Massachusetts Estate Planning & Asset Protection Blog

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

Is your Planning Stuck in Limbo? (part 2)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Caring for an Elder Parent | Massachusetts Elder Law Attorney

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Tue, Aug 21, 2012

 What happens when the child becomes the parent?

Elderly Man Thinking

This is something I explain frequently to families when discussing long term care. Last month I had a conversation with Dad’s three children who came to meet with me regarding his placement in an assisted living facility.

The discussion centered on what Dad wants versus what is in his best interest.  Son, Stephen was uncomfortable about moving Dad to a facility against his wish to remain at home.  We discussed bringing in home aides, which they had tried without success.  Dad wouldn’t let anyone in the home.  And since none of the children live nearby, managing a rebellious parent long distance becomes an impossible task.

I told Stephen that he and his siblings need to take on more of a parental role at this point.  Similar to a 5 year old child who insists he can cross the street without holding the parent’s hand, Dad’s insistence that he is OK to live alone is no longer enough to insure his safety.  It is clear that he can’t appreciate his limitations and the danger to his health that his refusal to accept help poses.

Many children are understandably uncomfortable in this role, especially if the parent expresses anger and pushes back.  Independence is something we value greatly as Americans, as individuals.  But just as we step in when our young children assert independence before they are mature enough to handle it, we must also step in when our parents no longer have the capacity to maintain their independence.

It’s hard enough to do that when, for so long, our parents were the one guiding and protecting us.  But the task is made more difficult because, so often, the decline is gradual.  It might begin with poor financial decisions or bounced checks or perhaps the clutter of a once immaculately kept home. 

When is the right time to step in?

I told Stephen that no one is going to tap him on the shoulder and tell him that “tomorrow your dad will fall down the stairs so you better put safety measures in place today”.  He and his siblings need to be proactive.  If they wait for Dad to tell them he is ready, that day will probably never come.  I told him that they need a plan in place now that will provide for adequate supervision, even if Dad initially resists.  I recommended a geriatric care manager to assist the family in determining the best placement for Dad.  The GCM can also be essential to families who don’t live “around the corner” from their aging loved one, acting as the “eyes and ears” and reporting back to the children.

Stephen understood what I was saying.  He still wasn’t comfortable in the role of parent to his dad, but with our help and the support services available he felt better about he and his siblings’ decision to step into an active role in caring for Dad.

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

Click Here to Download  The Alzheimer's Resource Kit

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center 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.

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

Tags: Estate Planning, Nursing Home Costs, Alzheimer's Disease, Elder Law, Nursing Homes, in-home care, Financial Planning, elder care, elder care journey

Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease | Boston Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Wed, Jun 27, 2012

alzheimers disease attorney, elder law attorney, mass elder law

The definition of dementia, according to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English

Language, is “deterioration of intellectual faculties, such as memory, concentration, and

judgment, resulting from an organic disease or a disorder of the brain. It is sometimes

accompanied by emotional disturbance and personality changes.” Dementia is a syndrome or a group of symptoms that causes loss of intellectual function and usually progresses over time. 

Alzheimer ’s disease is the leading cause of dementia and the one we hear about the most. Not all people with dementia have Alzheimer’s. Different types of dementia exist. Other conditions, such as depression, will also cause dementia symptoms. Careful diagnosis of any dementia is essential in determining proper treatment and intervention. 

Types of irreversible dementia include Parkinson’s Disease (PD), Vascular Dementia (stroke),  Pick’s Disease, AIDS, Multiple Sclerosis, Huntington’s Disease, Wilson’s Disease, Lewy Body Dementia, Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, Frontotemporal Dementia, and Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome (alcohol-related dementia). 

Causes of reversible dementia can include depression, drug intoxication, alcohol and other poisons, nutritional deficiencies, brain disorders, diseases, a metabolic condition, organ dysfunction, traumatic brain injury, brain tumor, hydrocephalus, syphilis, encephalitis, and meningitis. 

Alzheimer’s is an irreversible dementia condition, but with the appropriate interventions, such irreversible dementias can be managed. Caregivers should seek out education, help, and support.  Physicians’ offices typically have resources available to get you started with this process.  If you would like further information on the different types of dementia, visit the following websites:

• The Mayo Clinic - www.mayoclinic.com

• The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke –www.ninds.nih.gov

• The National Alzheimer’s Association - www.alz.org.

• Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral Center (ADEAR) -

www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers

• Web MD - www.webmd.com/alzheimers/guide/alzheimers-dementia

• FamilyDoctor.org

 

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 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

 

Tags: massachusetts estate planning strategies, health care proxy, HIPAA, Estate Planning, Protective Trusts, Estate Planning, Alzheimer's Disease, Elder Law, Health Care, durable power of attorney, Financial Planning, elder care, estate, elder care journey

Choosing a Financial Planner

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Tue, May 10, 2011

We work with many qualified financial planners to assist clients with comprehensive estate and financial planning. But we don’t work with everyone, and sometimes we see unscrupulous sales methods employed that take advantage of trusting clients, particularly the elderly. Just such a case is brewing now in Indiana, where an insurance brokerage was disciplined for the unauthorized practice of law – and is now the defendant in a class-action lawsuit.

According to insurancenewsnet.com, the insurance brokerage used estate planning as the hook for a lucrative business selling other insurance products, including annuities. Sadly, this is not an unfamiliar tale. Apparently, some clients not only purchased inappropriate estate plans, but paid huge tax penalties after they cashed in valuable stocks to buy the firm’s annuities.

The estate planning packages were sold using what the Indiana Supreme Court called “an entirely one-sided ad delivered in such a way so as to likely alarm the customer.”

Here are five tips to help you (or a loved one) avoid falling victim to similar scams:

-          Don’t Let Anyone Rush You. One of the ways scammers get their victims is by rushing them into making decisions.

-          Don’t Let Anyone Scare You. Scare tactics are common among scammers. If the product or service is valid, it won’t have to be sold with screaming headlines or scare tactics.

-          Be Suspicious of Anyone Who Pressures You to Sell Your Investments to Buy Theirs. It might be a good idea, but check with an objective third-party professional before making the move – such as your CPA or attorney.

-          Check References. Before buying any kind of financial product, check the references of both the agent and the company behind him. Check with your friends, family and business acquaintances, as well as with professionals you know and trust, such as your CPA or attorney.

-          Consult Trusted, Objective Advisors. Anyone can be fooled, and there’s no shame to being fooled by an expert scammer. Before you sign on the dotted line, take the time to consult a trusted – and objective – advisor. The opinion of a qualified, disinterested third party who has nothing to gain or lose by the transaction could be your best protection.

The right financial advisor can be an asset in planning for your retirment and preserving your wealth for your loved ones. Its important to do your homework and evaluate your needs when looking for a financial advisor or estate planner.  To learn more about retirement planning, check out our free article on your 7 Concerns for Retirement Planning.  To learn more about how to protect your spouse, home and life savings, plan to attend a free educational Trust, Estate and Asset Protection Workshop.  Register online or call 800-964-4295 in Wellesley.

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Tags: retirement plans, Estate Planning, Financial Planning

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