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Elder Law and Estate Planning News

Probate is Pricey – But Can You Avoid It Altogether? Part 2

By estate planning attorney Rick Law.  Rick is founder of the multi-generation law firm Law ElderLaw in West Suburban Aurora, IL.  

In my last installment of this blog, you learned a little about what probate is – and why you’ll likely want to avoid it at all costs!

As you might imagine, if your family is forced to deal with probate for months or years, it can become extremely costly. In addition, what passes through probate is made public record… meaning all your laundry is aired, for better or for worse.

In my office, I have seen too many people fail to plan properly. Unfortunately, the person who failed to plan has not only passed their estate to their loved ones, but they have also passed a huge burden onto their children and/or spouse.

The good news is, with proper documents in place, you can avoid putting that load on the ones you love after you pass.  With planning that is right for your unique situation, you can put your mind at ease that your family will have the best possible outcome when you die.

Always be sure you talk to a qualified Elder Law attorney before you take any steps.  While probate can be expensive and inconvenient, for some it is the best option.  Every person’s circumstances are different.  Make sure you’re making the right choice for your family before you put anything in place.

Call my office at (630) 585-5200 to find out what’s right for your situation.

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, Attorney, Estate Planner for Retirees.

Rick has been named the #1 Illinois elder law estate planning attorney for 8 years in a row 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!


Probate is Pricey – But Can You Avoid It Altogether? Part 1

By estate planning attorney Rick Law.  Rick is founder of the multi-generation law firm Law ElderLaw in West Suburban Aurora, IL.  

Talking about what happens after you pass away isn’t an easy thing to do.

Most people avoid it like the plague…  and that’s normal!

That being said, we have to remember that after we breathe our last breath, something does happen to our estate whether we planned for it or not.

Most people think that a will is all you need as you plan for your eventual death.  But these days, things have changed.  You may want to make the process of managing your estate as easy as possible for those you love.

If you have only a will, your estate will pass into a court proceeding called probate when you die.  This will help determine exactly who gets what parts of your estate according to your will.

If you don’t have a will, your estate will still go through probate and will pass to your rightful heirs (depending on who the state decides that is).

Sounds simple, doesn’t it?  The problem is that probate can be a huge weight on your already-grieving family. It can cost many thousands of dollars, and drag on for months… or even years after your death.

In my next installment, you’ll discover some tactics you can use to avoid probate.

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, 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!


Diana’s Role in LEL

By estate planning attorney and Dad Rick Law.  Rick is founder of the multi-generation law firm Law ElderLaw in West Suburban Aurora, IL. 

Law ElderLaw, LLP is dedicated to serving seniors and those who love them in the Chicagoland area.  The firm deals daily with the complicated maze of Medicaid, estate planning, taxation, long-term care planning, special needs trusts and veteran’s benefits for our clients.

Diana Law, Esq plays an integral role within the firm, focusing in the Elder Law niche, including litigation due to financial abuse of an elder, guardianship, and estate administration.  She is actively involved in the community and has won a number of awards, including the Kane County Bar Association’s Outstanding New Lawyer award in 2007.

Diana and the rest of the Law ElderLaw team make it their goal to meet not only the legal needs of clients, but to address their pain, confusion, and sense of loss caused by the burden of long-term care needs.  Law ElderLaw touches clients where they are hurting and provides wise and experienced counsel  Clients need guidance through difficult family situations, and understanding  complicated public benefits.

The legal team communicates with clients in a hands-on and understandable way. The goal is to provide clarity and direction within a byzantine and often adversarial Medicaid, VA benefits, and long-term health care system. Advocating to make sure that clients are aware of the many community resources that are available.

At Law ElderLaw, a key goal is to help clients age-in-place with dignity, safety and peace of mind. Our client’s goal is to never be out of money and quality healthcare options and the firm works to help them achieve their goal.  There are many wrong turns on the eldercare journey and the firm is a trustworthy guide to better outcomes through experienced advocacy coupled with compassion.

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, 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!


