Archives by: Laurie G. Steiner

Laurie G. Steiner

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About the author

Laurie G. Steiner is a member of the law firm of Solomon, Steiner & Peck. She is a certified elder law attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation and the Ohio State Bar Association. She practices in the area of elder law, Medicaid, VA and disability planning, and estate and trust planning and administration. She can be reached at 216-765-0123 or at http://www.ssandplaw.com/

Laurie G. Steiner Posts

Joint and Survivorship Accounts

Legal March/April 2017 Money

Pros, Cons and Everything In Between

The Scoop on Joint and Survivorship Accounts

 

 

 

 

The Goal for Most People? Avoid Probate.

One method:

Joint and Survivorship accounts

Got it. How does that work?

Two people set it up

When one dies, the other owns it

Good for spouses

 

So what can go wrong?

Multiple owners—who gets what?

Parents leave to one child, not others

Creditors of one owner can attach the account

Divorce of one owner

Lawsuits

 

What is better for non-spouses?

Payable on Death to Child

Transfer on Death to Child

Transfer on Death to Child or by Naming the Child the Beneficiary

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You’re Raising a Grandchild – Now What? Proper legal documents can protect your rights – and theirs

You’re Raising a Grandchild – Now What? Proper legal documents can protect your rights – and theirs

Today, more and more grandchildren are being raised by grandparents for a variety of reasons. Death, illness, or drug abuse could all require changes in living circumstances.

But what rights do you, the grandparent, have with regard to raising your grandchild? Schools and medical providers want proof that you have the right to make decisions and speak for the grandchild’s interests. There are a number of ways to obtain such rights.

UNDERSTAND YOUR OPTIONS

Ohio law was changed in July 2014 to enact the “Grandparents Caretaker Law” which provides two methods by which non-custodial grandparents can obtain caretaker rights relatively simply.

First, if you are noncustodial but need rights as to schooling or medical care, the parent can sign a caretaker power of attorney to grant the grandparent with whom the grandchild is residing. This document helps the grandparent have the ability to make decisions for care and school matters. Examples are medical, psychological or dental treatment for the child, school enrollment and school educational and behavioral information.

A parent can only grant this authority under certain hardship circumstances like serious illness, homelessness or the death of one parent, and only if it is in the best interest of the child. This power of attorney does not convey legal custody. The form must be witnessed and notarized and filed with the local county juvenile court.

Second, if the parents cannot be found after a good faith effort was made to find them, state law allows the non-custodial grandparent to sign a caretaker authorization affidavit stating that the parent is not available and the grandparent is granted the same rights as listed above. The form must be signed, notarized and filed with the local county juvenile court within five days.

Either of these two documents terminate after one year or if the child stops living with the grandparent, by court order, the death of grandparent or grandchild, or revocation.

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Estate Planning for Second Marriages – “What to Do Before Saying “I Do”

Legal May/June 2016

Remarriages are on the rise. Four of every 10 marriages are now remarriages, and half of previously married seniors have remarried again, according to a Pew Research Center study.

Let’s say partners each have children from a first marriage, and they are getting married. What issues do they need to think about? In addition to all of the family dynamics, there are many economic and personal issues they need to consider, such as:

• Income taxes

• Prenuptial agreements

• Pension, 401k and Social Security benefits

• Cost-sharing

• Estate planning documents

DOUBLE-CHECK DOCUMENTS

Consider the following real-life example. A couple remarried in their 50s. They each had children from a first marriage. The husband died 20 years later. He wanted to provide for his second wife.  His will stated all of his assets went to his wife, with the understanding that on his wife’s death those assets would go back to his children.

However, what actually happened is when the husband died, the surviving wife — who lived a long time after that — simply combined their assets. On her death, the money went to her children. The husband’s children got nothing. They did not believe their father meant to do that with his assets. He didn’t, but he didn’t plan properly.

So, what should he have done? He should have set up what is commonly called a marital trust. The trust would have held the assets for his second wife when he died, but upon the wife’s passing the assets would go to his children. The trust document prohibits the widow from transferring the assets to her children.

