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    Joshua and Laura Meier Newport Beach Trust and Estate Planning Attorneys Focused on Helping Families with Young Kids
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    “And the Estate Planning Oscar Goes To…” Lessons on Film About Family

    The film “Black Heirlooms” has not received any Oscar nominations. It was made by 32-year-old Amanda Brown, whose grandmother’s long-term illness ripped her once close-knit family apart for lack of long-term care planning. grandmother

    Profiled recently in the New York Times, the film is “about the extended uncomfortable, intergenerational conversations that we do not have enough of and that her family did not have until it was too late.”

    Vonley and Edna Mae Royal raised eight children and saw them all graduate from college. Vonley had several businesses that provided a small inheritance for his wife after he died. Following his death, the Royal children tried to get Edna Mae to talk about how she wanted her estate divided after she died. However, when she proved resistant to such a discussion, her children backed off. “We didn’t want to give her the impression that we were trying to gain some kind of advantage,” said her son Gary.

    Edna Mae had a stroke in 2009 and her children soon became divided on how she should be taken care of once she was discharged from the hospital, whether or not she could make that decision for herself and who should have power of attorney over her affairs. The family eventually wound up in court, exhausting any inheritance they might have had on legal fees and dividing many family members.

    Today, 90-year-old Edna Mae is taken care of by five of her eight children; the other three do not speak to their siblings and rarely see their mother. The inheritance that Edna Mae worked so hard to maintain for her own care and her children’s inheritance is gone. In the film, her granddaughter Amanda wonders, “Now that the family is divided, what was the point of working so hard to keep everything intact?”

    If you have been putting off this conversation in your family, we can help. Executing a plan for your own health care can be extremely fulfilling, knowing that you are making your wishes known and alleviating family of the burden of guessing the right health care choices for you.

    If you would like to have a talk about estate and long-term care planning for your family, call our office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk about a Family Wealth Planning Session.  We can not only guide you through the creation of your own plan, we can also assist you with that all-important family discussion.

    Qualifying for Medicare Coverage May Be Easier for Newport Beach Families

    Elderly Woman with NurseTens of thousands of people with chronic
    conditions and disabilities may find it easier to qualify for Medicare coverage
    of potentially costly home health care, skilled nursing home stays, and
    outpatient therapy under policy changes planned by the Obama administration.

    Medicare may be opening the
    doors to many who previously had been turned away and left without coverage for
    home health care, nursing home stays and outpatient therapies on the basis of a
    less than positive “improvement” prognosis. This change of course may actually
    be the result of a nationwide class-action suit and an agreement from the

    For a perspective on the
    proposed settlement, turn to a recent article in The New York Times titled “Settlement Eases Rules for Some Medicare

    The Medicare board has had a
    longstanding practice to require a likelihood of medical or functional
    improvement before a beneficiary could receive coverage for skilled nursing or
    therapy services, whether institutional or home-based. That left many care
    recipients in a lurch. If this settlement goes through and becomes practice,
    then the requirement is no longer “improvement” but “maintenance.” Accordingly,
    Medicare will provide services if they are needed to “maintain the patient’s
    current condition or prevent or slow further deterioration.”

    Contact your Newport Beach estate planning attorneys at Meier Law Firm to discuss all of your estate planning needs.

    Reference: The New York Times
    (October 22, 2012) “Settlement Eases Rules for Some Medicare

    What to Do About Family “Freeloaders”

    Lots of families have one: a family
    freeloader. The adult child who still gets money from parents each month to
    make it… What brings this to a crisis point is that a parent’s health fails
    or a parent passes away.  Then

    What happens when a family has a
    (healthy) adult child who never leaves home, or returns home with no plans to
    leave? Friction.

    This scenario becomes particularly
    painful when the parents become elderly, especially when the adult child “freeloader”
    continues to mooch off of the aging parents and even begins to abuse the aging
    parents. The responsible adult children, who have lives of their own, may come
    to their wit’s end. Ultimately, everything comes to a head when the elderly
    parents need care and can no longer care for the adult child. What then?

    This is an increasingly common
    problem, given the recent economic unpleasantries and the expanding retirement
    bubble of aging baby-boomers. Fortunately, Forbes
    recently explored this conundrum in an article titled “What Siblings Need to Do About Aging Parents
    and The Family Freeloader

    So, what can you do? While it’s
    still hard to say for certain, since every family is different, you need to
    deal with it.

    Out of concern for everyone, and
    despite whatever family baggage may exist, you must find a solution. In most
    instances an Elder Law Attorney should be consulted to ensure the protection of
    the elder parents, especially if financial elder abuse is suspected.

