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By Rick Law, Founder and Managing Partner of Law Elder Law, 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 Elder Law, 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!
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By Rick Law of the Estate, Asset and Retirement Tax Law Firm at Law Elder Law in Aurora, IL.  The multi-generational law firm at Law Elder Law 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 Elder Law, 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!
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By Attorney Rick Law of the Estate, Asset and Retirement Tax Lawyers at Law Elder Law.  Home of the Estate Planning Center at Law Elder Law in the Western Chicagoland suburb of Aurora, in Illinois. I grew up (like most baby boomers) in the age of the TV Cowboy Hero. We were saturated with the “Code of the West” as the good guys of the cinematic Old West rode, roped, and fought their way into our hearts and minds. The Good Guys wore white hats (with the exception of Hopalong Cassidy) and selflessly fought evil as they helped the poor, oppressed, innocent, and vulnerable. It was always easy to recognize the Bad Guys… They didn’t just rustle stock from the honest folk. As a clear allegory for our now adult lives, the bad guys often came in the form of bankers and businessmen… misusing their power and position to cheat good and hard-working citizens out of their homes, ranches, and livestock. Like many idealistic law students, I carried that “cowboy code” inside me. I imagined using my legal skills to fight injustice and protect the innocent—just as my heroes had done. But I soon found that real lawyering is seldom as glamorous and interesting as a TV show, so I spent the better part of my first 25 years becoming very efficient and effective at moving mountains of documents for clients, mostly real estate and tax documents. It was not the work of a hero, but it paid the bills. Around 2000, due in large part to the aging issues of my parents, and my parents’ generation, I became a part of a small “tribe” of lawyers who practice elder law.  A combination of estate planning, taxation, health care, Medicare, Medicaid, elder abuse, and more, elder lawyers focus on assisting the frail and elderly to help achieve their goals of quality health care, while striving to avoid needless impoverishment. As I mentioned, I have been touched by a loved one’s long-term illness or a disability, and because of this, I strive to help the ones who need help the most; the widow(er), the caregiver spouse/adult child, and the frail elderly.  That, to me, makes being an elder law attorney the modern equivalent of Dale Evans, Roy Rogers, or Hopalong Cassidy. 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 Elder Law, 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!  
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By attorney Rick Law of the Estate, Asset and Retirement Tax Lawyers at Law Elder Law in West suburban Aurora in Illinois. Seniors suffering from dementia who wish to qualify for state-paid nursing home care are required to spend down until they only have $2,000 in countable assets (this number varies from state to state). The state Medicaid agency is going to examine all major financial transactions that occurred during the five years prior to Medicaid application. This is where the personal-care contract needs to be very precise in how it details the care being provided. The state Medicaid agency will be looking to see if the caregiver agreement is being used to allow the parent to simply gift assets to children and still apply for long-term care on the state’s dime. State Medicaid agencies will generally look at two factors to determine whether a transfer of assets disqualifies the person receiving the care for Medicaid benefits:
  1. the fair market value of the transaction
  2. the intent behind the transaction
While that may sound simple enough, determining the prevailing price of eldercare services is not as easy as it sounds. Just about everyone, including hearing officers and judges, has a different opinion as to how to determine the prevailing price for caregivers. In some states, it may be essential that the personal-care agreement be entered into prior to services being rendered. In other states, those reviewing the contract will be looking for specifics such as how long the services will last, how many hours per week, what standards of services are being provided, and what, if any, provisions provide for a refund. 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 by Leading Lawyer Magazine. He has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, AARP Magazine, TheStreet.com, and numerous newspapers and articles.  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 lost to the expenses of long term care.  Call 800-310-3100 for your free consultation now!  
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By estate planning attorney Rick Law.  Rick is founder of the multi-generation law firm Law Elder Law in West Suburban Aurora, IL.  Are you aware that a catastrophic illness could wipe out virtually all your financial resources?  What will happen to you if you outlive your money?  You can learn how to protect your life savings and your legacy during our free vision meeting.  Call our office at 800-310-3100 to ask for more information or set up an appointment. At Law Elder Law, our mission is to help seniors protect their assets from unnecessary taxes, legal expenses, and the devastating cost of catastrophic healthcare or long-lasting nursing home fees.  Our goal is to make sure your assets will last you a lifetime, and passed on to your loved ones in the most timely and cost-effective manner. You may be surprised to find that elder law attorneys are of a different breed than other lawyers. Not only are we familiar with professional resources for you and your loved ones, but we are also ready to provide you with many community resources to help meet your family’s needs.  Serving over 400 Illinois families every year, we have walked this difficult road before and we understand the delicate situations that surround end-of-life planning. Come in and talk to us, we can help you along this path. 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 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 Elder Law, 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!
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By estate planning attorney Rick Law.  Rick is founder of the Estate Planning Center at Law Elder Law in West Suburban Aurora, IL.  LEL is a multi-generation law firm. In the last installment of my blog, you learned some of the basics of Medicaid in Illinois – and why you need to be informed about it even if you still have money! The Illinois Department on Aging’s Community Care Program helps seniors who might otherwise need nursing home care to remain at home by providing help that the senior may need.  This includes help within the home, as well as in the community. This program allows qualifying seniors to keep their independence, while providing cost-effective alternatives to a nursing home. Some of the benefits of the Community Care Program include:
  • In-Home Help is available to provide assistance with household tasks and personal care for older adults who are moderately impaired. It could be something as simple as uncapping medications and providing water, or even assisting with personal care, cleaning, doing laundry, preparing meals.  Help with more complex tasks is also included, such as meal planning, shopping and arranging transportation.
  • Emergency Home Response Service provides the senior with a signaling device for 24-hour emergency coverage.  That way, if help is needed (such as a fall or a fire), the senior can easily alert the authorities and get fast help.
  • Adult Day Services offer older adults the opportunity to interact with other people in a safe, supervised setting outside the home. Snacks and a noon meal are provided, and participants may enjoy everything from arts and crafts to card games. Counseling and physical therapy with trained professionals are also available in some centers. Adult day service centers can greatly help caregiving family members who may need a few hours to themselves, or who work outside the home during the day. In many adult day service centers funded by the Illinois Department on Aging, specialized programs are available for seniors with memory problems such as Alzheimer’s or dementia.
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 Elder Law, 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!
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By estate planning attorney Rick Law.  Rick is founder of the Estate Planning Center at Law Elder Law 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 Elder Law. 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 Elder Law. 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 Elder Law, 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!
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By elder law attorney Rick Law, managing partner at the multi-generation law form of Law Elder Law.  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 Elder Law, 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!
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By Rick Law, Elder Law Attorney and senior advocate at the multi-generation law firm of Law Elder Law 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 Elder Law, 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!
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By estate planning attorney Rick Law, founder of the Estate Planning Center at Law Elder Law, 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 Elder Law, 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!
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