This week on Make It Last, Victor explains the difference between an elder law attorney and a general law attorney.
Then, Victor talks about all of the documentation you need in order to have a sustainable retirement plan.
Find out why it’s important that you establish a plan before taxes (potentially) go up in 2026.
To access additional information, please visit:
Make It Last with Victor Medina is hosted by Victor J. Medina, an estate planning and Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) and Certified Financial Planner professional (CFP). Through his law firm and independent registered investment advisory company, Victor provides 360º Wealth Protection Strategies for individuals in or nearing retirement.
Full Transcription Below
Mark Elliot: Welcome to “Make it Last” with Victor Medina, I’m Mark Elliot. Glad you’re with us today. Victor’s got two companies that are here to help you regardless of which area you need? You need some “Elder‑law advice”. We’re going to talk “Elder Law” on the program today.
What is the difference between Elder Law and a general law person, a general lawyer? We’re going into a lot of things, what about all the documents you need for retirement in that world of Elder Law and Certified Elder Law Attorneys that Victor is. We’re going to talk about that in segments two and three. We’re going to get a lot of stuff in today on the program as we always do.
Of course, Victor has “Medina Law Group” and “Palante Wealth”, which is your holistic planning company for your retirement when you talk about income, investments, taxes, “How do we handle all of that going forward into retirement?” The estate planning is a part of that holistic planning for your retirement and as practicing at estate planning at Certified Elder Law Attorney, Victor and the team are ready to help you.
You can always go to the websites to find out more, medinalawgroup.com. M‑E‑D‑I‑N‑A, medinalawgroup.com, Palante Wealth, P‑A‑L‑A‑N‑T‑E, palantewealth.com. There’s a lot of options for you.
The easiest thing might just be to call if you have questions, 856‑506‑8300. No cost, no‑obligation, no pressure for this. The team’s here to help. Just don’t know if they can, until they hear your situation, 856‑506‑8300.
We’re going to kick off today’s program because it’s one of those things that we all remember, where we were on 9/11. Do you remember this? Here’s George W. Bush. You remember him standing on the big pile of rubble talking to the workers, the searchers?
President George W. Bush: I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you.
President Bush: The people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.
Mark: You can still picture him up there on that pile of rubble talking to all those workers, the American flags, just the tragedy of the whole thing. What’s your thoughts when you think back to 9/11, Victor?
Victor Medina: First of all, it happened to have been about a month after I got married. We had just gotten married the month before, my wife and I together.
I have my mother‑in‑law working in the World Trade Center as a legal secretary, and not knowing if she was even at work that day. By just a blessing of God, the brakes on her bus broke, and she didn’t make it into the city.
I’ve got vivid memories of all of that, mostly because we’re so close to New York City. I was raised walking in and out of there.
Then certainly all of the stuff that happened afterwards. I get encouraged seeing the spirit of the people that come together. You look at that image, everybody working towards a common purpose being solidified around that.
Then you’re looking for a time to demonstrate to the world that we had been able to get through it. Whether it was the restart of baseball that was being played at a time, or the Yankees coming back up, because, of course, New York was so severely affected of it.
I don’t know. Here’s a small version of that, I always get encouraged by human spirit. Here in the northeast, we ended up getting flash floods occurring. There were so many stories here in my town of people helping people out who were in abandoned cars. On the verge of tragedy, facing this and people coming around to help them.
You’re encouraged by the human spirit. We certainly saw that as being one of the positive lessons that came out of an incredible tragedy 20 years ago.
Mark: I just watched on Netflix, the drama, I guess you would call it, then it was titled “Worth” with Michael Keaton. He was the law firm that George W. Bush, John Ashcroft, the Attorney General hired to figure out how much are these lives worth?
I can’t think of it. He was doing it. He was a little awkward [laughs] at times, didn’t maybe understand a lot. He said, “This is something my company’s going to do this pro bono. We’re not going to make any money on this. This is our way of giving back and helping and all of that.”
It was such a tough situation because you’d have, “Well, wait, these are the big money people of those big financial firms that were in the towers when they went down. They’re worth way more than the janitor.”
It was a crazy thing. They were going to come up with a light. If you were in this area of income, you get this. If you were in this area of income, you get this.
The high worth people didn’t like it. They said, “Well, you’ve got to give us more because we were going to make so much more money, and our bonuses were going to be so high.” He’s like, “This should be fair to everybody.” It was crazy. It’s a true story.
