Master Your Finances Kurt Baker with Justin Scott – Transcript

Written by on October 20, 2023

0:00:00.0 Kurtis: Do you wanna discover effective strategies for making lifelong decisions and managing the challenges of aging? Interested in complimentary consultation. Meet Justin Lee Scott Esquire, a certified life resource planner with an impressive track record of overseeing 400 active cases. As the founder of South Jersey’s Masterminds, he stands out as one of the top 2% and top 100 attorneys. Today he’s here to empower you with valuable insights and guidance for your future planning. Well, Justin, thank you very much for coming on the show. Appreciate it.
0:00:35.2 Justin: It’s a pleasure to be here.
0:00:36.4 Kurtis: Wow. So I know life planning, that’s a big part of like what I do as far as wealth management goes, and this is something that oftentimes people wait, let’s just say a little longer than they probably should. And so this is something that’s kind of near and dear to my heart because the sooner people start talking about this and having a conversations about this, you know, multi-generational and things like that it tends to be the easier things go for all parties, whether it’s the person that’s aging or whether it’s the siblings or whether it’s their children, grandchildren, whatever the case may be. So how did you kind of get into this and what are your thoughts about that?
0:01:10.4 Justin: You know it’s funny we live in America where it feels so good to do nothing, right? [laughter], you remember the old guy, they came out with that oven in the ’90s and he said, just set it and forget it because people don’t want to cook and they don’t want to do anything. And so the same goes for estate planning. The same goes for thinking about protecting your assets. It feels so good to do nothing, and that’s the wrong way to approach aging, because one outta one people die, and you have a 75% chance of needing long-term care before you die. And so you have to focus and spend a little time putting together a plan. And that’s why at my law firm, we say every life deserves a plan. It’s not just a blanket statement, it’s the truth. Everybody should know and put in writing what it is they want to see happen and what they don’t want to see happen. But the reality is most people find themselves panicking instead of planning. And that’s the problem. So today we preach plan, but I make a living on panic. And until that reality changes I’m gonna continue to march on, write my books, do what I have to do.
0:02:10.2 Kurtis: Okay. Yeah. So I understand your reality. And so tell me a little bit about like some of the people that tend to come to you and what circumstances they have, and then maybe we can then talk about what are things we could do to maybe get them to come to you a little bit earlier. So what is a kind of a typical scenario that we currently have and then maybe we can problem solve and maybe how we convince people it’s a good idea to come a little bit sooner?
0:02:34.7 Justin: Well, a lot of people think that they have to have a ton of money to need an elder law attorney. You know, that’s the big stigma is that a lawyer’s expensive. That, you know, I don’t have a big enough estate, but look, if you own a house or you have a 401 k or IRA or money in the bank, you need to be thinking about how you’re going to position yourself to pay for long-term care, because the nursing home is that giant vacuum at the end of your life sucking up all your assets. And the question is, how do you protect assets in addition to applying for government benefits so that you can have your cake and eat it too. Now, I’m from the south, that’s the accent, right? And so I never knew what the heck that statement meant. Have your cake and eat it too. Now I get it. Have your cake is, is being able to keep your assets eating it too, is being able to collect government benefits to pay for care so you don’t go broke.
0:03:21.0 Kurtis: Right.
0:03:22.5 Justin: And so that’s what we encounter with people all the time, but it really is, we can help every demographic of persons depending on what’s going on. And I never thought when I got into elder law, I’d be in a position where I’d be helping people in their 50s because they’ve been diagnosed with dementia. You know, I always thought I’d be working with the Estelle Geddes of the world, but the reality is my clients are getting younger and younger because dementia is just an incurable disease, and it’s affecting one outta seven people now.
0:03:48.7 Kurtis: No I agree with you a hundred percent. And that’s something that obviously we’re seeing in people like myself have seen it where the people but if you’re planning, then you’re like happy when they did plan for it. So at least that’s one less thing they have to think about. At least they’ve thought about how do we deal with this? I know another thing that happens a lot is people say, well, I don’t have to really worry about that because you know, Medicare or somebody like that’s gonna take care of that. So you wanna clear that up for people and what’s actually true?
0:04:17.3 Justin: Yeah. So don’t listen to your neighbor. Listen to somebody that actually is an expert at doing this, which is whether it’s me or somebody else, always get professional support here. So there’s rules, right? So you’re asking the government to pay $7000 to $15,000 a month. The government’s gonna have rules. And so they have a five year look back. They’re looking back five years in your financial history to see if any money’s been gifted, are you somebody that paid for your grandkids college education? Did you give $10,000 at a wedding? Did you give a $1000 to your daughter because she couldn’t pay her electric or utility bills? You know, these are real issues that people face. And and ultimately it comes back to haunt them because Medicaid’s position is, you should have known better. You should have kept all that money to use for care.
0:05:07.2 Justin: And people don’t expect to get sick. We don’t expect to need a nursing home. We don’t expect to die. But the reality is, we do, we do all those things. And so you have to have a plan in place. And so to clear up the air, you have to work around the rules as best you can. And so that’s where we come in with trust planning. That’s where we look at Medicaid compliant annuities. These are all big strategies that we deploy where it’s appropriate. But the goal is that the individual will achieve eligibility and be able to keep some of their money too.
0:05:41.8 Kurtis: And that’s the key, is if they plan ahead early enough, they can actually accomplish that, which as you said, have their cake and eat it too, kind of thing. So there are strategies to put into place where you can take advantage of the benefits as well as preserve part of your estate, or at least arrange it in a way that benefits whoever you want it to benefit in the most cost effective way possible.
0:06:00.2 Justin: Absolutely. If you gimme more than five years, it’s easy to plan.
