bellomo york pa estate planners

What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger!

The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche famously said:  “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” It turns out that he was right.

Happiness doesn’t come from everything going right. In fact, hoping to get through life with as little disruption or challenge as possible sets us up for a lot of disappointment. It’s better to just expect and prepare for the inevitable tough days that are in store for us later. Life gets “easier” when you get stronger, so instead of wishing for things to get better, start making them better yourself. You’ll find that happiness, wisdom, and strength are all by-products of preparation.

Take positive action to prepare and deal with challenges that face you. Here are some steps to consider.

  1. Stay Focused and Mindful. When dealing with adversity it’s important to stay present and mindful of the moment.
  2. Break Things Down. Facing adversity and setbacks can become rather overwhelming very quickly.
  3. Take Immediate Action.
  4. Find heroes and mentors and call upon them for advice.
  5. Prepare for future scenarios by dealing with present challenges and remembering the past.
  6. Treat others as you wish to be treated. As Wayne Dyer says:  “How people treat you is their karma. How you react is yours.”

We all face challenges in life. How we resolve them can make the difference between them becoming opportunities instead of crises.

Stay calm and enjoy your opportunities!

Jeffrey Bellomo

To join us for one of our upcoming workshops on estate planning and elder law, just click here.  Then RSVP for the date and time that work best for you.  We’ll see you soon!

asset protection trusts york pa

Why Create an Asset Protection Trust in Pennsylvania?

I was recently at an elder law event in Pennsylvania with some of the most intelligent professionals in my area.  I love going to these events to have conversations with others who are in practices very similar to mine.

I was having a conversation at a bar with a colleague whom I respect tremendously, and whom I often emulate and would like to be like in the future.  We had been talking for a long time and the conversations were varying from the weather to sports to legal-technical elder law questions.

Towards the end of the conversation, my colleague asked a question that at first made me think he was joking, but I quickly realized he was not.  His question to me was: Why would anybody do a trust in Pennsylvania in light of the fact that it is so easy to protect assets for a spouse when a loved one enters a nursing home?

After realizing that it was a real question to which he wanted an answer, I was able to not only to give him the answer, but ultimately have him concede that it absolutely made sense, and he would start implementing it in the future.  

Under current Pennsylvania law, there is a way to protect assets for a community spouse, who is a spouse living in the community, and not in the nursing home. Currently, we are able to protect 100% of assets, whether they were in the name of the husband, the wife, or jointly owned.

I realized that the question that he was asking was coming directly from the fact that we could just wait until it happens, and when it happens protect 100% of the assets for the remaining spouse.  I agree with his statement and also with this philosophy. However, the problem is that it assumes that the community spouse for whom we protected all of the assets won’t need long-term care in the future, and also that the spouse does not care about protecting assets for his or her family.

In the past 15 years, it has become very clear to me that clients work very hard for the assets that they accumulate, and they want to be able to protect that legacy for their future.  I could tell numerous stories of clients that we helped to be able to pass on a legacy to their family members; I related several of those stories to my colleague.

Unfortunately, if a person waits and protects 100% of the assets for the individual who is the community spouse, and that community spouse later also needs long-term care, the best that we could do under current law is to protect 50% of the assets at that time.  

However, if we put their assets into the trust while they are younger, we protect 100% of all their assets, so long as they are funded in the trust for more than five years. After hearing several success stories and horrible outcomes, my colleague realized that while it is advantageous to protect 100% of the assets for the community spouse, to let it later all dissipate and be gone from the family is probably not the objective that the husband and wife are looking for.  

I certainly agree that the protection of 100% of the assets in crisis is a great result, but only if the remaining spouse doesn’t need care in the future. By doing a trust early on we are able to guarantee 100% protection for the entire family, and not a 100% now, but maybe not so much later.

At the end of our conversation, we ultimately agreed that the clients are the ones who decide what is best for themselves. Our job is to educate and to provide different ways to do what they are trying to accomplish and allow the family to decide what makes the most sense.  

My colleague was totally on board and has provided similar success stories since that conversation, and now realizes that the client is the one who should ultimately make the decision, not the attorney representing the client.

My thanks to my friend for an incredible conversation, and for helping me grow in all aspects of my life.

Jeffrey Bellomo

If you want to get started on your estate planning or asset protection planning, join us for one of our upcoming workshops.  Just click here to RSVP.

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Single Person Medicaid Success Story

We were recently referred to an individual whose aunt was living in a nursing home.  The administrator of the nursing home told the nephew to contact our office to see if there would be anything that we could to assist.  The aunt was a single individual who had lost a husband years ago. The aunt and her husband worked very hard during their lifetime, and at various times both of them had at least two jobs.  

The aunt talked openly to her family about the fact that her nephew was everything that she had, and that she wanted to make sure that her nephew received something from her and her husband when they died. Unfortunately, the aunt, being alone, was not able to continue to live in her home alone and had to move into a nursing home. She has been living in a nursing home for over a year and was receiving excellent care.  The administrator of the nursing home knew of the aunt’s wishes and told them to give us a call to see if there would be anything that we could do to help.

At the time that we became involved, the aunt was down to approximately $100,000 in assets and a house that was worth about $150,000.  The nephew had heard that he would have to spend down the $100,000 in her assets and get his aunt qualified for Medicaid while keeping the house, because there is an exception in the law that says that as long as the aunt has an “intent to return home,” he would be able to get her qualified for Medicaid.  What the nephew did not realize until our meeting was that if you exempt the home with the intent to return home, the State has a right to lien the property up to the amount of care that was provided. The nephew felt defeated when he learned that and was convinced that there would be nothing that we’d be able to do to help.  He was wrong.

