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Elderly during COVID-19

New Survey Conducted on Keeping the Elderly Safe in the Pandemic

New Survey Conducted on Keeping the Elderly Safe in the Pandemic

Those in our oldest generations, who were recently surveyed, were found to be more distrustful of senior living and care operators than younger generations.

Nearly half (49.5%) of baby boomers said they don’t trust senior living and care providers to keep residents safe, while 43.9% of the Silent Generation reported the same distrust.

Younger people are more trusting: 42.3% of Generation X reported distrust, 31.8% of millennials and 38.2% of Generation Z.

McKnight Senior Living’s recent article entitled “41% don’t trust assisted living, nursing homes to keep residents safe during pandemic: survey” notes that 43.1% of baby boomers responded that they trust facilities “somewhat,” as did 51.4% of the Silent Generation respondents.

Some of this mistrust may come from the extensive media coverage of coronavirus deaths in nursing homes because senior residents are especially vulnerable to the illness.

Some say that it goes further than that: the quarantine and social distancing has added to families’ stress and anxiety over the safety and mental well-being of the seniors who live in these facilities because they aren’t able to visit as often as they want.

An online survey from ValuePenguin.com and LendingTree of more than 1,100 Americans recently found that COVID-19 has generated a rush of loneliness and worry among older adults.

According to the results, 36% of older adults feel lonelier than ever. In addition, more than 70% of seniors said that they have worries about the virus’ effects on their younger relatives. Those concerns were equally expressed by younger generations for their older relatives. Almost 50% of both age groups are worried that their relatives will catch the virus.

However, the pandemic looks to have a silver lining for family communications. An overriding sense of concern for the mental and physical health of elderly loved ones has led to more contact since the pandemic began.

Nearly 44% of the younger survey-takers stated they’ve spoken to their older relatives more frequently during the pandemic, about 25% of young people reported visiting their older relatives in person more frequently.

The top request from respondents aged 75 and older to their loved ones, is to call more frequently.

Reference: McKnight Senior Living (Sep. 11, 2020) “41% don’t trust assisted living, nursing homes to keep residents safe during pandemic: survey”

Read more related Articles at:

Coronavirus and COVID-19: Caregiving for the Elderly

AARP Coronavirus Poll: How Older Americans Feel About Their Health, Families, Finances

Also read one of our previous Blogs at:

C19 UPDATE: Keeping Ourselves and Our Elderly Loved Ones Safer

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Estate Panning Uninherited Heirs

How to Protect Your Estate from Unintended Heirs

How to Protect Your Estate from Unintended Heirs

Disinheriting a child as an heir happens for a variety of reasons. There may have been a long-running dispute, estrangement over a lifestyle choice, or not wanting to give assets to a child who squanders money. What happens when a will or trust has left a child without an inheritance is examined in an article from Lake County News, “Estate Planning: Disinherited and omitted children.”

Circumstances matter. Was the child born or adopted after the decedent’s estate planning documents were already created and executed? In certain states, like California, a child who was born or adopted after documents were executed, is by law entitled to a share in the estate. There are exceptions. Was it the decedent’s intent to omit the child, and is there language in the will making that clear? Did the decedent give most or all of the estate to the other parent? Did the decedent otherwise provide for the omitted child and was there language to that effect in the will? For example, if a child was the named beneficiary of a $1 million life insurance policy, it is likely this was the desired outcome.

Another question is whether the decedent knew of the existence of the child, or if they thought the child was deceased. In certain states, the law is more likely to grant the child a share of the estate.

Actor Hugh O’Brien did not provide for his children, who were living when his trust was executed. His children argued that he did not know of their existence, and had he known, he would have provided for them. His will included a general disinheritance provision that read “I am intentionally not providing for … any other person who claims to be a descendant or heir of mine under any circumstances and without regard to the nature of any evidence which may indicate status as a descendant or heir.”

The Appellate Court ruled against the children’s appeal for two reasons. One, the decedent must have been unaware of the child’s birth or mistaken about the child’s death, and two, must have failed to have provided for the unknown child solely because of a lack of awareness. The court found that his reason to omit them from his will was not “solely” because he did not know of their existence, but because he had no intention of giving them a share of his estate.

