Massachusetts Estate Planning & Asset Protection Blog

The Ins and Outs of VA Pension

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Sat, Nov 23, 2019

P42.Sullivan.NovBlog1Did you know there have been significant revisions to the non-service connected pension rules? The Department of Veterans Affairs has issued new rule changes regarding the eligibility for a wartime veteran and his or her surviving spouse’s non-service connected pension. The new rules apply if the veteran had 90 days or more of active duty, one day of which was during wartime. 

These new rules began October 18, 2018. The new rules provide that the claimant and his or her spouse cannot have countable assets in excess of $126,420. An exception is if the claimant’s primary residence does not exceed two acres, unless the additional acreage is not marketable. It does not matter that the claimant is not residing in his or her primary residence or is renting the primary residence. The rental income, however, will be counted for IVAC purposes. 

The new rules also impose a 36 month look-back period for transferred assets. The transfer of a countable asset during the 36 month period before applying for assistance will trigger a penalty period up to 5 years. In calculating the length of the penalty period, the value of the covered asset is divided by the annual pension rate for a veteran in need of aid and attendance with one dependent and divided by 12. 

The penalty period begins on the first day of the month that follows the date of the transfer. The penalty period can last up to five years. Fortunately, the new rule provides that if some or all of the claimant’s countable assets are returned to the claimant before the date of the claim for VA assistance or within 60 days after the date of the disqualification notice, then the VA will recalculate or eliminate the penalty period. 

Further, the purchase of an annuity after October 18, 2018, within 36 months of the date of the application for VA assistance will give rise to this penalty period. Certain purchased annuities that can be liquidated are not considered a transfer that will be penalized. In addition, the pension benefit is reduced to $90 a month if the veteran is in a nursing home and is being provided Medicaid services.

This is an important resource that is available to servicemen and women, as well as their dependents. To learn more about Veterans' Benefits, nursing home coverage and community-based care, sign up for a free seminar Today.  Do not wait to learn more with Dennis Sullivan & Associates to discover how you may be able to help you and your loved ones.

Tags: veterans benefits, wartime veteran, Veteran, Estate Planning Tip, Massachusetts, Estate Planning Recommendations, Dennis Sullivan

What You Need to Know About Pet Trust Planning in Massachusetts

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Fri, Oct 11, 2019

P42.Sullivan.OctBlog2A pet owner is naturally concerned regarding what will become of his or her pets and their welfare after the owner’s death. Did you know, however, that the owner’s last will and testament can direct who will take possession of owner’s pets at his or her death? The owner’s will or revocable trust can also direct that the owner’s personal representative or trustee to distribute sufficient estate or trust funds to care for and support the pet after the owner’s death until the pets die. 

Unfortunately, without planning for monitoring through a trust agreement, there may be no guarantee that the recipient of this money will actually expend the funds for the support of a deceased person’s pets. When planning for pets, a trust may be the best vehicle. It can be established during the owner’s lifetime to provide funds for the care of a deceased owners’ animals until they subsequently die. This is commonly referred to as a “pet trust.” 

Teddy & Franklin

A pet trust authorized by statute in our state may be enforced by a person appointed in the terms of the trust or, if no person is appointed, by a person appointed by the circuit judge in times of conflict. Any person having an interest in the welfare of the animal may want to meet with an estate planning attorney to ensure that the trust is being enforced and that a person who is not performing his or her specified duties can be removed. 

Bear in mind that the property distributed to the pet trust may be applied only for the intended use specified in the terms of the trust. This money is specifically being designated for your pet and should not be given to another person, including the trustee. Determining how you want your money managed and distributed at your death is just one of the reasons why we developed our Unique Self-Guided 19-Point Trust, Estate, & Asset Protection Legal Guide. You may download our tool from our website, or attend a complimentary workshop to lean where problems may exist in your planning as well as opportunities for improvement and how to implement a plan to protect not only your pets but your spouse, home, family, and life savings.



