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THE STINSON LAW DIFFERENCE

Superior legal services are just the start. With an empathy that comes only from personal experience, Stinson Law Firm goes above and beyond to deliver services with care and compassion.

Our team cherishes the personal relationships we establish with each and every client.

It is our mission at Stinson Law Firm to create solutions that give you or your loved one the quality care and peace of mind you deserve… without sacrificing all you have worked a lifetime to obtain.

We work diligently in the hopes that every client leaves our office not only with peace of mind, but also in the best position to protect their or their loved one’s assets from the costs of long-term care and other necessities.

Whether you have an immediate need for legal assistance because of a crisis or you are planning for your future needs, Stinson Law Firm stands ready to help.

SERVICES & PRACTICE AREAS

To learn more about a service area, hover over the corresponding tab.

Medicaid Planning Applications and Appeals

 It is never too late to protect your assets. 

Medicaid is a joint program involving both the federal government and state governments that can assist with the costs of nursing home care and, increasingly, alternatives to nursing home care such as home care, assisted living, and adult day care.

While it is true that you must meet financial requirements to qualify, it is not true (in most cases) that you must spend down your belongings before you can apply.  Stinson Law Firm can help preserve your assets while still accessing valuable Medicaid benefits (as well as VA Pension and other benefits).

We will analyze your situation and walk you through the legal process of structuring your assets or transferring them to protect as much of your assets as possible.  We can show you how to maximize your benefits without giving away all the things you’ve worked a lifetime to achieve.

Whether you are concerned about the impact of future care needs on your estate plan, have an impending need for care, or have been in a nursing home for a number of years, we can help.

Medicaid Applications

A mistimed application for benefits can be disastrous.  Events, such as gifts prior to the application, can significantly impact eligibility for benefits.  Knowing what transactions may be a barrier to Medicaid eligibility (and dealing with them effectively) is key. You should also know what transactions do not affect your eligibility. Finally, applicants may be unaware of errors that can occur during the application processing.

Accounting for all of these factors is crucial to ensure that your application is processed by the State Medicaid Agency correctly.

We can help you with applications for Medicaid to ensure you receive a timely, correct result.

Medicaid Appeals

You have the right to appeal any adverse action by the State Medicaid Agency.  You are entitled to representation with any appeal and we can represent you in a fair hearing.  Often, adverse actions are made because there was an error in the processing of an application or subsequent transaction report. By allowing us to handle your Medicaid application process, we’ll be sure to help you eliminate any errors that could lead to adverse actions.

We can begin your Medicaid plan today. Start by scheduling an appointment for an initial consultation.  We will outline your options and assist you in making an informed, well-reasoned decision on what approach is best for you.

Veterans Affairs Pension Benefits Planning

Many veterans and their families are surprised to hear that there are sometimes generous benefits available to them for their present and long-term care

Furthermore, the spouse of a deceased veteran may also qualify for benefits.  It’s something the United States offers as appreciation for those who served our country during times of war.

Stinson Law Firm can help you review your eligibility for these benefits.  In particular, Stinson Law Firm can review your eligibility for a little known cash benefit available to veterans and surviving spouses.

Known as “pension” and more often referred to as “aid and attendance,” this benefit is generally not related to a service-connected disability.

The pension benefit is income tax free and can help pay for long-term care, especially alternatives to nursing home care like assisted living and home care.

How to Qualify

In order to qualify, the applicant must be a veteran that meets certain service requirements (the surviving spouse must be widowed from such a veteran), must be disabled, and must meet strict income and asset limitations.

Financial barriers to eligibility can be overcome with a comprehensive legal plan.  We can outline your options and assist you in making an informed, well-reasoned decision on what approach is best for you.

Asset Protection Planning

You never know when life may change.  It could happen suddenly, when you least expect it.

Many people assume that estate planning is only for the wealthy.  Others assume that a Last Will and Testament is a sufficient “plan.”  However, it is critical that you create and complete a comprehensive estate plan to protect you and your family no matter what your financial status. This is one of the most important things that anyone can do to safeguard life now and later on for you and/or your loved ones

An estate plan is necessary to ensure that your financial and personal needs are taken care of by the persons of your choosing and that your affairs are settled in an orderly fashion after your death. For those who want to leave a family legacy (especially small businesses and farms), we can secure these assets for the future generations with the least amount of interference in your current use of the asset.

Additionally, the cost of long-term care may jeopardize an individual’s accumulated wealth, surpassing death taxes and administration costs.  We often work with individuals facing an immediate need for long-term care and successfully assist them in protecting assets.  However, the best time to protect assets from the costs of long-term care is well before it’s needed.

The further in advance you plan, the more flexible and successful your asset protection plan will be.

