"It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade." 

- Charles Dickens from Great Expectations

Dear Friends, Family and Colleagues:


At last, it is beginning to feel like winter is left behind, and we have warm days ahead.  

Spring is officially here, and with it, we think of finishing up our taxes, and preparing to plant our gardens.  At Severns Associates, we turn our thoughts towards making new plans, and updating the plans already in place, so we offer articles to inform you about some commonly misunderstood items.  


First, attorney Scott Severns educates us in a type of trust designed to maximize the tax savings benefits of an IRA for future generations.  Next, have you ever wondered what is the difference between dementia and Alzheimer's Disease or are they one and the same? The second article will help you to understand the distinction.  Next, despite good intentions, mistakes are often made when planning one's estate.  The third article highlights six of the most common errors which can lead to costly problems in the future. One of our most important estate planning tools, Durable Power of Attorney, is a document everyone should have.  But, what is it and how is it used?  Our fourth article will offer some clarification.  And last, but not least, as has become standard in our newsletter since the road construction outside our windows began, an update on the progress of US-31 and what you can expect when trying to get to our office. Please be aware that the bulk of the project has shifted south, so expect higher traffic in the area between 126th street and 96th street, and be sure to allow extra time for unexpected delays.


We welcome the opportunity to serve the people you care about.  Click on the "Forward to a Friend" button at the top of the page to send this newsletter to someone who will benefit from our insights. If you are a facebook user, please like us on our facebook page.  
If you are part of an organization that is looking for a speaker, our attorneys are happy to share their knowledge with the community.  Contact Amy Cuomo at our office for more information.


Severns Associates, P.C.


Elder Law News from Severns Associates, PC 
March 2015  



Should You Have an "IRA-Stretch Trust?"


By Scott R. Severns


When planning your estate, retirement accounts deserve special attention.  Many of our clients have more assets in tax-deferred accounts than they have in regular savings and investments.  These accounts grow tax-free, so the growth accumulates more quickly.  Over the long term, these savings can really mount up.  These accounts can grow tax-free for your heirs, as well, if you plan carefully and follow IRS requirements strictly.  An IRA-stretch trust may help.  




What is the Difference Between Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease?


Understanding the differences between Alzheimer's and dementia can be confusing. The terms and definitions of these conditions are frequently thought to be interchangeable as patients, families and caregivers come to believe that one simply means the other. Doctors and other healthcare professionals have even been known to contribute to this confusion as they tend to prefer using the word "dementia" when "Alzheimer's Disease" (AD) is the appropriate diagnosis. "Dementia" simply sounds less frightening.


According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), "Dementia is a brain disorder that affects communication and performance of daily activities and Alzheimer's disease is a form of dementia that specifically affects parts of the brain that control thought, memory and language.

In other words, Alzheimer's is a specific brain disease.  It progressively destroys brain cells causing serious issues with memory, thinking and behavior. Alzheimer's disease is particularly common in aging people and is the most common cause of dementia.


On the other hand, when an individual has dementia they are dealing with a set of unhealthy symptoms that affect the brain. It is often difficult to pinpoint exactly what is causing dementia beyond old age and frailty. This is similar to a headache. There is an obvious "ache" yet it is not instantly understood what is causing it.

Examining dementia and Alzheimer's disease separately can help break down the differences.



The 6 Biggest Estate Planning Mistakes


If you're like most people, you have the best of intentions with regard to how you want your estate distributed when you die or your affairs handled should you become incapacitated. Unfortunately, without proper planning, your best intentions may not be enough. Here are six of the most common estate planning mistakes people make: 


  Read more 


Durable Power of Attorney


One of the primary tools used in estate planning, a Durable Power of Attorney is a document by which you give one or more people the authority to handle financial transactions on your behalf, even if you later become incompetent. This important document for financial issues, along with a Health Care Power of Attorney for medical issues, is one that all adults should have in place. Spouses, adult children, siblings and professionals, such as a personal attorney or accountant, are the most frequent choices as agents of a Durable Power of Attorney. 


There are several variations on this document.  The Durable Power of Attorney can be very broad or very limited in its scope. It can contain special gift giving and estate planning authority which can be used in extraordinary circumstances. It can be written to take effect immediately, or to take effect only if you become incapacitated. It can also be placed in safekeeping, such as in your lawyer's file -- called "escrow" -- to be delivered only when there is a need for the appointed person to make business transactions on your behalf.


In most states, any person who is over 18 and is competent can give this power to another to act on their behalf. You should note that it is not possible to be given power of attorney over someone who has become incapacitated. Once a person has become mentally incapacitated, if no Durable Power of Attorney exists, the agent will need to petition the court to be appointed Guardian to take care of that person's financial affairs.


