Frequently Asked Questions


Do you need an estate plan?

Are your spouse’s assets at risk if you go into a nursing home?

What is the difference between trust administration and probate?

How can you make sure your assets are protected from long-term care costs?

Can you receive government benefits for care and still stay at home?

What do you do if you have a child or grandchild with special needs?

What can you do if your family is fighting over an estate?

These matters are often particularly emotional, and can be very stressful for all parties involved. Unfortunately, these disputes typically involve court proceedings. So in most situations it imperative to retain experienced counsel as soon as possible to ensure your that your interests are protected.

Why are guardians appointed?

A probate court appoints a guardian to direct the legal or financial affairs or the personal care of a person who is unable to manage his or her own affairs. Family members often petition the court to act in situations where someone appears to be "incompetent." If the court finds that the person is incompetent and a guardianship is necessary, the court will appoint a guardian.

After a death, do you need to File a Tax Return?

What is the probate process and how much does it cost?

Probate begins when the will of a deceased person is given to an attorney. Sometimes, attorneys even keep the original at their office. The attorney then delivers it to the judge at the county courthouse and the legal process begins. Legal notices are then placed in the newspaper notifying creditors of the deceased’s passing and that claims on the estate may be filed. Then you wait six months, hopefully. The forms and trips to the court finally stop and the case can be closed. An AARP nationwide study found that probate proceedings cost 5-10% of the estate’s value. Shockingly, with proper planning this entire process can be completely avoided with the right attorney. Choose wisely.

What other benefits are out there for Veterans?

The VA offers a wide variety of benefits for Veterans including pensions, healthcare services, long-term care facilities and burial benefits. Contact us to hear about how you may qualify for one or more benefits from the VA.

Can veterans get benefits to pay someone for their at-home care (even a child)?

Yes. In addition to Assisted Living and Nursing Home care, the Aid and Attendance Pension pays for at-home care too. With the appropriate documentation in place, you can even pay one of your children for their time and effort if they are providing care at your home.

Do you have too much money for the Aid & Attendance Pension?

Is the Aid & Attendance Pension application process complicated?

Like any government application process, it is confusing and good luck getting someone on the phone to answer your questions. Also, many applicants have trouble delivering the correct corresponding documentation that should accompany the application. Unfortunately, failure to accurately complete the application in its entirety can lead to delays that can last years.

Is your estate worth enough to worry about an estate plan?

Yes. The benefits an estate plan provide aren’t tied to a magic number. Sure, there are some tax savings for certain clients while others want protection. But the main purpose is to make sure you (or your kids) are taken care of during your lifetime. That means you’ve got a game plan. Or decision makers in place if you can’t. And ultimately, where you want your stuff to go.

Where should you report suspected nursing home abuse?

If you believe your family member may be the victim of nursing home abuse, immediately notify the nursing home administrator. The administrator must investigate and report it to the state agency. For other questions or to determine whether legal remedies should be pursued, give us a call.

What do you do if a parent starts to slip physically or mentally?

We understand this is a tough situation and often parents don’t think they need help. But it is situations just like this that your parents appointed you to step in help. Whether it be via their healthcare or financial powers of attorney, it’s now your responsibility to make sure mom or dad is receiving the support they need.

Is your IRA protected from long-term care costs?

Do life estates still work to protect your house or farm from nursing home expenses?

Nope. Life estates used to be a very popular tool for asset protection planning. However, the laws changed and life estate now no longer receive their previous preferential protection status. If you had a life estate put in place to protect dad’s house or farm, you better see an elder law attorney to get it fixed. Otherwise, leaving the life estate “strategy” in place will result in an unpleasant call from a Medicaid Estate Recovery attorney for Ohio.

Should you rely on the caseworker at ODJFS for planning advice?

Probably not. It’s akin to calling the IRS and asking them for advice on avoiding taxes. Just like you need an accountant to help you save money on taxes, you need an experienced elder law team to make sure you don’t overpay for nursing home care costs.

How much can you receive each month from the Veteran’s Aid & Attendance Pension?

A single veteran can receive $1,759. A married veteran can receive $2,085.00. If you’re the surviving spouse of a veteran, you can receive $1,130.00.

How much can you receive each month from the Veteran’s Aid & Attendance Pension?

Veterans, widows of veterans, and spouses of Veterans may be eligible for the Aid & Attendance Pension. This pension can be used for care at home or in an assisted living or nursing home facility.

Are you eligible for Veterans benefits?

Veterans, widows of veterans, and spouses of Veterans may be eligible for the Aid & Attendance Pension. This pension can be used for care at home or in an assisted living or nursing home facility.

How does the Medicaid spend-down work?

Which type of healthcare facility is right for me?

