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Preparing for Long-Term Care and Estate Management With Jennifer Rozelle

May 15, 2024   |   Written by Gladiator Law Marketing
Jennifer Rozelle

Michael Warshauer

Jennifer Rozelle is the Co-owner and an Attorney for Indiana Estate & Elder Law, a firm that specializes in estate planning, asset protection, and elder law services, including Medicaid planning and probate administration. Jennifer has been a part of the firm since 2012 and now co-owns and manages it alongside her husband, Justin Schumacher. Active in her field, she is a member of the Indiana State Bar Association, the American Bar Association, and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. Additionally, she volunteers with Business Professionals of America and serves on the Board of the Indiana Parkinson’s Foundation.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • [1:51] Jennifer Rozelle talks about what they do at Indiana Estate & Elder Law
  • [3:16] How Jennifer and her husband became owners of the firm
  • [6:37] Jennifer’s advice to new and aspiring lawyers
  • [9:24] What is estate and elder law?
  • [14:59] How to manage Medicaid long-term care assets
  • [18:57] What makes a great elder law attorney?

In this episode…

The complex landscape of elder law and estate planning can often feel overwhelming. How do individuals ensure their long-term care without sacrificing their estate or financial security? This crucial question affects many as they plan for the future.

According to Jennifer Rozelle, a seasoned attorney with extensive experience in elder law, effective long-term care planning requires understanding Medicaid laws and estate management strategies. She stresses that early planning is vital, especially given the state-specific “look-back” periods that can impact eligibility for benefits. Additionally, Jennifer highlights that elder law isn’t just about asset protection but also about creating customized plans that align with family goals and individual needs. These plans can save families significant costs and avoid the emotional toll of last-minute legal hurdles.

In this episode of 15 Minutes, host Bela Musits speaks with Jennifer Rozelle, Co-owner and an Attorney for Indiana Estate & Elder Law, to discuss preparing for long-term care and estate management. They discuss the significance of Medicaid planning, the advantages of early estate planning, and strategies for asset protection.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Special mention:

Quotable Moments:

  • “I’m one of those weirdos that knew I wanted to be a lawyer since I was in second grade.”
  • “I took a very non-traditional path to where I am, and that’s okay.”
  • “You don’t know what you don’t know. And you shouldn’t be expected to know what you don’t know.”
  • “Elder law attorneys are like social workers with law degrees.”
  • “I’ve sat in with every single person’s seat, and I understand their day-to-day and their workload.”

Action Steps:

  1. Confirm your passion for law before investing in it educationally and financially: Jennifer’s decision to work at a law firm before going to law school confirmed her interest, demonstrating the importance of practical experience.
  2. Explore pre-planning options for long-term care with an elder law attorney: Early planning can protect assets from the financial strains of long-term care, as highlighted by Jennifer’s discussion on Medicaid.
  3. Consider whether a partnership track or law firm ownership aligns with personal career aspirations: Jennifer and her husband’s experience illustrates that career fulfillment can take different forms, encouraging attorneys to choose paths that suit their goals.
  4. Review and update estate planning documents regularly: Estate laws change and having up-to-date documents ensures one’s wishes are honored, as emphasized by Jennifer.
  5. Embrace the unique path to professional achievement, valuing personal pace and ambition: Jennifer’s journey from receptionist to law firm owner reinforces the notion that success is personal, and traditional career trajectories aren’t mandatory.

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Gladiator Law Marketing, where we deliver tailor-made services to help you accomplish your objectives and maximize your growth potential. 

To have a successful marketing campaign and make sure you’re getting the best ROI, your firm needs to have a better website and better content. At Gladiator Law Marketing, we use artificial intelligence, machine learning, and decades of experience to outperform the competition. 

To learn more, go to gladiatorlawmarketing.com or schedule a free marketing consultation. You can also send an email to adam@gladiatorlawmarketing.com.

Episode Transcript

Intro  0:01

You’re listening to 15 Minutes, where we feature community leaders sharing what the rest of us should know but likely don’t.

