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Elder Law and Estate Planning News

The Honor Flight Network

By Rick Law of Law ElderLaw.  LEL is Aurora, Illinois’ Estate, Asset, and Retirement Tax law firm.  The multi-generational law firm at Law ElderLaw serves seniors and their families in Chicagoland and the suburbs in Illinois.

The nonprofit Honor Flight Network, has the privilege of giving our veterans a special tribute for their service to our country. Honor Flight transports veterans, especially senior veterans or those with failing health, to Washington, D.C. to visit their memorials.

The inaugural Honor Flight Tour took place in May of 2005. Six small planes flew out of Springfield, Ohio taking twelve World War II veterans on a visit to the memorial in Washington, DC. In August of 2005, an ever-expanding waiting list of veterans led to a transition to commercial airline carriers with the goal of accommodating as many veterans as possible.

The Honor Flight Network program was conceived by Earl Morse, a physician assistant and Retired Air Force Captain. Earl wanted to honor the veterans he had taken care of for the past 27 years. After retiring from the Air Force in 1998, Earl was hired by the Department of Veterans Affairs to work in a small clinic in Springfield, Ohio. In May of 2004, the World War II Memorial was finally completed and dedicated in Washington, D.C. and quickly became the topic of discussion among his World War II veteran patients.

Earl repeatedly asked these veterans if they would ever travel out to visit THEIR memorial. Most felt that eventually, somehow, they would make it to D.C., perhaps with a family member or friend. As summer turned to fall and then winter, these same veterans returned to the clinic for their follow-up visits. Earl asked if they accomplished their dream of visiting the World War II Memorial. By now, for most of the veterans he asked, reality had settled in; it was clear to most that it simply wasn’t financially or physically possible for them to make the journey. Most of these senior heroes were in their 80’s and lacked the physical and mental wherewithal to complete a trip on their own. Families and friends also lacked the resources and time to complete the three- to four-day trip to the nation’s capital.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, an estimated 640 WWII veterans die each day. Honor Flight Network will continue do whatever it takes to fulfill the dreams of our veterans and help our heroes travel absolutely free.

Honor flights for Illinois veterans are flown multiple times a year.  There is an application process for both the veteran and the guardian.  You can contact them at through their website at www.honorflight.org or call 937-521-2400 to make arrangements for this very special event.

If the aging veteran you love could use some extra money to help pay for the cost of in-home, nursing home, or assisted living care, give our office a call at 800-310-3100.  Your first consultation is absolutely free.  We’ll let you know what steps you need to take, right now, to protect yourself and your family.  Call now.

Sincerely,

Rick L. Law, Attorney, Estate, Asset, and Retirement Taxes

8 times named #1 Illinois elder law estate planning attorney by Leading Lawyer Magazine, Rick has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, AARP Magazine, TheStreet.com, and numerous newspapers and articles. Rick is the lead attorney for Law ElderLaw, LLP, Estate, Asset, and Retirement Tax Attorneys, a multi-generation law firm. His goal is to give retirees an informed edge when it comes to dealing with an uncertain future.  Get flexible retirement strategies that work during good times and bad, plus information on how you can save your home and assets from being used to pay for long term care.  Call 800-310-3100 for your free consultation now!

 


Personal Respond-ability

By Rick Law of the Estate, Asset, and Retirement Tax Law Firm at Law ElderLaw.  Along with his daughter – Attorney Diana Law – Rick is a partner at the multi-generation law firm at Law ElderLaw in Western suburban Chicagoland, Illinois.  

We can choose how we respond to life’s circumstances…

This was the invaluable life lesson I learned when at 17 years old, my mentor Don L. Dise gave me the book Psycho-Cybernetics by Dr. Maxwell Maltz.  How we think about things will then determine our actions and our reactions.  Our actions and reactions will change our circumstances for the better or for the worse.

The bottom line is that we have the power to change our lives by choosing to improve our thinking and responding.  We have a personal responsibility to choose our thoughts and our actions.

I was reminded of these tenants several years ago when I attended the “Peak Performance 101 Workshop” at the Van Tharp Institute in North Carolina.  The focus of the class was on personal responsibility and improving one’s responses to circumstances.  “Respond-ability” is Dr. Tharp’s phrase for better living through better thinking and response.  These are his “Rules for Being Human.”