In this case, the general disinheritance provision defeated the claim by the children, since their claim did not meet the two standards that would have supported their claim.

This is another example of how an experienced estate planning attorney creates documents to withstand challenges from unintended outcomes. A last will and testament is created to defend the estate and the decedent’s wishes.

Reference: Lake County News (Aug. 22, 2020) “Estate Planning: Disinherited and omitted children”

Read more related articles at:

What are Unintended Heirs?

UNINTENDED HEIRS

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at:

How Can You Disinherit Someone and Be Sure it Sticks?

Click here to check out our Master Class!

Tennacy

What Does Tenancy by the Entirety Mean in Estate Planning?

What Does Tenancy by the Entirety Mean in Estate Planning?

Choosing an ownership structure for real estate is is an important decision. As a result, it is crucial to understand the options. Motley Fool’s recent article entitled “What is Tenancy by the Entirety?” explains that the only owners of the property must be both spouses of a legally married couple. The couple must be a married couple, not just two people in a relationship or two otherwise unmarried individuals. The owners also can’t be a married couple that co-owns the property with another.

With a tenancy by the entirety, both spouses have an equal ownership interest in the entire property.  It doesn’t matter what portion of the purchase price came from each joint owner. Both spouses also have equal rights, when it comes to actions involving the property, like whether to sell the property. If one of the spouses or owners dies while the property is owned under a tenancy by the entirety, the surviving spouse automatically becomes the sole owner of the home, even if the will of the decedent spouse distributes the property to somebody else.

If there’s a divorce, a tenancy by the entirety can be cancelled. If the divorced spouses continue to own the property, the arrangement will revert to tenants in common. This lets each owner sell or transfer their interest in the property to whomever they want. The property’s ownership structure could also be changed from tenancy by the entirety to another type, if both spouses agree to it.

Tenancy by the entirety has two main advantages for married couples: asset protection and estate planning. Tenancy by the entirety helps protect the property from the debts of one spouse. Creditors can’t attach a lien on a house owned as tenancy by the entirety, unless the debt is in the names of both spouses. TBE makes the owner of the house a separate legal entity from either spouse. It also avoids a costly and lengthy probate process because title to the home transfers automatically to the surviving spouse upon one spouse’s death.

However, TBE isn’t available in all states. Some owners also don’t like the fact that each spouse owns a 50% share, even if one spouse paid the entire cost of acquiring the home. Tenancy by the entirety is only used in certain states. They include AK, AR, DE, DC, FL, HI, IL (for some types of homestead property), IN, KY, MD, MA, MI, MS, MO, NJ, NY, NC, OK, OR, PA, RI, TN, VT, VA, and WY. Some of these states allow tenancy by the entirety for a number of types of property, while others allow TBE arrangements for just real estate.

There are a few other ways to own property. Here are some of the most commonly used methods for properties purchased for more than one adult tenant to live in:

Tenants in Common. It is an ownership structure similar to tenancy by the entirety, but it applies to non-married couples. Like tenancy by the entirety, tenants in common share an equal ownership interest in the property, but at the death of one owner, their share of the property passes to their heirs, not to the surviving owner. Tenants in common is the default ownership structure, unless another form of ownership is specifically chosen with an asset owned equally by two or more people.

Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship (JTWROS).  This is similar to tenancy by the entirety. Like tenancy by the entirety, JTWROS-held properties also pass to the survivor in the event of one spouse’s death. However, JTWROS isn’t limited to married couples, and there can be two or more owners. Each one has an equal interest in the property, but unlike TBE property, each owner has the right to sell or transfer their ownership interest to another. Another difference is that JTWROS owners aren’t considered to be a separate and single legal entity—each owner’s creditors can go after the property, even for debts that are owned by a single debtor spouse.

Sole Ownership. With sole ownership, just one person holds title to a property. It is often used when a single individual purchases a home. However, it can also be used if a married couple buys a home, but only one spouse will legally own it. A big advantage of sole ownership is its simplicity—the owner is able to make any decisions about the property on their own. However, transfer of ownership when a sole owner dies can be more complicated than any of the other ownership structures above.

