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incapacity

Don’t Wait Until Your Parents Become Incapacitated to Plan for Your Future!

Incapacity

What is a Disability Panel and How Does it Work?

What is a Disability Panel and How Does it Work?

 

What is a Disability Panel and How Does it Work? Aging can be both rewarding and challenging. With age we gain the wisdom we wish we would have had in our youth. We have lived to an age where we have gotten to experience a lot of what life has to offer. We may have gotten to watch our children grow into fine adults, having children of their own, now our Grandchildren. We can look back on our life and see the things we have accomplished and what we will be leaving as our Legacy.

Some of us were able to amass some wealth to pass onto future generations, some of us will need that wealth to carry us into old age. Whatever our situation is, we are not getting any younger and we all know with age we experience some decline both physically and mentally. There may come a time when we develop Dementia or Alzheimer’s and need our trusted loved ones to help or actually make decisions for us. Don’t wait until it is too late to make your wishes known. Although macabre, it is a fact of life, one day we will pass on. We may do so fully capacitated, or we may become incapacitated before we pass.

Right now, is the time to make our wishes known. While we are still cognizant and in control. There are so many decisions you can make when it comes to end-of-life decisions. We do not think of them on a daily basis, and it is not the most enjoyable thing to think about, but it should be considered.

Establishing a Trust, Living Will, and Advanced Healthcare Directives is a start in the right direction. At Legacy Planning Law group all of our Trust packages come with a Living Will, a Last Will and Testament, a Durable Power of Attorney, and Advanced Healthcare Directives. We got you covered at every end.

We also include the option for a Disability Panel. What is a Disability Panel you might ask? A Disability Panel is a group of people of your choosing who will decide if and when you are truly incapacitated and unable to make good decisions. This panel could include, for instance, your primary care physician, an appropriate specialist recommended by the doctor and approved by your spouse, your spouse, adult children, etc. You decide whether the panel’s decision must be unanimous, or by a majority vote. This puts you in complete control.

Although unpleasant, it’s never too soon to start planning and getting your affairs in order!

Read more related articles at:

Disability Panel, Would One Benefit You?

Don’t Let a Random Doctor Decide Your Fate – Establishing an Individualized Disability Panel to Determine If You Are Disabled

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at:

How Do I Talk about End-Of-Life Decisions?

Click here to check out our On Demand Video about Estate Planning.

Medicaid

I’m NOT in a Low-Income Bracket, I Couldn’t Possibly Qualify for Medicaid, Think Again!

I’m NOT in a Low-Income Bracket, I Couldn’t Possibly Qualify for Medicaid, Think Again!

I’m NOT in a Low-Income Bracket, I Couldn’t Possibly Qualify for Medicaid, Think Again! Think you make too much money to be eligible for Medicaid? Have too many assets and too much savings? Think Medicaid is only for the poor and less fortunate? Think again! Medicaid for some is a best kept secret. It has long been stigmatized as a program for the poor and less fortunate, but Medicaid also exists for people who are Pregnant, or are responsible for a child 18 years of age or younger, or  for the Blind, or  those who have a disability or a family member in your household with a disability, or  if you are 65 years of age or older.

Being an Elder Law Attorney, we will focus more on Medicaid eligibility requirements for seniors, but the related articles also touch on the other eligibility requirements as well for others. We also are professionals in Special Needs Trusts and Planning, which falls into the category of those with disabilities. We have over 20 years of experience exclusively in Elder Law and Estate Planning. those are the only area’s our Attorney practices so he is an expert on these areas. Let us show you how Medicaid can be a valuable asset in helping in your long term planning and helping to protect the assets you’ve worked so hard to obtain. Our Attorney knows Medicare and how it works and how it can be advantageous to your specific scenario.

Florida Medicaid Eligibility Requirements For Seniors

What is Medicaid?

Medicaid is a jointly funded, Federal-State health care program for persons who are financially eligible. Medicaid provides care for acute medical needs, rehabilitation, and long-term care at home and in nursing homes. There are also numerous community-based programs, including adult day care, and assistance with local transportation.

Does Medicaid Pay for Long-term Care?

Yes, Medicaid pays for long-term care in a nursing home. In a few states it also pays for long-term senior care in the home. Medicare on the other hand, does not pay for long-term care.

If I Give Away My House and All My Money Will I Qualify?