0:06:03.8 Kurtis: Right.
0:06:04.3 Justin: But we can also do crisis planning and protect usually half the assets if it were less than five years. So there’s all, you’re never too late. The question is how much are you gonna save? And I think that’s really important that a lot of people don’t know. A lot of people go. “Oh my gosh, there’s a five year look back. It’s too late. I can’t come in and plan. There’s nothing I can do about it.” No, you’re not too late. There’s still strategies.
0:06:23.3 Kurtis: Okay. So what are the types of things people might do if they do miss that five year period and all of a sudden, “Hey, I need to go in, but I haven’t really been planning for the last several years” so what are some things they might do?
0:06:35.9 Justin: So a quick example is sometimes we create a trust and we move all the person’s assets, which will force a penalty. But the way a penalty is calculated in the world of Medicaid, it’s just an abatement of time. So when you apply for Medicaid, Medicaid says, well, wait a minute. You gifted $100,000. We’re not gonna pay the bill for the first 10 months. We say, okay, fine. Because if the care cost is, say, $5000 and the person has $2000 in income, they’re gonna burn $3000 for the 10 months, that’s $30,000. And we put $100,000 away, we save $70,000. So we can still save $70,000 and spend $30,000. So it’s a little bit of a half lift going on there. So there’s strategies available where you can still protect some of the money without being overly complicated. That’s one of my favorite strategies to do because you’re still playing within the rules, but you’re able to protect some assets and you wanna be able to upgrade that Medicaid lifestyle or you wanna be able to have money on the side to buy clothes and ancillaries that Medicaid just doesn’t cover, it doesn’t pay for it. And these are still needs, real needs that people have.
0:07:33.9 Kurtis: Right. And this goes into planning, I guess the other area this goes into is if you’re planning ahead of time, as far as for long-term care, I think is a big issue, right? So we’re kind of, we’re trying to talk about that a little bit. So do the look back. So usually these crises evolving, “Hey, you know, mom fell hurt herself, can’t take care of herself. We need to find a facility. You know, what do we do? We gotta move them in.” Right? But if you have your estate set up ahead of time, some people don’t realize it, they just don’t automatically take you. Either they don’t have the space or you may not qualify because you haven’t set your finances up the proper way. Do you wanna speak to that a little bit about this? When you’re in a crisis, it literally, something just happened and okay, now we have to place somebody, we have to go do something. What are some things they can try to do?
0:08:17.8 Justin: Well, the big thing is the estate planning. You know, a lot of people, they just, they don’t want face those issues. And it… I do this every day, so I’m not gonna be a hard nose about it, but it just blows my mind we don’t wanna put together a simple set of documents that say who’s in charge when you can’t be you any longer. You know, that’s the power of attorney. The power of attorney is, is who’s gonna stand in your shoes when you can’t be you, and you need to have somebody you can trust and it’s not necessarily one of your kids because they may not be good with money. I’ve had a lot of people over the years, it cracks me up that they’ll appoint the Mother Theresa daughter to be the power of attorney. And she means well, but she has no idea how to handle a checkbook.
0:08:56.6 Justin: And then we have many cases where money goes missing and that kind of thing, they dip into mommy’s fund and it’s not good. So you have to have that power of attorney, someone you can trust to manage your affairs. You have to have a will. A will is very important because that’s setting out what happens after you die. And you shouldn’t leave that burden on your family. You know, the greatest legacy you can leave is a family that still wants to hang out once in a while, you know? And a lot of people, I’ve seen a lot of beautiful families over the years that have… That we’re together and they just, they fall apart. And it’s unbelievable. Probate Court is a very sad place to be because it’s just fighting.
0:09:36.9 Kurtis: I agree a hundred percent, something I’ve heard over and over again is like, people say, “Well, I’m not gonna worry about that. Let my kids figure it out.” And you’re literally asking for a battle, because no matter how simple you think it is, whether it’s who gets to China or who gets the second home, or whatever the case may be, you may think they’re gonna work it out, but you’re creating financial and emotional stress in most cases. And I’m sure we agree with the opinion is you just, if you wanna have those conversations ahead of time, fine, but you ultimately make the decision as to far as how you want it to flow. If they wanna change it around later, they can always change it. But you decide here’s where it’s going. If they decide to flip it, that’s one thing, but at least you’ve made the decision on their behalf. So now they’re not arguing and breaking up the family as you said.
0:10:23.5 Justin: Exactly. And even in New Jersey now, we have a funeral designation form that we’re required to fill out. I mean, kids fight over what kind of funeral it’s gonna be. I mean, you have to plan for these things. What do you want in your life? What do you want in your death? Because if not, your kids will fight over things like that because they don’t know what you want and you owe it to them to put it in writing. It’s easy, it goes back to what I said, set it and forget it. Just get it done, set it and forget it.
0:10:51.3 Kurtis: Absolutely. You’ve been listening to Master Your Finances. We’ll be right back. Welcome back. You’re listening to Master Your Finances. I’m here with Justin Scott, and we’re talking about planning and the importance of starting early. And it’s not as difficult or as costly as most people think it is, but it also adds a lot of peace of mind once it’s done. So it’s one of those things that everybody, if they haven’t done it already, they need to put it on their calendar and get in touch with a elder law attorney such as Justin, and make sure you get it done. And if you haven’t done it, usually we say, depending on the complexity, at least every five to 10 years, you want to have it reviewed because things do change, laws change, and you wanna make sure you’re staying up to date. And sometimes people forget.
