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December Member of The Month, Frank Dudeck

What Is The Greatest Success You've Had Since Joining LWP?

My greatest success since joining LWP is the increase in the Medicaid Application Crisis area of my practice. As a result of joining LWP I have targeted Nursing Homes and began to actively building relationships with them. As a result, the number of Medicaid Applications have begun to increase. Just last week we received 2 medication application clients on Tuesday and 2 more on Wednesday from the same Nursing Home. Then the same business manager said “Why don’t we just have you prepare all of our Medicaid Applications?” This was our goal to do all the Medicaid applications for this Nursing Home. We will continue to build on this pattern of success.

What Is Your Favorite LWP Tool?

The Implementation Focuser is my favorite tool. It helps me take my long term goals and break them down in to bite size steps I can get my mind around. Too often I have had written goals but no written steps to achieve those goals. This has really helped me know that taking a lot of little steps will get me to my final goal. It like eating an elephant one bite at a time. It helps me feel my long term goals are very achievable.

Picture of FrankHow Has Being Part of LWP Impacted Your Team & Your Practice?

My team has begun to implement Action Step into our practice. Everyone in our office loves learning this new program and now everyone feels they have a better handle on our work flow and the tasks to be accomplished. We have 3 new hires and my wife Judy does weekly training sessions for the staff on all aspects of our workflow and how to keep our office running at top speed and efficiency. There is an electricity in our office that several clients have pointed out and other tenants in our building have noticed. We are having fun and our practice steadily growing. I feel we will be hitting critical mass very soon then…..watch out!

Share Something About Yourself That Most People Don't Know About You?

I am an avid reader and researcher of the U.S. and world economies in particular the financial and banking industries. I am fascinated by how small our world has become and the extreme advances in technology we have achieved in the last few years. I believe our generation will see some of the most amazing inventions and technology the world has ever seen, things that will truly amaze all of us and we will soon be using technology that will make us even more productive at work and stunning conveniences for our lives.

What Is Your Favorite Book And How Did It Impact Your Life?

My favorite book is the Book of Proverbs. I read at least a chapter a day. In our crazy world it is so easy to get lost in the things going on around us that we can lose our bearings and sometimes our moral compass. My daily reading in this book keeps me grounded and heading in the right direction even when the road signs of life are saying turn right here and turn left there.

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Congratulations to William Newstad, Lawyers With Purpose Member of The Month!

What is the greatest success you’ve had since joining LWP?  

Since joining LWP my greatest success has been being able to use the skills and tools obtained from LWP training to foster referrals from a number of other attorneys of estate planning and elder law clients.  I find these referrals as my most valued as it indicates the level of trust and experience that attorneys in my community have for my firm.  

Newstad PhotoWhat is your favorite LWP tool?

My favorite LWP tool is the whole focuser concept. From meeting to daily, they keep me on track and on top of what I need to accomplish and what I have accomplished!

How has being part of LWP impacted your team and your practice?  

I'm a solo with a small team.  Having LWP, as well as Actionstep, in our corner provides the support and resources that one would find only in a large firm. Having the LWP community as a sounding board for various questions on the ListServ as well as the weekly webinars affirms the cordial and knowledgeable community of which my firm is proud to be part of.

Share something about yourself that most people don’t know about you.  

I have been singing since I was 9 years old.  I've been a cantor in my church as well as the lead singer of local rock cover band. Recently I was in a local remake of the Broadway musical Big Fish and in December I will be reprising my role as Santa Claus in Staten Island's version of the Radio City Christmas Show. So…HO HO HO!!

What is your favorite book and how did it impact your life?

I am an avid reader of Science Fiction and Fantasy novels as I am a HUGE geek. In fact, I will be attending the New York City Comicon with my family this month, and yes we will be cosplaying as characters from Star Wars!  As far as a favorite book? It would be Joseph Campbell's, Hero with a Thousand Faces, which I first read in college. It tracks the mythology of the hero through many different cultures and was actually used by George Lucas to write the original Star Wars screenplay.  I like to think that we, as attorneys, and our teams are heroes as we help so many families plan for their future and protect their stuff for future generations. 


