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- AlerStallings

Between cloud storage, online accounts, and smart phones, each of us will leave behind a wealth of data when we pass. Until recently, ensuring our loved ones had access to that data was not so simple. Apple and Google are changing that with new tools: Apple’s Legacy Contact and Google’s Inactive Account Manager. We’ll explain why you should enable these features and how.


What is a digital legacy contact?

A digital legacy contact is a trusted person you’ve approved to access your account in the event of death or incapacitation. With much of our lives becoming digitized, there’s a lot of information contained within our accounts that your loved ones may need after you’re gone, such as precious photos or contact information for extended family.


What should I consider before setting up a digital legacy contact?

Each tech company’s program is different, so be sure to read the details. You may not be able to customize the information your legacy contact will see, so it’s important to choose someone you trust. Set a reminder to revisit your designation every couple years, in case you need to make updates.


Now, let’s look at how the two programs work and how to set them up.


 How does Apple’s Legacy Contact work?

When you set up your Legacy Contact, an access key will be generated and sent to the person or people you choose. They don’t have to be an Apple user. When you pass, they’ll be able to request access to your account by providing their access key and a copy of your death certificate to Apple for review. It’s important to note that users won’t have access to your Keychain, which includes your passwords and payment information. More details on the process and what data your legacy contacts will see can be found here.


How to Set Up a Legacy Contact in Your Apple Account


From an iPhone or iPad

  • Tap the “Settings” icon on your home screen.
  • Next, tap your name (found at the top of the screen).
  • Tap “Password & Security”
  • Tap “Legacy Contact,” then follow the prompts on screen.


From a Mac

  • From the Apple menu in the top right of your screen, select “System Settings”.
  • Click your “Apple ID” (at the top of the left column)
  • Click “Password & Security”
  • Scroll to “Legacy Contact” and click “Manage”


How does Google’s Inactive Account work?

Google’s Inactive Account has a couple major differences from Apple’s Legacy Contact– namely the ability to customize what data you share and when. With Inactive Account, you provide Google with instructions for contacting your digital legacy contact(s) automatically after it detects your account has been inactive for a certain period of time. You choose the threshold, which can be anywhere from three to 18 months.


Once your account has been inactive for that amount of time, Google will send your legacy digital contact(s) a message you write during set up, plus a list of data you’ve chosen to share with them, and a link where it can be downloaded. More details on the process can be found here.


How to Set Up Google’s Inactive Account Manager

Go to and follow the prompts on screen. Heads up: Inactive Account Manager is not available for Google Workspace accounts, so if you have one, be sure to login with your personal Gmail account instead.

- AlerStallings

If you’re a veteran, you may want to keep tabs on this. Recently, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) launched “Serving Those Who Serve”, an initiative to connect soldiers with services to aid their entry into civilian life. Details are still forthcoming, but a main focus is to provide consumer protection for veterans, military spouses, and families through consumer education and enforcement action.


“Serving Those Who Serve” is the result of the NAAG’s annual Presidential Summit. Yost, who currently serves as NAAG President, invited representatives from several branches of the military to discuss opportunities for the attorneys general to drive change for the better. Each year, the incumbent NAAG President identifies a cause to champion for the duration of their one-year term.


Yost is no stranger to working with other states on these issues. Most notably he participated in a multistate settlement in 2021 that shut down the fraudulent charity Healing Heroes. Hero Giveaways, LLC, the business behind Healing Heroes, solicited donations with the promise that 100% of proceeds would be dedicated to helping wounded warriors. Instead, the money landed in the pockets of professional fundraisers and the organization’s founders. Ohio donors contributed more than $500,000 in response to the deceptive mailers and telephone solicitations.


We’re glad to see a focus on these issues and hopeful to see more outcomes that support our veterans and protect them from predatory behavior. All too often, veterans miss out on benefits to which they’re entitled, either because they’re unaware of what’s available, or have been erroneously denied. Our attorneys are passionate about helping you get the assistance you deserve and are experienced in navigating the complicated VA benefits process. If you or a member of your family is a veteran, we can help you explore your eligibility and ensure applications are submitted correctly to avoid any delays or hiccups.


Like all developments in veterans’ services, we’ll continue to monitor the progress from “Serving Those who Serve” and share it with you. In the meantime, know that we’re here to serve you with heart and make the system work for you.

- AlerStallings

If you’re starting to feel like you get a disproportionate share of illegal robocalls, you might be right. According to the Federal Trade Commission, Ohio ranks second in the nation for Do Not Call Registry complaints per capita. As scams continue to rise, it’s more important than ever to know how to protect yourself.