0:11:26.1 Kurtis: Beneficiaries change, people… You change your mind about who you want to run things. And I know that a lot happens, and I know you mentioned something in the last segment where you have somebody that has the power of attorney, and sometimes you’ll have one that does the financial stuff and one that does what I call the emotional stuff. Like the who’s gonna pull the plug may not be the same person that balances your checkbook. You wanna make sure they’re in line with how you’re, how you might make that decision. And the financial side, as you point out, oftentimes that one that you’re emotionally connected to may not necessarily be the best person to handle the financial side of it.
0:12:01.2 Kurtis: So oftentimes those are separated, and that’s not bad. It’s a good check and balance when people do it that way. I’m sure with over 400 cases, you’ve seen some interesting things. I know I’ve seen a lot of interesting things. So what are some, because emotions, whenever there’s money involved, emotions are heightened and things really start to happen. As you pointed out, it can really hurt the family long term if some of these things aren’t accounted for upfront. So what are some of the things you’ve seen and how are ways that we might be able to prevent it?
0:12:25.3 Justin: Oh, [laughter] I could talk for hours on this one. That’s great. [laughter] So I always say in my conference room, you know the old saying if the walls could talk, right? What I’ve seen families dealing with issues fighting, coming in crying, the difference between a planning conference room and a panic conference room is a box of tissues, because that’s what you’re up against. So you have the box of tissues right there in the center. I’ll give you one of my favorite scenarios that I faced early on as an elder law attorney. We had a lady that was diagnosed in 2008 with terminal breast cancer, given six months to live. So she does the right thing. She goes to see a lawyer, she wants her daughter to have both houses, the house at the shore, the house up here. So she goes, and for two bucks, she deeds two houses outright to the daughter, six months rolls by and there’s one problem. She didn’t die.
0:13:16.8 Kurtis: She lives.
0:13:17.8 Justin: She lives, and she ended up going into remission. But fast forward eight years into the future, she needed to sell one of those houses to pay for care. But guess what? Daughter owned both houses outright. They didn’t do any trust planning. So mom serves, mom receives an eviction notice.
0:13:34.4 Kurtis: Wow.
0:13:35.3 Justin: From her own daughter. And so we ended up fighting, but guess what? Ignorance is no excuse. Once it was signed, it was deeded, it was conveyed there was nothing you could do. You can’t do a motion to set aside. There’s nothing you can do about it. And she gave me permission, she’s deceased now, but the mother gave me permission to always share that story of how not only should you plan, but you should plan with somebody that knows what they’re talking about. I’m certified in life resource planning. I’ve done elder law for 10 years. I’ve done hundreds and hundreds of cases, I’ve seen about every way to cut the cake. And it is very important to do it, but do it right and make sure that your wishes are honored, because once it’s done, if it’s done incorrectly, it can be a disaster too. So.
0:14:15.1 Kurtis: And I agree a hundred percent. And as you probably know in your profession, a lawyer can literally practice any area of law they want. But you always, in this case, it’s too important. You really want a specialist. You want somebody that specializes in elder law itself because it is complicated and it’s very critical that it’s done right. So you don’t want them doing like 15 different areas of law that they’re doing one thing in the morning and something in the afternoon. I think it’s important that they really focus on this area to make sure they do it right, ‘cuase it’s usually…
0:14:38.0 Justin: You don’t go to podiatrist for a triple bypass.
0:14:42.5 Kurtis: Right. [laughter] pretty much. But unfortunately there’s a lot of people out that say, oh yeah, I can take care of that for you. You know?
0:14:47.3 Justin: Right. Absolutely.
0:14:49.1 Kurtis: But they can’t really, I mean, maybe they can, you know, know technically because they’re licensed but they don’t really have the expertise or depth of knowledge that’s necessary to do it right.
0:14:57.4 Justin: It’s a very nuanced practice area. And in the same way that I say, you should go to someone that knows what they’re doing for elder law. Same is true for anything else. Listen, I have a business attorney, I have a employment attorney for my practice that I consult with. I know what I know, but more importantly, I know what I don’t know. And I think that’s important when you’re shopping around, you’re looking to do planning correctly you’re gonna have to do it in a way that you’re looking for that right fit, there’s a dress off the rack and then there’s one made to measure, it’s a totally different fit. And that’s, you wanna make sure this is done to measure, because it’s important. It’s your whole life and everything you have. There can’t be a bigger set of documents than that.
0:15:35.5 Kurtis: Right. Right. So I think it’s important that they plan ahead of time. So any other stories that you’ve had out there that of things that have happened? I know we’ve had instances, you talked about the funeral a little bit, and I think sometimes people think that you have to do it all like upfront, because you can modify these as and make adjustments to like your letter of instruction and things like that where things change or you change your mind. So sometimes they think, “Hey, we do everything once, and oh my gosh, I can’t make all my decisions today.” How do you answer that question where they go, “Well, what if I change my mind about which funeral home I want to go to? Can I just update something and maybe go and register that in my myself? Or do I have to go to the lawyer every like month every time I make change in my mind on one little thing.”
0:16:16.9 Justin: Yeah. What’s nice about it now is so you can prepay the funeral arrangements and it’s actually held in a trust fund as opposed to a particular funeral home because they realize if the funeral home goes outta business or something happens, you need to be able to get that money back to execute somewhere else. But you can lock in today’s prices by going ahead and prepaying the funeral. Plus you’re giving your family peace of mind by going ahead and saying, this is what I want. Because I have a lot of people that go, I don’t know if she wanted to be cremated or not. And it’s a burden on the family. And you asked for a case example, I had a case two daughters fighting over whether the funeral would be a Catholic funeral or non-sectarian funeral, and it ended up being decided by a judge that never met the lady that died. I mean, think about how horrible that is, but our listeners today, they’ll hear these stories, but they’ll get back on the couch more than likely than to actually get off the couch and do something about it.