Not anymore. There is a 5-year look-back law now. Uncle Sam can find your money and make you pay. You should consult an Elder-law attorney to understand the acceptable ways to “spend-down” assets to qualify for Medicaid as a low-income senior. You can gift some assets, within limits, to a beneficiary, but you should remember that these assets will no longer be in your control. Also, remember that the leading type of elder abuse is financial, many times by a family member. Spousal poverty protection laws have been passed to allow the spouse of a senior who needs long-term nursing home care to maintain usually up to 50% of the couple’s assets.

How do I apply?Applications are available through your state Medicaid program. but it is very helpful to seek the advice of an attorney to help you navigate this process.

How soon will coverage start?

Coverage can possibly begin from 3-months prior to the application’s approval. Applications sometimes take longer than expected. You should ask about the usual approval timeframe when you submit your initial application for Medicaid coverage.

What is the minimum asset requirement to qualify?

Asset requirements are usually limited at $2,000.00, but your Attorney will know what is specific to you and your situation.

Does Medicaid long-term care have a limit?

No, Medicaid will pay for long-term care in a nursing home for as long as a senior qualifies for needing the care, even if this means multiple years of care until death.

Medicaid ServicesFlorida Agency for Health Care Administration
Florida Medicaid Services
(866) 762-2237

Read more related articles here:

Florida Medicaid

Florida Statewide Medicaid Managed Care Long-Term Care Program (SMMC LTC)

Also, read one of our previous Blogs here:

How to Plan for Spouse’s Medicaid

Click here to check out our On Demand Video about Estate Planning.

 

 

helping

What Can You Do to Help Support the Seniors You Love Right Now?

What Can You Do to Help Support the Seniors You Love Right Now?

From Focus on the Family.com

Assisting Aging Loved Ones With Estate Planning

What Can You Do to Help Support the Seniors You Love Right Now? Do you have any advice for me as I attempt to help my elderly mother protect her financial assets and make sure her wishes will be carried out after her death? Wills, trusts, partnerships, probate, power of attorney — I know next to nothing about them. How should we plan her estate?

In response to the growing aging population in the U.S., a new, specialized area of law has emerged over the past several years – elder law. Elder-law lawyers are a relatively new specialty of attorneys who concentrate on handling the often complicated legal affairs of seniors. The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) maintains a website that includes a series of “Law and Aging” brochures addressing various elder law topics. An elder-law attorney can help you clarify the pros and cons of obtaining a power of attorney, a trust, a conservatorship, a guardianship, Medicare benefits and Medicaid benefits and a number of other legal documents designed to preserve and protect your mother’s assets. You need to be aware of both your rights and obligations as you enter into any of these binding agreements. Here’s a list of the ten most common arrangements:

Will

Every person should have a will. This is a legal document that describes how the person wants her property distributed after her death. A will can contain the name of an executor or personal representative who will take responsibility to see that it is carried out. Unless a will has been drawn up, the state will decide how to divide the person’s possessions and property according to its own guidelines.

Trust

A trust is a document that gives a person the right to manage another person’s money and property. It’s an agreement between your mother (the settlor or trustor) and the individual she appoints (the trustee) to carry out her wishes. Unlike a durable power of attorney, the trust is a long and detailed document that outlines specifically how money and property should be handled. In addition, the trust often remains in effect after the person dies. It can be either revocable or irrevocable, and there are several different kinds of trusts, depending on how your loved one wants to arrange the protection and disbursement of her inheritance.

Letter of instruction

This is a document prepared by your mother and her lawyer. It should contain the names of the individuals to be notified upon her death, funeral arrangements, directions for disposal of personal property, numbers of bank accounts, information on insurance policies, anatomical-gift information, etc. This is not a legal document; it’s just a listing of personal requests to be followed along with the will.

Family limited partnership

This estate-planning tool allows seniors who own their own businesses to reduce the value of the business for tax purposes and to adjust the cash flow received by children who are “limited partners” in the business. It’s a way for a businessperson to protect his or her business and provide for surviving relatives.

Joint tenancy

Husbands and wives quite often have joint ownership of their money, property and other possessions. One form of common ownership is called “joint tenancy with a right of survivorship.” This means that if one spouse dies, the other automatically inherits everything. Other joint-tenancy agreements add an adult child to the agreement. Joint tenancy can help a loved one avoid probate, but it has its drawbacks and it’s certainly no substitute for a will. A lawyer can advise you on the pros and cons of joint tenancy.

