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Prenuptial agreements for seniors remarrying can make sense

By Attorney Renee Fox

elder law lawyer in ohioAs an Elder Law Attorney in Central Ohio, I see many clients who wish to remarry after their first spouse has passed away. Often, it is financially detrimental for older clients to remarry. But, as the saying goes “the heart wants what the heart wants”.  If you are considering remarriage the following is something you should read:

Prenuptial Agreements

When one marries a second time it is critically important to protect one’s wealth through a Prenuptial Agreement. This is a contract between two parties entered into upon the advice of counsel that sets forth the rights a spouse will have after one is legally married. A typical Prenuptial Agreement will set forth what is considered “Separate Property” and what property will be deemed to be “Marital Property”. Separate Property is wealth that the future spouse waives his or her rights to upon death or divorce. When someone says “I do” a spouse gains legally enforceable rights to take against a will or a living trust by virtue of the marriage contract. The only way to protect against a second spouse upsetting the apple cart for the heirs is to have the spouse waive those rights before the marriage. This has to be done upon the advice of counsel and after full disclosure. A Prenuptial Agreement needs to be signed long before the date of the marriage ceremony so as to avoid any undue influence that might give someone the right to void the agreement at a later time. Married couples need to promise their current spouses that they will enter into Prenuptial Agreements if they decide to remarry after one becomes a widow or widower.

The living trusts we create at Cooper, Adel, & Associates allow for separate property to be held within a married persons’ trust. As a result, it directs your individual assets and family heirlooms to each person’s individual heirs.  Additionally, we include a provision for those couples who come to us that wish to protect their children’s inheritance should one spouse pass away and the second spouse remarry.

One thing the prenuptial agreement does NOT do is protect your assets in a nursing home situation!  This is not a good do-it-yourself task.  If you need help with these issues or are considering remarriage please pay a visit to the Attorneys at Cooper, Adel, & Associates.

 

Preserve Family Memories in a Video Gain Peace of Mind for your elders

by Barbara Penwell

medicaid attorney in ohioTwelve years ago, my father and the beloved husband of my mom, Betty passed away. One of his last wishes was for me to take care of Betty, make sure she is safe and most importantly, loved. This vow was very easy for me to embrace and keep. Betty and my father were married in 1982 and spent seventeen glorious years together before he passed. My sister and I, very quickly on, not only accepted her into our family, but also called her mom, grandmother and most recently, great-grandmother.

Betty kept numerous photos of her and dads’ life together, including the proposal evening, several travels spanning the US, Germany, France, Spain, UK,  & Egypt, attending the wedding of my nephew, experiencing the birth of a daughter and son to my nephew and wife and countless family get togethers.

Two and a half years ago, Betty suffered a stroke that resulted in short term memory loss, hence being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. While not physically impaired, we were faced with the reality of her not being able to live alone.  I am her healthcare agent, Power of Attorney,  and Co-Executor of her estate, thus remembering my vow to dad, I embarked on arranging her care in an assisted living facility. On most days, her routine is challenging as her cognitive ability to function is gone. What has brought her joy, is attending the facilities’ programs that include music from her genre and watching old time movies.

Living approximately 2.5 hrs away, does not afford me the time my husband and I would like to spend with her. Thus, we came up with an idea to create a video capturing a story line of memories from the photos Betty kept over the years. She loves the big band era of music, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Bing Crosby and the like, so these artists are the musical backdrop to the video. To this day, Betty can escape her frustration of the memory loss and watch the video daily, weekly or monthly. The video brings priceless joy and warms her heart. Betty has stated we should have done a video like this years ago and has told her friends to do the same.

It is never too late to gather photos you and your loves ones have accumulated and tell your own “story”.  A video will help provide peace of mind to an elder person, as it has in the case for Betty.

Equally important, it is never too late to discuss your estate planning with family members, prepare for the future and gain peace of mind.

It is never too late to learn about nursing home planning, asset protection, family trusts, veterans benefits, medicaid planning and estate recovery from Cooper and Adel and Associates and gain peace of mind.

It is never too late to act.

 

Contacting an Ohio Elder Law Attorney Now Can Save you Stress Later

By Steve Wright

Elder Law attorneys in ohioEstate planning is an incredibly important aspect of your financial responsibility. Many of us often plan throughout life how to achieve a successful career and build a healthy nest egg for retirement. So there is no doubt that Americans, as a whole, respect their financial wellbeing and want to protect it well into their golden years. After all, we spend a lifetime working towards the goal of financial independence and security.