I don’t know how you do that. I guess that’s where an elder‑law attorney comes in. What is my life worth? I don’t know. It’s worth watching. It was interesting. I never even thought about that. I do remember that. It went on for probably three years before it was ever wrapped up.
Victor: Nobody ever thought that we were going to have as many claims that were related to that as…No one thought that that was even a possibility. There was no way of preparing for how to administer all of that stuff. You certainly were never going to get to a situation that was perfect.
It’s like, which is the least part of evils that you can live with and then figure out how you get through and hope everybody’s got their best intentions working on it. There’s no way to know that you’re doing the right thing.
Mark: Then they did do the follow‑up. They did do the follow‑up for the 9/11, the firefighters, the police, the people that went in and survived but because of all the fumes and the gases or whatever and the health issues they had down the line, his company stayed in on those things which is pretty incredible.
That’s not really what we’re here to talk about. 9/11 is one of those, I think, that always takes us back in time. I still remember, Victor, because I’m a lot older than you. I’ll be Social Security eligible this fall, but my mom and I was probably four. I was getting close to four…I was right around four.
My mom comes running out the front door as John F. Kennedy get shot in Dallas. I still remember that. That was something that I remember even though I was four years old. I remember that whole time. It was one of those earlier things obviously and crazy. There’s always things going on.
There are a lot of things going on in our world today, certainly, but I guess when you think about all of this, Victor, it’s still at the end of the day the only thing that we can do is try to put a plan together to help us going forward to maybe ease some stress in our lives. That’s really what your company’s are here for, right?
You’re here to help us get through with really when we don’t have any guarantees in life, do we?
Victor: There’s nothing magic what we do. There’s no crystal ball. I don’t have some elixir that helps me predict the future or what’s going to be happening any better than the next person. I can help people control what is controllable.
When you come in and you’re talking about what you need for your retirement, a lot of people want to know the answers about where the market’s going or “Am I going to need long‑term care?” Any of those questions that are about predicting the future enhances, [laughs] I have no idea.
I just shake up the Magic 8 ball and read what comes up on the top. There are things that we can control from. We can control how much risk you have to the market and how much money we keep off of the kind of powdered keg ready to explode.
We can control whether or not we have put great estate planning in place so that if you become incapacitated, you don’t have to go through a guardianship or something similar. That’s where that value comes in is if you’re working with an advisor that ends up knowing the questions to ask so that we get the entire world of the things that we can’t control for.
That’s the idea of working with somebody who’s super experienced is that we now can think of all of the things that is possibly controlled for and then we can put as many of them in places as the client is willing to do.
But no, there’s nothing much more than we can do than control the things that are controllable.
Mark: A lot of moving parts. Victor and the teams are here to help. If you have questions, concerns, 856‑506‑8300, no cost, no obligation to chat with the team. 856‑506‑8300.
Every year, Victor, there are estimates for how many people will retire. Thanks to the pandemic, the projections have been off by just a little over 1.7 million more have retired than expected. You think about that, several of these studies though indicate that around half of workers today do not think they will be able to maintain their standard of living in retirement.
Are we facing a retirement crisis in the US right now?
Victor: That’s a great question. If you think about why people are retiring earlier than what has been projected, it’s probably a combination of having to face the changing conditions of the world. You’re either returning to work condition that they didn’t want to return to, or you’ve been working for a company that couldn’t support them when everything basically stopped because of the pandemic.
The idea is that the question was called earlier than they were ready for. Now the question becomes, if they’re being forced into retirement, what they think is the decision that they are forced into, can they maintain their standard of living? Because so much of what they were banking on was a decision that was pushed off into the future.
The reason why it was in the future because they couldn’t answer yes now. I don’t know if there’s going to be a retirement crisis in the general sense. I’m not even sure I know what that phrase means, but I think that a lot of people are going to have to revisit with their expectations are in retirement, in a way that’s very different.
They could have expected to have a retirement that was exactly what it was when they were working and that now needs to be re‑examined about whether or not they can do that. That’s where the value in advisor comes in because many times we’re able to answer a question about how you can get into retirement.