Joint Tenancy. This is typically what happens when two people are listed on a deed, and there’s no other ownership structure designated. Here, both owners have equal ownership rights to a property, and in the event of a deceased spouse or owner, the property passes to the surviving joint tenant. However, joint tenancy doesn’t protect the property from creditors of one of the owners.

Tenancy by the entirety has several key benefits for married couples, in states where it’s permitted. Review these with an experienced estate planning attorney before deciding.

Reference: Motley Fool (Aug. 23, 2020) “What is Tenancy by the Entirety?”

Read related articles at :

Tenancy by the Entirety States

ESTATE PLANNING WITH TENANCY BY THE ENTIRETIES PROPERTY

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at:

What Should I Know About Joint Tenancy?

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Pre Election

Pre-Election Estate Planning Includes a Vast Variety of Trusts

You might remember a flurry of activity in advance of the 2016 presidential election, when concerns about changes to the estate tax propelled many people to review their estate plans. In 2020, COVID-19 concerns have added to pre-presidential election worries. A recent article from Kiplinger, “Pre-Election Estate Planning Moves for High Net-Worth Families,” describes an extensive selection of trusts that can are used to protect wealth, and despite the title, not all of these trusts are just for the wealthy.

The time to make these changes is now, since there have been many instances where tax changes are made retroactively—something to keep in mind. The biggest opportunity is the ability to gift up to $11.58 million to another person free of transfer tax. However, there are many more.

Spousal Lifetime Access Trust (SLAT) The SLAT is an irrevocable trust created to benefit a spouse funded by a gift of assets, while the grantor-spouse is still living. The goal is to move assets out of the grantor spouse’s name into a trust to provide financial assistance to the spouse, while sheltering property from the spouse’s future creditors and taxable estate.

Beneficiary Defective Inheritor’s Trust (BDIT) The BDIT is an irrevocable trust structured so the beneficiary can manage and use assets but the assets are not included in their taxable estate.

Grantor Retained Annuity Trust (GRAT) The GRAT is also an irrevocable trust. The GRAT lets the grantor freeze the value of appreciating assets and transfer the growth at a discount for federal gift tax purposes. The grantor contributes assets in the trust and retains the right to receive an annuity from the trust, while earning a rate of return as specified by the IRS. GRATs are best in a low interest-rate environment because the appreciation of assets over the rate goes to the beneficiaries and at the end of the term of the trust, any leftover assets pass to the designated beneficiaries with little or no tax impact.

Gift or Sale of Interest in Family Partnerships. Family Limited Partnerships are used to transfer assets through partnership interests from one generation to the next. Retaining control of the property is part of the appeal. The partnerships may also be transferred at a discount to net asset value, which can reduce gift and estate tax liability.

Charitable Lead Trust (CLT). The CLT lets a grantor make a gift to a charitable organization while they are alive, while creating tax benefits for the grantor or their heirs. An annuity is paid to a charity for a set term, and when the term expires, the balance of the trust is available for the trust beneficiary.

Charitable Remainder Trust (CRT) The CRT is kind of like a reverse CLT. In a CRT, the grantor receives an income stream from the trust for a certain number of years. At the end of the trust term, the charitable organization receives the remaining assets. The grantor gets an immediate income tax charitable deduction when the CRT is funded, based on the present value of the estimated assets remaining after the end of the term.

These are a sampling of the types of trusts used to protect family’s assets. Your estate planning attorney will be able to determine if a trust is right for you and your family, and which one will be most advantageous for your situation.

Reference: Kiplinger (Aug. 16, 2020) “Pre-Election Estate Planning Moves for High Net-Worth Families”

Read more related articles at:

Pre-Election Estate Planning Moves for High-Net-Worth Families

Estate Planning in the 2020 Election Year

Also, read one of our previous blogs at:

Different Trusts for Different Estate Planning Purposes

Click here to check out our Master Class!

LTC Insurance

What’s the Latest Trend in Long-Term Care Insurance?