0:17:10.7 Kurtis: Right.
0:17:14.2 Justin: And that’s what I don’t understand. Why would you not wanna plan? Why do you… Because it’s so much cheaper to tie a bow than it is to untie a knot [laughter]
0:17:20.2 Kurtis: That’s true.
0:17:21.3 Justin: That’s the reality of my business, it is. For a few hundred bucks you have a will. It’s $90,000 or more to fight it out in probate court if there’s no will and the kids are arguing, why would you waste your entire estate and ruin your entire legacy of a family when a few pieces of paper could solve it all upfront? I’ll never understand it. But see, I do it every day. But that’s it. I’m sure the mechanic does the same thing. Why don’t you change your oil every 5000 miles? You know, [laughter], I mean, but I see it. And so I’m out here today to talk about it because it really is something people need to consider and think about and really get it done. I know it’s not easy to think about your own mortality and face the idea that you could one day be sick and old, but I promise you I’m right. I promise you my words will haunt you someday. Because the reality is, as I’ve said, one outta one people die. It’s guaranteed. And we have to face it.
0:18:10.9 Kurtis: Yeah. And I agree, and I think from what I’m hearing and from what I’ve seen is like, there’s like two pieces. There’s like the technical thing, make sure you get it all like laid out somehow, even if you, whether or not you share it with the family. That’s one thing. ‘Cause I know some of the, some generations I know, finances are private, we don’t talk about it, we don’t discuss this. But even if that’s the culture you live in, you still need to put the framework in place so that when that occurs, ’cause it’s gonna occur, you’re either gonna be disabled or pass away and somebody’s gonna have to activate some of this information and use it. So even if they find out on that day, that’s better than nothing. But I think the other part that is better is if you lay it out and actually involve the parties, you wanna make sure, “Hey, here’s what I want and why I want it.” So if something changes, they’ll know, “oh, well that’s not technically exactly what that says, but we understand what the meaning was so we really understand what their wishes are so we can, you know, make that minor adjustment in their, in the way that we think they would’ve wanted it done.”
0:19:10.4 Justin: Yes.
0:19:10.6 Kurtis: So, I think having those conversations early and often also, I think is very… Then it normalizes the conversation, it’s not so scary anymore, then the kids know what’s going on, you know what’s going on. And this happened in my own family, where I grew up, the finances of my parents was pretty private, but then as they aged, my father was older, he’s the only one still living. Wide open conversation, we know exactly what’s going to happen, we know exactly what we need to do, my brother and I. And so that’s just like that’s all taken care of, so we’re good, so we understand the steps and we understand the wishes that he want to be carried out. So if there’s some nuance, we understand like what we really… What the wishes are behind the documentation, so to speak, right?
0:19:52.0 Justin: Exactly. And that’s so important, particularly in the healthcare setting, with your medical power of attorney, because we remember Terri Schiavo the famous case out of Florida where she always said she didn’t wanna live that way, but nothing was in writing, so no one had a clue. We had a husband who had already moved on and Terri had a $500,000 life insurance on her head. So of course, he was advocating to pull the plug.
0:20:17.3 Kurtis: Right.
0:20:17.6 Justin: That never got admitted to evidence though.
0:20:20.0 Kurtis: Yeah, I never heard that part of it.
0:20:20.5 Justin: And as far as the parents go, she had meaningful life, they were willing to take care of her. So it ended up going all… We had Jeb Bush, the governor of Florida, you had the Supreme Court weighing in, it was a crazy moment. And that’s when medical powers of attorney became a cool thing to have, because everybody’s going, “Don’t let that happen to me, I wouldn’t want my husband to have a little girlfriend on the side and have a life insurance policy on my head trying to collect it and kill me.” That’s the side of the case that never gets told and that’s why it’s so important to have these wishes in writing. What do you want? Especially in New Jersey now, we’re a made state, so we’re able to do physician assisted suicide, when it’s appropriate, and we bring in a physician and there’s a lot of elements that go into a case like that. But I’ve helped several people that had terminal cancer where it was literally eating their skin and I don’t mean to be graphic.
0:21:15.4 Kurtis: Right.
0:21:15.6 Justin: But the reality is there are horrible ways people pass away and so sometimes that’s appropriate, it depends on what you want. And that’s the meaning of the whole conversation is what do you want? And put it in writing.
0:21:28.4 Kurtis: No, I agree 100%. I just remember somebody telling me years ago that when they fill out this paperwork, when physicians fill it out, almost to a tee, they all want the plug pulled because they’ve seen people living long term and they see what that does. So that’s just, that gives you any insight to like what kind of life that is, it might just give you a clue. We’re gonna take another quick break, you’re listening to Master Your Finance. We’ll be right back.
0:21:50.5 Kurtis: Welcome back, I am here with Justin Lee Scott Esquire, and we’re talking about how the importance of planning, which I can’t overemphasize. Especially when you’re talking about the legal side of things, you wanna make sure your estate plan is in order and the earlier you start, the better it goes for everybody, yourself as well as your heirs or whatever you care about, whether it’s a charity, doesn’t matter. Things go significantly smoother than you think than otherwise, and it’s cheaper than you might think to do a lot of this stuff, based on how much money you save in the actual estate and how much anguish you can save as far as the family goes. So this is an interesting area to be in ’cause it’s kind of end of life law. You wanna tell us a little bit about how being a young guy such as yourself, how you got into something that kind of goes on the twilight part of our life, so to speak?