In 2020, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost created the state’s Robocall Enforcement Unit, a team of attorneys and investigators dedicated to holding accountable the companies involved in the illegal calls. Most recently, Yost and seven other attorney generals achieved a court judgement that shut down a robocall operation responsible for more than 69 million robocalls to Ohioans alone; nearly half of which were registered to the Do Not Call list.


Despite the scope of this win, it’s still only a small dent in a larger problem. Savvy illegal robocall operators continue to find new ways to trick their victims. One such tactic is spoofing. Scammers falsify the information displayed on your caller ID to convince you to pick up the phone. They may disguise their identity by displaying a number with your local area code, or even the number of a legitimate company or government agency.


What to Do if You Receive a Robocall?


Your best defense is to not answer calls from numbers you don’t recognize. If it seems like the caller might be legitimate but you can’t be sure, check the consumer complaint database to see if the business has previously been reported.


If you realize you’ve unwittingly answered a robocall, hang up immediately. Do not answer any questions, not even those that seem innocuous, or only require a yes or no. Be particularly wary of aggressive sales tactics or callers asking you to confirm your social security number, bank information, or passwords. And certainly, don’t follow any prompts, such as those instructing you to “press 1” to be removed from the caller’s list. These can be a mechanism for identifying potential victims.


How Should You Report a Robocall?


You can report robocalls to Ohio’s Robocall Enforcement Unit through one of the following methods:


– Text “ROBO to 888111

– Visit

– Or Call 1.800.282.0515


You can also report unwanted calls to the FTC. If you did not lose any money as a result of the scam call, you can report it via; but if it caused a financial loss, use the form found at


What Else Can You Do?


Be sure to add all your phone numbers to the National Do Not Call Registry. You can register or verify an existing registration at PCMag also offers some tips on how to block unwanted calls on your cell phone, plus a round-up of resources provided by cellular carriers and a list of reputable call screening apps to consider.


While robocalls remain a burgeoning problem, Ohio’s Robocall Enforcement Unit continues to go after bad actors at every level––from the carriers who facilitate the behavior to the individuals who make the calls. Their multipronged approach provides hope that some relief is possible. In the meantime, hang in there, and most importantly, hang up.


- AlerStallings

When it comes to evaluating a long-term care facility, certainly you want to find a place where you and your loved one feel comfortable with the environment and the care provided. While you can’t underestimate your gut feeling on a decision of this magnitude, sometimes it helps to have a set of questions that guide the discussion and help you feel confident that you’re making the right choice. Here are the top five we recommend: 



1.) What is the staffing ratio and your rate of turnover?


You’ll want to know there are enough staff on hand—specifically nursing staff like licensed practical nurses (LVNs and LPNs) and certified nursing assistants (CNAs)—to provide quality care.

As of this writing, indicates that the national average for total number of nurse staff hours per nursing home resident per day is 3 hours and 46 minutes. You can use their search tool to see how nursing homes near you stack up. For some nursing homes, staff turnover rates are also displayed; however, if it’s not available, don’t be afraid to ask the nursing home directly. 



2.) Do you put a plan of care in writing for each resident?


This is a good opportunity to discuss: 


– Whether the facility can meet your loved one’s needs (be specific!) 

– If the facility offers progressive levels of care (such as ventilators or specialized Alzheimer’s and dementia care) 

– How often the plan of care is updated  

– What services are included, and which will incur an extra fee 


It’s important to have confidence that you or your loved one will receive the standard of care you expect within your budget and that changing needs will be addressed in a timely fashion. Having the plan in writing ensures that everyone on the care team is on the same page and expectations are documented.   



3.) Is there a licensed physician on staff? Can residents see their own physician if they want to? 


In the event of an acute medical problem, you’ll want to know who will respond (and how quickly). Find out if there is a physician on staff and how often they are on the premises. If your loved one would be required to see this physician, find out if you could meet them in advance to assess their bedside manner. If you’d prefer to use your own physician, confirm with both the nursing home and your doctor how rounding would work. 



4.) How do you ensure the emotional well-being of your residents? 


Sure, you’re evaluating the nursing home’s ability to physically care for your loved one, but it’s also important to consider how they’ll care for their mental health. Some things you may want to consider include: 


– The policy for visitors, such as hours and restrictions 

– The types of activities offered and their frequency 

– Whether religious services are available 

– Access to outdoor areas like patios and gardens 

– How often cultural events are offered 

– The quality of the dining program, including menus that feature diverse cuisines 


Simply put, consider what makes your loved one smile and make sure they’ll still have access to the things that give them joy. 



