Roberson Law Focusing on Estate Planning, Trust, Probate and Elder Law

Newsletter

Roberson Law Paralegal Wins Award For 2016 Paralegal Of The Year 

In a ceremony hosted by Sinclair College on April 13, 2016, Roberson Law paralegal Jennifer Burkitt won the award for 2016 Paralegal Of The Year!  

Jennifer has worked at Roberson Law for 15 years as the lead paralegal in charge of the firm's probate and trust administration department.  Jennifer is highly skilled in her field of law, so much so that she is often consulted by attorneys in the legal community outside of Roberson Law about probate and estate administration matters.  Jennifer is regarded as an expert in her practice area and has over 100 cases for decedents' estates in Ohio that she is solely responsible for managing.  

On a personal note, Jennifer lives with her husband, Ricky, in Springfield and has two adult children.  Four of the five days of the work week she drives to Roberson Law to work a 10 1/2 hour work day and will often meet with clients as early as 7:00 a.m.  After her work day is over, Jennifer and her husband act as the primary caregiver for their six year old grandson.  Despite the large number of hours that Jennifer works, she never wavers from being a committed wife and mom, who is extremely dedicated to serving her family and community.  

We are honored to have Jennifer as part of our team!

Elderly Woman

Elder Law Update: New Medicaid Eligibility Procedure

There are yet again new changes on the horizon for the Ohio Medicaid program.  The changes affect the criteria that the Ohio Medicaid Department uses to determine Medicaid eligibility.

Ohio currently uses a system where it permits a person to go through a "spend down" process in order to qualify for Medicaid.  Effective July 1, 2016, that system is going to change.  In addition to the asset spend down process for determining eligibility, your level of income will also be considered.  Even people who are currently receiving Medicaid will be subject to this new method of determining eligibility.  

If you are the caregiver of someone who is on Medicaid, or have a loved one who may need to be on Medicaid in the near future, you should consult with us or another elder law attorney about your options to ensure eligibility.  According to the Ohio Medicaid program, there is no grandfathering in, so everyone currently on Medicaid will be subject to the new rules and regulations.
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Did you know that we have a department dedicated to senior services?
  • Preserve your savings from nursing home costs
  • Keep your home in the family
  • Know when to apply for Medicaid
  • Receive help finding the right nursing home
Check out our web page on Elder Law! 
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SENIORS TIP OF THE QUARTER: Should you Walk, Jog, or Dance? 

According to a recent article published by the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), you should walk, jog, AND dance because they are all activities that are good for the aging brain.  According to The Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, "Regular walking, cycling, swimming, dancing and even gardening may substantially reduce the risk of Alzheimer's because exercise has long been linked to better mental capacity in older people."  The NAELA article further states that the people who had more gray matter in their brains, which is the matter that is correlated with physical activity, have 50 percent less risk even five years later of having experienced memory decline or of having developed Alzheimer's.

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Client Of The Month

In March 2016, our firm began a "Client of the Month" award to honor the client who is cooperative, follows instructions, and is generally pleasant to the staff and a delight to work with. Clients who possess these qualities make the recipe for an outstanding law firm, so that is why we would like to honor them. The client of the month not only gets honored in our newsletter (with the client's permission), but also receives a gift card to the business or restaurant of his or her choice!

The client of the month for April is Mildred Toomey! Mildred has been a client of Nancy Roberson's for over 25 years since Nancy was a solo practitioner in East Dayton. Mildred has always been diligent to update her estate planning documents when appropriate and follow through with providing us necessary information in a timely manner. Most importantly, Mildred is a pleasant person to work with and is always kind and respectful to the office staff. Thank you, Mildred, for being such a lovely person; we are honored that you are our client! 



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Our mission is to  provide excellent, compassionate legal services to help people plan for the unexpected and prepare for the inevitable.
 
May & June Grief Support And Resources

This is a reminder that the Young Widows' Support Group (under age 50) meets on the first Thursday of each month from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., and the Widows' Support Group (over age 50) meets on the first Friday of each month from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.  (Dates may change, however, due to holiday conflicts.)  Both groups meet at Normandy United Methodist Church, located at 450 West Alex-Bell Road, Centerville, Ohio.  Following is the schedule for May and June:

May 5, 6:  The meeting topic is titled "Wellness in Grief - How to Maintain Your Best in the Worst of Circumstances." Stephanie Hittle, a licensed professional clinical counselor in private practice in Centerville, will discuss techniques for self-care during grief and discuss how to overcome barriers that may sabotage your healing.