Tags: family, pets, Estate Planning Recommendations, pet trust

4 Essential Estate Planning Tips Every Baby Boomer Should Know

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Tue, Oct 01, 2019

P42.Sullivan.OctBlog1One of the best ways Baby Boomers can prepare for older age, and help their loved ones after they are gone, is to make sure their estate plans are in order. An estate plan protects and transfers wealth while adhering to tax strategies and other important considerations, the former being of special importance to those of us residing in Massachusetts. A well-designed estate plan can also ensure health care wishes and personal desires are followed. 

Not having a plan, or an up-to-date plan, however, can leave decisions in the hands of others. This could devalue your estate, create unnecessary confusion, result in your loved ones turning to the court for help, and even cause infighting within one’s family. It is one of the reasons why we focus during the month of October, as well as throughout the year, on Estate Planning Awareness Week which promotes the importance of a sound plan through the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils.

Whether you are revisiting an existing estate plan or crafting an estate plan for the first time, let us share four essential estate planning tips with you right here in this article. 


  1. Wills and Trusts. These are the centerpieces of any solid estate plan, regardless of the size of the estate. A last will and testament is put into action at the executor’s death, while a trust agreement can be managed during one’s lifetime. A trust can also limit estate taxes and potential legal challenges. In that regard, the written language of these documents is extremely important and should be discussed with your estate planning attorney.


  1. Beneficiary Designations. Retirement plans, annuities, life insurance policies, and other investments, allow for the principal investor to name who he or she wants to inherit his or her investments when at death. This can be a spouse, multiple members of an immediate family, other individuals, or charities and institutions.


  1. Durable Power of Attorney. A power of attorney allows a designated person to make financial, legal, and other personal decisions on behalf of another person. A durability provision ensures that the document can still be used even when the creator is incapacitated. 


  1. Health Care Directives. Health care directives ensure that there is a selected person to make health care decisions on your behalf. Be sure to consider choosing someone with matching end-of-life views as this person may be called upon to act as you would in this situation. 


With so much at stake, do not wait to contact an experienced estate planning attorney for more information on this topic. Don’t wait to ask us your questions or attend one of our upcoming Trust, Estate & Asset Protection Planning workshops to learn about our Unique Process  to help you and your family to enhance the security of your lifestyle, life savings, and legacy.

We know this article may raise more questions than it answers for you. If you have specific questions, do not wait to contact us. This only starts our discussion on how to prepare for retirement as a Baby Boomer. We encourage to take the time to review each of our critical guides with the information you need on this as well. Let us answer your questions about your unique retirement needs. 

If you would like more information on Elder Law, Medicare, the Affordable Care Act, or the impact of new health care laws on your health care coverage, request your free preview of our guide, the Senior & Boomers’ Guide to Health Care Reform & Avoiding Nursing Home Poverty.  

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops. The next evening event will be next Thursday October 10th 6:30 PM at the Needham  Council on Aging Center at the Heights 300 Hillside Ave. Needham, MA,  Please call 800-964-4295 and register to discover  more about what you can do to Protect your Home, Spouse, Family and Life Savings. By attending our workshop, you will also be entitle to more than $1,500 in valuable benefits, including your choice of books, DVDs and more! Call 800-964-4295 (24/7)

Tags: Estate Planning, Baby Boomers, Estate Planning Recommendations, boomers

Understanding Ways to Pay for Long-Term Care Using VA Pension Benefits

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Tue, Mar 26, 2019


When we work with seniors and their loved ones, one of our primary goals is that they are able to find and pay for good long-term care. Unfortunately, there may come a time when the senior is no longer able to care for him or herself. While the preference of both the senior and his or her family may be for the care to be provided within the home, this may be impractical for a number of reasons that include, but are not limited to, the cost involved for such care and the needs of the senior.

 In these instances, the senior and the family may need to turn to long-term care outside the home. A number of long-term care options exist to assist Older Americans meet their long-term care needs. These can include independent living facilities, assisted living facilities, and skilled nursing homes. In each of these facilities, the senior can receive a number of different services based on his or her care needs and the services the facility provides.