LIFE CHANGES REQUIRE UPDATES

As for other important documents, everyone should have a durable financial power of attorney, durable health care power of attorney and a living will declaration. When you divorce or get married, update documents to reflect your new situation.

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Knowing Your Rights In Power of Attorney

Fall 2015 Financial Planning Legal

Millions of people have powers of attorney. However, are you opening yourself up to problems in this common estate planning document? Attorney Michael Solomon explains this document and how you can make it work for you.

WHAT’S A POWER OF ATTORNEY?

A power of attorney is a simple legal document that authorizes someone you name, typically a trusted family member, to handle your legal or financial affairs. With this document your agent, the person you give it to, can step in to help when you become incapacitated.

CAN YOU NAME THE TWO MOST IMPORTANT LEGAL DOCUMENTS YOU ABSOLUTELY MUST HAVE?

I’ll give you a hint: a will and a trust are the wrong answers. The two most important legal documents are a financial durable power of attorney and a health care durable power of attorney. Wills and trusts are certainly important. Those are documents to plan for your estate at your death. The durable powers of attorney for finances and health care are designated to protect you during your lifetime.

The first document, the financial durable power of attorney, authorizes someone you trust, usually a spouse or child, to handle your finances. The agent you name can pay your bills, sign checks, sell stocks and generally handle your finances. If you become incapacitated or unable to handle your financial affairs, your agent under the financial durable power of attorney can easily step in to handle things.

The other document is the health care durable power of attorney. With this document, you can authorize someone to make healthcare decisions for you if you can’t make your own.

WHAT ARE THE DANGERS?

When you give someone a power of attorney, you’re giving them the power to go to the bank and take your money, or to sell the house. That’s a lot of power, and it can also lead to problems.

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Crazy Laws – Keep Your Retirement Dreams – but Watch Out

January/February 2017 Legal

As you plan for retirement, it just might be the time to try to realize your lifelong dreams. You’ve put them off long enough; now you actually have the time. Great idea. But please be sure to follow the law when you do. There are some crazy laws on the books that just might put a damper on your plans.

BINGO, RABBITS AND A MUSTACHE PROBLEM

For example, if you love to play bingo, and just never had time before, don’t retire to North Carolina. It’s illegal to play bingo there for more than five hours in a row. Or, if you would rather sing when you move there, you’d better be really good. Singing off-key also is prohibited.

If you vacation in Wyoming, and like to take pictures, remember that it’s illegal to take a picture of a rabbit from January to April without a permit. In Idaho, you can eat all the potatoes you want, but never wear a fake mustache in a church.

Alaskan cruises are beautiful, and you may dream of a long vacation by sea and by land. However, if the weather proves to be a bit too cold for you, be careful if you stop at a bar for some warming spirits. You are not allowed to be drunk in a bar. And right here in Ohio, it’s illegal to get a fish drunk.

AND THERE’S MORE, OF COURSE

If you enjoy the holidays and wish they could last forever, don’t move to Maine. Decorations have to be removed and stored by Jan. 14. On the other side of the country, they don’t like folks with a sweet tooth; lollipops are banned in Washington.

Florida women might have their dreams dashed because unmarried females cannot parachute on Sundays. The need to protect women is somewhat understandable.

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Cases & Controversies – An Open Enrollment Guide for Newcomers

Cases & Controversies – An Open Enrollment Guide for Newcomers

For you pros at Medicare open enrollment, you know that this is when you review your Medicaid Advantage Plan, Supplement and Drug plans to make sure you are set for another year.

For newbies, there are some legal issues regarding Medicare coverage that don’t get much publicity but are very important.

SKILLED NURSING AND WHAT’S COVERED

Many people incorrectly think that Medicare won’t pay much for skilled care such as rehabilitation, therapy, wound dressing and other daily health needs in a skilled facility or at home. Services and Medicare billing are stopped quickly because they think that Medicare will not pay anymore if the patient is not showing “improvement” or he “fails to progress.” This idea has become pervasive in health care, and people simply accept it as the law.

