Estate Planning Matters - March 2016
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National Pack Your Own Lunch Day!

It’s amazing the holidays you can find if you look for them. For example, tomorrow is National Pack Your Own Lunch day. To be honest, I am more partial to the the holiday the following Thursday, St. Patrick’s Day, but this day caught my attention because it made me think about people who try to prepare their own estate plan. While I don’t have anything against packing your own lunch, I would caution those people who try to prepare their own estate plan.

In most cases, I think the reason people try to plan their own estate is to save a few dollars. However, if not done correctly, trying to save a few dollars up front could end up costing much more in the long run. In fact, most of the “do it yourself” estate plans I have come across end up costing the family much more than what may have been saved in up front fees.

The following is just a small sample of things I have seen gone wrong, or could go wrong, and lead to disastrous results if you try to do it yourself:

  • You may not truly understand what a legal term in the plan means.
  • You may not have the documents witnessed correctly leading them to be ignored.
  • You may not know when changes are necessary.
  • You may not understand what assets are controlled by a Will and what ones are not.
  • You may not know what documents you should have other than just a Will.
  • Most people underestimate how complex estate planning really is.

What I believe should be the biggest deterrent is that you may not know that you did something wrong until it is too late. With your Will, if you make a mistake, you will not be around to see the mistake, and your beneficiaries may not be able to correct it. I think most attorneys would agree we make more money cleaning up messes than what you would have to pay to make sure it is done correctly up front.

So while it may be ok to pack your own lunch this Thursday, I would not recommend you try to prepare your own estate plan.


Patrick J. Roth, Esq., CPA

Article Index
National Pack Your Own Lunch Day
Major Change To Social Security May Require Taking Action Now
Benefits of Working with Roth Elder Law
Get To Know Terri L. Hogue
Monthly Recipe


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Major Change To Social Security May Require Taking Action Now

A Social Security strategy that many married couples have been using to maximize their benefits is being eliminated as a result of the federal budget deal President Obama signed into law this past November. In the past, this strategy could be worth tens of thousands of dollars over a lifetime for some couples. The fact it is being phased out means that many seniors should take action now, before the change takes effect, to reduce the impact. Other seniors may need to reconsider their long-term retirement plans. What is this strategy? The file and suspend strategy.

Generally, seniors who wait to claim Social Security benefits get a larger benefit when they eventually do file. So in many cases, it makes sense to wait. A problem, though, is even if a senior waits to file, his or her spouse may want to apply for spousal benefits right away – and a spouse can’t apply for spousal benefits unless the senior has already applied for his or her own benefits.

In the past, there was a way around this, called “file and suspend.” The senior would file for benefits at full retirement age (currently 66 in most cases), but immediately “suspend” them. This allowed the senior to delay his or her own benefits up to age 70, and get a larger check at that time, while enabling the senior’s spouse to apply for spousal benefits right away.

This “file and suspend” technique will be outlawed as of April 30, 2016.

Under the new law, a senior’s spouse cannot begin receiving benefits until the senior is actually receiving benefits, too. Workers can still file and suspend, but spouses (or other dependents, including minor and disabled children) cannot receive benefits during the suspension.

Importantly, the new law doesn’t affect workers who have already filed and suspended benefits – so if you’ve already used this technique, you won’t be affected.

Even more importantly, seniors who are at least 66 – or who will turn 66 before April 30, 2016 – may still use the technique, as long as they do so before April 30. So if you’re in that situation, you should contact a lawyer right away, to see if you can take advantage of this strategy while there’s still time.

Benefits of Working with Roth Elder Law

As you see in the article above, I would caution against “do it yourself” planning and even caution that all attorneys are not the same. In that line, I have prepared a short piece that sets forth some of the benefits of working with Roth Elder Law and the attorneys at my firm. If you would like a full copy of these benefits, just click the link here: Benefits of Working with Roth Elder Law.

Terri L. Hogue Paralegal

Terri loved most aspects of working in a senior care home: spending time with the elderly, assisting their families, and using her skills to improve the lives of others. But there was one thing she didn’t love about her job. Time and time again, Terri watched helplessly as elderly residents and their families lost everything they had to costly nursing home bills—until she decided to do something about it...READ MORE

Recipe Corner - Ron's Mafia Chili


  • 1/2 Pound Ground Beef
  • 1/2 Pound Hot Italian Sausage
  • 1 Large Chopped Onion
  • 1 Chopped Green Pepper (Add Chopped Jalapeno If Desired)
  • 2-3 tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 2 Cloves Minced Garlic
  • 1 15 oz. Can Tomato Sauce
  • 1 15 oz. Can Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 16 oz. Can Kidney Beans
  • 1 16 oz. Can Garbonzo Beans
  • 2 tbsp. Chili Sause
  • 3/4 Cup Cabernet Sauvignon (Substitue With Other Red Wine If Desired)
  • 1 tbsp Cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp. Cayenne Pepper
  • 1-2 oz. Dark Chocolate
  • Chili Powder To Taste
  • Salt & Pepper To Taste


  1. Drain beef, sausage, and kidney beans; set aside.

  2. In a large pan, saute the onion, green/jalapeno peppers, and garlic in the olive oil.

  3. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 1.5 to 2 hours.

  4. Enjoy!

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