Last year, we highlighted a new provision offered to families with disabled children called ABLE accounts. ABLE accounts (which stands for Achieving a Better Life Experience) are intended to create tax-free savings accounts for individuals with disabilities. The goal of these accounts is to ease the financial strains faced by individuals with disabilities and their families. These accounts supplement, rather than replace, the benefits someone may already be receiving, such as through private insurance, Medicaid, or other sources.

Now, Indiana has received the state funding to implement and create this program under the name INvestABLE. The new INvestABLE program helps disabled individuals to save money while preserving their government-assisted benefits like SSI and Medicaid. The earnings on your investments are federally tax-deferred and tax-free if used for qualified disability expenses. Qualified disability expenses include any expense incurred as a result of living with a disability and that is intended to improve your quality of life. This would include things such as education, health and wellness, housing, transportation, legal fees, financial management, employment training and support, adaptive technology, personal support services, oversight and monitoring, and funeral and burial expenses.

Previously, individuals were required to keep their resources under $2,000 to qualify for SSI and Medicaid. With the ABLE accounts, an individual can save up to $14,000 per year and up to $100,000 total in the account. Balances of $100,000 or less are excluded from your SSI resource limit. Only the amount over $100,000 is counted against your limit.

You can open an ABLE account quickly and easily here. Just tell them a little bit about yourself and select your investments. That’s it. You can easily access your account at any time, from a PC, tablet, or mobile device. Plus, you can get started with as little as $25.

In celebration of this new program, the Indiana Treasurer of State and the Indiana ABLE Authority will be hosting a launch event in Fort Wayne at the Turnstone Center on August 30.


New Change for Special Needs Trusts


On December 13, 2016, the President signed into law the 21st Century Cures Act. Section 5007 of this Act affects the Special (or Supplemental) Needs Trusts, dealing specifically with the d(4)(A) Special Needs Trusts. A d(4)(A) Special Needs Trust is a trust created for the sole benefit of someone under the age of 65 who is disabled. The d(4)(A) Special Needs Trust is established by the beneficiary’s parent, grandparent, legal guardian, or the court, and it is funded with the beneficiary’s own assets.  This type of trust must include repayment language, which states that any remaining assets at the beneficiary’s death must go to any state Medicaid agency (up to the amount paid by the state for the beneficiary under the Medicaid program).

For d(4)(A) Special Needs Trusts created before December 31, 2016, the trust has to meet the following requirements to be valid:

  • The trust contains the assets of an individual who is under 65 and disabled.
  • The trust is established for the benefit of the individual through the actions of a parent, grandparent, legal guardian, or a court.
  • The State will receive the remaining amount in the trust after the individual dies up to an amount equal to the total Medicaid assistance paid on their behalf.

With the new Act signed into Law, an additional provision has been added to the requirements for d(4)(A) Special Needs Trusts (dated after December 31, 2016). Now, the trust can be established for the benefit of the individual through the actions of the individual, parent, grandparent, legal guardian, or a court. All other requirements still apply. This is good news for those who may utilize this type of trust for their disabled loved ones! Our firm specializes in Trusts and Estates. We would be happy to help you create this trust for yourself or a loved one who is under 65 and disabled.

Adult Guardianship Registry


In 2013, the Indiana General Assembly provided funding to establish the Adult Guardianship Office under the Indiana Supreme Court. This office serves as a resource for courts and the general public on issues related to adult guardianship. It also administers grant funding to increase the number of volunteer-based guardianship programs throughout the state. In 2016, more than $800,000 in grant funding was awarded to 14 volunteer-based guardianship programs that serve 28 counties. Currently, these programs serve more than 450 incapacitated adults in Indiana who cannot make personal and financial decisions regarding their care.

In 2016, Indiana implemented a new form to be filed with all new guardianship cases: the Guardianship Registry Form. This form has been used to develop an online guardianship registry. It provides non-confidential information to the public, such as the name of the protected person, name of the guardian, protected person’s birth year, whether the guardianship case is active or expired, when letters of guardianship were issued, county issuing the guardianship, and guardianship cause number. Previously, each court had its own individual process for tracking and monitoring guardianship cases. The lack of statewide uniformity in this process made it difficult to provide statistical data for Indiana. Therefore, the Division of State Court Administration provided grant funds to implement this new Guardianship Registry process.

