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Estate Planning IS for You

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Picture this: it’s Saturday morning, you and your family are on your private jet, flying to a tropical paradise to spend a week island hopping on your yacht.  Not your reality?  That is more than okay, as it isn’t our reality either.  Nor is it the reality of the thousands of Ohio families we have …

Medical Power of Attorney

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Why Is Having A Medical Power of Attorney So Important?

As you enter your senior years, one of the options you will face is whether or not to name someone as your medical power of attorney. Given the breadth of the decisions you have to make in your golden years, this one can sometimes fall through …

Protecting Your Assets from Medicaid

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How Can I Protect My Assets from Medicaid?

As you reach your golden years and begin to consider the possibility of using Medicaid to pay for long term care arrangements, you will absolutely want to consider how to protect your assets. Medicaid will not come into play until you have virtually exhausted your assets. Although the …

What is a Living Will?

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When it comes time to discuss estate planning options, one of the most important aspects is a living will, also commonly called an advance directive. Most people know what a will is: a legal instrument used to direct the disposition of assets after death. However, a living will is a slightly different type of document.

 

A …

The 64%

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Worth as high as $80 million, the Queen of Soul died intestate. In short, she never got around to putting together a will or trust. Shocking, right? Not quite. According to Forbes, Aretha is joined by a whopping 64% of Americans who have no will.

Many Americans put off estate planning as something they will eventually …

What to Consider with the Family Farm

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The family farm is a business that goes beyond providing income and support.  It transcends generations. It’s a way of life. When it comes to keeping it that way, family dynamics matter. Do any of the children help with the farm? Do they live off the farm income? Do you want to make sure the …

Required Premium Distribution

Time to take RMDs. Time to understand taxes.

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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 …

Fiduciary vs. Suitability

Suitability vs. Fiduciary

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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 …

Long Term Care Coverage

Will Medicare pay for my long-term care?

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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 …

Good News for Seniors and Caregivers

Some Good News for Seniors and their Caregivers

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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 …

Asset protection

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

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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?

What is the Medicaid Look-back?

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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 …

What Not To Do: Common Long-term Care Mistakes

Should I do a Reverse Mortgage?

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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

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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 Estate Plan?

No Kids, No Plan?

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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 …

Medicaid

At Home Health Services: Medicaid Changes

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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 Tax

Estate Taxes and its Impact on Your Plan if Hillary Wins

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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 …

End of Life Care

End of Life Planning

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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 …

Farm estate planning

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

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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?

 

Liability

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

What happens to credit cards after death?

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

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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 …

Trust Planning

All in the Family

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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 …

Have you gifted assets to your children?

Have you gifted assets to your children?

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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?

Liability Insurance: How Much is Enough?

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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 …

Obergefell vs. Hodges and Estate Planning for LGBT Couples

Elder Law and Same Sex Marriage

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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 …

The Value and Benefit of Pre-Planning

The Value and Benefit of Pre-Planning

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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 …

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

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

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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

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

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 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

Naming a Trustee

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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

Questions Your Elder Law Attorney Should Be Asking You

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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?

Where Should I Keep My Will?

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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 …

Divorced? Here’s a Checklist for your Estate Plan

Divorced? Here’s a Checklist for your Estate Plan

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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 …

Do I need to update my estate plan?

Do I need to update my estate plan?

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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 …

What happens to my Facebook account and other digital assets when I die?

What happens to my Facebook account and other digital assets when I die?

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Introduction

15 years ago, people didn’t worry about digital assets in their estate plans. Today, however, there is a new facet to estate planning due to the increase of our online presence. Now you must consider the following: “Who can access my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts when I die? Who receives my family photos on …

When Home is No Longer Home

When Home is No Longer Home

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Home. The very mention of the word can conjure up memories of golden days gone by. Most middle-aged people likely have fond memories of growing up in a place where kids roamed free, parents didn’t worry where you were, a baseball glove and bat could keep you busy for hours and the bicycle was the …

A Layman’s Summary: The Special Needs Trust Fairness Act of 2015

A Layman’s Summary: The Special Needs Trust Fairness Act of 2015

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Special needs trusts are popular planning tools that are designed to hold and manage assets for a person with special needs. These trusts allows a person to retain eligibility for certain government programs, most notably Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSI is a government program designed to assist those with special needs that are …

Obergefell vs. Hodges and Estate Planning for LGBT Couples

Obergefell vs. Hodges and Estate Planning for LGBT Couples

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With the recent Supreme Court ruling, the federal government’s discrimination of LGBT marriage is a thing of the past. Same-sex couples are now afforded equal benefits. What does that mean for same-sex couples and estate planning in Ohio, and why does it matter?