You Bet Your VA Life Insurance!

Among the benefits that veterans may access through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is life insurance. Considering the often-hazardous duty that veterans have encountered and survived, the VA’s life insurance programs are meant to offer a measure of financial security to the family for little or no cost. And proceeds from a life insurance policy on a veteran, no matter whether a VA policy or not, are not considered income by the VA, which can be a valuable benefit for a surviving spouse.

The various VA life insurance programs are listed below with the ubiquitous corresponding VA acronym.

  • Service members’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI)
    • Service members’ Group Life Insurance Traumatic Injury Protection (TSGLI)
    • Family Service members' Group Life Insurance (FSGLI)
    • Service members’ Group Life Insurance Disability Extension (SGLI-DE)
  • Service-Disabled Veterans’ Insurance (S-DVI)
  • Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI)
  • Veterans’ Mortgage Life Insurance (VMLI)

Bigstock-Soldier-And-Doctor-Shaking-Han-83552111As the names suggest, not all of these life insurance programs are meant for veterans. The only ones that are available to veterans are the last three. The first four programs are applicable to active service members or their dependents. Specifically, Service members' Group Life Insurance is term life insurance coverage for eligible service members that extends until 120 days after separation from service. Coverage under SGLI is $3.50/month for increments of $50,000 up to a maximum death benefit of $400,000 at a maximum monthly premium of $28.

Apart from basic SGLI, there are three versions of SGLI for specific circumstances. For an additional $1 premium per month, Service members'’ Group Life Insurance Traumatic Injury Protection (TSGLI) provides for a benefit paid in life if the service member suffers a loss due to traumatic injury like amputation, blindness, and paraplegia. There is also SGLI for dependents called Family Service members' Group Life Insurance (FSGLI). And the Service members' Group Life Insurance Disability Extension (SGLI-DE) is an extension of coverage for up to two years if the service member is totally disabled at separation.

After eligible active service, only veterans, and not their dependents, have VA life insurance options: the Service-Disabled Veterans’ Insurance (S-DVI), Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI), and the Veterans’ Mortgage Life Insurance (VMLI). Veterans who receive a new service-connected disability rating have two years to apply for Service-Disabled Veterans’ Insurance (S-DVI). A “new” service-connected disability rating does not include an increase of a previously held rating, nor a rating of Individual Unemployability, which is a special rating under which the VA can pay 100% of full disability compensation to someone whose service-connected disabilities are not rated at that level. Basic coverage under S-DVI, which offers both term and permanent type plans, starts at $10,000, and supplemental coverage can be purchased up to $30,000. If the new service-connected disability began before the age of 65 and lasted six consecutive months, the premiums for the first $10,000 in S-DVI coverage are waived.

For any service member who was covered by a SGLI policy during active duty and does not want to lose that coverage beyond the given 120 days after separation, there is the option of converting SGLI to a Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI) policy or even to a commercial policy. VGLI is a term life insurance product that provides lifetime coverage as long as the premiums are paid. Coverage can be the same amount as the original SGLI policy or can be reduced by increments of $10,000. Once enrolled, you can increase coverage by $25,000 every five years up to a maximum coverage of $400,000

The final insurance program available to veterans is Veterans’ Mortgage Life Insurance (VMLI), which is specifically for severely disabled veterans who have received a VA Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grant to help build, remodel, or purchase a home, have the title to the home, and have a mortgage on the home. There is also an application deadline of age 70. A VMLI policy provides coverage equal to the amount of the mortgage still owed, up to $200,000, and is payable only to the mortgage holder. It is a decreasing term life insurance that reduces as the mortgage balance declines.

There is a convenient tool called Overview of VA Insurance Benefits created by the VA that allows you to pick the insurance program and then get further guidance on specific program eligibility. If a service member is qualified for SGLI, he or she, along with their non-service-member spouse, is automatically enrolled. To qualify, the applicant has to be an active-duty member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard; a commissioned member of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or the U.S. Public Health Service; a cadet or midshipman of the U.S. military academies or the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) engaged in authorized training and practice cruises; or certain reserve members.

