Hunter Law Office is an estate planning and elder law firm with offices located in Fishers, Indiana and Rockville, Indiana. Our mission is to help families plan for the future through education and client-centered counseling in an accessible and welcoming environment.
We are often asked about the moral or ethical issues associated with long-term care planning in the context of asset protection. To address these issues, consider the story of the Free Bridge as told by US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis:
“I live in Alexandria, Virginia. Near the Supreme Court chambers is a toll bridge across the Potomac. When in a rush, I pay the dollar toll and get home early. However, I usually drive outside the downtown section of the city and cross the Potomac on a free bridge.
This bridge was placed outside the downtown Washington, DC area to serve a useful social service, getting drivers to drive the extra mile and help alleviate congestion during the rush hour.
If I went over the toll bridge and through the barrier without paying the toll, I would be committing tax evasion.
If, however, I drive the extra mile and drive outside the city of Washington to the free bridge, I am using a legitimate, logical and suitable method of tax avoidance, and am performing a useful social service by doing so.
For my tax evasion, I should be punished. For my tax avoidance, I should be commended.
The tragedy of life today is that so few people know that the free bridge even exists.”
Asset Protection Planning is the Free Bridge. Elder law attorneys provide the map to get you across that bridge. We’ve dedicated our careers to creating a roadmap for our clients that will guide them as they traverse the rocky terrain along their life’s journey. The laws and regulations that govern our public benefits system can be confusing, and we are here to help you find your way. So, whether you choose to pay the toll or go the extra mile to the free bridge, let us provide the roadmap to your destination. Click here and give us a little information and we'll be in touch!
1)My parents had a 1998 Triple Black Mustang GT when I was growing up. I fell in love with Mustangs. I own 2 of them.
2). My brother, my husband, and I won a national tournament in Las Vegas for mixed triples.
3)I have three teenage sons that are all exceptional athletes. Last year two of my sons won the wrestling state championship in their weight class and played football on Indiana Elite in the National Youth Tournament.
4) I worked for a local ticket broker and have sat in the front row for WWE, Maroon 5, Luke Bryan, Craig Morgan, Darius Rucker, Jason Aldean, and a Colt’s game.
5) I am an avid pit bull lover. I have two blue pit bulls named Jax and Max
Those words. I hear them so often – whether they are coming from the spouse, the child, the niece/nephew, the caregiver, etc. My response, whether internally or verbally, is to “never say never.”
Recently, I was mindlessly watching television and a 60 Minutes episode had started. In the episode, there was a segment on Alzheimer’s and given what I do day-in and day-out, I stuck around on the channel. I’m glad I did.
During the segment, a reporter began by explaining that he had met Mike and Carol Daly – Carol had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. For the following ten (yes, ten!) consecutive years from diagnosis, the reporter interviewed Mr. and Mrs. Daly.
In one of the first years, Mr. Daly sincerely explains to the reporter, “I’m not gonna put her in a nursing home. I can handle it.” Sadly and predictably, the segment proceeds with showing Mrs. Daly worsening – both physically and mentally. However, most interestingly, though not surprising to me, Mr. Daly very clearly began exhibiting signs of physical and mental exhaustion. I distinctly remember saying to my own husband, “For every one year that passes, he looks like he aged five years.”
Low and behold, Mr. Daly eventually hired home health care to come into their house to give him a much needed break. I knew this was coming because, frankly, I see it happen … all the time. My clients will say the very thing Mr. Daly said [about nursing home care] and I often gently remind them, “I know it’s easy to focus on the one that needs the care, but I’m worried about you and your well-being, too.”
Caregiving is one of the toughest jobs out there, if not the toughest – just ask Mr. Daly, a retired New York City cop who experienced suicidal thoughts while caring for Mrs. Daly. The physical exhaustion is real. The mental exhaustion is real.
Oh … financial exhaustion is real, too. The segment mentions that Mr. Daly depleted much of their life savings to care for Mrs. Daly. This point of the segment almost made me cringe – specifically because all too many families do not realize that there are options to protect assets and qualify for governmental benefits like Medicaid, which will help cover the cost of home health and long-term care.
I hope he knew that this type of planning was an option, but I have a sneaking suspicion he did not. Therefore, the “price tag” associated with caring for Mrs. Daly was a hefty one – and one that could have been avoided had he sought assistance from an elder law attorney.
The story ends with Mr. Daly confessing with tears developing in his eyes, “I’m comin’ to the point where maybe a nursing home is the answer for her safety.” Then approximately fifty-three years after their wedding day, Mr. Daly put her in a nursing home.
It was certainly the best thing for her, her safety, her health – but let’s not forget about Mr. Daly, who is equally as important. It was also the best thing for him, his health, and his well-being. If there is a win-win in this story, this would likely be it.
We recently visited with Stonecrest of Meridian Hills Senior Living, to talk about what makes them unique, this is what they had to say:
The community has set a new standard in senior living.Stonecrest of Meridian Hills Senior Living, first and foremost offers their residents a beautiful space, the apartments are lovely, and the outdoor space is phenomenal.
The outdoor living space features a heated covered patio with a gas fireplace, putting green, Dog Park, raised garden beds with pergola, and walking paths.The indoor space offers a library, many sitting areas throughout the building, bistro, Movie Theater, hair salon, and community room. They offer three restaurant-style meals, daily, along with an anytime menu and various snacks throughout the day.They offer Happy Hour Monday through Friday from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm.