Probate

This is the process by which legal title to property is transferred from the deceased’s estate to her beneficiaries. If the person dies with a will (“testate”), the probate court determines if the will is valid, orders that creditors be paid, and makes sure the will distribution instructions are followed properly. If a person does not have a will (“intestate”), the probate court appoints a person to process all claims against the estate. A will can be contested during probate for a variety of reasons.

Power of attorney

Your mother can give someone power of attorney over her affairs. You can have either general or special power of attorney. General power of attorney grants you power to take care of any financial transactions, and sometimes includes the power to make health care decisions as well. A special power of attorney authorizes you to do a limited number of actions for your grandmother. A power of attorney is usually granted only for a specific period of time. A Durable power of attorney, which does not terminate if the person granting it becomes mentally incompetent, involves the creation of a document (with the help of a lawyer) to give a trusted friend or relative the power to make either financial or medical decisions on your mother’s behalf when necessary.

Conservatorship

If your mother becomes legally incapacitated, you can go to a probate court and ask that you be appointed a conservator over her property. Note that this can be done against your mom’s wishes and may cause friction between siblings. So use extreme caution before adopting this plan, and be sure to communicate clearly with other members of the family.

Guardianship

If the court determines that your mother is incapacitated and unable to make her own decisions because of physical or mental disability, you can be named her guardian. She becomes your “ward,” and you have authority to manage her money or property.

Representative payee

If your mother has a disability and is unable to manage a pension or public-benefit income, you may want to consider becoming a representative payee. Social Security, Veterans Affairs, and other public agencies can appoint you to disburse the funds. You should contact each specific agency for an application form.

For more information, you may wish to take a look at the website of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging. If you could use further information and guidance, please don’t hesitate to give our Gift and Estate Planning staff a call. They would be happy to listen to your concerns and assist you with some practical suggestions. You can contact them Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Mountain time at (800) 782-8227.

Read more related articles at:
Talking to Parents about Estate Planning

How to Talk to Your Parents About Estate Planning

How to Talk to Your Parents About Estate Planning

It’s a hard conversation to have but a necessary one

Discussing estate planning with your parents is a conversation that can be difficult to have. You might not want to think about the day that they are no longer here, or even consider that they might experience a decline in health that severely limits their ability to think clearly or communicate with you. However, if you don’t have this conversation when your parents are able to share information and instructions, their passing or incapacitation will be even more painful as you grapple with their estate. Results from the December 2020 Wells Fargo/Gallup Investor and Retirement Optimism Index showed that 43% of investors between the ages of 50 and 64, and 17% of those 65 or older, have neither a written will nor written estate plans. Furthermore, nearly 40% of investors either don’t ever talk to their parents about estate planning, dread the talk, or avoid it. Though an estate planning conversation can be intimidating, there are several steps you can take to make the dialogue happen in an effective and inclusive way.

If you have brothers and/or sisters, you should include them in the conversation with your parents. For one, you’ll want to maintain the appearance of fairness, Eido Walny, founder of Milwaukee-based Walny Legal Group, told The Balance in an email. “Fair is in the eye of the beholder, and what is fair to one person may not be fair to another,” Walny said. “The best way to overcome this obstacle is to have a frank, open conversation that includes all the stakeholders. This prevents fighting later over what you think your parents ‘would have wanted.’” Including siblings can also tamp down any sort of distrust among family members. “All too often, there are contentions in estate administrations that mom or dad would not have done something but for the meddling of one of the kids,” Walny said, pointing out the legal term for this is “undue influence.” Another factor here is that parents worry their children will fight over their estate after they pass—but, by not having a family meeting to talk about estate planning, they’re actually increasing the chances of this happening, Brian Simmons, co-founder of Las Vegas-based trust-services firm IconTrust, told The Balance by email. “This can lead to litigation, and the only people who win in litigation are the attorneys,” Simmons said. “We have seen estates litigated over the silliest of things; usually personal property, like trinkets, equipment, furniture, artwork, etc.”  If your parents don’t have a plan, ask them to create one where their expectations are upfront to avoid problems in the future.

