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 MEANING OF FLAG DAY

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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.

SHOULD YOU RECEIVE A SIMILAR CALL, DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, PROVIDE PERSONAL OR FINANCIAL INFORMATION TO THE CALLER. 

D-Day plus 70 years

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By Attorney Ted Brown

Today marks the 70th anniversary of D-Day, Known as “D-Day” it marked the beginning of the Allied invasion of Europe during World War II. The invasion remains the single largest military operation in the history of the world and was undertaken not for the purpose of conquest but rather to liberate an entire continent from the oppression and terror of Nazi control. The message “Ike” shared with his forces the night before the invasion says it best:

Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you.The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers in arms on other fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

-General Dwight D. Eisenhower, June 5th 1944

Ohio On The Verge of Marriage Equality? Maybe

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By Attorney Keith Stevens

Last year, Judge Timothy S. Black of the Southern District Court of Ohio (the federal trial court) ruled that Ohio must recognize a validly-performed out-of-state same sex marriage and list the name of a deceased man’s husband on his death certificate as his spouse. Obergefell v. Wymyslo, 962 F. Supp. 2d 968 (S.D. Ohio 2013). The holding was specific to that couple and did not apply to Ohio’s statutory and constitutional prohibitions on same-sex marriage as a whole. [Read more…]

New Data Shows Impact on Obamacare Cuts to Medicare Advantage

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By: Attorney Nathan Simpson

New data has been released showing the effects that the Affordable Care Act’s cuts to the Medicare Advantage Program will have on American seniors. In Ohio, we are expecting to see a $55-$65 decrease in benefits or premium reduction each month for members of the Medicare Advantage program. This is just the first of many negative impacts that the Affordable Care Act could have on Ohio Seniors.

For a more detailed breakdown of how the Affordable Care Act will affect Ohio and other states, see the following link: http://www.ahipcoverage.com/2014/03/11/new-state-by-state-data-show-impact-on-seniors-of-proposed-cuts-to-medicare-advantage/.

If you would like to learn more about how the Affordable Care Act and the rising cost of long term care may affect your estate plan, please call an Ohio Elder Law Attorney today.