Trinity Elder Law & Estate Planning October 2019

My Journey in Elder Law Peace of Mind Post I t’s hard to believe summer is over and that very soon, we’ll be wearing sweaters and carving pumpkins. If you are a regular reader of our newsletter, you may have noticed it took a summer hiatus. However, the newsletter is back with an updated format and more information for you. THE MOST IMPORTANT CHOICE YOU’LL EVER MAKE OCTOBER 2019

We last left you with the story of my late grandmother and her elder care journey. I am a certified elder law attorney because of two reasons: my grandmother and a farm. I had the good fortune to grow up on two farms on both sides of the tiny town of Renfrew in Butler County. One farm was my father’s — it was about a mile on one side of Renfrew — and the other farm was my grandparents’, which was about 3 miles on the other side. Growing up on a farm instilled a strong work ethic, an appreciation for the little things, and a unique understanding of the fragile nature of life. Farm work is good work, but it is hard work. While I loved the farm, somewhere around the eighth grade, I decided I wanted to become an attorney. I commuted from the farm to Oakland to complete my undergraduate degree at the University of Pittsburgh. Commuting, working two jobs, and studying kept me quite busy. When it was time to choose a law school, I decided to venture outside western Pennsylvania. I landed in northwestern Indiana, at Valparaiso University, for law school. In school, I focused on estate planning and tax law. Valparaiso was a charming little town, but it wasn’t home. My grandmother was living alone by that time, and I came home frequently to visit her. As soon as I graduated from law school, I came back to western Pennsylvania and got my first job in a small firm in the North Hills. Sixteen days after I passed the bar exam, my grandmother fell in the middle of the night and fractured her hip. For her, it was the beginning of the downward spiral that led to her passing and the sale of her farm.

“I realized that we should all be planning our lives proactively, not reactively. We can’t leave our future up to chance when a crisis affects us.”

Through my grandmother’s experience, I saw firsthand what can happen to us and our families if we neglect our estate planning. I wanted to make sure families were able to put preventive plans in place to get the care their loved ones need and avoid losing assets when a crisis happens. I realized that we should all be planning our lives proactively, not reactively. We can’t leave our future up to chance when a crisis affects us. Our families mean too much to us. My grandmother’s experience also made me realize that my place wasn’t anywhere else but Butler County. I got my start in Butler County, it will always be my home, and it certainly has my heart. I still spend as much time as I can on my father’s farm. And now, I have the tools and expertise to help others protect their farms and families. We work hard to see to it that nothing in your life is left to chance. To learn more about what we can help you with here at Trinity Estate Law, give us a call at 724.256.8850 or visit our website anytime at



Tips for Reduci TAKING TIME TO MAK Being a caregiver can be a thankless job. A life completely revolving around a single person who can’t care for themselves can leave you emotionally and physically drained. That’s why it’s so important for caregivers to take time out of their day to treat themselves. By giving yourself the time to practice these methods of stress reduction, you’ll be in top form to offer your loved one or patient the help they so desperately need. You owe it to them and yourself. Stress can manifest itself in strange ways, so much so that you may not even be conscious that you’re experiencing it. Some signs of caregiver stress you may be experiencing are lack of sleep, easy irritation, headaches, alcohol or drug abuse, feeling needlessly overwhelmed, depression, losing interest in your passions, and so much more. In order to address these issues, you’d be wise to take a minute for yourself and realize that you need help too. Just because you’re able to fully care for yourself doesn’t mean you have to . As with any industry, reaching out

T he bulk of retirement planning is spent discussing how you will save money in the years leading up to the end of your career, but that’s only half of the picture. Once you enter retirement, your focus shifts to the smartest way to divest your money for both your own enjoyment and your continued financial security. There are countless ways to wisely spend your nest egg, such as taking trips, providing for the education of your grandchildren, and more. However, this article isn’t about good ideas. Instead, let’s talk about some of the worst ways to spend your retirement funds. Timeshares The appeal of a timeshare seems obvious. It’s a space of your own for a few weeks of the year, and you get to enjoy a nice change of pace from your regular environment. The problem is that these properties are full of hidden costs and have been outpaced by other vacationing options. In a world where you can book an Airbnb with just a few clicks, timeshares are poised to become a relic of a past age. Online Scams Hackers and cyberscammers love to prey on the elderly. As gross as it may sound, they know that older generations tend to be less tech savvy than their younger counterparts. You should be wary of online offers that look too good to be true. If you have even the slightest doubt, have a loved one take a look at the offer to ensure you’re not being scammed. Never provide your private financial data to a source you don’t absolutely trust. Tchotchkes Many of us have walked into the house of an older relative to find a room full of American Girl dolls or a display case of Candlewick glassware. Collecting can be a rewarding hobby when done in moderation, but amassing junk simply for its own sake is a waste of money and space. Make sure you’re acquiring objects because you truly want to treasure them. Rushed Relocations In general, real estate-based purchases can be extremely beneficial for retirees. The exception to this rule is a spur-of- the-moment relocation in order to be closer to your family or a retirement community. Because real estate transactions are so expensive, it’s best to approach them with extreme care and due diligence.