0:22:34.5 Justin: Yeah, that’s a great question. So I knew at a young age I wanted to be a lawyer, I just it was always in my veins that I wanted to be a lawyer, I thought they were cool, I thought they were interesting, and I thought the work was always fascinating. And then when I was in college, I worked for a DME dispensing wheelchairs, canes and walkers to people that were sick and terminal and had all kinds of issues. And what I discovered was I could make those people laugh, and I thought, “Well, you know what? If I could take a law degree and work with this population and make people in horrible circumstances laugh and see the rainbow at the end of the tunnel here, then I would be, have a rewarding career.” And I’ve never worked a day in my life. I can honestly say that I have loved every minute of it.
0:23:19.0 Kurtis: That’s awesome. If you’re an attorney that makes people laugh, you must have lots of great attorney jokes.
0:23:25.4 Kurtis: So…
0:23:25.7 Justin: Yeah, 99% of lawyers give the other 1% a bad name.
0:23:32.6 Kurtis: Oh, yeah. But no, that’s great. No, that’s awesome. So you can combine the two, especially as people are getting older and they’re having challenges, levity certainly helps.
0:23:41.8 Justin: It is.
0:23:42.4 Kurtis: Pass the time, that’s for sure.
0:23:44.3 Justin: And I still enjoy visiting clients where they are, and even when they’re on hospice. And I can’t tell you the families that at the end, when I’m in line at the funeral home and they’re like, “Wow, thank you for all you did.”
0:23:58.4 Kurtis: Right.
0:24:00.2 Justin: “You helped navigate a storm.” And that’s it, my job is more like a meteorologist than it is being a lawyer, believe it or not, because…
0:24:05.8 Kurtis: Okay.
0:24:06.6 Justin: I’m saying to people, “Yes, it’s dementia. Yes, for the first three or four years, they can stay at home. But after that, yeah, they may be wandering out in the streets, they could put their hand on the stove, these are the issues they’re faced.” So it’s the same thing as whether the storm is coming in or not, how do you face it? Do you batten down the hatches or do you get out of town? So that’s what we’re doing for families, because what happens is in today’s world, we’re not good at prolonging life from a medical standpoint. We’re good at prolonging death and what’s happening is people are living longer with a diminished quality of life and it’s resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars being necessary to maintain someone that is essentially pretty much dead or so diminished that there’s no quality of life left. So you take someone that’s bedridden in a nursing home for years, there’s no quality of life, they’re still living, sure.
0:24:56.0 Kurtis: Right.
0:24:57.2 Justin: The obituary will look better from an age standpoint, but the reality is there’s no quality of life and so we have to plan for that.
0:25:03.6 Kurtis: And I think you’re right, unfortunately, and I think we’re all the same, is we hate to let go of our loved ones, but at some point, you have to realize that their quality of life has diminished to the point where, hey, it’s okay, it’s time, it’s okay to move on if you wish.
0:25:18.5 Justin: Right.
0:25:18.7 Kurtis: Because people hang on, it’s amazing, I know my grandparents, this is interesting ’cause my… They were both very ill and in a lot of pain and literally my grandfather outlived my grandmother by, I think it was two days, like once she passed away, two days later, he passed away.
0:25:32.8 Justin: Wow.
0:25:33.4 Kurtis: So you hear these stories all the time.
0:25:34.8 Justin: Oh sure.
0:25:35.0 Kurtis: Where couples have been together for like 40, 50, 60, 70 years and when one’s gone, the other one’s like, “Okay, time for me to… ” And that’s okay ’cause they’re basically giving you permission, it’s okay, your time is okay and you had a great life and time to move on, right?
0:25:49.0 Justin: Yep. There’s a time to live and a time to die and that’s something that…
0:25:52.8 Kurtis: Sounds like a song.
0:25:53.7 Justin: A lot of people… Well, I’m Southern, so I could turn it into a country song, that’s easy to do.
0:25:58.8 Justin: Just get the guitar out. No.
0:26:00.5 Kurtis: There you go.
0:26:01.6 Justin: But it’s fascinating that when you really think about it, it’s okay, it’s okay that we’re going to die someday.
0:26:10.0 Kurtis: Right.
0:26:10.4 Justin: You know life is exhausting, it’s a wonderful thing, but it’s exhausting too. And I can only imagine when you’re in your 90s, I’m 34, I can only imagine being 94 my grandfather’s age when he died, gosh, what else is there to do, especially with no quality of life? So there’s a time to live and a time to die.
0:26:27.7 Kurtis: Yeah, I think that’s the key, the quality of life is key, right? You stay as healthy as you can, and that’s literally, believe it or not, that’s what the number one things that we deal with in the high net worth area is that, is extending a high quality life, right? Human longevity, and that means living at a high level for a long period of time, not living for a long period of time.
0:26:48.7 Justin: Right.
0:26:49.0 Kurtis: But living in a very active way that you’re productive and you’re enjoying life. As opposed…
0:26:53.5 Justin: Yes, if you have a high functioning life, you’d live forever.
0:26:55.8 Kurtis: Correct.
0:26:55.9 Justin: But if you diminished then what’s the point? It really compromises.
0:27:00.0 Kurtis: Correct.
0:27:01.0 Justin: And that’s it. I say jokingly, a lot of times when I speak to in seminars, I’ll say people don’t die anymore and people look at me like, “What’s wrong with him?” But the truth is people live so long with no quality of life, and it’s so expensive. I had a gentleman that was my client, who never put his wishes in writing, and he was demented and he’s bedridden in a nursing home at 100 years old, and they had to resuscitate him.
0:27:26.7 Kurtis: Okay.
0:27:27.0 Justin: Because it wasn’t in writing. So you have to err on the side of life.
0:27:30.0 Kurtis: Correct.
0:27:31.0 Justin: What quality of life is there? There’s none. And so it’s horrible, but I see that all the time, I just had a gentleman, not probably three or four weeks ago that passed away, we had to fight tooth and nail in court to be able to pull the plug on this man with dementia. Because they literally would have to break all his ribs.
