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Three Surprising Things I’ve Learned Working for an Elder Law Attorney (You Might Be Surprised Too)

I’m not an Elder Law attorney – and I don’t play one on TV. That being said, I’ve had the pleasure of working at the Family & Aging Law Center since December of 2015. What I’ve learned has been eye-opening – even shocking. As a well-educated person, I always thought I knew just enough about estate planning and elder law. I was wrong.

~Julie Taylor

First, I’m going to tell you a little bit about what I’ve learned about long term care in Michigan – which is, for most, also surprising. Generally speaking, the cost of skilled long term care can range anywhere from $8,000 - $14,000 a month (or more!). Shocking, isn’t it? I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t have that kind of money! If my husband or I were ever faced with one (or both) of us needing care, I wouldn’t want to see everything we’ve worked for disappear. Even worse, what happens after our life savings goes to the cost of care?...

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The Seven Dumbest Things People Are Told About Estate Planning - Part One

Part One

In our family estate planning & elder law office, we often find that people have misconceptions about estate planning that they get though the internet, their friends, and even other professionals.  There are various problems with the Part 1 topics below, but the most fundamental one is that believing any one of them may lead to bad decision-making

1. Estate planning is about planning for your death.

Most people think that estate planning is all about “what happens if I die” (you will!). That being said, when done properly, estate planning is about much more than simple death planning. It is also about ensuring that any shift in control, whether due to disability during life or death, is done in the simplest and easiest way possible; about providing loved ones with peace of mind and relieving them from burdensome decisions that you should make on your own; and, in the best case scenario, about ensuring that assets don’t get depleted by...

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The Biggest Threat to Your Estate Plan:  It’s What You DON'T Know

Let’s Face It: You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know


When it comes to estate planning, the real problem is simple:  you think you know.  The internet, friends, neighbors – even the government shapes what we think we know when it comes to estate planning and asset protection. 


The reality is, though, that what I’m about to tell you is something that most attorneys don’t know – not even traditional estate planning attorneys.  Yes, it’s true. 


Long-Term Care is One of the Biggest Unresolved Issues in Estate Planning -That being said, long term care planning isn’t just about long term care insurance!

The need for long-term care is also one of the biggest threats to your lifetime financial security.  The statistics show us that a full one –third of all persons over 65 will have a need for long-term care, and a full one in ten will need long-term care for five or more...

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Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE)

With PACE, teams of health care professionals focus on the unique needs and circumstances of participants, and their families, to make sure participants receive the coordinated care they need.


The Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) is a program that helps seniors meet their health care needs at home & in their community as an alternative to a nursing home or other care facility.


With PACE, an individualized plan of care is developed and maintained by a team of health care and service professionals to meet specific needs. These services include all Medicare and Medicaid-covered services and may include, but are not limited to:

  • Primary and Specialist Care (including Women's Health)
  • Medications
  • Medical Transportation
  • Therapy (Occupational, Physical, Speech)
  • Recreational Day Center Activities
  • Home Care
  • Hospital & Emergency Services
  • Dental
  • Vision
  • Hearing
  • Foot Care
  • Nursing Home
  • End of Life Supportive Care

In Michigan, the areas serviced by PACE...

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Medicaid Home Care Rules

Individuals seeking to obtain Long-Term Care services outside of a nursing home must navigate a different set of Medicaid eligibility rules, depending on the type of services required.

One of the primary goals expressed by our clients is to remain in their own homes or at least in the most independent setting possible.




Navigating the maze of community care requires an in-depth knowledge of the services available in the home, and in adult homes and assisted living facilities, and an ability to manage income and resources to maximize their value, while utilizing Medicaid services wherever available to supplement the care provided by the individual and their family. Learn more about elderly care here.

Community-based Medicaid services are available through the MI Choice Waiver. Generally, however, Medicaid does not pay for adult home or assisted living care, which under existing rules must be paid for privately.

In order to access community-based...

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Irrevocable Pure Grantor Trusts (Part 2)

Irrevocable Pure Grantor Trusts With David Zumpano (Part 2)

Irrevocable trusts, traditionally, are estate tax planning devices. Very few Americans need estate tax planning, however – less than 2%. Why, then, would you want an irrevocable trust?