Veterans, on the other hand, must complete applications for VA life insurance products. Complete and file form VA Form 29-4364 for Service-Disabled Veterans’ Insurance (S-DVI) or apply online at https://www.insurance.va.gov/portal/. Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI) requires completion of VA form SGLV 8714 or an online application at the Prudential website: https://giosgli.prudential.com/osgli/web/OSGLIMenu.html. Finally, one can only apply for Veterans’ Mortgage Life Insurance (VMLI) by completing VA form 29-8636.

If you would like to learn more about becoming a Lawyers With Purpose member consider joining us in the room the week of October 24th – October 28th in Houston for The Law Profit Summit and the Tri-Annual Practice Enhancement Retreat.  We promise it WILL change your practice!

By Sabrina A. Scott, Paralegal, The Elder & Disability Law Firm of Victoria L. Collier, PC, and Director of VA Services for Lawyers with Purpose.

Victoria L. Collier, Veteran of the United States Air Force, 1989-1995 and United States Army Reserves, 2001-2004. Victoria is a Certified Elder Law Attorney through the National Elder Law Foundation, Author of “47 Secret Veterans Benefits for Seniors”; Author of “Paying for Long Term Care: Financial Help for Wartime Veterans: The VA Aid & Attendance Benefit”; Founder of The Elder & Disability Law Firm of Victoria L. Collier, PC; Co-Founder of Lawyers with Purpose; and Co-Founder of Veterans Advocate Group of America.


Honoring the Chocolate Factory by Protecting our Grantors During Life and After Death

Unknown to most of us, Gene Wilder suffered from Alzheimer’s disease during his final years. Mr. Wilder decided early in his diagnosis not to disclose his medical condition to the world. His family quietly dealt with the pain of caregiving and memory loss in a quiet and secluded way. After Mr. Wilder’s peaceful passing in his home, which came after a family chicken dinner while he listened to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” his nephew made an official statement about his death, and then the family went back to mourning the loss of a beloved member.

As an attorney, I immediately imagined what planning must have gone into this decision. I imagine the HIPAA forms that must have been signed to make sure the medical records of someone so famous stayed under wraps. Mr. Wilder must have had a strong personal care plan with wonderfully explicit direction to direct that, when he remembered nothing, his family should have his favorite meal and listen to his favorite song as he passed amid them all.

Gene-wilderBut mostly, I imagine the moment when it could have all gone wrong from a legal perspective. I imagine that moment when a doctor or lawyer told the family that Mr. Wilder could no longer make his own decisions. I wonder how that moment went, but I will never know. There were no court hearings about Mr. Wilder’s competence or who would control his fortune. There were no tabloid articles written. So, while we will never know what Mr. Wilder chose for us not to see, I do believe one thing to be certain. Gene Wilder must have had a strong trust plan in place, with dependable trustees, a solid disability panel and a watchful trust protector.

Often when creating trust plans, attorneys focus only on who will get property, at what time and in what manner. Certainly those are important prongs of a complete plan to focus on, but they are not the only issues. A solid client-centered plan will also focus on who will fulfill each crucial role of making sure the client’s plan is carried out when it is funded, after he becomes disabled and upon his death. A trustee or successor trustee should be selected with care and thought. And, by using age restrictions, powers of appointment and remarriage restrictions, a trustee can be guided in the exact direction the grantor intended for his estate plan.

A trust protector can be appointed to offer protection to the trust estate and the beneficiaries against any law changes, trustee vacancies and/or disputes that arise in the estate.  A trust protector’s ability to restate or amend a trust, appoint a trustee or settle a family dispute can eliminate the need for an expensive and public court hearing on a private family issue.  Trust protectors, usually attorneys, are the perfect parties to offer their clients the security of knowing that the plan they drafted has an outside eye ready to look over and protect the intent of the original plan.