Bela Musits  0:12

Hello, listeners Bela Musits host for this episode of the 15 Minutes Share Your Voice podcast, where we talk with top notch law firms and attorneys about what it takes to grow a successful law practice. This episode is brought to you by Gladiator Law Marketing. They deliver tailor made services to help your firm accomplish its objectives and maximize your growth potential. Have a successful marketing campaign and to make sure you’re getting the best return on investment. Your firm needs to have a better website and better content. Gladiator Law Marketing uses artificial intelligence, machine learning and decades of experience to outperform the competition. To learn more, go to gladiatorlawmarketing.com where you can schedule a free marketing consultation. Today’s guest on the podcast is Jennifer Rozelle. Jennifer started as a legal assistant at the Indiana Estate & Elder Law. And now she is an attorney and law firm owner, Jenny and her husband Justin Schumacher, who is also an attorney own and manage Indiana estate and Elder Law together. Jennifer is a member of the Indiana State Bar Association, specifically the Elder Law Section and a probate trust and real property section. She is also a member of the American Bar Association and the National Academy of Elder Law attorneys. Welcome to the podcast. Jennifer.

Jennifer Rozelle  1:42

Thank you for having me.

Bela Musits  1:44

Yeah, sure. Thanks for doing the show. So tell us a little bit more about Indiana Estate & Elder Law.

Jennifer Rozelle  1:51

Yeah, so we and maybe we’ll get into this a little bit. Indiana State Elder Law rebranded probably about three years ago, were formerly Hunter estate and Elder Law. Hunter being the founders name. But Indiana State and elder law we do estate planning Elder Law and post death administration. So you think probate trust administration, that sort of thing. Our main office is in Fishers Indiana, which is sort of central Indiana, just north of Indianapolis. But we also have two satellite offices. One out west in Rockville, Indiana, which is about the cutest little homework channel looking town, and Wabash, Indiana, which is up north which is author really cute, small little town. And in my office, my team is about we’re nearing one eight members at this point. And I have an awesome team around me. I’m no one without them and honored to work with my team every single day.

Bela Musits  2:59 

Right now it sounds like you started at this firm, and maybe in its former embodiment as as a law clerk. And now Now you own and run the place. Yeah, talk to us a little bit about sort of that journey.

Jennifer Rozelle  3:16

Yeah, so I’m not even going to I don’t even know what word to use. But you know, law clerk is, uh, is maybe a little bit more fancy of a role than I even was. I was the kind of receptionist for a long time my business card was blank, because the founder trusted me to do a lot of little things. And so I started in January 2012. And kind of I’m one of those weirdos that knew I wanted to be a lawyer since I was in second grade. So I was smart enough, after, after undergrad after college that I was like, Well, being a lawyer is also a financial investment, not just an educational endeavor. So Jenny, how about you think about making sure that that’s what you want to do. And so I started at this firm, shortly after undergrad with the sole purpose or can a sole motivation may be of just confirming that law is my future. And I jokingly tell people I just never left from there. I worked my way up. I went to law school. I worked full time while going to law school. I met my husband in law school and then shortly after passing the bar, the founder was ready to retire and it was kind of a you know, just how the dominoes fell, so to speak. Yeah, so I have a really cool path that gives me a really unique perspective and running the business now because I’ve sat in every single person see, and I understand their day to day and their workload.

Bela Musits  4:59

Thanks What What a great story. So you said you knew you wanted to be an attorney? What, what was what was the impetus for that?

Jennifer Rozelle  5:08

I have no idea. I think that, you know, when I was a talk about in second grade, the fact that I even, you know, spouted that off is kind of hilarious. And then I think that, you know, I have a lot of people say, oh, you know, my kid would say they need to go to law school because they, they argue with me left and right. And, you know, they make it like a choking thing. And I was totally that kid. You know, I was always the one to pipe up and say something you can ask my poor parents. But what’s funny is, you know, now that life is played out. I I don’t do anything, you know, ultimately, in like a courtroom. I don’t do any kind of fighting stuff. So I think it just kind of worked out exactly how maybe it was supposed to because my my personality lends itself to more of a kind of people in talking rather than like duking it out duking it out in the courtroom. So yeah, there was no like, weird motivation. And in my second grade class, I just, I’m probably read it in a book or something was like, oh, that sounds cool.

Bela Musits  6:19 

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So if there’s if there’s someone listening to this podcast, who is either thinking about becoming an attorney or maybe is in law school? Or maybe is a brand new attorney in a large firm? What sort of words of advice would you have for them?

Jennifer Rozelle  6:37

That is a wonderful question. And I think the way I’m going to respond comes from a place of just being something that’s very top of mind for me right now. So right now, we’re actually interviewing for another attorney position. And something I keep hearing from these attorneys that they want partnership track, they want partnership track. And so it’s very top of mind for me too, because it’s something I keep talking about in interviews that I think that you know, life has a way of like structuring it structuring itself to say like, you must follow these things like you, you must go to college, and then you must go to law school, and then you must, you know, get married, and you must have a feel like, and I think my my, my words of wisdom would be that, that doesn’t have to be the way things work out. I took several years off between undergrad and law school. And I think that just stopping themselves and just kind of pausing to kind of look around and say like, what do I really want, and what everyone else wants around you may not be what you want. And that’s okay. I’ve hired attorneys, I actually have an attorney right now that said, Jenny, I want nothing to do with the partnership track ever. Like I don’t want to have that responsibility. I want to be able to do my job, go home and not carry anything, you know, beyond that. And I give her kudos for that. Just to have that wherewithal to say, like, I’m not going to follow what everyone else is saying and doing.

