Massachusetts Estate Planning & Asset Protection Blog

The Pit Falls of Do-It-Yourself Medicaid Planning

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Fri, Nov 07, 2014

The Pit Falls of Do-It-Yourself Medicaid Planning | Massachusetts Elderlaw Attorney

 

Carrier_Nursing_Home_Poverty 

Off To A Good Start

We got a call the other day from Ben.  He had prepared and filed his mother’s Medicaid application himself.  From what he told us, it sounded like he did a great job.

He had hit a bit of a snag because Ben and his brother had been helping Mom out with her expenses.  At first, the Medicaid caseworker treated the transfers into Mom’s account as additional income to her.  However, Ben was successfully able to prove that the money was given to Mom to help pay some of her medical expenses.  It wasn’t support and shouldn’t affect her Medicaid eligibility.  He was successful and Medicaid was approved.

So Why Was He Calling?

Ben was calling us because his mother had inherited $75,000 from a family member. The first thing he wanted to know was whether there was any way they could keep the money.  His thinking was that the inheritance would act as a reimbursement by Mom to Ben and his brother.

I told him that unfortunately I didn’t think it would work that way.  The lesson here is that if Ben had consulted with us before he applied for Medicaid we would have taken steps to make sure that he could recoup some of the funds in the event that something like this happened. The reason his plan wouldn’t work is because he didn’t document that the money he gave to his mom was a loan.  He said that he never could have foreseen that his mother could ever pay back the money and that at the time; he didn’t see the need to write up a contract. Unfortunately, from a Medicaid perspective, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts presumes that the money given to Mom is either income to support her, or a gift.

This Is Why You Should Consult A Professional

Remember, I told you that when Ben applied for Medicaid, the caseworker tried to peg it as income.  Ben successfully fought that.  However, he didn’t see the gift vs. loan issue coming.    Not knowing the Medicaid rules as I do, how could he have?  Without a written agreement at the time he gave Mom the money, the presumption is that there was never an intention for Mom to pay her sons back, making any attempt now to do so a transfer subject to a Medicaid penalty.

Ben didn’t like my answer and tried to find a way around the system.  “What about if Mom refuses to accept the inheritance,” he asked.  “It would then pass to my brother and me.”

Disclaimers May Not Apply

Ben is referring to what is known as a disclaimer.    A disclaimer is a legal statement filed by the heir who says, “I am supposed to receive this gift but I don’t want it”.  Mom would be treated as having predeceased (died) before the relative leaving her the $75,000.  Under his will, that money would have passed to Ben and his brother.

Sounds great so far doesn’t it, but it won’t work.  By refusing to accept the money, Medicaid treats it as if Mom took the inheritance and gave it away.  It is no different than if she accepts it and then turns around and gives it to her children.  It causes a Medicaid penalty either way.

So where does that leave Ben?  He and Mom have two very unappealing choices.  She can accept the money, come off of Medicaid and spend the money down and then reapply.  Or, she can stay on Medicaid and give all the money to the State of Massachusetts.   Tough choices, I know.  But, that’s what makes Medicaid so tricky when you are trying to navigate it alone, and why we always recommend professional guidance on your Medicaid journey.

 

Research shows that 86% of trust & estate plans fail! In Our Newest book we reveal what the ten biggest estate and asset protection mistakes are and how to avoid them. Learn where problems may exist in your current plan, and where there may be hidden opportunities in your plan to protect your home, spouse family and life savings. Click here for more information.

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: Medicaid, family, Medicaid penalties, medicaid qualification, Inheritance

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

Unequal Inheritance, A Problem with Communication

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Fri, Aug 22, 2014

The Problems with Unequal Inheritance | Massachusetts Estate Planning Attorney

Inheritance, family, unequal 

Just Because It Makes Sense to You…

Sometimes clients want to leave more to one of their children than another. Their reasons may vary, ranging from their child’s current financial wellbeing, to any special needs they may have or even which of their kids is their favorite. What does not seem to change though is their concern that this may cause discord in their family once they find out.

It can be an uncomfortable subject to talk about with your family and you can never be certain how people will react, but the alternative of finding out only after their loved one has already passed, can be far more devastating. The reasons you use to make the decision of who-gets-what may be perfectly clear to you, but your children may not know what you based your decision on and they will never get a chance to ask you about it. The emotional fallout from this can rip once close-knit families apart.

