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worlds oldest woman

The world’s oldest person, Japan’s Kane Tanaka, dies at age 119

The world’s oldest person, Japan’s Kane Tanaka, dies at age 119

April 25, 20225:42 PM ET


The world’s oldest person, Japan’s Kane Tanaka, dies at age 119. Kane Tanaka, born in 1903, smiles as a nursing home celebrates three days after her 117th birthday in Fukuoka, Japan, on Jan. 5, 2020.

Although she didn’t quite make it to her goal of 120 years old, Kane Tanaka still lived long enough to become the world’s oldest person — a title she held for the past three years, and attributed to family, sleep, hope and faith.

Tanaka died last week at 119, Japanese authorities announced. Tanaka, who had been living at nursing home in Fukuoka, died on Tuesday at a hospital.

According to Guinness World Records, Tanaka was born prematurely on Jan. 2, 1903 — the same year the Wright brothers brought powered flight to the world. She was the seventh child in her family.

She had four children and adopted a fifth.

Tanaka loved chocolate and soda. During a 2019 presentation ceremony to celebrate her being the oldest person alive, she was given a box of chocolates — which she immediately opened and began devouring.

Tanaka was tapped to carry the Olympic torch during as part of the torch relay leading up to the Olympic Games in Tokyo, but her relatives deemed it too risky given COVID-19.

Earlier this month, Tanaka surpassed Sarah Knauss of the U.S. to become the second-longest lived person in recorded history. Jeanne Louise Calment, a French woman who died in 1997, remains the longest-lived person at 122 years and 164 days.

The oldest currently living person is now said to be Lucile Randon, a 118-year-old French nun. Randon is also the oldest known survivor of COVID-19.

Read more related articles at:

World’s oldest person, Kane Tanaka, dies at age 119

Life Expectancy by State 2022

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at:

What Is Elder Law?

Click here to check out our On Demand Video about Estate Planning.

Click here for a short informative video from our own Attorney Bill O’Leary.

Update Estate Plan

Is Your Estate Plan Up to Date?

Is Your Estate Plan Up to Date?

  • It’s generally recommended that you review your will and other end-of-life documents at least every few years, although there can be reasons to do a checkup more often.
  • While the pandemic appears to have spurred more interest in estate planning, more than half of U.S. adults don’t have a will.
  • Here are some important parts of your estate plan that should be reviewed.
When it comes to creating a will and other estate-planning documents, be aware that you probably should revisit them many times before they actually are needed.

It’s generally recommended that you give these end-of-life legal papers a checkup at least every few years unless there are reasons to do it more often. Things like marriage, divorce, birth or adoption of a child should spur a review, as should coming into a lot of money (i.e., inheritance, lottery win, etc.) or moving to another state where estate laws differ from the one where your will was drawn up.

“One of the main considerations for a review is … when there’s a major change in your life,” said Nick Foulks, who oversees client engagement at Great Waters Financial in Minneapolis.

The pandemic has spurred increased interest in estate planning, which includes a will and other legal documents that address end-of-life considerations. For instance, 18- to 34-year-olds are now more likely (by 16%) to have a will than people in the 35-to-54 age group, according to Caring.com research. Among those in the 25-to-40 age contingent, just 32% do, according to a survey from TrustandWill.com and1password.com.

Nevertheless, fewer than 46% of U.S. adults overall have a will, according to a 2021 Gallup poll.

If you’re among those who have a will or full-blown estate plan, here are some things to review and why.

People and situations change

Even though your will is generally all about you, there are other people you need to rely on to carry out your wishes. This makes it important to review who you’ve named to be executor.

It’s typically a big job. Things such as liquidating accounts, ensuring your assets go to the proper beneficiaries, paying any debts not discharged (i.e., taxes owed), and even selling your home could be among the duties undertaken by the executor.

Also be sure the guardian you’ve named to care for your children is still the person you’d want in that position.

Additionally, as part of estate planning, it’s common to create other documents related to end-of-life issues. For example, you can assign powers of attorney to trusted individuals to make decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated at some point.

Often, the person who is given this responsibility for decisions related to your health care is different from whom you would name to handle your financial affairs. Be sure to review both of those choices.

Even if you’ve had no major life event, individuals you previously chose to handle certain duties may no longer be your best option.

Account beneficiaries need a review

Some assets pass outside of the will, including retirement accounts such as 401(k) plans and individual retirement accounts, as well as life insurance policies.

This means the person named as a beneficiary on those accounts will generally receive the money no matter what your will states.

“You definitely see that happen,” Foulks said. “We’ve seen accounts left to an ex-spouse and then the family has to go through a court process to try getting it back.”

Be aware that 401(k) plans require your current spouse to be the beneficiary unless they legally agree otherwise.

Regular bank accounts, too, can have beneficiaries listed on a payable-on-death form, which your bank can supply.

If no beneficiary is listed on those non-will items or the named person has already passed away (and there is no contingent beneficiary listed), the assets automatically go into probate. That’s the process by which all of your debt is paid off and the remaining assets are distributed to heirs. This can last several months to a year or more, depending on state laws and the complexity of your estate.

