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What do you mean when you use the phrase “estate planning”?

Answer:  Perhaps the best way to understand what I mean by the phrase “estate planning”, is to define what estate planning is not.  Estate planning is not a product or a document.  For example, estate planning is not a will or living trust or a nursing home insurance policy or a power of attorney or an advanced medical directive or a Medigap insurance policy or a limited partnership or a corporation or a charitable remainder trust or a wealth replacement life insurance policy or a qualified personal residence trust or an irrevocable life insurance trust, etc.  The items in the above sentence represent products or documents.  They are not an estate planAn estate plan is a strategy which may involve some, many, or none of the above documents to preserve and protect your wealth.  The type of estate plan or strategy which is appropriate for you must be based on a comprehensive analysis of your family, health and financial situation by a qualified professional.  If you have not been involved in such a comprehensive professional analysis, you do not have an estate plan.  

New Year’s Resolutions

Around New Year's, many Americans set goals to make a change that will improve out lives in a meaningful way. The website Visual.ly has gathered some interesting statistics about the most popular goals in the U.S. that may shed some light on why these resolutions are so popular among the masses. Happy New Year!

The Cost Of Retirement


Saving for retirement is extremely important, even during an economic downturn. While some economists predict that brighter times are right around the corner, that doesn't change the fact that an increasing number of people are delaying their retirement plans. Just a few years ago, when the stock marked was still soaring to dizzying heights, many people become obsessed with "the number" – their individual nest-egg that would assure a comfortable retirement. Now the focus is shifting to a different, more important number: how much retirement income your savings will provide. 
Kiplinger.com has a great infographic on the topic. 

Financial Advice from the Greatest Generation


By Kathy Cooper


Have you been perplexed when you mom or grandmother saved rubber bands, pieces of string, plastic bags or boxes?   Does your mom still have her old fox shawl from the 1940’s?  


My grandmother would eat a little something that she hated every day, just in case she might have to eat a lot of it at some point in the future.  


I just read a terrific post from Mint.com about lessons we can all learn from the generation that lived through the Great Depression.  With our economy and political environment, it’s time to pay attention!


3 Principles of Personal Finance We Can Learn from The Greatest Generation



Fact: Our grandparents and great-grandparents were better at saving money than we are.




Photo Credits

While there are many reasons for their success, there are three core principles of personal finance that we can learn from them. These principles are tried and true, and something that many of us have lost sight of.


Economic trends may come and go, but saving money never goes out of style. Let’s take a moment to rediscover three principles of personal finance that have withstood the test of time:



Our grandparents were shrewd and they were frugal. While it’s easy to joke about this generation being full of “cheapskates,” ingenuity goes beyond just being resourceful: It is at the crossroads of creativity and dexterity.

How we can apply this to our lives today:

-If something breaks, try to fix it yourself.

-If a newer and “better” version of something comes out, wait to buy it until your current model no longer works.

-Put away the checkbook and try to solve problems creatively.

-Teach yourself skills that expand your practical knowledge.



The Greatest Generation took control of their finances because they were accountable for every penny they spent. The popularity of credit cards has diminished the need to keep track of every expense, as it has created a “swipe and reconcile later” attitude. Our grandparents were attached to their money because spending it was a tangible experience.

How we can apply this to our lives today:

-Use real-time tracking to keep your budget under control.

-Analyze your spending on a daily basis. Looking at credit card statements that are 30 to 45 days old will not help you take control of your finances today.

-Only ask or accept credit when it is truly necessary; learn to live within your means.



Because The Greatest Generation lived through The Great Depression, they learned to be truly grateful for everything that they had. Experiencing disastrous financial times made them painfully aware of the potential for future hardships. Our grandparents combined their grateful attitude with an unwavering work ethic and then used those skills to gain financial security and independence.

How we can apply this to our lives today:

-Drop the self-entitlement attitude: You only deserve what you have worked hard for.

-Be thankful for what you already have.

-Carefully analyze your “wants” versus “needs”.

-Combine a grateful attitude with an unwavering work ethic.

-Pay attention to your emotional attachment to spending money. Ask yourself, “Will purchasing this item really make me happy?”

While our grandparents and great-grandparents may have been better at saving money than most of us, it’s not too late to follow in their footsteps. With a little foresight and consciousness, we can begin down the path towards financial wisdom.

Morgan is a freelance writer and blogger living in Southern California with her two daughters and flock of backyard chickens. You can read more of her at The Little Hen House.

Pay for your funeral now?


By Attorney Elizabeth Durnell


As an Ohio Medicaid Attorney, I have discovered that the one thing that every one of my clients should have is a burial contract.


If done properly, the burial contract will be exempt from a nursing home spend down.


Some people hesitate to pre-pay because they have had a bad experience with one funeral home and the quality of their services.  Others have seen that funeral homes go out of business and then the family is stuck paying a second time for the same burial.  


In addition to the spend down exemption, another benefit of some burial contracts is that they can be used at any funeral home in the country, which will help to avoid these possible pitfalls.


If you are interested in understanding more about how a burial contract works in conjunction with Elder Law planning, please contact Cooper, Adel, and Associates for a free consultation.

How to spend your Christmas money


By Melissa Reynard


The average American spends $935 over the holidays each year.  Combine that figure with an average credit card debt of $8562 and you call tell Americans love their shopping.  And who doesn’t?  The holidays are a season of giving and there’s nothing better than seeing the expression on your loved ones faces as your grandson opens his new video game or your daughter oohs and aahs over her new chainsaw.   And we think nothing of spending this money for their happiness.