It means terms such as “significant other”, “friend” or “acquaintance” are no longer …

Hospice

Hospice

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Hospice. A word still many people in the United States cringe when they hear it spoken. As a world traveler and a professional in the hospice industry for quite a while, I am heartbroken to see some of the reactions to such a beautiful gift. It seems that other parts of the globe are more …

My Spouse Went to a Nursing Home – Can I keep his income?

Do’s and Don’ts for Grandparents Saving for College

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Do’s and Don’ts for Grandparents Saving for College

 

The birth of your child is not just the big day when you become a parent, but also the big day when your parents become grandparents! Grandma and Grandpa may want to spoil their little ones in every way possible. And if you are lucky, spoiling includes saving …

What rights do I have as a trust beneficiary?

What rights do I have as a trust beneficiary?

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This is a common question. Unfortunately, the answer is, “it depends.” The rights of a beneficiary depend on the type of trust and the type of beneficiary.

 

Trusts are made up of legal documents wherein an individual (“grantor” or “settlor”) places assets to be held by someone in a position of trust (“trustee”) for a period …

What is the difference between a Guardianship and a Conservatorship?

What is the difference between a Guardianship and a Conservatorship?

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People often wonder what the difference is between a Guardianship and a Conservatorship, and for good reason. These terms are very similar and both pertain to an individual being appointed by the local probate court to help assist someone else with something they cannot manage for themselves. The difference between the two boils down to …

Deleware Lobby

How can we fairly distribute personal items at death?

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A few weeks ago, my colleague wrote about whether you need to include your personal belongs in your estate plan. When administering an estate, we often get the practical question, “how can we fairly distribute the personal items among the beneficiaries?”

There are several solutions to this problem.

Option 1: Give each beneficiary a different color …

Is Your Will Valid?

Is Your Will Valid?

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Making decisions ahead of time is always easier and simpler than waiting for an emergency. Unfortunately, many people scramble to get their decisions documented when faced with significant illness or only months to live. Estate planning is a process that is put on the back-burner. What happens when you delay too long and your time …

Digging Deep into Mineral Rights

Digging Deep Into Mineral Rights

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With an oil and gas boom happening in eastern Ohio, everyone has questions. We have seen incredible amounts of money flow into Ohio from the drilling industry. Ordinary people are now facing complicated legal and financial planning needs. When a property owner stops by our office with mineral rights issues, we handle with extreme caution.

When …

Ensuring the Family Farm Stays in the Family

Ensuring the Family Farm Stays in the Family

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“What can I do to make sure the family farm stays in the family?” I have the pleasure of working with many family farmers, and this is the most frequent question I receive. To plan properly, we need to be aware of the types of threats to your family farm. We need to consider the …

What Not To Do: Common Long-term Care Mistakes

Could Dan Gilbert and Jimmy Haslem Disinherit their Children from their Billion Dollar Estates?

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When it comes to estate planning and elder law, mental capacity matters. In December 2014, Tom Benson announced plans to transfer future ownership of the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans to his third wife, Gayle Benson, disinheriting his daughter, Renee LeBlanc, and his two grandchildren, Ryan and Rita LeBlanc.  What do you supposed happened next?  …

Estate Plan

Four Vital Estate Planning Questions for Business Owners

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Far too often successful business owners never take the time to put a succession plan in place.   If something happens to you, is everything in place?

Who can access your company accounts to carry on the day-to-day transactions?

Many business owners handle operations by themselves. Imagine the problem for your company if you became incapacitated. Even worse, …

Do I need a power of attorney if I have a trust?

Do I need a power of attorney if I have a trust?

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A comprehensive estate plan includes not only documents designating your wishes at death, but also documents appointing people to manage your affairs while you’re alive (but incapacitated). So why do many estate plans will include both a durable financial power of attorney and a trust? Both documents allow for someone to manage and control your …

Pet Planning

Pet Planning

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Our clients come to us for Estate Planning help because they want to make sure their loved ones are taken care of.  But what if your loved ones don’t walk upright on two feet – some loved ones are furry and walk on four paws or hooves!  According to the Humane Society, up to 500,000 …

Last Will and Testament and a Court Gavel

Do I need to include my personal belongings in my Will?

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A critical aspect of any estate plan is the decision of how your tangible personal property will be distributed when you die.  What exactly is tangible personal property?  It’s your “stuff.” Examples include your car, jewelry, furniture, photos, china, and artwork.  Although these items may seem of little actual value, their sentimental value can be …

Alex Carr AlerStallings

Asset Protection 101

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There are three kinds of people.  Those that watch things happen.  Those that make things happen.  And those that wonder what happened.

 

If you find yourself thinking, “We don’t have enough to protect”, “We thought only rich people did Asset Protection Planning”, “We’re too young to begin protecting our assets”, or worse yet, “We’re too old …