0:27:51.0 Kurtis: Oh my gosh.
0:27:51.3 Justin: Open up his heart because he was having an intervening heart issue and they wanted to force him through surgery, force him through all the procedures, and he would die on the table. They knew that, doctors wanted to do it because they could bill the insurance for it.
0:28:02.9 Kurtis: Correct. That’s an issue.
0:28:04.0 Justin: That’s the issue there.
0:28:04.8 Kurtis: That’s an issue, yeah.
0:28:05.4 Justin: So that’s… So and we’re sitting there going, “My God, why put somebody through this?” That’s why it’s so important, I’ve seen it. If you don’t have it in writing, forget it, it’s awful, it’s awful. And the longer you live, the more likely you’re going to face… People don’t just die in their sleep anymore, you’re going to face that long goodbye, that five or ten year period of diminished quality of life or dementia where you don’t even… You can’t even articulate for yourself, but you’ll suffer through the pain, you have to figure it out. See, I’m just a great guest on this show.
0:28:36.6 Kurtis: You’re just awesome, full positivity here.
0:28:38.2 Justin: ‘Cause I’m just full of great things to say. But it is. It’s not doom and gloom, though.
0:28:41.9 Kurtis: No it’s not.
0:28:43.3 Justin: You can actually do it right. You can actually do it right. But I don’t know what else to say except share these examples and show the truth to people to get off the couch and get it done because, again, set it and forget it. Once it’s done, it’s done. It’s so important.
0:28:56.9 Kurtis: No, I agree 100% because I think every time I’ve had somebody go through any kind of planning exercise, they’re always like, I wish I’d done this sooner because now it’s off their plate, ’cause you’re still thinking about it in your head ’cause every once in a while you’ll see something or read something, you’re like, “oh, I really need to get to that. I really need to get to that.” So that’s just that extra stress level. But once you just go into action and literally just contact somebody, make an appointment, talk to somebody about it, and before you know it, a couple weeks later, it’s all done. And you’re like…
0:29:24.2 Justin: And we do a free consultation, too.
0:29:25.7 Kurtis: Oh there you go.
0:29:26.0 Justin: There’s literally no obligation. How easy or you can’t make it any easier than that it’s just…
0:29:34.8 Kurtis: Right, but once they’re done, then they can go, okay, now I can move on to the other things in my life that actually matter.
0:29:37.5 Justin: Oh sure.
0:29:38.4 Kurtis: And really focus on living life to the fullest ’cause once you kind of have that set aside and you go, I know everybody’s taken care of, I know everything’s good the way it needs to go. Now I can focus on enjoying my life and live it as long as I can at a high level.
0:29:52.7 Justin: Exactly.
0:29:52.8 Kurtis: And that’s really, really the key in my view.
0:29:55.5 Justin: Absolutely. It’s peace of mind.
0:30:00.4 Kurtis: Yeah. That’s awesome. So any other things you’re seeing currently happening in your world, so to speak, that we should be aware of as far as…
0:30:05.7 Justin: Sure, I mean, I think the biggest issue is people say, what do you do for a living? I say I help caregivers sleep at night. You have a lot of people out there that are in the struggle of caring for someone they know or love, their spouse, their parent, their grandparent. They’re trying to figure out how to pay for their care. They can’t sleep at night. What do we do? What happens when the money runs out? These are real issues people are faced with. So we do, in our practice, we have a nurse on our staff and we believe in handling everything holistically, legal, financial, and clinical under one roof.
0:30:39.5 Justin: So we have a nurse that simply advocates for the patient to get top, high quality of life, the highest and best quality of life as long as possible. That’s so important. So even beyond just doing your estate planning, which we talk about for people that are healthy, if you’re dealing with someone that is currently sick or needs care, you need to make sure they’re getting the highest and best quality of life. You need to make sure that you find government sources to help pay for that care to avoid the money running out situation. And then you need to make sure those documents are in place. But we handle all of that. So that’s what you have to look out for because everybody knows somebody that is caring for someone now.
0:31:21.4 Justin: I mean, it’s just there’s so much of it. And so it is the most stressful job. It’s harder than being a parent. You know, when my little girl, and I love her to death, and I don’t have to discipline her that much, but the reality is she’s my daughter, I can say knock it off. But you can’t do that to a parent. So you’re taking care of mom and mom’s a grouch every day and drives you nuts and da da da. I’ve seen marriages end because one spouse is a caregiver and the other spouse can’t take it anymore because they do it.
0:31:48.8 Justin: You start out with, okay, for six months, I’m going to be a caregiver. Okay, mom doesn’t die. She lives for eight more years. You’re exhausted trying to care for that person. You only have so much water in your cup to pour into another vessel. I mean, it just is what it is. So that’s where we come in, we bring in the supports. And the other thing that we’ve left out today is that we have to remember people that don’t have kids, people that don’t have anyone they trust. We can serve as a law firm as their power of attorney. We can serve for them. We can be their fiduciary. We can make sure that they’re protected. And I think that’s important too. You never have to go it alone and you shouldn’t.
0:32:29.6 Kurtis: And I agree 100%. Another thing that’s really important when you set the caregiver up well, in other words, you can go back to being the child or the sibling of that person. That you don’t have to be their caregiver for eight years. If you plan it properly up front, that doesn’t happen. You can still be their loving and many close connections have happened in those twilight years so to speak while they were under care because they were being the actual relative that they were always wanted to be and they had time to spend with them. We’re going to take another quick break. You’re listening to Master Your Finances.