What’s the Latest Trend in Long-Term Care Insurance?

Approximately half of Americans turning age 65 today will require some type of long-term care (LTC) in their lives. The older a person, the more likely he or she will need LTC at some point. What’s the Latest Trend in Long -Term Care Insurance?

The Treasury Department also reminds us about the general aging of the national population because much of the baby boom generation already is above that age, and the rest will be within 10 years.

FedWeek’s recent article entitled “Report Sees Mismatch between Long-Term Care Insurance Needs, Purchases” also notes that private insurers began offering long-term care insurance in the 1970s in response to demand for financial protection against the risk of having to enter a nursing home. The sales of new policies hit a high in the early 2000s but have since dropped because many insurance companies left the market due to the poor financial performance of these products.

The sales of these policies peaked in 2002, when the government started its own program for federal employees, the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program.

About 750,000 people bought policies, but the numbers have fallen steadily since. It was down to just 57,000 in 2018, despite the fact the share of the population in the age group most likely to purchase private LTCI were up from 9.5% in 2010 to 11.4% that year.

The Treasury Department report also emphasized that the government doesn’t recommend purchasing or not purchasing insurance. However, it said that currently much of the burden of providing this care falls on the Medicaid program. It paid $159 billion for these expenses in 2018, while Long Term Care insurance covered only about $10 billion, and individuals paid another $55 billion out of pocket. It is also hard to know the amount of unpaid care provided by family members.

The report said that for the private LTC insurance market to meet the coming demand, there will have to be more innovation in the way this type of insurance is designed and delivered.

This may be having LTC coverage as a rider to other types of insurance, instead of a stand-alone product, along with policies with a more limited scope. This limited scope could be to cover only nursing home care and only for up to a year, which would mean lower premiums.

The Treasury Department also said there should be better coordination when it comes to how such insurance is regulated, education and awareness programs regarding possible need for coverage and tax incentives to buy LTC insurance.

So those are some answers to what the latest tends in Long Term Care Insurance are.

Reference: FedWeek (Sep. 10, 2020) “Report Sees Mismatch between Long-Term Care Insurance Needs, Purchases”

Read more related articles at:

Long-Term Care and LTC Insurance – New Trends

10 Best Long Term Care Insurance of 2020

Also, Read one of our previous Blogs at:

Do I Need Long-Term Care and Why?

 

How to Keep Track of Mom’s Healthcare Information if She Gets Sick or Injured

How to Keep Track of Mom’s Healthcare Information if She Gets Sick or Injured

It’s common for seniors to have several chronic medical conditions that must be closely monitored and for which they take any number of prescription medications. Family caregivers usually are given a crash course in nursing and managing medical care, when they start helping an aging loved one. The greatest lesson is that organization is key, which is especially true when a senior requires urgent medical care. Here is How to Keep Track of Mom’s Healthcare Information if She Gets Sick or Injured

Physicians encounter countless patients and families who struggle to convey important medical details to health care staff, according to The (Battle Ground, WA ) Reflector’s recent article titled “The emergency medical file every caregiver should create.”

A great solution is to create a packet that contains information that caregivers should have. Here’s what should be in this emergency file:

Medications. Make a list of all your senior’s prescription and over-the-counter medications, with dosages and how frequently they’re taken.

Allergies. Note if your loved one is allergic to any medications, additives, preservatives, or materials, like latex or adhesives. You should also note the severity of their reaction to each of these.

Physicians. Put down the name and contact info for the patient’s primary care physician, as well as any regularly seen specialists, like a cardiologist or a neurologist.

Medical Conditions. Provide the basics about your senior’s serious physical and mental conditions, along with their medical history. This can include diabetes, a pacemaker, dementia, falls and any heart attacks or strokes. You should also list pertinent dates.

Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Order. If a senior doesn’t want to receive CPR or intubation if they go into cardiac or respiratory arrest, include a copy of their state-sponsored and physician-signed DNR order or Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) form.

Medical Power of Attorney. Keep a copy of a medical power of attorney (POA) in the packet. This is important for communicating with medical staff and making health care decisions. You should also check that the contact information is included on or with the form.