This two part series, including part one, focuses on a new type of irrevocable trust known as the irrevocable pure grantor trust.

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Irrevocable pure grantor trusts are mainly used to protect assets from creditors and predators, and can be an excellent pre-planning tool for elder law attorneys and their clients.  Understanding what they are, and how they differ, from traditional irrevocable trusts is essential.

In this episode, David Zumpano, a nationally recognized expert on asset protection and elder law planning (also a CPA & attorney) discusses this irrevocable trust, who it is for, and why you may want one.

Learn how this type of trust is one of the best ways to truly keep your money “safe.”


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Can We Avoid A Nursing Home Spend Down? - Ask The Attorney

elder law estate planning Jan 31, 2017

This article about nursing home spend downs by Michigan estate planning and elder law attorney Nicole Wipp and the Family and Aging Law Center is not legal advice. It is for informational purposes only. For legal advice on your situation, consult with a qualified elder law attorney.


How Do We Avoid A Total Nursing Home Spend Down?

Family & Aging Law Center paralegal Sharon Kwolek and attorney Nicole Wipp show a nursing home medicaid application - 272 pages long - saving the client $250,000.00 ++.  This could not have been accomplished by the clients themselves - they needed a qualified elder law attorney!


Q: I’ve been told that if either of my parents needs nursing home care, we have to spend all of their money.  Is this true?  Can we legally protect some of my parent’s money?

A: The answer is, without a proper, legal plan, you do have to engage in what is called a “Spend Down.”  How much your parents are allowed to keep...

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What Are the Rules for Medicaid Qualification (Part 7)? - Spousal Protections

For the final topic in our series on Medicaid qualification rules, we'll be looking at important information in regard to spousal protections. As with part six of our series, your Medicaid planning advisor can best help you determine how the rules apply to your specific circumstances in your specific locality. Before you get into the specifics, however, it’s always a good idea to familiarize yourself with the general federal guidelines for Medicaid qualification that apply everywhere. To start at the beginning of our series, click here

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Spousal Protections

The spouses of nursing home residents are provided certain protections under Medicaid law. Here is a brief overview:

  • Snapshot of Couple’s Assets – With married applicants, Medicaid takes a “snapshot” of the couple’s assets when the ill spouse enters a hospital or long term care facility for at least a 30-day stay.
  • Community Spouse Resource...
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Irrevocable Pure Grantor Trusts

Irrevocable Pure Grantor Trusts With David Zumpano (Part 1)

What is an irrevocable pure grantor trust, and why would someone want one? In this episode, David Zumpano, a nationally recognized expert on asset protection, estate planning & elder law, discusses with our attorney Nicole Wipp, this little known (although widely used) trust – what it is, why we use it, and who it is for.

In Part One You Will Learn:

  • about the goal of helping a loved one to protect their autonomy
  • why people end up in nursing homes (how failing to plan makes this more likely)
  • why retirement isn’t necessarily what you think it is
  • why we want to engage in an asset protection strategy for financial security in our later years
  • what is an irrevocable pure grantor trust, and how it differs from tax trusts and revocable living trusts
  • the history of trusts and what they were traditionally used for (tax trusts – the “traditional” irrevocable trust – no access, no control, no...
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What Are the Rules for Medicaid Qualification (Part 6)? - Options

What Are the Rules for Medicaid Qualification (Part 6)? - Some Simple Planning Options

Below are possible options to keep in mind when considering Medicaid planning. As in part five of our series, your Medicaid planning advisor can best help you determine how the rules apply to your specific circumstances in your specific locality. Before you get into the specifics, however, it’s always a good idea to familiarize yourself with the general federal guidelines for Medicaid qualification that apply everywhere.


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  • If you are married, your home is exempt and cannot be taken if one spouse applies for Medicaid. If you are single or widowed, up to $636,000 of equity in your home is exempt (many states have raised the limit even higher). Some states permit a “Homestead Exemption” which protects a married or single applicant’s home regardless of value. Transferring your home to your children will result in immediate ineligibility for...
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