Tag Archive for: parents




Everyone knows somebody like my father. I bet you are a lot like him in many ways. My Dad is the sort who always goes the extra mile. Always giving everything he had. Looking out for others. Going out of his way. Generous. Hard-working.

Dad enlisted in the Navy during WWII, as soon as he could. Following his older brother, an officer and PT boat commander. Dad served stateside, as a Photographer’s Mate, at the Philadelphia Naval Air Station. Mostly taking pictures of crashed airplanes. And the remains of the trainees who crashed them.

After the war, he went to college on the GI Bill. Surrounded by other sailors, soldiers, airmen and Marines. A generation of men and women who did not feel sorry for themselves. They had seen evil and death. The world was balanced on the edge of a knife. And they did their duty. They saved the world. Look it up.

Then they came back and went to college. And got married. And raised families. And were grateful for the ordinariness of life. Thirty years ago, when I first started my law practice, I was privileged to meet many of these men and women. So many heroes. The real kind.

They are almost all gone now. But they made a lasting impression. Among them, my dad is not unusual. But how many of us have the same quality?

When Dad met Mom, he settled down. Became a teacher, like so many of his Navy buddies. Teachers in the 1950’s were not paid very much. All worked through the summers. Most had a second job. Mom wanted a large family. Dad came from a large family. He knew what was required. So.

My father got up early… had to be at school by 8 a.m. A tough school in a bad neighborhood. When the bell rang at 3 in the afternoon, Dad came home and took a nap. By 6 in the evening, he was punching the clock at the local brewery. Bottled beer all night. Dad clocked out at 2 in the morning. Came home. Took a nap. At 7 a.m., he started all over again. For 16 years.

Did I mention he was also taking college courses for his master’s degree? Yeah, he did that too. Eventually he took on enough extra jobs at school to quit the brewery. He ran the breakfast program, lunch program, after-school program. He was pretty happy that he did not have to work until 2 a.m. anymore.

Like you, he was active at church. Joined the Lions Club. Volunteered for stuff. Helped out in ways no one ever saw… no one ever knew.

Dad and Mom raised 8 children. Five boys, three girls. I’m the second. I have an older sister. Their example was powerful. And we are all doing quite well. Thank you.

Mom died ten years ago. Dad still lives on his own. Pretty much. At 96 years old, he cannot do what he used to. But he keeps trying. A few weeks ago, he was painting the handrail on the brick stairs leading the front door. Lost his balance. Fell to the brick stairs. Fell on his face. Not the first time. Still OK. He insists.

So, the kids take turns staying with Dad. Just to be there. Just in case. My two weeks is coming up soon. We talk together to set the calendar, to make sure someone is always with Dad. And we talk about options. Including assisted living.

This is where my failure became obvious.


Your children are talking about you. Deny it if you wish, but it is the truth. What to do about Mom? What to do about Dad? How long can they stay at home? What sort of behaviors do you see? What does it mean? What do we do now? Well-meaning questions. By good-natured people. Who truly love you. But are concerned. With your best interests in mind. What they think are your “best interests” anyway.

Recently, as we were setting the Visiting Kids Calendar, one of my brothers asked, “Why isn’t Dad on this PACE program you keep talking about?”

I had no answer. Honestly. You have heard the old saying, “The shoemaker’s kids go barefoot!” It is not that bad. When Mom needed skilled nursing home care for the months before she died, we were ready. LifePlan™ to the rescue.

Dad was not impoverished. There was no Medicaid Mortgage. Mom got the care she needed, at a top long-term care facility. Dad’s years of taxpaying and planning were rewarded.

Ten years later. Dad’s needs are increasing. With 8 kids, he will never be alone. But we are not medical people. What about those needs?

My brother saw what I did not. PACE – the Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly was designed for my Dad. He stays at home. With his woodwork shop. Puttering around, fixing this, painting that. Independent. Proud. And getting just the right amount of help to keep him that way.