June 2, 3:  The meeting will consist of a panel discussion that includes former Young Widows' Support Group and Widows Support Group members. 
 
For more information about the Young Widows' Support Group, visit the website, call Pam Walker at 937.672.8810, or email DaytonYWSG@aol.com.
 
For further information about the Widows' Support Group, call Sherry Matsel at 937.878.9707 or email imboo25@yahoo.com.

In This Issue: 
  • Roberson Law Paralegal Wins Award For 2016 Paralegal Of The Year 
  • Will Your Financial Institution Accept Your Legal Documents?
  • The Intestate Prince
  • Elder Law Update: New Medicaid Eligibility Procedure And Seniors Tip Of The Quarter
  • Staff Changes And Additions
  • Does Your Deceased Relative Have Unclaimed Funds Available To You?
  • Practicing Forgiveness
  • Client Of The Month
  • May & June Grief Support And Resources
  • Need A Speaker For Your Next Event?
Will Your Financial Institution Accept Your Legal Documents?               
Banks, brokerage firms, and investment companies are cracking down on the policies pertaining to a person's use of a General Durable Power of Attorney (GDPOA) to conduct account changes or transactions on behalf of the account holder.  

Changing beneficiary designations can be an integral part of estate planning, and the task of doing so is sometimes executed by a person other than the actual account holder.  We realize that the activity of liquidating accounts or changing beneficiary designations by someone other than the account holder can be viewed by financial institutions as a questionable activity.  However, sometimes the account holder is unable to make account changes himself or herself due to an illness or other reason that prohibits him or her from doing so.  The agent listed in the GDPOA needs to be able to conduct the account transactions quickly without getting push back from the financial institution about the agent's authority to do so.  Unfortunately, sometimes the financial institution refuses to cooperate.

Banks are usually more willing to accept a GDPOA, but we know for a fact that at least two well-known investment companies will not accept any powers of attorney other than the internal POA forms that the investment companies have created themselves.  Another investment company will accept a GDPOA other than its own form but requires additional documentation submitted by an attorney that validates the authenticity of the GDPOA before allowing an agent to conduct transactions on an account holder's behalf. 

The moral of the story is that you shouldn't automatically assume that a financial institution will accept your GDPOA.  We suggest that you contact your financial institutions and ask what their requirements are for you to allow another person to conduct business on your behalf.  You should be proactive about this task because you don't want to be in a situation where you are physically or mentally unable to make a needed account transaction but your agent unable to help you because the financial institution will not accept your GDPOA. 

The Intestate Prince
by Kim Estess, Attorney at Law
          
Because the latest news release about Prince dying without a will is the topic of many recent print articles and news stories, we feel it's appropriate to comment about the subject, especially since it is directly related to our practice area of law.

The word intestate is a legal term that is defined as simply meaning that a person died without a will. Due to the news about Prince's estate, the media has been bombarding the public with advice about dying intestate.  The media believe that a simple will downloaded off the Internet is the solution to everyone's estate planning issues, but we strongly disagree. We say, "What about the enormous amount of estate taxes that Prince's estate may have to pay because Prince didn't have an estate plan in place?" or even "Is the business that Prince built over the past 30 years going to be run the way he would have wanted?" As a client recently said to one of our attorneys, "I'll be sure to recommend your services to the Prince survivors!"

Folks, the issue here is not just about Prince not having a will. There are many more steps to take for a person who has a business, a high net worth, or a terminal illness, that involve legal documents that should be prepared in addition to a will. Trying to navigate through the storm of legal issues that can occur after you die is not something your loved ones should do without the assistance of an attorney who is highly experienced in estate and probate law.