5.) How are your employees selected and vetted? 


With cases of elder abuse on the rise, you can never be too careful in evaluating the people and facilities who will be entrusted with the care of your loved one. Unquestionably, all employees should have their backgrounds checked and their qualifications verified by the facility as a condition of hire. Staff members should be clearly identified with name tags or security badges at all times. 


When you visit a facility, interact with staff at all levels, not just the marketing director who leads the tour. Get an impression of how they respond to patients and trust your instincts. If you notice an unpleasant smell in the facility, a lack of cleanliness, lax security measures, or employees that seem disengaged from the residents, those are important warning signs you shouldn’t ignore. 


Choosing a nursing home can be stressful, but knowledge is one of the most important ways to make the process easier. Don’t hesitate to take these questions with you when you visit a facility, so you can truly be in the moment and focused on your loved one. And above all else, know that though you may be concerned about whether you’ll make the right choice, the simple fact that you’re doing this important research means you’re already on the path. 

- AlerStallings

Nobody likes to discuss the worst-case scenario; and thankfully, in many cases “the worst” doesn’t happen all that often. However, there is one worst-case scenario that affects the majority of people over the age of 65; and yet despite the prevalence, it’s not discussed openly. We’re talking about long-term care.


The U.S. Department of Health & Human Service’s Administration for Community Living found today’s 65-year-old has a nearly 70% chance of needing long-term care. Many retirees aren’t financially prepared for the cost, which at the time of this writing averages nearly $8,000 per month for a private room in a nursing home. That’s well over $90,000 per year. Considering 20% of today’s 65-year-olds will need long-term care for more than 5 years, it’s easy to see why the cost can quickly devastate your financial finances.


Given the risks, why don’t we talk about this more? Simply put, no one likes to talk about getting old. And many financial advisors aren’t equipped for these difficult conversations or are not well-versed in the options that exist to help you mitigate the risk. Worse, it’s a common misconception that Medicare will pay for your long-term care needs. Medicare will only pay for a short stay in a skilled nursing facility under very specific circumstances.


So, What Are the Options


Private pay is one option, though many people don’t have the assets necessary for this to be a viable option. You could sell the family home, or draw down your accounts, but that would leave a surviving spouse or other family members without a place to live, or the financial resources for their own care.


Another option is long-term care insurance, but the premiums can be prohibitively expensive. The most affordable rates are offered when you’re younger, precisely when long-term care isn’t on your radar.


Finally, military veterans may have access to care through their VA benefits. This can be a valuable feature. But, what if you’re not a veteran? Are there any other options?


Meet the Asset Protection Trust


One of the best solutions is a legal tool called an asset protection trust. When an asset protection trust is set up for your benefit, your assets become owned by the trust, thus shielding your savings and any property contained within the trust from creditors.


In layman’s terms, that means an asset protection trust could protect you against losing everything to the nursing home. It may also help you qualify for Medicaid, which pays a considerable portion of the nation’s nursing home bills.


What’s the catch? You can’t just move your money into a trust once you need care. Nor can you gift your money to family and friends in hopes of reducing your assets enough to meet eligibility requirements. Medicaid has a 5-year lookback period, meaning your money will need to have been held in the trust for more than 5 years. That’s why the time to plan is now.


At the Heart of the Solution


At AlerStallings, we’ve helped many families navigate the process of protecting against long-term care costs. We know the conversations aren’t easy, but we hope to change that. Through our partnership with retirement planning firm Golden Reserve, we’re making it as painless as possible for Ohioans to shield themselves against the risk. We’re proud to have helped many families explore their individual options and hope to do the same for you. Should a trust be your best course of action, you can rest easy knowing it will be set up with efficiency and accuracy, by a team that truly takes the process to heart.

- AlerStallings

Even when you feel confident in the staff and capabilities of the nursing home you chose, it’s hard not to worry about the well-being of your loved one when you’re not there. That’s why it’s important for everyone with a family member in long-term care to know about a new law that took effect on March 23 of this year. It’s called Esther’s Law, and it permits nursing home residents and their representatives to authorize and install electronic monitoring devices in their rooms to keep an eye on their care.  