If you own a home, be sure to find out how it should be titled to ensure it ends up with the person (or people) you intend, because applicable laws can vary from state to state. Moreover, there can be other considerations when it comes to how a house is titled, including protection from potential creditors or for tax reasons when the home is sold.

You may need to consider a trust

If you want your kids to receive money but don’t want to give a young adult — or one prone to poor money management or other concerning behaviors — unfettered access to a sudden windfall, you can consider creating a trust to be the beneficiary of a particular asset.

A trust holds assets on behalf of your beneficiary or beneficiaries, and is a legal entity dictated by the documents creating it. If you go that route, the assets go into the trust instead of directly to your heirs. They can only receive money according to how (or when) you’ve stipulated in the trust documents.

The average cost to set up a trust using an attorney ranges from $1,000 to $1,500 for an individual and $1,200 to $1,500 for a couple, according to LegalZoom.com. Doing it yourself with online software could run at least several hundred dollars.

Read more related articles here:


2021 Estate Planning Checkup: Is Your Estate Plan Up to Date?

Keep Your Estate Plan Up To Date

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at:

When it comes to a will or estate plan, don’t just set it and forget it. You need to keep them updated.

Click here to check out our On Demand Video about Estate Planning.

Click here for a short informative video from our own Attorney Bill O’Leary.

special needs 18

What Happens When Your Child with Special Needs Turns 18?

What Happens When Your Child with Special Needs Turns 18?

You have a child with special needs, and up until this point you have focused your efforts on the present. You have consistently made sure that your child has everything he or she needs, and you have done what was necessary to ensure that your family has had the financial resources required to adequately provide for your child. But, your child is now quickly approaching age 18, and you are beginning to wonder: What happens next?

This is a very important question. In Florida, a child legally becomes an adult when he or she reaches the age of 18. This is known as “emancipation,” and emancipation simultaneously confers a number of key rights upon the child while also terminating certain corresponding rights that previously belonged to his or her parents. As your child’s parent, you still have every right to continue to support him or her financially and advocate on his or her behalf. However, you will lose rights such as:

In many cases, doctors, educators, and government officials will find that their hands are tied because parents are no longer able to make decisions and provide authorizations on their child’s behalf beyond age 18. This can be challenging for everyone involved, and it can potentially lead to significant negative consequences for children and their parents.

Becoming Your Child’s Guardian in Florida

While there are a few potential ways to address these concerns, the primary means of doing so in Florida is by establishing guardianship. Once your special needs child turns 18, becoming his or her “guardian” allows you to continue to meet his or her needs, the fact that he or she is now legally an adult notwithstanding. Becoming your child’s guardian does not in any way alter your fundamental relationship as your child’s parent. Rather, it simply grants you rights that you would not otherwise have once your child reaches adulthood.

There are several different types of guardianships in Florida, each of which makes the most sense under different circumstances. For example, if your child will need continuing assistance in virtually all aspects of his or her life, then it may make sense for you to become his or her “full plenary guardian.” This requires a legal determination that your child is incapacitated. However, it preserves all of the rights you held as a parent prior to your child’s eighteenth birthday. Florida parents can also petition to become “guardian advocates,” which grants limited authority to assist with medical and financial decision-making for an adult child who is affected by a developmental disability. Alternatively, if your child is legally capable of doing so, he or she can petition the court for a voluntary guardianship or a pre-need guardianship once he or she reaches age 18.

Although the Florida courts recognize the importance of protecting children and adults with special needs, they also recognize the importance of preserving individuals’ sovereignty and independence. As a result, the process of becoming a guardian – even for your own child – is not as simple as filling out and submitting a couple of forms. You will need to work with an attorney to determine which option makes the most sense for your family, and then you and your attorney will need to work together to file an appropriate petition at the appropriate time.

Co-Guardianship for Married and Unmarried Parents

While, thus far, we have been talking about one parent serving as his or her adult child’s guardian, as a practical matter, many situations will involve two parents who wish to become their child’s co-guardians. In Florida, both married and unmarried parents can become co-guardians of adult children who are affected by disabilities – although situations involving unmarried parents will often present certain additional challenges. For example, in situations involving children with special needs, it is possible for the obligation to pay child support to extend past the child’s 18th birthday. As a result, it is important for divorced parents to consult with a family law attorney prior to their child turning 18 years of age.

As the parent of a minor child with special needs, if you and your spouse or partner (or former spouse or partner) reach a disagreement, it is largely up to you to work things out. While this is still the case when you are a co-guardian to an extent, guardianship confers certain additional legal responsibilities and the Florida courts.have a vested interest in ensuring that the guardianships they create serve their intended purpose effectively. Ultimately, co-guardians must meet their legal obligations while also protecting their children’s best interests. And if they are unable to come to terms and their guardianship order does not specify a resolution, then they may need to ask the court to intervene.

Before getting to this stage, however, there are various intermediate steps and tools that co-guardians can utilize. These include pursuing mediation and negotiating with the help of their respective attorneys. As a practical matter, requests for court involvement tend to be reserved for relatively-extreme circumstances in which one or both parents believe that legal action is necessary in order to protect the best interests of their child.