A well-crafted estate plan should address a broad range of issues and provide appropriate persons with the authority and instructions they need. This includes answers to questions like:

  • Who would take care of you and your affairs if you were incapacitated?
  • Who would handle your finances?
  • Who would make health care decisions?
  • How would these individuals care for you and your affairs?
  • How can you protect your assets should you require long-term care?
  • How can you ensure that your spouse is protected if you need long-term care?
  • Are other family members reliant on your care, and would this process require protecting assets for them in the event of your long-term care need?
  • What happens to your assets after you die?
  • How will assets be allocated among beneficiaries?
  • How do you avoid the cost of probate?
  • Do you need to place restrictions or protections over the inheritance for a loved one due to disability, poor money management, substance addiction, or unstable marriage?
  • Who would provide care for your minor child(ren) or child(ren) with a disability if you become incapacitated or when you die?
  • How would you like your child(ren) to be taken care of upon your passing?
  • If death taxes are an issue for you, how might you reduce your estate tax exposure?
  • How do you ensure your spouse is adequately provided for, while ensuring inheritance for your child(ren)?

Without an effective plan, persons not of your choosing may be placed in charge of your affairs.  In addition, a guardianship may be needed where a judge makes decisions about your health care and finances that may be contrary to your desires.  Your estate may also be unduly assessed costs that could have been avoided with an effective plan.

We will also guide you in creating a specific and customized estate plan – drafting such things as wills, trusts, powers of attorney, health care advance directives, funeral planning directives, and any other necessary legal documents.

An effective plan anticipates many possible scenarios – from death and disability to Medicaid and nursing home care.

Estate Planning: Wills, Trusts, and Powers of Attorney

You never know when life may change.  It could happen suddenly, when you least expect it.

Many people assume that estate planning is only for the wealthy.  Others assume that a Last Will and Testament is a sufficient “plan.”  However, it is critical that you create and complete a comprehensive estate plan to protect you and your family no matter what your financial status. This is one of the most important things that anyone can do to safeguard life now and later on for you and/or your loved ones

An estate plan is necessary to ensure that your financial and personal needs are taken care of by the persons of your choosing and that your affairs are settled in an orderly fashion after your death. For those who want to leave a family legacy (especially small businesses and farms), we can secure these assets for the future generations with the least amount of interference in your current use of the asset.

Additionally, the cost of long-term care may jeopardize an individual’s accumulated wealth, surpassing death taxes and administration costs.  We often work with individuals facing an immediate need for long-term care and successfully assist them in protecting assets.  However, the best time to protect assets from the costs of long-term care is well before it’s needed.

The further in advance you plan, the more flexible and successful your asset protection plan will be.

A well-crafted estate plan should address a broad range of issues and provide appropriate persons with the authority and instructions they need. This includes answers to questions like:

  • Who would take care of you and your affairs if you were incapacitated?
  • Who would handle your finances?
  • Who would make health care decisions?
  • How would these individuals care for you and your affairs?
  • How can you protect your assets should you require long-term care?
  • How can you ensure that your spouse is protected if you need long-term care?
  • Are other family members reliant on your care, and would this process require protecting assets for them in the event of your long-term care need?
  • What happens to your assets after you die?
  • How will assets be allocated among beneficiaries?
  • How do you avoid the cost of probate?
  • Do you need to place restrictions or protections over the inheritance for a loved one due to disability, poor money management, substance addiction, or unstable marriage?
  • Who would provide care for your minor child(ren) or child(ren) with a disability if you become incapacitated or when you die?
  • How would you like your child(ren) to be taken care of upon your passing?
  • If death taxes are an issue for you, how might you reduce your estate tax exposure?
  • How do you ensure your spouse is adequately provided for, while ensuring inheritance for your child(ren)?

Without an effective plan, persons not of your choosing may be placed in charge of your affairs.  In addition, a guardianship may be needed where a judge makes decisions about your health care and finances that may be contrary to your desires.  Your estate may also be unduly assessed costs that could have been avoided with an effective plan.

We will also guide you in creating a specific and customized estate plan – drafting such things as wills, trusts, powers of attorney, health care advance directives, funeral planning directives, and any other necessary legal documents.

An effective plan anticipates many possible scenarios – from death and disability to Medicaid and nursing home care.

Special Needs Planning

People with special needs deserve a life that is full, dignified, and secure. 

Legally, they have unique needs.  At Stinson Law Firm, our combination of knowledge and compassion enables us to help.

We will be your partner in navigating through the many types of planning and benefits available.

An individual with special needs may require assistance with a number of matters from care management to public assistance, including Medicaid, Medicare, Supplemental Security Income, and much more.

This process can be complex.  There are many different scenarios and no single plan is right for everyone. We start by listening carefully as you tell us about your one-of-a-kind situation, then together we will create a plan that meets today’s needs as well as your needs in the future.

We can discuss such things as:

Transitions

When a child turns 18, it is assumed he or she has the ability to make adult decisions.  Of course, for someone with special needs, this is often not the case.  Often, the now-adult child will continue to require assistance.  Designating a Power of Attorney or seeking a court-appointed guardian may be necessary.

Also, eligibility criteria for public benefits may change.  We can assist you to ensure your child receives all of the valuable benefits to which he or she is entitled.

Estate Planning

What happens to a special-needs child when the parents are no longer able to function as caregivers and representatives?