Finally, I have no doubt that Mr. Wilder’s final years would not have been as private had he not had an excellent disability panel in place. A disability panel – a group of individuals hand-picked by the grantor who will decide when he is incapacitated for purposes of being trustee of his own estate – can make a determination of incompetence. By determining the incapacity of a grantor as a group, the disability panel can eliminate the need for a court hearing to declare the incapacity of a grantor. I cannot imagine the security a hand-selected disability panel must offer to people like Mr. Wilder who know that the day they need someone to take over is fast upon them and that it can be done with no court interference or adverse action by the family.

We are fortunate at Lawyers with Purpose to have client-centered drafting software that allows us to produce documents that take into account the need for disability panels, trust protectors and all of the other practice tools listed above that might be necessary to meet a client’s goals.      

I am positive that Mr. Wilder would be thankful for our ability to help clients through client-centered planning. I am certain of this because Mr. Wilder’s family spoke of why he made the decision to keep his prognosis and struggle private. He did so because he did not want the children of the world to see Willy Wonka as a sick, elderly man. I believe Willy Wonka himself best defined Mr. Wilder’s actions leading up to his death: “So shines a good deed in a weary world.”

If you want to learn more about becoming a Lawyer With Purpose, join us in Houston October 26-28 for the Tri-Annual Practice Enhancement Retreat. Click here to see the full agenda and reserve your seat now!

Kimberly M. Brannon, Esq., Legal-Technical and Software Trainer


How Do You Plan For Blended Families?

There's a great buzzword out there in estate planning called planning for “blended families.” The term “blended families” represents individuals who are married but have previous marriages or relationships that resulted in children. One example would be a second marriage in which the husband and wife have children from a previous marriage, or one does and one doesn't. The question becomes, how do you plan for these individuals so they can provide for each other but still be confident that in the end, their children or beneficiaries will get what's legally entitled to them?

The challenge with blended family planning is that the spouses “trust each other” to carry out their wishes. The problem is, life doesn't often work out that way. After the death of one of the clients, the relationship between the surviving spouse and the deceased spouse's family tends to become more remote and diminished. As a result, over time the surviving spouse may forget or no longer wish to follow the planning as originally intended, or may no longer deem it relevant based on the new circumstances. More importantly, even if the surviving spouse did wish to follow the original plan, circumstances may occur that put the assets in danger. The surviving spouse might need a nursing home, or might face a lawsuit, or might remarry to another individual who could gain power of attorney and modify the planning after the incapacity of the original surviving spouse. There are so many complications in blended families, but there doesn't have to be.

Bigstock-Blended-Family-Word-Cloud-105173693The Lawyers with Purpose Client-Centered Software (LWP-CCS) system is designed to plan for each client’s individual needs and goals, including blended families. The LWP-CCS has extensive provisions that allow designation of particular assets, allocated and separated at the death of the first spouse for the benefit of the surviving spouse under the terms and conditions that the clients agree to. This permits the surviving spouse to continue to benefit from the deceased spouse’s assets until the conditions are met for the next stage of the planning to occur. For example, in many of our trusts, clients elect to have a trust for the surviving spouse terminate upon the spouse's remarriage or another terminating event as identified by the couple. Although this seems complicated, it's actually easy when you ask your clients. They are pretty clear on what they want. They're just looking for some guidance on how to accomplish it.

Perhaps the greatest final significance of using the LWP planning solutions for blended families is to protect the deceased grantors' assets from the surviving spouse’s unintended or unforeseen creditors and predators. This by far has had the greatest impact for my personal clients over the last 25 years of my planning for them. Unfortunately, too many lawyers today use the standard boilerplate trust, and most trust systems in the industry do not permit attorneys to do any extensive planning once prepared for blended families without expensive post-merge modifications.

That's why Lawyers with Purpose is different. Because we focus on purpose first, the software has been designed to always consider the client's needs, goals and wishes first, then the software puts in the appropriate legal language to accomplish those objectives. Although it sounds counterintuitive, it's actually easy, fun and valuable to the client. I actually have clients laughing as we design their plans; do you? If you want to learn more about how Lawyers with Purpose can help you plan for blended families in ways you never knew existed.. consider joining us for THE estate planning event not to be missed!  