A Death Plan vs. a Life Plan

By estate planning attorney Rick Law.  Rick is founder of the Estate Planning Center at Law ElderLaw in West Suburban Aurora, IL.  LEL is a multi-generation law firm.

There are countless lawyers who can help you draw up a will and other papers to tell the courts what to do with your assets when you die.  Just about anyone who has passed the bar exam can write you up a “Death Plan.”  The problem is just that – a will only comes to life after you die.  You need an estate plan that ensures your quality of life while you are still alive.

There are very few attorneys who focus on just how to give you or your loved one a “Life Plan.”  What Law ElderLaw specializes in is not just how to divvy out your assets when you’re gone, but how to make sure those assets remain intact while you are alive so you have a legacy to leave to your loved ones.  With the cost of nursing home care averaging $6,000 per month, a lifetime of savings can be wiped out in a matter of months.

Law ElderLaw works to protect your assets, legally, and assure you that you will not be left out of money, out of options, and robbed of dignity.    You don’t have to outlive your money or your assets.

Rick Law has organized Law ElderLaw to provide the answers that “throw a lifeline” to individuals in danger of sinking under the weight of a long-term nursing care burden, or those who want to make sure they are never faced with that crisis situation.   

Call LEL toll-free at 1-800-810-3100.

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, Attorney, Estate Planner for Retirees.

Rick has been named the #1 Illinois elder law estate planning attorney for 8 years in a row 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!


Why We Practice Elder Law

By estate planning attorney Rick Law.  Rick is founder of the Estate Planning Center at Law ElderLaw in West Suburban Aurora, IL.  LEL is a multi-generation law firm.

Dementia and chronic illness can be one of the most devastating experiences a family can face.   Rick Law, through both his family and friends, has experienced that devastation and responded to it by founding Law ElderLaw.

LEL is a firm dedicated to helping victims’ families not only cope with their grief and confusion, but discover how they can save the assets their loved one has worked a lifetime to achieve.

Rick has seen the incredible burden that is borne not only by the families of his clients, but has  been affected within his own family. He has watched as family members have exhausted their own health and emotional resources by being sacrificial caregivers. This sacrifice is a major motivator that has caused us to develop the services and systems of Law ElderLaw. We are dedicated to protecting and serving the elderly and those who love them.

Rick began his work in the area of Elder Law in 2000, when he received a frantic call from friends that began with a panic-driven question, “Rick, my husband has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Am I going to lose my house?  Everything we’ve worked for?  What can I do?”

At the time that Rick received this question, he responded, “I don’t know.” Even though Rick did not know the answer, he did not let that stop him from setting out to help his friends. He embarked on a mission to find the answers for this aging couple, and others in distress. That phone call led Rick to discover the answers to questions that families in crisis ask, and desperately need to have answered. He learned quickly that almost no one seemed to know how to advise clients in this type of crisis.

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, Attorney, Estate Planner for Retirees.

Rick was named the #1 Illinois elder law estate planning attorney for the past 8 years in a row 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!


Love and Affection

By elder law attorney Rick Law, managing partner at the multi-generation law form of Law ElderLaw.  Serving seniors and boomers in Western Chicagoland, Illinois.

When someone provides a service for someone else, there is an expectation of compensation, but when the same services are performed by a family member, the presumption is that the services were performed gratuitously.

Courts have historically held the presumption that when one family member provides a service for another family member, the person does so out of love and the services are considered gratuitous. Not only is there a historical prejudice against the adult child who is caring for an elderly parent, but in some states that prejudice is written in the administration rules of that state.

It is your lawyer’s job to overcome the assumption that relatives perform services for each other out of love or mutual convenience. This can be quite a presumption to overcome, because the prejudice against contracts among relatives dates back to the 1800’s, when it was assumed that relatives performed services for the mutual convenience of everyone in their household. There are also deep-rooted cultural beliefs about caregiving among family members.

For example, there are strong cultural beliefs at play that suggest parents should receive reciprocal free care from their children because of the years they spend as uncompensated caregivers raising their children.

