If You Are Good at Science and Want Good Money Consider a Patent Law Degree

Patent LawWhat is Patent Law – Intellectual Property Law?

There are four main types of intellectual property: patents, copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets. The patent system exists in most industrialized countries and is designed to reward inventors and authors. Patents are granted by the US patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), where patents are carefully examined and protection granted for those that meet legal standards.

Copyright protection is governed by federal law and applies to literary, musical and dramatic works, to name a few. The owner of a copyright has the exclusive right to reproduce and distribute copies of their work. Limited use of the copyright work is allowed for education and research purposes without the permission of the copyright owner.

Trademarks can be a single word, or a group of words or a logo that is used for sale of goods. The owner of a trademark can exclude others from using it in the sales of their goods. It not only protects the trademark owner but the public as well as it minimizes confusion, and buying something that is in fact something else.

Required Education and Coursework

Patent law is a specialized field within the practice of law. To enter into this profession, you will need to accomplish a number of things. First you will have to obtain a college degree. Then you will have to enter and finish law school as well as pass the bar exam. Once you pass the bar exam, you then become licensed to practice law.

If you are thinking about specializing in patent law, it is best if you obtain a college degree in engineering, physics or natural sciences such as chemistry and biochemistry. To succeed in this profession a general knowledge, understanding and liking of science is a must.

Patent law degree programs cover courses such as intellectual property, copyright law, patent law and policy, trademark law and unfair competition, antitrust, bioethics, genetics and the law, international intellectual property, international trade law as well as patent claim drafting. This list is in no way exhaustive but it does give you an idea of the curriculum and skills targeted and developed within this profession.

Careers with Patent Law Degree

Patent lawyers work in a variety of settings, from corporations and law firms to universities and government agencies. In corporations, you would work as an in-house counsel. You would have expertise in the technology of your corporations and your main task would be driven by the business of the corporation. In law firms, you would have a wide variety of clients and would practice patent law across a wide spectrum of technologies. At universities, you could work as a law professor. In these types of positions, you would not only teach but have the time to do research and write articles and presentations on intellectual property law. The federal government employs a large number of patent lawyers. In this role you would represent the government and litigate on behalf of government agencies.

A Day in the Life of a Patent Lawyer

Patent lawyers spend most of their time in procurement and licensing of patents. Procurement of a patent begins with the inventor describing his/her invention to the lawyer. You would then have to evaluate your client’s description and think about its utility, novelty and obviousness of invention. Your job at this stage is to evaluate if your client’s idea can be labeled a valuable patent and if a patent application should be filed. In order to accomplish this task successfully you will have to have great mastery of law but also the technical field involved.

Let’s say a decision is based to apply for a patent. Your job then is to draft a patent application and file it with USPTO. The application is rather elaborate and includes a detailed description of the patent, how it is made and how it will be used. A significant portion of the application defines the inventor’s patent rights. Once filed, the application is assigned to an examiner. As a patent lawyer, you would be the main contact person for the examiner and would need to spend many hours in correspondents with the goal of getting a favorable final action for your client.

If the patent application is not approve, you would be responsible for filling appeals to the decision to the USPTO’s Board of Appeals or even to the US Court of Appeals for Federal Circuit. However, if the patent application is approved, you will then develop and investigate licensing and filing corresponding patent applications in other countries.

Patent Lawyer Salary – How much could you make?

If you like what you read about patent law so far, you are going to love what comes next! According to PayScale.com, in 2005 the average patent lawyer salary was $115,000. The American Intellectual Property Law Association reports the average salary to be over $180,000. If this surprises you, it should not. Keep in mind that you must have a strong science or engineering background in order to become a patent attorney. Due to such high education demands, this specialization of law is more in-demand that other legal areas of practice. As a result, salaries are high.

Maja Aleksic has a doctorate in education psychology and has worked for both the Arizona State Department of Education as well as a prominent Arizona High School District. For more tips and advice on choosing the best online law degree program, courses and career opportunities go to [http://www.Select-Online-Degree.com/law_degree_online.html] for up to date education news.

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The Secret Law of Attraction Application Or Saving What You Have As You Move Forward

Law 2The secret Law of Attraction might start with Buddha’s teaching that the root of suffering emerges from constant craving and wanting. Yet, many of us world wide are right now in a state of anxiety about our jobs, our homes, and whether our retirement or education fund is going to be there when we need it. The worries are apparent to anyone reading the blogs, or our mail:

Q asks: “Is there a way around this, without resorting to silly “wishful thinking” as my father used to call it?”

M answers: “Yes, there is.”

Q asks: “Do we have to follow the teachings of the movie, The Secret and apply the secret Law of Attraction to the letter?”

M answers: “No.”

Q says: “That’s a relief.”

M answers: “Is it?”

Q says: “Yes, because all that stuff about Aladdin’s lamp is just a little too far out for me. Even so, I’m afraid that I might be bringing some awful things into my life if I don’t do everything they suggest.”

Using, not Abusing, the Secret Law of Attraction:

So what do we do?

Immediately, before doing anything else, make a list of the most important things currently in your life. Remember the gratitude you felt when each one of them was new to you. You were really using the the secret Law of Attraction when you felt that way.

When you’re finished listing, continue by asking yourself “How do I feel now? Less afraid? Do I feel good yet?” If not, go back and write some more items on the list. Be descriptive. Really take the time to remember how you felt when these ideas,items, events, or relationships were new.

