Massachusetts Estate Planning & Asset Protection Blog

Is your Planning Stuck in Limbo? (part 2)

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Tue, Aug 01, 2017

How does the debate over health care reform affect you and your estate plan?

35274856603_c2af85ca10_b.jpg In our last post we discussed the importance of keeping up with the constant changes happening in health care reform. We will continue to examine how the on-going deliberations in Washington may affect you, your future health care and your estate.  We at Dennis Sullivan & Associates are keeping up to date on all the changes, and making sure you stay informed on all the important details.  For more information on the current law of the land, you can download our Report: Senior & Boomers Guide to Health Care Reform.   

The Senate has dealt a devastating setback to Republican efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare, defeating a GOP "skinny repeal" bill early Friday morning. With the "skinny repeal" bill off the table, lawmakers are unsure of where the health care debate is headed. 

Senate Majority Leader McConnell and his staff are trying to find a balance between conservative Republicans, who want a full repeal of ObamaCare and a replacement that has lower health care costs, and more moderate Republicans who want to preserve its more popular benefits.

The deal-making process is in full swing, with the additions of opioid funding and allowing health savings accounts to be used to pay for insurance premiums. Some Senators are for potentially leaving in some taxes to pay for more generous benefits, after weeks of being criticized by Democrats for offering “tax cuts for the rich and Medicaid cuts for the poor.” Conservatives want to cut more from the regulations and many from Medicaid expansion states are uneasy about future cuts to Medicaid.

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas has offered an amendment called the “Consumer Freedom Option” that would allow insurance companies to sell any health coverage plan they wish as long as they provide one plan that satisfies the “essential benefits” mandates of Obamacare. While the Cruz amendment appeals to conservatives who want to provide consumers with lower cost options, moderates are concerned it could negatively impact those with pre-existing conditions. Supporters have suggested that federal subsidies could help ensure that premiums don’t increase for those who are seriously ill. The CBO is currently scoring this amendment.  

President Trump, along with Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, has even offered to repeal ObamaCare for now and replace it later.

Of course, no one is going to get everything they want so there must be compromises. Majority Leader McConnell has said that if the Senate is not able to pass a bill soon, Congress will have to pass a bipartisan measure to shore up the imploding health insurance markets.

And so, the Civics lesson continues. The process is at work.  As we see here the process can be long, unstable and worrisome.  Luckily for you your estate planning doesn’t have be. We at Dennis Sullivan and Associates make your estate planning and asset protection worry and stress free.  Once you have a plan in place you will feel confident knowing it will protect you, your family and your life savings.  You can enjoy life to the fullest knowing you and your family are protected no matter what unknowns lay ahead. 

 

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we help people and their families protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones.  We provide clients with a unique educational and counseling so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops, call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.

Click Here to Register For Our Trust, Estate & Asset  Protection Workshop

Tags: Affordable Health Care, Affordable Health Care Act, Announcements, Elder Law, Estate Planning, Financial Planning, Health Care, Health Care Ruling, Medicaid, Medicare, Obamacare, Retirement, applying for medicare, Medicaid penalties, care costs, care, coverage, coverages, disenrollment, elder care, enrollment, elder care journey, federal, health, health Care act, life-care plan, long term care, medicaid qualification, medical expenses, proposed changes, senior, unreimbured medical expenses, seniors

For Seniors Who Are Betting on Getting to 80

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Thu, Aug 28, 2014

Betting on Getting to 80 | Massachusetts Elder Care Attorney

 

outliving, eldercare, savings, estate, nursing home 

For Those Who Are Concerned About Outliving Their Money

According to research for our book The Seniors and Boomers Guide to Health Care Reform and Avoiding Nursing Home Poverty, outliving one’s life savings is a top concern for many people. One possible solution to this is what the US Treasury is pushing many baby boomers to do: start writing checks to their insurance companies for products that won’t be a financial benefit for them until they’re 80. The Treasuries new rules on annuities known as longevity insurance could allow millions of Americans fresh options for their retirement accounts and 401(k) plans. This is according to Bloomberg Personal Finance.