Your trusted elder law attorney should build into the language of the personal-care agreement that the transfers made under this contract are not for love and affection, but rather they are for services rendered to the elder by the caretaker for fair market value.

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!


Is Your Disabled Child Protected After You Die?

By Rick Law, Elder Law Attorney and senior advocate at the multi-generation law firm of Law ElderLaw in West suburban Aurora, IL.  Serving seniors and their families in Western Chicagoland .

What do you do if you’re an elderly parent still caring for a disabled child who can’t care for him or herself?  Last week I wrote about “empty nesters” who have never really had an empty nest. These are parents of children with disabilities such as autism, cerebral palsy, hearing loss, mental retardation, vision impairment, muscular dystrophy, genetic and chromosomal disorders, Down’s syndrome, and fetal alcohol syndrome, to name just a few.  

Some disabilities are apparent at birth, and others are caused by accidents or manifest themselves as mental illness later in life, but the end result is the same:  The child is being cared for by a loving parent who worries about who will provide care for that child once the parent is gone.

The most common advice of the attorney who does not practice in the area of special needs trust planning (or what we prefer to call Tender Loving Care (TLC) Trusts) has been for the parent to disinherit the child.  Disinherit means to make sure you leave that disabled child with absolutely no allocation of money directly.  This gives the simplistic idea that one should just leave extra money to one of the other children who will provide care for the disabled child and money management.  

Even in the best of families, this is usually a disastrous idea for the following reasons:

  • It’s extremely difficult for an individual who receives extra money not to commingle that money with their own, and eventually treat it as their own.  That money would become available in the event that the healthy child becomes divorced or is otherwise subject to loss to a creditor.
  • In many families the dynamic is such that the healthy children have some anger or resentment toward the disabled child because that sibling got more attention.  Thus, healthy children may not want the role of caregiver and banker for their disabled sibling.
  • And most unfairly, leaving money to one child for disbursement to another child puts a target on the back of the healthy child, in that all complaints and concerns about money will be directed to that individual.

It is the job of the elder law and special needs attorney to assist families like this in developing proper planning so that we can help the parents to create a better way to manage both money and care after they are gone.

A TLC Trust is designed to work in partnership with any public benefits such as Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid.  It is a way for parents to leave money for the needs of their child beyond what public benefits would pay.  A TLC Trust can provide supplemental care for recreation, social activities, pets, special therapies, entertainment, and even vacation opportunities for a child by the use of trust money.  A TLC Trust can also purchase professional care management, which can enhance not only the dignity, but the quality of life of a disabled child. The TLC Trust is a far more loving and caring solution to the challenge of providing for a child with special needs.

Before you disinherit your child with a disability – contact an elder law attorney who can assist you in designing a custom plan to meet the very special needs of your child, so that he or she can be given tender loving care after you have passed away.

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 has been named the #1 Illinois elder law estate planning attorney for the past 8 years in a row 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!


Employment Taxes for Caregivers

by Estate Planning and Elder Law Attorney Rick Law, senior advocate and elder care attorney at the multi-generational law firm of Law ElderLaw in Aurora, IL.

The Internal Revenue Service has special rules that apply specifically to workers (caregivers) who perform in-home services for elderly or disabled individuals.

Because caregivers generally work in the homes of the elderly or disabled individuals and these individuals have the right to tell the caregivers what needs to be done, caregivers are usually treated as employees of the individual for whom they provide services.

If the caregiver employee is a family member, the employer may not be responsible for employment taxes. (Warning: Reread the first sentence of this paragraph! It does not say that employee is exempt from paying income taxes. Rather, it states in a much more limited way that the affected loved one is not responsible for their portion of employment taxes.) However, the employer still needs to report the caregiver’s compensation on a W-2.

If it is determined that caregivers are not employees, the caregiver is still required to report compensation as income on Form 1040.

Depending on the facts and circumstances, the non-employee caregiver may have to pay self-employment tax. Under a personal-care agreement, family caregivers do not owe self-employment tax on the payment for a family member unless they are in the business of providing care to others.