Beginning the Process of Establishing Guardianship for an Adult Child with Special Needs

In order to ensure that there are no gaps in your child’s care or your family’s access to educational or financial programs, it is important to begin the process of establishing guardianship before your child turns 18. This is the case even if you ultimately decide that your child should petition for a voluntary guardianship or pre-need guardianship after his or her eighteenth birthday. You should speak with a lawyer who has experience helping parents of children with special needs, and who can help you thoughtfully consider all of the options you have available. There may be other factors to consider beyond establishing guardianship as well. Here too, an experienced attorney should be able to walk you through everything you need to know.

Read more related articles at:

Your Child with Special Needs is Turning 18 Are They Competent to Make Their Own Decisions?

Turning 18, Guardianship & Other Options

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at:

What Should I Know about Guardianship?

Click here to check out our On Demand Video about Estate Planning.

Click here for a short informative video from our own Attorney Bill O’Leary.




special needs grandparents

How to Grandparent a Child With Special Needs

How to Grandparent a Child With Special Needs

Educate yourself, provide support, know your limits and find the joy

 When Jim Oricchio’s grandson Sammy was diagnosed with autism at age 3, his family worried the boy wouldn’t make friends, would struggle to communicate and wouldn’t do well in school.

Instead, Sammy captained his high school bowling team, founded the school’s computer club and cohosted a podcast about autism. Now 20, he’s into cars and the stock market, and attends college. Along the way, Oricchio and his wife Donna, who have 11 grandchildren, have helped Sammy’s parents with the cost of his private school, advocated for services and connected with him through activities like twice-monthly lunches.

“I thank God every day that Sammy is who he is; he’s a blessing to our family,” says Oricchio, 75, who lives in suburban Minneapolis and owns a business technology company. He is also a volunteer with the PACER Center, a special-needs advocacy and support organization in Minneapolis that, among other programs, runs groups for grandparents.

Being the grandparent of a child with special needs can bring incredible joy but is also complicated, say grandparents like Oricchio, as well as advocates and other experts. About 17 percent of children are diagnosed with some kind of disability, says Madonna Harrington Meyer, a university professor in sociology at Syracuse University and coauthor with Ynesse Abdul-Malak of the book Grandparenting Children With Disabilities. While that percentage seems to be increasing, support programs for families are not, she says.

That’s one reason grandparents are so important. In fact, they are sometimes the first to spot that a child’s development is off the established norm, says Harrington Meyer, who interviewed dozens of grandparents for her book.

“Sometimes the grandparents are actually out in front,” she says. “But then they learn what it is. They learn what it means. And then they hit the ground running.”

Grandparents play an important role

Paul Fredette, 74, of New Bedford, Massachusetts, says he has a special connection with his grandson Tyler, 20, who has seizures and intellectual impairment as well as social and behavioral challenges.

“He just has this bond with us,” Fredette says. “It’s wonderful for us and it makes us feel happy that we can connect with him and make him laugh.… He loves us and we love him.”

Fredette and his wife, Claudette Weaver, 81, have 15 grandchildren in their blended family. Fredette’s daughter Deb Booth, who lives in Sandwich, Massachusetts, says her father and stepmother have provided invaluable help since Tyler developed a type of epilepsy at age 4 that does not respond to medication, possibly due to encephalitis.

When he was younger, Tyler loved the routine of having his grandparents pick him up from the school bus, take a ride by the airport, then go out to eat and to the arcade. Sometimes he spent the night at their house.

“I don’t know how we would have made it this far without their support,” Booth says. “Tyler has just an incredible relationship with my parents, and 99.9 percent of the time, he has never been a behavioral challenge for them.… If he’s in a grouchy mood, we do a FaceTime with ‘Pepere’ and ‘Memere,’ and that can turn him around.”

Grandparenting a child with special needs is a journey into unknown territory, says one Massachusetts grandmother of an autistic child who asked to remain anonymous. Like parents, grandparents may feel grief and anger when a child is first diagnosed. Then, as with any grandchild, they have to adjust their dreams to meet a child’s own story.

“I think we all went through some denial, almost like stages of grief,” the Massachusetts grandmother says. She and her husband, both retired educators, were prone to think they could fix anything but, as she says, “it’s nothing like a broken arm.”

In her case, grandparents and parents have pulled together to raise a child who struggles with communication and can’t be left alone. When her grandchild was younger, she and her husband helped with childcare. They also have helped financially, and they cook dinner for their grandchild’s family once a week.

“That’s what people need who are in this situation — they need a team of people,” she says.

Advice for grandparents, from grandparents

If you are facing the challenge of grandparenting a child with special needs, be assured there are ways to get advice and support that will help you emotionally, physically and financially. Here is some advice from grandparents of children with disabilities and others:

● Learn about your grandchild’s diagnosis. Time and information are “powerful tools,” says Harrington Meyer. Grandparents can be a huge resource by supporting parents and helping them to find programs and treatments. For example, many of the grandparents she spoke with for her book helped by driving a child to therapy sessions or accompanying parents on medical visits.

