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Should I Get Married in my Golden Years?


Typically, significant life events are driving factors for individuals to evaluate or re-evaluate their estate plans. Whether these events include getting married, having children and grandchildren, retiring or needing long-term care, lives change. And it is crucial to accommodate for these changes in your estate plan. However, what happens when you don’t have an estate …

How Estate Tax Changes Could Affect Farmers


In August 2016, the IRS proposed a new regulation under Section 2704 of the Internal Revenue Code that could greatly affect farmers. This long-awaited proposal would take away the ability for family-owned farming businesses to apply the valuation discounts they have used for so long. The change would cause a significant tax hit, discouraging further …

Planning for the Surviving Spouse


So much of estate planning and Elder Law revolves around uncertainty. Nobody knows how long they will live. Will they end up in a nursing home? Will the federal estate tax change? Will Ohio bring back the estate tax? While we may not know the answers, we all know for certain that one day we …

When is an Asset Protection Trust Right for Me?


As Elder Law Attorneys, we are often asked this question. The simple answer follows.

If you have something you don’t want to lose to the nursing home, an Asset Protection Trust is right for you. Just make sure you set it up and fund it at least five years and one day before you need long-term …

QIT 101


More and more, people are hearing they need Qualified Income Trusts — a QIT — to stay on or receive Medicaid benefits at home or in the nursing home. It’s just another in a long line of recent changes to Ohio Medicaid laws.

Unfortunately, many of these changes affect thousands of elderly Ohioans and have made …

Does your estate plan still work?


Change is inevitable. And when it occurs, your estate plan must change as well. Most of us have been told that we should go to the doctor once a year for a checkup. We know the car oil needs changed every 3,000 miles or so. However, unlike our health and our cars, few of us …

Are you Uninformed About Estate Planning?


Do you have a plan in place if you can’t make health and financial decisions for yourself? What about a plan to protect your loved ones in the event you become injured or die? If you don’t, you’re not alone. Many Americans don’t have proper estate plans in place.

It is absolutely necessary that everyone has …

How to Avoid a Common IRA Mistake


If you’re like many people, you’ve probably invested in an IRA for retirement. But one piece of advice I can give you is to always make sure one thing is in order: your beneficiary forms. Here’s why.

Many clients we encounter set up trusts to accomplish their personal goals, whether it be to avoid probate or …

Farmers and the Proposed Federal Estate Tax Changes


2016 is a great year to die. Personally I’m hoping to spend quite a few more years on this planet, but from an estate tax perspective now would not be a bad time to go. Many states, including Ohio, currently have no state estate tax. The federal government exempts the first $5.45 million of your …

Bait and Switched? Get Long-Term Planning Without Expensive Long-Term Care Insurance


Is long-term care insurance enough to protect your assets and family when faced with a nursing home crisis?

For many people, the idea of long-term care insurance is a great way to protect their estate from a devastating hit due to the rising costs of long-term care. Based on Ohio statistics, the average stay in a …

Ohio Medicaid Estate Recovery


Has anyone ever told you that they lost their inheritance because Medicaid took what was left after their parents passed away? Ever wonder how something like this can happen? It just doesn’t seem fair.

In Ohio, Medicaid Estate Recovery is a program that collects on estates of those who received long-term care support.  When Medicaid recipients …

Six Important Questions to Ask When Choosing a Nursing Home


Whether it’s you, a spouse or a parent, deciding to move to a nursing home can be a stressful situation, especially if you don’t know the right questions to ask. You may read the fancy brochures and tour the facilities, but they begin to blend together and the search can feel overwhelming. Before you make …

What is a CCRC?


CCRC stands for Continuing Care Retirement Community. A CCRC delivers a wealth of options for senior housing and services. These options include guidance and attention through the spectrum of long-term care — from independent living to skilled nursing care.

It is comforting to many people to know they can start out completely independent, with the option …

Why You Need a New Powerful Power of Attorney in 2016


Think a spouse or child can simply step in and make financial and health decisions for you in the event you are incapacitated? Not so fast. Compliance departments at financial institutions are developing increasingly stringent policies regarding with whom they share information. If you’re incapacitated, you better have a properly drafted power of attorney. Without …

Long-term care premiums going up? Find out how legal planning can help!


If you are among the 8 million Americans with long-term care insurance, you may have noticed your premiums climbing higher and higher. You’re not alone. Long-term care insurance premiums have been rapidly increasing for seniors across the country.


What options are available if you can’t afford these premiums? How can you still protect your assets? While …

Time to take RMDs. Time to understand taxes.


An IRA can be a beautiful thing.  You can contribute money to a retirement account and it grows tax deferred until you withdraw it.  Many folks leave their IRAs in place, still growing through retirement until they have to start withdrawing funds from these accounts.  If you have an IRA and you are approaching your …

Suitability vs. Fiduciary


As an attorney, I’m often interacting with other professionals in my clients’ lives. In reflecting on these interactions, I sometimes wonder if my clients’ financial professional is doing what is in their best interest.

