How a Trust Affects Your Ohio Homestead Exemption

Share Button

By Tricia Applegate

Do I still qualify for the Homestead Exemption if my home is in a Trust? The short answer is yes, with a few provisions. The State of Ohio states:
You are eligible for the homestead exemption if all of the following are true:

  • You created the trust to be effective during your lifetime (an inter vivos trust)
  • You provided the assets for the trust (you are the settlor).
  • The trust agreement contains a provision that says you have complete possession of the property.

Revocable and irrevocable trusts may qualify. Most of the other common forms of property ownership (such as survivorship deeds) also qualify for the exemption. Properties owned by corporations, partnerships, limited liability companies and trusts, other than the trust described above, are not eligible for the homestead exemption because such properties are not owned by an individual.

If you have questions regarding your trust and the homestead exemption, please contact your estate or elder law attorney.


What is HIPAA?

Share Button

By: JM Megail Gaumer

HIPAA stands for “Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act”. The law was adopted in 1996 to, among many other complicated provisions, protect patients’ personal information (a.k.a. protected health information).

So what is considered “protected health information”? The Privacy Rule protects all individually identifiable health information held or transmitted by a covered entity or its business associates, in any form or media, whether electronic, paper, or oral. The Privacy Rule calls this information protected health information (PHI).

“Individually identifiable health information” is information, including demographic data, that relates to:

  • The individual’s past, present or future physical or mental health or condition.

  • The provision of healthcare to the individual, or

  • The past, present, or future payment for the provision of health care to the individual.

So what does it mean to you? If you are injured and cannot speak for yourself, your family may not be able to obtain information about your condition.

What can you do? It is imperative that you have healthcare directives (a Health Care Power of Attorney or Living Will) that include language specifically permitting your loved ones to require that the hospital release your protected health information to them. This will allow individuals you name to obtain information regarding your care and condition.

Image Map

I Don’t Want My Daughter’s Ex-Husband to Get Any of My Estate!

Share Button

By Attorney Ted Brown

One of the many benefits of a Living Trust is that it allows you a great deal of flexibility to customize distribution of your assets at your death to avoid undesirable and unintended consequences. One such consequence is an ex-daughter-in-law (or ex-son-in-law) ending up with your assets instead of your grandchildren or remaining family members.

A Living Trust can be specifically drafted to state that, should your daughter pre-decease you, her share will not go to her ex-husband. In addition, the Trust can be used to ensure that her share will be used for the benefit of her children. If those children are minors, the Trust can be drafted to ensure that the funds are managed for their benefit by someone you designate.

Call us today at 1-800-798-5297 to set up a free consultation to learn more about how a Living Trust can help you plan for the unexpected and make sure your assets end up in the hands of your loved ones.

The Hidden Costs of Estate Administration

Share Button

By Mary Roberts

Most people have no idea that serving as an executor or administrator of an estate is very time-consuming and burdensome. There are some “obvious costs” such as attorney fees, court filing fees and commissions for the executor but there are also some not-so-obvious expenses associated with administering and closing an estate.

Here are some of the hidden costs:

  1. Time. Closing an estate takes time. The compensation for being an executor may not be worth the time it takes for appointments with the attorney, collecting the assets and preparing an inventory, signing of documents, preparing an accounting and tying up loose ends.

  2. Will contests. If all beneficiaries sign off on the accounting, the process may be fairly simple but if a beneficiary contests, then thousands of dollars and many hours of work may be spent with the months dragging by while fighting the Will contest.

  3. Minors. If a beneficiary is a minor or considered incompetent, closing the estate can be more complicated.

  4. Overseas beneficiaries. If a beneficiary lives in another country, extra money and time may need to be spent on translations or notarizing documents.

  5. Property in other states. The executor may have to open an ancillary probate if the deceased has real estate in another state.

  6. Securing the property. Locks may need to be changed or a security system installed to protect the property.

  7. All estates are different. All estates have different assets, different beneficiaries and different sets of circumstances.

  8. Bond. It is necessary for a fiduciary (the person responsible for administering the estate) to post bond if there is no Will.

