Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Importance of Estate Planning: An Interview with Elder Care Attorney Joseph Motta

All too many people believe that estate planning requires nothing more than a last will and testament. This couldn’t be further from the truth, especially if you want to protect your financial assets and your family. We sat down with attorney Joseph Motta of The O’Brien Law Firm to better understand exactly how estate planning works, why its so important, and what some of the pitfalls are if you haven’t created a plan for what happens after your death.

“I help people protect their families because none of us can predict what’s going to happen in life,” Motta shared. “People die unexpectedly all the time. Someone can be involved in a major automobile accident, become incapacitated, have a stroke—all sorts of things can happen in life and, unfortunately, most people aren’t prepared to deal with those kinds of events. What I do is help people put a plan in place to prepare for events like that so that their family would be protected.”

Estate Planning 101

Most people don’t know what options are available to them, Motta asserted: “People are not aware of the options out there to protect their funds and protect their family. Most people know that they need a will and think that’s it… but actually estate planning is much more than that. It’s really about using
the law to your advantage, taking advantage of the provisions in the law that allow you to protect your assets for your beneficiaries so that they can enjoy that money for the long term. You earned it; you built up this sum of cash because you want to provide for your family; now, let’s make sure that the family does the right thing and we can make that money last as long as possible.”

Here are the main estate-planning tools used to your benefit:

  • Wills and Trusts: “Through the use of wills and trusts,” said Motta, “we help people plan for their death to make sure their family is financially protected, that their assets are not squandered, and that if they have minor children, those children have someone appointed as guardian.”
  • Living Trusts: “We also help people plan for incapacity through the use of a living trust and power of attorney,” Motta shared. “So, in the case of a stroke or a major automobile accident or something that basically prohibits them from managing their own financial affairs, they have someone they trust who can step in and manage their affairs for them while they’re incapacitated.”
  • Long-Term Care Benefits: “The population is getting older,” said Motta. “The Baby Boomers are approaching retirement age. We’re seeing more and more of a need for long-term care, and it’s very expensive. In-home care is anywhere from 16 – 24 dollars an hour, and nursing home care is about 8,000 – 9,000 dollars a month. Most people can’t afford to pay that kind of money on an ongoing basis. We help them to structure their assets in such a way that they may be able to qualify for some government benefits and still be able to protect some money to provide for their heirs.”

The Pitfalls of Not Having a Plan

We’ve all seen movies where someone pens a handwritten will and hopes for the best. Sadly, that is not something that will hold up legally upon your death, so consulting an attorney is really a must. Here are some of the pitfalls of not having a proper estate plan in place:

1. Legality: “There are formal legal requirements for a will to be effective,” Motta said. “You have to follow the statutory guidelines, you have to have two witnesses—you can’t just sit down at your desk and write out your last will and testament. This is something people should see a lawyer about.”

2. DIY Wills Don’t Cut It: “Unfortunately,” Motta said, “we live in a day and age where people think they can get all the information they need on the Internet. You can go and create a will online that will be legally effective, but it’s not going to be the most advantageous way of providing for your heirs.”

3. Losing Control: “In the case of people who die without a will,” Motta warned, “without an estate plan, the state of Ohio provides one for you and determines where your money will go. In that case, you have no control.”


Here at HandyPro, we make your well-being our priority. Our interview series goes hand-in-hand with that effort, and we hope you find it helpful! For more information on how we can help you make your home a home for life, visit us at www.StayAtHomeModificationsInc.com or call me (Brian Pritchard) at 216-212-7531!

If you would like to schedule a free initial consultation with Joseph Motta or attend one of his live information seminar events, call The O’Brien Law Firm at 216-472-1500, visit www.josephlmotta.com, or email Joseph directly at joseph.motta@obrienlaw.net.

NOTE: This interview and article do not constitute legal advice. Please speak with a lawyer directly about your particular situation.

To Listen to the full audio interview, please click the player below...

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Truth Behind Life-Settlement Options

The Truth Behind Life-Settlement Options:
Long-Term Care Made Possible

Picture this: You’ve saved your whole life for retirement, including investing in life insurance. As you advance into the decade or two past retirement age, you realize that your income stream from your retirement savings and social security isn’t enough to cover your needs. In fact, you can’t even afford to continue paying your life insurance each month. What do you do? Should you A) just let your policy lapse and throw away those years of investment, or B) surrender the policy to the insurance company and take what they give you?

Enter choice C: the life-settlement option. I had the chance to sit down with Michael Neider of Med Guardians (a member of the International Life and Structured Settlement Exchange) to find out exactly what life settlement means and how it works. “What most people don’t know is that life settlements have been around for more than 20 years,” Michael shared. “They’re not for every situation and every life insurance policy, but there are certain situations where the sale of a policy is a really good financial decision. Life settlement simply allows a senior to sell their life insurance policy on a secondary market for significantly more than the surrender value from the insurance company. Most people also don’t know what the ‘surrender value’ is, and that’s just the amount refunded from the insurance company; it’s the premiums you’ve paid into the policy, and it could be less fees or with interest taken out. Typically, the seller in a life settlement receives a payment that’s less than the death benefit, or face amount, but much higher than the surrender value. And of course, the insured is then no longer required to make premium payments on the policy.”