As each new petition for guardianship is filed in Indiana, the case is entered and maintained in the Guardianship Registry. When crucial case benchmarks are reached, alerts are provided to the court via the Registry to confirm that the proper documentation and actions are taken to ensure the guardianship remains in compliance with state statutes. The Guardianship Registry has many benefits:

  • tracks and maintains guardianship cases, making records more accurate, timely, and in compliance with state statutes
  • provides useful and timely information to the public on the current status of guardianship cases throughout the state
  • alerts courts of important case benchmarks, accounting and inventory due dates, required Guardian Ad Litem appointments, and case expiration
  • generates Court orders and guardianship letters
  • a vital tool for hospitals, banks, law enforcement, mental health facilities, government agencies, and other service providers who are often placed in emergency situations where knowing whether someone is under a guardianship and who needs to be contacted is critical
  • an important tool for courts by tracking the number and types of guardianship cases filed in each jurisdiction

You can access the Guardianship Registry here. If you have a minor, disabled, or elderly loved one who may be in need of guardianship services, please contact our office.


Monthly Tour Programs for Individuals with Early-Stage Dementia


On the third Tuesday of each month, the Fort Wayne Museum of Art will host tour programs specially designed for individuals with an early-stage diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or another form of early-stage dementia. Museum guides who have been trained to effectively communicate with individuals with early-stage dementia diagnoses will be leading the tours. The program is a partnership between the Fort Wayne Museum of Art and the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Indiana Chapter. It is designed to provide an experience of the visual arts to individuals with an early-stage diagnosis of dementia  in a way that meets their needs.

This new program is modeled after the Museum of Modern Art’s program in New York City, which was developed during its Alzheimer’s project initiative from 2007 to 2014. From that project, the Museum of Modern Art developed training materials to be adapted for museums across the country. These training materials were implemented at the Indianapolis Museum of Art with great success. Therefore, the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Indiana Chapter staff felt that program could also be successful in Fort Wayne.

Tours are free of charge for participants and their caretakers and are held on the third  Tuesday of each month at 2:00 p.m., lasting about an hour. If you are interested in bringing a loved one with dementia to the monthly tours, you must call the Fort Wayne office of the Alzheimer’s Association first at 800-272-3900 to have your loved one pre-screened. Individuals will not be able to participate in the program unless they are first pre-screened for an early-stage diagnosis and you register for the program by calling the Alzheimer’s Association.

2017 Tour Dates: August 15, September 19, October 17, November 21, and December 19.

Nine Things to Know Before Going to a Funeral Home


Things to think about when going to a funeral home:

  1. You can pre-plan without pre-paying.

Pre-planning your funeral and making final arrangements in advance is a great idea. It helps your family make difficult decisions during an emotional time. It can also give you peace of mind knowing that things are in order. However, it is not always necessary to pre-pay when you pre-plan your funeral. If you decide to pre-pay, be sure to look carefully at the contract and familiarize yourself with local and state laws.

  1. You can rent a cremation urn or casket for the memorial service.

Most funeral homes offer rentals that you can use for the funeral or memorial services. This can save on the costs of a casket or an urn from the funeral home. It can also save you on costly overnight shipping charges if you order a casket or urn online. You can often rent a high-end attractive casket for the public service without the high costs attached. You can then have the body buried in a less costly container or taken to the crematorium for cremation.

  1. Ask the funeral home for low-cost options.

Simply ask if they have more budget-friendly casket or urn options that fit your needs. By being upfront about what you want and need, the funeral home can better help you find a casket or urn that is suitable for you and your family.

  1. You can use an “alternative container” for cremation.

There is no law that you must use an urn or casket for cremation. Every provider of cremation services is required to tell you that alternative containers (such as cardboard) are available. Or perhaps you have a special container that you would like to use for cremation rather than purchasing an urn.