● Use education as a defense. Grandparents told Harrington Meyer that usually people were kind when they were out in public with a grandchild with disabilities, although things were sometimes awkward when someone in public reacted to a child’s seemingly willful behavior. “Very rarely does somebody say anything negative, but when they did, the grandparents chose to educate rather than get mad,” she says. “And that seemed to give the grandparents a great deal of strength. They felt very proud of how good they’d gotten at that out in public.”

Fredette says his experiences with Tyler have made him more compassionate toward other children he sees out in public. “You hear people say when somebody’s kids are screaming in the store, ‘He needs some discipline.’ …That’s not our first reaction anymore,” he says.

● Know your grandchild’s rights and advocate for them. Every state has a publicly supported information and training center for parents of children with special needs, such as the PACER Center, says Susan Einspar, a senior parent training and information advocate with PACER. The centers work with families to get the services and education to which their children are entitled under federal and state laws. For example, Oricchio says PACER helped him advocate for Sammy to have an aide in school. Some may have information or support groups for grandparents, as PACER does.

● Understand your own limits. “Just like we wanted the best for our own children, we certainly want the best for our grandchildren,” Einspar says. That means many grandparents are generous to a fault, whether it’s with time or financial resources. Seek advice on how to help your children and grandchildren financially without too much risk to your own future, she says. And recognize your own physical limitations; this is a marathon, not a sprint. As you and your grandchild age, it may be harder to provide childcare, for example, and you’ll need to adjust what you can do to help, grandparents say.

Tyler, now grown, no longer spends nights at his grandparents’ alone because, as he and they have aged, it’s become more difficult for them to physically handle his seizures.

● Find support for yourself. Connect with other grandparents of children with disabilities who understand the medical and emotional issues. “Getting online, getting in a support group, getting attached to other grandparents who have the exact same diagnosis seems to be by far the best thing,” says Harrington Meyer.

● Discover the joy. Fredette can’t wait for pandemic restrictions to be lifted. He wants to take Tyler for walks and out to eat and to spend the day with him again. “That’s not going to change and hasn’t since the day one with him,” he says. Einspar describes it as finding gifts among the challenges. “Perhaps you’re not going to be able to go to their football game and see them as quarterback,” she says, “but you’re going to have new dreams and aspirations for your grandchildren.”

Read more realted articles at:

How to be Fabulous Grandparents to a Child with Special Needs

Special grandparenting for a grandchild with special needs

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at:

Estate Planning For Special Needs Family Members

Click here to check out our On Demand Video about Estate Planning.

Click here for a short informative video from our own Attorney Bill O’Leary.

long term care

Do I Need To Think About Long Term Care?


Do I Need To Think About Long Term Care?


Many older adults and caregivers worry about the cost of medical care. These expenses can use up a significant part of monthly income, even for families who thought they had saved enough.

How people pay for long-term care—whether delivered at home or in a hospital, assisted living facility, or nursing home—depends on their financial situation and the kinds of services they use. Often, they rely on a variety of payment sources, including personal funds, government programs, and private financing options.

Personal Funds (Out-of-Pocket Expenses)

At first, many older adults pay for care in part with their own money. They may use personal savings, a pension or other retirement fund, income from stocks and bonds, or proceeds from the sale of a home.

Much home-based care is paid for using personal funds (“out of pocket”). Initially, family and friends often provide personal care and other services, such as transportation, for free. But as a person’s needs increase, paid services may be needed.

Many older adults also pay out-of-pocket to participate in adult day service programs, meals, and other community-based services provided by local governments and nonprofit groups. These services help them remain in their homes.

Professional care given in assisted living facilities and continuing care retirement communities is almost always paid for out of pocket, though, in some states, Medicaid (see below) may pay some costs for people who meet financial and health requirements.

Look up what long-term care costs in your area.

Government Programs

Older adults may be eligible for some government healthcare benefits. Caregivers can help by learning more about possible sources of financial help and assisting older adults in applying for aid as appropriate. The Internet can be a helpful tool in this search.

Several federal and state programs provide help with healthcare-related costs.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) offers several programs. Over time, the benefits and eligibility requirements of these programs can change, and some benefits differ from State to State. Check with CMS or the individual programs directly for the most recent information.


Medicare is a Federal Government health insurance program that pays some medical costs for people age 65 and older, and for all people with late-stage kidney failure. It also pays some medical costs for those who have gotten Social Security Disability Income (discussed later) for 24 months. It does not cover ongoing personal care at home, assisted living, or long-term care. Here are brief descriptions of what Medicare will pay for:

Medicare Part A:

  • Hospital costs after you pay a certain amount, called the “deductible”
  • Short stays in a nursing home to get care for a hospital-related medical condition
  • Hospice care in the last 6 months of life

Medicare Part B:

  • Part of the costs for doctor’s services, outpatient care, and other medical services that Part A does not cover
  • Some preventive services, such as flu shots and diabetes screening

Medicare Part D:

Call Medicare at 1-800-633-4227TTY: 1-877-486-2048 to find out what costs Medicare will cover for your situation, or visit the Medicare website for more information.


Some people may qualify for Medicaid, a combined Federal and State program for low-income people and families. This program covers the costs of medical care and some types of long-term care for people who have limited income and meet other eligibility requirements. Who is eligible and what services are covered vary from State to State.