However, once retirement comes, many Americans fail to realize that this is the time when planning shifts gears from planning for retirement, to planning to protect those assets that you worked hard for your whole life. Failure to plan your estate can have dire consequences for those loved ones we leave behind. This is true because probate can tie up assets and cost a surviving spouse thousands of dollars and several years before those assets again become available. In addition, probate makes your personal affairs a public affair, which can leave to greater stress and frustration. This is where an Ohio Elder Law attorney comes in to play.

By contacting an Ohio attorney who specializes in elder law, you can learn how planning early can protect that hard earned nest egg. An attorney can explain how a trust works, and why a trust may be a good idea for you. In addition, the attorney can explain to you the benefits of planning early, and the consequences of planning too late. After receiving the information you will be armed with the knowledge of how to protect those hard earned assets, and your attorney can help you put these legal vehicles to use.

At Cooper, Adel and Associates, we have a team of attorneys who have dedicated their careers to helping retirees plan for the future. By having attorneys with extensive knowledge in elder law, we can educate you on the steps you need to take in order to protect your financial future. As part of our mission to help retirees and seniors, we regularly host seminars throughout Ohio that explain the benefits of planning early. You can attend one of these free seminars to get information on how an attorney may be a good idea for you by calling our office to check and see when our next seminar is being presented near you.

 

Alzheimer’s is “a kind of death”

By Atorney Elizabeth Durnell

Ohio Medicaid AttorneyDuring my experiences as an Ohio Elder Law Attorney, I have seen many different kinds of illnesses and the many different responses to these illnesses.  We recently had a client whose husband was in a nursing home due to a completely debilitating stroke.  Her husband barely recognized her anymore.  She was very distraught when she learned that she would lose a significant portion of her assets to the nursing home and wondered how she would continue to pay for her home.  She asked us if divorce was an option for them.  It is becoming a mainstream option.  It was recently discussed by Religious broadcaster Pat Robinson on the “700 Club.”

Following is an excerpt from the Associated Press by Tom Breen.

Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson told his “700 Club” viewers that divorcing a spouse with Alzheimer’s is justifiable because the disease is “a kind of death.”

During the portion of the show where the one-time Republican presidential candidate takes questions from viewers, Robertson was asked what advice a man should give to a friend who began seeing another woman after his wife started suffering from the incurable neurological disorder.

“I know it sounds cruel, but if he’s going to do something, he should divorce her and start all over again, but make sure she has custodial care and somebody looking after her,” Robertson said.

The chairman of the Christian Broadcasting Network, which airs the “700 Club,” said he wouldn’t “put a guilt trip” on anyone who divorces a spouse who suffers from the illness, but added, “Get some ethicist besides me to give you the answer.”

Most Christian denominations at least discourage divorce, citing Jesus’ words in the Gospel of Mark that equate divorce and remarriage with adultery.

Terry Meeuwsen, Robertson’s co-host, asked him about couples’ marriage vows to take care of each other “for better or for worse” and “in sickness and in health.”

“If you respect that vow, you say ’til death do us part,’” Robertson said during the Tuesday broadcast. “This is a kind of death.”

A network spokesman said Wednesday that Robertson had no further statement.

Divorce is uncommon among couples where one partner is suffering from Alzheimer’s, said Beth Kallmyer, director of constituent services for the Alzheimer’s Association, which provides resources to sufferers and their families.

“We don’t hear a lot of people saying ‘I’m going to get divorced,’” she told The Associated Press. “Families typically respond the way they do to any other fatal disease.”

The stress can be significant in marriages though, Kallmyer said, because it results in the gradual loss of a person’s mental faculties.

“The caregiving can be really stressful on a couple of levels,” she said. “There’s the physical level. There’s also the emotional level of feeling like you’re losing that person you love.”

As a result, she said, it’s important for couples to make decisions about care together in the early stages of the illness, when its effects aren’t as prominent.

It is likely you have more options than simply divorcing a spouse with Alzheimer’s, but you need to find out about them.   If you and your loved ones are suffering through this horrible disease, please contact Cooper, Adel and Associates for a free consultation to determine your options.

 

Reflections on 9/11

By Guest Contributor, Jeffrey Hall

Jeffrey is Angie Hall’s husband who is a trained paramedic and was captain of a volunteer search and rescue team during the 9/11 tragedy.

With the 10 year anniversary of the events of 9/11 still very present in my thoughts, I wanted to share with you this story of one of the people who responded to this tragedy and dedicate it to the memory of those we lost on that terrible day.