  1. Veterans with honorable discharge can get free burial services.

The National Cemetery Administration of the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs offers offers free burial and other services (such as perpetual care and personalized headstones) to veterans and their spouses. The funeral related services are pre-specified and generally only apply to burial at a national cemetery. To see if this may work for your situation, you can visit

  1. Ask for a price list for all services.

Many funeral homes offer packages designed to help you save when purchasing a variety of services. However, these packages may have services that you do not want. If you ask, funeral homes are required to provide an itemized pricing list for all services they offer. You can even do this over the phone, as consumer protection laws require that the funeral home provide funeral costs over the phone. It may be cheaper to pay only for the services you want and need rather than purchasing a package.

  1. Most services are optional.

You may be uncertain about what you really need. Or perhaps the wide array of options offered makes you feel like purchasing more services than necessary. Whatever the situation, remember that almost all services offered by the funeral home are optional.

  1. You can receive a written statement of costs before you pay.

It may be a good idea to ask the funeral home to provide you with a written statement and explanation of all costs associated with the funeral, burial, and/or cremation services you have chosen. This is helpful to make you sure you are not choosing services or products you do not want.

  1. Bring a friend.

It is a good idea to bring a friend with you as you are shopping for and deciding on funeral options. If you bring a friend who was not as close to the decedent, they can give helpful opinions that are not based on emotion.


ICLEF Natalie Choate Webcast


On September 13, our firm will be hosting an ICLEF national speaker seminar right here in our office! The seminar will be shown live via webcast at Troyer & Good law firm. It will be featuring Natalie Choate, Boston attorney and expert on estate planning and retirement benefits. The topic for this seminar is “Estate & Distribution Planning for Retirement Benefits.” This intensive course is designed for professionals who are experienced in general estate planning. It is also designed to add to your expertise with in-depth knowledge of how to integrate retirement benefits into clients’ estate plans.

According to the ICLEF website, this popular seminar has never been more timely, as unlimited Roth conversions and the “portable” federal estate tax exemption offer new planning opportunities (and pitfalls) for your clients.  The following topics will be discussed:

  • Understanding the minimum distribution rules of Code section 401(a)(9).
  • Making retirement benefits payable to trusts
  • How to integrate benefits in the typical estate plan
  • Representing Survivors: “The Pre-Owned Retirement Plan”
  • Roth retirement plans
  • “Charitable Planning with Retirement Benefits”
  • Unconventional IRA investments; prohibited transactions
  • Lump sum distributions, Pre-age 59½ distributions

This course will introduce you to everything you need to know regarding your estate planning clients’ IRAs and other retirement plans. You will learn about the following:

  • The minimum required distribution (MRD) rules: key to maximizing the value of your clients’ benefits. How to comply with the “MRD rules,” avoid penalties, and qualify for “stretch IRA” treatment, including lifetime and post-death MRDs, separate accounts.
  • Practical ways to fit retirement benefits into the typical estate plan; the six possible choices of beneficiary (three tax-favored, three not); planning for possible law changes.
  • The two types of trusts that automatically qualify for “see-through” treatment under the MRD rules, and when qualification matters. When and how to name a marital, credit shelter or other trust as beneficiary.
  • Case studies: trust for minors, special needs, second marriage.
  • Plus special situations, where your key knowledge can save big dollars for certain clients: pitfalls of IRA real estate and small-business investing; 10% penalty for pre-age 59½ distributions; how to advise the IRA beneficiary; disclaimers and other post-death cleanup strategies; spousal rollovers; and fixing IRA mistakes.

This course will count for 6 CLE (or 7.2 CPE) credit hours. Details for attending the event:

Date: September 13, 2017


8:00 A.M.       Registration
8:30 A.M.       Program Begins
11:40 A.M      Lunch (ICLEF providing)
12:20 P.M.      Program Resumes
3:30 P.M.        Adjournment

The agenda includes a 10 minute break in the morning and afternoon


Troyer & Good, PC
6303 Constitution Drive
Fort Wayne, IN 46804

Seating: Seating is limited to 10 attendees.