  • You will receive a body.  You may like it or hate it, but it will be yours for the entire period.
  • You will learn lessons.  You are enrolled in full-time informational school called life.  Each day in this school you will have the opportunity to learn lessons.  You may like the lessons or think them irrelevant and stupid.
  • There are no mistakes, only lessons.  Growth is a process of trial and error, of experimentation.  The “failed” experiments are as much a part of the life process as the experiment that ultimately “works.”
  • A lesson is repeated until learned.  A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it.  When you have learned it, you can then go on to the next lesson.
  • Learning lessons does not end.  There is no part of life that does not contain its lessons.  If you are alive, there are lessons to be learned.
  • “There” is no better than “here.”  When your “there” has become “here,” you will simply obtain another “there” that will again, look better than “here.”
  • Other people are merely mirrors of you.  You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects to you something you love or hate about yourself.
  • What you make of your life is up to you.  You have all the tools and resources you need.  What you do with them is up to you.  The choice is yours.

I can’t help but feel that these “rules” are invaluable for our day-to-day dealings with each other.  Especially in a family situation where you’re dealing with a health or wealth crisis, the strains on your relationships can be immense.  Your respond-ability is your ability to adapt and react to the situation at hand.

Too many families needlessly lose everything they have.  Don’t let that be you.  If you need help paying the overwhelming cost of long term care, give our office a call at 800-310-3100.  Your first consultation is absolutely free.  We’ll let you know what steps you need to take, right now, to protect yourself and your family.  Call now, because when you’re out of money, you’re out of options!

Sincerely,

Rick L. Law, Estate, Asset and Retirement Tax Attorney

8 times named the #1 Illinois elder law estate planning attorney by Leading Lawyer Magazine, Rick has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, AARP Magazine, TheStreet.com, and numerous newspapers and articles. Rick is the lead attorney for Law ElderLaw, LLP, focusing in Estate, Asset, and Retirement Taxes. His goal is to give retirees an informed edge when it comes to dealing with an uncertain future.  Get flexible retirement strategies that work during good times and bad, plus information on how you can save your home and assets from being used to pay for long term care.  Call 800-310-3100 for your free consultation now!


Do You Have Someone Who Will Advocate For You?

By Rick L. Law of the Estate, Asset and Retirement Tax Attorneys at Law ElderLaw in west suburban Aurora, Illinois.

Older adults have often lamented of doctors and/or hospital staff who ignored the wishes of a loved one, and proceeded with pursuing life-prolonging care.  Even when they had insisted that their loved one did not want life-prolonging treatment, a doctor nevertheless ordered feeding tubes, ventilators, and other life-prolonging measures.  It is through my encounters with these individuals that I have discovered that these situations can and do happen.  Part of of my philosophy of end-of life planning is to help my clients to ensure that their wishes will be adhered to. 

I once taught a two-hour continuing education course about advance directives for an audience of hospital administrators, nurses, and social workers.  “Advance directives” are documents such as the Living Will, the Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR), and the Health Care Power of Attorney.  A primary goal for people who sign these forms is to avoid unwanted resuscitation and other “heroic measures” when there is no hope of recovery and returning to an enjoyable life.

Unfortunately, studies show a “lack of regard” for a patient’s preferences in life-sustaining treatment decisions by doctors and hospital staff.  This trend is quite frightening.  “Despite patients’ wishes, the indiscriminate use of technology and the lack of communication between patients and health care providers have been shown to result in unnecessary pain and suffering for patients.” (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov) In addition, the study notes that the medical costs of prolonging a dying patient’s life via artificial ventilation and intensive care often range between $11,000 and $36,000.  

 

It has been demonstrated that 46% of dying patients received mechanical ventilation in the last three days of their lives.  Many of those individuals never wanted to be on a ventilator—yet they live on in a state of hopeless suffering because of their physician’s decisions.

What can you do to prevent this scenario from happening to you or someone that you love?