 

Money Does Not Equal Love

This is because of the often mistaken tendency to equate love and money. If you leave more money to one of your children their siblings may think that you loved them more. After all, if you had some sort of logical reasoning behind the decision, why wouldn’t you have simply told them? You may have had very good reasons for why you did not talk to your children about this before but the lack of communication can have devastating effects on your family once you are gone.

 

Explanations Make Everything Easier

For example, you leave three quarters of your estate to your youngest child but only one quarter to your oldest, but you still make them the executor of your will. The older child will have a hard time not feeling resentment towards their sibling and their new responsibilities without any explanation from you. Simply explaining your reasons can go a long way towards preventing a bitter legal fight once you are gone. We recommend sitting down with all parties and explaining your reasoning to them in person. However, we know that not all families are comfortable talking about money, in those cases we recommend leaving a detailed letter explaining your reasons why you divided your estate the way you did.

Expanding on the earlier example, you may have decided to name your oldest child as executor simply because you know it will be more convenient for them to meet with your estate planner since your younger child has moved several hours away for work. Just telling your child this will lighten the burden on them. Likewise, you may have left more of your estate to your youngest because they need the boost starting their own business or because you know their financial situation isn’t as strong and they may need some help. A simple explanation can prevent a lot of needless stress from ever arising in your family.  

 

 

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: will, family, executor, Massachusetts, Wills, senior, Inheritance, children, unequal

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

Happy Thanksgiving From Dennis Sullivan & Associates | Massachusetts Alzheimer's Attorney

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Tue, Nov 26, 2013


Thanksgiving

HAPPY THANKSGIVING FROM OUR FAMILY TO YOURS!  

Turkey Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time for family, friends, and food. This year we thought we would mention a concern that may affect some families and friends whose loved ones are suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease.  In an article by CNN, it was reported that “Alzheimer’s ‘will become the defining disease of the Baby Boomer Generation.’” This is a difficult disease to live with and watch people live with. Below are some facts about the disease and some tips on how to celebrate this joyous holiday with the ones you love.


The Facts:
Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and the fifth leading cause of death for those 65 and older. This disease is the only one in the top ten causes of death in America that has no way to prevent it, cure it, or even slow its progression.
Alzheimer’s takes a devastating toll not only on those with the disease, but also on their caregivers. In 2012, 15.4 million family and friends provided 17.5 billion hours of unpaid care to those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias; this care valuing at $216.3 billion... 

Thanksgiving Tips:

  • While preparing the food, reminisce about past Thanksgivings. But don’t ask, “Do you remember when…” something happened, since you don’t know how much has been forgotten. Instead, try starting your memories with “Wasn’t it fun when we…”

  • Limit the number of people you invite this year. Too many people may overwhelm someone with Alzheimer’s. Also make sure that there is a place for them to rest when things get to be a little too hectic.

  • Fill your home with familiar holiday scents, such as vanilla, which is considered to be calming. The smell of cooking food may also trigger memories and put them at ease.

  • Allow the person with Alzheimer’s to participate in cooking, but make sure that it is in a safe environment. Maybe stirring batter or mashing potatoes (See recipe below) at the kitchen table would be a good idea.

  • Sing or play familiar music. Music has a unique place in the human memory.

  • Watch TV or a movie together. You could watch a Football game, a Thanksgiving Day parade, or the Westminster National Dog Show.  

Family Thanksgiving

Recipe:

Kraft’s Whipped Sweet Potato Bake

what you need:
3 cans  (15 oz. each) sweet potatoes, drained
¼ cup  butter or margarine, melted
1 tsp.  ground cinnamon
1 tsp.  ground ginger
¼ tsp.  ground nutmeg
3 cups  JET-PUFFED Miniature Marshmallows  
make it:
HEAT oven to 350°F.
BEAT potatoes, butter and spices with mixer until blended.
SPOON into 1-1/2-qt. casserole sprayed with cooking spray; top with marshmallows.
BAKE 15 to 20 min. or until potato mixture is heated through and marshmallows are lightly browned.
kraft kitchens tips:
SIZE-WISE
Enjoy this classic side dish on special occasions, but keep portion size in mind.
USE YOUR MICROWAVE
Mix all ingredients; spoon into microwaveable 1-1/2-qt. dish sprayed with cooking spray. Do not top with marshmallows. Microwave on HIGH 8 to 10 min. or until heated through, stirring after 5 min. Top with marshmallows; let stand 2 to 3 min. or until marshmallows begin to melt.
SUBSTITUTE
Substitute 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice for the cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center of Dennis Sullivan & Associates, we help people and their families concerned with losing their homes and life savings to increasing medical and nursing home costs, taxes and the costs and time delays of probate. We also protect clients from losing control of their own health and financial decisions.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops to learn more about our process and what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy. To register for a seat at an upcoming workshop call (800) 964-4295 (24/7) or register online 

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

CNN Artcle: Here Tips: Here Recipe: Here

Tags: Alzheimer's Disease, Alzheimers Disease, alzheimer's activities, Alzheimer's, Alzheimers Disease. Massachusetts, Thanksgiving, Recipes, family

Massachusetts Estate Planning Attorney | Naming the Right Beneficiary of Your Retirement Plan

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

IRA, Retirment, Estate PlanningIRAs and other tax-deferred retirement accounts allow your savings to grow tax-free until you retire. At that point, typically the year after you become age 70 ½, you must begin taking required minimum distributions, on which you pay ordinary income taxes. The rest of the money in your account continues to grow tax-free until it is distributed to you. If you die before depleting your account, the balance of your account will go to the beneficiary you have named.

Naming the right beneficiary is critical. Most people want to continue the tax-deferred growth for as long as possible, paying the least amount in income taxes. This is called “stretching out” the account. Distributions after you die will be based on the new beneficiary’s age and life expectancy, so the younger the beneficiary (like a child or grandchild), the longer the stretch out potential.

However, naming a beneficiary outright has several disadvantages:

  • If the beneficiary is a minor, distributions will need to be paid to a guardian; if no guardian exists, one will have to be appointed by the court.

  • An older beneficiary can do whatever he/she wants with this money, including taking larger distributions or even cashing out the entire account and destroying your carefully made plans for long-term, tax-deferred growth

  • This money could be lost to the beneficiary’s creditors, spouse and ex-spouse(s).

  • There is the risk of court interference if your beneficiary becomes incapacitated.

  • Outright distributions could cause a beneficiary with special needs to lose valuable government benefits.

  • If your beneficiary is your spouse, he/she will be able to name a new beneficiary and is under no obligation to follow your wishes. This may not be what you want, especially if you have children from a previous marriage or you feel that your spouse may be too easily influenced by others after you are gone.

    •  Substantial amount of income taxes that would be due on a lump sum distribution.

Increased Control & Protection

Naming a trust as beneficiary will give you more control over, and protection for, these tax-deferred accounts. It should be a separate trust designed specifically for this purpose; because of the rules governing naming trusts as a beneficiary it should not be part of your revocable living trust or other trust. For this reason, these trusts are often called “stand-alone retirement trusts.”

Instead of required minimum distributions being paid directly to your beneficiary, they will be paid into the trust for the benefit of your beneficiary. The trust can either be mandated to pay these distributions directly to the beneficiary (called a conduit trust) or it can accumulate these distributions (called an accumulation trust) and pay out trust assets according to your instructions (for example, for higher education expenses, down payment on a home, etc.)

Specific benefits include:

  • No guardian is needed for minor children and there is no risk of court interference at the beneficiary’s incapacity. That’s because a trust, not the individual, is the named beneficiary.

  • Your beneficiary is prevented from cashing out or taking larger distributions, assuring the continuation of tax-deferred growth.

  • The account itself is protected from creditors and predators, even from divorce claims. However, if a conduit trust is used and distributions are required to be paid to the beneficiary, those distributions would be at risk. For maximum creditor protection, an accumulation trust is preferable.

  • You can name successor beneficiaries in the trust document and keep control over who will receive the proceeds if your initial beneficiary should die before the account is fully paid out.

  • An accumulation trust is typically used to provide for a beneficiary with special needs. Instead of the beneficiary receiving the required distributions as income (which could affect his/her ability to receive government benefits), the trustee can use discretion and provide for certain needs of the beneficiary as they arise, without jeopardizing their benefits.