Find the Right Time to Talk About Money

As with most thorny topics, deciding when to talk to your parents about estate planning may cause apprehension about the discussion, too. However, it’s not a matter of whether the conversation should take place after dinner on Tuesday, or before Saturday brunch; time is of the essence. Some people advise waiting until there’s a life changing event, like a new birth, or changes to the tax law, but this is a risky approach, according to David Bross, a senior estate planner at Cincinnati-based Truepoint Wealth Counsel.“The right time to talk to your parents about estate planning is now, because, unfortunately, nothing in life is certain,” he told The Balance via email. Estate planning not only involves planning for assets at death but also includes planning for situations like health care and day-to-day financial decisions.  “Health care powers of attorney and financial powers of attorney provide direction as to who will handle health care/financial decision making for a parent should that parent be unable to act for himself or herself during his or her life,” Bross said.

The unpredictability of 2020 hammered home the frailty of life and how quickly someone can succumb to an ailment. But besides the possibility of your parents getting sick, there are other reasons to have this conversation now. In short, it’s not always about an inheritance or power of attorney, according to Zachary Morris, co-founder of Atlanta-based Paces Ferry Wealth Advisors.  “Many adult children may be planning for their own retirement, and the cost of caring for an ailing parent can derail even the best-laid retirement plans,” Morris told The Balance by email. “Knowing that your parents have done well financially, and maybe even have long-term care insurance, can go a long way in preparing for your own retirement.” Plus, you need to know if you have a role in their estate plan. For example, if you are named the executor of the estate, do you know where all the necessary estate documents are?  “Making sure your parents have a proper estate plan in place can help avoid unintended consequences regarding how the estate settlement is handled—potentially by a court-appointed executor if someone hasn’t already been named in the will,” Morris said.

Learn What Estate Planning They Have Done—And If Anything Has Changed

If your parents have already done some estate planning, it’s important to have a conversation to see if anything needs to be updated. “If they haven’t done anything, you may have to start from scratch,” Lisa Anne Haidermota, estate planning attorney and principal owner at Tampa-based Lisa Anne Haidermota, PA, told The Balance by email. “They also could have named executors when the children were minors and those executors have passed away.”

Child-Specific Trust Rules May Be Outdated

If your parents established a trust when you and your siblings were minors and you are now adults, changes may need to be made. “The safeguards that they set up in the trust may no longer be relevant,” Haidermota said. “Their concerns for their minor children may have changed as they reached adulthood, and now they want their adult children to serve as their executor, trustee, power of attorney, or health care surrogate.”

Multiple Marriages May Have Complicated Things

Jonathan Breeden, founder of North Carolina-based Breeden Law Office, pointed to another reason why you need to know what planning your parents have done. “There should be specific instructions about what goes to the husband/wife versus what goes to the children,” Breeden said in an email to The Balance. “This can be especially helpful for someone who got married a second (or third) time.” The problem for some people is getting their parents to agree to share this information, some of which can be sensitive. “Some parents see this as an issue of privacy and are hesitant to share such details,” Walny said. “[However], understanding your parents’ financial footing is important because it may open or close options with regard to nursing-home or long-term care planning.”

Helps Kids Know Their Roles and Avoid Surprises

Walny has also seen situations in which a substantial inheritance caused severe shock for the children who received it. Conversely, if the children aren’t receiving as much as they thought, this may affect their life decisions as well. Hearing parents explain why they made certain decisions about who gets which asset and what role you and your siblings play can clear up uncertainty. “If all children understand their roles and their possible inheritance, there are little to no questions once the estate plan is needed,” Bross said. “Each child has had an opportunity to hear from [their] parent as to why [the parent(s)] chose a certain plan or a certain person to manage their affairs.”

Cover Key Estate Planning Topics

It’s unlikely that you’ll cover everything in one conversation. Some of the issues may require your parents to pause and think about their decisions. But when the series of discussions is over, you should have covered the following key estate planning topics.

Estate Plan

“During this conversation, we review the estate plan with all of our client’s children to ensure each child has an understanding of what the documents say and how they will be administered,” Bross said. Since everyone is present (in theory), the parents can discuss why the plan was put into place and ask questions to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Net-Worth Statement

A net-worth statement helps children get an overall understanding of their parent’s wealth. “While this helps the family understand the potential inheritance, it can also give children peace of mind that their parents have the wealth to cover expenses later in life, such as health expenses,” Bross said.

Family Business  

If there is a family business, Bross recommended discussing a succession plan for the business. When the parents pass, who will take over the business and in what capacity?