  • Create a written advance directive such as a Health Care Power of Attorney, Living Will, and/or a Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR) in appropriate circumstances;
  • Insist that your advance directives are placed in all of your medical records and that your physician is well aware of the existence of such documents;
  • Have “the talk” with your family and doctor to make sure that everyone is very aware of your feelings regarding life-sustaining treatment in the event there is no hope of recovery. This will allow you to get all of your family members “on the same page”; and
  • Choose an “advocate” as your Health Care Power of Attorney and/or surrogate decision maker.  That advocate is someone who can look a medical professional in the eye and insist that your wishes be carried out.  I recommend that you look through your family and friends and choose someone who can insist that your desire regarding life-prolonging treatment be respected by the medical profession.

If your loved one has memory problems and you’re afraid of the consequences that may bring, give our office a call today at 800-310-3100.  Your first consultation is absolutely free.  We’ll let you know what steps you need to take, right now, to protect yourself and your family.  Call now.

Sincerely,

Rick L. Law, Estate, Asset and Retirement Tax Attorney

8 times named the #1 Illinois elder law estate planning attorney by Leading Lawyer Magazine, Rick has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, AARP Magazine, TheStreet.com, and numerous newspapers and articles. Rick is the lead attorney for Law ElderLaw, LLP, focusing in Estate, Asset, and Retirement Taxes. His goal is to give retirees an informed edge when it comes to dealing with an uncertain future.  Get flexible retirement strategies that work during good times and bad, plus information on how you can save your home and assets from being used to pay for long term care.  Call 800-310-3100 for your free consultation now!


The Alzheimer’s Project returns to HBO

By Rick Law, Founder and Managing Partner of the Estate, Asset and Retirement Tax Law Firm of Law ElderLaw.  Law ElderLaw is a multi-generational law firm serving families in Chicagoland and the suburbs in Illinois.

In case you missed it the first time, “The Alzheimer’s Project” is available to watch on the Alzheimer’s Project website or through HBO’s online streaming portals.

“The Alzheimer’s Project” is an exciting joint project of the Alzheimer’s Association and HBO which is designed to give us all new insight and hope that we can push back against Alzheimer’s Disease.

For those of us in Chicago the documentary was even more personal, in that it included a live interview with Dr. David Bennett of Chicago’s own Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center.  The medical staff and researchers at Rush Hospital are one of the premier teams investigating Alzheimer’s Disease.

Most people are aware that Alzheimer’s Disease is a brain disease wherein brain function is progressively destroyed by the emergence of plaques and tangles.  “The Alzheimer’s Project” focused on some individuals with early-onset Alzheimer’s, and we learned several new and surprising things. Interestingly, there are individuals whose autopsy reveals the presence of the Alzheimer’s related plaques and tangles, but the individual did not exhibit memory loss during their lives—some people continue to function in a normal manner.  This phenomenon is not yet understood but is currently being referred to as “cognitive reserve.”  The presence of this cognitive reserve gives researchers a hopeful avenue of new investigation.

In addition, part of the question-and-answer portion of the program focused on current drug therapies.  Today there is not a drug which cures or delays the disease.  Our current drug therapies are limited to enhancing the remaining brain function during the continuing degenerative progression of the Alzheimer’s Disease.

Dr. Bennett told the audience in Chicago that there are numerous drug trials in process, in addition to medical research studies going on right now, which demonstrate new possibilities to not only delay but possibly create a vaccine against Alzheimer’s Disease. There is hope that medical science will have these enhanced weapons available to the public within the next decade.  This is great news for the millions of people who would otherwise face the prospect of Alzheimer’s Disease.

If your loved one has memory problems and you’re afraid of the consequences that may bring, give our office a call today at 800-310-3100.  Your first consultation is absolutely free.  We’ll let you know what steps you need to take, right now, to protect yourself and your family.  Call now.

Sincerely,

Rick L. Law, Estate, Asset and Retirement Tax Attorney

8 times named the #1 Illinois elder law estate planning attorney by Leading Lawyer Magazine, Rick has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, AARP Magazine, TheStreet.com, and numerous newspapers and articles. Rick is the lead attorney for Law ElderLaw, LLP, focusing in Estate, Asset and Retirement Taxes. His goal is to give retirees an informed edge when it comes to dealing with an uncertain future.  Get flexible retirement strategies that work during good times and bad, plus information on how you can save your home and assets from being used to pay for long term care.  Call 800-310-3100 for your free consultation now!


A Dreaded Diagnosis in Middle Age

By Rick Law, Founder and Managing Partner of Law ElderLaw, Estate, Asset and Retirement Tax Attorneys.

