H ere’s something you may not know: I am one of 19 certified elder law attorneys in the state of Michigan — a state with over 35,000 practicing attorneys. Certification in elder law is a huge step above passing the state bar and practicing as an attorney. In order to become certified, eligible attorneys are put through a meticulous background check. The certifying organization— in this case,
Elder law changes on a regular basis. There are always new things to keep up with. On top of that, the existing law is nuanced. When you work with an attorney who is certified in a specific area of law, like elder law, you know they are keeping up with the times.
One good example is that our clients get the most up-to-date strategies regarding asset protection when going into a nursing home. We’re well-versed in determining
the National Elder Law Foundation (NELF) — consults with your peers and looks at your practice history to see if you’re in good standing. They also look at your experience in elder law and how long you have been in practice. Once they determine your eligibility, and if you are accepted into their certification track, the next step is passing a rigorous exam, which I had to study intensely for. When I arrived on my test day, I had flashbacks to when I was taking the bar exam.
how to take care of the associated expenses, whether it’s restructuring assets or looking for a new source of income.
If a client went to a “regular” attorney who focuses on several areas of law, the client and their family would not get the care and attention they need. We’ve had many clients tell us that they were told by other attorneys that they would lose their house or have to spend every dime of their savings or retirement funds in order to pay for nursing home care. The reality is that this is false. When you understand how the laws work and what is really available to people in terms of strategy, you avoid these types of worst-case scenarios. But more than that, when you work with an attorney who is truly invested in their area of practice — and invested in seniors and their families and family dynamics — the results speak for themselves. I’m glad I pursued certification and really immersed myself in elder law and estate planning. As much as it means to me, it means so much more to the people who rely on us every day: our clients. I’ll be tackling various estate planning and elder law topics in the months ahead, so keep an eye out for more editions of this newsletter. We’ll also have a little fun along the way! I hope you and your family are having a great summer, and we’ll talk again soon. —Glenn Matecun
Ultimately, becoming a Certified Elder Law Attorney means you have significant experience in the areas of law dealing with seniors and their families. For
myself, this has been and will continue to be my core focus. Our section of the firm is dedicated to this part of the law, unlike many other attorneys who have a broader scope.
Those attorneys who try to cover a laundry list of different practice areas (personal injury, DUI, family law, and elder law, for example) — are not fully equipped to handle more specialized cases. That isn’t to say they are necessarily bad; but when one attorney handles many practice areas, you can spread yourself thin. (Remember the old quote “jack of all trades, master of none”?)
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Ring, Ring — It’s a Robot
What You Can Do to Protect Yourself From Phone Scams and Robocalls
Two of the most common scams are phone scams and robocalls. These calls are incredibly annoying and can trick you out of valuable information if you’re not careful. While it might seem like these scams are inescapable, there are some precautions you can take to avoid their traps. Give them the silent treatment. One thing you can do to avoid these fraudulent, time-wasting calls is to simply hang up. If possible, it is best to not answer at all. It’s always good to have a list of numbers you can reference, so you never have to guess who is calling. Think of it as going one step beyond caller ID.
often gets put on an “active number” list that can then be sold to other scammers who market in these types of phone numbers. If you can’t verify who is calling without picking up, don’t answer. Let it go to voicemail. If it’s important, the person will leave a legitimate message and you can respond afterward. Put up some deterrents. You can even go a step further and block the calls. Many phone service providers offer call-blocking options, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. You can sign up for this service in-store or on your service provider’s website. Each service costs about $4 per month. There are also a number of call-blocking apps available on Android and Apple devices, but if you subscribe to a blocking service through your phone provider, these apps are unnecessary. Finally, you can sign up for the Federal Trade Commission’s “Do Not Call” program (DoNotCall.gov). While the Do Not Call program can help cut back on calls, this list is largely ignored by scammers. If you’re getting a ridiculous number of robocalls every day, signing up can offer you some brief respite. Thankfully, Congress is already attempting to fix this problem by making it harder for scammers to call you. But until they are able to pass tough, effective legislation, it is up to us as consumers to remain vigilant and do what we can to keep our personal and financial data safe and secure.
In some cases, answering and then hanging up can actually do more harm than good. Answering the phone gives
the scammers confirmation that the number works and that they should try again. Once your number is confirmed as active, it
The decision to end a marriage after many years is never an easy one. After decades together, some couples simply grow apart or struggle with bouts of infidelity. There are many reasons why couples over 50 choose to separate, and things can be extra complicated in this type of divorce, also known as “gray divorce.” Financial Adjustment Gray divorce has become more common over the last 20 years. When couples split during this phase of their lives (peak career/ pre-retirement), it can be a financial shock. After decades of marriage, it’s likely they rely heavily on one another in terms of financial stability. It’s even more challenging if one spouse handled all the bills and expenses. Income and Support In some cases, partners are not equally able to support themselves. A great example is one spouse who focuses on career while the other stays at home to raise their children. Following divorce, the stay-at-home parent will be at a severe disadvantage. This disparity will come into play during court proceedings. The court will determine how to divide the couple’s assets, including savings and retirement accounts. The court will split the assets equitably — or roughly 50/50. That said, one spouse may also be required to pay alimony.