September 11, 2001 was a day that changed all of our lives forever. It changed my life in so many ways. When I saw the destruction on television I thought it was a movie. I could not believe anyone could be that evil and do something so destructive. As we responded to New York I was not sure what we would see. There is no training that could prepare you for it. I thought about the men and women who lost their lives. I thought about the firefighters/paramedics/ law enforcement that died. These were brothers and sisters to me even though they were on a different department. I prayed I could be strong enough to deal with the destruction. When we arrived and I saw for the first time the total destruction I was overwhelmed but I did what anyone would do I buried it deep and worked to help others. When I was on the rubble pile I prayed that we would find survivors. I knew deep down that was next to impossible but I learned a long time ago anything can happen.

There were several close calls and I thanked God the entire time that we didn’t get hurt and we all came home. We came home different but we all came home. I feel I left a piece of me there that I can never get back. There were several things that touched me deeply. I saw an FDNY squad destroyed. It looked like someone put a bomb inside it. I have a picture of it and I often wonder what happened to the crew. When I got the picture of it I sat and just cried.

The biggest thing that stood out to me was the support we received from everyone around New York. We placed our trucks in a staging area across the river in Jersey City and people would just walk up and give you stuff like food or coffee. They would ask if there was anything we needed .I had a Police officer give me his long sleeve under armor shirt because I was cold and didn’t have any long sleeve shirts with me. I still have the shirt today.

The one thing I want people to know is I am no hero. I did this because people needed help. The true heroes are the men and women who lost their lives. The 343 FDNY men and women, 100 plus NYPD officers, and Port Authority members who ran into the buildings and never came home. It is the men and women who faced that terrible tragedy and got back on the truck to help others. The heroes are the families who go on everyday missing their loved ones. It is the men and women who put the uniform on everyday whether its firefighter, paramedics, law enforcement or the military and give their all to help others. Those are the true heroes.

I have nightmares about what I saw but I will never forget. We cannot forget those who gave all on September 11, 2001. We need to teach the future generations the story of these brave men and women. So that their memory lives forever.

Traffic control chief turns Elder Law Attorney

By Attorney Ted Brown

Ohio elder Law AttorneyAs an Ohio Elder Law attorney, I see the importance of careful planning and preparation everyday.  However, this is not my first exposure to the importance of preparation in a professional setting.  Prior to becoming an attorney, I served as the Director of Traffic Control Operations for the Village of Mariemont (East of Cincinnati). I was responsible for coordinating traffic control and parking plans for over 150 events per year.

I soon learned that what at first seemed fairly straightforward was dramatically improved by careful and diligent planning. From finding the easiest entrance and exit routes, to the timing of what streets would be closed in what order and the precise use of signage and equipment, I found that the more time I spent planning the more pleased citizens and event-goers tended to be.

Despite the preparation, every event was different and there was always a certain amount of flexibility required. I dealt with my fair share of surprises from medical emergencies, severe weather, bomb-threats, evacuations and car accidents each forcing an abrupt change to my plan.

All said, I greatly enjoyed the opportunity to improve traffic and parking operations throughout the city and the challenges involved. I also had the privilege of working with a tremendous group of people among several departments. Beyond that, I feel that the job prepared me well for the practice of Elder Law.

Elder Law is a field that requires careful, precise and diligent yet flexible planning. Each client is different and has unique circumstances and goals. Moreover, laws, programs and legal requirements are constantly changing. There is an enormous array of variables to consider of which the impact is unknown. My goal as an attorney is to develop the most-efficient estate plan for each client while having the foresight and discipline to adapt to the unexpected. Once again, I have the support of a fabulous group of people and one of the most experienced teams in the business.

Hope for Alzheimer’s Patients

By: JM Megail Gaumer

The debilitating disease of Alzheimer’s received a glimmer of hope today according to a nasal spray study being conducted by the Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System in Seattle, Washington reported by NBC News.    In a Phase II trial of 104 volunteers with Alzheimer’s or mild cognitive impairment patients showed slowed or stopped progression of the disease.  These are encouraging results for the treatment of this disease, which has not seen any effective treatments to date.

While the study is far from complete, researchers will soon begin the next phase of the study on a much larger scale to determine its success.  Even though it would still take years for the nasal spray to become available if the results are positive, to those who suffer the disease and the family members who watch their loved ones slipping away, it is hope they need.

We see and speak to these families on a daily basis and while we are not medical researchers, we are available to help you plan, allowing you to focus your efforts on the care of your loved ones.  Please call for a consultation so that we may begin helping you and your family.

Granny has ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ tattooed onto her chest

By Attorney Renee Fox

As an Ohio Elder Law Attorney, I counsel people everyday on the specifics of executing or not executing a Do Not Resuscitate Order, also known as a DNR. About a year ago on a television program about doctors, I caught an episode about a man who was in a motor cycle accident who had the words “Do Not Resuscitate” tattooed on his chest. He was brought in by squad and his life was saved. However, once in the hospital they were uncertain if the tattoo was serious or a joke. They treated the patient and left him on life support until they contacted a family member and received instruction from their legal department about what to do. It turns out he had early onset Alzheimer’s and did have a DNR. At the end of the show they took him off machines and he died with dignity with his sister by his side.

