Articles Posted in Firm Announcements

Michigan veterans and seniors need to express their concerns over proposed new VA regulations affecting their ability to plan for benefits. Our office supports changes to regulations in order to protect seniors and veterans in Michigan, but, changes need to be consistent with Congressional intent, the Constitution itself, and, at the very least, consistent with Medicaid regulations that are true and tested over time.

Current VA regulations DO NOT include a “look back” period. This has provided unscrupulous planners to take advantage of the law to sell financial products unfit for seniors facing long term care planning decisions.

Seniors and veterans using accredited attorneys, agents, or other planners skilled in elder law often provide sound, legal strategies to ensure that seniors and veterans that need help, DO NOT exhaust their assets because of the cost of their care and are others forced into a nursing home, at the federal government’s own expense, in the form of Medicaid.

Your help is needed to protect Michigan veterans and seniors. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has introduced new regulations that will negatively affect your ability to receive benefits for yourself and your loved ones.

New proposed regulations, introduced January 23, 2015, will create a three (3) year “look-back” period for applicants, similar to Medicaid. It will eliminate your ability to protect your assets through legal planning strategies to immediately qualify for benefits.

Although our office supports protecting veterans and seniors from abusive planning practices, the new policies simply go too far by creating several unintended consequences:

On Friday our office received notice that the VA has submitted significant changes to non-service connect benefit eligibility that will directly impact Michigan Veterans and Veterans nationwide. Click here for a link to these changes.

Michigan Elder Lawyers, National Academy of Elder Law members and several Veteran Service Organizations (VSO) oppose the proposed regulations. Specifically, the changes will:

1. Create a three (3) year look-back period for new applicants.

Detroit and Grand Rapids area veterans may be eligible to receive VA benefits to supplement the cost of their care for either assisted living, independent living with care, or in home care.

Through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) non-service connected benefits program aging and disabled veterans that need assistance with two (2) or more activities of daily living may qualify for monthly benefits of put to $2,000.00 per month. These benefits may be used to offset the cost of care by supplementing monthly social security and pension income. Although eligibility for these benefits may be confusing, help exists to those who may qualify. By working with a skilled elder law attorney, it is possible to qualify for benefits.

If you are residing in the metro Detroit area, Grand Rapids area, Kalamazoo area, or are in Northern Michigan and have questions about qualifying for VA benefits for assisted living or in-home-care call SMDA P.C.1-866-LAW-ELDR or 1-866-529-3537.

If you are a loyal listener to WYCD 99.5 in the metro Detroit area, you have probably heard our new advertisements for elder law and VA benefit planning. SMDA P.C or Serafini, Michalowski, Derkacz and Associates, P.C. has established itself as one of the premier elder law and long term care planning law firms in the metro Detroit Area.

Our firm specializes in the issues that affect “baby-boomers” and their aging parents. Although it is no secret that we are all living longer, it is sometimes a secret how to enjoy life beyond retirement and still be able to afford care and assistance beyond our golden years. Through estate planning and long term care planning techniques our firm can assist you and your family with providing the best quality of care at the lowest cost possible.

Not only are we able to help those in metro Detroit with their needs; our satellite office in Zeeland, Michigan stands ready to service clients in West Michigan. In addition, we are pleased to announce working relationships with The Law Offices of Grossman & Moldovan, in the Kalamazoo area and northern Michigan through an affiliation with Carey & Jaskowski, P.C. in Grayling, Michigan. Our network of attorneys are able to service clients throughout the state of Michigan,

As the newest member of the team at Serafini, Michalowski, Derkacz & Associates (SMDA), I’d like to take a moment to introduce myself to those who frequently read this blog.

My name is Shane Childers, and I am excited to be a part of a firm with offices in both Sterling Heights and Zeeland, Michigan, that works extensively in the areas of estate planning, elder law, probate and estate administration. And as a former military member, and current member of the Air Force Ready Reserves, I am even more excited about continuing my work with our nations veterans as part of our veteran’s law practice.

My legal career began when I joined the United States Air Force JAG Corp after graduating from law school and passing the bar exam in 2008. As a member of the JAG Corp, I worked in several unique areas of the law. For instance, I served as the Chief of Military Justice at Ellsworth AFB, SD, where I served as the lead prosecutor for military courts-martial. As a prosecutor, I handled a broad array of criminal cases. I also earned a Meritorious Unit Award and an Air Force Commendation Medal for my service while at Ellsworth AFB, which included advising B-1B pilots and squadron commanders on the Law of Armed Conflict and the Geneva Convention while working in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn. However, the most rewarding accomplishments of my military career involved the assistance I was able to provide to many of our nations retired and disabled veterans. And it is with great pride that I will continue my work with our nation’s greatest heroes as a member of the team at SMDA.

Veterans and their families living in Grand Rapids, Zeeland, Holland or West Michigan that need assistance with long-term care planning, for assisted living, nursing home and home care now have planning options available.

Our firm now offers legal services to the communities of West Michigan through our office in downtown Zeeland, Michigan. Offering expertise in elder law, long-term care planning, Medicaid planning, and, estate planning, our firm has solutions for families struggling to deal with a loved one that can no longer live independently at home.

Through effective planning, veteran’s can use non-service connected pension benefits like aid and attendance, the homebound pension, and, improved pension benefits to help fund the care that they need to improve the quality of their lives. Planning can not only preserve and protect a family’s estate; it can also provide someone suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s or other catastrophic illnesses with additional income to provide much needed care.

We are proud to announce that we have moved into west Michigan to serve west Michigan veterans and the west Michigan senior community.

Serafini, Michalowski, Derkacz & Associates, P.C. now has an office in beautiful downtown Zeeland, Michigan located at 109 Main Street, Suite 6, Zeeland, Michigan. Serving Kent County and Ottawa County, veterans, seniors and others can now get the help that they need with:

• Elder Law – Veteran’s benefit planning, Medicaid and nursing home planning, long-term care planning, estate planning, and, probate matters.

Yesterday, July 14, 2012 marked an important federal holiday, Flag Day. I tend to view Flag Day as an important federal holiday, just as important as Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day. Flag Day is an important day to honor our country’s flag and its symbolic significance. After all, “[i]t is the flag for which we fight for freedom” – Unknown.

Often times we have clients that need assistance in Florida. The great snowbird migration of the upper midwest to sunshine states can affect clients living in multiple states. In Michigan it seems that most seniors and retires enjoy spending winters in Florida.

Although we do not practice law in Florida, we frequently refer to experts in different ares of Florida law. One such expert that I frequently defer to in the areas of Elder Law, Medicaid Planning, Veteran’s Benefits, Probate, and, Estate Planning is Mark Lewis.

Mark is a highly skilled attorney working in the Tampa / St. Pete’s area. He can be reached at:

6830 Central Ave., Suite D St. Petersburg, Florida 33707 Tel No. 727-381-1946 Fax No. 727-384-4633

If you are a Michigan resident looking for help with Florida Law or are a Florida resident following this blog please feel free to contact Mark and let him know that you read this article.

Attached is a great article authored by Mark Lewis regarding recent changes to Florida law affecting power of attorney documents.
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