To learn more about Medicaid, call 1-877-267-2323, TTY: 1-866-226-1819, or visit the Medicaid website. Or, contact your State health department. For a State-by-State list, visit Medicaid’s State Overviews page.

Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE)

Some States have PACE, Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, a Medicare program that provides care and services to people who otherwise would need care in a nursing home. PACE covers medical, social service, and long-term care costs for frail people. It may pay for some or all of the long-term care needs of a person with Alzheimer’s disease. PACE permits most people who qualify to continue living at home instead of moving to a long-term care facility. You will need to find out if the person who needs care qualifies for PACE. There may be a monthly charge. PACE is available only in certain States and locations within those States.

To find out more about PACE, call 1-877-267-2323, or visit the PACE website or Medicare’s PACE page.

State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP)

SHIP, the State Health Insurance Assistance Program is a national program offered in each State that provides counseling and assistance to people and their families on Medicare, Medicaid, and Medicare supplemental insurance (Medigap) matters.

To contact a SHIP counselor in your State, visit the SHIP National Technical Assistance Center website.

Department of Veterans Affairs

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) may provide long-term care or at-home care for some veterans. If your family member or relative is eligible for veterans’ benefits, check with the VA or get in touch with the VA medical center nearest you. There could be a waiting list for VA nursing homes.

To learn more about VA healthcare benefits, call 1-877-222-8387, or visit the Veterans Health Administration or the Veterans Affairs Caregiver Support page. You can also find more information at Geriatrics and Extended Care: Paying for Long-Term Care.

Social Security Administration Programs

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs provide financial assistance to people with disabilities.

SSDI is for people younger than age 65 who are disabled according to the Social Security Administration’s definition. To qualify, you must be able to show that:

  • You are unable to work because of your medical condition
  • Your medical condition will last at least a year or is expected to result in death

Processing an SSDI application can take three to five months. However, Social Security has “compassionate allowances” to help people with Alzheimer’s diseaseother forms of dementia, and certain other serious medical conditions get disability benefits more quickly.

SSI is another program that provides monthly payments to adults age 65 and older who have a disability. To qualify, your income and resources must be under certain limits.

To find out more about these programs, call 1-800-772-1213TTY: 1-800-325-0778, or visit the Social Security Administration.

National Council on Aging (NCOA)

The National Council on Aging, a private group, has a free service called BenefitsCheckUp®. This service can help you find Federal and State benefit programs that may help your family. After providing some general information about the person who needs care, you can see a list of possible benefit programs to explore. These programs can help pay for prescription drugs, heating bills, housing, meal programs, and legal services. You don’t have to give a name, address, or Social Security number to use this service.

To learn more about BenefitsCheckUp®, call 1-571-527-3900, or visit BenefitsCheckUp®.


For more information about Federal, State, and local government benefits, go to Benefits.gov or call 1-800-FED-INFO (1-800-333-4636).

Private Financing Options for Long-Term Care

In addition to personal and government funds, there are several private payment options, including long-term care insurance, reverse mortgages, certain life insurance policies, annuities, and trusts. Which option is best for a person depends on many factors, including the person’s age, health status, personal finances, and risk of needing care.

Long-Term Care Insurance

Long-term care insurance covers many types of long-term care and benefits, including palliative and hospice care. The exact coverage depends on the type of policy you buy and what services are covered. You can purchase nursing home-only coverage or a comprehensive policy that includes both home care and facility care.

Many companies sell long-term care insurance. It is a good idea to shop around and compare policies. The cost of a policy is based on the type and amount of services, how old you are when you buy the policy, and any optional benefits you choose.

Buying long-term care insurance can be a good choice for younger, relatively healthy people at low risk of needing long-term care. Costs go up for people who are older, have health problems, or want more benefits. Someone who is in poor health or already receiving end-of-life care services may not qualify for long-term care insurance.

Reverse Mortgages for Seniors

A reverse mortgage is a special type of home loan that lets a homeowner convert part of the ownership value in his or her home into cash. Unlike a traditional home loan, no repayment is required until the borrower sells the home, no longer uses it as a main residence, or dies.

There are no income or medical requirements to get a reverse mortgage, but you must be age 62 or older. The loan amount is tax-free and can be used for any expense, including long-term care. However, if you have an existing mortgage or other debt against your home, you must use the funds to pay off those debts first.

Life Insurance Policies for Long-Term Care

Some life insurance policies can help pay for long-term care. Some policies offer a combination product of both life insurance and long-term care insurance.

Policies with an “accelerated death benefit” provide tax-free cash advances while you are still alive. The advance is subtracted from the amount your beneficiaries (the people who get the insurance proceeds) will receive when you die.

You can get an accelerated death benefit if you live permanently in a nursing home, need long-term care for an extended time, are terminally ill, or have a life-threatening diagnosis such as AIDS. Check your life insurance policy to see exactly what it covers.

You may be able to raise cash by selling your life insurance policy for its current value. This option, known as a “life settlement,” is usually available only to people age 70 and older. The proceeds are taxable and can be used for any reason, including paying for long-term care.