    Contact Meier Law Firm to discuss all of your Estate Planning needs. 

    Reference: Forbes
    (September 16, 2012) “What Siblings Need to Do About Aging Parents
    and The Family Freeloader

    Money Management Help for the Elderly

    With the population aging, daily money
    managers are popping up to pay the bills and handle paperwork for those who
    lack the time, skill or desire to do it themselves.

    Helping care for an elderly
    loved one, or helping them care for themselves, can mean finding solutions for
    a whole host of problems. Some are medical problems, to be sure. However,
    oftentimes one of the first hurdles to clear is basic money management.

    For seniors money management
    challenges can be as basic as paying bills, let alone understanding their
    savings and investment decisions. As a recent article in The Wall Street Journal considers, one growing solution to this
    dilemma is hiring a money manager.

    The article, titled “A Little Help With the Bills,”
    explores the void a money manager may fill when the skills of a financial
    planner aren’t needed or when financial execution is as necessary as financial

    If you have an elderly loved
    one, the services of a money manager may allow that extra bit of control and
    freedom, both for you and your elderly loved one.

    Reference: The Wall Street
    (July 27, 2012) “A Little Help With the Bills

    Elder Affairs Mediators to the Rescue

    A small but growing number of mediators
    (people who help resolve disputes, typically outside a courtroom) now
    specialize in elder affairs. They help families work through concerns—and
    fights—involving caregiving, inheritance, living arrangements, estate planning,
    and related issues.

    Family arguments have a terrible
    way of escalating into something akin to thermal nuclear war. This especially
    is the case when the fight is over an elderly loved one, their future, and
    their well-being.

    A recent article in SmartMoney, titled “When to Call an Elder Mediator,” provides
    some helpful guidance for families working through myriad issues regarding an
    elderly loved one.

    Enter the elder mediator.

    An elder mediator essentially
    allows the family to come together around the advice of a third party who has
    no interests, no psychological baggage, and no need to distrust anyone.
    Sometimes you simply can’t say that of other adult siblings or loved ones (or,
    if we are honest, of ourselves).

    When the end sought by the
    family is the well-being of the elderly loved one, an elder mediator can be
    essential in helping the family work out solutions while preserving family

    Reference: SmartMoney
    (August 28, 2012) “When to Call an Elder Mediator

    Now is the Best Time to Address Hard Questions

    it's time to be an adult when it comes to talking to your kids about your
    late-in-life planning.

    At the core of proper planning is the understanding that there’s simply
    no time like the present; it’s the only time to ensure the future, to make your
    intentions known. Proper estate planning means doing just that.

    The importance of the present
    was the topic of a recent Wall Street Journal
    article, aptly titled, “Speak for Yourself, While You Can.”

    What are some of the most
    important issues to discuss? Start by communicating our wishes about health
    care, end-of-life choices, and funeral preferences. Be sure to address your
    finances, any plans you have made to finance long-term nursing care (like
    insurance policies, etc.), and what to do about the family home.

    Despite our natural reluctance
    to talk about these matters, now is simply the best time to actually lay out
    your plans and discuss them with your family. Open communication and your personal
    guidance can often avoid future family squabbles.

    So what is so important, both to
    you and your family, that it simply cannot wait?

    Contact Meier Law Firm to discuss all of your estate planning needs.

    Reference: The Wall Street
    (August 11, 2012) “Speak
    for Yourself, While You Can

    Important Reasons to Review Your Estate Plan

    Nearly 2.5
    million Americans die each year, and many haven’t signed the basic documents
    needed to protect loved ones. But let’s say you took this important step. How
    often do you need to revisit your estate plan?

    planning is not a single event, but rather a lifetime process. As long as
    you’re living, your life, your interests, and your plans are changing, growing,
    and adapting; you simply need to keep the paperwork current.

    It’s a good
    idea to review your estate planning at regular intervals. But there also are
    certain life events that could trigger the need for review and updates. Forbes points out three of them in their
    recent article, “When Should You Redo Your Will? The top
    three events listed in this article include changes in the law, impending good
    fortune, and financial setbacks.

    you really need to adjust your estate plans whenever your life or finances
    change. Another recent Forbes article
    offers the “5 Life Events That Require An Estate
    Planning Review

    Their handy checklist says you
    should review your estate plan when:

    1. You get married.
    2. You get divorced, or your spouse dies.
    3. You purchase or refinance a home.
    4. You open new savings, bank, or investment accounts.
    5. You have new children or grandchildren.

