The Hidden Costs of Estate Administration

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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

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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 (www.thespottoeat.com). 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?

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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: https://alliancebernstein.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/1343/~/what-are-the-surety-limits-associated-with-medallion-signature-guarantee%3F.

 

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

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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?

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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.

 

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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

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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”!

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The Accidental Beneficiary

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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!

What Should I Do If I Can’t Find Mom or Dad’s Original Will?

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By Mary Roberts

When a loved one passes away, one of the first things family members do is look for the Will of the deceased. The Probate Court requires the original Will, but if that document was created 20, 30, 40 or more years ago, it can be very difficult, if not impossible, to find. So what do you do if you can’t find that original Will? Here are a few things to try:

  1. Call the Probate Court in the county in which your parents lived and check to see if they have filed it there for safe-keeping.

  2. Call any previous attorneys that have represented Mom and Dad. They may have retained it in their safe.

  3. If you have a signed copy of the Will, contact your attorney of choice and ask him or her to probate the signed copy. There is a process by which the Judge will admit a signed copy of a Will to probate. This is known in the court’s terms as a “Spoilated Will”. It is a fairly simple process where the witnesses are asked to verify that they did, in fact witness the signing of this Will. The attorney who prepared it can also verify it for the Court.

If you or a loved one needs help with estate planning, please contact Cooper, Adel & Associates at 1-800-798-5297 for a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.

 

What Does Long Term Care Cost in My Area?

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By Kathy Cooper

I recently found a great link to the 2014 New York Life’s Cost of Long Term Care tool that will tell you the average cost for skilling nursing facilities, assisted living, home health aides and more. For instance, here are some comparisons of average rates for Ohio:

Type of Care

Columbus

Cincinnati Area

Cleveland Area

Skilled Nursing Private Room – Annual Rate

$101,510

$99,817

$107,146

Assisted Living Studio – Monthly Rate

$3,683

$3,627

$4,162

Home Health Aide – Hourly Rate

$21.74

$19.65

$20.28

Find out more here: LTC Costs

Unless you are independently wealthy (really wealthy!), it is pretty clear that you need a plan to pay for care when you need it.

Maybe you’re wondering though: Will I need it? According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, 70% of Americans over 65 will need some type of long term service or support for an average of 3 years. (Kaiser Family Foundation Article re: JAMA Infographic)

 

How Americans Die

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Have you ever wondered how Americans die?  Back in the 1900‘s the average life expectancy was under 50 years of age. By 2010, the life expectancy increased to just under 80 years of age which made me start to wonder: What is causing Americans to die in this day and age?

An interactive graph on Bloomberg.com (http://www.bloomberg.com/dataview/2014-04-17/how-americans-die.html) depicts how some Americans die. One key point I found interesting is the mortality rate for people aged 25-44. From the early 1980’s to the mid 1990’s, AIDS was the main cause, which at its peak, killed more then 40,000 Americans a year. Slowing infection rates and better treatment eventually allowed many of those with the virus to survive into their 50s and 60s.

Another interesting statistic is that in general, most Americans are living longer and dying of natural causes. About one-third of all deaths are people 85 and older. The downside to living so long though is that it dramatically increases the odds of getting dementia or Alzheimer’s. The rise of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia has had a big impact on health-care costs because these diseases kill their victims slowly thereby causing an increased drain. In fact, about 40 percent of the total increase in Medicare spending since 2011 can be attributed to greater spending on Alzheimer’s treatment.

Overall, the share of U.S. health-care spending going toward nursing and retirement homes has declined slightly since 2000 and has remained flat since 2006.

With Americans living longer, it makes me, a 33 year old, start to worry about the future and what’s going to happen when I reach retirement age. Will I have enough money to get me to the end of my life? Working at an estate planning and elder law firm has really opened my eyes. It’s never too late or too early to start planning for the future! If you’ve been putting off planning for your future, we would love to meet with you and create a custom plan to make sure you have your assets protected throughout your life and at your death.