Member click to register here.

Non-members click to register here.

David J. Zumpano, Esq, CPA, Co-founder Lawyers With Purpose, Founder and Senior Partner of Estate Planning Law Center


What Is A Successful Workshop? Here’s All You Need to Know…

I've been working with estate planning attorneys around the United States for almost 20 years, and I am always intrigued about how excited they get when they deliver a presentation, seminar or workshop. The interesting dynamic is how pumped they get in front of a room full of people. It might surprise you to learn that such a situation is not exciting to me or to any LWP attorney, for one simple reason. We have learned that it is not the number of people in the room or your ability to speak to them that matters, but rather your ability to communicate and create relationships with them so they trust you and understand how you can help them accomplish their goals. That’s when they hire you.

Bigstock-Workshop-Word-Cloud-With-Magni-130546559Under the Lawyers with Purpose workshop system, our members are provided three different workshops, depending upon which best matches their personal objectives. We offer members the “Estate Planning Essentials” workshop, the “Seven Threats to Every Estate Plan” workshop, and the “How to Protect Your Stuff in Three Easy Steps” workshop. All three teach the same concepts and utilize similar stories, but most importantly, all connect and relate to the Estate Plan Audit
™ utilized in the Vision Meeting™ with individuals who attend the workshop and opt for a meeting with you. They also delve into what estate planning is and the specific issues you want them to know (all contained in our trademarked and copyrighted workshops).

Why is this relevant? Because the excitement over the number of people in your workshop is baseless if none of them hire you. If your workshop can't show people how you can help them and explain how your solutions are relevant to them and will benefit them, then stay home with your family rather than waste the time.

So, to avoid that scenario, let’s consider the core elements of a successful workshop. First, ensure in advance that you are clear on who is registered to attend your workshop. You should also ask how each attendee heard about you; that is, what source of marketing got them to call your office (a professional relationship, a retail advertisement, or other). Second, your staff should welcome all attendees during enrollment, excite them about the workshop they're going to attend and touch on how it will offer new ideas to solve their concerns. Third, your team should follow up with attendees ahead of time and confirm attendance. Fourth, during the workshop it is essential to set the expectation up front that you will make commitments to the audience, and to make sure the audience understands that you expect them at the end of the workshop to complete the evaluation and request a meeting if they think it's appropriate. This is perhaps the most important part of the workshop – not all the education you provide, but rather the invitation for them to move forward with you at the conclusion. You must be enthusiastic and excited for them to come in and apply what they learned to their personal situation, in hopes of helping them accomplish their goals and objectives based upon what they’ve learned in the workshop. If you don't believe in yourself, why would they?

And finally, another very important element of every workshop, one in which I have found that most lawyers fail, is to follow up with the attendees to schedule the appointment. I cannot tell you how many times I've worked with attorneys who either neglected to get an evaluation at the end or got the evaluation and failed to follow up on it.

Life is busy. People don't have “free time” to just pop into a workshop, and oh, by the way, I can't wait to go see a lawyer tomorrow to talk about all this crazy stuff. For most people, their lives are busy and complicated, and they're confused. You must be the one who clarifies the confusion and shows them a simple approach for them to get their concerns solved.

That's what the Lawyers with Purpose workshop system does. In fact, we call it the Client Enrollment System™ because it's a complete process, from identifying the client's needs after their initial contact with you, to the point of their engagement with your firm. That's the significance of workshops and seminars: not the excitement of delivering them, but the excitement of actually being able to help people implement great planning solutions that protect them and their family. Contact Lawyers with Purpose today if you want to learn more about what we can bring to your estate and/or elder law practice.  Just click here and give us a little information then download our membership brochure.