Huntington’s Disease is a long-term illness that strikes at an average age of 39.  That’s well before the age that most people plan to retire, and increasingly, it’s well before a lot of people have even begun planning for retirement.

I recently encountered a widow who had served as her husband’s primary caregiver for more than 16 years.  She spoke with both passion and pain, describing her caregiving sojourn as “the loneliest time of my life.”  For this reason, she wanted to speak out and be an encouragement to others who might be on the same road.

Her husband had been diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease, and to paraphrase her words, “While my husband had the diagnosis, the disease took from both of us.” For at least eleven of the sixteen years of his disease, he was not able to hold her, kiss her, or care for her. She continued, “He was stolen from me.  I no longer had a lover, a soul mate, someone who could really share with me.  Our days as a couple were at an end.”

During her husband’s illness, she had to sacrifice her own feelings for the benefit of her spouse. She felt abandoned by her husband’s own family. When she called her husband’s brothers and reminded them of how important it was to her husband that they visit, they responded with, “I just can’t stand to see him that way.”  In the end, her burden could have been lighter if family and friends had stayed more involved.

“I was a widow with a living husband”…

My feeling is that we could all do a better job in helping others carry the load of long term illness by providing support, and not just sympathy.  In addition, there needs to be more awareness of what family members are going through during what is likely the loneliest and most difficult time of their lives.  

If your loved one has a serious diagnosis and you’re afraid of the consequences that may bring, give our office a call today at (800) 310-3100.  Your first consultation is absolutely free.  We’ll let you know what steps you need to take, right now, to protect yourself and your family.  Call now.

Sincerely,

Rick L. Law, Estate, Asset and Retirement Tax Attorney

8 times named the #1 Illinois elder law estate planning attorney by Leading Lawyer Magazine, Rick has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, AARP Magazine, TheStreet.com, and numerous newspapers and articles. Rick is the lead attorney for Law ElderLaw, LLP, focusing in Estate, Asset and Retirement Taxes. His goal is to give retirees an informed edge when it comes to dealing with an uncertain future.  Get flexible retirement strategies that work during good times and bad, plus information on how you can save your home and assets from being used to pay for long term care.  Call 800-310-3100 for your free consultation now!


The Huntington’s Disease Care Journey

By Rick Law of the Estate, Asset and Retirement Tax Law Firm at Law ElderLaw in Aurora, IL.  The multi-generational law firm at Law ElderLaw serves families in Western Chicagoland.

Huntington’s Disease (HD) causes brain cell atrophy, which eventually destroys memory, liver functions, and executive functions (such as organizing, prioritizing, controlling impulses, attention span and monitoring self-awareness). The current model of HD treatment and intervention is a battle to try to delay the progress of the disease.

There is no known cure.

The average age for the onset of HD is only 39.  After symptoms appear, the disease trajectory is a long 18-year decline. Absolutely heartbreaking.

At a conference a couple of years ago, I listened to lecturers who were outstanding medical and neuropsychological experts and learned some interesting facts about this devastating disease. HD may strike only 1 out of 10,000 persons, but it often affects 50% of the family members who are genetically vulnerable. Some of the speakers were victims themselves, and spoke about how they initially tried to deny their symptoms—trying to hide their involuntarily moving legs.  They spoke of the loss of their jobs, their friends, and often other family members.

Families of those with HD symptoms live with the terror of seeing their loved ones suffer, and their own fear that they too will get the disease.  For others, the disease has given them unique strength and perspective; one person boldly announced, “I am not dying of HD.  I am living with HD!”

Everyone agreed that persons with HD must exercise both the body and the brain to keep active and maintain a better quality of life.  In fact, one presenter praised the Nintendo Wii video game for keeping their adult son mentally and physically fit.  These same parents have found it fun and helpful to join their son by challenging him to various Wii Fit competitions.  They credit this video game activity with maintaining their son’s mental, motor, and physical health.  From one doctor visit to another the doctor has stated that their son’s decline has actually stopped!  The mom enthusiastically exclaimed, “What better way to spend time with your HD-affected loved one than laughing, playing, and challenging each other with Wii Fit.  You just can’t be too old to play the Wii Fit game. We wish that we had bought stock in Nintendo!”

