Massachusetts Estate Planning & Asset Protection Blog

The High Cost of Seniors Living Longer

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Fri, Sep 05, 2014

 

The Cost of Living Longer | Massachusetts Eldercare Attorney

 

 planning, estate, eldercare

 

A Pachyderm of Problems

Every day, we see clients for whom long-term care is the elephant in the room. They feel they can’t afford the costs, but they also feel they can’t afford not to have it either. So their solution is to pretend they don’t see the elephant and try to ignore the problem until it goes away on its own. This unfortunately often leads to our metaphorical elephant trampling their life savings and any future inheritance they are trying to leave behind. The older you are, the more expensive a long-term care policy gets and if you get sick before you have long-term care protection in place, it’s too late. Insurance companies are looking out for their bottom line, and an already ill senior will scare them off.

The costs for these policies are rising faster than inflation too. Therein lies the conundrum for Boomers and seniors: They’re living longer than their parents did but that means they need more money to make it through “old age”. Finding long-term care is a tough and complicated process. You’ll need to find a place that cares for people with your (or your loved one’s) circumstances. You need to find a place with the right facilities and staff, a place that leaves you with a good, safe feeling. And you have to be able to afford it too. This is not any sort of one-size-fits-all situation. Everyone has their own specific services and conditions that they or their loved ones will need met. Remember, what we call “long-term care” is a broad category, with options ranging from live-in facilities to your own home.

Lurking Complications With Long Term Care

The greatest threat to the financial security of Boomers and seniors is the cost of long-term care (and Obamacare will not assist with this). Assisted-living facilities are now climbing toward the $7,500-a-month mark. Many have started bundling more services together, rather than charging for each individually. Bundling might be a good idea from the nursing home’s perspective, but just like pre-packaged cable TV you will wind up paying for a lot of services you don’t need and don’t want. A private room at a nursing home will range from $500 - $600 a day.

The cost of home healthcare is rising, too. Some people choose independent-living apartments. These facilities typically don’t require lump-sum payments, and residents can contract with home health-services independently. Medicaid may be there for those who qualify but if you ever want to learn the true meaning of “jumping through hoops” just try qualifying! The best thing, of course, is long-term care insurance, but that’s getting more expensive too as companies raise their rates while cutting back on their coverage. In addition, this insurance is getting more complicated, now encompassing aspects such as protection of the surviving spouse, caregiver issues, scams/ID theft, and making sure you have an advocate to fight for your rights in a system that’s slanted against you.

In short, we’re living longer, and unlike previous generations, people are generally not living with or even near their children. Seniors are going to need more money for this longer life and for any unforeseen medical problems that may arise.

A Magic Trick No One Wants to See

Do you know the fastest way for a Boomer or senior couple to become an impoverished Boomer or senior couple is? Simple, one of them just needs to become ill before they get long-term care insurance. We see it every day, people who’ve worked hard and saved money all their lives are forced to see it wash away in a flood of medical bills as they age. It is truly heart-breaking, because, if you’ve managed to squirrel some money away, you could probably have afforded long-term care. 

The Downside to Living Longer

Our life expectancies are going up these days and so is the cost of healthcare, the distance seniors are living from their children and families, and the financial pressures on Medicare and Medicaid. The new Affordable Care Act, in fact, stipulates $500 billion in Medicare cuts over the next decade! Where do you turn if you or your spouse gets ill? Home health care? Adult day-care? Assisted-living? A nursing facility? Respite-care services, which allow the caregiver to drop off the senior for a limited period? Who’s going to pay for it? And for how long?  These are the questions to ask now, while you still have time to plan. If you haven’t purchased long-term care before you or your spouse become ill…forget about it. No one will insure you once you’re sick! If this happens to you, you’re going to be out of time, out of options, and very quickly out of money. And if you’ve planned to leave something for your heirs, there may be nothing left to leave to them other than a pile of bills. 

 

It’s an old (but true) cliché: those who fail to plan, are planning to fail. When it comes to healthcare expenses as you age, you fail to plan at the risk of yourself and those you love.  

