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Reflecting On Gratitude

Thank you!The Bellomo & Associates Team took a minute to pause and reflect on we are grateful for when it comes to serving the families in our community. 

We wanted to share those thoughts with you:

Jeff Bellomo – I am grateful for the amazing families that we get to meet through their life’s journeys. I am grateful for the amazing team members that I get to work with each and every day to assist our community.

Amber Rivera – I am thankful for being a part of something I believe in; I believe in the lives we change daily and the purpose for which we do it.

Dan Hill -I am grateful for the fact that what we do here every single day is help families just like they are our own.

Jennah Motter – I am grateful to have a job where I am introduced to so many people and watch them make decisions that will help their family in the future.

Heidi Thomas – l am grateful that our purpose is to educate. I speak to so many clients who express their gratitude for the free educational workshops, which teach valuable information to those who need it most!

Michelle Poole – I am grateful for all the times I have been out in the community and someone has said to me, I am so thankful I met you today; I have this family crisis and we need your help.

Bill Poole – I am grateful for the opportunity to help our clients work their way through the estate planning process.

Cookie Larkin – I’m so thankful that B & A’s purpose/focus is truly helping others as opposed to focusing on self-gain.

Sharee Bishop – I am grateful for the opportunity to help so many families. 

Christine Oyler – I am grateful for the opportunity to help so many families and to work with an amazing team at Bellomo & Associates.

Tammy Ely – I am grateful that we are able to assist people in their time of need.

Thank you for choosing Bellomo & Associates to work with when it comes to your estate planning and elder law needs.  It means the world to us and we are beyond grateful for all the client families we’ve worked with through the years.

 

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Should I Preplan My Funeral?

5987A659-1E1C-4C5F-AECD-92D446479FA4I want to state right up front that I am not a funeral director, nor am I licensed to sell any insurance products or receive any commissions on any type of insurance products.  

As a practicing estate planning and elder law attorney, I cannot emphasize enough how important I believe it is to preplan your funeral and ensure that your wishes are carried through as much as possible. It is my understanding that preplanning a funeral can be as simple as working out all of the arrangements and details as well as potentially paying for it at today’s dollars, or not.

The reason that I believe this is important is because a lot of people will shut down immediately when I tell them that they should preplan their funeral because “they can’t afford it.” When confronted with that response, I suggest that it still is better to plan for it now and, if you can’t pay for it, then it is my understanding that you can assign insurance policies to pay for it and that there are other ways to make payments as well.  

The importance of planning and taking that burden off of your family cannot be underestimated. I remember after the passing of my mother at the end of 2015, how much harder that entire experience would have been if we had to plan everything from A to Z.

Fortunately for us, mom preplanned with dad, and all of her wishes were in writing so we knew exactly what she wanted. In her case, she did prepay with an insurance policy, but even if she hadn’t, the fact that she went through the process of deciding everything including which casket she wanted, was a stress and burden off of our shoulders that I cannot put into words.  

Thus, I would advise those people who say that they can’t afford it that now is the time to start saving or to purchase the plan or assign an insurance policy to take care of it. If when you pass away your children or your family have to pay for it personally, that not only adds to the emotional stress, but also creates a financial burden on them. Do yourself and your family a favor and take the time now to make your funeral arrangements in order to relieve a whole lot of stress later.

And if need to get your estate planning taken care sooner rather than later, join us for one of our upcoming workshops.

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Should I Buy Long-Term Care Insurance?

EFEA7CA5-C1CC-4ECB-9EA3-C6C1DEC73734I get asked this question all the time in my practice. I want to begin by saying I am not a financial advisor, nor am I licensed to sell insurance, nor can I receive any commission from anyone who does. Thus I have no incentive to say that I think long-term care policies are important; the reasons may be different than what you might expect.  

I always hear the push-back that long-term care insurance is very expensive, and that, in many cases, if you don’t use it, you lose it. Since approximately 2009, Pennsylvania has become a part of something called a partnership care plan.

Essentially, for example, if you have $200,000 of long-term care insurance that pays out, the state will allow you to exempt an additional $200,000 of assets at the time that you enter a nursing home, and still qualify for Medicaid. When the plan first came out, the concern was that the state would take over long-term care insurance, but so far that has not occurred.

I believe the reason is because these are still traditional long-term care policies that, if you don’t use it during your lifetime, you lose its value at your death.