This is a major concern for every parent or caregiver of a child with special needs.  We can help you gain peace of mind by designing a unique estate plan that details just what will happen in case you are no longer able to provide assistance.

There are many things to consider. You may need to appoint a guardian to take your place.  You will need to decide on how much of your estate will be left to your child with special needs.  A special needs trust can ensure your child’s public benefits are maintained and any funds you leave to your child are available to provide the supplemental financial resources that you have always provided to better his or her life.

You also need to let subsequent caregivers know how to care for your child.  What are your child’s likes and dislikes, and who are their friends, medical providers, etc.?  We can help you put these instructions together.

All of this can be integrated into your estate plan to give you complete assurance that your child will be well taken care of now and long after you’re gone.

Special Needs Trusts

A special needs trust supplements the public benefits of an individual with a disability to pay for things that these benefits do not cover.  Such items can include furniture, recreational items, electronics, special medical equipment, transportation, vacations, and many other items that enhance the way of life for the individual with a disability.  The trust can also pay for items that may be covered by public benefits, when a brand or type of item is superior to the brand or type covered by public benefits.

The special needs trust can be established by a family member to hold the inheritance of the individual with a disability.  In addition, Federal law specifically permits individuals with a disability to maintain a supplemental source of funds by establishing his or her own special needs trust.  (The latter circumstance may be required if the individual with a disability receives an injury settlement or other unplanned financial windfall.)

Each type of trust has specific requirements to ensure such funds held by the trust are exempt under Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, and other public benefits program rules.  We can assist you in creating the trust that best meets your individual needs within the requirements of the law.

Injury Settlements and Other Financial Windfalls

At times, an individual with a disability will obtain a financial windfall, such as a legal settlement, as compensation for serious injuries received. However, an outright distribution to the individual may result in the loss of valuable public benefits such as Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, SNAP, or housing assistance.

We work with injured individuals, their families, and their trial attorney to establish special needs trusts and other legal vehicles to protect settlement funds and permit flexible and well-planned use of such funds while maintaining public benefits.

ABLE Accounts

In 2015, Congress authorized certain disabled individuals to set up special accounts called “ABLE Accounts.” A qualifying individual may establish one of these accounts. Then, the individual or the individual’s family, may contribute up to the gift tax exclusion ($14,000 in 2017) annually to the account.

The account can be used for the individual’s “qualified disability expenses,” such as medical and dental care, education, employment training, housing, and transportation. The account allows a disabled individual access to cash assets in excess of the small resource allowances imposed by public benefits programs.

We can assist you to determine if you qualify for an ABLE account, assess whether such an account is right for you, and help you establish an account.

Guardianship

We take great pride in helping those who have difficulty helping themselves.

It may be that your loved one is no longer able to make sound financial decisions.  They may have medical issues or be otherwise unable to care for themselves.  They may be susceptible to the influences of others.  Whether a person is not yet an adult or is already an older citizen, a guardianship may be necessary to protect them now and in the future.

A guardian is appointed by a Court and his or her authority is issued by court order.  Creating a guardianship gives the caregiver the legal authority to take care of financial matters and arrange for appropriate care.

With our time-tested experience and focus on superior service delivery, we will help you safeguard your family — now and in the future.  We treat all of our clients with true understanding and the sensitivity and compassion you need at a time like this.

Decedent’s Estates

We understand that coping with the loss of a loved one can be difficult. Settling the loved one’s final affairs can be particularly unnerving in a time of already strained emotions.  Handling a loved one’s final affairs typically requires collection of assets left behind, payment of bills and taxes, and finally the transfer of remaining assets to those entitled to them.

The instrument that disposes of property and the person in charge of such property can vary.  Whether it be the Personal Representative of a decedent’s estate, the Trustee of a trust, the surviving joint owner of property, the payable on death beneficiary, or a combination of the same, we will coordinate all facets of the decedent’s final affairs to ensure that all tasks are completed timely.

Having personally handled the final affairs of our own loved ones, we understand this experience can be emotional and overwhelming.  We like to use our personal experiences along with our years of assisting family and friends to make the process as painless as possible and take the brunt of the burden away from you.

When you meet with us, we will carefully examine your situation and recommend the proper legal processes.   Too often, the process of settling a loved one’s final affairs can cause even more stress and strife within a family.  We are always sensitive to these issues and will be fair and compassionate as we proceed to resolve your loved one’s final affairs as expeditiously as possible.

Jeffery D. Stinson is Certified as an Elder Law Attorney (CELA) by the National Elder Law Foundation.

A WORD FROM JEFF

I am compulsive about looking for that little something extra to ensure detailed attention is provided to each of my client’s needs. I also walk clients through a cost benefit analysis and if the cost outweighs the benefit, I advise the client that my services are not going to benefit them… I see myself as an educator.Jeffery D. Stinson, Certified Elder Law Attorney

 Strength in Compassion: Elder and Special Needs Law Done Right

Stinson Law Firm works with clients across the state of Indiana, including Hamilton, Marion, Boone, Hancock, Hendricks, Howard, Johnson, and Morgan counties. Schedule your consultation today.