The determination of whether a family member caregiver is an employee is a fact-specific and complicated manner. If drafting a personal-care agreement in which the caregiver and the person receiving the care are related, Consult your trusted Estate Planning attorney who is familiar with the state’s laws on employment.

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 has been named the #1 Illinois elder law estate planning attorney for the past 8 years in a row 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!


Disabled Child and the TLC Trust

By estate planning attorney Rick Law, founder of the Estate Planning Center at Law ElderLaw, a multi-generation law firm in the Western suburb of Aurora in Illinois.

My wife and I are empty-nesters.  We looked forward to reaching this point with excitement, and a little anxiety too.  Having raised four children, it’s time to move on to the more senior stages of downsizing and anticipating our retirement.

Not everyone becomes an empty-nester.  And although we sometimes joke about the occasional “failure-to-launch”, the child who still relies heavily on the parents due to their inability to establish a career, there’s another group of parents who will never know the joy of seeing their child be fully self-supporting.  

In my office it is not uncommon for me to sit across the table from an 83 year old parent who is still the primary caregiver for a child who is chronically disabled.  Those parents live in dread of the day that they will die and their children may survive them and face a future without the loving protection of a parent.

This is the first time in human history that parents face the possibility of having their chronically disabled children actually outlive them.  Prior to the introduction of antibiotics and many other great advances in health care, chronically disabled children routinely died at a young age.  But now, even parents who have lived to become the frail elderly themselves may have chronically disabled children who are themselves senior citizens, but who are still at home being cared for by their parents.  

In fact, sometimes when we assist families in bringing in a professional caregiver for the aged parents, those same caregivers are providing necessary services to the child with the disability, as well.  This raises new challenges for those parents and their children. This type of disability is really quite common.  “Developmental disabilities” are severe chronic conditions caused by mental and/or physical impairments.  Individuals affected by such challenges may be so profoundly impacted that they will never be able to function independently.  

So how can a parent be assured that a disabled child will be taken care of after the parent is gone?  Some attorneys will recommend that you leave everything to another, non-disabled child, to care for the disabled sibling.  This passing of the torch is unfair and in many ways ill-advised. Far better is the creation of a special needs trust specifically for the benefit of your disabled child.

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 has been named the #1 Illinois elder law estate planning attorney for the past 8 years in a row 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!


Seniors in Love

“By Rick Law, estate planning attorney and senior advocate at the Estate Planning Center at Law ElderLaw in Western Chicagoland in Illinois.

Love and marriage is wonderful, but for senior citizens it raises very different issues than it does for the young and newly married.

One obvious issue is the fact that most seniors already have adult children, and many of those adult children are quite vocal in their concern about their mother or father becoming involved in a new love life.

Before mom or dad get married, many children want to make sure that their inheritance is protected.  To that end, many seniors use wills or trusts which direct that assets go to “my kids and grandkids,” or create pre-marriage-property-settlement agreements (pre-nuptial contracts) which require that the pending bride or groom give up any interest in their new spouse’s assets.

Despite these attempts to safeguard assets for the original families, there is another hidden danger to the family wealth whenever a senior chooses to wed. A trust or pre-nuptial agreement does not protect the assets of one spouse from being drained to pay for an ill spouse’s medical costs, including long-term care costs.

The “Common Law of England” required long ago that husbands and wives be legally responsible to pay for each others’ necessaries, and our own government adopted that requirement. Included in those “necessaries” are food, housing, and yes: healthcare. This includes the cost of care when someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or any other long-term illness.

To protect themselves from this hidden drain on a lifetime of earnings, healthy vigorous seniors who are considering getting “hitched” must consider the wisdom of purchasing long-term care insurance and perhaps engaging an elder law attorney to assist them with longevity planning. All this must take place before your marriage, so that you have some idea of what your real risks are.

Elder law attorneys have many creative legal solutions that go beyond the traditional estate planner’s basic will and trust, which merely deal with the distribution of your assets at the time of your death, avoidance of probate, and minimization of estate taxes.

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 has been named the #1 Illinois elder law estate planning attorney for the past 8 years in a row 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!