However, “improvement” is not the standard by which Medicare can stop paying for skilled nursing care; it never has been. A 2011 federal class action lawsuit against Medicare was filed to help clarify coverage for millions of seniors. The government settled the case in 2012 by agreeing that under federal law people cannot be denied coverage for skilled care just because they have reached a plateau and are not improving.

Coverage is necessary if the person needs skilled care to maintain his or her condition, prevent complications or to not backslide. This is a maintenance standard, not an improvement standard.

Medicare also was required to educate all seniors receiving Medicare and all Medicare skilled care providers about the corrected policy. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) agreed to do so.

In 2014, they released instructions and updated Program Manuals for Medicare billing and appeals agencies. They issued a fact sheet to inform providers and the public about the change. They were supposed to spot check nursing homes, home health care agencies and other providers to make sure they were using the correct standards.

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Year-End Donations – Give Wisely – Don’t Get Scammed

Year-End Donations – Give Wisely – Don’t Get Scammed

As the holidays approach, people start thinking about making charitable donations. But take care with those well-meaning plans. Each year, crooks use scams to cheat people and to steal millions of dollars intended for charities.

The problem is that these scams are hard to identify. For example, the Federal Trade Commission in May filed a lawsuit against the Cancer Fund of America, the Children’s Cancer Fund of America and the Breast Cancer Society.

These charities, which have existed for years, have raised more than $200 million, yet only about 3 percent of their money went to cancer patients, research or treatment, according to the FTC. The trouble is that when someone gets a phone call from an organization such as the Children’s Cancer Fund of America, it sounds legitimate and well-meaning, so people donate money.

DOORSTEP SCAMS

Some scams are closer to home. A few years ago, a teenager along with an older gentleman, asked local business owners to contribute to a Muscular Dystrophy Association bike ride. In exchange, donors were promised discounted Cedar Point season passes. Instead, the scammers pocketed the cash.

This is a big problem with a solution. Look at the FTC and Ohio Attorney General websites to help identify scams targeting people who want to donate to charities. For example, the FTC recently issued a warning about charity scams in connection with recent floods in Louisiana.

SO WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU WANT TO CONTRIBUTE TO CHARITY?

Here are five steps to take to make sure your money goes to the charity you want

1 Research the Charity.

If you are not familiar with the charity you can research it on the FTC website, consumer .ftc.gov. You can also research on the Ohio Attorney General’s website, ohioattorneygeneral.gov, to find charities registered in the state.These websites have links to organizations such as Charity Navigator, Charity Watch and Guide Star, which provide valuable information about charities, including how much they spend on charitable activity versus payroll and other overhead.

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Scammed – Protect Yourself And Your Loved Ones From Common Cons

Scammed – Protect Yourself And Your Loved Ones From Common Cons

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, more than 2 million senior citizens are affected by financial abuse. It is the number one crime committed against people age 65 and older.

These scams fall generally into the category of financial elder abuse. Seniors lose nearly $3 billion to fraud annually, according to the Senate Special Committee on Aging.

NEW SCAMS, SAME TARGETS

It seems that every day a new type of scam pops up. Originally, seniors would fall prey to official looking letters in the daily mail. These letters would promise prize winnings, free trips or money, all of which are very tempting to a senior living on a fixed income. Many required “just a small deposit” to be returned in order to secure the winnings, which of course never materialized.

Then telephone calls became popular. Maybe your mother was sitting at home watching TV when the phone rang and a friendly voice was on the other end asking how her day was going. The person becomes a friend and then asks for a loan or offers services to Mom for a fee. The money disappears, and Mom is lonely once again.

 

Of course, there are the schemers preying on grandparents, pretending to be a grandchild stranded in India who needs money to get home. The money is wired to a faraway destination. The grandchild was never there to begin with.

Seniors increasingly are tech savvy and are online with family and friends. The same scams as noted above can work electronically as well. Be sure you and older family members have anti spy ware, antivirus and antiphishing software security on computers to help reduce scam emails. Additionally, a secure firewall on your computer and mobile devices is a must to prevent unwelcome intrusions.

MORE THREATS

Thieves now also have sophisticated equipment that can copy credit card information from an online site or in person when paying for gas or using an ATM machine.

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