What your retirement is going to look like. There’s something about somebody’s expectations and goals are, “I wanted to look like this.” Then sometimes the whole hard reality of the facts. There are occasions where you have to have a conversation with somebody and say, “Your retirement picture is going to be a little dimmer than what you thought.”
Not as rosy especially for people that made a decision or are forced to make a decision earlier than they were prepared to, but then sometimes we can give them a better picture. That’s often the great conversations that we can have with clients is say, “Listen, it’s OK to spend within these boundaries. Here’s a way that we’ve made sure that your money is going to last as long as you are,” and making sure that that’s going to be an answer that they’re comfortable with.
That they rest easy because of the way that we help explain how we’re getting to that decision. We’re often able to reach that decision, Mark, in a way that traditional advisors can’t because we’re focusing on retirement. Our tool set is different.
The way that we can imagine the way retirement’s going to happen and how we plan for it, that level of expertise is not typically represented in traditional investment advisor or when an investment broker that you’re talking to, somebody who’s picking stocks or mutual funds free, we’re looking everything holistically.
By the way, we help people with this, not just who our clients but anyone who’s interested in it. For example, a lot of question people have especially those folks that are the subject of whether or not you’re going to have a retirement crisis or wondering whether or not their money’s going to last as long as they are.
We have a great guide for them on that, that we can giveaway absolutely for free. Anybody who’s listening and is interested in learning on that topic, you can actually go to 920income.com. It’s 9‑2‑0‑income.com.
If you go to that website, it’ll ask you for your name and your email, and then we’ll be able to send to you automatically this guide for helping you understand how your money can last as long as you do.
Because the biggest challenge for people in retirement is replicating the paycheck that they were receiving when they were working out of the investments and savings that they accumulated before they were made to make that decision.
Mark: Certainly, that’s where retirement planning starts, income. Do you have enough? When can I retire? Those kind of questions really start with income. Will my money last as long as I do?
The “Make It Last” retirement plan that you and Victor, and the team’s create, you’re doing it in conjunction. You’re the CEO. It’s your retirement, it’s your hopes and dreams, it’s your bucket list item. The things you want to do and all of that.
You’re the CEO, but you don’t know probably all the different moving parts of retirement that there’s always new tools in the investment world. There’s always new tools in the insurance world. Do you understand? There’s no silver bullet.
I don’t know why Victor has done this a long time. Why he hadn’t created a silver bullet for retirement, but he hasn’t so that means you’ve got to look at the investment world, the insurance world, the banking world, and you come up with your strategy, use a plan.
At Palante Wealth, this holistic retirement plan is called the Make It Last plan, income planning, investment strategies, tax efficiency, moving forward, estate planning. When we’re to come back, we’re going to talk about elder‑law attorneys and what are they. What do they do? Why do we care? What do we need?
When do we need to see one? We’re going to get all of that in the next couple segments. A lot to cover, short time to do it as we do every week on this program, but if you would like to chat with the team, you want to learn more about your situation, “Hey, Victor, when can I retire?” “Do I have enough?” “Will my money last?”
“Will my loved ones be OK if something happens to me?” There’s no better time than right now to pick up the phone and give him a call. There’s no cost for this. 856‑506‑8300. There’s no cost, why wouldn’t you? 856‑506‑8300.
We’re going to have Victor put on his lawyer cap. I don’t know. Does that mean you have a cigar or a pipe or anything?
Victor: It’s a briefcase with scales on it. That’s what we’re going to do.
Mark: [laughs] There you go. We’re going elder law when we come back. A lot of ground to cover in that area, I can guarantee you. Again, the number, 856‑506‑8300. Since this is a 9/11 weekend, we’ll leave you with this from Alan Jackson.
Mark: Welcome back to Make It Last with Victor Medina, Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth, I’m Mark Elliot. If you have any questions about where you are on your road to retirement, Victor is the author of five books on retirement planning all under the acclaimed Make It Last series.
You can find out more just by going to the website, Palante Wealth, P‑A‑L‑A‑N‑T‑E, palantewealth.com. We’re going to be talking elder law though. That’s now more in the area of Medina Law Group.
Estate planning is a part of the Make It Last retirement plan so income, investment, taxes, estate planning. If you have any questions in a legal area, that’s medinalawgroup.com, M‑E‑D‑I‑N‑A, medinalawgroup.com. Easier to maybe just remember the phone number and give them a call. 856‑506‑8300.