They believe in allowing residents to age in place.Although many of their residents are fully independent, the care plans can accommodate the changing care needs of seniors.They are a licensed community that offers assisted living and memory care.
The Memory Care has specially trained staff on hand 24 hours a day to assist residents to maintain a sense of belonging and an opportunity for gratifying interaction with others.Their trained clinical staff can accommodate most care needs in the comfort of the resident's apartments. The workout room is open to the residents and features a stepper, recumbent bike, elliptical and a rowing machine.They feature The Climb, a Parkinson's work-out, to their residents in an exercise class.
The residents can enjoy trivia and games, bridge club, Bible study, yoga, entertainment weekly, seminars, shopping trips and outings, and so much more.Transportation is offered to social outings, such as shopping and pharmacy.Transportation can be scheduled and is complimentary to appointments, this is subject to availability.
Thank you for visiting with us and sharing how unique your community is!
Jenny joined the Hunter Estate & Elder Law Team in January of 2012. She is a die-hard Butler basketball fan and had the opportunity to watch Butler make it to the national championship versus Duke in 2010 at Lucas Oil Stadium.
She also thoroughly enjoys to spend time with family and friends, travel outside the country, and routinely binge-watch the Hallmark Channel.
“I am honored to be able to work with clients from all walks of life – that is the beauty of estate planning and elder law. I have helped clients that just turned 18 … and those over 100. Every client has a different story, which makes my job fun!”
Why is this, you ask? There are a multitude of reasons for why individuals do not create a Will or Trust. The latest statistic I saw was that nearly 65% of individuals pass away without a Will – even though 100% will die. Unfortunately, Aretha fell into the majority. This means that her “estate” will go through the probate process (I can’t even begin to imagine how much lawyers are going to get paid on this one!) and her estate will be distributed in accordance with the “intestacy laws” of Michigan’s Oakland County.
I could go on and on about the importance of planning; avoiding probate; keeping an estate private; etc. I have wrote about these topics many times – yes, planning is important; yes, avoiding probate is recommended; and yes, maintaining privacy sounds desirable. What I am much more concerned about is exploring the reasons why people do not do a plan … let’s chat about them, shall we?
“I’ll get to it eventually. It’s on my to-do list.” But what if you do not get to checking everything off that never-ending to-do list and a catastrophe/tragedy happens? It is too late, my friend.
“Having to go through an attorney to get it prepared will be expensive.” There are many types of plans – some are basic (which would not be costly) and some come with a bit of a price tag (advanced planning). Though, if it were me, I would want to have the peace of mind knowing the plan was done by an appropriate professional. There is no price tag on that.
“I’ll just get the documents done online.” You get what you pay for. I often tell clients that online services are often our best referral source – they tend to miss something and then the family (or whoever) pays us later to “clean it up.”
“I don’t want to think about/talk about dying.” I get the fact that it is certainly not the most fun topic to discuss in the world, but it is also certainly one of the most important topics to discuss. Passing away is a non-negotiable; consider the possibility that doing an estate plan is the best gift you could give to your beneficiaries.
According to USA Today, Aretha’s entertainment lawyer, Don Wilson, claimed that he “…was after her for a number of years to do a Trust. It would have expedited things and kept them out of probate, and kept things private.” There were likely additional, more substantive conversations than just that – and he may very well know the reason why she never did the planning. Was it the “I’ll get to it eventually” attitude? Or the fear of talking about death? We may never know.
Unfortunately, I hear the reasons above entirely too often. Coincidentally enough, if I am meeting someone for the first time and they ask what I do, I’ll say that I do estate planning. More often than not, the individuals responds with, “Oh, I need to update my Will” –or—they will say, “Oh, I need to do a Will.” I usually respond, “Well, why haven’t you?” and the back-pedaling commences. That, my friends, is exactly why 65% of individuals pass away without a Will. Are they legitimate reasons? Or good ol’ excuses? I know what I would pick.
This facility offers a warm, welcoming place to call home.At Clearvista Lake Health Campus they believe that a life well lived is one rich in experiences, surrounded by people who have your best interests at heart.They recognize they are caring for individuals, each with different wants, needs, beliefs and expectations.
The memory care neighborhood offers welcoming suites, individualized programs, along with the most advanced features, designed to provide comfort, dignity, and joy to everyone who walks through their doors.The staff has a team attitude and they come to work every day wanting to take care of the residents.Their Health Center combines a state-of-the-art facility with a safe and caring environ
The activities are planned and scheduled with changing energy levels in mind.They offer a Daily Rhythms program, which is based on information embraced by national Alzheimer's advocacy groups, and allows them to create a schedule for your loved one that works for them.
This program provides a schedule the residents can rely on, it gives them a chance to exercise their minds, share their passions, and relax in comfort.Thus helping them live with less anxiety, better sleep, and decreased depression, which leads to easier days full of joy and fulfillment. The memory care program offers, personalized care based on each resident's specific needs and abilities, they preserve historical habits and preferences of each resident, daily programs and activities to ensure healthy energy patterns, family style meal services, along with monthly Alzheimer's/Dementia support groups for family members.
Thank you for inviting us to your memory care neighborhood open house and sharing how unique Clearvista Lake Health Campus Memory Care Neighborhood is!