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


Cincinnati Area

Cleveland Area

Skilled Nursing Private Room – Annual Rate




Assisted Living Studio – Monthly Rate




Home Health Aide – Hourly Rate




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.

Don’t Try DIY Estate Planning

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By: Chris Meyer

We live in a world today where we are encouraged to “do-it-yourself”. In some scenarios, doing something yourself can be a rewarding and cost-efficient experience. However, this is most certainly not the case with estate planning. With the ongoing advancements in technology, certain websites are seemingly making it easier and easier to create your own legal documents such as a Will, Trust, Power of Attorney, and LLC. In theory, this sounds as though this would be a quick and easy way to complete your estate planning on your own. However, this is actually not the case. One main reason that do-it-yourself estate planning is usually not the best idea is that everybody’s situation is different. What might make sense for your family does not always make sense for someone else’s family. With a do-it-yourself Will or Trust, you are given a “one-size-fits-all” template and simply told to fill in the blanks. Estate planning is not that simple since everyone has a different amount of assets and different types of accounts, vehicles, property, etc. that compile their entire estate.


    Another main reason that do-it-yourself estate planning doesn’t work is that there is no type of recommendation as far as what will work best for you. In attempting to complete your estate planning on your own, self-help website fail to answer certain critical questions. These questions may include but are not limited to: How are your assets currently being held? Are you a veteran? What type of insurance do you have, if any? How should you decide who should be your Trustee, Executor, Power of Attorney, etc.? Would a Trust or a Will make more sense in your situation? What type of Trust should you have?


    By establishing your estate planning with Cooper, Adel & Associates you are ensuring that your estate plan will be handled with a sense of compassion and expertise that you simply cannot get through self-help estate planning venues. If you, or a loved one are interested in learning more about protecting assets for your children and other loved ones, please give us a call for a free one hour consultation with either Attorney Thom Cooper or Attorney Mitchell Adel at 1-800-798-5297.


Facts about the 4th of July

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By Attorney Ted Brown

As the firm’s dedicated history buff, I wanted to share a few quick historical facts about the Fourth of July that have been largely lost on our collective common knowledge. Just like real life, history is rarely the cut-and-dry retelling of names and dates that the history books like to depict.

On July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress formally voted to declare independence from Great Britain. Two days later, on July 4th, the Delegates unanimously approved a final draft of the Declaration of Independence. However, the Declaration itself was not actually signed by the 56 delegates until August 2, 1776. July 4th was assigned as the actual date of the document by the printer who was tasked with distributing (hand-made) copies of the draft version to the public. Great Britain did not actually learn of the Declaration until months later.

Until recent years, Americans generally did not refer to July 4th as “Independence Day” even after the day was declared a national holiday in 1870. Even today, the holiday is most commonly known as “the Fourth”. This is likely based on the fact that our independence was far from certain on July 4, 1776. At the time, Great Britain remained one of the most powerful empires in the World with a vast military presence. The Delegates who signed the Declaration of Independence knew they were very well signing their death warrants and that a long and bitter struggle would be waged. The Revolutionary War that began in April 1775 did not end until April 11, 1783 which perhaps would be a much more fitting date to hold the title “Independence Day.”

From everyone here at Cooper and Adel, we wish you a safe and happy Fourth of July.

Medicaid Estate Recovery- A threat to the family farm

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By: Jessica LoPiccolo

Here in Ohio, we see quite a few clients who have farms that have been in their family for many, many generations. Most of the time, the family wants to continue to pass the farm down to their children, grandchildren and on down the line. But many families don’t realize that there is a very serious threat to that dream. For instance, what happens if Grandma dies and then Grandpa gets sick and has to go into a nursing home? Once he has spent through his hard-earned savings, Grandpa will have to go on Medicaid in order to continue to pay the nursing home bill. The farm can be in his name for 13 months after being admitted to the nursing home. [Read more…]

Are Your Medicaid Benefits Going Up?

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By Attorney Virginia McCann

If you are receiving Medicaid benefits, keep in mind that your benefits for 2014 may have changed. As you are probably aware, even when you are eligible for Medicaid, you are still required to pay your gross income, or a portion thereof, toward your cost of care. This is known as your “patient liability”. A stipend, known as a “personal needs allowance” (PNA) is deducted from the patient liability for you to spend on your needs. As of January 1, 2014, Medicaid recipients residing in nursing homes saw a rise in their PNA from $40 to $45 while the PNA for those living in an assisted living facility stayed the same at $50. If you are living at home and receiving benefits through one of Medicaid’s waiver programs, you are entitled to keep $1,406. If your income does not meet or exceed $1,406 you have no patient liability at all.

For married individuals receiving Medicaid benefits, the maximum amount of assets their spouse (known as the community spouse) is entitled to keep has gone up to $117,240. For couples with fewer assets, the community spouse is now entitled to keep at least $23,448 worth of assets. This is based on what is called the “community resource allowance” (CSRA) and is dependent on the total amount of assets held jointly, either at the time a Medicaid application was filed or when the spouse receiving benefits first entered a care facility for 30 days or more.

Individuals still living at home while their spouse (the “community spouse”) is residing in a long term care facility may be entitled to keep a portion of their spouse’s income. In fact, community spouses can retain enough of the other spouse’s income that their own monthly income could be as high as $2898. The total amount of income a community spouse can retain is dependent on factors such as the community spouse’s income as well as the cost of mortgage, taxes, insurance and utilities.

Seek help from an experienced elder law attorney to sort through the maze of Medicaid rules and regulations.

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Congratulations Jon Stevenson!

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We’d like to congratulate Jon Stevenson who will be starting law school at Capital University. Good luck Jon!


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The Stars and Stripes, Flag of the United States of America! The world-wide hope of all who, under God, would be free to live and do His will.

Upon its fold is written the story of America – the epic of the mightiest and noblest in all history.

To what man or woman is given words adequate to tell the story of the building of this nation? That immortal story is written in blood and sweat, in heroic deeds and unremitting toil, in clearing the primeval forests and in planting of vast prairies where once the coyote and buffalo roamed. Onward swept the nation, spanning wide rivers, leaping vast mountain ranges, leaving in its path villages and farms, factories and cities, till at last this giant nation stood astride the continent from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

This is the heritage of the people of the United States. It has been repurchased by each succeeding generation and must be rewon again, again and again until the end of time, lest it too shall pass like the ancient Empires of Greece and Rome.

[Read more…]

SCAM ALERT: Phone Scam Alleging Association with USDA Farm Service Agency

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It has been brought to the attention of USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) that a phone scam is being perpetrated on FSA customers.

The caller, who identifies themselves as a Farm Loan Services representative out of Washington, D.C. states that FSA “owes” you disaster assistance funds and proceeds to request your checking account information or requests a credit card number alleging that funds will be credited to these accounts.