856‑506‑8300. All right. We’re going to talk a little elder law. There’s so many questions I think that a lot of people have like, “Why do I need an elder‑law attorney?” “What are the documents that I really need?” We’re going to cover a lot of ground in the next two segments. I think maybe the first question would be, how does elder law differ from general law practice?
Victor: That’s a really good question. For me, I barely knew when I got started. I don’t think there was an elder‑law class when I was in law school. It’s probably barely an estate‑planning class. I know there’s a tax one.
Coming into this practice, I began focusing on estate planning and I got there because a family member ended up needing an estate administration after they died and the thing was a complete mess and everyone’s like, “He had a great estate planner,” or, “He used a great estate planning attorney.”
I was able to come in from the outside. It actually was a terrible estate plan. It didn’t start with the end in mind, it started with whatever, the documents. Somebody thought the double ARP should have given him and so, we went from there.
In developing it, the better estate planning practice, one of the things that we did was create a way of seeing people on a regular basis, we call our client‑care program. It’s very unusual for lawyers in estate planning to, once they set up the documents, create a system to make sure the documents still work, we were able to do that.
We would visit with families and here’s a question they would come up, Mark, is “Listen, you did a great job getting our affairs in order, but we have this other question about my dad and he’s getting up in age and know that he might have to go into an assisted‑living facility. And here’s the thing, we just don’t want to spend it all.
“Or at least we want to keep as many doors open in the way that we do his planning. Can you do that?” It’s another one of those situations where we had great relationships with clients asking us to do more for them. We didn’t know that we could and it was my first opportunity to focus in on doing elder‑law planning, which is really a say to.
Instead of focusing on what happens if you become incapacitated or what when you die, we start working with people who may live, but maybe a little bit more poorly than they expected. In other words, they’re going to get sick.
They’re afraid of what happens if life deals them this raw set of cards or they need to go to assisted‑living facility because they have Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s or MS, or they need long‑term care for a period of time.
Elder law, it just became this moniker of an area that dealt with people that are getting older, they were getting sick and that sick was expensive in trying to navigate that. We often have this that people don’t plan ahead of time and then there’s tiptoeing through the landmine field just setting things off left and right.
You’re right, Mark, that a lot of people just don’t know this area. They don’t even know what it is and the older people get, they don’t want to be elder laws. People in your generation don’t want to go to an elder‑law attorney. We may have to call a senior planning specialist for you, but they don’t want to think about what the impact of that is going to be.
They don’t see it until they have to deal with their parents, or I have to deal with a spouse that ends up having one of these situations, and then they learn about it really quick. We’ve focused a lot of our practice before adding financial services and adding Palante Wealth.
We focused a lot on the estate elder‑law world. The asset protection world focusing on making sure that people who get sick are able to navigate that life in a way that doesn’t affect, for example, the quality of life of the healthy spouse.
We don’t want the sickness of one person to make sure that spouse did nothing more than to marry your bum button to stay with you all these years now making them poor too. We don’t want that impact to happen. We need to plan a way to make sure that we keep the same quality of life.
Even though someone’s gotten sicker, or so that they’re not faced with going into the nursing home that does smells bad and only takes Medicaid, but is able to navigate that to get some private pay over there and get into one of the nicer ones.
We need to help you manage that process. It’s very similar in the same way that we would do a retirement plan for somebody who’s 55 to make sure that they’ve set up their income investments tax and estate planning.
We’re getting exactly the same thing for somebody who’s a little bit older around worrying about asset protection. We’re going to make sure that they know where they’re going to get the income to pay for long‑term care.
How they have to position their assets to build safeguard them and generate that income, deal with the tax ramifications, especially if people have big 401(k) walking in there and also have the estate planning documents including trusts and powers of attorney to make sure that they can get through that.
It’s the same process of putting it through there, but we’re just focused on that latter half of life where things can become expensive if you happen to get sick too.
Mark: Then, if elder‑law attorneys are really helping families plan for retiree benefits for healthcare, long‑term care, Medicaid, Medicare, home care, nursing home care, then pre‑planning is probably important.
I would guess, why is pre‑planning important? Maybe what age should we start thinking about this because to me, you’re hoping all of these issues that you just talked about happen after the age of 80. We’re not guaranteed that, are we?