However, more recently long-term care insurance companies have come out with what is called a hybrid policy, which is a life insurance policy that has a rider for long-term care insurance. The main reason that I like long-term care policies, specifically the ones that have riders to provide for care in the home or in the personal care home, is because more and more, people want to live at home as they age and until they die.  

In all of my years of practice, no one has ever told me that they want to go into a nursing home. I often hear that they want to stay home, or they want to stay in a personal care home, but unfortunately, it is too expensive, or the assets will become completely depleted.

Although I understand that long-term care insurance or a long-term care hybrid policy may seem expensive now, trust me, the peace of mind that it will provide later when you or a loved one wants, and is able, to stay home or go to a personal care home, the money spent on the policy which allows you to do so is small compared to the out-of-pocket cost of that care, and, at least as importantly, your peace of mind.  

Although we are fortunate in the state of Pennsylvania to be able to assist people in crisis, we are not as easily able to help people to stay in their homes or in a personal care home.  Do yourself and your family a favor, and if at all possible secure your long-term care insurance now for peace of mind later; the earlier the better.  

If you want to talk about this or any other estate planning matter your wanting more information about, contact us!  

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Same-sex unmarried couples and inheritance tax

AD438AEB-B3A0-4075-A66A-6064D3349EACSince May 20th, 2014, same-sex marriage has been legally recognized in Pennsylvania as a result of a federal district court judge ruling that the Commonwealth’s 1996 statutory ban on recognizing same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.

Unmarried same-sex couples, like all unmarried couples, now have to consider the pros and cons of marriage. In Pennsylvania, one consideration is the Pennsylvania inheritance tax. 

This issue arises for all unmarried couples, but is more at the forefront of discussions by same-sex couples because, until May 20, 2014, marriage was not available to same-sex couples, so they could not even consider this question. On the other hand, for heterosexual couples who were unmarried, their marital status was a choice, not a status forced on them by the law. 

Pennsylvania taxes assets on the transfer of wealth at death, and the tax rate is dependent on the relationship of the deceased to the recipient of the money. The tax rate for spouses in Pennsylvania is 0%.  All other non-related parties (including life partners or significant others) is 15%.

Pennsylvania imposes the inheritance tax from the first dollar, so it is certainly one factor about which we advise all unmarried couples when discussing estate planning. By no means is the 15% tax on its own a reason to get married, but since the recognition of same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania, many think that is one factor that same-sex couples are considering in deciding whether or not to get married.

All unmarried couples should talk to their attorney or advisor to discuss other implications that may arise, but certainly the inheritance package is a factor that faces unmarried couples.  If you want to talk to us more about your unique estate planning just fill out our simple form here and we’ll be in touch!

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Practice Area Guides

Smart-IM0GHpsjJic-unsplashI recently noticed a client in our office had something tucked under his arm. I greeted him and asked what he had. His response was, “It’s my probate guide and I never leave home without it.” That really got me thinking.

I created the Probate and Medicaid guides about three years ago for our existing clients, because we were finding that many people were very overwhelmed and could not remember from meeting to meeting what we said. In fact, I had a case where I dictated a letter to the client right in front her and a few days later she called into the office indicating that she didn’t remember what we talked about, but it certainly wasn’t what was in the letter.

My team member asked a client if she remembered me dictating the letter in front of her, and she said yes. I understand that when we meet with clients who are going through probate and/or Medicaid qualification, it means that a loved one has either just died or is going into a nursing facility or receiving long-term care, probably for the rest of his or her life. This is a very emotional and stressful time and it is not reasonable to expect somebody is going to remember everything that you discuss.  

These guides arose as a result of several of our team members suggesting that we create them in the practice areas where things are so overwhelming. I must say that it was probably one of the single most important and best decisions that we have made as a firm.

Clients in our Probate and Medicaid departments now have guides that tell them exactly what to expect in the process, who is doing what, and when is it expected to be done. It is something that I am finding more and more the clients carry with them everywhere, and, like our one client, they never leave home without it.

The guides were certainly not done because we don’t trust our clients or that we don’t think that our clients are intelligent, but because we acknowledge that the process that they are going through is extremely emotional and stressful, and it is just one small thing that we can do to help them to remind them of how to get to the end of the process and move on to the next chapter in their lives.

These guides have proven so successful that we have recently created one of the guardianship process. Thanks to that gentleman with his guide under his arm, and the fact that he never left home without it, for reinforcing the value of those guides.

If you’re wanting to start taking the next steps towards getting your estate planning and/or asset protection planning started, join us for any one of our upcoming workshop.  Just click here to find out more.  We hope to see you soon!

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