Recent Lab Results. Include copies of your senior’s most recent lab tests, which can be very helpful for physicians who are trying to make a diagnosis and decide on a course of treatment without a complete medical history. This can include the most recent EKGs, complete blood counts and kidney function and liver function tests.

Insurance Info. Provide copies of both sides of all current insurance cards. Include the Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) and Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Part D) cards (if applicable). This will help ensure that the billing is done correctly.

Photo ID. Emergency rooms must treat patients, even if they don’t have identification or insurance information However, many urgent care centers require a picture ID to see patients. You should also include a copy of their driver’s license in the folder.

Once you have all the records, assemble the folder and put it in an easily accessible location. Give the packet to paramedics responding to 911 calls. It should also be brought to any visits at an urgent care clinic.

Reference: The (Battle Ground, WA ) Reflector (Sep. 14, 2020) “The emergency medical file every caregiver should create”

Read more related articles at:

Can I access someone else’s medical records (health records)?

10 Things to Know About HIPAA & Access to a Relative’s Health Information

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at:

Do I Really Need a Health Care Proxy?

Click here to check out our Master Class!

Protecting Assets from nursing home costs

How Do I Keep My Assets from the Nursing Home?

How Do I Keep My Assets from the Nursing Home?

If you don’t have a plan for your assets when it comes time for nursing home care, they can be at risk. Begin planning now for the expenses of senior living. The first step is to consider the role of Medicaid in paying for nursing home services.

WRCB’s recent article entitled “How to Protect Your Assets from Nursing Homes” describes the way in which Medicaid helps pay for nursing homes and what you can do to shield your assets.

One issue is confusing nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities. Medicare does cover a stay in a skilled nursing facility for convalescence. However, it doesn’t pay for full-time residence in a nursing home. For people who can’t afford to pay and don’t have long-term care insurance, they can apply for Medicaid. That’s a government program that can pay nursing home costs for those with a low income. People who don’t have the savings to pay for nursing home care and then require that level of care, may be able to use Medicaid.

For those who don’t qualify for Medicaid when they need nursing home care, they may become eligible when their savings are depleted. With less money in the bank and minimal income, Medicaid can pay for nursing home care. It is also important to remember that when a Medicaid recipient dies, the government may recoup the benefits provided for nursing home care from the estate. Family members may discover that this will impact their inheritance. To avoid this, look at these ways to protect assets from nursing home expenses.

Give Away Assets. Giving loved ones your assets as gifts can help keep them from being taken by the government when you die. However, there may be tax consequences and could render you Medicaid ineligible.

Create an Irrevocable Trust. When assets are placed in an irrevocable trust, they can no longer belong to you because you name an independent trustee. The only exception is that Medicaid can take assets that were yours five years before you died. Therefore, you need to do this as soon as you know you’re going into a nursing home.

Contact an experienced estate planning, elder law, or Medicaid planning attorney to help you protect your assets. The more you delay, the less likely you’ll be able to protect them.

Reference: WRCB (Dayton) (Sep. 4, 2020) “How to Protect Your Assets from Nursing Homes”

Read more related articles at:

Medicaid Trust: Qualify for Government Aid for Nursing Home Cost

6 Steps To Protecting Your Assets From Nursing Home Care Costs

Also read one of our Previous Blogs at:

New Medicare Rule Makes It Harder to Receive Home Care

Click here to check out our Master Class!

divorced couple

Does an Ex-Wife Get Her Former Husband’s Inheritance Because He Died of COVID-19?

Does an Ex-Wife Get Her Former Husband’s Inheritance Because He Died of COVID-19?

Nj.com’s recent article entitled “My brother died of COVID-19. Should his ex-wife get an inheritance?” says that it’s unlikely that an ex-wife is entitled to any of her former husband’s assets.

There are three main ways property can transfer at death. They each have different rules.