It can be hard for families to afford the cost of care in a long-term care setting. These costs need to be paid, in addition to the household bills where the community spouse may be living at the time and still need to support him or herself. Often, without planning to cover these costs of care, the senior’s assets may be quickly depleted to cover the monthly bill for the long-term care facility. To begin to understand how much long-term care may cost in our state you can look at the Genworth Cost of Long-Term Care Study.

There are government benefits programs that may be able to help the senior and his or her family afford the high cost of long-term care. These programs are based on need and have certain tests based on a variety of thresholds that are health, income, and asset based that the senior must meet to qualify.

 One such program is the VA Pension program. Through the Department of Veterans Affairs, a veteran with qualifying military service and his or her dependent, such as a spouse, may be able to qualify for this monthly, tax-free benefit. This benefit is not tied to disability or service-connected injury in any way. The veteran must have at least ninety days of active duty of which one day of this service was during wartime according to the Department of Veterans Affairs Eligible Wartime Periods.

The Department of Veterans Affairs changed the rules for qualification on October 18, 2018.  One of the things the new rules did was establish a limit for the countable assets for the veteran, or the claimant, and his or her spouse. Under these rules, the claimant and his or her spouse cannot have more than a combined $126,240 in the year 2019. This amount is subject to change annually and expected to increase by the same percentage as the cost-of-living increase for Social Security benefits.

Similar to our state’s Medicaid program, there are certain assets that are exempt from this calculation. For example, the veteran’s primary residence is not counted as long as it does not exceed two acres in size, unless the additional acreage is not marketable.

For more information, you can attend our workshop to learn more where we explore what options are available to you and your family as you proceed along the Eldercare Journey. 

Tags: veterans benefits, wartime veteran, Veteran, Estate Planning Recommendations

Tips for Protecting Your College Student in a New Semester Through Estate Planning

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Fri, Feb 01, 2019


Even young people need estate planning


Whether your child is just beginning to receive college acceptance letters or is preparing to leave home for the upcoming semester, your child is planning ahead for his or her future. As a parent, protecting your child does not stop when he or she leaves for college. Your role in their life, however, may have changed. Once your child turns 18, he or she is considered an adult in the eyes of the law. Accordingly, your ability to help him or her with their finances or medical decisions may be limited. We know this can be a challenging and emotional time, which is why we want to share a few ways to use estate planning to protect your child when they are not with you.

The first step, and perhaps the most important one, is to talk to your child about their planning options. As a parent, it is important to express any concerns you may have about their safety and well-being. Try to remember that your child is now an adult and may be hesitant to allow you access to their bank account or medical records. Talking to them about the importance of creating planning documents, however, and sharing examples of scenarios where you would use your decision-making authority may help make this conversation easier.

After you have had this discussion with your child, we encourage you to think about your goals for your child’s protection and the types of planning documents you need. A durable power of attorney is a document that provides you with the authority to make decisions if a legal or financial situation arises while your child is away at college. This can be for simple matters, for example, if there are issues with your child’s lease or if you would like access to your child’s grades. It is important to keep in mind that if you do not have an established durable power of attorney, your child’s bank, college, or rental company is within their rights to refuse sharing your child’s information with you, even as their parent.

Finally, health care documents are a crucial part to any estate plan, particularly when it comes to your college student. If you do not have HIPAA authorization, for example, or a health care power of attorney set up, medical professionals could refuse to allow you access to your child’s medical records. Designating a health care power of attorney before your child leaves for college can help combat this issue from arising.

College is an exciting time for both you and your child. No matter where your child lives, however, accidents and unexpected situations can arise. By planning ahead and creating planning documents for your child’s protection, you can feel confident handling any circumstance that comes up. If you have any questions or are ready to begin planning, do not wait to contact our office or attend a free seminar to learn more.