Victor: Yeah, not only that you’re hoping that they don’t happen at all. You just want to make sure that if they do happen, that you’re not snake bit by what’s going on there. The concept of pre‑planning is a function of not just wanting to make sure you do things before there’s a crisis.
Also, because there are some laws in place that prevent you from doing emergency or last minute planning, or at least makes it more difficult.
The two areas that we focus in our Medicaid, which we just mentioned, but there’s also an area of veterans benefits that apply to anybody that happen to have served during a period of conflict, or was married to somebody that served during a period of conflict.
If you have that status of either being the veteran or the surviving spouse of that veteran is an additional benefit that you can get a special pension. Both of those programs require you to do planning either three or five years before you apply for them, or else, there’s some negative consequences if you try to do it at the last minute.
There’s a very real reason to do pre‑planning, which is that we can get the most amount from the greatest number of programs and benefits if we’re able to do that.
Then we’re also have the most flexibility in the kinds of planning we do. For example, if somebody had a large IRA, that’s all pre‑tax dollars, and if they come needing to pay for an assisted‑living facility at 6 to 8 to 10 thousand dollars a month, they’re going to liquidate it very quickly.
Not only that, they’re going to end up paying a lot in taxes because of how much extra they’re going to have to take out of their way more than they were living on in their retirement. There’s a tax component of it that if we’re able to do some pre‑planning, do a little bit out of the IRA every year so that we don’t get hit and slammed with a big tax bill.
You can see a scenario where pre‑planning is very helpful in that situation. The other place where pre‑planning can be helpful is that there is a great way that our firm can or firms, I guess both companies, can mix and match both legal and financial tools.
We can use legal tools like irrevocable trusts and different kinds of planning strategies for there. We can also use, for example, a traditional form of a long‑term care insurance policy, whereas pre‑planning important way.
If you wait too long, you might not be eligible for what or it might be so expensive, that it’s not worth doing. The sooner you can get started on this, the better. I typically start having conversations with clients around this when they turn age 60 because the earliest time for benefit is 65.
I start having stronger conversations with them as they pass into their 70s because most of the report suggests that your first bout of needing long‑term care, it speaking somewhere around your mid‑70s, 75, 76 is where most of those numbers come out.
If you back out the fact that I have to do planning maybe five years ahead of time, when I hit that 70‑year‑old mark, that’s really where I’m going to say, “Look at this.” Now, it’s getting serious. We could have done a lot more, the tax planning when we started at age 60 but we’re waiting for age 70. We better start hitting this because if you wait much longer than this, by the time you get sick with something, we don’t have as much time to do as much planning.
You want to look anywhere in that range and I’ll tell you that the easiest people to have this conversation with Mark, are people who did this planning for their parents. If they came in and they were handling a nursing‑home situation for mom, they’re doing that planning the moment after the mom is settled in there.
Because they know it’s the last thing they want to do is visit that kind of problem when their kids had because the way they had to navigate it.
Mark: I think you’re exactly right. If you go through a parent needing long‑term care, for example, and they didn’t plan for it, and you see the exorbitant cost to everybody involved in the family, and all of that, you’re going to probably be a little bit more proactive in that area.
If you’ve never gone through it, then maybe not. We’re saying you need to regardless. You need to have a plan in place and if you want to find out more, Victor and the team have set up a website just for this, 920elderlaw.com. Victor, what’s involved in that when we go to 920elderlaw.com? What are we going to find?
Victor: There’s going to be a white paper that we created, a resource of additional information. It’s going to talk to you about how to make sure that you protect your money so that your health doesn’t destroy your family’s wealth. All this time that you spent accumulating a nest egg to help protect it.
We don’t want the cost of aging to devastate that. What we’re able to do is give you some outline what the risks are, talk to you about how that might visit. Because if you got your head buried in the sand, you think it’s not going to happen to you, we’ve got some information about how frequently it does happen but the costs are associated.
Then we’re also going to give you the light at the end of the tunnel to show you how to get out of that and some of the strategies that you can use in order to make sure that in fact, you do avoid that. That 920elderlaw.com is designed for the person who is not currently facing a crisis, but wants to learn more about how to do this asset protection.
I always tell people, the most amount of money I make in legal fees are from the people who come to me in crisis when there’s a fire in the kitchen. The greatest amount of good that we can do for people is when we’re able to see them early.