Now, we all remember what it was like to want the stereo, or the big TV, or the new computer and how it felt when we brought it home. Perhaps a week, or a month, or a year later, it wasn’t getting as much use as it had in the beginning. Or, perhaps, we were using the secret Law of Attraction but it wasn’t bringing us as much pleasure as it had in the beginning.

(This will probably not be true if your new baby girl topped your list of the secret Law of Attraction in action, or your beloved partner. If so, good for you. Skip the parts that don’t apply.)

What is that that reduces our pleasure when something is no longer new? The movie The Secret tells us that we can have anything we want in life when we appropriately use the secret Law of Attraction. But, what if we get it and then we still aren’t happy? And, the Law of Attraction tells us that if we are unhappy, we will bring more unhappiness into our lives. Uh ohhh….

The the secret Law of Attraction can be used to bring things into your life, or it can be used to bring feelings into your life! This is the recommendation of Mike Dooley: focus on the feeling, or the state of being that you want, and then visualize that, as if you already have it now. This helps to prevent attaching too tightly to particular results, or to things, and as he explains, the Universe will bring you the result that you want, but the hows might surprise you. This is no subliminal message, but the secret Law of Attraction at work.

So take this opportunity now, to detach from all the things in your life. They are not you. They never were you. The secret Law of Attraction does not stipulate that things are all that you can manifest.

“But, I love the boat,” you might protest.

The boat is only a boat. The secret Law of Attraction might give you a better boat, or not. If you detach from the boat, Life might bring a change that would totally replace the boat with something greater. The Universe is constantly creating and re-creating. If the boat brings you great joy consistently, and you are consistently grateful for it, it is likely that the Universe, through the secret Law of Attraction, will keep it in your life or bring you the opportunity for a boat that will bring you even more joy. — But you must trust, enjoy, and do not under any circumstances begin to worry about the boat.

As Byron Katie says, “The Universe is always kind. If something brings you stress, the Universe will take it away.”

Faith and the Cooperative Mind

Wallace Wattles, when talking about the secret Law of Attraction, warns us not to be competitive. The “thinking stuff” that makes up the Universe is without limits. We do not have to compete with our neighbors because there is no limit on boats. So, if we want the boat (or anything else) that is bigger or better than our neighbor’s, it becomes a problem. Do yourself a favor when using the secret Law of Attraction and give up those thoughts. Give up that thinking. You can have whatever boat you want as long as it is not to do “better” than someone else and as long as you don’t “need” it.

Other teachers remind us that the creative principle requires faith. If there is anything in the news that is making you anxious or worried, turn it off. As James Arthur Ray says, you might want to be informed, but you don’t need to be inundated. If you want to move forward rather than backward, the 2nd worst thing you can do to yourself is to worry.

Write lists of why you will not be adversely affected by an economic pullback. Whenever you feel a doubt coming on, write a list. Keep a notebook in your pocket or bag and keep the lists going until you feel belief and faith again. It’s not the list writing that will give you hope, it’s the inspiration that you will receive when you are connecting to your Source, that will make you feel better.

In the Gospel of Thomas, now in Egypt, Jesus teaches us about prayer. It is a language that communicates with the intelligence he calls the Father, and Gregg Braden or Max Planc call the Matrix. If you want health or wealth, “be” surrounded and enveloped by these things so your feeling can be completed. — You can see the error in surrounding yourself by ne’er-do-wells, the easily discouraged by those with a negative mind frame. Jesus, Mary, Joseph! The Universe will give you more of what you surround yourself with. Be happy when using the secret Law of Attraction.

The Science of the Secret Law of Attraction

Our science is showing that when we have strong feelings, not only are there changes inside our bodies, but also there are changes outside our bodies. The world around us is primarily electrical and magnetic. In our bodies, the largest generator of this electrical and magnetic divine matrix is the human heart! It has about 100 times the power of the brain to create an electrical field and over 5,000 times the power of the brain to create a magnetic field.

Our hearts communicate without words. If you are competitive, or out to “beat” someone, they will know that, and do what they have to do to protect themselves. If on the other hand, your purpose is to improve yourself and your family’s situation, and perhaps that of your neighbors or employees, the Universe will send you whatever resources you need to attain your goal. This is the secret Law of Attraction.

It’s not always obvious when one is behaving competitively. If there are feelings of lack, scarcity, not good enough, not fast enough, not rich enough, need more, need greater… these are all indications that your ego is in charge. Competition is one of the ways in which the ego attempts to correct a situation that was never a problem in the first place.

Get rid of any thought of competition. Haanel and Napoleon Hill both caution us about this. As Wattles says, “Intelligent Substance will make things for you, but it will not take things away from some one else and give them to you.” He warns us to become creators, not cheaters or thieves…. “You must never think for a moment that the supply is limited.” Never measure with your physical senses, Dooley says. Wattles continues, “Look always at the limitless riches in Formless Substance, and KNOW that they are coming to you as fast as you can receive and use them. Nobody, by cornering the visible supply, can prevent you from getting what is yours.”

From Wattles,

There is a thinking stuff from which all things are made and which, in it original state, permeates, penetrates, and fills the interspaces of the universe.

A thought in this substance, produces the thing that is imaged by the thought.