Tags: living will, Single, New Year's Resolutions, college planning, Estate Planning Recommendations, health, children, doctor, heir, grandchildren, 2019

Did You Know Your Estate Planning New Year's Resolutions Can Protect Your Family?

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Mon, Jan 21, 2019

New Years Res. Protects Your FamilyMany of us view the New Year as a fresh start. It is a time to reflect back on the things we wish we had prioritized the previous year and create resolutions to accomplish new goals or hold ourselves to a higher standard for the upcoming year.

 While many people create resolutions focusing on exercising more or eating healthier, have you considered making resolutions that can protect your family? We encourage to think about more than just spending more quality time with your family and, instead, going a step further and putting protections in place in the event you experience an accident or sudden illness.

 Do you need help knowing where to get started? Let us share three ways to create an estate plan that can help protect you and your loved ones this New Year.


  1. Create a plan for your minor children to keep them protected.

 When it comes to your children, you can never be too prepared or plan too far in advance for their future. Preparing for your minor children’s care in the event of your death is a necessary challenge of being a parent. One way to ensure your children are well taken care of after you are gone is to create a comprehensive estate plan that designates a guardian to care for your children. This should be someone you trust implicitly to care for your minor children and help raise and guide them into adulthood. You may also wish to plan to take care of your children financially by creating a trust and placing funds in it for their behalf. 

  1. Create a plan for yourself in the event of an accident.

As important as it is to plan for your children’s protection, it is equally as important to create a plan that protects you as well. A living will, also known as a healthcare directive, is a legal document that outlines your end-of-life medical care wishes. This document helps loved ones and healthcare professionals to make appropriate medical decisions on your behalf when you are unable to make them yourself because of, for example, you experience a serious illness or are in a bad accident. The provisions within a living will do not take effect until you are legally and medically declared unable to competently make medical decisions for yourself.

  1. Create a plan for your legacy.

Creating an estate plan is more than just compiling a series of documents. It is the embodiment of the legacy you wish to leave behind for your loved ones. Creating and sharing your goals and thought process behind making each decision related to your estate plan is a way to share your legacy with your loved ones while you still have the opportunity to do so.

These are just a few of the ways you can help protect your loved ones this year. Do you have other ideas? Do not hesitate to let us know! Your family’s safety and your legacy are very important to us. We encourage you to attend one of our free estate planning seminars to learn more and qualify for a complimentary meeting with an attorney so we can discuss your estate planning related questions.

Tags: Estate Planning, durable power of attorney, living will, massachusetts estate planning strategies, legal guardians, New Year's Resolutions, Estate Planning Recommendations, 2019

Understanding Long Term Care Planning

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Fri, Jan 19, 2018

Facing the enormity of long term care, whether it is the financial, healthcare, emotional or psychological issues, it is so overwhelming. 

It's needs a team effort!  With the help of family, friends and our team here at Dennis Sullivan and Associates you can make the enormity of long term care manageable 


What exactly is "Long Term Care Planning" ? 

Here's one way to look at long term care planning: 

In today’s world, the question is no longer only, “What happens when I die?, but now we need to plan for “What happens if I live?” An estate plan covers the scenario of, What happens when I die.  But long term care covers a large variety of other factors and scenarios that sometime families forget to consider such as what happens if I live but am not healthy and have increased health-care costs and need to rely on others for assistance, either temporarily or on a permanent basis. The estate plan does not address this need. An estate plan can help you answer the first question, but a long-term care plan can help you answer both the first and second questions. Let’s put it another way. An estate plan insures that if you have assets when you die they will be passed in the manner you wish. The key word is “if.” The plan will not, however, guarantee that there will be anything left at that time to pass. Your assets could be mostly or entirely wiped out by a lengthy illness, hospital, and/or nursing home stay, leaving your spouse and other heirs with nothing.

 long Term Care and Medicaid:

I had a conversation last week with a married couple for whom we are preparing a Medicaid application. John is in a nursing home, and Mary is healthy and living at home. I explained to them that Mary can keep half of their countable assets, in their case $75,000, but that they must spend down to below that dollar amount by the last day of the month directly preceding the month we want to qualify John for Medicaid. I have had this conversation numerous times with clients in John and Mary’s situation, and know all too well that this simple instruction is not always followed. The largest part of most spend downs typically goes to the nursing home. But, as most people do, myself included, we wait until we get a bill before we pay it. If I owe you money, I’m not going to chase after you for a bill. Whenever you get around to it and invoice me, then I’ll pay it. The longer the money stays in my bank account, the happier I am. However, this can get you into big trouble and cost you tens of thousands of dollars if you wait for the nursing home bill. If we want John to be eligible for Medicaid next month and we know that he owes the nursing home $20,000 for the past two months of care, but the nursing home hasn’t yet presented Mary with a bill, it does not matter that Mary and John legitimately owe the facility the money. If that $20,000 is still sitting in their bank account next month, causing their account balance to exceed $75,000, John cannot qualify for Medicaid. Even worse than that, he can’t even qualify for next month. He has to wait until the following month, which means they will owe the facility another $10,000, leaving Mary with $65,000 to live on.

So Much to Discuss

For more information on Long Term Care Planning we encourage you 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. January sessions are filling up fast call or register on line to reserve your seat today.  

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. 

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

Tags: Retirement, Estate Planning, Baby Boomers, Elder Law, Attorney, GST tax, Massacusetts Estate Tax, Financial Planning, taxes, coverage, tax liability, tax exemption, Tax Savings, tax deductions, tax reform, New estate tax law, IRS, federal, Estate Planning Tip, Massachusetts, senior, Estate Planning Recommendations, Dennis Sullivan, tax, Capital Gains Tax, new regulations, New Tax Bill, Tax Bill, 2018 Tax Bill

New Tax Bill: What you need to know

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Fri, Jan 05, 2018

How does the new tax bill affect you and your family now and in the future?

The new tax bill has officially been passed by Congress and signed by President Trump, what does this mean for us?  The answer to this depends on many variables discussed here. 


First of all, these changes don’t apply until you file your 2018 taxes, meaning that you won’t have to worry about the new law when filing your 2017 income tax returns this spring.  That being said, still we will be experiencing the greatest overhaul of the tax laws in more than 30 years.  The last major changes having been made under President Reagan in 1986. 

One change you can expect to see is that both corporate tax rates and personal income tax rates will drop.  There are also other changes which limit or eliminate personal deductions.   The changes that affect corporate tax rates are permanent, and the changes that affect individual tax rates and deductions are not.

Also in the new tax bill you will find a “sunset” provision, meaning that the new law – as it applies to individuals – will expire on December 31, 2025.   That is, unless Congress agrees to extend the law.  That, of course, will depend on the political and economic climate 8 years from now, including whether the economy responds the way Republicans say it will

       Now let’s take a look at the changes that are likely to affect the average senior.  Good news, the tax rates have been lowered a bit.  There are still 7 tax brackets but the rates have changed with the top rate lowered from 39.6% to 37% and the threshold at which each rate is reached has been altered. (The corporate rate reduction is much greater, from 37% to 21%).

       Some of the most significant changes relate to deductions.  The standard deduction has been doubled to $12,000 for a single person and $24,000 for married couples but personal exemptions have been eliminated.  The deduction for state and local taxes will be capped at $10,000, something that could hurt many Massachusetts residents and especially homeowners because we have high real estate and state income taxes.  

So Much to Discuss:

For the first time in decades major overhauls to the tax system are happening! This is an enormous change that can affect your estate planning and asset protection as well. Be sure to stay tuned as we will discuss more about this new tax bill in our next blog post!    

For more information 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. January sessions are filling up fast call or register on line to reserve your seat today.  

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. 