    Contact Meier Law Firm to discuss all of your estate planning needs.

    Reference: Forbes
    (August 9, 2012) “When Should You Redo Your Will?

    (August 13, 2012) “5 Life Events That Require An Estate
    Planning Review

    Walking and Alzheimer’s – Check Your Gait

    The way people walk appears to speak volumes about the way they think, so much so that changes in an older person’s gait appear to be an early indicator of cognitive impairment, including Alzheimer’s disease.

    Cognitive impairments, like Alzheimer’s and dementia, are difficult to diagnose, let alone manage. Still, these impairments are a reality for millions of Americans and their loved ones, not to mention many more of us in the future. Consequently, we must remain informed and vigilant.

    Cognitive disease symptoms steadily destroy our ability to plan for the disease itself. This troubling fact carries over to the legal issues of “mental capacity” when it comes time to plan your estate. So, what are the outward warning signs of present or future issues?

    Some new studies have come to light about walking and dementia. The New York Times recently addressed this connection in an article titled “Footprints to Cognitive Decline and Alzheimer’s Are Seen in Gait.” According to recent findings, a person’s gait – the way he or she walks – can be an early indicator of oncoming impairment for some. It seems the more difficulty a person has walking, the more difficult it is to process certain information.

    In fact, the results of testing were even more dramatic when persons where required to engage in various mental exercises while walking. Although neither conclusive nor confirmed, there seems to be a link between exercise and cognitive impairments.

    Contact Meier Law Firm to discuss how we can help you with your estate planning.

    Reference: The New York Times (July 16, 2012) “Footprints to Cognitive Decline and Alzheimer’s Are Seen in Gait

    Retirement Cash Flow and Retirement Planning

    Estate planning is critical to make sure your assets are passed down as you wish. But another component of estate planning for couples is making sure that the surviving spouse has enough money to live on.

    Most married couples want to ensure that all of their resources are available to provide for the surviving spouse, upon the first death. But without careful retirement planning now, surviving spouses could find themselves in a “cash flow” pinch just when they need income most.

    Estate planning is a process with many moving parts. While much focus is given to saving estate taxes, avoiding probate, and transferring wealth between generations, failing to incorporate retirement planning can be hazardous to your wealth.

    This estate-planning dilemma was the centerpiece of a Kiplinger’s study recently featured in the Chicago Tribune. The article, titled “Retirement: An estate-planning pitfall,” brought to light the difficulty of lost income to surviving spouses. The first spouse’s passing often disrupts what the couple had always taken for granted financially—predictable cash flow.

    The article reviews sources of income impacted by this first death, including social security and pensions. As with all aspects of estate planning, it is crucial to understand the importance of getting competent counsel in advance. In fact, couples should investigate the impact of death on cash flow while both are alive in order to avoid unpleasant surprises later.

    Contact Meier Law Firm to discuss how your estate planning needs.

    Reference: The Chicago Tribune (July 17, 2012) “Retirement: An estate-planning pitfall

    Avoiding the (Medicare) “Doughnut Hole”

    Depressed Medicare beneficiaries in the so-called coverage doughnut hole were more likely to cut back on their antidepressants than those who had full insurance coverage, a study has found.

    Even with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – Obamacare by any other name – in place and affirmed by the Supreme Court, the costs paid and lifestyles lived by many is being tied to the “doughnut hole.” This is especially true for seniors taking depression medications.

    As recently reported in Med Page Today, a new study by Yuting Zhang, PhD, of the University of Pittsburgh, Medicare may not fully cover depression medications for seniors, despite the ACA. The article is titled “Antidepressants 'Fall' Through Doughnut Hole.”

    If you are unfamiliar with the “doughnut hole” issue, you are not alone. It is the coverage gap created by Medicare Part D. For those whose income is at the lower end, there tends to be coverage. Likewise, for those who have an upper-end income, there is still coverage…with a gap in between.

    According to the new study, and sheer intuition, patients that fall within the doughnut hole are associated with a significant drop in medication use – 12% on average. That is always relevant, but perhaps especially so in the case of depression medication. While discontinuing any prescribed medication is never advisable, it is often easier to justify foregoing depression medication than other medications.

    I recommend reading the original article for more details regarding this study, should this issue be relevant to you or someone you love.

    Contact Meier Law Firm to discuss how we can help you protect everyone you love.

    Reference: Med Page Today (July 5, 2012) “Antidepressants 'Fall' Through Doughnut Hole

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