David J. Zumpano, Esq, CPA, Co-founder Lawyers With Purpose, Founder and Senior Partner of Estate Planning Law Center


Latest Release of LWP-CCS Software

The latest version of the Lawyers with Purpose Client-Centered Software (LWP-CCS) was recently released and can be downloaded by using the link emailed to all qualifying members. Instructions on how to install the update are included. Please contact Member Services if you have not received an email. Updates were made to the Medicaid and VA modules and the LWP-CCS forms; the changes are summarized below.

Medicaid Qualification

Statutory wartime dates for VA eligibility have been added to the MedQual Worksheet as a reference aid. Further changes were made to the Asset Risk Analysis to show the rate of loss to a nursing home when in a "crisis" situation. You may also notice that the termination language in the Personal Services Agreement has been simplified per member feedback.

We also updated and simplified the language of the Termination section in the Personal Services Agreement.

Bigstock-Legal-Law-Rules-Community-Just-94090013LWP-CCS Forms

There have been some state-specific changes to the form documents at the request of our state bar members.

We also updated the Illinois Health Care Power of Attorney.

VA Qualification and Application

As another quarter is coming to a close for 2016 without us hearing a peep regarding the proposed VA look-back period, changes to the VA module were minimal with this release. As done for the MedQual worksheet, wartime dates for VA eligibility were added to the VA HotDocs Interviews for convenient reference.

The most important update was the new version of the main application form for filing for veterans improved pension; namely the VA form 21-527EZ Application For Pension is now the 21P-527EZ. Although this is an important update due to the significance of this form and the need to use VA-prescribed forms, the actual changes were negligible, consisting only of the addition of the letter P to the form number and a new revision date of April 2016. Another VA form that was updated is the 24-0296 Direct Deposit Enrollment, which you may use to enroll in direct deposit of VA payments into a bank account.

Another change was made at a member’s suggestion regarding the healthcare provider statement that is generated either through the VA Intent to File Interview or the VA Formal Claim Interview to document certain medical expenses. This document was generating by default with the veteran’s name in the field, “The following services are provided to: _________.” This latest release has removed this default so that this field now remains blank and this form can be used for the veteran and/or the spouse as needed.

This last change illustrates how Lawyers with Purpose benefits from you, our community of members, in improving and developing our software. We are always open to any ideas that allow us to provide you with the most current, useful, and efficient tools for your firm. Always let us know how we can be better!

If you're a Lawyers With Purpose member and use Actionstep, the corresponding software release and separate instruction file is available for download now in the Software section of the members’ Lawyers with Purpose website at http://www.lwpmembers.com/posts/lwp-actionstep-hotdocs-integration. The changes in the Actionstep release are identical to those listed above.

If you want to learn more about our drafting software click here to schedule a live demo.

By Sabrina A. Scott, Paralegal, The Elder & Disability Law Firm of Victoria L. Collier, PC and Director of VA Services for Lawyers with Purpose.

Victoria L. Collier, Veteran of the United States Air Force, 1989-1995 and United States Army Reserves, 2001-2004. Victoria is a Certified Elder Law Attorney through the National Elder Law Foundation; Author of “47 Secret Veterans Benefits for Seniors”; Author of “Paying for Long Term Care: Financial Help for Wartime Veterans: The VA Aid & Attendance Benefit”; Founder of The Elder & Disability Law Firm of Victoria L. Collier, PC; Co-Founder of Lawyers with Purpose; and Co-Founder of Veterans Advocate Group of America.

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Congratulations to Matt Deliberato, Lawyers With Purpose Member of The Month!

What is the greatest success you’ve had since joining LWP?

How can you can measure the greatest when there are so many.  We decided as a team that by implementing the LWP systems and processes, we have grown as a firm and a team in ways that never would have been possible without LWP.  We didn’t know what we didn’t know!  The firm retreats are great for giving us focus and making us accountable to making Deliberato Law Center a superstar!

Mdd headshotWhat is your favorite LWP tool?

ActionStep, although it was a rough start, it is a great tool for all we do.

How has being part of LWP impacted your team and your practice? 

Having Molly as our team coach has been integral to organizing out team and making sure the right butts are in the right seats.

Share something about yourself that most people don’t know about you.

I used to be a radio DJ and was the front man of a band.