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

Tags: Retirement, Estate Planning, Baby Boomers, Elder Law, Attorney, GST tax, Massacusetts Estate Tax, Financial Planning, taxes, coverage, tax liability, tax exemption, Tax Savings, tax deductions, tax reform, New estate tax law, IRS, federal, Estate Planning Tip, Massachusetts, senior, Estate Planning Recommendations, Dennis Sullivan, tax, Capital Gains Tax, new regulations, New Tax Bill, Tax Bill, 2018 Tax Bill

Is your Planning Stuck in Limbo?

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Thu, Jul 27, 2017

How does the debate over Health Care Reform affect you and your estate plan?

Everyone is talking about health care reform: whether it’s the House bill, Repeal & Replace, Skinny Repeal, it can make your head spin.  One question on everyone’s mind is how changes to health care will affect them.  We at Dennis Sullivan & Associates are keeping up to date on all the changes, and will cover the process through a series of blogs to explain where health care reform is now, how it affects you and what the future may hold.  For more information on the current law of the land, you can download our Report: Senior & Boomers Guide to Health Care Reform


Senate pic-1.jpg

Eventually, both the House and Senate must vote on the same bill.

The battle continues in Washington over the repeal or replacement of the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) and as we are witnessing; this can be a messy process. 

Why Republicans are trying so hard to repeal and replace ObamaCare and how they are going about it:

ObamaCare, you may remember, was passed by the Democrats in 2010 with no Republican support. Ever since, Republicans have campaigned on repealing the program, which was unpopular with many Americans. “Repeal and Replace” was their rallying cry to voters to help them win back control of the House in 2012, then the Senate in 2014, and finally the Presidency in 2016. If the Republicans are not able to fulfill this major promise, some may be in danger of losing their seats in the next election, as they would likely be blamed for the problems with ObamaCare if they don’t fix them. These are the political reasons.

Democrats admit that ObamaCare has problems and needs a major fix to survive. But they are not on board with repeal and replace of such a signature piece of legislation, while Republicans try to find a way to pass new legislation.

The Legislative process:

The normal legislative process is that a bill begins in the House, where it is written, discussed and approved by a committee before the House votes on it. If it passes the House, it is then sent to the Senate. The Senate can vote on the same bill, make amendments to the House bill, or create its own bill. Eventually, both the House and Senate must vote on the same bill, so if there are differences, members of both the House and Senate meet in committee to resolve them. Once a bill passes both the House and Senate, it is then sent to the President who can sign it into law or veto it.

Right now, there is a House bill on health care that has passed the House, and a Senate bill that has not passed the Senate. Discussions and amendments are still occurring with the Senate bill in hopes it will pass soon. The public posture is that this messy legislative process is making the bill better.

Further complicating this process is that while the Republicans have a majority in both the House and the Senate, they only have 52 Republican Senators. 60 votes are required to overcome the filibusters and pass new legislation, so they are attempting to pass health care legislation through the Budget Reconciliation process. It only requires 51 votes, but it limits the legislation to budget-related items only. They would not be able to include provisions some Republicans want in a full repeal and replace bill—for example, letting insurance companies sell across state lines to increase competition, lower prices and create better plans; and allowing the government to negotiate lower drug prices. Issues like these would have to be voted on later.

For the Senate bill to pass in Reconciliation, 50 Republicans must vote for the bill, since no Democrat or Independent is expected to vote for the bill. Vice-President Pence would break the tie if needed.

So far:

The Senate rejected a proposal from Republican lawmakers to repeal Obamacare on Wednesday July 26, 2017, marking a significant milestone in the Republican Party's years-long political crusade to gut former President Barack Obama's legacy health care law.


What does the future hold?

We aren’t sure what the future American Health Care Act is going to look like, not sure anyone does, but luckily protecting yourself and your loved ones from expensive long term care doesn’t have to be so uncertain.  With asset based long term care products, there are ways to insure your control over your future long term care and insure you have something left over for your spouse, children and loved ones. Don’t let your long term care plan sit in limbo. Stay tuned we will discuss more about what the future looks like in our next blog post.

 Click here for more information on  Estate Planning and Asset Protection

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.

