Tag: Epiphany Law

Three Common Myths about HR and the Attorney’s Role

Most people understand the attorney-client privilege is a rule that protects the confidentiality of communications between lawyers and clients. This rule encourages transparency and allows an attorney to provide effective representation. But, not everyone understands that there are limitations and that the rule may be applied differently depending on a specific situation.

The attorney-client privilege rule can be especially complex in the world of human resources. There are some common misconceptions among employers. The following can help clear up some of the confusion.

Myth Since the head of our HR department happens to be an attorney, any of her notes from internal investigations will be protected.

Reality – Not exactly. Employers sometimes believe that having an attorney as the head of their HR department will protect their internal investigations from being disclosed. However, the privilege only applies to confidential communications between attorneys and their clients made for the specific purpose of obtaining or providing legal advice. This rule can not be applied to documents that were created in order to comply with a company’s policy or procedure. So, there is a chance that internal documents prepared by the HR department may be disclosed during litigation procedures.

Myth – My company has taken the appropriate steps to ensure that HR issues within the company will not become public knowledge.

Reality –Probably not. While thorough planning is essential and can certainly help limit your company’s liability, it still can’t guarantee that any documents created during an internal investigation will remain private. You’ll want to keep that in mind while creating all communications. Information from interviews that took place during a discrimination or harassment investigation could very well be considered ‘discoverable’ should there be a subsequent lawsuit.

Myth – Since my company has invested in knowledgeable and experienced HR professionals, hiring an outside attorney is unnecessary.

Reality – The best way to protect against legal claims is to hire a lawyer. Employers should keep in mind that discrimination and harassment suits are on the rise. But, when you hire an attorney for the specific purpose of providing legal counsel surrounding HR concerns, then all those communications between your company and lawyer would not be allowed to be disclosed.

The relationship between an employee and employer is heavily regulated and often difficult to navigate. Employment attorneys can help make sure you are in compliance with state and federal laws and often stop matters from escalating. To learn more about how an attorney can help protect your company’s best interest, visit https://epiphanylaw.com/contact-us/

Sarah Coenen, Employment Attorney

About the Author

Sarah M. Coenen is an experienced business attorney with Epiphany Law. She focuses her practice on employment services including: non-competition agreements, employee handbooks, hiring and termination. Sarah enjoys educating and empowering her clients to help them achieve their personal and business goals.

Epiphany Law Welcomes Attorney Robert Macklin

Appleton, WI – Epiphany Law, LLC, is pleased to announce that Attorney Robert Macklin has joined the firm. The addition of Robert Macklin is due to the firm’s ongoing growth and commitment to provide valuable service offerings to its clients.

Rob brings over 20 years of experience advising clients of all sizes, both domestic and international on complex business matters. Serving as General Counsel to several successful private and public companies, in industries including manufacturing, medical, telecommunications, healthcare and consumer goods has given Rob knowledge on what a business needs to be successful. In addition, Rob took time from his legal career to serve with the US Navy as Part of Operation Iraqi freedom, running intelligence operations for SEAL Team 8.

Epiphany Law’s founder, Kevin Eismann said, “The volume and complexity of our transactional work continues to grow. Our clients can benefit tremendously from the vast business experience that Rob brings to the team.”

As an experienced lawyer, small business owner and Department of Defense certified interrogator, Rob’s diverse skill set can help business owners mitigate risks and promote business success. More specifically, Rob focuses on the areas of proactive law, commercial contracting, mergers and acquisitions, compliance and investigations, business processes, strategic governance and capital formation, and international law.

 

Attorney Robert Macklin

 

Rob earned his J.D. from the one of the top law schools in the country, the University of Chicago Law School and his undergraduate from UCLA. To learn more about how Rob’s expertise can benefit your business, please contact us.

Protecting Your Financial Health from Nursing Home Costs

No one likes to think about getting older, but aging is unavoidable. And, as we mature, taking care of our health and wellness becomes even more important. Chances are, you’re already making good nutrition and exercise choices. But, how would you describe your financial health? Are you protecting your assets with an estate plan?