Pricing: Tuition – $395 ; Pass+ Holder – $0

Registration: Register here.

If you have any questions or would like to register for the event, please visit here or contact ICLEF.

Fun Facts About Estate Planning

Some fun facts about estate planning…

  • California became the first state to allow Living Wills in September 1976.
  • The “Will of Uah” is the oldest known Will in existence and was found in a tomb in Egypt. It dates back to 2548 BC and leaves all his property to his wife, Teta.


  • Historians found a Power of Attorney dated 561 BC in Mesopotamia.
  • The shortest known Wills are only three words long:
    • “All to son” and “All to wife.”

  • The longest known Will ever probated was 1,066 pages and 95,940 words and occupied four gilt-edged, leather-bound volumes. An English woman, Frederica Evelyn Stilwell Cook, holds this record.
  • A recent study indicates that 11% of Britons have their internet passwords in their Last Will and Testament.
  • Famous Americans who have died without a Will: Sonny Bono, Kurt Cobain,John Denver, Chris Farley, Howard Hughes, and Martin Luther King Jr.
  • In 1829, James Smithson created the Smithsonian Institute through a bequest in his Last Will and Testament.



What is Dementia?


An estimated 5.5 million Americans suffer from dementia. Likely, one of your relatives or someone you know has dementia. What is dementia? Dementia is a chronic disturbance in a group of mental processes. It is not a disease but rather an umbrella term that describes a combination of signs and symptoms. Dementia can be due to many different causes. It affects a person’s memory, learning, reasoning, planning, language, attention, perception, and behavior. More than 70% of those suffering from dementia also exhibit behavioral disturbances. Common behavioral disturbances include agitation, apathy, mood swings, and psychotic symptoms.

These are some early warning signs of dementia:

  1. Memory difficulties that affect every day life
  2. Difficulty planning or solving problems
  3. Confusion with place and time
  4. Difficulty with familiar tasks at home
  5. Misplacing things
  6. Difficulty recalling words or following a conversation
  7. Problems with vision or perception
  8. Problems with judgment
  9. Changes in personality
  10. Social and work withdrawal

There are many different types of dementia and some patients have more than one type. Five types of dementia include:

  1. Alzheimer’s disease. 50-70% of all cases. Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Every 68 seconds, someone in America develops Alzheimer’s. The number of people with Alzheimer’s disease doubles with every five year interval beyond the age of 65. Early symptoms include apathy, depression, and difficulty remembering names and recent events. Later symptoms include impaired judgment, disorientation, confusion, behavior changes, and difficulty speaking, swallowing, and walking.
  2. Vascular dementia. 20% of all cases. A decline in thinking skills caused by conditions that block or reduce the flow of blood to the brain, depriving brain cells of vital oxygen and nutrients. This often results from a stroke or mini strokes.
  3. Lewy body dementia. 15-20% of all cases. Similar to Alzheimer’s, those with Lewy bodies often experience memory loss and thinking problems. However, unlike Alzheimer’s, they tend to have early symptoms such as sleep disturbances, well-formed visual hallucinations, and muscle rigidity or other parkinsonian movement features.
  4. Parkinson’s disease dementia. 5% of all cases. An early symptom of the disease is problem with movement. If dementia develops, the symptoms are similar to those with Lewy bodies.
  5. Frontotemporal dementia. 5% of all cases. Typical symptoms include changes in behavior and personality and difficulty with language. Nerve cells in the front and side regions of the brain are especially affected.

In 60% of those with early Alzheimer’s disease, the condition is not recognized by their family or evaluated by a doctor. By the time family members notice signs of dementia, it has usually developed to a moderate stage. Dementia can be diagnosed by obtaining a thorough medical and psychiatric history.  The doctor will also conduct an examination of the medical, neurological, and mental status of the patient. Neuropsychological testing may be necessary. The Mini Mental State Exam (MMSE) is one of the most common screening tools for dementia in clinical practice.

