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My Loved One is in a Nursing Home, is it too Late?

“My loved one is in a nursing home, is it too late?” The simple answer is no, it is not too late! The only time it is too late is when there are no assets available or when all of the assets were previously gifted. If the family member in the nursing home still has assets, it is not too late.

The confusion in many of these cases arises because most individuals believe that because the nursing home didn’t mention that anything could be done, that means that nothing can be done. Unfortunately, it is not the nursing homes business office’s job to tell a family how to protect assets. It is their job to make sure that they provide great care for their residents and get paid for their services. To be completely honest, most of them do not even realize that anything can be done because when you look at the law on its face, it doesn’t really mention anything about it. You have to dig a bit deeper!

If you have a loved one that has entered a nursing home, please contact our office immediately so that you can watch our educational workshop and have a free consultation where we explain your options to you before you make any decisions. It is our job to protect you and your family and to protect as much as we possibly can for our clients. Allow us to do our job and allow the nursing homes to continue to do their job to provide care and get paid for their services.

Remember, it is not too late. If a loved one is already in a nursing home, please give us a call so you can attend our free workshop by registering here or call schedule 717-845-5390 and we’ll set you up with a free consultation.

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Alzheimer’s Disease: The Game Changer

In the mid-90’s, my grandpa Bellomo was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, and I remember watching him progress through the stages of this disease and thinking how horrible it was and that he was no longer my grandfather. I remember being very optimistic that there would be a cure for this disease in the very near future. Here we are in 2022 and there are no cures to this difficult disease. 

In my practice as an estate planning and elder law attorney, we have answers to just about every question and solutions to just about every problem. The one constant difficult issue that arises on a regular basis is a client who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease and how to provide the care that they need to keep them safe as long as possible. Certainly, keeping somebody at home is a much better option than taking them out of their environment into another situation but as this disease progresses, the individuals will often get combative and violent and oftentimes cannot remain in the home. There are several wonderful care options at assisted living facilities that are called memory units. Unfortunately, these are private pay situations with no ability for government funds to help assist or pay for this type of living. Oftentimes, memory care units can cost somewhere between $7,000 and $9,000 a month which often becomes cost prohibitive. In many cases, the individual ends up being placed in a nursing home not because a nursing home is the right place for the client, but rather because there are ways to have the government assist with the funding of the approximate $12,000 to $13,000 a month of care. 

Whether or not this is the best place for the individual is certainly debatable but for some families it is simply not an option. Alzheimer’s is a very difficult disease and our hats off to all caregivers out there who are assisting to the best of their ability. 

Please feel free to give us a call if you have any questions or comments at 717-845-5390.

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Estate planning and the Dysfunctional Family

Over my career as an estate planning and elder law attorney, I swear I have seen just about everything.  I cannot remember a fact pattern that surprised me or took me aback.  I am honestly at the point now where I think that dysfunctional is the norm for the common family that we assist.  I’m not sure if it’s because we specialize in estate planning and elder law and we get referrals and cases that are more complex and more advanced than others, or if that is just the norm these days.  My gut says it is probably the latter. 

I did some research to define the word dysfunctional, and there is no clear-cut definition.  But my gut would say that dysfunctional would include families such as second marriages with kids to different relationships, as well as addictions or spendthrift issues, or just family dynamics in in-tact families where people do not care for each other.  Again, I think this is probably the norm more than any exception.  

It is imperative that families are open and honest with their attorney so that the attorney can put a plan in place that addresses what they need for their specific situation.  Dysfunction does not present as the same fact pattern in any two cases, and therefore an experienced estate planning attorney is needed to be able to dot the I’s and cross the T’s.  Be very wary of the do-it-yourself sites or general practice attorneys who don’t specialize in this area if there is a complex fact pattern for you and your family. 

We love assisting any and all families and certainly love putting the fun in dysfunctional. We look forward to providing an estate plan that is unique for you and your family, whether you are dysfunctional or as functional as anyone else. 

Please feel free to give us a call if you have any questions or comments at 717-845-5390.

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Potential Decrease in Federal Gift and Estate Tax Exemption, Did it Pass and Does it Impact You?

A hot topic among our clients is the proposed amendment to the Federal Lifetime Gift & Estate Tax Exclusion and how it may affect their current estate plan.  At this point Congress did not pass the proposed amendment to the law that was to go into effect January 1, 2022.  And there does not seem to be a lot of talk of bringing this to the forefront again for a vote anytime soon.  

The current law doesn’t reduce the exemption until January 1, 2026, when it would revert to $5 million.  The exemption is a lifetime exemption per person and applies to gifts you make during your life or distributions to your beneficiaries after your death.  Any amounts gifted or passed through your estate in excess of the deduction amount will be subject to either federal gift tax or federal estate tax.  

This change will only impact you if your net worth is in excess of $5 million (adjusted for inflation).  If you are like many people, me included, who can only dream of having $5 million dollars of assets in your lifetime then the reduction of the exemption on January 1, 2026, or before, will have no effect on you or your planning.  However, if you do have significant assets you may want to consult a qualified estate planning attorney to determine if you can make additional gifts before the law rolls the exemption amount back to $5 million in approximately 4 years.  The attorney will also be able to advise you if establishing and funding a grantor trust prior to the exemption being reduced would benefit you and help to reduce any federal gift or estate taxes.  Please keep in mind that this law and any changes applies to federal gift and estate taxes and has no effect on the assets or value of the assets subject to Pennsylvania inheritance tax.  Inheritance tax in Pennsylvania is separate and apart from any federal laws and currently inheritance tax is assessed on almost every asset you own with the exception of life insurance.  

For questions on if the proposed changes in the federal gift and estate tax laws in early 2026 will negatively impact you or your estate planning or questions on Pennsylvania inheritance tax, please consult a qualified estate planning attorney for a review of your estate plan.  We would be happy to schedule a time to speak with you regarding your individual situation.  

Please feel free to give us a call if you have any questions or comments at 717-845-5390.

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Comparing Life Care Planning to Traditional Elder Law

This year, we are getting the word out there about the Life Care Planning we offer that involves a licensed social worker to act as the Client Care Advocate. A question that we keep getting is what is “What is the difference between Life Care Planning and Elder Law and why did you make the change?” The way that I explain it is that a traditional elder law firm prepares documents for an individual and then either waits until the client passes or until they need to go to a nursing home and will qualify them for public benefits.

A life care planning firm is a more holistic approach to providing care. Our licensed social worker, Meg Motter, works with families to assist in figuring out ways to keep their loved ones home and how to receive care in a home or in a less restrictive environment than a nursing home. A licensed social worker will be able to provide different cognitive assessments and evaluate safety and necessity of levels of care, unlike an attorney. The elder care coordinator allows the firm to provide a more comprehensive approach, separate from just estate planning documents or qualification for Medicaid. The care coordinator allows the firm to provide information and advice that was not otherwise available to the firm prior to becoming a life care planning model firm.

We are ecstatic to have Meg Motter onboard as our elder care coordinator and we look forward to assisting you and your family in the future.

Please feel free to give us a call if you have any questions or comments at 717-845-5390.

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