In looking in to it, I discovered that the rule governing financial professionals for quite some time has been to recommend investments …

Will Medicare pay for my long-term care?


Many Americans don’t consider the cost of future long-term care. Those that do, often grossly underestimate the actual costs. Long-term care consists mainly of custodial care or assistance with daily activities such as eating, bathing, dressing, walking, and using the restroom and management of medications. According to the Ohio Department of Aging, the average monthly …

Some Good News for Seniors and their Caregivers


In 1965 Congress passed the Older Americans Act (OAA) to address concerns about a lack of community based social services for older persons.  This legislation would create an authority for grants to the States for community planning and social services, research and development projects, and personnel training in the field of aging.

Today, the …

My Spouse is in the Nursing Home. How much of my assets can I keep?



According to the Ohio Department of Aging, the average monthly cost for a nursing home is $6327.  This is a total of $75,924 per year.  If you’re like most people, you don’t have an extra $76,000 just laying around.  So how would you pay for care?


There are several options: 1. Out-of-Pocket, 2. Long-Term Care Insurance, …

What is the Medicaid Look-back?


You worked and saved all of your life. You followed your parents’ advice and are in a better financial position at your age than they were when they were your age. Simply put, you are finally comfortable. You now watch as loved ones or their families begin to suffer illnesses leading to the often difficult …

Should I do a Reverse Mortgage?


For seniors short on cash, Reverse Mortgages have become a common consideration. It seems like a great way to tap into their home equity to create cash for use in retirement years. While the benefit is obvious, disadvantages should also be considered when pursuing a Reverse Mortgage.
To give you an overview, Reverse Mortgages are similar …

Beware of Free Advice


Seniors who have questions about their financial health or concerns about long-term care costs and options have no shortage of people for advice. From the call-in radio shows, to an overworked nursing home employee, or just a neighbor trying to be helpful, there is a lot of advice out there that seniors may get that …

No Kids, No Plan?


Often times, estate planning is about leaving your assets to your children. But what if you don’t have children?  Tacitly assuming that an Estate Plan is unnecessary for you is a bad idea.  Many other benefits are achieved through planning.

Estate Planning can be even more crucial to a couple without children. Your spouse may be …

At Home Health Services: Medicaid Changes


Despite federal law to the contrary, some states have required that an individual seeking to receive home health services through Medicaid be homebound before they can qualify. Such requirements have previously been ruled in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  However, not all state regulations had been changed to reflect this ruling and come …

Estate Taxes and its Impact on Your Plan if Hillary Wins


No matter if you turn on the TV, switch stations on the radio or even pick up the daily news, one thing is clear – we are in an election year. As of now, the front-runner of the Democratic Party is Hillary Clinton.  Setting our political opinions aside for a moment, what estate tax implications …

The Future Changes in Health Care and the Effects of End of Life Care


Anyone who works in the healthcare industry knows we are in a constant influx of change that surrounds us. From billing codes, to new technology, it’s hard for even the savviest informed folks to keep up with all the transition. It’s hard enough to keep up with where our contacts in the industry work from …

End of Life Planning


Many Ohioans think of estate planning as having a Simple Will that controls the distribution of their assets after they pass. However, this would overlook many of the issues and decisions that need to be made at the end of your life.  End-of-life decisions are based on your values and beliefs, and only you can …

Eldercare: It Cost How Much?!


By this stage in our life we are all well aware that nothing in life is really free. I find it amusing that during this election cycle (like none before) that some of the presidential candidates are making promises of “free stuff” if you would only vote for them. Who doesn’t like free stuff but …

Farm Succession Planning: How to Keep the Family Farm in the Family


Farmers know that something needs to be done to set up a succession plan for the family farm. But where should you begin?  Start by identifying potential threats.  What are the possible threats preventing the farm from staying in the family for generations to come?



In today’s litigious society, farmers must be aware of potential lawsuits …

How should I deal with the Credit Cards of the Deceased?


Avoid probate at all costs. A lot of us have heard it. As an attorney, I’ve certainly said it. When the first spouse passes, assets held jointly become those of the living spouse and avoid probate. Although this is a nice outcome for most, can the same be said for debt?

The short answer is, it …

All in the Family


Determined to keep the fruits of your hard work in your family forever? Then dynasty trust planning might be worth exploring.

Without proper guidance and planning, estate taxes, generation-skipping taxes and gift taxes can significantly decrease the inheritance of children and grandchildren of high net worth individuals. Instead of leaving money directly to heirs, a dynasty …

Un-Traditional IRA Planning


Many Americans save money in a traditional IRA. If you’re one of them, you have a tax bill coming. Why? Because part of your traditional IRA dollars aresimply a loan from Uncle Sam.While you may not have thought about it, many advisorshave. Many advisorsare paid a percentage to manage that IRA money.Would they rather have …

Have you gifted assets to your children?



If you are like the majority of my clients, you have probably given assets to your children over the past few years. This could include $1000 at Christmas, the IRS gifting exclusion of $14,000, giving them a few acres from the family farm to build a house or giving them a couple hundred dollars here …

Liability Insurance: How Much is Enough?