Man can form things in his thought, and, by impressing his thought upon the formless substance, can cause the thing he thinks about to be created.

Dealing with Negatives in the Material World

The only secret is that you already have it all.

Now, this is going to be hard to take in if you just lost your job and the creditors are calling every day. Bear with me. I was there too. I read Joe Vitale telling me that I could have anything as long as I didn’t “need it” and I didn’t know how to be without a job and not “need” everything.

For months, over a year perhaps, I have been repeating the affirmations,

“I am whole and perfect. I am strong and powerful. I am healthy, happy, harmonious, sexy, wealthy and wise.”

I had read about a boy who was born with terrible birth defects who managed to outgrow or to heal from every prediction his doctors told his family about his physical limits by repeating much of that mantra. I thought that if it worked for someone who could not walk, it would certainly do me some good.

I didn’t really get it until I studied Eckhart Tolle who is always talking about the secret Law of Attraction although he doesn’t name it as such. We are spiritual beings, and I was affirming my spiritual self which is always the first we need to acknowledge and heal. (The day I understood this, the nagging and persistent pain in my ankle that I had for the previous ten years stopped.) We, right now, are spiritual beings, and we are whole and perfect and strong and powerful and so forth, no matter what our physical situation. We are eternal, spiritual beings. God, in Conversations with God reminds us that we are here to experience our selves. We can only do that when under the illusory limitations of time, space, and circumstance. Our true selves are joyful and unlimited spiritual beings, connected always and eternally to the source of all creation, the source of all joy and able to use the secret Law of Attraction automatically. Joy is with us always. We do not “need” the things that we think we need for happiness, once we connect to the Source.

If the creditor calls, it does not affect our spiritual identity, our true identity. It might affect the circumstances of our finite physical lives. It will certainly affect, as Eckhart Tolle says, our ego. Yet, we do not have to attach to our ego. We can observe and accept our ego as a part of this illusory life of time and space, limits and circumstance. We can remain separate from our ego, as the Spirit within us observes.

But then, what do we do when circumstances are dire and the creditors are calling several times a day and we don’t have anything to give to them?

1. Negotiate. Do Ho’oponopono for the relationship between you and the person who calls, between you and your feelings of scarcity, and between you and you and the distance you think you have between your and abundance, between you and you Source who will always provide for you. then talk without fear, anger or blaming. This is another spiritual being looking to discover him or herself inside a physical body. Keep them on the phone as long as you can. Be honest about your circumstances, understanding that they feel a need to feed their families, and keep their job.

2. Ask for time. This is not a real commodity and their spirit will know that. Money is power, and you were never without that, but you might have misplaced it. Ask for time. Do Ho’oponopono. Keep them on the phone. Promise to talk again in a month.

You will be surprised at the outcome if you can expect an authentic connection with another human being.

And, Since it’s All Good

Stay away from fear and worry! Start to notice how those things you thought were going wrong, turned out to be “a blessing in disguise”.

Celebrate each success. Rejoice in your heart at the smallest unexpected gifts. Feel gratitude for everything you have and are given each day. Feel grateful for the beauty in your environment. Feel the gratitude that your Spirit feels in being alive! The Spirit in its infinite form has never felt limitation or scarcity, so when our ego’s feel those limitations, we are not connecting to our Spirit within; we seem to be disconnected from it. That’s when we experience feelings of lack or fear.

Speaking of environment…you might ask, how can we be grateful for the fires, floods, tsunamis, and the earthquakes that leave so many people dead or homeless, and without any understanding of “why did this happen to me?” It was said by many reporters of the tsunamis that there were noticeably no animals out of captivity that were killed in any of those natural disasters! They knew hours in advance what was about to occur, and they took to higher ground! The Source…your Source, will give you notice well in advance of these occurrences. You merely need to pay attention to you Spirit, and your Source will tell you the when and where of what you need to know. Be grateful for those inspirations.

I once had a conversation with Hunbatz Men, the humblest and most dedicated person to his Mayan traditions that I know. He talked to me about how Maya means illusion, and how the great Maya societies took themselves to another place on the time spindle by connecting to their Source, and as such were able to save what mattered most from total destruction by marauding armies. He did not talk specifically about the secret Law of Attraction but described their use of it and today there are still living Mayans, and beautiful towers of architecture in Mexico. Some call these “ruins,” I call them temples.

Be the tourist in your own life. When you wake up, whether it is Thanksgiving day in America, or a normal day, be the tourist in your life. Live as if you were in a wonderful town or city for the first time. Notice the light coming in through your windows, or the wall hanging that you love, or the sounds of the morning.

Really notice the flavor of the coffee or tea or juice, or the feel of the warm water on your body in the shower.

Be a tourist in your life. Look at your surroundings when seeking to use the secret Law of Attraction, and appreciate the art and beauty of them as if you were seeing them for the first time. Make your moments count, after all isn’t that what life is made up of…many moments.

Be present in your life. Eckhart Tolle promises us that results of being in the Now are:

1. Acceptance
2. Awareness
3. Enthusiasm

Once we are in this state, the Universe, the Matrix, the Source will use the secret Law of Attraction to grant substance to our creative desires.

Nancy J. Stremmel is the co-owner and developer of: http://www.Mindbridge-LOA.com the compendium of information on the Law of Attraction. She is a writer, licensed Social Worker, educator, artist and therapist. She believes that everyone can make the Law of Attraction work for them.