Power of Attorney

“An estate plan should also include a power of attorney to grant authority to handle financial matters,” Seta Keshishian, a financial advisor at JSF Financial in Los Angeles, told The Balance by email. Any competent adult (age 18 or older) can receive power of attorney The Florida Bar recommends choosing someone who is trustworthy and reliable.

Power of Attorney for Health Care

It’s possible that your parents may become incapacitated, and when that happens, your parents should have someone chosen who can make medical decisions on their behalf. Keshishian advised adult children to initiate conversations with their parents to talk through their wishes for medical care, long-term care, and life-sustaining treatment. “Often, emotions can run high in an emergency situation, so it’s helpful to have clear instructions from the parent in advance,” she said.

Power of Attorney for Digital Assets 

“This person would ensure that online accounts, computers, and phones can be accessed,” Keshishian said. “It is important to confirm that all trust assets are properly titled, including the primary residence and brokerage accounts.”

Trust

According to Natalie Elisha Goldberg, founder of Goldberg LLP in Evergreen, Colorado, trusts have actually entered the mainstream for the middle class. Trusts may help families avoid the probate process, and even probate court. If a trust is set up in advance, it could help cover the cost of expensive nursing-home or long-term care in the future.

Set Long-Term Goals Together

Setting long-term goals together can prevent unpleasant surprises, but it will take open and honest communication. “It’s incredible that the values of parents and kids are often very different, and we often see parents struggle to treat their kids ‘equally’ and ‘fairly’ without understanding what those terms mean to the kids,” Walny said. For example, while parents may focus on financial equality, Walny said the kids may be more concerned about items that have sentimental value. Sometimes, these conversations may not be pleasant. That’s why Goldberg recommended having a team of financial professionals present, such as an attorney or tax advisor. In fact, her law firm also calls in a financial advisor and CPA for family meetings—and they allow grievances to be aired so all of the family members can be seen and heard. Remember, another key to success is understanding that setting long-term goals isn’t a one-time event, according to Gino Pascucci, a fellow co-founder with Simmons at IconTrust.“You don’t ‘set it and forget it,’” Pasucci said in an email to The Balance. “We have found the most successful families have periodic meetings—i.e., yearly or on some set schedule—with the parents’ attorney or financial professional present, as this helps everyone stay on task and set long-term goals together as a team.”

Read more related articles at:

How to talk with your parents about their estate plan, even if they don’t want to

How to talk to your parents about their estate without seeming like a greedy jerk

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at:

Millennials, It’s Time to Talk Estate Planning With Your Parents

Click here to check out our On Demand Video about Estate Planning.

Geriatric Care

The Growing Need for Geriatric Care Managers

The Growing Need for Geriatric Care Managers

The name can be misleading as professional geriatric care managers tend to a senior’s unique health care situation needs rather than being responsive to a particular age. The truth is aging is a complex, highly individualized process, and a geriatric care manager (GCM) may be appropriate at age 65 or 105 and any age in between. A geriatric care manager is a highly-skilled advocate for older adults and is specially trained to help identify resources to make managing your loved one’s daily life easier. A GCM is sometimes referred to as “aging life care professional” or “senior care manager,” as some find the term geriatric to be outdated. When is it appropriate to employ a care manager for your aging parent or loved one?

You live far away

Even if you leverage in-home technology and the internet of things to monitor and assess your loved ones well being, it isn’t easy to manage your older adult’s care if you do not live near to them. If you cannot frequently visit, a geriatric care manager can supervise care, alert you to potential or real problems, and work with you to arrive at the best decision for any issues that may prevent themselves.

Your loved one refuses to discuss their health with you

Many seniors, especially parents, do not want to burden their adult children with worries or problems. If you get the feeling your loved one is not telling you the full story about things affecting their health and well-being, hiring a geriatric care manager to check on them is a prudent strategy. Often, a senior is more willing to share their concerns with an expert outside of the family system.

There is a complex behavioral issue to address

Serious behavioral issues can manifest themselves in many ways, such as constant verbal abuse or being physically combative. These issues typically present themselves during the onset of dementia, and the root cause of the problem can be difficult to pinpoint. A geriatric care manager can connect you to an appropriate specialist to diagnose the problem.