Quite simply, this can be a life-saving option for many seniors. Several states have passed laws requiring insurance companies to disclose this option to seniors when they are considering surrendering their policy, but unfortunately, Ohio is not yet one of them. That’s why it’s so important to get this information out there to the public, as the insurance companies in our state are not required to let anyone know they have a choice.
So, why might someone need or want to trade their life insurance in for a life settlement? “It’s about life changes,” Neider said. “They’ve been working all these years and now they’re living on a fixed income, a retirement income, and maybe they can no longer afford their life insurance premium. Maybe they bought a policy 20 years ago that was based upon some projections in interest rates, but with current interest rates the policy just isn’t paying for itself. Maybe they’re going through a divorce or bankruptcy. Maybe they’re a high-net-worth person and they bought the policy for estate tax planning purposes but recent changes in the tax laws have negated the reason for having life insurance for estate planning in the first place. There’s a whole host of reasons why someone might sell their policy, but typically what they’re trying to do is to create funds so they can use those funds elsewhere. In our business, in the market that we serve, it’s for paying for their long-term care health services, the ones they never anticipated such as private pay for assisted living or memory care. People typically just haven’t planned for those needs to arise.”

We here at HandyPro make it our business to help seniors, including supporting you in protecting your interests, investments, and quality of life. Please share this article with your friends and loved ones to let them know that they have more choices than they may know of when it comes to accessing finances for long-term healthcare. 

For more information on how HandyPro can help you make your home (or business) a safe, accessible environment, for life, or to better understand how we partner with companies like MedGuardians, to help connect you with a full slate of Aging In Place services, please contact me (Brian Pritchard) at 216-212-7531 or visit us at www.StayAtHomeModificationsInc.com today!

If you live in northeast Ohio and would like more information about life settlements, visit Med Guardians at www.medguardians.com or call 800-229-7149.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Organize Your World: 5 Tips for Going from Clutter to Clarity

At HandyPro, we make it our business to help you make home the best place for you to be. With that it mind, we sat down with home organization experts Muffy Kaesberg and JoEllen Salkin of Organizing 4 U to learn more about how they support people in eliminating clutter and establishing healthy patterns of organized living. Here are some of their top tips for organizing your world.

1. Start Small: “Starting small really works,” Muffy said. “A simple desk drawer, for example, is something you can do in a very short period of time. Making time for that comes back to being able to manage your time—a problem that is universal in our society today.” To overcome the timing challenge, the team suggests blocking off time in your calendar to dedicate to a small, easily accomplished task.

2. A Home for Everything: “The key to being organized is being able to find something when you need it,” said Muffy. “If you don’t have proper, defined homes for things… you’re not going to be well-organized.” Once you establish where you want your things to “live,” the Organizing 4 U team will teach you how to maintain that system. “This process is very personal,” Muffy went on. “You get to choose what makes the most sense for you.”

3. Get a Handle on Paper: JoEllen and Muffy often encounter people who are overwhelmed with the volume of paper in their lives. “It’s not paperless out there,” JoEllen observed. “People are curious about how much they need to keep, and they’re looking for processes on how to get rid of paper quicker. We also help them create a customized system for keeping what they do need to keep.”

4. Establish New Habits: This is a big one, and it can seem daunting as a blanket statement, but Muffy and JoEllen are practiced in the art of helping people to find what works for them. “Some habits certainly are difficult to break,” JoEllen said. “We ask a lot of questions [to help people find a feasible solution], such as, ‘What has worked for you in the past, and what hasn’t worked for you?’” From there, the organizational duo helps the client to focus on the successful habits, including suggesting new habits that may best support their organizational efforts.

5. Know When to Ask for Help: From cramped closets to messy desk drawers, most of us could use some extra organization in our lives, but it’s often situational circumstances—such as a death in the family and accompanying “stuff” inheritance, a new baby, or a move—that take us from a small mess to an overwhelming one. “100% of our clients are overwhelmed,” said Muffy. That’s where the Organizing 4 U team—both members of the National Association of Professional Organizers—can step in to offer guidance, education, support, and solutions. 

For more information on how HandyPro partners with companies like Organizing 4 U, to help connect you with a full slate of Aging In Place services, please contact me (Brian Pritchard) at 216-212-7531 or visit us at www.StayAtHomeModificationsInc.com today!

To reach Muffy and JoEllen directly, for help with your organization needs, you can check out their website (www.organizing4u.com) or call 216-321-6126. 

Feel free to enjoy the full audio of our conversation below...

Friday, January 2, 2015

Mission Statement

We have a website, we are out in the community, so why start a blog site?

Well, the answer is simple, we wish to go beyond the scope of our products and services and act as a resource, a bridge if you will, between the people we serve, and the resources they need as they strive to Age In Place.

We work closely with trusted partners in a variety of industries and want to give them an opportunity to share their specialized knowledge with you.

So, the benefit for anyone who subscribes to this blog will be an ongoing connection to what topics, services, techniques and resources are available for people with and without special needs, for seniors and those who plan on becoming seniors one day (which hopefully is everyone)!

Stay tuned...


Brian Pritchard - Aging In Place & Universal Design Specialist
HandyPro Cleveland