Bela Musits  8:18

Yeah, that’s great advice. And oftentimes, I think about trying to figure out what you want to do in life is really a journey of discovery. It’s, it’s it’s not sort of, you know, branded in you. Yeah, yeah. And oftentimes, it changes.

Jennifer Rozelle  8:36 

Yeah.

Bela Musits  8:36  

What what is right for you today. And what you want to do today may be different than what it will be 10 years from now, or 20 years from now. And having that open mind, and that flexibility, I think is really important. That’s a great point you made. That’s wonderful.

Jennifer Rozelle  8:49

Yeah. And I think I’m kind of like the example of that I just kind of, I went through my path at my pace, and what I wanted to do and what was smart for me at every step of the way. And I mean, I’m doing pretty well. Now I own a law firm. I mean, it’s, it’s kind of a cool story, but it’s also a great example of what I just said as well.

Bela Musits  9:16

Yeah, perfect. So let’s get back to let’s get back to the law firm for a second. So what is Estate and Elder Law?

Jennifer Rozelle  9:24

Yeah, yeah. I actually think that estate is a lot of people understand what that is that you know, when you talk about planning for incapacity or planning for after we passed away and getting those very, you know, important and sometimes basic even estate planning documents in order. So that’s always really easy for me to explain. It’s the elder law side that people sometimes scratch their head out like what even is that? And actually I’m a lot of clients that will come out of my conference room because there’s a big, like, our big You know, signage logo behind the front desk, it says mDNS date and elder law. And a lot of times clients will see that and like, they’ll say, genuine is elder law, is it just helping old people like me. And we always have a good laugh. But at the end of the day Elder Law, really what most elder law attorneys do is help clients navigate, how to plan for and pay for long term care. And it’s a huge issue. It’s a really expensive venture to go down later in life. And the more the sooner you start planning for the possibility of long term care in the future, the better you’re going to be. So the elder law site is really it’s a lot of something I picked up on is most elder law attorneys do estate planning. But most estate planning attorneys don’t do elder law. And Elder Law is really it’s really in conjunction with estate planning, just with that, like that little you know, dash of there’s this whole beast called long term care that we have to talk about to.

Bela Musits  11:09

Got it. Got it. So are these, I imagine there’s all sorts of rules and regulations for what you can do, what you can’t do and how all this stuff works. Does that vary state to state? Is that are those regulations at the federal level? Or are they at the state level?

Jennifer Rozelle  11:26

Yeah, so that’s a great question, too. So most of the state law driven things are you’ll find in a state planning. So every State operates just ever so slightly differently in just how we interpret different situations. However, in elder law, like I said, the big thing in elder law is planning for long term care. And what that’s code for is I have to understand Medicaid law, not Medicare, Medicaid law, which is a federal program. But states interpret that the federal program guidelines differently based on like, cost of living like here in Indiana, our cost of living is very different than California. And so there’s a lot of it’s specifically the elder law side of the practice, there is a lot of that federal law driven stuff in that side. But in more of the estate side, it is or state law driven. So yeah, and that’s how it is with, you know, of course, with a lot of practice areas that every state just does things a little differently.

Bela Musits  12:35

Yeah. So let’s, let’s get an example. Let’s say I called you up and I said, Hey, Jennifer, I’m 60 years old, I have a house that’s paid off, you know, I get a pension from my employer of this much a month. You know, I have no other debt. So what would that conversation be? Like? What questions would you ask kind of what topics would we talk about?

Jennifer Rozelle  13:00

Yeah, so my office is lucky that we are able to offer a free initial consultation to, you know, individuals and families in Indiana. So, you know, when when people initially call and say things like that, you know, my team is encouraged to just get them in for that initial meeting, that initial consultation, because every single person not only has a different set up, you know, familial setup, but they have vastly different assets, vastly different goals. And so in that initial meeting, I jokingly call it a blind date. It’s who are you? Who am I? What are we doing here? And then once we figure out what we’re doing here, are we going on a second date? Are we going through, you know, my process that my office has? And so, one of my favorite things in the world is you don’t know what you don’t know. And you shouldn’t be expected to know what you don’t know. And that is a lot of that first meeting is educating educating individuals on what their options are, and, and how those options apply to their family, their assets, their goals.