You need to solve a problem in the senior living community

You might sense your parent needs more individualized care in their assisted living community, but the community’s administrator will not permit you to hire a private aide. A geriatric care manager understands how these communities work, the relevant state laws that may apply to the situation, and can negotiate on your behalf.  Because a GCM is an industry insider, they are more likely to find a solution in your loved ones’ best interest.

You do not know how best to help your loved one

There comes a time in your older family member’s care where you might feel utterly lost and unsure about what to do. A GCM can help you get unstuck by providing available options, tradeoffs, and costs. An initial assessment by a GCM can help navigate complex funding care options or uncover unknown resources for funding care.

Geriatric care managers can provide many services, including:

  • Evaluating, arranging for, and monitoring in-home care needs and the personnel that provide it
  • Coordinating medical appointments and arranging transportation to them
  • Identifying available programs and social services that can help your loved one
  • Making referrals to medical, legal, or financial professionals and suggesting ways to avert problems
  • Explaining difficult or complex topics to family members or care recipients
  • Creating short and long-term care plans that may include changes in living arrangements
  • Acting as a liaison to families who live far away from their loved one
  • Addressing and answering questions and emotional concerns of caregivers and their loved ones
  • Arranging for respite care providing relief to stressed-out caregivers

Medicare and Medicaid do not pay for a geriatric care manager’s services, so count on paying out of pocket. The initial assessment cost may range from 300 dollars in more rural settings to 800 dollars or more in larger urban areas based on a survey from 2017. After an initial assessment, a GCM bills by the hour and sometimes on a case-by-case basis. A reputable, certified GCM will have required degrees in one or more health care fields as well as several years of hands-on experience caring for the elderly. They will help assess, plan, coordinate and monitor your loved one’s insurance and entitlements, financial and legal matters, medical issues, involvement in activities, and family communication.

The National Institute on Aging (NIA), through the US Department of Health & Human Services, provides links on its webpage to locate geriatric care managers, as do many other organizations specializing in senior care like AgingLifeCare, and caring.com. You can also learn what to ask a potential GCM at caregiversamerica.com and other websites that provide senior information.

There is much to consider about your aging family member’s health and welfare, whether aging in place or an assisted living community. An experienced geriatric care manager, along with trusted legal counsel, can provide the best overall planning for a loved one. If you have questions or would like to discuss further how a GCM may help you or a loved one, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Read more related articles at:

How Can a Trust Help You Avoid Nursing Home Costs?

Top 5 Strategies for Protecting Your Money From Medicaid

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at:

How Do I Keep My Assets from the Nursing Home?

Click here to check out our On Demand Video about Estate Planning.

Background checks

Pennsylvania Creating Uniform Background Check Process for Those Working with Older Adults

Pennsylvania Creating Uniform Background Check Process for Those Working with Older Adults

Pennsylvania’s Department of Aging is looking to update the Older Adults Protective Services Act. This law was enacted originally in 1987 to protect older people who are most vulnerable.

WKBN’s recent article entitled “PA working to decrease elder abuse by updating background check process” reports that Carolyn Green, a spokesperson with the Pennsylvania Department of Aging, said when the law was originally drafted it had a section that regulated criminal background checks for employees. However, that part of the law can no longer be enforced.

“The commonwealth court determined that the employment ban provisions in the Older Adults Protective Services Act was unconstitutional, so we are not able to enforce that portion of the act,” she said.

“Right now, facilities are interpreting it the best they can, so updating this act would allow for more uniformity and a clear understanding of what crimes should prohibit people from working with older adults.”

These criminal background checks assist senior care facilities in eliminating the applications of those persons who might commit elder abuse.

Elder abuse is on the rise.

The Pennsylvania Department of Aging says that cases of suspected elder abuse increased 80% over the previous five years.

Most of that, they say, goes unreported.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Aging’s 2019-2020 annual report, women make up about 64% of victims. Their primary abusers? It’s usually a female caregiver.

“We see a lot of scams happening to older adults but, unfortunately, we do see family members taking advantage or caretakers taking advantage of older adults. Background checks could help eliminate staff that could currently be working with but have committed crimes the facility isn’t aware of,” Green said.

Changes are in the works, Green says.

Reference: WKBN (Feb. 12, 2021) “PA working to decrease elder abuse by updating background check process”

Read more related articles at:

State Requirements for Conducting Background Checks on Home Health Employees

STATES’ CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECK FOR LONG-TERM CARE WORKERS

Also, Read one of our previous Blogs at:

Where are the Worst Nursing Homes in America?

