your eyes age. Also, the background color can help you read easier in all kinds of lighting conditions.

  • It's easy to get definitions. Thom and I always had a huge dictionary, and sometimes an atlas, close by to look up words while we read. Today, we just tap-tap and the definition is there along with the ability to jump to the internet to answer a question or look at a map.

  • Then there is the obvious benefit of reducing the “stuff” we all have. I love books, but I have a lot that I have not picked up for several years. They have become part of the “stuff” that I am slowly giving up to Goodwill or to my hardback book lovers as I try to lighten my load. eBooks sit on a virtual shelf. When you are ready to read them, you download them. When you're done, you click delete. No stuff.

  • Oh, and you don't have to give up your notes. Thom has always written all over any book he reads. This is part of the reason we each have copies of our favorites – I don't. However, eReaders allow you to add notes, highlight and even see what others have noted or highlighted. Now, this I have found helpful. If I later want to look back on a particular passage that I marked, it's easy with an eBook.

  • Finally, eBooks are just lighter when you travel. Thom tends to read 2 or 3 books at the same time. I am not a multi-tasker in this regard. I start a book, at least novels, and I read from page one to the end, straight through. Ebooks accommodate both our styles, no matter where we are in the world.

It is interesting that the study I mentioned previously found that older folks have less eye strain and read faster (not a benefit in my opinion, necessarily) on eBooks than real books. However, many these same folks described the experience as “harder” even though they told abut the benefits. But you know, eBooks are here to stay and paper may not always be an alternative. It's probably time to give them a try. You might find that it is worthwhile.

I think this is how we all are when we are forced to consider a new way of approaching a task or problem in our lives. It's easier to just keep doing it the way we have always done it. It's easier to avoid hard discussions about life issues, to postpone that trip to the attorney's office to get our ducks in a row. The problems will come to you, in some form or another, so it's better get your planning done BEFORE you have a crisis. So my message: Get your planning done and think about reading about on your eBook – give it a try!

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 is a revocable living trust?

 

Answer:  A revocable living trust is an agreement entered into by you to establish a trust where you, as your own trustee, will hold your own assets.  You retain control of these assets and have the right to change the trust, amend it or revoke it at any time. 

 

 

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.

 

Is a trust a new idea?

 

 

Answer:  No.  Trusts date back to old England.  Traditionally, they have been used only for people with very large estates.  Now, estate planners recognize that individuals, with modest estates can also benefit from trusts.

 

 

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 Tips & News

 

Investopedia defines the term Laughing Heir as a distant relative who inherits assets from a person who dies, even though they have little or no personal relationship. Some states limit the rights of the Laughing Heir and the estate passes or escheats to the state to be disbursed as the state sees fit! How can you avoid this unfortunate situation? Make sure you have a will or trust or other beneficiary designation on all of your assets. Don't forget to include a back-up beneficiary, just in case. Make sure you get good legal advice to set up your heirs so none of them will be a Laughing Heir!

 

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 CURE FOR THE WINTERTIME BLUES

By Mary Roberts

It's wintertime and the weatherman says snow.

It's bitter cold outside so there's no place I really want to go.

I remember the fall season when I quickly said,

''I'm tired, winter sounds good, need some rest'' underlined in red.

The harvesting, canning and freezing vegetables is past.

The enjoyment of time in the sun just didn't last.

When this time of year comes, I have to stop and reflect on things that are possible for me to do to make my future more positive in the coming year. Summertime is so busy we tend to forget about personal decisions we need to make for our future and that of our family. Wintertime is a great time to think about ESTATE PLANNING and getting our affairs in order or, as our motto says, “get your ducks in a row”.

Elder Law is our specialty at Cooper, Adel & Associates. Whether it's trusts, wills, powers of attorney, Medicaid, nursing home planning or aid with VA Benefits, we are here to assist you.

