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covid estate planning

How Can Estate Planning Protect Me from COVID-19?

There are several things you need to consider, when it comes to estate planning,

There are several things you need to consider, when it comes to estate planning, explains WFMY.com in the recent article “A different kind of coronavirus protection: Wills & Power of Attorney documents.”

A financial power of attorney is first on the list of things to consider. This essential legal document gives a trusted agent the authority to make financial decisions on your behalf, if you become incapacitated. A financial power of attorney can go into effect whenever you want. However, most people have their estate planning attorney draft the POA to go into effect, once the principal or the person who’s giving the authority can no longer make decisions for themselves.

In addition, if you become ill and fall into a coma, you need someone to be able to also make medical decisions. A health care power of attorney permits your agent to make medical decisions on your behalf. You can also sign a living will, which can state your wishes about healthcare decisions, especially end of life decisions.

A will can state your decisions for the distribution of your assets when you die. However, your property will stay in your name until that occurs. Another option is a living trust, which places your property in a trust for the benefit of a charity, your loved ones, or both. A trust may distribute the property more efficiently.

While the terms in your will and trust are important, you should also have a discussion with your family and let them know what you’re thinking. This will help avoid hard feelings after you’re gone.

It’s important to speak with an experienced estate planning attorney and talk to the people you want to be your POA attorney-in-fact, executor of your will and your trustee. Talk to your attorney about what happens when one of these key persons included in your planning dies.

You should also think about your parents and if they have an estate plan. You should know what will happen, if they become ill and need care. What happens if they get Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia?

You should make certain that you and those you love, have legal estate planning documents in place prepared by an experienced estate planning attorney.

From there, review your plan every few years with your attorney, because things change.

Reference: WFMY.com (April 22, 2020) “A different kind of coronavirus protection: Wills & Power of Attorney document

Read more related Articles at :

Impact of COVID-19 on Estate Planning

Estate Planning and COVID-19: Four Must-Have Documents for Protection During a Crisis

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at :

Requests for Estate Plans Reflect Fears about Coronavirus



Blue Cross Blue Shield

Why Is Blue Cross and Blue Shield Waiving Cost-Sharing Fees?

Why Is Blue Cross and Blue Shield Waiving Cost-Sharing Fees?


Blue Cross announced that it will waive cost-sharing fees for in-network primary care, mental health, and substance-use office visits.

Star Tribune’s recent article entitled “Blue Cross waives more fees for Medicare Advantage customers” reports this change will impact roughly 100,000 Minnesotans who access Medicare through the company’s Medicare Advantage products. Blue Cross is Minnesota’s largest health insurer and a leading provider of Medicare services in the state.

The elderly are especially at risk to the worst effects of COVID-19. Of the more than 700 deaths from the virus in Minnesota, about 80% have been residents of long-term care facilities, mostly nursing homes and senior apartments. These numbers are similar in other states.

“In the midst of this crisis, seniors have been greatly impacted and are at disproportionate risk,” Dr. Craig Samitt, chief executive of Blue Cross, said in a statement. “With our hope to keep our senior members safe and assure that they receive the preventive care they need, Blue Cross is both expanding coverage and proactively reaching out to help them navigate options to get the care they need.”

Blue Cross and Blue Shield announced that it will begin calling its Medicare Advantage customers next month to make them aware of new benefits and to ask about other medical needs.

Blue Cross previously said it was waiving all in-network fees to customers who were checking on COVID-19 symptoms or seeking treatment for the illness.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield also waived limits on early refills of medications.

The insurance company also bolstered its coverage for telemedicine services, including the use of video chat apps for patients to interact with doctors.

Medical offices have experienced a big decrease in patient visits of all kinds. In response, many are promoting more telemedicine to continue providing care and treatment.

Two weeks ago, Minnetonka-based UnitedHealth waived copays and other fees through September for Medicare Advantage beneficiaries. This change was partially to recognize that many seniors are delaying certain treatments and procedures to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Reference: Star Tribune (May 18, 2020) “Blue Cross waives more fees for Medicare Advantage customers”

Read more Related articles at :

Local Blue Cross and Blue Shield Companies Waive Cost-Sharing for COVID-19 Treatment

Florida Blue Waives Cost-Sharing for COVID-19 Treatment

Also read one of our previous Blogs at :

C19 UPDATE: Paying for Covid-19 Testing and Treatment if You Have a High Deductible Insurance Plan



Medicare Patients Be Wary of COVID-19 Scams!