The law is named for Esther Piskor, who was tragically abused and neglected by nursing home staff in the final few years of her life. Her son, Steve, visited her often, yet staff never mentioned anything out of the ordinary about Esther’s care. He caught the abuse after placing a hidden camera in Esther’s room. Following Esther’s passing, he worked with lawmakers to create and pass the bill in his mother’s honor and empower other families to take similar measures to protect their loved ones. 


Because electronic monitoring impacts other parties—including nursing home staff and fellow residents, particularly those in a shared room—the decision to monitor has some caveats, which the law addresses. For example, the roommate of a resident who wishes to install electronic monitoring must consent to the monitoring before it can be installed. If a roommate cannot consent for themselves, consent may come from their representative. Roommates (or their representatives) also have the right to request conditions to protect their privacy. Those conditions must be honored, and the roommate can revoke their consent at any time. If a roommate does not want the electronic monitoring installed, the nursing home must move the resident requesting electronic monitoring to another room with the resident’s consent.  


As far as the facility is concerned, Esther’s Law allows for notification to be posted outside the resident’s room to inform those who enter that electronic monitoring is being conducted. A resident who uses electronic monitoring may not be retaliated against, nor may their decision be used against them in admissions or discharge. Further, facilities are prohibited from destroying, obstructing, or tampering with the monitoring system or its recordings.  


For many families, this law represents an opportunity to gain insight into the treatment of their loved ones and peace of mind. After working with Ohio families for years on nursing home protection and elder care, it’s a subject that’s close to our heart.  


If you’d like more information on Esther’s Law, contact the Ohio Department of Aging’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program at 1-800-282-1206 or 


- AlerStallings

Recently a client asked us: 


“If my house is in a trust and I sell it to buy a new one, does the five-year clock restart?” 


That is an excellent question, and one that some of you may be wondering as well. So, we thought we’d share the answer here.  


First, for those who aren’t familiar with the “five-year clock” mentioned above, it’s a reference to the five-year lookback period for Medicaid eligibility. In order to stay under the asset limit to qualify for Medicaid, some people may try to gift or transfer their assets to others. Such financial activity in the five years prior to the application date could disqualify an applicant. That’s why when we talk about putting assets in an irrevocable trust—particularly an asset protection trust—we encourage clients to do so at least five years prior to when they could need long-term care.  


Now, back to the question. The client wants to know if they’ll have to wait another five years for the new house to be protected by the trust. The short answer is no. Here are the details. 


Let’s start with the business of selling the home in trust. For the sake of this question, let’s assume the house is sold for a profit, or at least breaks even. The trustee would see to it that the money from the sale is deposited into a bank account owned by the trust. That account would then be used to purchase the new property for the beneficiary. This would not cause the lookback period to reset. 


That’s the answer in a nutshell. Since your circumstances may vary, it’s always wise to consult with an estate planning attorney to ensure the transactions would not put your assets in jeopardy. Here at AlerStallings, we know questions like these come up often, and it’s important to have a trusted resource who can provide timely, accessible guidance. For this reason, our attorneys offer lifetime support for the plans we create and no-fee phone calls, so life’s most important questions never go unanswered. 


Got a question we can help with? Here’s how to get in touch. 

- AlerStallings

When you choose an estate planning attorney, you’re not just selecting someone for a one-time engagement. Ideally, you’re selecting someone you can rely on for years to come. That’s why we compiled this list of questions to help you select the right partner for your estate planning. Here’s what we recommend you ask and why:  


1. In your opinion, what is the greatest risk in retirement I need to guard against?

Long-term care is a sizeable expense, costing thousands of dollars per month. You might think you won’t need it, but recent data suggests most retirees will. Without proper planning, long-term care could easily overcome your savings—and worse—cost you your home. It’s important to have an estate planning attorney who is attuned to this issue and will provide you with asset protection strategies.

2. How do you charge for estate plans and how long does each case take from start to finish?

If an attorney can’t readily offer an answer to this question, that’s a red flag. Clear expectations are critical for a successful relationship.

3. How do you support the plans you build? 

As mentioned above, estate planning is something you should be revisiting annually and as your life changes to ensure your plan is up to date and still provides adequate protection. When life gets busy, you may not remember to check in with your attorney about whether it’s time to update your plan. Will they check in with you? Or, if you have a simple question, will you get a bill for the call?  


4. Will you support my plan if I go into a nursing home? 


You’ll want to get a sense of how (or if) the attorney would be there for your family during a crisis. Do they have a team with dedicated expertise to assist with these situations? And will your family have to worry about a surprise bill? 