How can dementia be treated? Lifestyle modifications can help delay or prevent dementia in some people. Some lifestyle changes that can be beneficial include avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol intake, engaging in physical exercise, participating in mental and social activity, and doing cognitive training. Medication can improve mental processes like memory and sometimes slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Other medications can help dementia due to Parkinson’s disease or Lewy body disease. In 2012, more than 15 million family members and unpaid caregivers provided care for patients with dementia. Their contribution was valued at $216 billion.

You can find more helpful blog topics such as How to Communicate When They Have Alzheimer’s, Planning Ahead for Medicaid, and Talking to Your Parents About Assisted Living in the “Elder Law and Medicaid” tab under Topics.


Transfer on Death and Pay on Death Designations

TOD account

“Transfer on death” (TOD) and “pay on death” (POD) accounts are your property and completely in your control during your life. At your death, they are paid or transferred to the persons you name as the recipients. No one other than you has any right to this property during your life. The property passes outside of probate to the named recipient, rather than the person listed in your Will or your heirs, when you die. You can change the beneficiaries on these accounts at any time. Real estate and personal property such as furnishings and automobiles can be transferred on death by a Deed, bill of sale, or other proper written instrument.

Payable-on-death bank accounts offer an option to keep money out of probate – just fill out a simple form at the bank naming the person you want to inherit the money in the account at your death. As long as you are alive, the person you named does not have any rights to the account. You can spend the money, name a different beneficiary, or close the account. At your death, your named beneficiary can go to the bank with proof of identity and your death certificate and receive the funds. If the bank account is joint, the pay-on-death designation does not come into play until after the death of the joint owner. Also, your retirement accounts (such as 401(k)s and IRAs) give you the option to name a beneficiary, which act the same as a pay-on-death designation.

Indiana has adopted a law (Uniform Transfer-on-Death Securities Registration Act) that allows you to name a beneficiary to inherit your stocks, bonds, or brokerage accounts. When you register ownership, you make a request to take ownership in “beneficiary form.” The beneficiary will have no rights to the stock, bond, etc. as long as you are alive. After your death, the beneficiary you named can claim the securities. Similarly, you can name someone to inherit your vehicle by indicating a beneficiary on your certificate of registration. With real estate, you can sign a Transfer on Death deed that will transfer the real estate to whom you name at your death.

VLP Receives Pro Bono Service Award


The Volunteer Lawyer Program of Northeast Indiana received a pro bono service award in recognition of its bankruptcy program. The award was presented to the VLP at the 66th Annual 7th Circuit Bar Association meeting held in Indianapolis on May 1. The bankruptcy panel that received the award comprises over 25 attorneys committed to helping people without adequate funds achieve equal access to quality legal representation.

The award presentation and dinner was held at the JW Marriott in Indianapolis in conjunction with the 7th Circuit Judicial Conference. Attendees were honored to hear the following featured speakers: Hon. Elena Kagan, Associate Justice, Supreme Court of the United States and Eva Mozes Kor, survivor of the Holocaust and founder of the CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center. Ms. Ruth de Wit, Executive Director of the Volunteer Lawyer Program, gratefully accepted this prestigious award on behalf the volunteers and in recognition of the countless hours of pro bono service provided over many years in Northeast Indiana.

The Volunteer Lawyer Program of Northeast Indiana serves families and individuals at 200% or below the federal poverty guidelines in many areas of civil law. Over 200 volunteer attorneys representing northeast Indiana make up the panels of legal expertise, including our very own Tracy Troyer and Leah Good. Tracy and Leah specifically help individuals in services of estate administration, estate planning, and guardianship.

Those seeking assistance from the VLP must first call the office to see if they qualify for the program. Qualification is based on household income and assets, case type, and availability of volunteer attorneys. Callers should be prepared to provide this personal financial information when they call.  Once a client qualifies for the program, he/she will need to provide the VLP with the necessary financial and legal documents required for the successful completion of the qualification process. Staff members from the VLP then attempt to place the client with a volunteer attorney.

For more information, check out their website.