Out of that figure of $935, $452 is just for family gifts alone.  But there’s another great gift out there that you can get for your family.  And while its not one that you would normally think of, or even share with your family right away, it could be a stupendous benefit and helper.  That gift is estate planning.


With estate planning you can be sure to help your family even after you’re gone.  With an Elder Law Attorney, you can prepare Powers of Attorney, Trusts, Healthcare Directives and other important tools that make up estate planning.  Having these documents prepared is putting you one step closer to making things easier for your family in the eventuality that something happens to you.   


Give your family a different kind of gift this year.  Give them peace of mind.


Something to leave you with: despite the average American spending $935, they only plan to spend $646.  Is your planning accurate?  



American Consumer Credit Council

The Best Eggless Pineapple Rum Pound Cake


By Dan Vu


Around this time many of my clients will ask me what I am doing for the Holidays and what I enjoy doing the most. Curiously, I have come to find that most of my answers revolve around food! So I thought I share my favorite desert recipe. Close to Christmas, and when I beg enough, my wife will whip up the best pineapple rum pound cake. Being allergic to eggs, this recipe is also eggless but no less great!


Ingredients for cake: 1 cup sugar; ½ cup butter or margarine, ½ cup low-fat sour cream, 2 ¾ cups flour, 3 teaspoons baking powder, 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda, 1 (3.4-ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix, 1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 (10 ounce) can crushed pineaple, ¾ cup of pineapple juice (leftover from the crushed pineapple can), ¼ cup vegetable oil.  


Ingredients for topping: ½ (4-ounce) container whipped topping, 2/3 pints heavy cream, ½  (5 ounce can crushed pineapple), 1/4 cup pineapple juice (leftover from the crushed pineapple can), 1/2 package vanilla instant pudding, 1/4 cup dark rum, and 1 (3 ¾ ounce) package flaked coconut. 


  1. To prepare cake: preheat 350F. Lightly butter a 12-cup Budnt pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine sugar, butter, and sour cream. With mixer, beat until cream. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla pudding, cornstarch, vanilla, crushed pineapple, pineapple juice, and oil. Beat for 3 mins until smooth.
  3. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 40-45 mins. Cool for 20 mins before removing.
  4. To prepare topping: In a large bowl, beat with mixer the whipped topping and heavy cream until thick. On low speed, beat in pineapple juice, pudding, and rum and continue beating until well blended. Carefully fold in crushed pineapple  and coconut and spread on cake when completely cooked.


This recipe is from a book my wife and I use a lot, “Bakin’ Without Eggs” by Rosemarie Emro. From all of us at Cooper, Adel, and Associates, enjoy and have a Happy Holidays! 



By: Shelley Rose


As we all know, money, whether you have a lot or a little can become a very touchy subject ESPECIALLY when you are a celebrity.  With celebrity comes fame and fortune along with many relatives they have probably never met.


The children of celebrities enjoy reaping the benefits of their rich and famous parents, but do the same rules apply to the parents of celebrity kids?


Leighton Meester, the “Gossip Girl” star is suing her mom for abusing the money that Leighton sends to help pay for her brother's medical expenses.  Meester claims that her mother has been using $7,500 a month for cosmetic procedures instead.  She claims her mother refuses to work and justifies her actions by saying that she “sacrificed her happiness” to build her daughter's acting and singing career.


Another child star Macaulay Culkin who earned more than $17 million from Home Alone movie series was caught in a legal battle as his parents fought for control of his fortune.  The money was finally handed over to a family accountant until Culkin turned 18 (this money would have could have been set up in a Trust fund).


Parents have also used their celebrity children as subjects for tell-all movies or novels.  Nancy Aniston, mother of Jennifer Aniston of the long running sit-com “Friends”, wrote a memoir in which she exposed intimate details about her daughter's life.  The memoir led to a nine-year estrangement between the two.


All of the above situations have occurred while these family members were still alive.  Imagine the problems that occur when a parent dies and they do not have their “ducks in a row”.  Siblings fight and argue over the assets and which often cause estrangement and problems within the family.  


Cooper, Adel and Associates can keep the peace between you and your family members.  Call us to come in for a free consultation at 1-800-798-5297 so that you and your loved ones are protected.

Our Aging Population

By Bob Kueppers

The oldest members of the Baby Boom generation are just hitting 65. That means a much larger percentage that ever before of the US population are soon-to-be seniors. "All Assisted Living homes" has a great infograph illustrating this growing demographic. 

A Note on Survivorship Deeds

By Attorney Ted Brown

In the course of my work in Estate and Trust Administration, I often encounter the misconception that real estate owned jointly among spouses contains a right of survivorship. As a result, I see property end up in probate and the estate burdened with time-consuming and costly hassles that could have been avoided.

A right of survivorship is not conferred automatically to joint owners or joint tenants through a general warranty deed. This right is created only by specific wording on the deed itself and is more commonly seen is what is known as a survivorship deed.

While this nuance of property law is lost on many, it is not lost on a probate judge. Spouses, or other joint owners of property, each own an undivided one-half interest in that property. When one spouse dies, that half interest does not automatically pass to the other spouse unless a right of survivorship is granted within the deed. This means that in order for the surviving spouse to get clear title to the entire property, the deceased spouse’s half must go through probate. This can take months and add thousands in unnecessary expense.

The hassle of probate can easily be avoided by placing the property into a trust or with a properly drafted survivorship deed. It is important to seek the counsel of an Elder Law Attorney to explore these options.


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