Visit our website for more information on the secret Law of Attraction and great tips for users.

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The Law Of Attraction

Law Of AttractionThe law of attraction is like a living organism that influences the whole cause effect graph of the universe on a subatomic level. The law of attraction is natural law. The Law of Attraction is fun to learn and use because you are always watching, waiting expectantly for your desires to manifest. The Law of Attraction is quite readable, but the way some of the wisdom is presented may give you a bit of a headache–especially as you juggle some of the ideas on attracting undesired situations. The Law of Attraction is totally neutral , it doesn’t filter what you ask for. The law of attraction is so powerful, it can create a beautiful life full of wealth, prosperity, love, joy and happiness, or it can manifest a life of despair, poverty, sadness, ill health, and hatred. The Law of Attraction is one of the most simple and profound principles of the universe which states that “We attract into our lives whatever we give our energy, focus and attention to”. The Law of Attraction is always working. The Law of Attraction is a theory commonly associated with New Age and New Thought philosophy. The law of attraction is just like the law of gravity. The law of attraction is said to be able to bring success, motivation, self improvement, get you out of depression, give you confidence, get rid of your fears and insecurities, help you to improve yourself and your marriage, help you to lose the weight you want to and give you happiness. The law of attraction is the principle by which you attract into your life that which is in vibrational alignment with your consciousness; your thoughts, feelings, beliefs and attitudes. The Law of Attraction is and always has been a part of all of our lives, whether we are aware of it or not. The Law of Attraction is a law of nature that shapes your life.

Thoughts are a vital tool in creating the reality we experience. Thoughts create vibrations, the way a pebble creates ripples in a lake. Thoughts, feelings, words and actions all send messages. A person’s thoughts (conscious and unconscious), emotions, beliefs and actions are said to attract corresponding positive and negative experiences “through the resonance of their energetic vibration. The “law of attraction” states “you get what you think about; your thoughts determine your experience. Gautama Buddha, “What you have become is the result of what you have thought”, is an expression of the idea that thoughts introduced into reality can attract like energy. According to the ‘law of attraction’, thoughts have an energy that attracts like energy. Focus your thoughts and your language on what it is you want to attract. At some point your thoughts will manifest physically, first in your behaviour, and then even in your “real world”. Since nobody actually has the answers as to how the universe works at all, I am curious to know how one can say our thoughts don’t make things happen. All I can say is that we have thoughts for a reason and I do believe that thoughts combined with emotion can get you to your goal quickly. By learning more about this great law, we can better understand how our thoughts create our realities and what we can do to start creating and attracting the lives that we desire. This is why assuming responsibility for your thoughts is so important.

The Law of Attraction is something that affects all of us, all of the time. The Law of Attraction is merely doing its work to deliver what you’re thinking. The Law of Attraction is an extremely important Universal Law, and an aspect of the Law of Cause and Effect or Causation. The Law of Attraction is a technique to help people manifest their dreams and goals. Keep in mind that the Law of Attraction is just a NEW name for the very ANCIENT Law of BELIEF. You will learn what the Law of Attraction is, how it works and how to work with it, to create the life you desire. The key to mastering the Law of Attraction is responsibility. If you want to know what the law of attraction is and how you can learn to use it in your life to get everything you always wanted, just ask me and I will explain it to you.

My name is Kevin Dodd. I am 28 years Old and have been in the music business for a long time and in all kinds of network marketing and online business. I’ve made a lot of money and lost a lot of money. I’ve purchased every kind of software, and have been in all kinds of programs and have learned my lessons the hard way. Now I’m trying to save you the time, hassle, and money and hopefully become wealthy in the process. See You Soon! [http://jobfree77.com/lawofattraction1.html]

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The Law Of Nature Is The Law Of God

Nature LawWe can speak of God and Spirit and all the religions and teachings attributed to God on how we should live. The problem is that all the religious teachings have to be interpreted and there are so many interpretations that the interpreters themselves argue with each other over the true meaning. This article is meant to give you some food for thought on self reflection as to the quality of you as a human being.

We cannot talk to God directly, priests and other religious leaders are very quick to remind us of that to keep their position of power as intermediary. This makes me very concerned about the quality of the translation being delivered.

One thing any religious person cannot argue with is that God made nature, and thus God must have also made the laws of nature. The laws of nature are very clear and indisputable. Therefore, we will find the true will and desire, i.e. laws of God, in the laws of nature. Total purity and simplicity, and very clear without any doubts at all as to intentions and meanings. This is my version of the science of religion, it is the science of nature.

The most powerful law of nature is; ‘Survival of the fittest’. This makes for a strong and healthy plant or animal species which leads to evolution rather than devolution. It is not hard to see that humanity is going down the toilet very quickly as we do not follow these laws. One very interesting fact is that you can walk in front of a man-eating lion, and even sit right beside it without any danger at all, as long as it has just eaten. Animals only kill when necessary, they do not waste food that they will need later on.

Just look at the food court in any modern shopping mall. The way people eat and the amount of rubbish and wasted food they leave behind. From nature’s point of view, compare that to the time before plastic was invented and then reconsider if you are fit to survive in nature, in the sense of keeping the planet going and healthy. Are humans in general abiding by the law of survival of the fittest, or are we killing for pleasure. Killing needlessly is wasteful. How wasteful are you with everything in your day to day life?