If you’re in a situation where you’re like, “I want to pay less and I want the better benefit,” then that’s the time you need to come see us early in that you get both of those wins out of there, you get to pay less, and you get to be able to have a better result from that.
Mark: If you like that guy that report 920elderlaw.com. Again, there’s no cost, there’s no obligation for getting this. This is Victor and his team helping you get a little bit better handle on this. 920elderlaw.com.
One of the big things that the Biden administration has been talking about, Victor, would be estate taxes. When I think of elder‑law attorneys and being a certified elder‑law attorney that you are, I think of estate taxes. Now, I’m not in that category.
Right now, an individual would have to have a little over 11 million to be taxed on their estate and a couple would need to have over 22 million, but the Biden administration is talking about drastically cutting that down to round 3 million. Now you got a 401(k), you got a life insurance policy, it’s easier to get into that area.
Where does the estate taxes fall into this planning process?
Victor: I want to layer one more on top of that, Mark, which is that there’s proposals to eliminate the step‑up in basis for capital gains, which means that all of that tax that has been accumulating, those accounts that you thought was going to be wiped out when you died might actually be a tax that your kids have to pay later.
That’s also proposed, that’s being floated around. If you couple those two ideas, lowering the estate tax exemption, limiting the capital gains with now something that was passed a couple years ago called the Secure Act, which means that you have to eliminate your IRA account within 10 years.
Now, you can see where tax planning is so important with somebody when they’re entering a little bit later in their stage. Let’s say that their retirement’s been going well, they’ve been living on the right amount of money, but they know that they’re going to be leaving something behind to their kids.
Now, if you think about how we’re going to leave that in the best possible way. We have to navigate income taxes.
We’ve got to navigate potentially estate taxes, which, by the way, just for kicks and giggles, the estate taxes, if they have to get paid out of the IRA account, you have to take out more money than what the bill is because you got to pay the income taxes to pay the estate taxes. It’s a double whammy you on that one.
From the elder‑law perspective, if you’re thinking about that amount of time that is left before you can do that, you have a shrinking window. If you jumble all of that together, it brings you back to the way that we approach every client coming in there, which is to first devise a plan.
Because every person’s situation is going to be a little bit different, but what we can do is if we know our starting point, whether we’re meeting you when you are 70, 75, 80, or 85, some of the most delightful clients that we get to meet with the most powerful plan that we can do are already entering their 80s.
Understanding that with the limited time window that they’ve got, they want to make sure that they’re doing the absolute best for the people that live behind, we’re able to chart a course for them from their starting point, which is the time that they need us to…
As much time as we have, their kind of ending point and making sure that we have maximize the amount of money that they’re leaving behind, maximize the amount of options and flexibility for not only themselves, but their beneficiaries.
This is an instrumental part of planning is to be able to deal with and navigate through the potential tax issues that are going to be coming up including what has been proposed about a lowering of an estate tax exemption.
Mark: If you like to get the report, 920elderlaw.com, you can certainly get that. There’s no cost to get there. You just go to that website and you’ll get the report. 920elderlaw.com. If you have questions about all of this, “Well, how do I protect my family about with taxes, estate taxes?”
With all these moving parts, the capital gains, the elimination of step‑up in basis, all those things that the Biden administration has been proposing, then this is super, super important. Medicaid, Medicare, how do we plan for all of that?
There’s so many moving parts that I think it’s everybody’s situation is important to them, but they’re not all the same. Everybody’s situation is a little bit different. If you have questions about all of this, you’re like, “Hey, there’s no cost to chat with the team. They’re help to help.”
Why wouldn’t you take advantage especially if this has caused you some stress, especially if you’ve gone through this with parents or grandparents? Like, “Boy, I don’t want to leave that to my kids. I want to take care of this as much as I can right now,” then it’s a great opportunity to talk with the team at Medina Law Group.
856‑506‑8300 is the number. 856‑506‑8300. This is certainly one of those areas you’re way better off being proactive than reactive without a doubt. 856‑506‑8300. What are the core planning documents that we all need and there’s a little different levels probably. Victor’s going to touch on that when we come back.
This is Make It Last with Victor Medina from Medina Law Group, from Palante Wealth.
Mark: Welcome back to Make It Last with Victor Medina of Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth. Victor focuses on traditional estate planning, asset protection, retirement distribution, proactive income tax planning. The Make It Last plan, income, investments, taxes, estate, also important.