If your loved one is facing a dreaded diagnosis and you’re afraid of losing everything to the cost of long term care, give our office a call today at 800-310-3100.  Your first consultation is absolutely free.  We’ll let you know what steps you need to take, right now, to protect yourself and your family.  Call now.

Sincerely,

Rick L. Law, Estate, Asset, and Retirement Tax Attorneys

8 times named the #1 Illinois elder law estate planning attorney by Leading Lawyer Magazine, Rick has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, AARP Magazine, TheStreet.com, and numerous newspapers and articles. Rick is the lead attorney for Law ElderLaw, LLP, focusing in Estate, Asset and Retirement Taxes. His goal is to give retirees an informed edge when it comes to dealing with an uncertain future.  Get flexible retirement strategies that work during good times and bad, plus information on how you can save your home and assets from being used to pay for long term care.  Call 800-310-3100 for your free consultation now!


Alzheimer’s Specialized Care

By LEL founder and attorney Rick L. Law.  Rick Law and his daughter and partner Attorney Diana Law, are part of the multi-generational law firm at Law ElderLaw.  Estate, Asset and Retirement Tax Attorneys serving Aurora, IL and the surrounding communities.

When your loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and needs care, it is important to find a nursing home with an Alzheimer’s special care unit.

Alzheimer’s sufferers have unique needs and will have a much better nursing home experience if the nursing home staff is capable of dealing with their needs. Staff in special-care units should take specialized training courses in order to be able to encourage the residents’ independence and help them realize the maximum potential of their mental and physical abilities as their dementia progresses.

These special units often come at an added price. Some states have established guidelines for these units, but there are currently no federal guidelines.

Before agreeing to pay the higher rate, you should look for the following qualities from a nursing home with a special unit:

  • Does the facility confirm all incoming residents’ Alzheimer’s diagnosis?
  • Is the staff aware of the progressive nature of Alzheimer’s disease, and how do they address the expected changes in the mental and physical abilities of the residents?
  • Are all of the employees in the special unit (the housekeepers, maintenance workers, etc.) given some training regarding Alzheimer’s?
  • Are the buildings and grounds designed for people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease?
  • Are the resident activities appropriate for people with Alzheimer’s?

It is also important for lawyers to advise clients early on in the nursing home search that this type of care is expensive. Fees average around $45,000 a year nationwide, and can be as expensive as $100,000 or more. Most insurance plans do not cover this type of long-term care and neither does Medicare.

Fortunately, Medicaid (the federally funded, state-administered medical assistance program)  is available for qualified individuals.

If your loved one has memory problems and you’re afraid of the consequences that may bring, give our office a call today at 800-310-3100.  Your first consultation is absolutely free.  We’ll let you know what steps you need to take, right now, to protect yourself and your family.  Call now.

Sincerely,

Rick L. Law, Estate, Asset and Retirement Tax Attorney

8 times named the #1 Illinois elder law estate planning attorney by Leading Lawyer Magazine, Rick has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, AARP Magazine, TheStreet.com, and numerous newspapers and articles. Rick is the lead attorney for Law ElderLaw, LLP, focusing in Estate Planning, Guardianship, and Nursing Home Solutions. His goal is to give retirees an informed edge when it comes to dealing with an uncertain future.  Get flexible retirement strategies that work during good times and bad, plus information on how you can save your home and assets from being used to pay for long term care.  Call 800-310-3100 for your free consultation now!

 


Planning to Protect

By Law ElderLaw’s Rick Law. The LEL team is comprised of Estate, Asset & Retirement Tax Planning attorneys in the Western Chicago suburb of Aurora in Illinois.

Planning ahead to protect your surviving spouse is one of the best things you can do to protect your loved ones.  The problem is, some people wait until it’s too late.  I’ve said it before, when you’re out of money, you’re out of options.

So what are some of the things you need to plan and protect against?

  • Loss of a Social Security Check
  • Possible loss of pension
  • Survivor’s taxes may be higher because
    • Single person tax brackets are compressed
    • The big 4 tax deductions are gone
      • Mortgage Interest
      • Dependent children
      • Charities
      • 401k & IRA deductions
  • Inflation

There could be a myriad of reasons why these items would affect you, but now is the time to protect your spouse’s future income with tax planning to increase the net spendable dollars.