Unfortunately humans spend a lot of time tempting to reform the rapist and murderer, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, paid for by the victims of these criminals, to help and reform them. 98% of the time, when released, they go straight back to where they were. Case in point is the man who was caught in New Zealand having sex with a 14 year old. He was already under 24 hour surveillance for having previously been caught having sex with a four year old. They caught him in bed with her after they had sex. So much for their quality of 24 hour surveillance.

Had they cut off his member the first time, the 14 year old would have been saved, and those are the only ones the newspaper talked about. How many other poor children did this villain harm.

In my life, I was shot at by a man who was robbing a bank as I entered, then did my part to catch him. Needless to say he was upset when I guided the police to him as he was making his getaway, who subsequently shot him after he got a couple of shots off at me and the cops. The Officer told me not to worry about this guy, he was just released from jail 2 days ago and has spent most of his life inside. So much for reforming him. Is the world worse off for his departure?

On to a more realistic, day to day events which are relevant to most anyone. If there is someone you meet or know and they are in a bad way, you should determine how long they have been that way, what are they doing to change, have they become better or worse over the past years, and then decide if they are worthy of your time and energy. Are they animals to kill for pleasure, sucking your very life force, or money, from you, leaving you drained?

Sadly, and this may be close to impossible for most people to accept, this applies to everyone; strangers, friends, and even family alike.

Most people will say I am cold, heartless and many other less polite words, but I am a realist. I live with the Laws of God that are clear and in no need of interpretation through priests who just like to keep the power in their hands. The law of nature is the law of God. This is the way of Japanese Zen, living in nature according to the laws of nature. When one is old and destructive, we cannot do anything to save it, nor is that wise, as nature has deemed it should die off for the sake of all that can live a better life.

Survival of the fittest does not mean you are stuck with your current state, unless you accept it. You have a choice, you can make yourself fit to survive.

If you want to know how to live, what God wants you to do, then just look at nature. As all things adapt to the changing seasons, we adapt to the different moods of people, and we survive without being attacked, damaged or destroyed. When age overcomes one we love, we accept it without pain, knowing that they have lived their term, no mater how many years that may be, and nature calls them to move on for its own reasons.

As our fortunes and success comes and goes, know that this is the way of life, all things grow, thrive, then decay and return to their beginning. The seeds fall on rich soil which came from the decaying trees, perhaps the very trees which dropped the seeds.

When we know that the Law of God is the Law of Nature, and we learn to accept and understand these laws, which is easy to do as they are so simple, then all the ups and downs, attacks and gifts, pains and joys, can all be taken with a mind that is at rest knowing that this is the way it all must be, even if we do not understand why.

Then, being so aware, when a seed does fall on concrete, we may brush it into the soil and give it a little water, until it can take care of itself. Then let the Law of Nature determine if it is fit to thrive on its own.

David Samuel is The Entrepreneur Monk, a rag to riches story making his 1st million at 25 based on understanding the mind and emotions. Your mind makes you a success or failure, business skill is only a small part. Retiring at 29, he travelled for many years. David resolved the riddle of why we do what is bad for us yet do not do what we know is beneficial and teaches that very effectively. Read more about David EntrepreneurMonk.com
Have No Regrets, Look Forward

 

Estate Planning Elder Law Guide

Law GuideEstate Planning: Planning for death to get the assets to whom you want, when you want, the way you want, with the least amount of taxes and legal fees possible.

Elder Law: Planning for disability to get the persons you want to handle your affairs and to protect your assets from being depleted for long-term care.

Introduction to Estate Planning and Elder Law
Practicing estate planning and elder law is one of the most enjoyable and professionally rewarding careers an attorney may choose. Imagine a practice area where your clients respect your knowledge and treat you with kindness and courtesy. They pay your fees in a timely fashion and tell their friends how much they have enjoyed working with you and your firm. At the same time, you are rarely facing the pressure of a deadline, much less an adversarial attorney on the other side of a matter trying to best you. In most instances, you are acting in the capacity of a counselor at law (trusted advisor) rather than an attorney at law (professional representative).

We spend our days meeting with clients, discussing their lives and their families and addressing their fears and concerns. Through our knowledge, training, experience and imagination, we craft solutions, occasionally elegant ones, to the age old problem of passing assets from one generation to another as quickly and painlessly as possible. At the same time, we also seek to protect those assets from being depleted by taxes, legal fees and nursing home costs to the extent the law allows.

The end result of this process is a client who feels safe and secure in the knowledge that, in the event of death or disability, they have all their bases covered. Having achieved peace of mind that their future is well planned and in good hands, they can get on with the business of enjoying their lives. For the attorney, a happy and satisfied client has been added to the practice and another potentially lifelong and mutually rewarding relationship has begun. Let’s look at the strategies and techniques we use to achieve this enviable state of affairs.