A similar arrangement, called a “viatical settlement,” allows a terminally ill person to sell his or her life insurance policy to an insurance company for a percentage of the death benefit on the policy. This option is typically used by people who are expected to live 2 years or less. A viatical settlement provides immediate cash, but it can be hard to get.

Using Annuities to Pay for Long-Term Care

You may choose to enter into an annuity contract with an insurance company to help pay for long-term care services. In exchange for a single payment or a series of payments, the insurance company will send you an annuity, which is a series of regular payments over a specified period of time. There are two types of annuities: immediate annuities and deferred long-term care annuities.


A trust is a legal entity that allows a person to transfer assets to another person, called the trustee. Once the trust is established, the trustee manages and controls the assets for the person or another beneficiary. You may choose to use a trust to provide flexible control of assets for an older adult or a person with a disability, which could include yourself or your spouse. Two types of trusts can help pay for long-term care services: charitable remainder trusts and Medicaid disability trusts.

Read more related articles at:

What Is Long-Term Care?

How long-term care planning can help your loved ones

Planning for Long-Term Care Your Resource Guide

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at:

How Do I Protect Property If I Need Long-Term Care?

Click here to check out our On Demand Video about Estate Planning.

Click here for a short informative video from our own Attorney Bill O’Leary.


family business succession planning

How to Start Family Business Succession – The Earlier the Better

How to Start Family Business Succession – The Earlier the Better

Thinking about retirement? It’s important to get started on family business succession issues early, even as many as 10 years or more before you are ready to retire. Starting that far in advance gives you time to ponder what you would like to accomplish and talk to your advisors and your family about your ideas.

Items to initially consider are:

What is your “event” for retirement?

  • Your age?
  • Younger generation age?
  • Personal financial benchmark?
  • Company financial benchmark?
  • Other?

What does “retirement” mean for you?

  • Reduced operational work hours?
  • No operational work hours?
  • Special projects only?
  • Board meetings?
  • Are you emotionally and intellectually ready to give up control?


What does succession look like?

  • Need or desire to retain some involvement, control or profits?
  • Transfer business interests in lump-sum over period of time?
  • Transfer voting and/or nonvoting business interests?
  • Retain some portion of business interest? If so, voting or nonvoting?
  • Are all younger generations the recipients of transferred business interests?
  • What if only some younger generation members work at the business?
  • Transfer business interests in trust for younger generation and/or free of any trusts (outright ownership)?
  • Involve philanthropy in your succession plan?

Use a “business first” or “family first” approach?

  • Make decisions and take action that are first in the best interest of the business?
  • Take primarily family considerations into account?
  • Which approach is used in present operation of the business?

How and when to raise succession with younger generation family members?

  • Family meeting?
  • Meet with legal and tax advisors first before larger family meeting?
  • Include business counselor/psychologist in initial family meetings?
  • Include legal and tax advisors in initial family meetings?

What information is given to younger generation family members during succession discussion and process?

  • Open the family business books and tax returns?
  • Complete transparency?
  • Confidentiality and/or noncompetition concerns?

Is there family tension now or might there be once the succession process begins?

  • Differing skills and roles among the younger generational family members?
  • More than one descendant line to be involved and/or own the family business?
  • Animosity and/or mistrust or distrust among younger generation family members?
  • Animosity and/or mistrust or distrust between you and younger generation family members?

The further out you begin the succession planning process, the more planning options. The lower the value of the business, the less gift exemption used, gift tax paid, or purchase price paid. If succession planning involves a sale of any portion of your business to a third party, it is even more important to involve your legal (corporate and estate planning counsel) and tax counsel as early as possible; some planning options are not as tax efficient once there is a binding obligation to sell.

Read more related articles at:

Succession Planning in a Family Business: Benefits, Challenges, and Guiding Principles

Succession Planning – Start Early and Revisit Regularly

Also, read one of our previous Blogs here:


Click here to check out our On Demand Video about Estate Planning.

Click here for a short informative video from our own Attorney Bill O’Leary.

pet trusts 10

The Forgotten Family Member: Advocating for Pet Trusts

The Forgotten Family Member: Advocating for Pet Trusts

Whether as a friendly companion or a fully-fledged family member, pets have become an intrinsic component to many households. According to the American Pet Products Association, 67% of American families own a pet today. Not only is pet ownership up from 56% in 1988, but Americans are also spending significantly more on their pets. In 2016, the pet industry raked in roughly $66 billion in pet-loving profits, a 74% increase from 2006. An explanation for this spending increase could be because most pet owners﹘about 95%﹘consider their pets to be part of the family.

It’s a wonder then, why the estate planning field often overlooks pets. While pet trusts can claim a small fraction of the pet industry profits, only about 12% of cat and dog owners make financial stipulations for their pets in their estate plans.  This underutilized market has significant business potential for estate planning attorneys and provides an opportunity to serve clients better.

Pet Trusts: What are they and how to introduce them to your clients

Planning for animal care is similar to planning for dependent children. As such, trusts are seen to be superior to wills as they can bypass the lengthy probate process, which can significantly delay financial support for the animal. In addition, a will cannot protect and care for a pet in the event of their owner’s incapacity.

