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The Attorneys at Dutton & Casey

Helen Mesoloras, Janna Dutton,

Kathryn Casey, Hanny Pei-Rodriguez


Appointments Are Available In:

Arlington Heights, Chicago, Skokie, and Westchester



Grandparents often are  generous to their adult children or grandchildren.  Helping out family members can be a good thing to do, but can raise a number of legal issues involving taxes and eligibility for public benefits, as well as questions of fairness among family members.
Here are a few issues to think about before making gifts to family members:

!. Is it really a gift? Does the grandparent expect anything in return? If "yes," this should be made clear, preferably in writing, whether in a letter that goes with the check or, in the case of a loan, a formal promissory note.

2. Is everyone being treated equally?  While it's the grandparent's money and they can do what they want with it, if not treating everyone equally, one might want to consider whether unequal generosity will create resentment within the family. 
3. Beware of taxable gifts. Any gift in access of $14,000 per year must be reported on a gift tax return. Two grandparents together can give up to $28,000 per recipient per year with no reporting requirement. And there's no limit or reporting requirement for payments made directly to medical and educational institutions for health care expenses and tuition for others.
4 529 plans. Some grandparents want to help pay tuition for grandchildren. There are special accounts that grow tax deferred, the income and growth never taxed as long as the funds are used for higher education expenses. 

5. Don't be too generous. Make sure that they keep enough money to pay for their own needs, including the possibility of needing care, whether at home, in assisted living or in a nursing home. In addition, those who can't afford to pay for such care from their own funds need to be aware that gifts can make them ineligible for Medicaid benefits for years.  

6. In some situations, family members shouldn't receive gifts right away. One option is to create an "incentive" trust, which provides that the funds will be distributed when people reach certain milestones.  

The firm of Dutton & Casey helps families plan for their long-term care needs... including probate.


medicare card
Medicare has increased the amount of mental health  coverage beneficiaries are entitled to. After years of unequal treatment, Medicare now covers mental health care the same way it covers physical illnesses.
Previously, Medicare covered only 50 percent of the cost of mental health treatment. In 2008, Congress passed a law that required Medicare to gradually begin covering a greater portion of the cost until it was equal to the amount Medicare pays for outpatient medical care. In 2014, Medicare began covering 80 percent of the approved amount for outpatient care, including visits to psychiatrists and licensed drug and alcohol counselors. Beneficiaries will still have to pay any applicable deductibles and coinsurance amounts. These new coverage rules apply to Original Medicare only. Individuals covered by a Medicare Advantage plan may have different costs and rules.
Medicare still puts a cap on inpatient mental health coverage, paying for no more than 190 days of inpatient psychiatric hospital services during a beneficiary's lifetime
For more information on Medicare's coverage of mental health, click here.  



Emergency preparedness is not only for "other people". Knowing what to do before, during and after an emergency is a critical part of being prepared and may make all the difference when seconds count. Use this site to learn about potential emergencies that can happen and how to prepare for and respond to them.


read more from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. 



Not only is it important to prepare your physicial environment, it is important to LEGALLY PREPARE for the future.


Read an article regarding Planning Decisions and contact the attorneys at Dutton & Casey. We concentrate in helping you, and those you love, plan for today...and tomorrow.


There can be confusion between POLST and Living Wills. 


A Living Will is part of the Power of Attorney for Healthcare and can provide guidance to your agent and medical providers by letting them know what you would like to have in terms of end of life care.


A POLST form is intended for a person who is seriously ill or with a life-limiting illness. It is a signed medical order reflecting a person's wishes that goes with the person across settings of care that must be honored by all healthcare providers.  


learn more


 godly-enter-key.jpgIn our ongoing efforts to be accessabile to our clients, we have a new, easier to navigate website.  


check it out




Each year from October 15 to December 7, Medicare offers its beneficiaries the opportunity to make changes to their coverage.


This is called Medicare's Open Enrollment Period. During the Open Enrollment Period, Medicare beneficiaries have a lot of choices. If you have a Part D prescription drug plan or a Medicare Advantage plan, you can choose to keep it or choose to change it.


Part D and Medicare Advantage plans are provided by private insurance companies who pay insurance agents to sell the plans. While most agents are honest, some agents try to persuade people to buy their plans regardless of whether or not the plan is the right fit for that particular person. This is marketing fraud, and the intent of these agents is to limit your choices, rather than help you make good ones.


In response to the behaviors of these "bad apple" agents, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have put in place strict rules on how insurance companies can appropriately market their plans. As part of these rules, agents are not allowed to enroll you in a plan without your permission or lie to you to get you to enroll in a plan. For instance, an agent cannot tell you that a plan is completely "free" because all plans will have some costs, such as co-pays. It is up to you to ask what those costs will be. If you meet with an agent, be sure that you fully understand the plan you are signing up for.


Learn More:


Ask the Right Questions tip sheetmedicare fraud patrol


Insurance Marketing Fraud tip sheet


Longer Article on this Important Topic 


For more information about the Illinois SMP at AgeOptions, visit www.illinoissmp.org or call (800)699-9043.


authorJason B. Echols, Health Care Consumer Protection Coordinator at AgeOptions, 1048 Lake Street, Suite 300, Oak Park, IL 60301.




Resources on Medicare


Offical U.S. Goverment Website for Medicare


Illinois Department on Aging Senior Health Insuance Program health insurance counseling service for Medicare beneficiaries and their caregivers


For both community members, and professionals, we have MANY programs currently scheduled and are scheduling more all the time.


learn more    


Consumers Urged to Set Up an Online Account with Social Security.


Illinois Department of Transportation Yellow Dot Program


Illinois Secretary of State's Emergency Contact Database 


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Serving Cook, DuPage, and Lake Counties in Illinois.
Office Hours in Arlington Heights, Chicago,
Skokie, and Westchester, Illinois.