The challenge: convincing savers to choose that option. The annuities thrill retirement experts and policy makers who see them as a way to ensure workers don’t end up impoverished in old age. Just about everyone else ignores the products, which make up less than 1 percent of all annuity sales.

It can be a great investment too. With $125,000, a 60-year-old man can buy a policy from New York Life that guarantees an income of almost $45,000 a year starting at age 80. The same $125,000 in a regular retirement account would need to grow at the unlikely rate of 11 percent a year from age 60 to 80 to provide that income, assuming 4 percent is withdrawn annually after age 80.

Planning for the Future

Since women live longer than men, their longevity policies are more expensive, and more valuable. Millions of widows in their 80s and 90s end up living on Social Security alone. A 60-year-old woman who puts $125,000 into one of these annuities could get an annual payout of $35,268. For women with a husband and no children, a longevity benefit is a comforting buffer against long-term care costs.

Dollars in longevity policies go farther for those who buy earlier than 60 or start the benefit later than 80. If the insurance becomes common in retirement plans, the cost of policies should fall. To maximize her payout, Carson decided against buying inflation protection and a provision that refunds all the money she put in if she dies early.

Indeed, the oft-repeated big risk with longevity insurance is that buyers could die before they collect. But that chance is what allows the policies to be so lucrative for the long-lived. Those who die early help pay for those who live into their 90s and later. And even if you die at 75, the guarantee of income at 80 means you can tap the rest of your nest egg earlier without worrying so much about running out of money.

How It Works

For longevity insurance to catch on, it needs to gain a foothold in retirement plans. The Treasury rules let workers devote as much as 25 percent of their 401(k) to the products, up to $125,000. That doesn't mean employers will offer the option or that workers will choose it though.

Employers face legal liability for their retirement plan options, making them cautious about relatively unproven products. Insurance companies may need to come up with new kinds of longevity annuities that are more transparent and are geared more towards women since they tend to live longer.

Adding to the resistance is a widespread assumption that Americans don't want to lock up their cash in insurance products. They'd rather get big eventual lump sum payouts, even if they have no idea how to turn that into an income that will support them in their old age.

What the Experts Think

If longevity insurance takes off, it will be a real victory for the experts who have been striving to change that mindset. This may also provide a solution for many boomers and seniors for whom outliving their life savings is a major concern. For more information about these and other concerns see the report from the Seniors and Boomers’ Guide to Health Care Reform and Avoiding Nursing home Poverty.

Seniors, boomers, guide, poverty, nursing home,

Everyone would love 401(k) plans to look more like traditional pensions or Social Security, so savers can put less focus on the balance in their account rather than on the income it will eventually produce. That's an outlook your 100-year-old self may well appreciate.

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we provide a unique education and counseling process which uses a unique 19 Point Trust, Estate and Asset Protection Review to help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones, click here for more information. We provide clients with a unique approach so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops, call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.

 Click Here to Register For Our Trust, Estate & Asset  Protection Workshop

Tags: Elder Law, annuity, Baby Boomers, family, elder care, assisted living, elder care journey, assets, care, Elder Law, senior, insurance, surviving spouse, family

What Is Hospice|Massachusetts Elder Law Attorney

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Tue, Mar 18, 2014

Hospice, Estate Planning, Elder Care

 

Certain topics such as death and hospice can be uncomfortable to talk about.  The fact is that death is a natural part of life and hospice is a service that can provide support and comfort to people who have been given time to prepare for death and their families.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of myths circulating about hospice that cause some people to be hesitant to even ask questions about it.  A better understanding of what hospice is, and what it is not, can help alleviate the sense of dread that often is felt when this word is mentioned.

What is hospice?

Many people think that hospice is a place, and though there are facilities that you can go that provide hospice services, that is not what hospice is.  Hospice means a philosophy of care.  Hospice will provide care to a client at their home, whether that is a private home, personal care home, nursing home, etc. 