It’s still not easy to get tested for COVID-19 in many states, so it’s not surprising to learn that scammers are exploiting the shortage. They’re especially preying on the elderly.

Money Talks News’ recent article entitled “Are You on Medicare? Beware Coronavirus Scammers” reports that scammers use stolen personal data to commit Medicare fraud and identity theft, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Medicare warned beneficiaries in a recent email, “Unfortunately, scammers are using the COVID-19 pandemic to try to steal your Medicare number, personal information and money. And they’re using robocalls, social media posts and emails to do it.”

Some of these criminals are even knocking on people’s doors to talk them out of their personal data.

Seniors are advised to not divulge their personal information, including their Medicare number, with anyone, except a trusted health care provider or other qualified expert. If you’re unsure who’s legitimate, call for help and advice from your Senior Medicare Patrol, volunteer groups funded by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Health and Human Services says that your personal information can be used to fraudulently bill federal health care programs and commit medical identity theft.

You may also wind up being responsible for charges, if Medicare denies the claim for an unapproved test. You need to protect your Medicare and Social Security information, because it can be used in fraud schemes. If you think you’ve been contacted by a scammer, do the following:

  • Report suspected criminals to the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or write to disaster@leo.gov.
  • Be on guard, if someone requests your Medicare number, when you didn’t ask for services.
  • Be suspicious of those offering coronavirus supplies or testing.
  • When using social media, don’t click or respond to advertisements and offers for coronavirus testing.
  • If you think you should get a COVID-19 test, ask your doctor or doctor’s office.

In addition, the FBI advises everyone — not only seniors — to be aware of and to report:

  • Bogus emails purporting to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • Phishing emails, which try to trick you into sharing personal information.
  • Counterfeit treatments and equipment, like sanitizing products, masks, face shields, goggles, respirators, protective gloves or gowns.

Reference: Money Talks News (May 19, 2020) “Are You on Medicare? Beware Coronavirus Scammers”

Read more Related articles at:

What can you do to stop COVID-19 fraud?

Seniors, be wary of these Medicare scams during COVID-19

Also, Read one of our previous Blogs at :

Scammers Beef Up Efforts in a Crisis



Paris Hilton

Will Paris Hilton See Her Dad’s Wealth?


Will Paris Hilton See Her Dad’s Wealth?

Barron Hilton’s father, hotel magnate Conrad, purchased his first hotel in Texas in 1919. His timing was perfect, as the oil boom ensured rooms were fully booked and could sometimes be turned over three times in a day. He then built the Dallas Hilton in 1925 and three more Hiltons in the state in the next five years. He eventually expanded his holding to create the world’s first international hotel chain. By 1966, his son, Barron, replaced him as president of Hilton Hotels.

In 1979, at the age of 91, Conrad Hilton died of natural causes, leaving $10,000 each to his nephews, nieces, and daughter, and $500,000 to his two siblings. The remainder of the estate was bequeathed to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, which he had founded in 1944.

Celebrity Net Worth’s recent article entitled “Barron Hilton Fulfilled His Promise To Not Leave Any Money To Paris Hilton,” notes that Barron contested his father’s will and ended up settling for four million shares of the company. Years later, Barron watched in horror as his granddaughter Paris tarnished the Hilton name. Barron sent a message. He made an estate plan that excluded Paris’ father and her siblings. His entire fortune would be donated to charity through the family’s foundation, because he felt Paris’ and Nicky’s sex tapes, reality shows, DUIs and other embarrassments sullied the family name.

At Christmas 2007, Barron announced to his family that he was making a major change to his will. Instead of leaving his $4.5 billion fortune to his family, he was leaving the bulk of his estate to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. He left 97% to the foundation and split the remaining 3% ($135 million) between about 24 members of his family. So rather than inheriting about $181 million each, the Hilton family members would get $5.6 million each.