 

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we 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, 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: asset protection, long term care, Medicaid, MassHealth, life-care plan, in-home care, in-home care, Estate Planning, Estate Planning, assisted living, seniors, Massacusetts Estate Tax, living will, surviving spouse, marriage, home, in home, incapacity, Estate Planning Tip, Massachusetts, asset, Estate Planning Recommendations, long term care insurance, life insurance, hospice, assets, Inheritance

Estate and Long Term Care Planning for Women

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

 

The Unique Challenges in Women Face with Estate Planning

Estate planning for women

Estate and Long Term Care Planning for Women can be different and full of confusing choices. Women are living longer today than ever before, and you will need an estate plan that can protect you from the new challenges arising daily. Let’s look at some of the more common situations below:

Married women tend to be younger than their husbands and tend to be on their own once their husband passes. Many married women let their husbands do all the financial planning, including their estate planning. Unfortunately this leaves many of them confused, or even blindsided by the oncoming costs that can appear with their estate and long term care options. Second marriages can create a whole new set of issues to deal with as well. Children from both marriages must be accounted for and must know what their responsibilities are going to be as well as fairly dividing their inheritance. For your own sake it would be best if you chose exactly who you would want to have power of attorney as well as whom you wish to have as your healthcare proxy. It is also important to update these documents regularly as many institutions do not accept them if they are more than a year old.

Single or childless women may choose to leave their possessions to close friends, relatives or charities. Without a good, up-to-date estate plan however, that won’t happen. Instead a bureaucrat appointed by the state will decide where your worldly goods will go when you’re gone. And for women living with a partner whom they are not legally married to, their partner won’t see one red cent of your estate unless you have an ironclad estate plan stipulating who gets what.

Your documents cannot do you much good unless they have been updated to reflect your current needs and situation. If you have gone through a separation or divorce you probably do not wish for your former partner to inherit your things or be making medical decisions about you. We have seen many cases where this has happened, and it is too late to change anything. Fortunately situations like this can be avoided by simply updating your documents regularly. At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center of Dennis Sullivan & Associates we provide clients with a unique Lifetime Protection Program to help keep their documents and plans up to date with any changes in their personal, family and health situations.

You must also consider what will happen if you require long term care and make sure there is going to adequate funding for what you may need in the future. Many people have made the mistake of giving away their savings in order to qualify for Medicaid without consulting a professional first. Not only was this unnecessary, they often still do not qualify because they did not plan for their situation ahead of time. Giving away their assets can even create large penalties if you ever need a nursing home. To learn more about some of the other mistakes to watch out for take a look at The Ten Biggest Estate and Asset Protection Mistakes People Make and How to Avoid Them! For a free report based on the book click here.

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: asset protection, long term care, Nursing Homes, Estate Planning, Elder Law, assisted living, health care proxy, elder care, surviving spouse, coverage, marriage, death benefit, Charitable Giving, Beneficiary, estate, Estate Planning Recommendations, assets

Great News About Long Term Care Planning for You and Your Loved Ones

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Fri, Aug 01, 2014

More Good News: Estate Planning and Long-Term Care Planning

 Medicare family

Our firm has helped people and their families with long-term care planning for more than 20 years. While helping people, it is very important to help focus  on the health, long term care and estate and life planning needs for the individual and family. This is a holistic approach that helps families plan for obtaining the best quality care in their home, the community or perhaps assited living. Many people we help are also concerned  about the devastating cost of a Medicaid spend down of assets due to a long-term nursing home stay.

 

We have also had other success in Medicaid crisis planning relying on other strategies that are available in Massachusetts law,unlike some other states, that allow  citizens to pay part of their costs with their assets and eventually qualify for long-term care assistance to the Medicaid program.

 

Some people also have a long-term care insurance policy to help pay fort care at home, in the community and many times their plan will even will provide a care coordinator. Thus, we do recommend you contact your insurance advisor to look into the possibility of obtaining long-term care insurance while you can still qualify under medical underwriting.