Workers include nurses, nurses’ assistants, social workers, and chaplains.  They provide care depending on the individual’s needs; visits can be daily to once or twice a week and usually last no more than a couple hours.  They work to find the correct combination of medications in the lowest possible doses.  The goal is to control an individual’s symptoms without undesirable side effects.  While hospice tries to care for the patient in their home, if a short hospitalization is needed to keep them comfortable that is possible, as the treatments will be to provide comfort as well.

Hospice does not mean that a person is “giving up” or that death is imminent.  Hospice is designed to maximize the quality of life.  It is designed for someone who has six months or less to live and the care goals are changed from trying to find a cure to trying to find comfort and acceptance.  Hospice is not only for cancer patients, in fact; more than 60 percent of hospice clients have a diagnosis other than cancer.

How expensive is hospice?  That depends on the insurance plan.  Medicare and Medicaid plans cover the full benefits of hospice 100 percent.  For an individual with private insurance a hospice staff member will help you review your plan and determine how much your out-of-pocket costs will be. 

The more you know about hospice the easier the process can be.  A physician’s order is required for hospice, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start asking the questions.  The hospice staff is also available to speak with you about the process and provide as much information as possible. 

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones.  We provide clients with a unique educational and counseling approach so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops, call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.

 

Click Here to Register For Our Trust, Estate & Asset  Protection Workshop

Tags: massachusetts estate planning strategies, hospice, caregiver, caretakeer, care, Massachusettes

Slowing the Aging Process If You're A Senior|Massachusetts Elder Law Attorney

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Wed, Feb 26, 2014

 Slowing down the aging process

You can’t stop your body from aging.

But you can slow the process down. One way to do it is by eating a nutritious variety of foods that stimulate both physical and mental well-being, and that supply you with weapons to make the good fight against Father Time.

Here are some tips…

 

 

  • Salt’s a killer. Eating less will help prevent water retention and high blood pressure. Look for the “low sodium” label. And season your food with garlic, herbs, and spices instead.
  • You can enjoy some “good” fats. Olive oil, avocados, salmon, walnuts, flaxseed, and other monounsaturated fats help prevent heart disease.
  • FIBER! As you get older, it becomes more important. It helps you avoid constipation, and lowers your chances of chronic illness. Among other foods, it’s found in raw fruits and vegetables, whole-grains, and legumes.
  • Avoid “bad” carbs such as white flour, refined sugar, and white rice, which are stripped of their bran, fiber, and nutrients. Bad carbs cause spikes in blood sugar, while complex carbs such as whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables help stabilize it.
  • Food companies do their best to camouflage sugar in their products. They’ll call it corn syrup, molasses, brown rice syrup, cane juice, fructose, sucrose, dextrose, or maltose. But it’s still sugar!  
  • Steam or sauté your vegetables in olive oil. (Boiling drains nutrients.)
  • Put five colors on your plate. Fruits and vegetables rich in color are generally rich in nutrients, too.

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones.  We provide clients with a unique educational and counseling approach so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops. Call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.

 

Click Here to Register For Our Trust, Estate & Asset  Protection Workshop

Click below to download your free copy of 7 Strategies to Protect Yourself Against Obamacare, Higher Taxes, Increasing Nursing Home Costs, and Other Government Changes.

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 Click here

 

 

Tags: massachusetts estate planning strategies, Estate Planning, Elder Law, family, Massachusetts, care, lawyer, Attorney, health, family, 2014, Dennis Sullivan, Healthy Eating, balanced diet

Massachusetts Elder Law Attorney | Medicare Disenrollment

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Wed, Oct 31, 2012

Earlier in the week we covered the timelines and procedures for Medicare Enrollment.  Today we will focus our blog on the timelines and procedures for disenrolling from Medicare Advantage Plans.

Voluntary Disenrollment

A person may choose to end his or her membership in a Medicare Advantage plan for any reason, but only during one of the election periods- annual, MADP, or special. Beginning in 2012, a person may disenroll from an MA plan to enroll in one of the Medicare-rated "five-star" plans at any time of the year. An individual who wishes to voluntarily disenroll should write a letter or complete a disenrollment form and send it to 'his or her plan's customer service department. The date of one's disenrollment depends on when the plan receives the written request to disenroll. In general, written requests to disenroll must be received by the Medicare Advantage pl an no later than the tenth of the month to be effective the first of the following month. Written requests to disenroll that are received after the tenth of the month will be effective the second month after the request is received.