What is your favorite book and how did it impact your life?

So many to choose from.  How about one you probably haven’t read.  "Cancer on $5 Per Day (chemo not included)" by Robert Schimmel.  Robert is a comedian who received a diagnosis and gives an honest and raunchy account of what he went through.  Not much in life is really worth getting upset over.  Robert’s account on his tragedy is not only hilarious but really made me reconsider my outlook on what is important.  I know many of you have heard me say it, but everything in my life is now based on whether it occurred before or after my diagnosis.  I was given a new start in life and have taken advantage of it.  Definitely not an intellectual read, but good for a good belly laugh.


Do Your Shareholders Know?

When I was growing up, my parents never talked about money. The bills would come in and be stacked up on the arm of the couch until my mother paid them on Sunday nights, after the kids were in bed. There were only three things I knew about my parents’ finances: 1) They saved all year for us to take a three-week vacation in the car to visit family in Virginia and Illinois; 2) We were middle-class; and 3) After my dad had his first heart attack when I was in the eighth grade, the common expression became, “Do you think money grows on trees?” Of course I didn’t, but I also didn’t know why I couldn’t have a coke after basketball practice anymore.

Now that I am a business owner and the financial support for my family, I understand the dramatic fluctuation of cash flow. And, unlike my parents, my 6-year-old children are getting a handle on it too. They are, after all, the shareholders of my business.

Bigstock-Shareholder-Meeting-day-and-da-102582344My daughter and I have a daily ritual. Each morning she bids me farewell to “make some money.” Each evening she asks me, “Mommy, how was your day?” and “Did you make any money?” One day I responded with, “Yes, we made $5,350 today.” She inquired, “Is that a lot of money?” I replied, “Yes, to some people that is a lot; however, Mommy didn’t make her goal today.” Sometimes when she asks, I tell her that we didn’t make any money that day because it was a business development day, when I meet other professionals instead of clients.

I am comfortable having these conversations with my 6-year-olds because I am working for my family and they deserve to know the status of the business, just like any other shareholder of a business or stocks or financial investments. Furthermore, it helps my family understand why I am “going to work” instead of staying home with them. Lastly, they are learning real business skills, which may serve them and me well in the future (especially if they want to take over my business).

Who are your shareholders? A spouse? Children? Grandchildren? Yourself as you plan for retirement? Whomever it is, be honest and open with them about the state of affairs of the business and finances. This will keep you motivated to set, review and reach your goals.  

Victoria L. Collier, Co-Founder, Lawyers with Purpose, LLC, www.LawyersWithPurpose.com; Certified Elder Law Attorney through the National Elder Law Foundation; Fellow of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys; Founder and Managing Attorney of The Elder & Disability Law Firm of Victoria L. Collier, PC, www.ElderLawGeorgia.com; Co-Founder of Veterans Advocates Group of America; Entrepreneur; Author; and nationally renowned Presenter.


Where in the world is Janesville, Wisconsin? Possible changes to where VA claims should be filed.

If you had asked me a few months ago where you should mail your VA non-service-connected (NSC) disability pension claims, I would have answered with conviction . . . it depends! I’m not trying to be funny, it’s just that it literally depended on the state where the claimant resides. Every state is served by one of three Pension Management Centers (PMC): Philadelphia, Milwaukee, or St. Paul. Philadelphia, PA serves the eastern states; Milwaukee, WI serves the central states; and St. Paul, MN serves the rest of the states from Minnesota to the west coast. Alaska and Hawaii are served by the St. Paul PMC as well. Claimants living in Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean should file in St. Paul for NSC disability pension claims and appeals of those claims. Residents of all other foreign countries should file such claims at Philadelphia’s PMC. See Resources below for mailing addresses and a list of all corresponding states and countries. The Pension Management Centers, as their name suggests, focus on pension benefits and do not handle any service-connected-disability compensation claims, or claims for both compensation and NSC disability pension, sometimes called dual claims.

