On October 1st, 2019 we facilitated the First Annual Van Dyck Law Elder Advocacy and Law Boot Camp at the Crowne Plaza Princeton Conference Center. We had over 120 attendees and 20 Circle of Care Vendor Partners. This was a Continuing Education event offering our attendees 5 credits for Social Workers and Administrators of Assisted Livings and Long Term Care Communities. Our Premier Sponsors were Integra Healthcare Management which is comprised of The Gardens at Monroe in Monroe Township, Imperial Healthcare in Neptune and Foothill Acres in Hillsborough. Our Breakfast Sponsor was Brandywine Living, Lunch Sponsor was Senior Bridge and our snack sponsors were Stonebridge at Montgomery and Akin Care. We would like to express how grateful to our care partners for helping us to make this day an absolute success.

The event began with registration at 8am and the education sessions began at 9am with our founding attorney, Fiona Van Dyck, educating our attendees about Elder Law Issues that every healthcare provider needs to know. She discussed the ins and outs of Medicaid planning as well as the need for estate planning documents including financial power of attorney, advanced directives, wills and trusts, to be in place in order to best plan for ours and our loved ones' futures. We then welcomed Nina Weiss of Weiss Law to educate our guests on what happens if those documents are not in place. She talked about guardianships, conservatorships as well as what and who determines competency when someone has a cognitive impairment, mental illness or is not able to speak or make decisions for themselves. Annette Murphy from Springpoint at Home was gracious enough to talk to us about Aging Life Care Advisors and how one can help in some of these situations. 

Our Keynote speaker was Dr. Olga Tchikindas from Princeton Medical Institute. Dr. Tchikindas was charming and informative as she educated our guests on the types of dementia and why it's important to get the proper diagnosis.

We finished out the day with a Hot Topic elder advocacy panel consisting of Linda Mundie from The Gardens at Monroe who spoke on Avoiding Hospital Re-Admissions, Kim Saul-Bowne from Saul Funeral Home who spoke on Funeral Trusts, Christina Canitano from Senior Bridge who spoke on Senior Loneliness, our own Sheli Monacchio who spoke on Senior Bullying and finally Linda Mundie and Ann Akin from Akin Care spoke about the risks for families of hiring private home care aides, the risks to the caregivers who take private cases and Grey Market Risks to all involved.

We at Van Dyck Law are humbled by the support of our care partners and are so happy that we have these resources for our clients as care needs arise. As Fiona reiterated throughout the day, "we are all in the trenches together". This goes for our care partners, our clients and their families. 

Thank you to all the professionals who were a part of our day and we look forward to our next Boot Camp in 2020! 

Employees Only“Our aging population has led to a rise in demand for elder care benefits. There are a variety of options that businesses can offer.”

As employees’ parents and family members grow older, many are asked to be caregivers. More than one in six Americans working full-time or part-time report assisting with the care of an elderly or disabled family member, relative or friend. Of this group, nearly 50% say they have no choice about taking on these responsibilities. That’s why many struggle in silence, deciding not to share their situation with employers out of fear for the impact on their career or a desire for privacy.

Benefits Pro reports in the article “Elder care benefits: A growing need for the U.S. workforce” that under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), “family leave for seriously ill family members” is required by law. However, the law offers unpaid job protection and the definition of family member is restricted to spouse, child or parent. This has resulted in an increase in demand for elder care benefits. There are a variety of options that businesses can offer.

Many employers now offer an employee assistance program (EAP), which provides employees and household members with educational and referral services for elder care. These services often include free and confidential assessments, short-term counseling, referrals and follow-up services. These EAPs also address a broad body of mental and emotional well-being issues, like alcohol and substance abuse, stress, grief, family problems and psychological disorders.

In addition, some employers also have Dependent Care Assistance Plans (DCAP), commonly referred to as the “day care benefit,” allowing employees to set aside tax-free dollars for qualified elder care. While DCAPs don’t cover the entire cost of elder care, they can provide up to $5,000 per calendar year in assistance and lessen employees’ federal tax burden.

Respite care provides short-term relief for primary caregivers and can be arranged for just an afternoon or for several days.

Caregiving has shown to reduce employee work productivity by 18.5% and increase the likelihood of employees leaving the workplace. Offering elder care benefits to employees can help with retention and efficiency, as well as with businesses’ bottom line. A study by the Center for American Progress found that turnover costs are often estimated to be 100 to 300% of the base salary of the replaced employee.

As the demand for these benefits continues to increase, employers are recognizing the diverse needs of their workforce and are creating programs that have benefits to help at all stages of life.

Reference: Benefits Pro (April 30, 2019) “Elder care benefits: A growing need for the U.S. workforce”

Relations-and-generations-1569242“After years of hard work, you are certainly entitled to a happy retirement. You may have already started daydreaming about it, at least a little. Will you travel the world, volunteer for your favorite charity, go fishing every day, or just spend more time with the grandkids? The post-retirement possibilities are practically endless.”

Many senior workers are actually a little afraid of retirement, because they’ve heard too many horror stories about people who retire too soon and wind up outliving their nest eggs. This is reflected in a 2016 survey from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, which found that 51% of American workers say their top retirement worry is outliving their investments and savings.

Here are the key indicators that you’re probably ready to retire, according to this recent article from Investopedia’s, “6 Signs That You Are OK to Retire.”