An exception to this general rule is that disenrollment requests received between November 1 and November 10 are usually effective ·December I. However, because the month of November is also the annual election period, one can ask for a January I effective date.

Even though a person has requested disenrollment, he or she must continue to receive all covered services from the plan's contracting medical providers until the date the disenrollment is effective. The individual will be covered by Original Medicare after this, unless he or she has joined another Medicare Advantage plan.

Note that other factors are also involved in voluntary disenrollment. For instance, consider a Medicare beneficiary whose first Medicare enrollment was in a Medicare Advantage program, and within the first 12 months of coverage, decides to disenroll from the program and enro ll in Original Medicare. In this situation, he or she has 63 days to purchase any Medicare supplement plan (within the scope of the plans that the carrier offers) on a guaranteed basis.

Also, a person may have originally enrolled in Original Medicare and a Medicare supplement program, then decided to switch to Medicare Advantage- and then decided to switch back to Original Medicare. In this case, the individual may, within 12 months after that decision, go back to Original Medicare and the same Medicare supplement offered by the same MS carrier as before, if he or she has been in the Medicare Advantage plan for less than a year. A problem that may arise involves Part D coverage. If an enrollee decides to use the one-year guarantee to switch out of Medicare Advantage, CMS rules require the enrollee to complete a standalone Part D application and mark the "Special Election Period" box that appears in the "Office Use Only" portion of the application to disenroll from the prescription drug program. CMS will then use the SEP on the Part D application to begin the process for the MA disenrollment and return the applicant to Original Medicare. (This SEP procedure is also available when enrolling into an MA plan when receiving Medicaid assistance or when applying for Medicare disability at any time during the year.)

An individual may voluntarily disenroll during the MADP period (January I through February 14) by writing or calling his or her plan (or calling 1-800-Medicare), but a written request for disenrollment may be required. The MA company must provide a disenrollment notice within seven days of receiving the request. If the (dis)enrollee wants to return to Original Medicare and obtain a Medicare supplement policy, the Medicare supplement company will require that the new applicant complete the MA questions on the Medicare supplement application and that he or she send a copy of his or her MA plan disenrollment notice, a copy of the letter that he or she sent to his or her MA plan requesting disenrollment, or a signed statement verifying that he or she has requested to be disenrolled from his or her MA plan. If an individual is disenrolling after the February 14 date, a copy of the applicant's MA plan disenrollment notice will be necessary.

Involuntary Disenrollment

A Medicare Advantage plan cannot disenroll a member for any health-related reasons. However: a member in a Medicare Advantage plan may be, or must be, disenrolled from the plan for any of the following reasons:

  • permanently moving out of the service area;

  • temporarily moving out of the service area for an uninterrupted absence of more than six months;

  • losing entitlement or discontinuing enrollment in either Part A or Part B Medicare benefits or failing to pay Part B premiums as required;

  • filing false or deliberately misleading information during enrollment;

  • exhibiting disruptive behavior (the plan must first receive permission from CMS to disenroll for this reason);

  • allowing someone other than the enrollee to use the plan membership card;

  • failing to pay plan premiums after the plan has notified the enrollee that he or she has a 90-day grace period during which the enrollee can pay the premiums; or

  • dying.

To learn more about protecting your home, spouse, and life savings from increasing medical and nursing home costs register to attend one of our free, educational workshops by clicking the image below or by calling (800) 964-4295.  Seating is limited and workshops do fill, registration is required.

trust, estate, asset protection, elder law, nursing home

You can also learn more by reading our new Seniors Guide to Health Care Reform & Avoiding Nursing Home Poverty.  This guide reveals crucial information smart Americans must know regarding health care reform and how to protect what matters most, your spouse, home, and life savings.  The guide also includes secret steps being taken by families all over the country to avoid nursing home poverty.  Request your copy while supplies last by click the image below!

nursing home, asset protection, health care

Tags: asset protection, Health Care, elder care, assisted living, health Care act, dementia, care, Attorney, Alzheimer's, disenrollment

Massachusetts Alzheimer's Attorney | Caring for Your Loved One With Alzheimer's

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Fri, Oct 26, 2012

I'm The Only Family Member Doing Caregiving. How Do I Deal With That... And With Them?