TV is one thing, but I never would have guessed someone would take this to heart and apply the principal in real life but one elderly woman did just that.  Joy Tomkins, the 81year old grandmother-of-six, is so adamant about her wishes that doctors not save her life in an emergency, she has had a “Do Not Resuscitate” tattoo placed on her chest. Further, in case she collapses face down and paramedics miss the big, blue capital letters, she had “PTO” which means please turn over and an arrow inked on her back. Joy said “I do not want to be half dead, I want to be fully dead. I’m afraid the medical profession will, with the best of intentions, keep me alive when I don’t want to be alive.”

Joy is not terminally ill but has arthritis, Reynard’s disease and diabetes. Many of my clients wait until they are terminally ill to execute this significant document because it must be discussed with and signed by your physician. When you have made your wishes known and either you or your health care power of attorney have presented this formal document to medical professionals they will no longer take any extraordinary measures to save your life, including CPR or defibrillation. They will basically keep you comfortable until you pass away.

Joy said “I don’t want to lie for hours, months or even years before dying. I do not want to end up as a vegetable. I don’t want my family to remember me as a lump. That is why I got the tattoo.” Joy said her children, Thomas, 52, and Mary, 50, “accept my wishes”. But a General Medical Council spokesman said most doctors would ignore her DNR tattoo. He said: “Mrs Tomkins’ tattoo would not be enough information by itself for a doctor to make this decision on in an emergency.” He said DNR wishes need to be put in writing and witnessed.

For help with powers of attorney and advanced medical directives please seek the advice of a professional and contact us at Cooper, Adel, & Associates.

 

How Married Couples should Avoid Probate

By Attorney Dan Vu

As an Ohio Elder Law Attorney, I am glad to see more and more couples take the necessary steps to avoid the cost and hassle of probate court after their deaths. Most couples avoid probate by owning assets jointly with rights of survivorship. That means the asset is titled so that it will pass automatically to the surviving spouse upon the first death. Although I am glad to see this, I always urge couples to take the next step and finish what they started. Instead of protecting the asset from probate only when one spouse dies, I would urge them to consider taking additional steps to avoid probate if both of them pass away at the same time.

For example, if you own your home or car jointly with your spouse with rights of survivorship and you both pass away at the same time, your home and car will go through probate before being distributed by your Will to your children. A simple way to avoid the cost and hassle of probate for your children, even in this tough-to- imagine scenario, would be to establish a Living Trust. With a Living Trust, even if you both die at the same time, your children will receive the asset without having to endure the delay and cost of the probate process. Further, you have the option to choose a Trust whereby those same assets could be sheltered from applicable federal and state estate taxes, nursing home liens, or even from your children’s creditors.  Make sure you see a qualified elder law specialist to see how best to meet your needs.

 

Your duty to protect your assets

By Roy Whited

I recently read an article in the AAA Home & Away publication for September/October 2011 that I thought warranted repeating. Gayle Burke outlined your duties as a property owner should you have a claim on your property insurance.

“Your Duties in the Event of a Loss”

  • Estate Planning Attorney in OhioPromptly notify the insurance company or your agent.
  • Notify the police if the loss was by theft.
  • Notify your bank or credit-card company if the loss falls under the additional coverage section for credit cards or fund transfer cards.
  • Protect your property from further damage.  If you need to make reasonable and temporary repairs to protect the property, keep accurate records and receipts for the expenses.
  • Prepare an inventory of the damaged or lost person property.  The inventory should include a description and the quantity and value of each item, along with any available purchase receipts or related documents.
  • Make the damaged property available for inspection by the insurance company, provide the requested records and documents, and permit the insurer to make copies.
  • Complete a proof-of-loss statement that must be signed and sworn.

You have a duty to cooperate with the insurer in the claim investigation.  The adjuster assigned to your case can advise you about the things you need to do, and your insurance agent can offer guidance as well.

All that being said, I think it would be a natural extension to include in your duties or obligations to yourself and your loved ones to protect your real property as well as other assets from being lost to a different type of “loss”: the cost related to a long term health care need including a nursing home stay.  Consider this: if you are over age 65 there is about a 65% chance that you will spend sometime in a nursing home before you die.  Compare that to the chance your home will be destroyed by fire, which is less than 1%.  Doesn’t it seem logical that you should contact an Elder Law Attorney to find out more about how you can protect your home and your other assets?

 



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