Major Issues Facing Senior Clients Today
One of the ways that we help clients is in setting up a comprehensive plan so they may avoid court proceedings upon death or in the event of disability. Trusts are used in place of wills for older persons since they do not require court proceedings to settle the estate. Trusts also avoid the foreign probate proceeding required for property owned in another state, known as ancillary probate. This saves the family time in settling the estate as well as the high costs of legal proceedings. In addition, since revocable living trusts, unlike wills, take effect during the grantor’s lifetime, the client may stipulate which persons take over in the event of their disability. Planning ahead helps maintain control in the family or with trusted advisors and avoids a situation that may not be in the client’s best interest. For example, in the event of a disability where no plan has been put in place, an application to the court may be required in order to have a legal guardian appointed for the disabled person. This may not be the person the client would have chosen. In such a case, assets may not be transferred to protect them from being spent down for nursing home costs without court permission, which may or may not be granted.

Another area in which we assist the client is in saving estate taxes, both state and federal, for married couples by using the two-trust technique. Assets are divided as evenly as practicable between each of the spouse’s trusts. While the surviving spouse has the use and enjoyment of the deceased spouse’s trust, the assets of that trust bypass the estate of the surviving spouse and go directly to the named beneficiaries when the second spouse dies. Tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars, or more, in potential estate taxes may be saved, depending on the size of the estate. Furthermore, the revocable living trust avoids the two probates that would occur were the clients to use wills, as the couple’s estate must be settled after the death of each spouse in order to save estate taxes. We also help to protect assets from being depleted due to nursing home costs. Irrevocable Medicaid trusts may be established, subject to a five-year look-back period, to protect the client’s home and other assets from having to be spent down due to the high cost of nursing home care. We use Medicaid asset and transfer rules to protect assets in the event a client requires nursing home care but has done no pre-planning. Through the use of Medicaid qualifying annuities, promissory notes, and housing and care agreements, significant assets may be protected despite the five-year look-back, even when the client may be on the nursing home doorstep.

Five Steps to Estate Planning for Seniors

1. Understanding the Family Dynamics
The first step in an elder law trusts and estates matter is to gain an understanding of the client’s family dynamics. If there are children, which is usually the case, we need to determine whether or not they are married. Is it a first or second marriage? Do they have any children from a previous marriage or do their spouses? What kind of work do they do, and where do they live? Do they get along with each other and with the parent clients? We are looking to determine which family members do not get along with which others and what the reasons may be. This goes a long way toward helping us decide who should make medical decisions and who should handle legal and financial affairs. Should it be one of them or more than one? How should the estate be divided? Is the client himself in a second marriage? Which children, if any, are his, hers, or theirs? Sometimes all three instances may occur in the same couple. Here, further exploration of the family functioning will be needed as the potential for hurt feelings, conflicts of interest, and misunderstandings multiplies. In addition, great care must be taken to develop a plan for management, control, and distribution of the estate that will not only be fair to the children from a previous marriage but will be seen to be fair as well. At times, the assistance of the professional advisor in acting as trustee may be invaluable in helping to keep the peace between family members. Finally, this step will also flesh out whether there are any dependents with special needs and which family members and assets might be best suited to provide for such children.

2. Reviewing Existing Estate Planning Documents
The second step in an elder law trusts and estates matter is to review any prior estate planning documents the client may have, such as a will, trust, power of attorney, health care proxy and living will, to determine whether they are legally sufficient and reflect the client’s current wishes or whether they are outdated. Some basic elder law estate planning questions are also addressed at this time such as:

a. Is the client a US citizen? This will impinge on the client’s ability to save estate taxes.

b. Is the client expecting to receive an inheritance? This knowledge helps in preparing a plan that will address not only the assets that the client has now but what they may have in the future.

c. Does the client have long-term care insurance? If so, the elder law attorney will want to review the policy and determine whether it provides an adequate benefit considering the client’s other assets and income, whether it takes inflation into account, and whether it is upgradable. This will allow the practitioner to decide whether other asset protection strategies may be needed now or later.

d. Does the client need financial planning? Many clients that come into the elder law attorney’s office have never had professional financial advice or are dissatisfied with their current advisors. They may need help understanding the assets they have or with organizing and consolidating them for ease of administration. They may also be concerned with not having enough income to last for the rest of their lives. The elder law attorney will typically know a number of capable financial planners who are experienced with the needs and wishes of the senior client, including (1) secure investments with protection of principal, and (2) assets that tend to maximize income.

3. Reviewing the Client’s Assets
The third step is to obtain a complete list of the client’s assets, including how they are titled, their value, whether they are qualified investments, such as IRA’s and 401(k)’s and, if they have beneficiary designations, who those beneficiaries are. Armed with this information, the advisor is in a position to determine whether the estate will be subject to estate taxes, both state and federal, and may begin to formulate a strategy to reduce or eliminate those taxes to the extent the law allows. This will often lead to shifting assets between spouses and their trusts, changing beneficiary designations, and, with discretion, trying to determine which spouse might pass away first so as to effect the greatest possible tax savings. Ideally, the attorney should have the client fill out a confidential financial questionnaire prior to the initial consultation.

4. Developing the Estate Plan
The fourth step is to determine, with input from the client, who should make medical decisions for the client if they are unable to and who should be appointed to handle legal and financial affairs through the power of attorney in the event of the client’s incapacity. Next, we will consider what type of trust, if any, should be used, whether a simple will would suffice, who should be the trustees (for a trust) or executors (for a will), and what the plan of distribution should be. In order to avoid a conflict, the trustees who are chosen in lieu of the grantor should be the same persons named on the power of attorney. At this point, great care should also be taken to ensure that the feelings of the heirs will not be hurt. Good estate planning looks at the client’s estate from the heirs’ point of view as well as the client’s. For example, if there are three children, it may be preferable that one be named as trustee or executor, as three are usually too cumbersome and if the client chooses only two, then they are leaving one out. If there are four or five children, we prefer to see two trustees or executors chosen. This way, the pressure will be reduced on just the one having to answer to all the others. More importantly, the others will feel far more secure that two siblings are jointly looking after their interests.