0:32:57.0 Kurtis: Welcome back. I’m here with Justin Lee Scott Esquire, and giving a lot of great examples of why it’s really important to do your estate planning early and to get things right and really involve the family and everybody that needs to be involved in the financial side of it, the emotional side of it. The more of these decisions you make early on, the better it is for yourself as well as for all your loved ones and everybody else that you care about. In addition to that, I know you’re very passionate about the subject matter so much that I know you’ve written several books, including the one you handed to me right before we went on the air, which is called Revisiting Your Promise. When the time comes to consider placing your loved one into long-term care, do you want to tell us a little bit about why you started writing and specifically about your latest book and why you wrote it?
0:33:38.6 Justin: Well, I love to write. I feel like my knowledge belongs to the world and I give all my books away. You can go to and they’re all there for free to download and read. Knowledge is power. And this latest book, Revisiting Your Promise, is a tough topic that I have encountered so many families that go, I just can’t, I can’t move mom out of her home. I can’t put dad in that place. And people always say, we’ve always heard it, I never wanna go to one of those places. And so people say when they’re healthy, the kids will say, “Mom, I’ll never do that to you. I promise I’d never do that to you.”
0:34:18.6 Justin: But when mom has dementia and she’s had it for five years and it’s in the frontal lobe and now she’s violent and she’s trying to kill people and she’s hallucinating, suddenly you have to revisit that promise. And that’s what that book is about. And I’m very passionate about it because it’s kind of the first book I did that wasn’t just legal and financial. There’s a little bit of emotion in the book because it’s tough. And I get that. And that’s why you need an elder care attorney that actually cares about their clients because navigating this is more than just paper. It’s people.
0:34:50.0 Kurtis: I couldn’t agree more. I mean, this business, I mean, the same with our business is that a lot of this comes down to understanding your clients and really caring about them. And once you care about them and understand them, putting the right pieces in place to support what they really want to have happen becomes much easier to do and much more effective as far as how it gets implemented.
0:35:10.4 Justin: Absolutely.
0:35:10.9 Kurtis: And it sounds like that’s what you’re hearing here. So was there anything specific that like kind of motivated you, is there any stories that you heard or would live through, I should say that you’re like, Hey, I think I really need to like, I need to share this.
0:35:24.5 Justin: I’ll tell you, the one that really stuck out to me was I had a client that had a husband refuse to place them anywhere. He was a veteran. He had a old restored Camaro, very valuable car, big engine. He had dementia in the frontal lobe. There were guns in the house and she reached her breaking point. She said, “I promised I never would put him anywhere, but I don’t know what else to do.” And we had to… They had nothing done. Nothing was in place so we had to go to court for guardianship, which is the ability to basically force a power of attorney if you don’t have a power of attorney. So we were all caught up in this court case. And I literally wrote the judge, I got published for this because I wrote the judge and I said, “I just wanna let you know he has frontal lobe dementia and there’s loaded guns in the house” And no judge wants to be on CNN.
0:36:18.6 Justin: So the order got signed that day and I was published for that because, you know, sometimes you have to use common sense when you practice law. But that was the story that really got me thinking about this book is she knew he needed to be placed somewhere. She knew it mentally, cognitively, but in her heart, she couldn’t do it. And so finally, she was able to break through that. Once we had guardianship, she placed him in a memory care unit that was locked down that had proper supports where he could get the medication he needed so he would calm down. That’s what you have to do because you can’t just leave these people. And as much as I love to help people, you don’t know what you don’t know. You can’t cut a tree down with a butter knife. And that’s what a lot of caregivers try to do. They mean well, they have the heart, they have the spirit, but you can’t cut a tree down with a butter knife. You just can’t do it. If you don’t know, if you don’t have the knowledge, you can’t do it. If you have a heart attack right now, I can’t give you a triple bypass. I don’t know how to do that.
0:37:11.1 Kurtis: I appreciate that.
0:37:14.4 Justin: But I would try to help you. I would wanna help you. My heart would wanna help you. And that’s what happens with these caregivers. And so that’s what the book talks about is we get into people’s heads of that’s how you feel you wanna help. But if you… A fish can’t climb a tree, as Albert Einstein said, so he lived whole life believing he’s no good. I love that quote.
0:37:32.3 Kurtis: I do too. So absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. So you’re right. And I think what it does is it takes a lot of pressure off of her now, so now she can go visit her husband and…
0:37:43.4 Justin: She goes back to being that wife.
0:37:45.9 Kurtis: Whatever quality time they can have together. I know that’s a tough time in their life, but at least she’s there and doesn’t have the stress of all these other aspects and really probably starting to resent him being there because it’s like there’s just it becomes to the point where you just can’t handle it at some point, no matter how much you care about the person. As you pointed out, you can only handle so much stress on yourself ’cause you still have your own life. You’re trying to live, but some of these conditions are literally 24/7 type conditions and one person just can’t do it long term. At some point, you’re going to break and it doesn’t usually end well for anybody.
0:38:19.7 Justin: No. And I’ve had clients that would even sleep in their cars at night because their spouse would be in the house with dementia acting out behavior, sundowners, whatever’s going on. They… We talk about this today, but there are people listening to this that I hope I’m really speaking to because this it’s not okay. What is okay is to get help. What is okay is to help them get the medicines they need, get the care they need and do what’s best, not perfect, but best. And that’s what we talk about in the book. And again it’s free online. You can call the office. We’ll mail you a copy, I don’t care, whatever I can do to help. Because people have to have to help… You have to love people. You have to help them and do what’s right. Not just what you think is right, but what actually is the textbook standard in these cases, legal, financial, clinical, get them the help they need.
0:39:17.0 Kurtis: Right. That’s awesome. So this is your latest book. So what other books have you written? Just kind of general topics and things you talked about and some of the other things you’ve written.