  1. Hit Your Full Retirement Age. If you were born between 1943 and 1954, your full retirement age is 66. If you were born after 1959, it’s 67. You can start claiming Social Security benefits as early as 62, but your benefits will be much higher, if you wait until your full retirement age.
  2. Retire Debt-Free. If you have a ton of credit card debt or still owe a lot on your home or car, you may want to wait to retire because when you’re on a fixed income, a big mortgage or car payment can put a major dent in your finances. Before you retire, pay off all your debts, if possible, and get on a budget.
  3. Not Financially Supporting Your Kids (or Parents). If your kids still live with you–or you’re paying for their college education–you probably should wait with your retirement plans. Likewise, it might be smart to delay retirement, if you’re financially responsible for your elderly parents. If that’s you, retirement probably isn’t an option until your situation changes.
  4. Make a Retirement Budget. Prior to retiring, calculate whether you can live comfortably on your post-retirement income. Add up your mandatory monthly costs, like a mortgage or rent, groceries and utilities. Next, add in your 'wants,' like travel, entertainment shopping and eating out. You can then determine whether you’ll have enough retirement savings to cover all of this. Add your Social Security payments, pension, retirement account distributions and any other sources of income. Your retirement budget (if you retire in your mid-60s) shouldn’t be more than 4% of your investments, plus Social Security and pension payments.
  5. Review Your Portfolio. You’re going to depend a lot on your investment portfolio in retirement. If you haven’t had a portfolio review in a while, do it soon. Reassess your portfolio and determine if you need to make any modifications. As you get close to retirement, you may want to move to lower-risk investment strategies to protect your wealth.
  6. Plan with Your Spouse. Unless you live alone, retirement will have a major effect on your spouse or partner. Retirement should be reviewed together. Look at how the reduction in income will affect your lifestyle and future care needs. Consider what changes may need to occur to make it enjoyable for you both.

These are just the basic elements to determine when you’re ready for retirement. You should also think about how you’ll spend your days, where you want to live and whether most of your friends will still be working. All of these things could have a big effect on your general enjoyment of retirement.

Reference: Investopedia (June 1, 2018) “6 Signs That You Are OK to Retire”

American-3577500__340“Life insurance may play a vital role in an estate plan, because insurance proceeds can be counted on to provide liquidity when it’s needed. With proper planning, insurance money can pay expenses, such as the estate tax and keep other assets intact.”

Let’s say that Howie passes away and leaves a big estate to his daughter Eva, and there’s an equally large estate tax due. However, most of Howie’s assets are tied up in real estate and in his IRA.

With that scenario, Eva might not want to immediately force a sale of the real estate. However, if she accesses the inherited IRA to raise money, she’ll have to pay income tax on the withdrawal and lose a terrific opportunity for extended tax deferral.

FedWeek’s recent article, “Common Mistakes in Life Insurance Designations,” explains that considering this type of scenario, Howie could purchase insurance on himself.

The proceeds from Howie’s life insurance policy would then be used to pay the estate tax bill. With that taken care of, Eva could keep the real estate, while taking only minimum required distributions from the inherited IRA.

If the insurance policy is owned by Eva or by a trust, the proceeds probably will not be included in Howie’s estate and will not increase the estate tax obligation.

That’s a smart way to plan it out. However, some life insurance errors can wreak havoc with an estate plan. Let’s look at some common mistakes:

Naming your estate as beneficiary. This puts the proceeds in your estate—and the money will be exposed to estate tax and your creditors. Your executor will also have more paperwork, if your estate is the beneficiary. Instead, designate the appropriate people or charities.

Designating a single beneficiary. Always name at least two contingent or “backup” beneficiaries, which will decrease or eliminate any confusion, if the primary beneficiary predeceases you.

Filing and forgetting the policy. Review your policies every three years. If the beneficiary is an ex-spouse or someone who’s died, make the appropriate change and get a confirmation, in writing, from the insurance company.

Not having adequate coverage. If you have young children, it will take a small fortune to pay for their expenses, including college, in case of your untimely death. Be wise with enough coverage for your children and for whoever will take care of them. It may not or may not be a spouse, but children don’t raise themselves and you don’t want a bargain basement mom for your kids.

Reference: FedWeek (February 14, 2019) “Common Mistakes in Life Insurance Designations”

Insignts-1-1192699“In this article, we are going to give you the reasons why you should hire a lawyer for your estate plan.”

A common question among people is “Can I write my own will?” or “Do I really need a lawyer to do my estate planning?”

The Frisky‘s recent article, “Why You Should Hire A Lawyer to Write Your Estate Plan,” says that writing your own estate plan can be a complicated thing—and one that a non-attorney may find very difficult.

It’s More Than a Will. Many people believe that a will and an estate plan are the same. This is not true. An estate plan is a legal strategy that prepares you for potential incapacity and eventual death. A will is a legal document that’s part of the estate plan.

Money, Time and Energy Savings. Creating your own estate plan will be more time-consuming than you may have thought. Hiring a lawyer to do this will cost you—but it will cost you more, if you decide to do it on your own. Hiring a lawyer for your estate plan will save you time, because he or she is trained in the law to do it the right way.

If you do finish your own estate plan and you realize that it really is a mess, you can hire a lawyer to do it over for you. However, calculate how much time, energy, and resources you’ve spent on making on your quick DIY estate plan. Work with an experienced estate planning attorney and create a sound estate plan.

It’s Complicated. If you don’t fully understand what you’re doing, estate planning can drive you nuts. That’s because every word you write is crucial. Everything you write counts and may be interpreted differently. The law in this area also changes all the time. Agencies in the federal government, the IRS and the courts are always creating new regulations and decisions. Your estate planning attorney monitors all of this, makes sure your estate plan is in compliance and takes the best advantage of the current law.

Objectivity. Another thing your attorney adds to the mix—in addition to legal expertise—is objectivity. Your estate planning attorney will give you a clean, unbiased view of your current situation, along with a fair and honest assessment of your options.

Reference: The Frisky (February 6, 2019) “Why You Should Hire A Lawyer to Write Your Estate Plan”

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Van Dyck Law, LLC

707 State Road, Suite 102
Princeton, NJ 08540