Bela Musits  14:17 

Got it? Got it. Yeah. Now, you were you were talking about Medicaid earlier. And I, at least in New York State, gone through, we’ve gone through this with my in laws and my parents. So there is this sort of amount of assets that that your your assets have to be below a certain number, before Medicaid will kick in and sort of take over your long term care. And so how do we sort of manage that? What are the different types of things that that you can do with your clients to sort of help manage that? That process?

Jennifer Rozelle  14:59

Yeah, It really primarily depends on what point in the process that person is in. So if they’re coming from a truly a pre planning standpoint, there are strategies that we can implement through, like your revocable trusts that basically protect your assets from Medicaid Long Term Care down the road. So the way I explained it to clients is you kind of put your assets in this treasure chest in this safe, and you’re the only one that has the key to it, Medicaid doesn’t have the key to it. So from a pre planning strategy, you know, if I have time to work with like, you know, the person is not on the doorstep of a nursing home, for example, that’s, you know, something I’m talking to clients about, that is the exact kind of trust I have set up for my own parents. However, conversely, if you think of a client that is on that, you know, maybe, you know, as a married couple, and husband is on, you know, is in rehab, they fell, that’s always a big thing, they fall, they broke up, they go into rehab, and then they’re cold, your husband is not coming home, he cannot come home safely. And so a lot of people get really confused on Medicare and Medicaid, and Medicare will cover rehab for a certain period of time, and you have to constantly show improvement, but then ultimately, that rug gets ripped out from under you. And if you haven’t done any pre planning, then you are tasked with, okay, am I gonna pay that bill? That’s probably you know, a nursing home in Indiana, I can’t even imagine in New York. In Indiana, it’s usually eight 910 1000 a month per person. That’s expensive. That’s really expensive. And a lot of people can’t afford that for a long time. And so there are even strategies in like the 11th hour like that, that we can explore, see if those makes sense. Sometimes they don’t make sense. But what I would encourage individuals and families in that kind of situation is to seek an elder law attorneys advice, don’t go to an estate planning attorney, find someone that has that elder law, that Elder Law expertise to help you figure out what your options are, and whether any of those options make the best sense.

Bela Musits  17:24

Yeah, very good. So I think with some of those elder law issues in Medicaid, there’s some lead times or some waiting periods, right? You just can’t throw the switch right away. So there’s a certain amount of time that you have to set certain things up. Does that vary state to state? Or is that pretty uniform?

Jennifer Rozelle  17:44

It does like Indiana’s five years. I know there’s some states that are three years, I have some family up north and Minnesota. They’re seven years. So it does vary by state, but it’s not. I don’t know, a single state that’s like below three years. So ideally, best case scenario you’re doing breed planning, that is going to that’s going to be the best case scenario. That’s exactly why I have my own parents set up in this pre planning strategy, because I see the value in it. So yeah, there there is that it’s called a look back period. There is that look back period that we have to be mindful of. But even if we’re below that there’s there are sometimes still options on the table. There does not going to be the prettiest options.

Bela Musits  18:31

Yeah, yeah. Great. So it seems to me, you know, I’ve seen some some advertising for elder law attorneys. You know, it may not be a crowded space as personal injury law lawyers. But certainly there’s other competition out there. So if I was considering contacting an elder law attorney, what are things that I should look for?

Jennifer Rozelle  18:57

Yeah, I think that’s, uh, I only am smiling. I know. And the podcasts will be able to see me smiling, but I’m only smiling because I think a lot of people think you know, elder law attorneys are like, competitive or adversarial with each other. And oftentimes, there’s not a lot of elder law attorneys in an area. And so it’s actually quite the opposite that we are at least I can speak for here in Indiana, we’re pretty we’re pretty tight community. Like if I get, you know, conflict it out like I’m going to tell my client to go see one of them. Um, you know, kind of going back to the whole blind date thing. I am such an advocate for an attorney client relationship should be two ways. I should want to work with you and you should want to work with me. If we don’t like this relationship. It’s going to be like beating our heads against the wall. Um, if we don’t communicate well together, you know, if we don’t communicate and Same manners, you know, frequently enough. Oftentimes, unfortunately, though, when an elder law attorney gets involved, it is panic, it is 11th hour, and we don’t have time to even like, you know, even me saying like, you know, go interview some and see which one you like the best. A lot of times families don’t have that time. And so what I would say is just find someone that’s an elder law attorney, and look specifically for that. You know, practice area, your designation. Most elder law attorney, I heard this once, and I don’t remember who said it. And I feel so bad because I steal this line all the time, the elder law attorneys are like lawyers, or like social workers with law degrees. Most of us are like bleeding hearts, we’re good people. It’s just, you will be hard pressed to find an overall attorney, you don’t enjoy.