 

If any of these topics concern or interest you please contact our office at 781-237-2815 to consult with our attorneys or request a copy of our Seniors and Boomers Guide to Health Care Reform & Avoiding Nursing Home Poverty for $14.95 or is available from www.DSullivan.com. We would be happy to be your guides on your Estate Planning/Elder Care journey.

 

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: asset protection, long term care, Medicare, Medicare, Estate Planning, Estate Planning, Elder Law, durable power of attorney, estate tax, Estate Planning Tip, estate reduction, estate, Massachusetts, senior, asset, Estate Planning Recommendations, Dennis Sullivan, long term care insurance

Things You Need To Know About Hospital Admissions and Long term care

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Tue, Jul 29, 2014

 

Medicade Estate Planning Asset Protection

 

The Bad News: The Three Midnight “admission” Stay Requirement Can Destroy Medicare Coverage for Rehab (the cost could be from $8,000 to 10,000 a month)

 

Alas, notwithstanding all the controversy about the Three Midnight Stay Rule (That you must be on “Admitted” status not on “Observational” status) to qualify for the subsequent Medicare coverage, we still do not see any relief.

 

There is legislation pending to change this so that people are very clear as to when they are on admission status versus observation status, the latter of which does not qualify towards the Three Midnight Stay required by Medicare for coverage in a subsequent rehabilitation center. This has surprised, shocked and disappointed a large number of seniors. Don’t let it happen to you!

 

The Good News: The Old “Improved Standard” for Medicare Coverage is out and the new “Maintain Standard” is in!

 

As a result of the recent court decision in Jimmo v. Sibelius that was decided in 2013, Medicare clarified that maintenance coverage under the skilled nursing. Home health, skilled therapy and outpatient therapy benefit does not depend on whether the patient can improve. Eligibility for Medicare depends solely on whether skilled care is required and whether the actual services are reasonable and necessary.

 

This means that you no longer need to demonstrate that you will be improving every day during treatment. With chronic diseases such as MS, Parkinson’s and other health matters, improvement may not actually be possible. However, healthcare providers humanely try to help patients maintain and sometimes this maintenance is dependent on their skilled care. Now, as decided in the class action lawsuit mentioned above, you will qualify for Medicare.

 

Clients and patients should be made aware that they may request a review for all Medicare claims for skilled care or therapy denied before January 13, 2011.

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: MassHealth, Estate Planning, Estate Planning, Elder Law, Elder Law, Massachusettes, elder care journey, elder care, Estate Planning Tip, 2014, Massachusetts, Estate Planning Recommendations

Happy Holidays From Dennis Sullivan & Associates

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Fri, Dec 20, 2013

Happy Holidays, Estate Planning
Happy Holidays
Don%27t forget

 

How You and Your Loves Ones will benefit from the Special Features of your plan from the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center

  • The Unique "Personal Asset Trust" (enhanced protection for your beneficiaries' inheritance from the claims of spouses and creditors, lawsuits, loss of government benefits, and estate taxes when they pass down their inheritance)

  • Unusual Flexibility (your Trust can adapt after your disabled or gone, to the changed needs and circumstances of you and your beneficiaries and to change in the laws-to help ensure your Trust carries out your original intent)

  • Often Overlooked HIPAA Provisions (so your spouse and other Successor Trustees won't be forced into court to gain access to your important medical information when you become ill or disabled  and important financial  and medical decisions need to be made right away)

  • The MassHealth "Trap Door" (The tools your Trustee may need to qualify you more quickly for government nursing care benefits should you ever need them, possibly without requiring your family to later pay them back, please note this planning must be coordinated well in advance)

  • The Lifetime Protection Program (free phone calls, follow-up notices, special invitation members only events, review meeting every year with you and your Successor Trustee, if you wish to invite them, to be sure your plan is properly maintained and carried out)

  • The Owners Manual (including everything you need to properly understand and implement your trust plan, such as a Trust Flow Chart, Funding Instructions, Location and Contacts List, Personal Property Memorandum)

  •  The Trustee Manual (so your spouse or other Successor Trustee knows exactly, step-by-step, what to do and not to do, if you become ill,disabled or pass away)