It looks like Paris was entirely cut out of her dad’s will, and she didn’t get a penny from her grandfather. Barron died in 2019, and his will instructed 97% of his fortune to be given to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation for disaster relief, treating children with HIV and AIDS, poverty alleviation and helping homeless shelters.

Barron continues to reinforce his message to Paris and his family from the grave. He was the second-largest philanthropist in U.S. last year with the $2.4 billion he donated to charity. He’ll probably be up there again, as one of the most generous Americans in 2020 since he still has $2 billion to donate.

Reference: Celebrity Net Worth (March 2, 2020) “Barron Hilton Fulfilled His Promise To Not Leave Any Money To Paris Hilton”


Read other Related Articles at : 

Paris Hilton’s inheritance goes to charity

Paris loses out: Hilton fortune pledged to charity

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at:

Why is Ashton Kutcher So Stingy with his Kids’ Inheritance?



Are My Beneficiary Designations Trouble for My Heirs?

Are My Beneficiary Designations Trouble for My Heirs?


There are many account types that are governed by beneficiary designation, such as life insurance, 401(k)s, IRAs and annuities. These are the most common investment accounts people have with contractual provisions to designate who receives the asset upon the death of the owner.

Kiplinger’s recent article entitled “Beneficiary Designations – The Overlooked Minefield of Estate Planning” provides several of the mistakes that people make with beneficiary designations and some ideas to avoid problems for you or family members.

Believing that Your Will is More Power Than It Really Is. Many people mistakenly think that their will takes precedent over any beneficiary designation form. This is not true. Your will controls the disposition of assets in your “probate” estate. However, the accounts with contractual beneficiary designations aren’t governed by your will, because they pass outside of probate. That is why you need to review your beneficiary designations, when you review your will.

Allowing Accounts to Fall Through the Cracks. Inattention is another thing that can lead to unintended outcomes. A prior employer 401(k) account can be what is known as “orphaned,” which means that the account stays with the former employer and isn’t updated to reflect the account holder’s current situation. It’s not unusual to forget about an account you started at your first job and fail to update the primary beneficiary, which is your ex-wife.

Not Having a Contingency Plan. Another thing people don’t think about, is that a beneficiary may predecease them. This can present a problem with the family, if the beneficiary form does not indicate whether it is a per stirpes or per capita election. This is the difference between a deceased beneficiary’s family getting the share or it going to the other living beneficiaries.

It’s smart to retain copies of all communications when updating beneficiary designations in hard copy or electronically. These copies of correspondence, website submissions and received confirmations from account administrators should be kept with your estate planning documents in a safe location.

Remember that you should review your estate plan and beneficiary designations every few years. Sound estate planning goes well beyond a will but requires periodic review. If this is overlooked, something as simple as a beneficiary designation could create major issues in your family after you pass away.

Reference: Kiplinger (March 4, 2020) “Beneficiary Designations – The Overlooked Minefield of Estate Planning”

Read more Related Articles at :

7 Ways That Beneficiary Designations Can Mess Up Your Estate Plan

Here’s The Difference Between An Heir And A Beneficiary

Also, read one of our previous blogs at:

As a Trust Beneficiary, Am I Required to Pay Taxes?



cares act

How the CARES Act has Changed RMDs for 2020


How the CARES Act has Changed RMDs for 2020

Before the CARES Act, most retirees had to take withdrawals from their IRAs and other retirement accounts every year after age 72. However, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, known as the CARES Act, has made some big changes that help retirees. Whether you have a 401(k), IRA, 403(b), 457(b) or inherited IRA, the rules have changed for 2020. A recent article in U.S. News & World Report, “How to Skip Your Required Minimum Distribution in 2020,” explains how it works.

For starters, remember that taking money out of any kind of account that has been hit hard by a market downturn, locks in investment losses. This is especially a hard hit for people who are not working and won’t be able to put the money back. Therefore, if you don’t have to take the money, it’s best to leave it in the retirement account until markets recover.

RMDs are based on the year-end value of the previous year, so the RMD for 2020 is based on the value of the account as of December 31, 2019, when values were higher.