Fiduciary duties are extremely serious responsibilities that can be time-consuming and costly. At Cooper, Adel & Associates, we can assist you in reducing this burden for your loved ones when you pass. Please call us at 1-800-798-5297 for a FREE consultation.

Our Sidney Office

Share Button

By Dolly Wilkerson

Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 8.04.13 AMThe Sidney office of Cooper, Adel and Associates is conveniently located approximately 1.5 miles from I-75 (Exit 94) at 2190 Wapakoneta Rd. This office mainly services clients from the surrounding counties of Shelby, Auglaize, Allen, Champaign, Darke, Hardin, Logan, Mercer, Putnam, and VanWert. We moved to our beautiful new office in the spring of 2013 from our former location in downtown Sidney. Our new office has a spacious lobby area, ample parking and is handicap accessible.

Mitch Adel, Certified Elder Law Attorney and Managing Partner, conducts free seminars in the above-mentioned counties and is available to meet clients at the Sidney office by appointment. If perhaps you schedule your appointment around lunch time, you would enjoy visiting one of Sidney’s famous restaurants, “The Spot”, located on Ohio Street in downtown Sidney ( Dan Vu, Senior Attorney at Cooper, Adel & Assoc. requests one of their apple pies every year for his birthday. Keith Stevens, another attorney with our firm orders their old fashion crème pies every Thanksgiving for his wife. Or perhaps, if you are meeting with Julian Guilfoyle, Financial Consultant who speaks with Mitch at his seminars and also sees clients in the Sidney office, you can ask him about the huge breakfast and hamburgers at another one of Sidney’s popular restaurants, “The Alcove”, located at 134 N. Main St.

If you are interested in learning more about our firm and the Sidney office, please give us a call at 800-798-5297. Mitch and his team of attorneys, whom all specialize in elder law can assist you through the process of “getting your ducks in a row.”

What is a Medallion Signature Guarantee?

Share Button

By Jon Stevenson

The Medallion Signature Guarantee is used to verify the identity of an owner when selling or transferring traded assets such as stocks or bonds.This reduces the risk of the company processing the transfer by sharing the liability with the institution that provided the guarantee stamp. It serves as protection for the owner by limiting the likelihood of an unauthorized transfer and the transfer company by reducing losses if a signature is forged.

The Medallion Signature Guarantee is not the same as a notary stamp and they cannot be used interchangeably. The Medallion Signature is provided by financial institutions such as banks and credit unions because they are able to take financial responsibility. Notary Publics are government officials that certify signatures for legal documents but do not take on financial responsibility.

It is also important to note that different companies are able to provide different amounts of coverage for the transfer. If you are planning on transferring or selling an asset that requires the Medallion Signature Guarantee you will want to make sure they can cover the full amount of the asset or your request may be rejected. For more information about surety limits:


What Is the Role of the Case Worker in my Medicaid Application?

Share Button

By Jess LoPiccolo

Your case worker is an employee of the county Department of Job and Family Services. Their job is to collect and enter the information needed to determine whether you are eligible for Medicaid benefits. Each county has their own case workers.

As part of my job as a case manager at Cooper, Adel & Associates, I try to make the job as easy as possible for your county case worker to help facilitate the process. I organize your information and give your case worker the big picture about you and your qualifications. This makes sure the case worker has the information they need to make a timely decision. And time is money in these cases!

If you or a loved one needs to apply for Medicaid, we’re hear to help. Please call us at 1-800-798-5297 for a free consultation.


What’s the Best Way to Give My Stuff Away When I Die?

Share Button

By Attorney Ted Brown

Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 1.34.22 PMThere is no doubt about it: Americans have a lot of stuff. Surveys consistently show that of all the Americans that have a garage, the majority of them cannot fit a vehicle inside it due to the fact that it is dedicated exclusively to the storage of stuff. “Stuff” can be almost anything, from furniture, family heirlooms, collections, clothing, tools, valuables or all those things earmarked for that future garage sale.

The trouble is what happens to all that stuff when we die? Most of the conflicts that arises in the estates that I handle deal with that stuff. Heirs generally don't argue over the money or the land but they frequently argue over who gets the stuff.