If the distribution is to be unequal, it may need to be discussed with the affected children ahead of time to forestall any ill will or even litigation after the parents have died. By considering the relative ages of the children, where they live, and their relationships amongst each other and with their parents, the advisor will generally find a way to craft a plan that accommodates the needs and desires of all parties concerned. Some of the techniques we find useful in this context are to offer a delayed distribution, such as twenty percent upon the death of the grantor, one-half of the remaining balance after five years, and the remainder after ten years. These same percentages may also be used at stated ages, such as thirty, thirty-five, and forty. Also, when leaving percentages of the estate, unless it is simply to the children in equal shares, it is often useful to determine the monetary value of those percentages in the client’s current estate. This will allow the client to see whether the amount is truly what they wish to bequeath. Percentage bequests to charities should be avoided so that the family may avoid having to account to the charity for the expenses of administering the estate.

In terms of the type of trust, we are generally looking at several options for most clients. It is important to determine whether there should be one trust or two. In order to avoid or reduce estate taxes, there should be two trusts for spouses whose estates exceed or may at a later date exceed the state and/or federal estate tax threshold. Should the trust be revocable or irrevocable? The latter is important for protecting assets from nursing home expenses subject to the five-year look-back period. Primary features of the irrevocable Medicaid trust are that neither the grantor nor the grantor’s spouse may be the trustee and that these trusts are income-only trusts. Most people choose one or more of their adult children to act as trustees of the irrevocable trust. Since principal is not available to the grantor, the client will not want to put all of their assets into such a trust. Assets that should be left out are IRA’s, 401(k)’s, 403(b)’s, etc. The principal of these qualified assets are generally exempt from Medicaid and should not be placed into a trust, as this would create a taxable event requiring income taxes to be paid on all of the IRA. If the institutionalized client has a community spouse, up to about one hundred thousand dollars may also be exempted. Notwithstanding that the home is exempt if the community spouse is living there, it is generally a good idea to protect the home sooner rather than to wait until the first spouse has passed, due to the five-year look-back period. It should be noted that the look-back means that from the time assets are transferred to the irrevocable trust, it takes five years before they are exempt, or protected from being required to be spent down on the ill person’s care before they qualify for Medicaid benefits. What if the client does not make the five years? Imagine that the client must go into the nursing home four years after the trust has been established. In such a case, by privately paying the nursing facility for the one year remaining, the family will be eligible for Medicaid after just the remaining year of the five-year penalty period has expired.

Although the Medicaid trust is termed irrevocable, the home may still be sold or other trust assets traded. The trust itself, through the actions of the trustees, may sell the house and purchase a condominium in the name of the trust so that the asset is still protected. The trust may sell one stock and buy another. For those clients who may wish to continue trading on their own, the adult child trustee may sign a third party authorization with the brokerage firm authorizing the parent to continue trading on the account. The trust continues to pay all income (i.e., interest and dividends) to the parent grantor. As such, the irrevocable trust payments should not affect the client’s lifestyle when added to any pensions, social security, and IRA distributions the client continues receiving from outside the trust. It should also be noted that while no separate tax return is needed for a revocable trust, the irrevocable trust requires an “informational return” which advises the IRS that the income is “passing through” to the grantors and will be reported on their individual returns.

If there is a disabled child, consideration will be given to creating a supplemental needs trust, which will pay over and above what the child may be receiving in government benefits, especially social security income and Medicaid, so that the inheritance will not disqualify them from those benefits.

Finally, with the size of estates having grown today to where middle class families are leaving substantial bequests to their children (depending, of course, on how many children they have), the trend is toward establishing trusts for the children to keep the inheritance in the bloodline. Variously termed inheritance trusts, heritage trusts, or dynasty trusts, these trusts may contain additional features, such as protecting the inheritance from a child’s divorce, lawsuits, creditors, and estate taxes when they die. The primary feature of all of these trusts for the heirs, however, is to provide that when the child dies, in most cases many years after the parent, the hard-earned assets of the family will not pass to a son-in-law or daughter-in-law who may get remarried, but rather to the grantor’s grandchildren. On the other hand, if the client wishes to favor the son-in-law or daughter-in-law, they may choose to provide that the trust, or a portion of it, continue as an “income only” trust for their adult child’s surviving spouse for their lifetime, and only thereafter to the Grantor’s grandchildren.

5. Applying for Medicaid Benefits
In the event the client requires home care or institutionalized care in a nursing home facility, an application for Medicaid benefits may be required. Due to complex asset and transfer rules, the application should be made with the aid of an experienced elder law attorney. Again, it is useful in this context for a confidential survey of the client’s assets, as well as any transfers of assets, to be filled out prior to the initial consultation. This form of financial survey will be significantly different from the one used for estate planning purposes. As a combined federal and state program, Medicaid asset and transfer rules vary significantly from state to state. A few techniques, nevertheless, will be widely applicable. First, in the event an adult child takes the parent into their home in order to care for them in their later years, a housing and care agreement should be executed so that assets may be legitimately moved from the parent to the child prior to any nursing home care. The adult child will be required to report any payments received under the agreement as earned income on their tax returns. Also, since the family home is usually the most significant asset, consideration will need to be given as to whether the home should be deeded to the client’s adult children while retaining a life estate in the parent or whether the irrevocable Medicaid trust should be used to protect the asset.