It’s one of those things you want to be proactive. You want to do it before you get into retirement, before you have any health issues or what‑have‑you. You want to be proactive, you want to get a plan in place. The magic number might be what, Victor? You say 50, 55 years of age, it’s time to start thinking about this?
Victor: The retirement planning, for sure, yup. Probably 5 to 10 years after that for the elder law. Yeah, I think it’s right.
Mark: There you go. 856‑506‑8300. If you’d like to chat with, the teams are here to help, 856‑506‑8300. Today we’re focusing on the Medina Law Group. Victor is a practicing estate planning and certified elder‑law attorney.
For a lot of us are like, “Elder law? What’s that means? I got to be old. So maybe I’ve got to be 90 to come in and see Victor.” No, that’s not how this plays out. It’s a lot about Medicare, Medicaid. It’s about healthcare, long‑term care. How do we handle all of these things? What about our estate taxes?
All those kind of things that we’re talking about today. Let’s go kind of the basics. What are the core planning documents that you would say that we probably all need and then I suppose trust and all that can get…There’s little extensions and fingers all over the place, I would imagine.
Victor: Exactly. People probably understand the documents, but they may not understand the flavors or the wrinkles to them. For example, one of the things we tell you is the court documents have the great power of attorney, but a lot of people will hear that and be like, “Well, I just need like four pieces of paper with some writing on this, a power of attorney. I need to sign it.”
No, that’s not actually what you need because when we think about an elder‑law flavor of a power of attorney, we start to include our visions in there that are a little bit different. We need to help for the benefits of planning and be able to apply to long‑term care facilities.
Perhaps go and get some insurance or be able to create trust then transfer money into those trusts. The provisions become a little bit more robust in the document, that’s the elder‑law flavor of that. They would be a traditional power of attorney. You might be able to get a lot of way with if you’re just going to be using for retirement purposes.
Each one of the documents attracts the way we would do a foundational plan. You need a power of attorney. You need a healthcare directive, you need a will. You need a revocable trust, but then we start to add some wrinkles to it. For example, we often use an irrevocable trust.
One of the reasons why we use an irrevocable trust is because that gives us thick walls of protection for assets that we want to safeguard for your benefit and allows us to craft in a way that you can still use that money so you’re not giving it up forever.
We do get to do some magic lawyer stuff in there that allows us to protect if we’re having to get spent down in a nursing home or an assisted‑living facility. Last document that needs to be part of that, but it’s not what people traditionally think about is it you need an overall written plan.
The reason why you need one is if you’re charting the course of a destination that might be five years away where you’re trying to plan for not having to spend everything at the nursing home, if you happen to get Alzheimer’s and something happens to you.
You actually need a road map to help guide you because, A, it’s a very long time away from now, but, B, lots of things are going to change between the time that when you set it up and the time that you use it. What the plan allows you to do is build expansion slots for if something happens that you didn’t expect when you first set it together.
If you happen to get sick sooner, if you happen to get sick where things are more expensive, if both of you get sick at the same time, if one of you that was supposed to be the caregiver dies and the other person who’s sick now needs a facility sooner than they expected, and how do we do with that?
The plan is a lot more encompassing and it helps you understand when and how to use those other foundational documents like the power of attorneys that healthcare directive in each of the different flavors of trust. All of those together makeup what I would consider to be the core foundational documents of an elder‑law asset protection plan.
Mark: The question is, do you have all of those court documents that Victor just talked about? If you would like, you go, “Wow, I think I’ve got maybe one of those or two of them. I don’t have everything that he was talking about.” Let’s get started. Let’s talk about this.
Do you really need it? 856‑506‑8300 is the number. Again, no cost, no obligation for this. 856‑506‑8300. Victor, my high school buddy, still a great friend. He retired at the age of 62. He turned 62 in February. I turned 62 this November.
He went ahead and retire because he was an attorney, not a coach and a radio guy. Coach, radio guy, you have to keep working, but attorney, you can retire at the age of 62. Now he was an insurance attorney. He represented the insurance company.
Somebody had a wreck, “Hey, I messed my neck up. I messed my backup.” Then who knew, but sometimes there weren’t hurt. Who was the mediator? In those cases can any lawyer help in this area? Do you have a special qualification?
Victor: It’s a good question and people ask me all the time, “Hey, you must do your own legal work.” I bought a couple of buildings. I hire a real estate attorney.