What happens if you can no longer make financial or health decisions for yourself?

Hopefully, you have a Healthcare Power of Attorney and Financial Power of Attorney in place. If so, these documents specify who you appointed to make your health and financial decisions, if you can’t. If you didn’t plan ahead, it will be up to the court to appoint someone to make these decisions. This process can be burdensome, costly and the person appointed may not be your first (or even second) choice.

How do you plan for estate and other taxes?

How much can you give away without having to worry about gift tax?

You can give cash and/or assets up to $14,000 individually (or $28,000 if married) to an unlimited number of people every year. If you exceed these amounts, you could be subject to a federal gift tax.

Does Ohio have an inheritance estate tax?

Ohio does not currently have an inheritance estate tax in 2014. Historically, Ohio has had the most aggressive state estate taxes in the country. As recently as 2011, any estate worth more than $338,333 was subject to an Ohio Estate Tax ranging from 6% to 7%.

What is the federal estate tax?

This is the tax you pay when you die. It is based on the value of all your property, including any insurance payouts. In 2014, it is 40% over your unified tax credit exclusion (which is currently set at $5,340,000).

What happens if you die with no planning?

Ohio intestacy laws dictate where your assets go. Not you, not your spouse and not your heirs. Don’t leave it up to Ohio, make sure you have a plan

How long is the probate court process?

Each case and county court is different. Some of the length is based on the type and amount of assets involved. At a minimum, it takes around six months, and the average length is about 11 months. That being said, it could take multiple years if you run into problems. Choose your attorney wisely.

Do you need a life insurance trust (aka an ILIT)?

This is trust is a common tool to used avoid potential gift tax and federal estate tax liability. The life insurance policy is owned by the trust and the premiums are paid to the trust each year. The goal is to have all of the insurance’s death benefit pass estate tax free to your intended beneficiaries.

What is the difference between a Will and a Trust?

Do you lose all control of your assets once they go into a trust?

This is a common misconception. The most common trust in the United States is a revocable trust. This trust allows you to have absolute control to fund, manage or even terminate the trust at any time.

Do you need a charitable remainder trust?

For those of you with charitable interests, this trust can be a great tool to help shed some capital gains and estate tax liability while creating a lifetime income stream for yourself.

What’s the benefit of a dynasty trust?

These trusts can be utilized to protect assets from creditors, divorce and taxes. It is a great legacy planning tool to pass on wealth from generation to generation.

Is your revocable living trust funded

Nearly 75% of revocable living trusts are not fully funded. This mistake is made because many attorneys draft trusts and don’t provide the support to make sure they are funded and updated. Unfortunately, having an unfunded trust can result in additional probate and tax costs or even worse, loss of asset protection from nursing home expenses.

Does a revocable living trust protect your assets from the nursing home?

NO – a revocable living trust will not protect your assets from long-term care costs. Watch our video to learn more.

Aren’t trusts just for rich people?

Huge misconception. Trusts do many things in addition to protecting you from taxes, long-term care costs and probate. They speed up administration. They are completely private. They help to control distributions. And they don’t just help out when you die (like Wills). If you become incapacitated, someone steps and takes the wheel.

How do I know when it’s the right time to consider business succession planning?

If you’re thinking about it, you should have already started. Failing to have a succession plan for your business could be disastrous for your spouse and business partners. Do you want to be in business with your partner’s spouse? Imagine the cost, time, and decisions that will be made at that time, versus getting it done now.

How do you protect your IRA from taxes?

Can’t you just give your assets to the kids and then apply for government benefits?

How can you make sure the family farm stays in the family?

Do I need a Trust?

How often should you update your estate plan?

Rule of thumb, your plan should be reviewed at least once every five years. That being said, it really depends on where you are in life and what life events have occurred. Events like a new child, grandkids, selling/buying property, retirement, heath changes, nursing home and family passings, all probably warrant a call to your attorney to see if your docs need updates or a tune-up. Remember that your estate plan is a living thing. As life changes, so should your plan.

What assets are subject to probate costs?

Any assets owned and titled in the name of the decedent at death will probably need to be probated. So be careful and plan ahead because that includes all assets passing via your Will too.

How much is your estate really worth?

Probably a lot more than you think. Rarely do people put pen to paper and add up all their stuff. This oversight leads to risk exposure to taxes, probate and long-term care costs you never even considered. And don’t forget to include you retirement accounts and cash death benefits from insurance too. I promise you Uncle Sam won’t forget even if you forgot to plan

Don’t know where to start?

The basics are the first step. Those include a Living Will, Healthcare Power of Attorney, Financial Power of Attorney, and a Will. If you’re looking for asset protection you are going to need more than the basics.