In order to be accepted by the IRS, the trust must meet very specific requirements, and should be designed and written by an attorney who has experience in this area.

You’ve worked years to accumulate your tax-deferred plans. Naming the right beneficiary can preserve and continue the tax-deferred growth long after you’re gone, protect the assets from creditors and the courts, and provide for your loved ones the way you want.  

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 education 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 family and legacy.

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

Tags: retirement plans, IRA, Estate Planning, Retirement, 401(k), 529 plans, family

Massachusetts Elder Law Attorney | Plan Ahead for Long Term Care

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Mon, Feb 11, 2013

If you were ever a Boy Scout or Girl Scout, you remember the motto: Be Prepared.

That motto still makes sense: be prepared, especially where your health and your finances are concerned.

The following are important issues to discuss with your attorney before a crisis.

FAMILY DYNAMICS

I always tell clients that, when considering long-term care needs, they need to consider family dynamics. Are there squabbles or resentments? If so, these will probably intensify in a crisis situation.

LEGAL ISSUES

Are your legal documents up to date? If so, you're in the minority. In addition to discussing inheritance issues, I always discuss with my clients any changes they may need to make in their will or trust. Family circumstances are always changing - births, deaths, divorces, self-destructive behavior by heirs, second marriages, etc. If your documents aren't appropriate for NOW, they're not appropriate - period!

THE DOCUMENTS - ADVANCE DIRECTIVES, DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY, HEALTH SURROGATE, LAST WILL & TESTAMENT, LIVING WILL

These documents have to meet legal requirements, and must leave no room for doubt. And if you try the do-it-yourself approach, they may not be recognized as legal.

ARRANGING FOR FINANCIAL DECISIONS TO BE HANDLED IF YOU CAN'T

If you don't do this, you could be subjecting your family to a long and tortuous Guardianship proceeding in court. And if you don't do it right, you may be disqualified from receiving Medicaid or Veterans' benefits.

FIRST-STEP FINANCIAL ISSUES

How do I pay for long-term care insurance? Many people don't even realize they may be entitled to Medicaid or Veterans' benefits, or other resources.

CAREGIVER ISSUES

You'll need to know about community resources, housing options, caregiver options, Care Managers, etc.

No doubt you've got questions. We have the answers.

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 education 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 family and legacy. 

 lawyer, attorney, bostonClick Here to Register For Our Trust, Estate & Asset  Protection Workshop

 

 

Tags: living will, health care proxy, HIPAA, Estate Planning, Elder Law, Health Care, family, seniors, life-care plan

Massachusetts Estate Planning Tips | The Impact of the Fiscal Cliff Deal on Seniors and Boomer

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Mon, Jan 21, 2013

The American Tax Payer Relief Act: It's complicated but It Affects Everyone - Especially Boomers and Seniors  

The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 was actually passed by the Senate in at 2:00 am on January 1, 2013. After speculation on whether Speaker Boehner would bring the bill to a vote or if the House would add amendments likely be rejected by the Senate, the House eventually passed the bill at 10:45 p.m. President Obama signed it the next day.  

The bill addresses the Bush-era tax rates, estate and gift tax rates, Medicare reimbursement, among numerous other issues.

TAX RATES 

The bill permanently extends current tax rates for individuals earning less than $400,000 and couples earning less than $450,000. Those earning more will see an increase from 35% to 39.6%. Wealthy folks will see an increase from 15% to 20% on capital gains and dividends. Individuals earning above $250,000, and married couples earning more than $300,000, will see a phase-out of the personal exemption.     

ESTATE TAX 

The estate tax exemption will remain $5.12 million per person, but will be adjusted for inflation. The top rate will grow from 35% to 40%. Portability's extended, as well, and the gift tax exemption will remain at $5 million.   

PAYROLL TAX  

This tax, which funds Social Security, has been at 4.2% since 2011, but will now revert back to the previous of 6.2%.  

OLDER AMERICAN FUNDING 

Funding has been increased for the Older Americans Act and similar programs. This year only, Area Agencies on Aging will receive an additional $7.5 million, and Aging and Disability Resource Centers an additional $5 million.  