Attorney Cooper always says, “Call us first when anything happens to your family.” I had the opportunity this week to speak to a lady who was in total panic mode. Attorney Cooper had prepared her parents trust and told the family members to call us first when anything happened to Mom or Dad. The parents had been visiting in Florida and were driving back to Ohio, coming through one of the southern states. Dad had a heart attack, at the wheel, and was killed instantly. Mom is in the hospital in Florida with a broken neck. The daughter called and said, “I can't even think. Can you tell me what I need to do first?” I recommended that she call the insurance company and report the accident and then get to Mother and see to her care. We will be here to help her with all the rest when her schedule permits it.

WE are also here to assist YOU when crisis comes. It is our hope that we can take the pressure off and make your stress level as minimal as possible. A caring attorney and his trained staff are what everyone need in these trying times.

If you need to get your estate planning in order, give us a call. (1-800-798-5207) We are here to assist you in any season. It's the CURE FOR THE WINTER TIME BLUES. Do something good for yourself and your family.

 

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.

 

Is there a program that will offer you or your loved one in-home care?

 

By Attorney Elizabeth Durnell

Yes, the program is called PASSPORT. The State of Ohio offers this program through Medicaid to pay for up to 20 hours a week of in-home care to a person who meets certain health and financial requirements.

To meet the health requirements for PASSPORT, a person must require assistance with two of the activities of daily living. These include getting in and out of bed, bathing, cooking, dressing, going to the restroom, and mobility, just to name a few.

The financial requirements differ based on whether the application is for a couple or a single person. For a single person, they are allowed to keep $1500 in cash assets and exempt assets such as their home, one car and an irrevocable burial contract. For a couple, the same rules apply, plus the healthy spouse may keep half of the couple's resources with a maximum of approximately $114,000 and a minimum of approximately $22,000.

However, the exempt assets are not protected from the Estate Recovery Program. This Program is run by the State Attorney General's office and was created so the State of Ohio can recoup some of the money spent for a person's care. The State has the right to place liens on the exempt property to recover some of the money paid on that person's behalf.

There is good news, however. If you have too many assets to qualify today, it is not too late to protect some of your assets through the use of trusts and other estate planning tools so that you can qualify for benefits in the future.

Also, if you were a wartime veteran or the widow of a wartime, you may qualify for a VA benefit that you can use to help pay for in-home care. But you must coordinate the applications for benefits, because the rules to qualify for VA are different than the rules to qualify for Medicaid.

To find out more about this great program, please contact the Elder Law Attorneys at Cooper, Adel and Associates, for a free consultation. 

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.

 

Is there more than one type of trust?

 

Answer:  Yes.  The reason that there is so much confusion about trusts is that there are many types of trusts for many purposes.    For example, there are court supervised trusts, irrevocable trusts for the benefit of third parties, charitable trusts, real estate trusts, supplemental needs trusts, AB trusts, disclaimer trusts, or revocable trusts created by individuals to pass assets to their heirs at their death.  The word trust is a general term used by attorneys in the same way that a person might use the general term “vehicle”.  The word “vehicle” may encompass anything from a 25 ton dump truck to a Volkswagen.  The only way that you can determine which vehicle is best for you is to determine what you are trying to do with the vehicle.  If you are hauling gravel, the dump truck would be the best while if you just need to go to the grocery store the Volkswagen would be the best.  The concept is the same with trusts.  You have to first look at what you are trying to accomplish (i.e., your estate planning goals) and then determine which type of trust, if any, you should use to accomplish your family, financial, or estate planning goals.

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 is a trust?

Answer: The technical answer is that a trust is a legal arrangement in which an individual (the grantor) gives fiduciary control of assets to a person or institution (the trustee) for the benefit of beneficiaries.

 

 

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 Tips & News

Money Watch recently published a list of Social Security errors that can cost your thousands. Social Security planning is important and we can help, so call us if you'd like to know more. You can read the original article here: Social Security Errors

IRS CIRCULAR 230 NOTICE: To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, we inform you that any U.S. tax advice contained in this communication (or in any attachment) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed in this communication (or in any attachment).

 



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