How do I make a home safer for my elderly parents?

How do I make a home safer for my elderly parents?

If you have an elderly loved one, making adjustments to their home to make it more accessible is important for safety and independence, even if they don’t live alone. Can you imagine how frustrating it must be to not be able to navigate your own home; how a simple obstruction can keep you from getting in the front door? Below are 7 ways that you can help make a life a little easier and more independent.

1.Ramp

  • a wheelchair ramp should be one of the very first things on your list

2.Lighting

  • Install brighter blubs everywhere. New LED bulbs also reduce power consumption while making it easier to see.

3.Doorways

  • walkers, wheelchairs or mobility scooters don’t always fit through standard-sized doorways; consider widening doorways and entrances
  • replace doorknobs with lever handles.

4.Stairs

  • Unless you move your loved one’s bedroom downstairs and eliminate any need to access the second floor of the house, you will need a stairway lift or at least, carpeted stairs or non-slip treads.
  • strong railings at every staircase

5.Floors

  • remove throw rugs
  • apply non-slip wax to vinyl & wood floors.

6.Bathroom;

  • textured, no-slip strips in the bathtub and shower
  • grab bars near the toilets and in the tub/shower
  • a waterproof seat or chair in the shower
  • a high-profile toilet
  • a pedestal or wall-mounted sink that a wheelchair or walker can fit beneath.

7.Kitchen

  • replace knob-style kitchen faucet with lever style
  • move the contents of the top shelves
  • down to lower shelves to reduce the reach
  • remove obstructions that can trip (trash cans, bar stools, decorations, etc)

Encourage your parents to update or complete their estate plans. There are really 5 basic estate planning documents:

  1. Will
  2. Durable Power of Attorney
  3. Healthcare Power of Attorney
  4. Living Will
  5. Revocable Trust

It is a great gift for a parent to have everything in order when they pass. It can keep your family strong and minimize taxes. Their savings and possessions can help the people that they love.

It starts with a conversation. Call estate planning attorney Chuck Bendig @ 614.878.7777 or visit our website for answers to frequently asked questions and details.

Setting the record straight:  Myths of the Living Trust

Setting the record straight: Myths of the Living Trust

If you’re reading this, chances are you have already thought about setting up a living trust.

First, let’s define the benefits of a living trust.

A living trust allows you to retain control over the trust property until death. Then, the trust is turned over to the successor trustee, chosen by you, to distribute the trust property according to your wishes. This helps to avoid probate, resulting in a faster and easier distribution to your beneficiaries without the additional costs that are often associated with probate. It also maintains your privacy since its provisions stay confidential, compared to a last will and testament, which becomes a matter of public record.

You can update a revocable trust at any time during your lifetime. Revocable living trusts are used to protect your property until your beneficiary is mature enough to make wise decisions about their inheritance.

Next, let’s delve into some common myths about a living trust.

Myth #1: Living trusts are only for the wealthy.
While it is true that many wealthy people set up trusts, it doesn’t mean that this option is only for the rich. In fact, many people with average incomes find living trusts to be extremely beneficial; especially those with children or dependents.

Myth #2: Living trusts only benefit beneficiaries, not the people making the trusts and not you, the grantor.
In fact, a trust allows for easier handling of your affairs if you become incapacitated, and makes things much less stressful for your loved ones that are left to care for your affairs when you’re unable to do so.

Myth #3: You can’t access funds once they’re in a living trust.
This ignores the “living” part of the living trust. All funds and assets can be made as accessible as you wish, to you or to whomever you choose. You can structure the trust so that everything is accessible to you and you alone until your death.

Myth #4: Creating a living trust is expensive and complicated.
Setting up a trust may cost a bit more up front than a last will and testament, but the cost savings later can make up for these expenses in the long run.

Myth #5: A will can do the same things a trust can do.
A living trust adds flexibility. For one, it allows you to give your hard-earned money and property to those you care about while still protecting it for them. For example, if you have beneficiaries who you feel are not able to handle large sums of money on their own yet. Maybe your potential beneficiary is struggling with debt or an unstable marriage; a living trust may be the perfect instrument for you.

Have a discussion with estate planning attorney Chuck Bendig. Call 614.878.7777

The Estate Planning Challenge of Blended Families

The Estate Planning Challenge of Blended Families

According to statistics from the Pew Research Center, a staggering 42 percent of Americans are in a “step” relationship. Which means that you or someone you know is probably one of the 95.5 million people who are part of a blended family.

Estate planning that is needed to secure a financial future for the millions of Americans who are divorced, remarried and widowed is available, but it can be tricky. There are numerous ways in which your plan can go wrong. The stakes get even higher if you want your estate left to your current spouse and family versus your former spouse.
The problem? Spouses and families, current and former, aren’t always able to come to an amicable agreement on vital issues.

