Elder Law

This article is the first in a new series: I’m interviewing elder law attorneys around the state to find out why and how they started practicing elder law, what their practices are like, and what they achieve for their clients.

My first interview is with Blaine Patino of Canellos & Patino in Wauwatosa. Blaine was recently a presenter at the Winter Workshop put on by the Wisconsin chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA).

Continue Reading ‘A Little Rebellious:’ Blaine Patino and his Elder Law Practice

The immeasurable benefits of a healthy work-life balance are well known. Engaging with outside organizations, taking time for personal interests and hobbies, spending time with family and friends, exercising, gardening, caring for pets, traveling – all of these are ways in which we can help our bodies, minds, and souls stay fresh for our law practices and our clients. Additionally, we can learn a lot from our out-of-office activities that help us as attorneys.

In my working life, I
Continue Reading March Madness: How Basketball Can Help You Be a Better Attorney

As a longtime estate-planning attorney, it is my sense that more clients are working around (or ruining) their valid estate plans by using various nonprobate transfers – specifically POD (Payable on Death) and TOD (Transfer on Death) designations. I see this change happening not only when clients come into my office to review their estate planning when they are alive, but this is also being discovered after the client passes away. I ask “Why is this happening?” Do people just dislike attorneys so
Continue Reading This Is How Clients Wreck Their Estate Plans – What Can Attorneys Do About It?

On November 1, 2023, the Internal Revenue Service announced the cost-of-living adjustments for the various qualified retirement plan limits.  Almost all of the limits shown below have increased from last year.

Qualified Plan Limit
Cost-of-Living Adjustments

401(k) and 403(b) elective deferral limit

2023 – $22,500

2024 – $23,000

$200,000 compensation limit

2023 – $330,000

2024 – $345,000

$160,000 defined benefit limit

2023 – $265,000

2024 – $275,000

$40,000 defined contribution limit

2023 – $66,000

2024 – $69,000

$80,000 definition
Continue Reading 2024 Qualified Plan Cost of Living Increases, 2024 Social Security Taxable Wage Base

In its simplest terms, “portability” allows surviving spouses to add any unused federal estate and gift tax exemptions of their deceased spouse to their own.
The federal estate and gift tax exemption is the amount of assets that an individual is allowed to transfer from their estate to other people or entities free of federal estate and gift tax.

Prior to 2010, any part of the federal estate and gift tax exemption amount that was unused by an
Continue Reading To Port or Not: The Federal Estate and Gift Tax Exemption

Contesting a will is a complex and emotionally charged process that can lead to rifts among family members. The passing of a loved one is a difficult time for any family, and it can become even more challenging when disputes arise over the distribution of their estate. We’ve seen many famous examples of this from Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, and Whitney Houston. So what are the reasons people contest wills and how can you take proactive measures to prevent
Continue Reading Contesting a Will: How to Prevent Family Estate Disputes

Let’s start with the assumption that you want to have a multicultural law practice with a focus on estate planning and Medicaid planning – and you want to work with clients and staff who are diverse. How are you going to move forward with those objectives?

Is being multicultural enough?

Is it possible to complete the necessary estate planning forms and Medicaid applications with a good understanding of the client’s current financial status and plans regarding the person’s finances? 
Continue Reading Do You Have a Multicultural Law Practice?

The United States Attorney’s Office from the Southern District of Ohio recently issued a press release that highlights how elderly individuals suffering from dementia may be vulnerable to financial abuse. The press release can be found here.

As the release explains, the attorney defrauded his client—an elderly woman in her 80s—over the course of seven years, between 2012 and 2019. The attorney’s law license was revoked in 2015. The attorney stole the funds using a myriad of methods,
Continue Reading Ex-Attorney Convicted of Stealing More Than $800,000 from Elderly Victim with Dementia

Payable on Death (POD) accounts are offered by banks and other financial institutions to permit an account owner to designate a beneficiary to receive the funds in a savings, checking, CD, or similar account, upon the account owner’s death. If there is a POD beneficiary on a joint account, the named beneficiary will receive the funds upon the death of the last account owner (see our previous article discussing the drawbacks of joint accounts here). Some financial institutions
Continue Reading The Pitfalls of Payable on Death Accounts

As people grow older, they tend to become more vulnerable to a wide range of physical injuries. Falls are one of the most common causes of injuries among elderly adults. Unfortunately, fall injuries can often be attributed to nursing home neglect or abuse. For family members of nursing home patients, it is crucial to understand when and how fall injuries can occur due to abuse or neglect. Some common issues that can lead to falls in nursing homes include:
Continue Reading Fall Injuries Can Occur Because of Nursing Home Neglect or Abuse

COVID-19, the job market, and now inflation consume us. Older Americans and those with disabilities are more drastically affected by all three, especially due to the consistent need for quality caregiving services in an unstable economy.

In January 2019, a Harvard Business School Report compelled the country to acknowledge the “caregiving shortage crisis,” which has only worsened post the pandemic. Millions of seniors and people with disabilities require long-term services and support, and most want these services at
Continue Reading Drafting Caregiver Agreements that Combat the Caregiving Crisis

Many of us became attorneys because our reaction to math was “Ugh, not if I can avoid it!”

Not to say any of us are bad at math, but after years of watching lawyer dramas, we didn’t exactly envision our legal careers involving intricate spreadsheets of income and asset classes, monthly care costs, divestment divisors, and so forth.

However, providing the best guidance to our clients often requires exactly that: a deep dive into what puts the client and
Continue Reading Basic Math in Elder Law

One of the many things I have appreciated about becoming an attorney is working with people who care deeply about the clients they serve and the work they do.

It is a great honor to watch attorneys meet with clients, listen, and do their best to make clients feel comfortable. That includes working with disabled clients, who are often dealing with substantial barriers, ableism, and disrespect.

However, even though lawyers are making strides in accommodating individual clients, our systemic
Continue Reading Accessible Content Broadens Your Client Base and Improves the Way You Work

Established in 2003, Wispact, Inc., is a private nonprofit organization that maintains and administers pooled special needs trusts for nearly 4,000 individuals with disabilities throughout Wisconsin. What Is a Pooled Trust? A pooled special needs trust (PSNT) is a type of trust arrangement where there is one master trust document that details the pertinent definitions, powers, and duties that control all the sub-accounts created under it. A sub-account is created under a PSNT when a beneficiary or
Continue Reading Wispact at a Glance

As elder law and special needs planning attorneys, many of us are involved in what might be considered “extracurricular” work activities – i.e., all those things we do that flow directly from the profession we have chosen.

We serve on boards. We volunteer for nonprofits and organizations. We advocate for causes that are important to us. We coordinate with other groups and professionals who help serve our clients. We identify gaps in the systems we work with, and daydream
Continue Reading Elder Law Lawyers: There’s a Grant for You

On November 12, 2021, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued two nursing home memos. The first, QSO-20-39-NH, addresses nursing home visitation. The memo requires nursing homes to urge staff and residents to become vaccinated by providing education on the risks and benefits of the vaccine, and to offer to administer the vaccine and report vaccination data to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CMS notes that the number of new COVID-19 cases has dramatically
Continue Reading CMS Issues Two Memos on Nursing Home Visitation and Increased Nursing Home Oversight