When’s the last time you thought about your risk of being sued?

If you were involved in a car accident that caused serious injuries and you were at fault, you might have worried about being sued.

Or if your family dog, who normally loves nothing more than to cuddle with visitors, suddenly attacks a child in your …

Elder Law and Same Sex Marriage


This summer’s Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage across the nation has brought changes not only to family law, but to the world of elder law as well.  Planning strategies used for an unmarried couple are not always the same strategies that would be employed when planning for a married couple.  Newly married same-sex couples …

Breaking Down Myths of Hospice:


In this blog, I’d like to break down the most common myths of hospice.


Hospice hastens death.


The fact of the matter is that most patients live on average 29 days longer on hospice service and have a better quality of life (article attached to provide research study information).

As I stated in my last blog, hospice is …

Where is your Will?


Where is your Will? Simple question, right? But statistics show that when someone passes away, locating the original Will is often a difficult task. Not only are family members left with the devastating loss of a loved one, but they now have to conduct a scavenger hunt, often digging through boxes in the attic, bins …

The Value and Benefit of Pre-Planning


Why would you want to pre-plan your funeral? It’s a good question with a very simple answer. Pre planning provides emotional and financial benefits to the people you love and who’s lives you have touched and it makes a very difficult day a little easier.

Emotionally, pre-planning is a gift to loved ones. It enables them …

Estate planning for small businesses



As a business owner, you’re likely focused on running the business.  Planning for succession is far from your mind. A failure to focus on the future, however, can be disastrous when it comes time to relinquish control. There is no “one-size fits all” approach. Here is an overview of options for transitioning your business.

Ways to …

Being Prepared vs. The Risk of Doing Nothing


When first learning how to drive, my drivers-training instructor would play a game with

me during my time behind the wheel.  He called it the “What if” game and during my turn

to drive he would ask if I was ready to play?  Of course, I had no choice; if I wanted to

graduate I had to play …

Can You Prepare Your Special Needs Child for Life after You’re Gone?


The simple answer is, yes. Be proactive ensuring that your special needs child’s future is in order after you’ve left this Earth. Have a plan.

Contact an attorney to determine if a Special Needs Trust (SNT) would be beneficial. In its simplest form, a SNT allows government benefits that your special needs child may be receiving …

How to Use a 529 College Savings Plan to Save on Estate Taxes


 Joe Messinger, CFP®, is the CEO and Co-founder of Capstone Wealth Partners and Guest Blogger at AlerStallings.  You can follow him on Twitter  @capstonewealth or LinkedIn.

Grandma and Grandpa, are you looking to help your grandchildren pay for their college education? Wouldn’t you also like to see an estate planning benefit? You can by incorporating 529 savings plans …

Naming a Trustee


You’ve done the work. You feel good that your estate plan is in order or that you’ve contacted an attorney to begin the process of getting your estate planning documents in place. You’ve decided you need a Trust, but, who do you name as trustee?

If your trust is revocable (meaning you can modify or revoke …

Questions Your Elder Law Attorney Should Be Asking You


It is nearing the holidays. You’re finally getting around to thinking about your estate plan. Maybe you just attended a workshop put on by an Elder Law attorney. Now your head is spinning with information. We get it. It can feel overwhelming and you don’t know where to begin. When you sit down to meet …

Where Should I Keep My Will?



You finally made a will. While creating a will provides guidance to what should happen once you pass away, it doesn’t help if no one can find it. In Ohio, Probate Court requires an original copy of the will. In order to ensure that your loved ones have access to the original will, it is …

How to Protect Your Nest Egg with Personal Umbrella Insurance


Matt Simon, CIC, CPCU, is Vice President at Hill & Hamilton Insurance and Guest Blogger at AlerStallings.  You can follow him on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/matthewtsimon.


Let’s face it, most of us are putting in long hours today, saving for our retirement, in hopes that our nest egg will be sufficient some day for us to enjoy …

Divorced? Here’s a Checklist for your Estate Plan


If you’re divorced (recently or not so recently), you may have overlooked updating your estate plan. While it’s understandable you might be tired of being in an attorney’s office, ignoring this problem would be big a mistake. Ohio law will ignore distributions to your former spouse as well as appointments of your former spouse as …

Estate Planning For Retirement Plan Assets


Victor J. Ferguson is a Partner at Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP and Guest Blogger at AlerStallings.


Estate Planning For Retirement Plan Assets

Retirement plan assets – profit sharing plan accounts, 401(k)s and IRAs – account for a significant portion of many estates and frequently present unique planning issues and hurdles.

Perhaps the most significant financial aspect …

Do I need to update my estate plan?


You created an estate plan to protect yourself and your family from the unnecessary costs associated with Probate, Taxes and/or Long-Term Care Costs. Now what?

It is recommended that you review your estate plan either annually or bi-annually to keep it up to date, but you may also want to review your estate plan if you …