Therefore, if you have stuff that is important to you, it is very important to address it as part of your estate planning. For example, if you have a trust you want to make sure that your personal property is properly assigned to that trust. You can then provided specific instructions about who gets what within the language of the trust itself.

Specificity is always a good rule of thumb. As much specific instruction that you can put in writing about who gets what, where that item is located and how to tell it apart from the other stuff can go a long way to smooth out any potential disputes. It is important that these instructions are written in a way that someone who doesn't know anything about these items can read and understand it. These instructions should be signed and dated by you at the bottom of the document.

If you do not have any specific wishes then it is important to provide a method by which disputes are to be settled. For example, items are to be sold and the proceeds divided if the heirs cannot agree. Or perhaps heirs can choose items by “drawing straws.” Use your imagination.

In most cases, when a resolution process is provided along with carefully written distribution instructions, it will usually be followed and can save the family years of conflict and heartbreak. Your stuff is an important part of your formal estate planning, particularly if you believe as we do that “it should be easier for those who are left behind”. Please be sure to find experienced elder law attorneys to help you with the process.


Image Map
DISCLAIMER – Every case is different because every case is different. This blog does not give legal advice. This blog does not create an attorney client relationship. You are not permitted to rely on anything in this blog for any reason. This blog is an entirely personal endeavor. Every person's situation is different and requires an attorney to review the situation personally with you.
No attorney-client relationship is created by this site.
The use of the Internet, this blog or email for communication with this firm or any individual member of this firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Before we represent any client, the client and the attorney will sign a written retainer agreement. If you do not have a written, signed retainer agreement with us, we are not representing you and will not be taking any action on your behalf.

The Centerburg Office

Share Button

Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 1.31.13 PMThe Centerburg office of Cooper, Adel & Associates is conveniently located in the geographical center of Ohio and serves counties throughout Central Ohio. Centerburg is also known as “The Heart of Ohio” and was originally a stagecoach stop. Later, Centerburg was a rural stop for the Toledo and Ohio Central (T&OC), the New York Central Railroad Eastern Branch and the Cleveland, Akron & Columbus (CA&C) Railroads. Every fall during the third week of September, Centerburg features a Old Time Farming Festival that draws folks from all over Ohio for dancing tractors, country singing, old-time demonstrations and a pie auction.

Cooper, Adel & Associates has been a proud business member of the Centerburg community for over 25 years. Whatever elder law needs you, a family member, or friend may have can be addressed by the staff of at our Centerburg office. If you or a loved one is in need of assistance, contact our office for your free consultation and, as we say, “Get Your Ducks in a Row”!

Image Map

The Accidental Beneficiary

Share Button

By Attorney Daniel Vu

Changing who will inherit your estate can be a lot trickier than you think. You might think that all that you need to do is change your Will. However, changing only your Will would be a costly mistake. The beneficiaries you intend to inherit your estate will lose out on any asset not governed by your Will. Any asset that has named beneficiaries avoids probate and is not governed by a Will. For example, your IRA avoids probate because you most likely have designated beneficiaries on each individual IRA policy. This is also the case with your life insurance policies and many other types of financial accounts. So if most of your assets will avoid probate, changing just your Will would effectively change very little of your estate distribution and it may cause you to accidentally leave something to someone you had no longer wanted to receive as much or anything at all.

If you want to make sure you are not creating an “accidental beneficiary”, you will want to coordinate the changes on your Will and each and every asset that has named beneficiaries. In many cases a Trust can make this easier. For example, if all of your assets are owned (“funded”) into a Trust or made payable to a Trust, then you can make a change with one simple amendment to the Trust. The beneficiaries on all assets owned by the Trust would automatically change. But beware, even if you have a Trust it does not mean that everything will be controlled by the Trust. For various legal or tax reason there may be a select few things that must be left out of the control of the Trust so you will still need to do your due diligence to make sure that all of your distributions by Will, Trust or otherwise are updated to reflect your latest wishes.

Of course it is not uncommon to see people will change their wishes on their Will or Trust but forget about changing their IRA or something else not in the Trust or probated by the Will. This is fine if that difference was intended! Otherwise it’s a costly mistake for your intended beneficiaries and a very lucky thing to happen to your now accidental beneficiaries!