In the end, it’s all about your family – your surviving spouse and your children.  At Law ElderLaw, we can help create trusts tailored specifically to each beneficiary.

This level of targeted planning can help protect your adult child’s inheritance from:

  • Divorce
  • Bankruptcy
  • Creditors
  • Predators
  • Inability to handle money
  • Poor decisions
  • Taxes
  • Eccentricities

But what about you?  An estate and asset protection plan also needs to protect you!  Are your assets at risk? Will you lose your house if long-term care is required?  Depending where you are on the elder care journey, our firm may be able to help you better navigate the twists and turns, and the pitfalls and roadblocks of planning to live.  That’s right, because we all know we’re going to die… but what if you live? What if a protracted illness sees you stuck in a care facility for an extended period of time? Will you have the resources to survive without leaving your spouse destitute? Will your children have an inheritance when you’re gone?

That’s where the experienced professionals at Law ElderLaw come in.  Our team is ready to help you plan and protect your future, for better or worse.

If you’re ready to start getting your estate in order and secure your assets for the “worst-case” scenario, please give our office a call at 800-310-3100. Your first consultation is absolutely free.  We’ll let you know what steps you need to take, right now, to protect yourself and your family.  Call now.

Sincerely,

Rick L. Law, Estate, Asset, and Retirement Tax Attorney

8 times named the #1 Illinois elder law estate planning attorney by Leading Lawyer Magazine, Rick has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, AARP Magazine, TheStreet.com, and numerous newspapers and articles. Rick is the lead attorney for Law ElderLaw, LLP, focusing in Estate, Asset and Retirement Taxes. His goal is to give retirees an informed edge when it comes to dealing with an uncertain future.  Get flexible retirement strategies that work during good times and bad, plus information on how you can save your home and assets from being used to pay for long term care.  Call 800-310-3100 for your free consultation now!


Do You Need to Strengthen Your Financial Plan?

by Rick Law, Aurora, Illinois Estate, Asset and Retirement Tax Attorney.  Rick Is Founder of the Estate Planning Center at Law ElderLaw and presents multiple complementary workshops every month on how you can plan and protect your future.

Back in 2008 I had the pleasure of working with Rocky Greene as he held the hand of one of his clients who was beginning to slip into the early stages of dementia.

Because of his proactive concern for his clients, he worked with his clients (a husband and wife in their 70’s) and their adult children in helping them to modify their existing estate plan into a long-term care plan with asset preservation for the healthy spouse and appropriate distributions for the children at the time of the death of both of the spouses.

I decided to give Rocky a call to ask him what was going on in the financial investment world from his perspective.

There are four crucial areas of investment management, all of which need to be addressed to have a truly healthy financial plan for the future:

  • Level of Risk.  When someone asks Rocky about investment management, he counters by asking them a question right back: How you are going to manage your money, not only in an up market, but also in a down market, or in a sideways market?  The key to getting the most out of your investments is not by blindly following your financial advisor, but by doing what is right for you.  The key to good investment management is communication.  Individuals need to be able to share with their financial manager what level of risk they are willing to tolerate.  Some will be comfortable playing the market and hoping they’ll win big.  But for those who insist upon guarantees, an annuity may be the best choice available to them.
  • Proper Insurance Planning.  No matter what your level of risk, investment management also includes the having proper insurance for any of life’s risks.  This includes not only the obvious, life insurance, but also the less obvious: long-term care insurance, and appropriate liability insurance in the event that you are sued.
  • Estate Planning.  It is absolutely critical that you put together a proper estate plan so that your inheritance goals will be properly structured in writing, not only from a tax standpoint but also to determine who is in charge.  Every person, regardless of the size of his or her estate, needs to take the time to put together a plan with directions to loved ones, detailing not only what should be done, but what should not be done with the worldly assets that are left behind.
  • Medicaid/Public Benefits Planning.  Lastly, Rocky believes that Medicaid/public benefits planning is essential!  In today’s environment, even a $2 million net worth individual or couple can have their life savings completely destroyed by failure to properly plan for long-term care.  These days, when you have the very real possibility of one or both individuals needing long-term care for 8 to 12 years, it is easy to take an estate from $2 million or more to absolute zero in that period of time.  To avoid this, you need more than basic planning—you need long-term care planning as well.