  • Veteran's Benefit Planning (for qualified veterans including free application coordination, which may be helpful for in-home care or assisted living facility expenses)

  •  The Beneficiary Manual (so your beneficiaries may properly "drive" their Personal Asset Trust "vehicles" to maximize its protective benefits)

  • The Health Document Emergency Card (so you know your Health Care Decision Documents will always be readily available if you're rushed to a hospital)

  • The Trust ID Card (so you can be sure to properly get and keep your assets in your Trust and avoid costly Court conservatorship and probate proceedings)

 Below is a way to help spread holiday cheer this year! Here's a recipe that every generation will have fun making!

Cocoa Thumbprints

Recipe courtesy Food Network Magazine

Total Time: 1 hr 15 min
Prep: 1 hr 0 min
Cook: 15 min
Yield: about 3 dozen cookies
Level: Easy


Ingredients
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 1/2 cup for rolling
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
Sprinkles, mini marshmallows, mini candies or dried fruit, for filling

Directions
Whisk the flour, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, the cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Add the melted butter and eggs and stir until combined. Cover and refrigerate the dough until firm, about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Place the confectioners' sugar and the remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar in 2 separate small bowls. Roll scant tablespoonfuls of dough into balls; roll in the granulated sugar and then in the confectioners' sugar. Place 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Lightly flatten each ball with your fingers and make a deep 1/2-inch-wide indentation in the centers with your thumb. Place your choice of filling in the indentation.

Bake the cookies until puffed and slightly cracked, about 10 minutes. Let cool 3 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to racks to cool completely.

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

Recipe: Here

 

 

 

Tags: Estate Planning, Estate Planning, trusts, VA benefit, Estate Planning Tip, 2014, estate, Estate Planning Recommendations, Dennis Sullivan

Massachusetts Estate Planning Attorney | New Year Calls For Review

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Sun, Jan 13, 2013

When is the last time you have reviewed your Revocable trust, life insurance policy or other Estate Plans? With a new calender year it is a good time to remind families of the importance that revolves around estate planning. While knowing and understanding tax laws is important, taking advantage of non-tax considerations will increase likelyhood of success regardless of the tax prospective in this new year and beyond.

The first "non-tax" recommendation is not to ignore the lax laws completely. Protecting your assests from possible estate tax is the issue at hand.

According to Stuart B. Dorsett is a member of the Business, Elder Law, Nonprofit Organizations, and Trusts and Estates.  He is a North Carolina State Bar Certified Specialist in Estate Planning and Probate Law and is a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel.

Even though Congress has acted acts to stave off "Fiscal Cliff," uncertainty about the future of the gift and estate tax laws will continue. Despite this uncertainty, meaningful estate planning goals can be achieved. Estate planning is only partly, and only sometimes, about tax.  Optimizing your estate plan requires careful attention to the following "non tax" considerations:

1. Plan For The Possibility Of Estate Tax: Given the recent fluctuations in the estate tax exemption, it is wise to create a plan that allows future flexibility for your spouse and other beneficiaries.

2. Reassess Existing Life Insurance Policies: While most people follow the performance of their stocks, bonds, and mutual funds assiduously, they frequently ignore the economic performance of their life insurance policies. A life insurance policy with cash value is an investment and should be reviewed periodically to ensure that the policy will remain in effect through the insured's death and that it is performing competitively with the currently available insurance products.

3. Incorporate Asset Protection Planning Into Estate Plans: One of the great "missed opportunities" in estate planning is structuring a child's inheritance in a way that protects the assets from unforeseen circumstances. Often assets are left outright to an adult beneficiary, but outright ownership exposes those assets to any third-party claims against that beneficiary such as lawsuits, bankruptcy, and divorce. This exposure can be avoided.  Such a design allows the beneficiary to retain all of the "good" aspects of ownership without any of the "bad."

Click Here to Learn More About How to Avoid the Top Mistakes in Estate & Asset Protection Planning

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 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: asset protection, Estate Planning, Non-tax tips, plans, Estate Planning Recommendations, life insurance

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