Remember that distributions from traditional 401(k)s and IRAs are taxed as ordinary income. A retiree in the 24% bracket who takes $5,000 from their IRA is going to need to pay $1,200 in federal income tax on the distribution. By postponing the withdrawal, you can continue to defer taxes on retirement savings.

Beneficiaries who have inherited IRAs are usually required to take distributions every year, but they too are eligible to defer taking distributions in 2020. Experts recommend that if at all possible, these distributions should be delayed until 2021.

Automatic withdrawals are how many retirees receive their RMDs. That makes it easier for retirees to avoid having to pay a huge 50% penalty on the amount that should have been withdrawn, in addition to the income tax that is due on the distribution. However, if you are planning to skip that withdrawal, make sure to turn off the automated withdrawal for 2020.

If you already took the distribution before the law was passed (in March 2020), you might be able to roll the money over to an IRA or workplace retirement account, but only within 60 days of the distribution. You can also only do that once within a 12-month period. If the deadline for a rollover contribution falls between April 1 and July 14, you have up to July 15 to put the funds into a retirement account.

For those who have contracted COVID-19 or suffered financial hardship as a result of the pandemic, the distribution might qualify as a coronavirus hardship distribution. Talk with your accountant about classifying the distribution as a COVID-19 related distribution. This will give you an option of spreading the taxes over a three-year period or putting the money back over a three-year period.

Reference: U.S. News & World Report (May 4, 2020) “How to Skip Your Required Minimum Distribution in 2020”

Read more related articles at:

How the CARES Act impacts your 2020 RMDs

CARES Act Drastically Changes Required Minimum Distribution Rules For 2020

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at :

Massive Changes to RMDs from Stimulus Plan


Divorce Reveals How Trusts are Used by the Ultra-Wealthy

South Dakota has become a domestic mini-Switzerland for wealthy people who want to shield their assets. Texas billionaire Ed and Marie Borsage’s divorce is shining an unwanted spotlight on both his finances and the use of trusts in the state, according to CNBC’s recent article “Billionaire Divorce uncovers secretive world of trusts in South Dakota.”

Married for three decades, the Borsage’s accumulated 12 homes and an unusual collection of high- priced items, like an Egyptian mummy and Marilyn Monroe’s personal effects. It was quite a lifestyle. However, when Ted filed for divorce, Marie discovered that everything had been put into a special trust that shielded assets from any claims. After paying her legal fees, she may end up with nothing from the 30-year marriage.

Ed’s attorneys are making the claim that all of the assets are controlled by the trust, so they are not marital assets. The total value of the couple’s marital property, which would be subject to division in a divorce, is about $12 million. Marie’s legal bills are already in the millions.

The unpleasant nature of the divorce offers a rare look into the highly secretive world of asset trusts in South Dakota. The protective trust laws of the state make it a haven for wealthy families from the U.S. and around the world. Experts say that about $250 to $900 billion is now being held by South Dakota trusts, from Chinese billionaires, Europeans seeking to avoid taxes and Americans looking to shield wealth from spouses.

When the two married in 1989, they had no wealth. Ed began a commodities trading business and Marie was one of the first employees. They became wealthy. However, in 2012, according the lawsuit, Ed began an affair and filed for divorce in 2017. That was when Marie learned that he had been transferring their business and personal assets into a complicated series of trusts, first in Bermuda and then in South Dakota. Marie was originally a beneficiary of the trust, but then before the divorce, Ed started transferring assets and she was removed as a beneficiary.

According to South Dakota law, he was not required to notify her of the changes. Trusts in South Dakota are also perpetual. Therefore, a wealthy family can put assets into a trust that are held in perpetuity, rather than a limited period of time. The state also gives trusts sweeping privacy and asset-protection against creditors, business partners, lawsuits—and ex-spouses. South Dakota has no inheritance, capital gains or income taxes. It’s an extremely attractive state for people who want to keep their business private and protected.

The state also has strict information protections, so there are nondisclosure orders on all of the attorneys and all of the filings in the divorce case.

Reference: CNBC (May 6, 2020) “Billionaire Divorce uncovers secretive world of trusts in South Dakota.”