The National Center for Benefits and Outreach Enrollment will receive an additional $5 million, and Medicare State Health Insurance Programs will receive an additional $7.5 million.  

There is also a provision that prevents the scheduled 27% reimbursement cuts to Medicare physicians this year.  

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 education 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 beneficiaries, digital assests, Estate Plan and legacy

 

Click Here to Register For Our Trust, Estate & Asset  Protection Workshop
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Tags: Massacusetts Estate Tax, Health Care, family, seniors, estate tax, health Care act, Alzheimers Disease, tax, Attorney

Massachusetts Elder Law Attorney | How Does MassHealth Treat the Home?

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Wed, Jan 02, 2013

The home is very often the biggest single asset our clients own and in some cases the only asset.  Many of the MassHealth rules apply specifically to the home that don’t apply to any other asset so it is a focal point of our guidance as elder law attorneys.  Additionally, the home is treated differently from a tax standpoint (capital gains and estate tax) so we must consider taxes when advising our clients on the best course of action.Medicaid, Medicare, MassHealth

Many people tend to initiate a “do it yourself” strategy in trying to protect the home by transferring it to a child or selling it “for $1”.  This strategy is dangerous on a number of levels.  There isn’t a one size fits all solution, which is to say it isn’t always the right choice or always the wrong one.  The answer is “it depends”.  Many wrongfully assume that a transfer is “OK” because the home is an exempt asset under MassHealth rules but even a transfer of an exempt asset is subject to a MassHealth penalty.

seniors, health care, Medicare, Medicaid

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is reviewing a new proposal to increase the look back period for Medicaid from 5 years to 10 years.  This would mean that you may end up paying more from your savings if you need nursing home care.  The CBO is also reviewing the impact of decreasing the home equity exemption from $750,000 to $50,000, which means your home could be lost if you or your spouse go to a nursing home.  It is more important than ever that you take the important steps now to protect your spouse, home and life savings before it's too late.  You can protect your home and life savings by taking action now, before these new rule changes take effect.  If you do not, you could end up costing your family its life savings.

Click here to get a free sneak preview of the “Senior and Boomer’s Guide to Health Care Reform & Avoiding Nursing Home Poverty”, which contains information on how Massachusetts Seniors and Boomers will be impacted by the Affordable Care Act!

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center of Dennis Sullivan & Associates, we help people and their families concerned with losing their homes and life savings to increasing medical and nursing home costs, taxes and the costs and time delays of probate. We also protect clients from losing control of their own health and financial decisions.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops to learn more about our process and what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy. To register for a seat at an upcoming workshop call (800) 964-4295 (24/7) or register online at www.SeniorWorkshop.com

Seniors, Attorney, Elder Law, Estate Planning

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

Tags: Estate Planning, Elder Law, MassHealth, family, Massachusetts, assets, home

Massachusetts Elder Law Attorney | My Dad's In a Nursing Home...

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Thu, Dec 13, 2012

My Dad's In a Nursing Home...And Constantly Losing His Glasses, Wallet, And Dentures. What Can We Do?

Well, the first thing I tell clients in this situation is to remember why he's there in the first place - he may have memory problems.

Then, I advise them to speak with the director of his unit, and find out why this keeps happening. Then you have to determine whether the item is worth replacing. Obviously, glasses and dentures need to be replaced. But other items may not need to be.describe the image

Wallets, for example, may be more of a comfort/reassurance item to him than anything else. And, if that's the case, you don't have to replace each one with a fancy wallet; an inexpensive one may do. In fact, it may pay to keep a few on hand.

Replacing lost or broken items can be expensive. But there are still ways you can save. For example, you can compromise on the frame of his glasses. Or, if he just uses them for reading, perhaps an inexpensive pair of reading glasses - available at any drug store - would suffice.

Even with dentures - which are obviously a necessity - it may be possible to save some money. If they're broken, consider fixing them rather than replacing them. And if they're lost, chances are, they'll be lost again. It's conceivable that they just don't fit right...and your loved one may be removing them. If that's the case, a dentist may suggest alternative measures...including re-fitting the dentures to; make them more comfortable.

If your loved one's in a nursing home, you probably have a million questions - every day. 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

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: family, Nursing Home, Elder Law, Alzheimer's

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