Breaking it down: how a pet trust works

At its most basic, a pet trust lays out instructions on how a pet should be cared for after its owner passes away. A caretaker is usually chosen to be responsible for the pet’s day-to-day care. Funds are allocated to the trust to pay for various expenses such as food, veterinary care, and recreation.

A trustee is chosen to manage the trust’s funds and oversees the caretaker’s compensation for caring for the animal. As another level of protection, a client can also choose to appoint an enforcer, who oversees the trustee. Once the animal passes away, the remaining funds can then redistribute to the living beneficiaries or a charity of the client’s choosing.


Educating clients on pet trusts

As many people are unaware of the benefits of a pet trust, an attorney’s primary goal is first awareness and then education.  Attorneys can utilize email campaigns to educate current clients on the importance of pet trusts, providing awareness and a call to action to add animal care provisions to their existing trusts.

For prospective clients, attorneys may want to consider adding pet ownership questions to their new client intake forms. Statistically, more than half of your clients will indicate “yes,” which will give you the opportunity to educate them about this service.

Important factors to consider when drafting a client’s pet trust

Pet trusts may be suitable for couples who don’t share the same affinity or level of care for the petFor clients who have brought previously owned pets into their marriage, or if one spouse simply doesn’t share the same affinity for a pet, a pet trust might be in order. In the event that one spouse passes away and is concerned their surviving spouse may be unable or unwilling to care for the animal adequately, a pet trust can ensure the deceased owner’s wishes. This option also provides financial and logistical relief for the living spouse, as they will not have to worry about their spouse’s pet after they are gone.

Animals with special medical needs, longer lifespans or defined as “exotic” may need more money allocated for their care.

There are a few different factors to consider when determining the number of funds to allocate for a pet’s care. Species, length of lifespan and whether or not the animal has, or may need, special medical care, are usually the biggest defining factors. For example, animals such as macaws, parrots, and snakes may require more significant funds due to longer lifespans, than say dogs or cats. Also, certain types of dog breeds like American bulldogs and German shepherds may need more funding due to their predisposition to health issues like hip dysplasia and respiratory problems.

Caretaker suitability should depend on lifestyle and personal regard for the animal.

It’s essential that a pet owner choose a caretaker for their animal wisely, to minimize disruption of care. Make sure to help your client by clarifying that their choice for caretaker has adequate housing, time and experience to look after the animal. To avoid trouble down the road, ask the client if they think the caretaker would want the job, or better yet if they have already discussed this responsibility with them.

Be aware of your state’s funding limitations. 

Some states have imposed funding limitations on pet trusts. Should the funding limit be exceeded, a court may reduce and redirect the trust’s property according to law. Thus, it is important to be aware of state-specific rules, so that your client’s wishes are fully realized.

Read more related articles at:

Providing for Your Pet’s Future Without You

Places That Will Take Care Of Your Pet If Something Happens To You

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at:

Pet Trusts Can Protect Your Pets after You’re Gone

Click here to check out our On Demand Video about Estate Planning.

Click here for a short informative video from our own Attorney Bill O’Leary.




end of life planning

What to know about end-of-life planning

What to know about end-of-life planning.

What to know about end-of-life planning. End-of-life planning refers to the steps a person takes to get their affairs in order and determine how they want to spend their last days. Also known as advance care planning, it typically involves a person completing a living will, a healthcare proxy, and a last will and testament.

Whether a person is well or facing a terminal illness, end-of-life planning helps ensure that those who care for them can carry out their last wishes. While it may be a difficult subject to consider and discuss, it is important for a person to have their affairs in order to help facilitate a smooth process after their passing.

In this article, we will discuss what people can expect with end-of-life planning.

End-of-life planningTrusted Source provides people with tools to control their financial and healthcare decisions while they can still take part in the decision-making process. A person usually starts advance care planningTrusted Source steps with a healthcare professional. They can involve conversations with caregivers about what they would want in the event of a life threatening illness or injury.

This type of planning may helpTrusted Source alleviate unnecessary pain and discomfort, improve quality of life, and provide a better understanding of decision-making challenges for a person and their caregivers.

Individuals do not need a lawyer for an advance directive, living will, or healthcare proxy. But a person may need legal help for special circumstances and power of attorney. The National Institute on Aging has an easy-to-follow checklistTrusted Source to help a person make legal and financial plans now for their healthcare in the future.

End-of-life planning involves forethought to ensure that a person receives healthcare treatment consistent with their wishes and preferences, should they be unable to make their own decisions or speak for themselves. It can require people to answer specific and difficult questions about death and dying. Questions a person may want to consider include:

  • Do I need or have a will?
  • Does my family know where I keep my important papers?
  • Do I have life insurance or money set aside for burial, cremation, or funeral expenses?
  • How and where do I wish to die if I have a choice?
  • Do I want lifesaving measuresTrusted Source if or when they become necessary?
  • Is palliative care right for me?
  • How do I want my body handled after my death?
  • Do I have social media accounts that need closure?
  • Do I want to donate my organs or my body?
  • Do I want a death announcement or an obituary? What do I want in it?
  • What sort of memorial do I want, if any?
Read more relkated articles at:

One Woman Helps Others Make Sure End-Of-Life Planning Is ‘Good To Go’

Getting Your Affairs in Order

Also, read one of our previous Blogs here:

End-Of-Life Planning Is A ‘Lifetime Gift’ To Your Loved Ones

Click here to check out our On Demand Video about Estate Planning.