Read more related articles at:

‘Til Death or Divorce Do Us Part


Also, read one of our previous Blogs at: 

Should I Change Beneficiary Designations if I Get a Divorce?


Little Richard

Did Little Richard Have a Smart Estate Plan?

Little Richard’s primary career was about 35 years in length, which was plenty of time to generate significant wealth, says Wealth Advisor’s recent article entitled “Does Little Richard’s Son Inherit His $40 Million Career Or Will God Get Everything?”

Estimates are that Little Richard generated at least $40 million in the span of his career, but the question is whether much of that money is left or even if there are people around to claim it. Little Richard most likely left the majority of his estate to his son Danny.

There is also a good chance that religious charities will get some of his estate, since Richard may have decided to leave it all to one or more church organizations.

The big question is how much money and property there is to distribute. As far as assets, they may be scarce. The authorship of the hits like “Tutti Frutti” is disputed, but Richard’s birth name “Penniman” is on the original singles as composer. However, Little Richard sold the publishing rights in the mid-1950s and the intellectual property eventually ended up at Sony. He sued numerous times, trading cash settlements for royalty rights each time. As a result, Little Richard has no vast copyright library with which his heirs can generate income.

Everything else is cash. Little Richard had no foundations or charities. He was a private person and died that way.

Little Richard’s challenges were the same as the ones that face others: longevity and income. You should plan well enough to have sufficient income on which to live. You don’t want to outlive your income.

His song publishing should have been the major component to Little Richard’s retirement plan, but he sold that away very early. Without the royalties or the ability to trade them for a lump sum check, he was effectively a mere performer paid by the show. When he stopped touring, that money stopped. Likewise, because he stopped recording decades ago, that money dried up as well.

Little Richard seems to have garnered enough money settling his lawsuits to live nicely, so he didn’t need to work. However, who knows if he left $40 million. He was still able to pay his bills and didn’t have to tour from a wheelchair at county fairs. He made choices that aligned with his conscience and religious views.

Perhaps Little Richard didn’t have a lot of money in the end, but it was “enough.”

Reference: Wealth Advisor (May 11, 2020) “Does Little Richard’s Son Inherit His $40 Million Career Or Will God Get Everything?”


Read more related articles at :


Little Richard’s Net Worth

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at:

How Does the Death of Prince’s Brother Impact the Late Rock Star’s Estate?


Doctor not so great

What are the Signs My Doctor Isn’t that Great?

What are the Signs My Doctor Isn’t that Great?

If you’re in need of a new physician, do some research first, like reviewing a prospective physician’s credentials and looking for board certification. However, your investigation isn’t over at that point: when you arrive for your appointment, continue looking for clues about whether you’re at the right place or should make a quick escape.

Considerable’s recent article entitled “If your doctor shows one of these red flags, it’s time to move on” lists seven red flags to help you.

The receptionist doesn’t know you’re alive. The reception desk handles your questions about appointments, medical records, prescriptions and many other issues. The demeanor of those behind that desk should be professional, helpful and attentive. If you’re not greeted by the receptionist soon after you step through the door, and they fail to inform you that your doctor will be running late, or how long that wait will be, it’s discourteous. Of course, we all have bad days. However, if you see a pattern over time, or find yourself hating to contact that office, it may impact your care. Speak to your doctor about it.

A pharmaceutical company rep got there before you. If you look around the waiting room and see pharmaceutical logos on all kinds of pens and post-its, it’s a good sign that drug company reps have been there. They may have treated the staff to lunch, left new medication samples with the doctor and touted their latest brand drug or device. If you see that your doctor is accepting freebies from pharma companies, and you receive a prescription for a related brand-name drug, mention it to the doctor. If your doctor dismisses you, it may be time to get another opinion.

Your privacy isn’t properly protected. Most offices are exceptionally good about complying with HIPAA, which limits who has access to your health records. However, breaches can happen and impact nearly 5.6 million patient records last year. The standard HIPAA release form that patients sign states how your personal medical information can be used. If you don’t see your doctor’s office following the rules, talk to the office manager or the doctor. They know how critical protecting your privacy is and should be receptive to resolving any issues, if they’ve been lax.