Bigstock--125250779Title 38 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) §3.155 on “How to file a claim” begins, “The following paragraphs describe the manner and methods in which a claim can be initiated and filed,” but in all the detail that follows, nowhere does it tell you where specifically to mail a claim. The VA Adjudication manual M21-1 similarly fails to give such particulars. If you search online for “how to apply for veterans’ benefits,” you may eventually end up at the VA website that – as of the time this was written – still clearly directs you to “mail your application to the Pension Management Center (PMC) that serves your state.” However, since last year, rumblings of a change have begun to be heard that the mailing process may be undergoing an update.

That brings us to Janesville, WI, which may be familiar to those who file service-connected-disability compensation claims, but may not be to those of us who deal exclusively with NSC disability claims. It is the Janesville Evidence Intake Center (EIC) in Wisconsin where all claimants residing in states roughly west of the Mississippi have been filing service-connected-disability compensation claims for some time. However, Janesville may become the hub of a centralized mail intake system for all veterans’ pension AND compensation claims from all over the world. Since last year, the VA has periodically inserted with their correspondence the directive that all mail should now be sent to a PO box at the EIC in Janesville. In addition, an 11-page VA fact sheet on centralized mail processing was quietly issued in March 2016 stating that “New addresses for the submission of material went into effect on July 7, 2014.”

Per this fact sheet, the U.S. Postal Service is apparently automatically redirecting material that is mailed to Regional Offices or PMCs to Janesville. Specific PO boxes have been designated to specific categories of claims. However, from this hub, the claim will eventually be routed back to the pension management center where you are currently sending your claims for processing. Therefore, those who have been routinely filing NSC disability pension claims at the appropriate PMC may now be faced with a dilemma: obey the “new” – and by no means widely-known – directive, or continue as before. At our law firm, except for replies to VA letters that provide a specific return address, we continue to file all our claims at the appropriate PMC. Some law firms, in an abundance of caution, have started filing at both the PMC and the Janesville EIC. And yet others use only the addresses and fax number in Janesville that are given on the fact sheet.

So ask me today where you should mail your VA non-service-connected (NSC) disability pension claims and I will answer with conviction that you should take your pick – from the addresses provided below in the Resources section.


Philadelphia VA Regional Office

5000 Wissahickon Ave.

PO Box 8079

Philadelphia, PA 19101

Fax #: (215) 842-4410

Service Area: Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maine , Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, all foreign countries other than Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean

Milwaukee VA Pension Center

PO Box 342000

Milwaukee, WI 53234-9907

Fax #: (215) 842-4430

Service Area: Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, Wisconsin


St. Paul VA Regional Office

Pension Management Center (335/21P)

PO BOX 11000

St. Paul, MN 55111-0000

Fax #: (215) 842-4420

Service Area: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean


Janesville Evidence Intake Center

Fax #: (844) 822-5246


Philadelphia PMC

Dept. of Veterans Affairs

Claims Intake Center

Attention: Philadelphia Pension Center

PO Box 5206

Janesville, WI 53547-5206


St. Paul PMC

Dept. of Veterans Affairs

Claims Intake Center

Attention: St. Paul Pension Center

PO Box 5365

Janesville, WI 53547-5365


Milwaukee PMC

Dept. of Veterans Affairs

Claims Intake Center

Attention: Milwaukee Pension Center

PO Box 5192

Janesville, WI 53547-5192

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By Sabrina A. Scott, Paralegal, The Elder & Disability Law Firm of Victoria L. Collier, PC and Director of VA Services for Lawyers with Purpose.

Victoria L. Collier, Veteran of the United States Air Force, 1989-1995 and United States Army Reserves, 2001-2004. Victoria is a Certified Elder Law Attorney through the National Elder Law Foundation; Author of “47 Secret Veterans Benefits for Seniors”; Author of “Paying for Long Term Care: Financial Help for Wartime Veterans: The VA Aid & Attendance Benefit”; Founder of The Elder & Disability Law Firm of Victoria L. Collier, PC; Co-Founder of Lawyers with Purpose: and Co-Founder of Veterans Advocate Group of America.