Joint assets. When property is held as Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship (JTWROS), the surviving joint owner (if there are two owners) automatically becomes the sole owner of the property. Usually, jointly owned property is retitled into individually owned property after the divorce. If this was never done, some states (such as New Jersey) automatically change JTWROS property to a different form of joint ownership, called tenancy in common when a divorce is finalized. As a result, with tenants in common property, when one owner dies, his or her 50% ownership interest becomes a probate asset and passes pursuant to his or her will (or the state’s intestacy laws, if they didn’t have a will).

This means that even if the husband in this scenario still owned JTWROS property with his ex-wife when he passed away, she wouldn’t automatically inherit his share. She still has her own 50% share that she owned all along.

Property can also pass by beneficiary designation, like with life insurance or retirement accounts.

Beneficiary designations are typically updated after a divorce. However, again, ask an experienced estate planning attorney about your state laws. For example, New Jersey law revokes a divorced spouse as beneficiary, even if the beneficiary designation was never updated.

In this situation, even the husband named his wife as a beneficiary on an insurance policy or retirement accounts and never changed it, she wouldn’t be able to collect.

Finally, the third way that property can pass, is through the probate process. This means there’s a will.  If there was no will, it would be pursuant to the state’s intestacy laws.

An ex-spouse is never entitled to inherit property under state intestate statutes.

There are two important caveats for these rules. One is that they can be superseded by a divorce decree. Therefore, review the divorce decree to see whether it has any relevant language. The rules also apply to ownership, beneficiary designations or wills that arose during the marriage. Anything that happened after the marriage would not be affected by the divorce.

Reference: nj.com (Aug. 4, 2020) “My brother died of COVID-19. Should his ex-wife get an inheritance?”

Read more related articles at:

Am I entitled to my dead husband’s inheritance?

Families of dead Covid-19 victims may have to give back stimulus checks

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at:

Why Is Estate Planning more Complicated with a ‘Gray Divorce’?

Click here to check out our Master Class!

 

Social Security-colas

Will We See a Bump in the COLA for Social Security Next Year?

Will We See a Bump in the COLA for Social Security Next Year?

Experts anticipate roughly a 1% increase beginning in January 2021, and possibly less. The actual amount of the COLA depends on the economy, which has picked up in the past month.

AARP’s recent article entitled “Social Security COLA Forecast for 2021” reports that other experts’ projections are in the same area.

It’s small, as far as a COLA. Based on the average Social Security retirement benefit of $1,514.13 a month, a 0.5% increase would be $7.57 a month, and a 1% increase would amount to $15.14.

Social Security COLAs have been pretty rare in the past 10 years. The average COLA over the decade has been a 1.52% increase. The biggest was a 2.8% bump that went into effect in January 2019. There were no COLA increases starting in January 2011 or January 2016.

A reason for a possible small COLA for next year is that inflation has been low. The COLA is determined by the change in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers, or CPI-W, from the third quarter of 2019 to the third quarter of 2020. The COLA calculation looks at the average CPI-W index numbers for July, August and September of 2019 and compares them with the same third-quarter numbers for 2020. The percentage change between the two quarterly averages is the COLA for the next year. If there’s no change, or if there’s a decline in the CPI-W, there’s no bump in Social Security.

The Social Security Administration typically announces the amount of the COLA in October.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has depressed the economy, has made inflation forecasting extremely hard.

For example, some grocery items, such as meat and chicken, have gone up in price. However, the price of a gallon of regular gas has dropped from $2.608 twelve months ago to $2.188 today.

If the increase in Social Security is small enough, some retirees may get a small discount on their Medicare Part B premiums.

The law says that if the COLA for Social Security is less than the increase in Medicare Part B premiums, the premiums would be decreased to prevent a drop in Social Security retirement benefits.

As a result, it could prevent as many as 43 million beneficiaries (about 70%) from having increases in Medicare Part B premiums larger than their Social Security COLA.

Those who have monthly benefits of about $900 or lower would also be protected.

Reference: AARP (Aug. 25, 2020) “Social Security COLA Forecast for 2021”

Read more related articles at:

Cost-Of-Living Adjustment (COLA)

Why the increase in your Social Security check could be among the smallest ever next year

Also read one of our previous blogs at:

Will the Pandemic Affect My Social Security?

Click here to check out our Master Class!

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