Was I embarrassed to have overlooked the contribution PACE could make to my own father’s ability to live life on his own terms? You bet. I wish I had proposed the solution. But a good idea is a good idea, whomever comes up with it.


Most folks who seek answers are relieved and pleased they learn that effective solutions do exist. Thousands of families have honored my team and me with their confidence and trust. And those families have received the benefits they have earned and deserve.

But I have often been puzzled when some families reject the same answers that other families have embraced. It is not unusual for some folks to come back to us, often after months and sometimes years of “spending down,” exhausting their lifesavings. Selling the farm.

If you are like me, you learn from your mistakes. And you try not to repeat the same- old, same-old. I failed my Dad by not seeing how the PACE program could greatly improve his quality of life. But I see it now, and I am taking action. To preserve his independence. His choices. My Dad, and yours, and you, deserve to enjoy life. On your own terms. Not crammed, shoved, or stuffed into someone else’s idea of what you need.

Most people have never heard of PACE. But now you will know. You will be the expert.


Everyone knows COVID-19 decimates older folks. National reporting confirms the worst place for COVID victims is a long-term care facility. The undeniable tragic history: if you were in a nursing home, your risk of death from COVID-19 was 70 times greater. Did autocratic Executive Orders in New York, New Jersey and Michigan cause thousands of extra deaths? Of course they did. We know that now. But what can we do?

Over the last couple of years, we reported good news about at-home care. Michigan changed the Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly – PACE. Eligibility expanded for thousands of new families. Families can now keep their life savings, cottage, farm, rental properties, business. Poverty is no longer required… provided you follow the complex rules. Care services are free. Keep your income. No co-pay, doughnut hole or other contribution.

Many Michigan families have acted on this new information. They have secured at-home care for their loved ones. PACE has kept them safe from the deadly COVID-19 virus stalking long-term care facilities. Healthier at home!


Many more families cannot believe it is possible. But they could benefit from PACE. Healthy skepticism hardens into stubborn rejection. Everyone suffers. Clinging to the idea that it is “too good to be true” or “fake news”?

Pitiful. Naturally, some folks are uncertain and suspicious. Rightfully so! But accurate information and proof beat unfounded fears every day. Fact: You do not have to accept nursing home poverty for yourself or your loved one.



1. Need help with activities of daily life? Memory problems? Oxygen therapy? Blindness? Dialysis? These are just a few of the many ways to qualify.
2. Are you safe at home?
3. Gross social security less than $2382? (Special rules for pension income.)

Let’s do the homework together. Most folks get the benefits they need for independence and security. Information costs nothing. You can find out. Today.

Get Answers Now: 800-317-2812


COVID-19 emergency rules are temporary.

The benefits are permanent. When the emergency is over, these favorable rules will be gone. Of course, this may not be for you. Why not find out? Is it so bad to get back a little from the tax dollars you have paid?


Folks always want to know: What can PACE do for me? You have a team on your side. Your PACE team is doctors, therapists, dieticians, nurses, physician assistants, administrators. All work together to provide the best solution. Want more detail? You can receive:

• On-Site Physician/Medical Supervision
• Nursing Care
• Physical Therapy
• Occupational Therapy
• Recreational Therapy
• Activities and Exercise
• Breakfast, Lunch, Snack
• Nutritional Counseling
• Social Services
• Dental Care
• Audiology
• Optometry
• Women’s Services
• Dentistry and Dentures
• Optometry and Eyeglasses
• Audiology and Hearing Aids
• Podiatry, Diabetic Shoes and Orthotics
• Cardiology
• Lab Tests
• Radiology
• X-Rays
• Outpatient Surgery

• On call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

• Skilled Nursing and Assisted Living
• Physical and Occupational Therapy
• Personal Care
• Chore Services
• Meal Preparation

• Emergency Room Visits
• Hospitalizations
• Inpatient Specialist
• Skilled Inpatient Rehabilitation


• Respite Care and Caregiver Education

• Wheelchairs
• Walkers
• Oxygen
• Hospital Beds
• Diabetic Testing Supplies
• Adult Day Care

Get the straight story. Your loved one is counting on you. Don’t let them down. It’s simple and free.