Let’s take a look at some of the vital questions that may loom in a blended family estate plan:

  • How would you like your assets handled when you die?
  • Who do you want to make decisions for you if you were unable to make them for yourself?
  • How will you balance the needs of children from the first spouse with the needs of the second spouse?
  • Would you like your surviving family to have a significant amount of decision-making power over your estate?

You might want to establish a trust to lay everything out in detail.

With a better idea of what you want to happen in the case of your untimely demise, you should discuss your plans with a qualified estate planning attorney, who can formalize them and add legal structure. Leaving open-ended questions may provoke “slighted” family members to sue causing delays, dissention, and legal fees.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Ben Franklin

Using legal documents (Living Will, Trusts, and Power of Attorneys), we can ensure that everyone receives the inheritance that you want.

Contact estate planning attorney Chuck Bendig to get started.

Let insurance pay for my medical bills or file a personal injury suit?

Let insurance pay for my medical bills or file a personal injury suit?

Medical bills are the most common reason people begin a personal injury case. It is not unreasonable that if a person or business causes injury to someone, that person or business should at least be liable for paying all medical bills resulting from the injury.

“But what if my own health insurance company has already paid for my medical bills? Does it make sense to sue the person or business that was responsible for my injury?”

Consider this example of a hypothetical man named Tom.

Tom is walking down the street when he is struck by a piece of machinery being operated by a construction worker hanging a new sign on a storefront. Tom is rushed to the hospital. His left shoulder requires immediate surgery. Over the course of several months, he also visits a physical therapist to strengthen his repaired shoulder. The treatments total $40,000 and Tom’s health insurance pays for everything, except the deductible, pain and suffering, and lost wages.

Needing reimbursement & compensation, Tom hires an attorney who files a lawsuit against a construction company involved in the project. Tom’s health insurance company files a lien against that lawsuit. By filing the lien, the insurance company is arguing, “Tom is the one who was injured, therefore it’s his prerogative to sue. However, we paid $40,000 for his medical care so his favorable judgment should reimburse us also.”

In most states, the health insurance company’s lien would be valid. Let’s assume that Tom goes to court and he is awarded $90,000 for medical costs, pain and suffering, and lost wages.

After reimbursing his health insurance company and paying his legal fees, Tom would receive approximately $20,300. That can greatly help to cover his bills and inconvenience.

If you or someone you know has been injured due to negligence, call (614) 878-7777 to discuss your case with attorney Chuck Bendig. The call is completely free and with no obligation.

This video contains my Last Will and Testament

This video contains my Last Will and Testament

Have you ever thought, ‘When I die, I’ll leave a video for my loved ones’? More and more people are preparing a video in which they read their will and explain why they’ve left certain belongings to some and not others. The recording can show the execution of the will and can be compelling proof that you were mentally competent, but is it a good idea?

Let’s explore some of the pros and cons of a video will.

Pros:

A video will can head off claims that you weren’t of sound mind or were being unduly influenced in some way when you signed your will. A video will help in the event that someone is disappointed and decides to hire a lawyer to contest your will. The video can also show you and your witnesses signing your will. In which case, clearly demonstrates that you were rational, knew the contents of your will and were expressing your own wishes.

A video will can supplement your formal estate plan: For example, if you want one child to serve as executor, a video will is your chance to say so. Your other children or family won’t be left to wonder about your actions. If you want to get into detail, a video will can also express how you’d like your family to divvy up items of sentimental value.

Cons:

(This is a big one.) Although you may use your video will to convey how your family should distribute sentimental items, you need to know that your wishes are not legally enforceable. Meaning your video won’t be accepted by a probate court, a bank or any other institution that controls assets in your name. Only a formal paper will is legally enforceable.

Videos don’t last forever and therefore, are subject to damage.

If you opt for a video will, consider it as an add-on to a formal, legal, paper will, filed by an estate planning attorney, and remember these tips:

  • Use a quality camera that clearly identifies your face.
  • Speak clearly without distortion and eliminate as much background noise as possible.
  • Keep the video-captured area at medium close-up.
  • The video cannot be edited and must be submitted with any kind of technical data necessary to play it back.
  • Some states want you to be sworn in by a person authorized by law to take oaths.
  • Prior to administering the oath, any officers of the court have to identify themselves on camera.
  • Mention the date, time and place of the recording prior to recounting your last wishes and the recorded names of your beneficiaries, as well as the names and addresses of the will’s witnesses if they’re not present at the taping.
  • The video Will should run without interruption.

Remember, it’s still the law that to be valid, a Last Will and Testament must be on paper and signed. If you have nothing but a recording of the deceased person’s last wishes, you’re unlikely to have a Will that will hold up in court.

Finally, keep in mind that a will, in either written or video form, is not the only estate planning tool you have. Various trusts can also help make sure your estate is left according to your wishes.