In 2018, the average cost of nursing home care in Wisconsin was over $8,300 per month. Unfortunately, nursing home expenses are anticipated to continue to rise three times faster than the general rate of inflation.

If you need supportive care from a nursing home because of aging and chronic conditions, it’s important to understand that health insurance or Medicare will not cover these massive costs. Now is the time to be pro-active. Learn how you can receive the care you need and protect your financial health at the same time.

Know your options when it comes to protecting your assets.

It is estimated that nearly half of all people that reach age 65 will need long term care assistance. You have three basic choices for care providers:

In-home care 

While most people prefer to remain in their homes, this isn’t always possible. To help determine if you are a good fit for in-home care, it is crucial to be honest about how much care you truly need. As of 2014, the average annual costs for in-home care in Wisconsin was $50,336.*

Assisted living facility

This type of facility is best suited for older adults who do not require constant care but may need assistance with medication management or other basic tasks. For a one bedroom single occupancy room, the average cost in Wisconsin was $46,200.*

Skilled nursing facility

This type of facility is for people who need medical care or daily therapy services from a registered nurse. It offers care 24/7. For a semi-private room in Wisconsin, the average annual cost was $87,363.*

First things first. Make sure your have a well-drafted estate plan.

Every estate plan needs to address the essentials: a will or trust, financial power of attorney, health care power of attorney, a living will, HIPPA waiver and a marital property agreement. If you have already completed an estate plan, it is important to re-evaluate it every couple of years to determine if it needs any updating, especially if there has been a change in your health. You’ll want to make sure your plan and the representatives listed continue to reflect your wishes. If you have not yet completed an estate plan, this will be your first step to protecting your long-term financial health.

*All prices are based on the 2014 Genworth Cost of Care Survey – Wisconsin.

 Long Term Care Insurance

Another important step is checking into long-term care insurance. Though long term care insurance can be expensive, it will provide a source of payment, in some cases, for in-home care and assisted living (whereas Medicaid will provide payment for only nursing homes).  A long term care policy, in most cases, will give you more options regarding your long term care.

Protecting your assets

Unfortunately, some people will not be eligible for a long term care policy because of finances or health conditions. However, you may still be able to protect some, if not, all your assets from the costs of nursing home using a couple of different strategies.

If you plan far enough ahead, you may be able to protect assets through the use of an irrevocable trust. An irrevocable trust requires you to give up control of the assets transferred to the trust.  However, a properly drafted irrevocable trust generally allows you to minimize taxes, protect your assets from the nursing home and still, in some cases, give you access to the funds.

You might also want to consider asset conversion. Many people mistakenly believe they can’t qualify for Medicaid because they own certain assets. But, the truth is, Medicaid allows for some flexibility.

The following assets will not be considered (or “counted”) by Medicaid.
  • Cash up to $2,000
  • Primary residence given the Medicaid applicant or his/her spouse resides there and the equity value is at $878,000 or less
  • One car at any current market value
  • Personal belongings and household items such as furniture and appliances
  • Pre-paid funeral and burial arrangements
  • Personal property that is essential to a person’s self-support (for example: farm, rental properties or real estate investments)
  • For a married couple, the non-institutionalized spouse can exempt half of the married couple’s countable assets up to a maximum of $126,420 for 2019 and the non-institutionalized spouse’s retirement plans.

Please keep in mind that Medicaid is a complex government program, jointly funded by the state and federal government. The guidelines are complicated and frequently change. The best way to make sure your long-term financial health is protected is to work with an attorney who understands Medicaid and has extensive experience and elder law knowledge. They can take the guesswork out of the estate planning process and give you confidence about your financial future.

Estate Planning Attorney Patrick Furman

About the Author

Patrick Furman is an attorney with Epiphany Law and has been practicing law for over 15 years. He focuses his practice on all aspects of estate, succession, and tax planning as well as probate avoidance, irrevocable and revocable trusts, life insurance, spendthrift and special needs trusts, along with wills, durable powers of attorney and advanced health directives. To learn more about protecting your assets, ask Pat a question.