Click here to check out our On Demand Video about Estate Planning.

 

Selling your Life Insurance Policy

Should I Sell My Life Insurance Policy?

Should I Sell My Life Insurance Policy?

It is quite common to buy life insurance. It may have been to protect your family financially or as a vehicle to provide liquidity for estate taxes. As we grow older and laws change, it is critical to determine if your policy has outlived its intended purpose. The traditional strategy of “buy and hold” no longer applies to the ever-changing world. Today, it may be a good idea to consider selling your policy.

Forbes’ recent article entitled “What You Should Know Before Selling Your Old Life Insurance Policy” explains that a lesser-known alternative to abandoning or surrendering a policy is known as a life settlement. This gives the policy owners the chance to get a much bigger cash lump sum, than what is provided by the life insurance carrier’s cash surrender value.

Life settlements are not new. Third-party institutional buyers have now started to acquire ownership of policies, in exchange for paying the owner a lump sum of cash. As a consequence, the policy owner no longer needs to make future premium payments.

The policy buyer then owns the life insurance policy and takes on the responsibility of future premium payments. They also get the full death benefit payable from the life insurance carrier when the insured dies.

Research shows that, on average, the most successful life settlement deals are with policies where the insured is age 65 or older. Those who are younger than 65 usually require a health impairment to receive a life settlement offer.

Knowing what your life insurance policy is worth is important, and its value is based on two primary factors: (i) the future projected premiums of the policy; and (ii) the insured’s current health condition.

Many policy owners don’t have the required experience with technical life expectancies, actuarial tables and medical knowledge to properly evaluate their life settlement value policies. This knowledge gap makes for an imbalance, since inexperienced policy owners may try to negotiate against experienced and sophisticated policy buyers trying to acquire the policy at the lowest possible cost.

To address this imbalance, the policy owner should seek help from an experienced estate planning attorney to help them with the process to sell the policy for the highest possible price.

If you have an old life insurance policy that’s collecting dust, ask an experienced estate planning attorney to review the policy’s importance and purpose in your portfolio. This may be the right time to turn that unneeded life insurance policy into cash.

Reference: Forbes (Jan. 26, 2021) “What You Should Know Before Selling Your Old Life Insurance Policy”

Read more related articles at:

5 Tips for Selling Your Life Insurance

Can you sell your life insurance policy?

Also, Read one of our previous Blogs at :

Is Life Insurance a Good Idea for My Estate Plan?

Click here to check out our On Demand Video about Estate Planning.

DEATH OF SPOUSE

How Do You Plan for the Death of a Spouse?

How Do You Plan for the Death of a Spouse?

The COVID pandemic has become a painful lesson in how important it is to having estate plans in order, especially when a spouse becomes sick, incapacitated, or dies unexpectedly. With more than 400,000 Americans dead from the coronavirus, not every one of them had an estate plan and a financial plan in place, leaving loved ones to make sense of their estate while grieving. This recent article from Market Watch titled “How to get your affairs in order if your spouse is dying” offers five things to do before the worst occurs.

Start by gathering information. Make all of your accounts known and put together paperwork about each and every account. Look for documents that will become crucial, including a durable power of attorney, an advanced health care directive and a last will. Gather paperwork for life insurance policies, investment portfolios and retirement accounts. Create a list of contact information for your estate planning attorney, accountant, insurance agent, doctors and financial advisors and share it with the people who will be responsible for managing your life. In addition, call these people, so they have as much information as possible—this could make things easier for a surviving spouse. Consider making introductions, via phone or a video call, especially if you have been the key point person for these matters.

Create a hard copy binder for all of this information or a file, so your loved ones do not have to conduct a scavenger hunt.

If there is an estate plan in place, discuss it with your spouse and family members so everyone is clear about what is going to happen. If your estate plan has not been updated in several years, that needs to be done. There have been many big changes to tax law, and you may be missing important opportunities that will benefit those left behind.

If there is no estate plan, something is better than nothing. A trust can be done to transfer assets, as long as the trust is funded properly and promptly.