US-31 Traffic Update



Right outside our front door, US-31/Meridian Street in Hamilton County is undergoing a transformation to a freeway.  Plan for delays, as the area from 96th Street past 126th Street will be under construction this year. Later this Summer, 103rd street, where our office is located, will no longer intersect with US-31/Meridian Street and our location will be accessed via Pennsylvania Street. The project is projected to be completed by the end of 2015.


We will keep you updated with more changes as they occur, but in the meantime, you can continue to access our office from any direction. For more information about this project, visit Hamilton County's New US-31 website.





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In This Issue
Article Headline
What is the Difference Between Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease?
The 6 Biggest Estate Planning Mistakes
Durable Power of Attorney
US-31 Traffic Update



Quick Links


Firm Spotlight

Alesha Dugger

We welcome Alesha Dugger to the firm as our new Paralegal Case Manager. Alesha is responsible for much of the behind-the-scenes client work in our office, as well as providing on-going client contact and assistance during meetings. 

Alesha holds a Bachelor of Science degree in English Literature, with history and dance minors from Indiana State University. She has worked in the legal field for over 10 years as a legal assistant and paralegal, primarily in the areas of elder law, estate planning, and estate administration.  

Alesha and her husband Jerrad currently reside on the southeast side of Indianapolis, where they enjoy reading, cooking, and entertaining friends. In her free time, Alesha also enjoys teaching dance to high school students and judging dance team competitions around the State of Indiana. 
Meet Me at IMA

The Alzheimer's Association Greater Indiana Chapter has partnered with the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA)  for programs designed for early-stage Alzheimer's individuals, providing an opportunity for them to participate in a facilitated conversation of artworks in the IMA collection with their care partner, family, or friends. The art conversation is facilitated by trained IMA docents.

The program meets every fourth Tuesday from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, 4000 N Michigan Road, Indianapolis, IN 46208. A limited number of spots are available, and registration is required. To register, call 800.272.3900. Please prepare to check in 15 minutes early.


Upcoming Dates:

Apr. 28, 2 to 4 p.m. 
May 26, 2 to 4 p.m. 
Jun. 23, 2 to 4 p.m.


 Make Me at IMA

Persons with dementia will have the opportunity to create works of art and express their creativity. The instructor will guide individuals through each project, encouraging those to express themselves. Classes will be two hours and limited to 15 people. Care partners may choose to remain with their loved one or enjoy the museum and café at their leisure.

 Upcoming Dates:

Jun. 2, 10 am-12 pm


Musical Moments

The Alzheimer's Association Greater Indiana Chapter has partnered with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra to offer participants the opportunity to engage through music. Every show begins at 11 a.m. (except for those marked), but participants and their care partners are encouraged to come and enjoy coffee and pastries prior to the start of the show at 10 a.m. Tickets are limited, and advance registration for each performance is required.    


Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, 

45 Monument Cir., Indianapolis, IN 46204


Upcoming Dates:

Apr. 19: Carnival of Animals (3 p.m.)
May 29: The Cocktail Hour: Music of the Mad Men Era


Parkinson's Educational Series 2015

Co-sponsored by Parkinson's Awareness Association of Central Indiana (PAACI) and Rock Steady Boxing (RSB)


Last Sunday of Each Month

2:00pm - 3:30 pm

Rock Steady Boxing Corner Man Lounge, 6847 Hillsdale Court
Indianapolis, IN 46250

 RSVPs are not required.


Open to the Public!

Best Law Firm 2013 
Lawyer of the Year detail
If you answer yes to any of these questions, Severns Associates can help.

-Has a family member been diagnosed with a mentally or physically debilitating disorder such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, ALS, stroke or a decline in functional capacity?


-Is a family member isolated due to the recent death of a spouse, or have family that either lives too far away or is too busy to provide adequate care?

-Is a family member soon to be discharged into a care facility or currently receiving in-home care?

-Does a family member have a variety of healthcare providers and need coordination and advocacy for quality care?

-Does a family member seem unusually concerned about costs of medication and services, indicating he or she may be having financial troubles?

-Does a family member have assets that fall between $50,000 and $400,000 - enough to finance a short stay in a care facility but not enough for an extended stay?

-Does a family member have a spouse whose financial needs must be considered in light of a family member's medical condition? 


About Our Law Firm
Severns Associates, P.C. is an elder law firm that has been practicing for over 30 years, and is regarded as one of the most experienced elder law firms in the Indianapolis region.  We focus on helping families work together without conflict to plan for both immediate and future needs. 
Our services include:
2013 Firm Photo  
Severns Associates, PC
10293 N. Meridian Street Suite 150
Indianapolis, Indiana 46290