If you think the Hatfields and McCoys went at it, you should see what happens in some families when a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer's or dementia. It can make that "other" feud seem like child's play!
caregiver, Alzheimer's, attorney
Additionally, it can give rise to tremendous resentment on the part of those who do the care-giving for those who don't.

When this happens, there's only one thing to do: Recognize that there's absolutely nothing you can do. And - even harder - let it go!

You have enough to handle. Any additional family matters will only weigh you down even more. Sometimes, family members may be afraid to see their loved one in such a state...or they may be in denial. But that's their problem. You can only do what's necessary to take care of yourself.

Care-giving is the toughest job in the world. And it can get even the strongest person down. So your personal priority should be to seek help - from people who can give it to you, rather than those who can't. Some people seek professional counseling. Others join support groups, where you'll quickly learn that you're hardly "the only person" who knows what you're going through. And, if your family can't be there for you, maybe a good friend can.

You may want to keep your family in the loop, about the condition, and how your loved one is doing. But don't harbor false expectations. For the most part, nothing you do or say to your family is going to motivate them to help, if they're not already motivated.

Even if they can't help, though...we can!

To gain free online access to the Complete Alzheimer's Resource Kit, which contains care tips as well as other useful information on Alzheimer’s disease, please visit www.BostonMemoryLawyer.com

alzheimer's, caregiver, attorney, Massachusetts

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones.  We provide clients with a unique educational and counseling approach so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops, call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.

Tags: dementia, Alzheimers Disease, Massachusetts, caregiver, care, Attorney, Alzheimer's, alzheimers

Massachusetts Elder Care Attorney | The Blessings of Being a Caregiver

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Tue, Oct 09, 2012

The Blesssings of Being a Caregiver

 

Sounds crazy, doesn't it? Blessings... of being a caregiver?

 

Yet, believe it or not, there are certain blessings to this 24/7, emotionally-wrenching job.  You just have to be open to them. And to recognize them when they occur.

 caregiver, elder care, elder law, massachusetts

But, first, you have to grieve. Because you can't accept what is until you've allowed yourself to grieve for your loved one. You can't come to the stage of acceptance until you pass the stage of grief.

 

When you come to the stage of acceptance, you'll allow yourself to open up to some of the small joys you couldn't see before.

 

The process of grieving, really, consists of a chain of emotions, each one flowing into the next...

 

Shock at the initial diagnosis, and disbelief.

 

Emotional Reaction - You'll yell, scream, lose your temper.

 

Anxiety crops up almost immediately, as you start to worry about the future.

 

Anger at your loved one for getting sick. At the doctor. Even at God.

 

Guilt for feeling this emotions.

 

The beginning of healing often starts with reflecting upon better days.

 

Acceptance finally comes when you're able to let go of the previous emotions.

 

Keep in mind, though, that acceptance doesn't mean the total end of grief; you'll still feel it at times. And that's OK. Eventually, you'll come back to acceptance.

 

Then, you can begin to enjoy being with your loved one again. When you can deal with the reality that your time together may be growing short, you treasure every minute of your time together, and you realize how precious it is.

 

When you're a caregiver to a loved one with Alzheimer's or dementia, your life can seem like one series of questions after another. But we can help.

 

To gain free online access to the Complete Alzheimer's Resource Kit, which contains care tips as well as other useful information on Alzheimer’s disease, please visit www.BostonMemoryLawyer.com

Click Here to Download  The Alzheimer's Resource Kit

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones.  We provide clients with a unique educational and counseling approach so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops, call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.

Tags: Alzheimer's Disease, elder care, dementia, Massachusetts, caregiver, care, Elder Law, Attorney, blessings

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