While the deed with a life estate will be less costly to the client, in most cases it offers significant disadvantages when compare to the trust. First, if the home is sold prior to the death of the Medicaid recipient, the life estate value of the home will be required to be paid towards their care. If the house is rented, the rents are payable to the nursing facility since they belong to the life tenant. Finally, the client loses a significant portion of their capital gains tax exclusion for the sale of their primary residence as they will only be entitled to a pro rata share based on the value of the life estate to the home as a whole. All of the foregoing may lead to a situation where the family finds they must maintain a vacant home for many years. Conversely, a properly drafted irrevocable Medicaid trust preserves the full capital gains tax exclusion on the primary residence and the home may be sold by the trust without obligation to make payment of any of the principal towards the client’s care, assuming we have passed the look back period. It should be noted here that both the life estate and the irrevocable Medicaid trust will preserve the stepped-up basis in the property provided it is only sold after the death of the parent who was the owner or grantor. Upon the death of the parent, the basis for calculating the capital gains tax is stepped up from what the parent paid, plus any improvements, to what it was worth on the parent’s date of death. This effectively eliminates payment of capital gains taxes on the sale of appreciated property, such as the home, after the parent dies. Both the revocable and irrevocable trusts also preserve any tax exemptions that the client may have on their home, such as senior and veteran’s exemptions.

Finally, even with a client already in a nursing home, significant assets may be saved through advanced techniques that are beyond the scope of this guide. Please consult your elder law attorney for further information if you or a family member is in this situation.

Major Mistakes in Estate Planning and Elder Law

1. Failure to address all of the issues.
A comprehensive review of the client’s situation should address planning for disability as well as for death, including minimizing or avoiding estate taxes and legal fees and proceedings. A plan should be in place to protect assets from nursing home costs. Like a chess player, counsel should look ahead two or three moves in order to determine what may happen in the future. For example, attorneys will too often place a majority of the assets in the wife’s name or in her trust in light of the husband having significant IRA assets in his account. However, since the husband is often older and has a shorter life expectancy, this may result in the IRA assets rolling over to the wife, all of the couple’s assets ending up in the wife’s estate, and no estate tax savings effected. Another example would be where the client’s children are in a second marriage but have children (the client’s grandchildren) from a previous marriage. Unless planning is done with inheritance trusts for the client’s children, a situation may occur one day where the client’s child predeceases their second spouse, all assets pass to the second spouse, and the client’s grandchildren, from a son or daughter’s prior marriage, are denied any benefit from the grantor’s estate.

2. Failure to Regularly Review the Estate Plan
At a minimum, each client’s estate plan should be reviewed every three years to determine whether changes in the client’s personal life, such as their health, assets, or family history (births, deaths, marriages, divorces, etc.) impact the plan. It is unrealistic to expect a plan established today to be effective ten, twenty, thirty, or more years in the future. Over time, clients will want to change their back-up trustees or plan of distribution. They may wish to add inheritance trusts for their children. They might, after a number of years, wish to change from a revocable trust to an irrevocable trust because they were unable or unwilling to obtain long-term care insurance. The attorney will benefit from the additional legal work needed, and the client will benefit from having a plan better suited to their current needs at any given time.

Conclusion
Despite the knowledge, earnestness and even charm of some of the finest practitioners in the land, clients occasionally do not act on the advice given. As experienced attorneys, we know not to take it personally when clients choose to ignore our advice or perhaps choose other counsel. We know that people don’t always do what they need to. They do what they want to and, even then, only when they want to. Recently, a ninety-three year old client told us that she “wanted to think about it” so far as planning her affairs. Experience tells us that this client is not ready to plan at the present time, despite her advanced years, and we respect that choice. On the other hand, we recently had a client come in to see us eleven years after their initial consultation stating that they were now ready to proceed. We prepared their estate plan.

Perhaps the best approach to the estate planning and elder law practice is to follow the four SW’s. Some will, some won’t, so what, someone’s waiting. We move forward, help those who will allow themselves to be helped by us and keep turning towards those to whom our firm’s services are appreciated, admired, and sometimes even considered heroic.

Principal attorney Michael Ettinger has been a member of the New York State Bar Association since 1980. He is a law graduate of McGill University in Montreal, Canada and obtained his Master of Laws from the London School of Economics in 1978. Ettinger Law Firm, dedicated exclusively to estate planning and elder law, was formed in 1991. Mr. Ettinger is a founding member of both the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys and the American Association of Trust, Estate and Elder Law Attorneys.

Ettinger Law Firm has prepared thousands of estate plans using trusts and Medicaid applications. Their staff of attorneys and experienced Medicaid professionals provide over fifty years of combined experience in estate planning and elder law.

Ettinger Law Firm offices are located throughout New York State in Albany, Fishkill, Nyack, White Plains and Staten Island.

Please visit their website, http://www.trustlaw.com, for directions and more information about estate planning and elder law.

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