Call 800-317-2812.
Your Discovery meeting and Analysis meeting are waiting for you. Get it done.

“I left my ‘real career’ to care for both my parents with dementia over the last few years.

Throughout that time, there were many moments of being at a loss, feeling the isolation/stress of being a sole caretaker, asking myself how can I keep doing this, and telling myself I was ‘the engine that could’…to keep going.

I reflect back now, and I do not have any regrets taking care of my father/mother up until 2 months before my father’s passing. After all, he had always taken care of me up into and past his death. It certainly was a rough stressful road, but he always said ‘he was lucky’ pertaining to me caring for him. I only gave back one half of what he gave me in my life.

During those last months, I didn’t know where to turn. I received bad advisement from a local attorney’s office that seemingly specialized in elder’s needs, only to come to the realization that they were not ‘specialists’ at all. I spent unnecessary income hitting brick walls, and felt alone in this long, difficult estate planning process with all the facets it entails.

Thankfully, all of you showed up at a time where I felt like ‘the engine that could’ was ready to derail.

Although you didn’t know my father, he was a very good man – everyone who knew him loved him. He had ‘good character’ and lived his life that way. In working with all of you, I saw those characteristics in each of you.

The let’s get it done work ethic, the unruffled and patient calmness in stressful situations, the genuine heartfelt caring, the gentle voices of support/reason, and strong advocation for those in need, big hearts, good people, a helpful hand, a general tenacity for what is right, a warm smile, and a good laugh when you need it most in a trying situation.

I wanted to express how thankful I am for each one of you. I thank you for all your hard work, guidance, and support you have provided.

Special thanks to Chris, Kris, Georgia, and Mindy. I truly do not know what I would have done without all of you.

You all are the best and have been so kind to me, I cannot thank you enough.”

– Liz Licari and parents

by Bill Bereza, Associate Attorney

My dad was sure that he was going to live to 100. He was born the year after his parents bought the family farm, and he always talked about getting the farm into Michigan’s Centennial Farm Program. Planning for death or incapacity was never on his mind. When he was diagnosed with cancer, he kept on going as normal. He was still working on the farm the week before he went into hospice.

My dad refused to talk about death.

He never talked about what would or should happen with the farm if he became too ill to run it. He would never sign a will or a trust or a power of attorney, and he believed that insurance was a waste of money because “you’ll be dead” when the money comes in. As he came closer to the end, I learned that this was really because of his fear of death. He was still a young man when his father died. His father’s cancer wasn’t discussed until he was dying, so to my father, talking about the end of life meant death.

It’s hard to say that it is fortunate that my dad died quickly. He didn’t spend years in a nursing home. He died at home in the very same bedroom he was born in. We were all spared the guilt of placing him in a nursing home, knowing that he hated being away from his farm. We didn’t need to worry about how to pay for his care; the farm was my parents’ only asset. We knew that the farm was safe, that it didn’t have to be broken up and sold off in pieces to pay for the care that he assumed he’d already been paying for with every paycheck of his working life.

We had luck, a painful kind of luck.

Since then, my mom has made a plan. She has a power of attorney, a patient advocate, a will, and a trust to make sure the farm stays in the family and isn’t lost to the chances of fortune. She knows that what she and dad spent a lifetime working on will be protected for herself and her kids and grandkids. She has shared with us her thoughts, her fears, and her desires. She has given us the gift of relief, from doubt, uncertainty, and guilt.

It’s hard to talk with your kids about death. Some parents may use their own experiences with death in their own lives as an opportunity to discuss mortality with their kids, or as a reason to avoid bringing up a painful experience. The death of a parent is usually the first real painful experience most people will deal with. Your children will have to deal with it whether you want them to or not.

We all know that death is inevitable. Many people decide that because it will happen no matter what they do, they may as well do nothing. Only 4 in 10 American adults have a Will, according to a 2018 Caring.com survey. Furthermore, the survey found that only 1/3 of parents with children under 18 have a Will.