Click here for a short informative video from our own Attorney Bill O’Leary.



Easter egg hunt

Is Your Estate Plan Like an Easter Egg Hunt?


Every Easter, kids have a blast searching their home, backyard, or church property for small plastic eggs hidden with goodies. This type of scavenger hunt is enjoyable, but it won’t be as fun for your kids later on if they’re hunting for important estate planning documents once you’re gone.

To help your loved ones avoid the “hunt”, be sure to keep your original estate planning documents (such as your will), stored in a safe and accessible place. A home safe or filing cabinet is suitable if someone trustworthy has the combination or key, otherwise a bank safe deposit box may be used. If you do use a safe deposit box, be sure to put it in the name of your Revocable Living Trust, so your successor trustee will immediately be able to gain access without needing a court order. You may also add a trusted joint owner to the safe deposit box to carry out your estate planning wishes.

If you haven’t updated your estate plan since your last major life event (marriage, birth, or death in the family), it may be time to update it. If you still do not have an Estate Plan ,there is no better time then the present. Estate Planning is for Everyone!

Read some related Articles at:

Keeping Your Estate Planning Documents Safe

Where To Store Your Estate Planning Documents

Also read one of our previous Blogs at :

Estate Planning Is For Everyone

Click here to check out our On Demand Video about Estate Planning.

Click here for a short informative video from our own Attorney Bill O’Leary.

medicaid hardship

What Elements Must be Met for a Hardship Waiver?

What Elements Must be Met for a Hardship Waiver?

Federal law, specifically 42 U.S. Code § 1396p(c)(2)(D), dictates that a state must establish procedures that allow a Medicaid applicant to receive needed care via a hardship waiver. In these cases, the applicant (or their spouse) had made a transfer during the look-back period that would otherwise incur a penalty whereas the applicant would not be eligible to receive Medicaid benefits for a certain period of time. If the applicant can show that the imposition of the penalty period would deprive the applicant of necessary medical care or the necessities of life, then the hardship waiver can be approved, allowing the applicant to get needed care immediately. Basically, the penalty period is waived if the hardship waiver is granted.

Each state has its own nuanced rules for a hardship waiver, using the federal rule as a guide. New York’s rule is housed in 18 NYCRR 360-4.4(c) and states:

“Denial of eligibility will result in an undue hardship if:

(i) the institutionalized person is otherwise eligible for MA;

(ii) the institutionalized person is unable to obtain appropriate medical care without the provision of MA; and

(iii) despite his/her best efforts, the institutionalized person or the person’s spouse is unable to have the transferred resource returned or to receive fair market value for the resource. Best efforts include cooperating, as deemed appropriate by the commissioner of the social services district, in the pursuit of the return of such resource.”

In a recent opinion issued by the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Fourth Appellate Division, the court found that the applicant was not entitled to a hardship waiver. The applicant’s husband had made a transfer for less than fair market value during the lookback period and thus the applicant was assessed a penalty period. The opinion was a short two pages and didn’t go into many details about the facts or reasoning behind the decision, but the court found that two prongs of the test were unmet – the applicant was unable to prove that she couldn’t have the assets returned and she didn’t prove that she was not able to obtain medical care without benefits. Accordingly, her undue hardship application was denied.

What could the applicant have done differently to get her hardship waiver application approved? What evidence would have bolstered her claim? While the case didn’t go into any details, and the state statute doesn’t address the issue, it could be helpful to look at other states and their instructions on hardship waivers. For example, the District of Columbia Department of Health Care Finance states the following:

“The applicant/beneficiary has the burden of proof and must provide written evidence to clearly substantiate: (1) the reason for the transfer; (2) the risk of loss of long term care institutional or home and community based services, and (3) that losing Medicaid long term care services will either. threaten the individual’s life or health or will result in deprivation of food, clothing, shelter or other necessities of life. If the applicant/beneficiary is asserting that the denial of long term care services will threaten his/her life or health, the applicant/beneficiary must submit a signed statement from a physician to that effect.

Written documentation should include any evidence that the applicant/beneficiary believes is probative of the idea that discontinuation of long term care services will result in undue hardship, as defined. Examples of acceptable documentation include:

  • A letter from a nursing facility or home health agency documenting that the applicant/beneficiary’s access to services will be discharged imminently.
  • A physician’s statement
  • Rent statements or payments
  • Grocery bills
  • Clothing bills”

Most practitioners would agree that obtaining a hardship waiver is an uphill battle; it is difficult to be successful in such a claim. However, an elder law attorney can best assist clients by knowing what situations may qualify for the waiver, what type of evidence is needed to prove the claim, how the claims process works, and backup planning strategies to get the client care in case of a denial.

Read more related articles here:

The Hardship Exception to the Medicaid Penalty Period: Rare But Possible

Undue Hardship Instructional Guide

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at:


Click here to check out our On Demand Video about Estate Planning.

Click here for a short informative video from our own Attorney Bill O’Leary.

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