Bela Musits  21:01

Well, that’s good. That’s a good observation. And it’s good. It’s good news to those of us listening to this. So let me ask you another question. So you’ve gone from being an attorney at a law firm. So now running a law firm? What are this? You know, like, if there’s lawyers listening to this, and yeah, you were talking earlier about, everyone wants to be on the partner, partner track? Well, not a lot of people want to be on the partner track. They want to make partner and they understand everything that comes with that. But you’re even beyond that you own nothing. So it’s like hanging out your own shingle. Right? So there’s this notion of I can go work for a firm and become a partner, or I can go start my own firm. Do you have thoughts on on those two paths?

Jennifer Rozelle  21:50

All right, I think that would probably be a really interesting podcast episode, all of Sal. And I would almost love to hear someone’s feedback that has done it the other way, because there’s kind of two different schools of thought, you know, when, when my husband and I took over the practice, we purchased it from the founder. And so we, you know, that was about, oh, five years or so ago. And so we had to take on a business loan. And it was, you know, sometimes people, you know, that, that would sometimes, you know, kind of weird or freak people out to carry a business on like that. But we also bought an already established firm, with the phones already ringing. Plenty. You know, we got processes, we’ve got systems, but the other side of that coin is hanging your own shingle was just, you know, you don’t carry the business loan debt. But you carry just very different challenges that I just can’t speak to, I don’t know what that’s like, because I only can, you know, share my experience. I want to say I wouldn’t do it any other way. But I’ve not done it the other way, either. So, you know, if that’s if you have a listener, that’s really, you know, kind of stuck in between those two, I would encourage them to find someone that has been in not both shoes because no one’s but someone on each side, and maybe the I have wall students and least recent law grad grads that will contact me just to kind of interview me pick my brain. Do that. Pick someone’s brain on both sides of the coin. And I think you’ll learn eventually, what maybe you’re most comfortable with.

Bela Musits  23:36  

Yeah. So did you and your husband always want to own a firm and run a firm? Or was it just that this opportunity presented itself? And you guys looked at each other and said, You know what, let’s do this.

Jennifer Rozelle  23:48

The latter it was that so my husband actually wasn’t at the firm at the time. So we just we have such such a wild story. So like I said, I’ve been here for about 12 years. And when the founder wanted to retire, my husband wasn’t at the practice. She looked at me and was like, you want to buy this thing? And my husband and I were very recently married like newlyweds. And I’ve come home and I’m like, so, um, do you want to buy it? And he was, he was doing HOA law, which, oh, I can’t imagine doing that. And he was like, yes, where do I sign? Because he wasn’t that passionate about the field he was then. So it was just that the opportunity presented itself. I mean, of course, I had a lot of blood, sweat and tears in this place already. But then, when the opportunity did present itself, we looked at each other and we’re like, we got to make this work. And we did.

Bela Musits  24:52

Excellent. Excellent. So let’s start wrapping this up. So where can our listeners go to find out more about your law firm?

Jennifer Rozelle  24:58  

Yeah. Have an awesome website. You know, indianaestateelderlaw.com I’m amazed the number of attorneys and law firms that I look up and don’t have a website. That’s the reason I’m kind of giggling right now. So encourage attorneys to get their tissues and, and gear. I’m getting websites established. Indiana State and elder law.com. And we’re on like every social media channel as well. So Facebook, Instagram, I guess we’re not on TikTok. But I’m sure my marketing person is only a matter of time before she shoves me into that lands.

Bela Musits  25:33

All right. So, Jennifer, is there something that I’ve not asked you, that you would like to share with our audience?

Jennifer Rozelle  25:44 

Thanks. So I really I really enjoyed and like I shared with you prior to recording, my big message that I wanted people to take away is that, you know, I took a very non-traditional path to where I am and that’s okay. And that was, what I really wanted to kind of hammer home is. Everyone’s path is different. And every path is just fine.

Bela Musits  26:09

Yeah, yeah. Great. Those are great, great closing thoughts. But Jennifer, thank you very much for being a wonderful guest on the podcast. I really enjoyed our conversation.

Jennifer Rozelle  26:18 

Likewise, thank you very much.

Outro  26:22 

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