Confirm beneficiary designations. Check everything for accuracy. If ex-spouses, girlfriends, or boyfriends are named on accounts that have not been reviewed for decades, there will be a problem for the family. Problems also arise when no one is listed as a beneficiary. Beneficiary designations are used in many different accounts, including retirement accounts, life insurance policies, annuities, stock options, restricted stock and deferred compensation plans.

Many Americans die without a will, known as “intestate.” With no will, the court must rely on the state’s estate laws, which does not always result in the people you wanted receiving your property. Any immediate family or next of kin may become heirs, even if they were people you with whom you were not close or from whom you may even have been estranged. Having no will can lead to estate battles or having strangers claim part of your estate.

If there are minor children and no will to declare who their guardian should be, the court will decide that also. If you have minor children, you must have a will to protect them and a plan for their financial support.

Create a master list of digital assets. These assets range from photographs to financial accounts, utility bills and phone bills to URLs for websites. What would happen to your social media accounts, if you died and no one could access them? Some platforms provide for a legacy contact, but many do not. Prepare what information you can to avoid the loss of digital assets that have financial and sentimental value.

Gathering these materials and having these conversations is difficult, but they are a necessity if a family member receives a serious diagnosis. If there is no estate plan in place, have a conversation with an estate planning attorney who can advise what can be done, even in a limited amount of time.

Reference: Market Watch (Jan. 22, 2021) “How to get your affairs in order if your spouse is dying”

Read more related articles here:

‘When life goes sideways’ – how to prepare for the death of a spouse

Death Of A Spouse Planning Tips

Also, read one of our previous blogs here:

What Do I Need to Do after the Death of My Spouse?

Click here to check out our On Demand Video about Estate Planning.

social Security Surprises

Do You Know These Social Security Surprises?

Do You Know These Social Security Surprises?

If you don’t understand how Social Security works, you may get caught off guard by some of Social Security’s rules and nuances, says Motley Fool’s recent article entitled “Don’t Let These 3 Social Security Surprises Ruin Your Retirement.” Here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Taxes on benefits. Many assume that Social Security is not taxed, but it may be, depending on your provisional income. Your provisional income is calculated by taking your non-Social Security income plus 50% of your annual benefit payments. If that total is between $25,000 and $34,000 for a single or between $32,000 and $44,000 for a married couple filing jointly, you could be taxed on up to 50% of your benefits. Moreover, if your provisional income is more than $34,000 as a single tax filer, or $44,000 as a joint filer, you may be subject to taxes on up to 85% of your benefits. Typically, if Social Security is your sole retirement income source, you will avoid having your benefits taxed at the federal level. However, there are 13 states that tax Social Security.
  2. Withheld benefits when you still get a paycheck. When you hit your full retirement age (FRA), which is when you are entitled to collect your monthly Social Security benefit in full, you can earn as much money as you would like from a job, without having that income impact your benefit payments. However, if you work and collect benefits at the same time before reaching FRA, you may have some of your benefits withheld if you exceed the annual earnings test limit.

You can earn up to $18,960 in 2021 without losing any benefits. Above that threshold, you will have $1 in Social Security withheld for every $2 you earn. If you will be attaining FRA this year, the earnings test limit is higher, $50,520, and after that you will have $1 in Social Security withheld for every $3 you earn.

These withheld benefits are not lost permanently. They are added onto your monthly benefit once you reach FRA. However, claiming Social Security before FRA will also reduce your monthly benefit for life. Bear that in mind, if you are planning to continue working.

  1. Ultra-low cost-of-living adjustments. Social Security benefits are subject to a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), which is designed to help seniors keep up with inflation. However, in recent years, it has not. From 2002 to 2011, COLAs averaged 2.43%, but between 2012 and 2021, they averaged only 1.65%. As a result, many seniors on Social Security have had trouble paying their bills. COLAs are tied to fluctuations in the cost of goods and services, but this does not necessarily relate to seniors. Because of this, some lawmakers have been advocating for a better way of calculating them.

If you are planning to depend primarily on Social Security in retirement, be certain that you know the details of the program.

Reference: Motley Fool (Feb. 1, 2021) “Don’t Let These 3 Social Security Surprises Ruin Your Retirement”

Read more related articles at: 

6 Social Security Surprises

Social Security Basics: 12 Things You Must Know About Claiming and Maximizing Your Social Security Benefits

Also, Read one of our previous Blogs at:

Will the Pandemic Affect My Social Security?

Click here to check out our On Demand Video about Estate Planning.

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