The doctor is trying to sell you something. There’s been an increase in the number of doctors looking to enhance their incomes and selling products, such as vitamins, botanicals, minerals and other dietary supplements for weight loss, enhanced cognition, or improved libido. This behavior makes a doctor a salesperson who can take advantage of a patient’s vulnerabilities. If your doc tries to sell you something, it may be time to get a second opinion—or leave.

The doc’s diplomas seem a little suspect. A doctor’s office gives you a look at the chronology of the his or her education and may tell you whether he or she is board-certified, on the medical staff of a university, has also achieved a sub-specialty, as well as awards or honors. You can also look at your state’s licensing board website and check on the doctor for his or her education and practice information, history of malpractice, or professional misconduct and criminal convictions.

The doctor’s office is almost as bad as your kid’s room used to be. You may be so concerned about your health issues that you don’t see the signs of neglect which can critically impact your treatment. A dirty lab coat or dusty shelves may mean less than optimal attention to cleanliness. Disorganized desks and chart racks are ripe for misplaced notes and records.

They ignore feedback. Your physician should be all right with working with you, when you want to explore new treatments. If not, the doctor might be closed-minded and out of touch with the most recent research.

It’s difficult to find the right doctor but doing the research to find the perfect fit for you will pay off in the long run. It’s a vitally important relationship in your life, so don’t settle if you see these signs.

Reference: Considerable (Nov. 11, 2019) “If your doctor shows one of these red flags, it’s time to move on”

Read More Related Articles at:


12 Signs You Should Fire Your Doctor

Also, Read One of Our Previous Blogs at :

Do I Need Long-Term Care and Why?


long term care during covid-19

How Will Long-term Care Be Priced after the Pandemic?

How Will Long-term Care Be Priced after the Pandemic?

About 70% of seniors 65 and older will eventually require some type of long-term care in their lifetimes. That care isn’t cheap.

Motley Fool’s recent article asks “Will COVID-19 Drive Up the Cost of Long-Term Care?” According to the article, unfortunately those figures may begin to look like a bargain in the coming years as facilities change their policies and pricing after COVID-19.

The impact of the coronavirus has been experienced throughout the country, but we all see that nursing homes are an especially hard hit. As of April 23, there were over 50,000 reported COVID-19 cases in long-term care facilities, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. In six of the 23 states that are publicly reporting death rates (Delaware, Massachusetts, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Utah), deaths in long-term care facilities are at least half of all COVID-19-related fatalities.

COVID-19 has been detected in at least 4,000 long-term care facilities across the country and has caused more than 10,000 deaths among residents and staff members. As a result, nursing homes and other long-term care facilities will most likely reconsider how they train and rotate staff and implement sanitary standards to avoid this from occurring again.

All of this is will likely come at a cost, and the question will be if that expense is passed on to seniors, who can hardly afford these facilities in the first place.

We can’t really predict if you’ll require long-term care in the future and to what extent. We also don’t know how much long-term care costs will go up in the coming years after COVID-19. However, you are well served to purchase long-term care insurance, while you’re still young enough and healthy enough to qualify.

The best time to apply is during your mid-50s, so that you aren’t paying those premiums for too many years. However, you’re also applying at a time when you’re relatively young and more apt to get a nice discount on your premiums based on your age and health. However, if you’re already past your mid-50s, you still should look at applying in your 60s, too, especially if your health is good.

Not all long-term care policies are created equal. Different policies offer varying levels of coverage. Take the time to assess your financial resources, research the cost of long-term care in your area and determine the amount of coverage you think you’ll need.

Even if COVID-19 doesn’t directly mean big increases, the cost of long-term care has already been increasing every year. The more financial protection you have, the less stress you and your family will have when you are older.

Reference: Motley Fool (May 5, 2020) “Will COVID-19 Drive Up the Cost of Long-Term Care?”

Read more related articles at:

Will The Pandemic Lead To Better, Safer Long-Term Care Facilities?

Long-Term Care Policy after Covid-19 — Solving the Nursing Home Crisis

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at :

Elder Law Attorney Can Help Plan for Long-Term Care Costs


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