March is Disability Awareness Month

Did you know that March is Indiana Disability Awareness Month?

No matter the differences between us, it’s always better to treat others the way you want to be treated, and this is especially true when interacting with our co-workers, classmates, and neighbors who live with disabilities.

The 2018 Indiana Disability Awareness Month campaign theme- “Be Cool, We are!”- is all about the importance of being comfortable in your own skin and making the conscious decision to be yourself.

Acting differently around someone with a disability isn’t cool.

So… be cool!

And learn more about Indiana Disability Awareness Month here.



Carefully Consider Your Gifts

Our clients are people of generosity.

They love to give (and receive) gifts during their lifetimes and they are committed to leaving legacies of generosity in the hearts of their families and in the bodies of their estate plans.

But beware- If you believe that you may need help paying for long term care in the future, then you should be extra mindful about gift-giving during your lifetime. Under federal Medicaid law, if you transfer certain assets within five years before applying for Medicaid, you will be ineligible for a period of time (called a transfer penalty), depending on how much money you transferred.

Gifts, loans, or charitable donations over a certain threshold can result in “penalizable transactions.”

If you’re an elder thinking about helping with tuition, loaning an adult child money for a down payment on a home, or giving other gifts, give us a call.

We can often walk you through different strategies that can reduce your risks while still accomplishing many of your generous goals.


Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to you and yours!

Here’s to eating clean, moving more, being more intentional with time, and getting those little ducks in a row.

We usually get a deluge of estate planning inquiries in January as people make good on those resolutions.

Let us know if we can help.
(We’ll provide the caffeine.)

Home for the Holidays?

Planning travels to see family in the coming weeks?

In between cookie baking and movie marathons, many clients have shared that these visits are a good time to take stock of any changes in an elder loved one’s health, appearance, or environment.

If you notice changes during your visit, try to gently assess the circumstances while you’re together to determine if help is needed.

We’re here to serve as an elder law resource, but we’re also happy to serve as “connectors” to other community resources for your family.

Safe travels and warm wishes during your holiday season . . .

Calling all Generous Gift-Givers!

Calling all generous gift-givers!

Are you considering gifting cash, stocks, or property to loved ones this holiday season?  If so, then you’ll definitely want to know that the annual gift tax exclusion for 2018 is rising from $14,000 (where it has been for the past five years) to $15,000.

This means that anyone who gives away $15,000 or less to anyone other than their spouse doesn’t have to report the gift or gifts to the IRS (though you’ll still have to file a gift tax return).

With the increase in the gift tax, the amount you can give to an ABLE account. (INvestABLE Indiana) is also increasing to $15,000. ABLE accounts allow people with disabilities and their families to save money in designated accounts for disability related expenses without jeopardizing their eligibility for Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and other government benefits.

There are so many ways to create a legacy of generosity.

Let us know if we can help.


Nuvo “Best of Indy” 2017

Thank you to the readers of Nuvo Newsweekly for choosing our office as an honoree in the “Best Attorney” category for their 2017 “Best of Indy” Issue.  This public recognition means so much to us.

Thank you for inviting us into your adoption journeys, your estate planning and care planning conversations, your celebrations, and even your disappointments.

It is our privilege to advocate for you.

Be the Boss

Be the boss.

We know that most people don’t particularly relish estate planning conversations.

But wouldn’t you prefer to be in charge of naming the trusted loved ones to care for your kids, manage your healthcare, help with your finances, and settle your estate?

We can help you be the boss.

Give us a call and we’ll help you contemplate your mortality (and your estate planning choices) as painlessly as possible.

How to Sign Documents as a Power of Attorney

Have you been appointed as “Attorney-in-Fact” by a loved one in a financial Power of Attorney? If so, then you know that this job isn’t for the faint of heart. In fact, it carries quite a bit of responsibility with it.

If you’re signing a legal document on behalf of someone else, always remember to indicate that you are acting under the POA authority in your signature.

For example, if you’re Jane Smith empowered as the agent for Dorothy Smith, you might sign either as: 
“Dorothy Smith by Jane Smith under Power of Attorney” or “Jane Smith, attorney-in-fact for Dorothy Smith.”

It’s important to be clear that you aren’t  signing for yourself but are, instead, signing for the principal. If you just sign your own name, it’s possible that you could be held personally accountable for anything you sign.  Always be mindful that your signature clearly conveys that you are signing in a representative capacity and are not signing personally,

Questions about Power of Attorney documents? Give us a call.

We can help.

New Law Gives Grandparents Notice About Adoptions

Is your family considering a stepparent or a kinship adoption?

If so, you should be aware of House Enrolled Act 1245, which took effect in Indiana on July 1st, 2017.

This new law requires certain classes of grandparents to be notified of adoption proceedings.  Perhaps not surprisingly, there is already a healthy amount of debate and varying interpretation surrounding it.  If you would like to learn more about this legislation, you may do so here.

We will be following caselaw and debate on this issue closely.   In the meantime, if your family has any questions about kinship adoption, let us know.

We can help.

INvestABLE Indiana-Giving those with disabilities the ability to save

To all your abilities, now add the ability to save.

As of July 27th, 2017, ABLE accounts are open for enrollment in Indiana.

INvestABLE Indiana was created in response to the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE) of 2014, which allows people with disabilities and their families to save for many daily disability expenses on a tax deferred basis without limiting their ability to benefit from SSI, Medicaid, and other federal programs.

Who is eligible to open an ABLE account through INvestABLE Indiana?
You can open an account for yourself, or an authorized person can open one for
you if:

-You were diagnosed with a disability before the age of 26; and
-One of the following is true:
1.   You experience blindness as defined by the Social Security Act; or
2.  You’re eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits (SSI or SSDI) or
have a similarly severe disability and can provide a written diagnosis from a
licensed doctor..

What are Qualified Disability Expenses?
These are any expenses that:
-are incurred at a time when the Account owner is an Eligible Individual
-relate to the blindness or disability of the Account Owner
-are for the benefit of the Account owner in maintaining or bettering his or
her health, independence, or quality of life.

Some (but not all) Qualified Expenses include things like education, health, housing, transportation, legal fees, employment training, assistive technology, basic living expenses, and end of life expenses.

Want  to learn more about opening an account for yourself or for a loved one through INvestABLE Indiana?   Give us a call or learn more about investment options and where to begin here.

Stasia is thrilled to serve on the board of the Indiana ABLE Authority, which has helped bring this legislation to life in Indiana.