I’ve been in situations where I’ve been in business negotiation. I’ve got a business lawyer. Heck, even for my financial services companies, I’ve got a security and compliance attorney that I hired.
I believe in making sure that you have the right Swiss Army, the right knife for the tool, and you just don’t use a Swiss Army knife whenever you need it and that is the case in elder‑law situation as well.
In fact, not only should a general attorney not touch elder law, in most cases, even a general estate planning attorney shouldn’t touch elder law because there’s so much risk that’s involved in there.
If you mess this up, you’re going to cause somebody to become ineligible for long‑term care benefits and not only are they going to be poor, but then we’re going to start digging a hole afterwards. It’s going to be almost impossible for their family to come out.
This is an area that’s really fraught with a lot of danger that most lawyers should stay away from. More importantly, you as a client should only go to somebody that focuses their planning in this area, and there’s always one bright line credential for this.
In the financial services world, there’s a couple that we respect like a certified financial planner designation. Then there’s a lot of them that some financial advisors just go and get because they think letters after their name are helpful.
Those are the ones we avoid. Inside of the lawyer sphere, there’s one bright line credential you should be looking for and that’s called a CELA, or a Certified Elder‑Law Attorney, the C‑E‑L‑A. That happens to be a designation that’s granted by the National Elder‑Law foundation.
If you want to figure out where the closest CELA and you’re hearing this along far away from me. Let’s say you can go to any lf.org and nelf.org, but this CELA designation is one that I have. It’s one that’s important for any person is touching your elder law to have because it means a couple of things.
The first thing is that it means that you are focusing your planning in an area where you’re doing a minimum of 60 cases a year and a minimum of 80 percent of your time focus in that area. There’s the prerequisite of competency and experience going in.
The next thing is there’s a competency test and that test is let me tell you, Mark, that one’s a doozy, only about 30 percent of the people taking that pass it on their first time and then the percentage goes down after that.
It’s a very difficult test to pass, but then lastly, this is the one that I’m most proud of, is you have to have the recommendation and endorsement of your peers. Other elder‑law attorneys, have to point to you and go, “That’s the guy, or that’s the girl that can help. We want them in this club. They do things the right way.”
If you put those three things together, the education experience, plus the testing, plus the endorsement of their peers, that’s one of the reasons why it is the gold standard of credentials for people working with elder‑law cases, because it just makes sure that nothing slips through the cracks.
We have to know everything about guardianship, and social security, and medicare, and medicaid planning. Then using trust, and how to get veterans benefits, and how to navigate housing discrimination cases, and all things that are wrapped up to this definition of serving seniors.
For you, when you’re in a situation where you’re thinking about, “How do I make sure that this plan I put in place will work, l will safeguard my assets.” You need to be working with a certified elder‑law attorney to make sure that you’re working with somebody that’s over qualified to make that happen.
Mark: Victor is super smart. I think we get that. He’s not going to talk down to us. He’s an act like, we’re on the same mental capacity level. Right, Victor? [laughs] you’re going to be right there with us.
Victor: You tell me across doing the radio show now, you have to let me know, we’re doing that on a regular basis here on the air.
Mark: 856‑506‑8300. If you have questions, one of the challenges is, you talked about there’s beneficiaries and all those core documents we need, but you can use beneficiaries, you don’t necessarily have to have a trust to bypass probate.
If you have beneficiaries, which are 401(k) would have those, the challenge to me would be so my Mom, my step sister, is an Attorney. She is the one executor of the estate for my Mom, because she’s a lawyer. She goes, my Mom goes, “She knows way more about this than you do.”
I’m like, “Make sense to me, put her in charge. I like that.” When we’re putting the powers of attorney together, do we ladder and hate the first person can’t do it now when it actually needs to be done. We go to number two on the list. How does that work? The documents successors, if you will?
Victor: I’m fond of telling clients when they come in, “Hey, who is your favorite child and name them last in your documents,” because this is not a job that you want to give somebody as a gift. It’s not a job anyone loves to do. It’s important that we not only name somebody in that role, but we start to name layers of them or backups to them.
Because we never know what the weather’s like, when we end up on vacation. They always want to throw an extra sweater in the suitcase to make sure that you’re going to be OK. As you’re getting older, it’s terrible to…