The expression "you get what you pay for" holds true in this situation. If you download a simple will off the Internet, the will may be sufficient on a very basic level. But who can predict when or how she or he is going to die or determine whether things are going to be "simple?"  Another question to ask is,"Do your heirs know where to find your will?"  According to a recent article published in the Dayton Daily News about Prince's estate, "The court is not finding that there is no will, but that no will has yet been found." Won't it be a shame if years after Prince's estate is settled, a will is found and the will doesn't reflect how Prince's estate was distributed to his heirs because the court concluded that Prince didn't have a will? (If Prince did have a will, he must not have written his Letter of Instruction and given a copy to his lawyer and executor.)

Furthermore, our office philosophy is that anyone over the age of 18 who is competent to execute documents should have not only a will, but also durable powers of attorney for health care and finances in place. These documents are essential for everyone. Depending on factual circumstances of individual cases, a trained estate planning attorney might recommend additional documents as well, such as a revocable living trust or a limited liability company.

The moral of the story? You don't have to be a superstar like Prince to need an estate plan. Maybe Prince thought he had plenty of time left to get his affairs in order because he was only 57 years old. Because none of us ever knows what the future holds, it's important to be prepared and take care of these important matters thoroughly and as soon as possible.


Staff Changes And Additions

Roberson Law has had a lot of changes lately to keep up with our busy office.  Our secretary for the past year has been our college intern Kayla Helm, who was temporarily filling in for our beloved prior secretary Judy Williams.  Kayla has finally finished her schooling and will graduate on May 6, 2016, with a degree in Paralegal Studies.  Kayla has moved on from the legal secretary position to serve as one of our paralegals, so she will no longer be the friendly face to greet clients at our front desk.  

In March, our legal secretary position was filled by Janna Speck, a graduate of Sinclair College's paralegal program.  Janna has many years of experience working as a secretary.  She brings a wealth of knowledge to her position since she previously worked for a firm that also practices estate planning, trust, and probate law.  Janna lives in Kettering with her husband and four daughters.  We are very fortunate to have Janna join the Roberson Law family, and we welcome her to our team!
 
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Does Your Deceased Relative Have Unclaimed Funds Available To You?

The Ohio Division of Unclaimed Funds (ODUF) operates for the benefit of returning funds that are owed to a person, whether dead or alive. The funds could possibly be from a closed bank account, rent or utility deposit, uncashed check, undelivered stock certificate or uncashed insurance policy.  According to the ODUF, if there is no activity in the account for a period of time, and the company cannot reach the account owner, the funds are reported to the ODUF for safekeeping until the rightful owner claims the money.

Contacting the ODUF is a process that our probate department recommends on behalf of every decedent's case we handle.  We want to ensure that the decedent didn't have any unclaimed funds that should be included in the inventory that is often completed for the estate administration.

If you would like to check to see if you or your deceased loved one has money deposited with the ODUF, go to www.missingmoney.com

For more information, or to view the frequently asked questions pertaining to the ODUF, go to its website.

 
Practicing Forgiveness
Character

Because the legal profession is often criticized for lacking character, the employees at Roberson Law take the issue of character building very seriously. 

For the past ten years, our office has subscribed to a monthly journal from the company Strata Leadership.  The journal focuses on a character quality each month, with the sole purpose of encouraging companies to build character in their organizations.  The character quality that was highlighted last month was forgiveness.

According to Strata Leadership, the action plan for practicing forgiveness is: 
 1) Let go of the offense. 
 2) Focus on the positive. 
 3) Rebuild the relationship.

"Resentment is like drinking poison and hoping it kills the other person. If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner." --Nelson Mandela
Need A Speaker For Your Next Event? Speaking

2016 was off to a busy start for Nancy Roberson as she gave speeches to various churches, civic organizations, and businesses on the importance of planning for death and disability. 

If you would like Nancy to speak at your next event, please call 937.643.2000 or email Amy Cary at acary@dayton-attorney.com to book your event. Nancy has an inspiring story that captivates and motivates audiences to get their personal and legal affairs in order.

As always, we do not charge a fee for our professional speaking services as long as you confirm that at least ten people will attend. If fewer than ten people attend the event, then we just request that a donation be made to the Young Widows or Widows Support Group. You may also go to our speaking engagements page on our website to read some testimonials from past attendees and to obtain more information about speaking topics.


Whatever you are, be a good one.

- Abe Lincoln


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All material in this newsletter is Copyright 2016 by Nancy Roberson. All rights reserved. 937.643.2000.