If you would like more information on Medicaid, the Affordable Care, or the impact of new health care laws on your planning, request your free preview of our guide, the Senior & Boomers’ Guide to Health Care Reform & Avoiding Nursing Home Poverty. 

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: Medicare, Medicaid, Retirement, Estate Planning, Elder Law, Announcements, Health Care, elder care, Financial Planning, surviving spouse, Affordable Health Care Act, coverage, coverages, unreimbured medical expenses, Medicaid penalties, Health Care Ruling, Obama, Obamacare, Estate Planning Tip, senior, Estate Planning Recommendations, Dennis Sullivan, care costs, applying for medicare

Underestimating the Risk of Long Term Disability: The Importance of Being Prepared I Massachusetts Elder Law Attorney

Posted by Wellesley Estate Planning Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Fri, Mar 11, 2016

Underestimating the Risk of Long Term Disability:
The Importance of Being Prepared


Most Individuals Will Face At Least a Temporary Disability
Study after study confirms that nearly everyone will face at least a temporary disability sometime during their lifetime. More specifically, one in three Americans will face at least a 90-day disability before reaching age 65 and, according to the definitive study in this area, depending upon their ages, up to 44% of Americans will face a disability of up to 4.7 years. On the whole, Americans are up to 3.5 times more likely to become disabled than die in any given year.

Many People Will Face a Long Term Disability
For many Americans, the disability will not be short-lived. According to the 2007 National Home and Hospice Care Survey, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control's National Center for Health Statistics, over 1.46 million Americans received long term home health care services at any given time in 2007 (the most recent year this information is available). Three-fourths of these patients received skilled care, the highest level of in-home care, and 51% needed help with at least one "activity of daily living" (such as eating, bathing, getting dressed, or the kind of care needed for a severe cognitive impairment like Alzheimer's disease).

Long Term Care Costs Can Be Staggering
Not only will many individuals and families face prolonged long term care, in-home care and nursing home costs continue to rise. According to the Genworth 2015 Cost of Care Survey, the Median Annual Cost for a Private Room in Massachusetts during 2015 was $114,026.

Perhaps most importantly, despite overwhelming and compelling statistics; most Americans grossly underestimate the risk of disability to themselves and to their loved ones. According to the Council on Disability Awareness 2010 survey:

  • 64% of wage earners believe they have a 2% or less chance of being disabled for 3 months or more during their working career; the actual odds for a worker entering the workforce today are closer to 25%.
  • Most working Americans estimate that their own chances of experiencing a long term disability are substantially lower than the average worker’s.

Given the high costs of care, this underestimation often leaves Americans ill prepared to pay for the costs of long term care.

All Planning Should Thoroughly Address Disability
When a person becomes disabled; he or she is often unable to make personal and/or financial decisions. If the disabled person cannot make these decisions, someone must have the legal authority to do so. Otherwise, the family must apply to the court for appointment of a guardian over the person or property, or both. Those who are old enough to remember the public guardianship proceedings for Groucho Marx recognize the need to avoid a guardianship proceeding if at all possible.

At a minimum, seniors need broad powers of attorney that will allow agents to handle all of their property upon disability as well as the appointment of a decision-maker for health care. We recommend that our clients have both a Health Care Proxy and a HIPPAA to make this transition smoothly. Alternatively, a fully funded revocable trust can ensure that the senior's person and property will be cared for as desired, pursuant to the highest duty under the law - that of a trustee.

Click here to view our Free Consumer Report on "The Plain Truth About Alzheimer's."

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we even provide a unique education and counseling process which includes our 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. Attend a free workshop to discover where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as you implement plans for a protected future.

You may register now for a free educational workshop - call 800-964-4295 or click the button below, to register and learn more about what youcan do to protect your spouse, your home, and your life savings.Click Here to Register For Our Trust, Estate & Asset  Protection Workshop

Tags: long term care, HIPAA, elder care, Estate Planning Recommendations, health, medical

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