5. What happens if you retire or stop practicing law? 


Remember, you hope for this to be a long-term relationship. You want to know exactly who to call, especially in the event of a crisis when finding someone new would be stressful. Understanding your attorney’s succession planning is important. 


6. What is the average estate size of your planning clients? 

Finding an attorney who works with clients whose net worths are similar to yours can make the difference when it comes to their experience in asset protection planning 


7. How many estate plans has your firm supported?

With this question, you’re looking to get a sense of the firm’s longevity and experience. How long have they been in business and what is the size of their practice? Is estate planning their focus, or just a small part of what they do? 


We know that finding the right estate planning attorney can be stressful. To make it easier, we’ve created a downloadable guide, complete with space for notes, that you can print out and take to consultations. It includes all the questions above, more insights, and our own answers to these questions so you can compare.  


Download your free copy here. Or, if you’d like to connect with one of our caring attorneys, click here to schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation. 

- AlerStallings

What is an estate plan? How often should it be updated? What are the essentials for an estate plan? How do you protect assets from a nursing home stay?


Watch Anna break it all down on the Expedition Retirement Show℠.


We know protecting against long-term care costs can be complicated, and the right attorney can make it much easier to navigate. If you think you may need a trust or have questions about creating one, we’d be happy to help. Schedule a complimentary phone consultation with one of our attorneys today.

- AlerStallings

The Medicaid Spend Down Rule Explained 


Choosing a nursing home is stressful, and figuring out how to pay for it isn’t any easier. That’s what makes the confusion about what Medicaid and Medicare cover all the more difficult. There is a way to get assistance with your long-term care costs, but you must first understand the ins and outs of the Medicaid Spend Down Rule and take action at the right time.  


First, let’s address one of the most common misunderstandings about Medicare and long-term care. While Medicare does pay for short-term care under limited circumstances, it will not cover long-term care. That means if you’re enrolled in original Medicare (Medicare Part A) and have a qualifying hospital stay (at least three days of inpatient, not for observation), Medicare will pay a portion of the cost of your stay at a skilled nursing facility afterward for up to 100 days. The catch is that you must be admitted for the same reason you were hospitalized within 30 days of leaving the hospital.  


So, what happens after those 100 days, or if you never had a qualifying hospital stay, and can’t afford the continued cost of long-term care? Theoretically, that’s where Medicaid would come in. The problem is you may have too much money. Not only does Medicaid have eligibility limits, it also has rules regarding your countable assets in excess of those limits. This is designed to keep people from disposing of their assets at a moment’s notice—say by transferring everything to their adult child—to qualify for Medicaid. However, that’s not the end of the road. You could potentially qualify through a Medicaid Spend Down. 


In a Medicaid Spend Down, you’ll use the money you have in excess of the eligibility limit to pay for qualifying medical expenses until your excess income is expended. Qualifying expenses include medical bills for you or your spouse, prescription drugs, hearing aids, eyeglasses and more. It’s like how a deductible works with your health insurance—you have to pay a certain amount out of pocket before coverage kicks in.  


Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Medicaid will want reimbursement. If you’re single, Medicaid will use your home and other assets to offset the cost of care. if you’re married, Medicaid will wait until both you and your spouse have passed or entered a nursing home. Let’s look at an example: 


Jack and Jill have $240,000 in assets. Jack falls down and needs nursing home care. They pay out of pocket for care until they’ve spent down the money in excess of their Medicaid eligibility limit (no more than $2,000 in countable assets for a single person, or in Jack and Jill’s case, $130,380 for a married couple). Now they can receive Medicaid coverage. Under Medicaid’s rules, they can keep the home so Jill has somewhere to live while Jack is in the facility; however, Medicaid puts a lien on the house. Once Jill passes away or goes into a long-term care facility, the house will go into foreclosure.  



Here are a few ways Jack and Jill could have kept their home: 


1.) They could have hired an elder law attorney to try to save at least some of their assets. However, there’s no guarantee on how much they’d be able to retain. 

2.) They could have purchased long-term care insurance. However, because it’s expensive and hard to qualify for, it may have been beyond their reach. 

3.) They could have gotten an asset protection trust, a type of irrevocable trust that would have shielded their assets from the nursing home. For this to be effective, they would have had to put their assets into the trust at least five years prior to when Jack needed long-term care to avoid the Medicaid lookback period. 


Of those options, the third is the best. And while option two—long-term care insurance—isn’t possible for many people, creating an asset protection trust is. It can be a powerful tool, but remember: it’s just one type of trust in a toolbox that contains many others. It’s wise to consult with an elder law attorney to explore all your options.