A healthy body isn’t achieved by fixing one aspect of your lifestyle and then stopping; it includes giving attention to diet, exercise, mental health, and environmental factors.  Neither does a healthy financial plan stop after making a change in just one area.  You must give attention to all the components of your body of investments to have a truly healthy financial portfolio.

If you’re ready to start getting your estate in order and secure your assets for the “worst-case” scenario, please give our office a call at 800-310-3100. Your first consultation is absolutely free.  We’ll let you know what steps you need to take, right now, to protect yourself and your family.  Call now.

Sincerely,

Rick L. Law, Estate, Asset and Retirement Tax Attorney

Rick has been named #1 Illinois elder law estate planning attorney by Leading Lawyer Magazine 8 times in a row. He has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, AARP Magazine, TheStreet.com, and numerous newspapers and articles. Rick is the lead attorney for Law ElderLaw, LLP, focusing in Estate Planning, Guardianship, and Nursing Home Solutions. His goal is to give retirees an informed edge when it comes to dealing with an uncertain future.  Get flexible retirement strategies that work during good times and bad, plus information on how you can save your home and assets from being used to pay for long term care.  Call 800-310-3100 for your free consultation now


Is It Too Late To Start My Retirement Planning Over?

By Rick Law,  Estate, Asset & Retirement Tax Attorney at Law ElderLaw in Western Chicagoland.

It’s a statement I used to hear all too regularly at the height of the recession.  Clients coming into my office would lament,  “We have lost so much in our mutual funds that I should just sell EVERYTHING and start over.”  I would ask, “How do you know that you have a taxable loss?”  Typically, the answer was something along the lines of, “Everybody knows that the whole market is down by at least 40%! That’s how I know.”

The markets are arguably in a better place than even a couple years ago, but still, many people are panicking and making the same big mistakes in dealing with investment losses.  The two main errors made are:

  • Thinking that perceived investment losses are the same as tax losses; and
  • Failing to understand that any withdrawal from an IRA, 401(k), or 403(b) will always be treated as ordinary income.

The loss our client feels is what I call the “the quarterly statement loss,” but it is not usually the same as a taxable loss. If you ignore Mr. Taxman’s rules, you could wind up compounding your losses.  The way to compute a taxable loss is to look up what you originally paid for an asset and compare that purchase price to the current sale price.  Let’s say that your rental property would sell today for $200,000, but in 2015, it would have sold for $300,000. What kind of a loss have you suffered?  Does the tax-man think that you have a loss?  The answer is, no!

If you bought your investment real estate at $300,000 in 2014, and in 2016 you sell at $200,000, then Mr. Taxman will agree that you have a long-term capital loss of $100,000 (please assume that we are ignoring depreciation and other adjustments).

But, if you are like most of my clients, you may have purchased the asset a long time ago at a price that is lower than today’s sale price.  If you sell today, you may have a significant tax bill, even though you feel like you have ‘suffered’ a loss of value.

For example, if you bought the rental property in 1975 for $50,000, the actual gain or loss will be computed from the original sales price (less any depreciation that you took as a deduction on an annual basis) compared to the current sales price.  So, if you sell that property now, you will be looking at a significant taxable gain.

It’s critical that you remember that money in your IRA represents deferred wages.  No matter when or how the money comes out of your IRA, it will be treated as if you are now receiving those wages.  You pay the income tax rate to the federal and state government.  The government never allows you to treat IRA withdrawals as a tax loss.

If you’re ready to start getting your estate in order and secure your assets for the “worst-case” scenario, please give our office a call at 800-310-3100. Your first consultation is absolutely free.  We’ll let you know what steps you need to take, right now, to protect yourself and your family.  Call now.

Sincerely,

Rick L. Law, Attorney, Estate Planner for Retirees.

Rick was named the #1 Illinois elder law estate planning attorney by Leading Lawyer Magazine. He has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, AARP Magazine, TheStreet.com, and numerous newspapers and articles. Rick is the lead attorney for Law ElderLaw, LLP, focusing in Estate Planning, Guardianship, and Nursing Home Solutions. His goal is to give retirees an informed edge when it comes to dealing with an uncertain future.  Get flexible retirement strategies that work during good times and bad, plus information on how you can save your home and assets from being used to pay for long term care.  Call 800-310-3100 for your free consultation now!