In Pennsylvania, even in a situation where an individual is single, we are able to protect half of the assets, but at least half of the assets have to be in cash to be able to do so.  In this case, the overall value of the estate was $250,000, which means that we needed about $125,000 in cash. The nephew decided to put in $25,000 of his own money to give us $125,000 of cash that we needed.  In return, we were able to deed the property to the nephew and preserve the home. The aunt has dementia, so the likelihood is that she will live for an extended period of time in the nursing home, as she is only in her early 80s.  By the nephew putting in $25,000 of his own money, he was able to get a property in his name worth at least $150,000, and he is hopeful that if he is able to clean it up a little bit, he’ll be able to sell it for even more than that.  The best part of this story is that the aunt is able to still live in a facility that is providing tremendous care for her, and she is also able to provide a legacy for her nephew, her home.

We are grateful to the nursing home administrator who thought of our firm and knew that we would be able to assist.  We are very pleased that we were able to give the family the outcome that they were looking for and the ability to carry on both the aunt’s and uncle’s wishes, even though he is no longer with us.

If you want to talk about your unique family situation contact us today.  You can click here or call us at 717-845-5390.

Jeffrey Bellomo, Esq.

Are you a pessimist or an optimist?

Research shows that optimistic people tend to be much happier and successful in life than pessimists. Pessimism often leads to depression and missing out on the joy of life. So how can we be more optimistic and lead a happier, more successful lives?

Pessimists look at new opportunities and think to themselves, “Nah, it probably won’t work for me,” and they are usually right. Most things don’t work the first time. So as a result, pessimists don’t take enough chances to try for what they want. Optimism is a mindset that anyone can learn to get what they want in life. Optimism involves the willingness to take chances, fail and try again with a good attitude. Those who take chances, end up winning once in a while, and eventually get what they want.

A case study from MetLife shows that optimistic people are far more successful than pessimists. In fact, according to their research, people who ranked among the top 10% of most optimistic people sold 88% more new business than those who were rated as the most pessimistic. Optimism is infectious, so customers naturally want to do more business with optimists vs. pessimists. Put optimism to work at the office, and you are more likely to get that promotion over your gloomier pessimistic counterparts.

Pessimism, particularly extreme pessimism, is often actually a symptom of depression. It can work both ways – pessimistic thought patterns can lead a person to depression, or a person can become depressed and therefore become a pessimist. If you want to stave off depression, then one of the most important things you can do is to start living with a more positive, optimistic outlook.

As with everything, however, optimism should be in moderation. Research has also shown that while pessimists are more likely to become depressed, unrealistic optimists are even more likely than pessimists to become depressed. Unrealistic optimists tend to set themselves up for disappointment, whether that is through the pursuit of highly unlikely career paths or through other unrealistic and overly optimistic expectations.

A realistic yet optimistic outlook will make you healthier, wealthier and happier. However, make sure that you don’t overdo it. Temper your optimism with a little bit of realistic pessimism, and you’ll be able to take advantage of opportunities as they come without setting yourself up for disappointment.

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorns have roses.”


Is your glass half empty or half full?

Jeffrey Bellomo, Esq.

To attend one of our upcoming workshops click here to RSVP today!

nursing homes medicaid planning york pa

A Financial Success Story for a Nursing Home Resident

A family was recently referred to us by a local nursing home because the wife had a stroke and she is going to need care for the foreseeable future. The nursing home social worker was talking with the husband, who was scared because he had a modest amount of money that he has accumulated during his lifetime, but was nervous that it would not take long at $11,400 a month for him to not be able to provide for himself in the future.  

For help with that problem, the Pennsylvania Medicaid spousal rules are certainly a great start and provide that as the community spouse, the husband would be allowed to keep the house, his car, his retirement account, and one-half of the remaining assets, up to a maximum in 2019 of $126,420.00 and no less than $25,284.00 (those amounts change each year).  The social worker explained this to the husband and he still had some trepidation, being only in his late 50s, wanting to know if that would be enough for him to live another 50 years of his life. He loved the nursing home that he was able to get his wife into and was excited about the care that she will receive.

After several sleepless nights for him, the social worker told him to give us a call and I met with him recently.  The husband is an absolute joy to work with and was very appreciative of the care that his wife was receiving. He was ecstatic when I was able to tell him that we would be able to not only protect the aforementioned items, but also the additional $350,000 on top of the $124,000 that was guaranteed under the law.

We were able to put the plan in place and did get approval on the Medicaid application.  It is very rare in our profession that family members hug or show outward affection toward their lawyers.  I will never forget the moment when we received the application and I was able to tell my client that we were able to protect the items that he knew about, but in addition to that, the other monies that he had feared of losing.  

With tears in his eyes, he hugged me and said, Jeff I will never be able to repay you. I appreciate everything that the nursing home has done for me and for my wife, but it is also comforting to know that now I don’t have to worry about how I’m going to live for the remainder of my life and the care that I receive.

We are pleased to report that this outcome is a very common for our clients; we have been able to secure this result for hundreds of clients in and around York, Pennsylvania.  If you or a family member have a loved one in a nursing home and need assistance, please call us (717-845-5390) or click here and give us a little information and we’ll call you, and it will be our pleasure to make this success story yours.

Jeffrey Bellomo

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