• 4 Ibs medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and halved • 6 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes • 1/2 cup heavy cream • Kosher salt


1. In a stockpot or large saucepan, submerge potatoes in just enough water to cover them. Bring to a boil, add 2 tbsp of salt, and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. 2. Drain potatoes and let cool for 3 minutes. 3. Using a ricer, grate potatoes into the original saucepan over medium heat. 4. With a wooden spoon, stir potatoes until they begin to stick to pan and steam, about 2 minutes. 5. Add butter in four equal batches, stirring constantly and adding each batch only once the last has been fully incorporated into the saucepan. 6. Stir in cream, season liberally with salt, and serve immediately.

Inspired by Food & Wine magazine


g Caregiver Stress YOURSELF WHOLE AGAIN to a trusted doctor or psychiatrist can help take the burden off your shoulders.


If you’ve ever picked up a health magazine while waiting at the doctor’s office, then you’re probably familiar with the term “free radicals” — at least enough to know that they get a bad rap from doctors and beauticians alike. But what are they, exactly? According to Live Science, free radicals are atoms with unpaired electrons that have split off from oxygen molecules in the body and started to “scavenge” for other electrons to pair with. That wouldn’t be problematic, except that these atoms tend to damage cells, lipids, proteins, and even DNA along the way, and that destruction has serious consequences. As Live Science puts it, “Free radicals are associated with human disease, including cancer, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and many others. They

It’s possible you’re trying to do too much at once. Make sure you’re setting realistic goals both at work and at home. Break your larger tasks into smaller ones you can easily

achieve, giving you a sense of purpose throughout the day. You should start tracking and knowing your limits so that you can decline

offers for jobs that are too draining. Nothing is worth destroying your life over, although that can be hard to realize when you have another person who depends on you. Remind yourself why you do what you do and make sure to devote energy to yourself so you can keep caring for those who need you.

also may have a link to aging, which has been defined as a gradual accumulation of free- radical damage.” Unfortunately, it’s impossible to entirely avoid free radicals and the havoc they wreak. The process that forms free radicals, called oxidative stress, can be kick-started by a variety of different substances found


in food, water, medicine, and even the air we breathe, according to the Huntington’s Outreach Project for Education at Stanford University. Unsurprisingly, these substances are things already considered unhealthy, like alcohol, exposure to X-rays, ozone, fried food, chemical pesticides, air pollutants, and tobacco smoke.

That said, there is one molecule that is stable enough to stand up to and reduce free radicals: the antioxidant. According to a study published by Pharmacognosy Reviews, antioxidants can “donate an electron to a rampaging free radical and neutralize it, thus reducing its ability to damage.” Synthetic antioxidants exist but can sometimes have harmful side effects, so scientists advise protecting yourself by avoiding free radical triggers like alcohol,

processed foods, and red meat, and ingesting natural antioxidants in the form of berries, stone fruits, olives, onions, garlic, and green and black teas. Herbs and spices like cinnamon, basil, turmeric, and fenugreek can ratchet up your antioxidant levels too. While it can’t guarantee immortality, the right diet can certainly help you stave off aging and disease, so why not start today?

Solution on Page 4



340 N. Main St., Suite 103 Butler, PA 16001 724.256.8850


I N S I D E This Issue


The Importance of Estate Planning


The Worst Retirement Spending Decisions Stress-Free Practices


Tips for Fighting Free Radicals

Impossibly Silky Mashed Potatoes


Did You Hear About the Dog Food Burglar?


H ave you heard the story of Terrence Dickson? Even if you don’t know the name, you might have heard his strange tale. Dickson was a burglar in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. One day, after breaking into a house and helping himself to some valuables, Dickson decided to leave through the garage. After discovering the automatic garage door was stuck closed, Dickson turned around and was horrified to realize he’d locked himself inside.

“outrageous lawsuits,” people were rightfully enraged. There was just one problem: Terrence Dickson never existed.

In 2002, a reporter from Pennsylvania contacted the Bucks County prothonotary’s office, where all records for civil cases in the county are kept. He discovered there was no record of any cases involving such a burglar. It’s worth noting the original email where this story first appeared ended with a call for tort reform from a made-up law firm in Ohio. Likely, this hoax was an attempt to manipulate the public perception of the justice system. Despite being debunked 17 years ago, this tall tale still makes the rounds and often appears on lists of “outrageous lawsuits,” many of which are featured on the websites of legitimate law firms! There are plenty of wacky legal cases, but when a story is too ridiculous, there’s a good chance a few important details are being left out or the readers are being lied to. Don’t believe everything you read online!

To make matters worse, the family he was stealing from had just left for an extended vacation, so Dickson lived off of soda and dried dog food for eight days. When the family returned and found the unlucky burglar, a lawsuit was filed — by Dickson! He sued for mental anguish, and the jury awarded him $500,000. There’s nothing that shakes our faith in the justice system quite like injustice being served. When Dickson’s story first gained notoriety in 2001, thanks to an email circulated by the now- defunct Stella Awards newsletter, which highlighted


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