0:39:24.3 Justin: You know, it’s a good question. The number one speaking seminar that I do is on senior scams.
0:39:30.7 Kurtis: Senior scams, there you go.
0:39:34.5 Justin: My first book is called Senior Shakedown. And it’s a great book because it outlines all the scams that seniors are faced with. And it’s unbelievable. And it always draws a big audience. It’s so funny because when I first started in elder law, I went to the senior partner of a law firm that I was working with and I said, I wanna write this book and I think it’ll bring us in business and I think it’ll make sense. It’ll get the word out. And they go, “Nobody wants to hear about senior scams.”
0:39:57.1 Kurtis: Really? That’s what they said?
0:39:58.9 Justin: And it’s still is the number one. And I actually… So when you publish a book, even though I give them away for free, they’re still for sale on Amazon and you have to do both to order copies. People will buy that book. And it’s so funny ’cause I don’t want people to even be buying it, but people search and will buy that book and I get royalties off of that book.
0:40:17.4 Kurtis: There you go.
0:40:18.3 Justin: And I don’t even want it. But it’s so funny because senior scams are huge in the industry and in society. And once the money’s gone, you can’t get it back. And there’s so many scams out there. So I could talk about that forever. I’ve written books on Parkinson, Stroke, MS. I try to hit all the subjects, how to hit the legal financial angle, not medical. I’m not a medical doctor, but I do have a doctorate degree in law. And it’s focused on helping people navigate the longevity of those diseases and how to plan for those, because there’s nothing out there. If you go into Barnes & Noble and try to find a book on elder law and try to find how to help with these issues, there’s nothing. Only my books. That’s it. There’s nothing out there.
0:41:03.3 Kurtis: That’s interesting.
0:41:04.7 Justin: Yeah. It’s unbelievable to me that… Because there’s people out there that are way smarter than I am. But you would think that we would have a bookshelf in Barnes & Noble, a whole section dedicated to the issues in aging, because we all are going to age. We’re all there. There’s millions of people that are suffering right now with all kinds of conditions. And there’s just not a lot out there. There’s a lot on clinical, but not the legal and financial impact. In this country, you can go bankrupt because someone gets sick. Think about that.
0:41:34.7 Kurtis: That’s true.
0:41:37.2 Justin: That’s huge. So how do you plan for that? How do you prepare for that? How do you embrace or brace yourself to even be able to handle what that’s going to do for you? And I’ve had people walk into my office, they go, “oh, I’ve got a million dollars. I’ll never need to protect money.” A million dollars, really? With dementia, you’ve got two spouses with dementia. It’s at least a half million dollars a piece that you’re going to spend on care. The million dollars is gone.
0:42:01.2 Kurtis: Right. Absolutely.
0:42:02.9 Justin: So no plan, no success there.
0:42:06.5 Kurtis: Planning is always the right way to do it, as you pointed out.
0:42:10.5 Justin: It’s so important and I get passionate about it because I’m very, and that’s why I write, because that helps me get it out of my system because it’s so important for people to read up, study. And there are a few people over the years that have hired me because of the books, because they want to know and they want to do what’s right. And I love clients like that because that’s where you need to be. That’s where your headspace needs to be. Do what’s right. Get the help that they need.
0:42:35.6 Kurtis: A hundred percent. A hundred percent. So you talked about the scams. You want to touch on a couple of those that are relevant ’cause I know there’s a lot going on out there. I know we only have a few minutes left but.
0:42:44.3 Justin: Oh, sure. Yeah. So, you know, the big scam right now is you’re on the computer and all of a sudden the computer locks down and it says “call Microsoft.” So you pick up the phone, the senior picks up the phone, calls Microsoft and it’s not Microsoft but he says, “Hi, I’m John from Microsoft” and you’re on the phone and you would think he would want the credit card for $20, make some money, that kind of thing. But the real scam is he goes, “You know what? I’m sorry. No charge today. Just let me remote into your computer and fix it.” All of a sudden they capture your entire hard drive and they can see everything. They don’t want $20. They don’t want the credit card number. They don’t want your social security number. They want to take your whole hard drive now. And that’s a huge scam.
0:43:25.2 Justin: Another big one is you wouldn’t believe the people that get calls from the IRS that needed to collect a payment. Let me tell you, if the IRS ever gets that efficient, that would be a totally different day.
0:43:36.3 Kurtis: IRS doesn’t call you, ever.
0:43:39.1 Justin: And they say the IRS doesn’t call you. And let me tell you, when the IRS needs your attention, they know darn sure how to get your attention.
0:43:45.4 Kurtis: They knock on your door with a bunch of other people when they really need your attention.
0:43:47.3 Justin: That’s right. So, but here’s the thing in that book that I wanna highlight. We laugh at these scams but imagine someone that’s shut in, they’re isolated and they have a touch of dementia.
0:43:58.7 Kurtis: Yeah it’s easy.
0:44:00.3 Justin: That’s why they look at the junk mail. Junk mail is a huge scam. Tons of it. And now it looks official. You’ve got red letters. You’ve got fancy seals on the corner. You’ve got the brown envelopes. It looks like a bill. It looks like something important. And we’re dealing with people that are aging out now that are in the generation that they wanna do right. They wanna pay their bills. They wanna be known as good people. And so a lot of times they’ll just up and pay these bills and they’re scams. It’s unbelievable.
0:44:26.6 Kurtis: Well, Justin, it’s been awesome. You’ve been… I appreciate you coming on and sharing your knowledge with us and your passion. Obviously, you’re very passionate. You’ve been listening to Master Your Finances. You can listen to this and all our podcasts by going to

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