Retirement During divorce, the couple will need to consider their respective retirement funding sources and how the divorce will impact them. Keep in mind that retirement accounts are part of equitable division, and the court may split the accounts or funds within these accounts. Much of the time, each person must adapt to a retirement plan that lacks the funding it once did. Additionally, a divorce may even postpone retirement, especially if the funds are no longer enough to make retirement possible long term. Divorcing later in life creates unique financial and estate planning challenges. Call us today if you have any questions or need help navigating these complex issues.
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Facing the Challenges of Working After 65 Do You Want to Work Post-Retirement? A lot of retirees like to work part-time after retirement. It’s a great way to stay active, mentally, physically, and within the community. Plus, it brings in supplemental income a lot of retirees use for discretionary spending, rather than dipping into retirement or investment accounts. For some, working in retirement years is necessary — especially for anyone who has gone through a gray divorce, as discussed on Page 2. Of course, every person’s situation and desires are different. In a recent Transamerica Retirement Survey of Workers, 56% of currently employed people intend to pursue part-time work post-retirement. However, the survey noted issues with the strategy. While this 56% intend to work part-time in the future, fewer are actually accomplishing that goal. One of the biggest reasons post-retirement work doesn’t happen is a skill mismatch. Industries and businesses change. As we age, we have to be extra proactive in keeping our skill sets up-to-date. Fall behind and you give employers a legitimate reason to skip over your resume. Another challenge retirees face (as well as the workforce at large) is simply a reduced number of jobs due to automation. The Transamerica survey also showed that 72% of workers have the support of their current employer to continue working after age 65. However, the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies (TCRS) President, Catherine Collinson, says reality is very different. “Look at the labor force participation rate and you see a very steep decline after age 65.” Employers may be supportive, but many retirees are not sticking around. The problem is that there aren’t many employers that have the ability to shift full-time workers to part-time positions. All too often, it causes productivity and workflow issues within the business. Many businesses need full-time workers to make up the difference, and it doesn’t make logistical sense to keep part-time workers on. If you want to work post-retirement, Collinson gives this piece of advice: “It’s important to have a plan, but also to be mindful that things can happen along the way. You should have a Plan B and maybe even a Plan C. That way, if one pathway doesn’t work out, you’ll have others to follow.”
Solution on Pg. 4
Helpful Resources • Is your estate plan up-to-date? Ask us about our FREE estate planning checkup ... Call our office or email Julie@mtolaw.com. • Don’t miss our upcoming estate planning and elder law workshops — our website has our entire educational calendar for the year. • Learn about estate planning and elder law topics in plain English ... Check out our Elder Care Whiteboard Videos at MichiganEstatePlans.com.
• Let us be your trusted advisor for all your legal matters. We have grown by the referrals we receive from our clients. We want to return the
favor by helping you find a great attorney
outside the field of estate planning, elder law, and probate. Instead of taking your chances on Google or the phone book, let us put you in touch with an experienced attorney who
can help you. Our clients often call us in need of an attorney who focuses on family law, personal injury, auto accidents, elder and nursing home abuse, workers’ comp, Social Security disability, and many other areas. To get the best results, you need an experienced attorney to help. If you want a referral, call our office or email Julie@mtolaw.com. We are glad to help!
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What’s Inside? 1 2 Giving Our Clients More
How to Best Protect Yourself From Scam Calls
Navigating ‘Gray Divorce’
The Challenges of Working After Retirement
Helpful Resources for You!
Bizarre Personal Injury Cases
There is no shortage of crazy cases that come through a court of law, but those revolving around personal injury can be especially surprising. Whether it’s a slip-and- fall accident or something a little more eccentric, there are a million ways to hurt yourself while simply going A Look at Some Interesting Personal Injury Cases
the building, pressure building from inside the tank caused a massive explosion that sent her body hurling out of the stall. You don’t need to know the details of her injuries to understand the extent of her grievances. Some forms of suffering are better left to the imagination, especially if the aggressor was a literal stink bomb. She sued the building’s landlords for anxiety, pain, and medical expenses, but it’s hard to determine which party was truly at fault without more information. It’s Raining Cats and Dollars You can’t predict the weather, no matter what your weather app says, but some people tend to forget that. A few years ago, an Israeli weatherman was faced with a lawsuit by a woman who claimed his inaccurate forecast caused her a great deal of suffering. She claimed he misrepresented a particularly harsh day in the forecast, and it encouraged her to wear insufficient layers that left her health to the whim of the elements. As a result, the woman caught the flu from the downpour and missed work for four days. Citing lost income, large medication costs, and tremendous anxiety, she sought reparations from the fraudulent weatherman and was amazingly awarded a four-figure settlement!
about your day. The problems arise when it’s determined to be another party’s fault. Let’s take a look at some notably strange cases where bizarre miscalculations led to injuries and ailments.
As Below, So Above Time spent in the restroom is
inherently private. We don’t normally talk about it, but that’s not the case for a Pennsylvania woman who experienced a traumatic event during a routine trip to the
lady’s room. In 2007, a schlocky horror plot came to life in a building along Philadelphia’s famous Market Street. The culprit was a faulty plumbing system. The woman was inside a restroom stall on the eighth floor, and, as she sat on one of the old toilets customary in
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