A basic, comprehensive estate plan will include, at minimum, a Will, a Durable Power of Attorney for Finances, a Patient Advocate Designation, Advance Directives, and one or more Living Trusts.

Whether you have a plan – or realize you need one – talking to your kids about it is essential.

Talk about life, before talking about death

The first thing to remember is that we don’t live life in perfect physical and mental health right up until the minute we die. Nearly 70 percent of Americans die in a hospital, nursing home, or long-term care facility. Chances are, you’ll need someone to make medical and financial decisions for you. After a spouse, the kids are most often named in a Durable Power of Attorney and Patient Advocate Designation.

What kind of life do you want, if you’re no longer able to communicate those decisions for yourself? The benefit of starting with incapacity when talking to the kids is that it lets you talk about the things you like. Your favorite foods, books, tv shows; these are positive things to share. The way to share your life wishes is to share with your kids what matters to you.

An Advance Directive is a way to put those life wishes in writing. It’s also a way to relieve some of the stress from your kids. Any child who has had to make care decisions for their parent has probably had to deal with guilt and wonder whether they really are doing the right thing for their parents. By having the conversation with the kids and giving them a written plan, you can ease their burden.

Ask your kids what is important to them, before you plan

Parents often worry about trying to be “fair” to all the kids, trying to plan to avoid what they perceive could be a problem. If you know that one child really cares about your medical care, or another child doesn’t want to deal with finances, or if the children agree on who should inherit what, you can make estate planning decisions confidently and comfortably.

Again, this should be a focus on what matters to your life, and the lives of your kids.

Manage expectations

The conversations we avoid often lead to bigger problems later. If a child is disappointed or surprised by one thing in your estate plan, they are more likely to dispute everything in the plan. A serious problem can occur if, after your death, a child believes that you were forced or coerced into making an estate plan or weren’t competent when you planned. If you tell the kids the plan now, they may be less likely to object later.

Managing the differences

In every family, there are differences between the kids: how well they manage money, how much they need money, and any inherent legal risks in their lifestyle or profession. You may even consider who is the most likely to care for you as you age – due to ability and/or geography – and what sacrifices they’ll need to make to do that.

These considerations can all contribute to how you decide to distribute your estate – equal is not always fair. You may want to leave less to your daughter, because she doesn’t need it, or you may want to leave money to your son in a restricted trust because he can’t handle it. By talking about this with your kids now, you can address your decisions and their questions together, instead of leaving them to make assumptions after you’re gone. The worst situations are when kids are left feeling as if they were “loved less” due to the decisions by their parents. Unfortunately, we do see that now and then, but most often, the reality is that decisions are made from the utmost love and foresight for each child.

Prepare an asset inventory

Most estate planning attorneys will have you prepare a financial information packet detailing your assets. Think of this as a tool for your kids as well. Dealing with the death of a parent can be the most difficult thing that happens to many people. The burden of hunting down what the parent owned, where bank accounts exist, are burdens you can prevent by keeping the inventory with your estate plan.

In any situation after your death, whether it’s in probate court or with trust administration, preparing an inventory is often the first step for your trustee, executor, or personal representative. You can help get that first step done for them.

Your final wishes

The simple things after your death can cause the biggest heartache for the children left behind. You may not care about your funeral plans, the casket decorations, the type of urn, the music or scripture readings. For your kids, this can be an important part of their grieving process. You can help them by discussing those plans with them and putting them in writing. Children often spend a lot of time and money on funeral arrangements because they think “that’s what mom would want” when in fact you may be happy with a simple gathering. They won’t know if they aren’t told.

The next step

Life is full of risk, and life is full of stress. Death is an inevitability, and not talking about it won’t make it go away. If there’s some risk and stress in talking to your kids about this now, there is sure to be risk and stress after you’re gone if things are left unsaid. An estate plan should be a plan for life, and by talking to your kids now, you can craft a plan that will fulfill the needs of your life and the lives of your kids.