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

There Are Three Ways to Pay for Long Term Care

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Tue, Aug 12, 2014

The Three Ways to Pay for Long Term Care

VA Long Term Care

As we always explain to people, there are 3 ways to pay for long term care:  The first way is to use your own money.  The second source is long term care insurance and the third is government benefits, primarily Medicaid and the VA Aid and Attendance program.

We have written before in this blog about government benefits, especially Medicaid.  Because long term care is so expensive and so many people run out of money, Medicaid, as a last resort, must always be considered. Unfortunately, the economy is still struggling and tax revenues, which provide the funding for Medicaid, are down.  State and Federal governments are always looking for ways to cut costs and Medicaid is likely to continue to be a target for them.  The VA Aid and Attendance benefit, which has been a help to some, is not a total solution by itself and is also likely to be more restrictive.  Of course, VA benefits have never been an option for the non-Veteran senior population.  As we see fewer World War II veterans, there are fewer Korean veterans behind them, and still fewer Vietnam veterans coming behind them.

Long term care insurance is an important piece as well, unfortunately, all too often we find that too many people don’t have it, and when they do seriously consider purchasing the insurance, just as they start to think that they just might need long term care, it’s too late. They are now too old or too ill to pass insurance underwriting requirements.

What we have also seen, and what we have written about in the past, is the change occurring as a result of an aging population and poor forecasting by the insurance industry.  Many companies have dropped out of the long term care market altogether.  Others have presented their policyholders with large premium increases with the promise of more to follow each year.  America’s seniors are faced with the choice of paying the increases or cutting their coverage.

So, what other options are there for seniors looking for coverage?  Let’s go back to the first way to pay for care, self-funding or using your own money.  We see so many seniors who fall into one of two categories:  Some have their savings heavily invested in the stock market and other investments that are too risky for someone who could need large amounts of principal to pay for long term care.  If the market drops by 25% or more again like it did a few years ago, many seniors won’t have the ability to hold on till their investments recover. Others have gone the other way and put their savings in bank accounts and CDs that earn less than 1%.  The principal is safe from market fluctuations but they are getting a next to nothing rate of return.  Coupled with Social Security and small pensions, most seniors today have income in the $2000 to $4000 per month range; not enough to meet their monthly expenses without dipping into the principal.

So, is there are another way?  The answer, happily, is yes.  With asset based long term care products, there is a way to self-fund the cost of long term care and have something left for your spouse, children and loved ones.  We’ll tell you more about it in our next blog post, so be sure to watch for it.

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

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

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

Tags: massachusetts estate planning strategies, Nursing Home Costs, long term care, Nursing Homes, VA benefit, VA benefits, Massachusetts, Nursing Home, incapacity, senior, Veteran, VA, Nursing Home, long term care insurance

Can Your Will Protect You When You Don't Die?

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Thu, Aug 07, 2014

 

What Happens When You Don’t Die?

medicare, medicaid, wills, spouse

 

Is your “I love you” will capable of protecting you or your spouse from long-term care costs?

You know the kinds of wills we’re talking about: The husband leaves everything to the wife, the wife leaves everything to the husband and after they both die, everything goes to the kids. This works well in situations where the spouses are healthy one day and are deceased the next. 

However, as most of us know, life usually doesn’t work that way very often. Research indicates that nearly 70% of individuals over 65 will require some kind of long-term care in their lifetimes.

Thus, many spouses worry that if they predecease an ill spouse who is currently in a nursing home or will require long-term care at some point in the near future, there will be insufficient funds available to provide for their institutionalized spouses’ needs. This is an especially relevant concern for expenses that are not covered under Medicaid such as: care managers, private nurses, single rooms, as well as certain therapies and drugs.

Another concern is that the availability of funds from “I love you” wills and trusts will disqualify the surviving ill spouse from eligibility for Medicare benefits. As you know from prior articles, Medicare (MassHealth in Massachusetts) is the only long-term-care governmental program in the United States and does not cover long-term custodial care.

To solve this problem many of our clients rely on a “testamentary trust”. This is a trust built into the will of each spouse. For many estate planners, this is counterintuitive because much of the estate planning occurs within the context of a revocable living trust. In order to preserve access to Medicaid eligibility without requiring that the surviving spouse spend down the assets and lose the chance to maintain a “rainy day fund”, creating a testamentary trust in the will of the pre-deceasing spouse is essential.

What this means is that around age 55, you have to completely revise your wills and trusts to accommodate a different paradigm of thought. The thinking process is no longer “What happens when I die?” Now the question becomes “What happens if I don’t die and live a long time with expensive long-term care?”

The new paradigm requires a new estate plan. If you consider yourself middle-class (meaning that your net worth will be significantly impacted by the cost of long-term care for you and/or your spouse) and are over age 55, we suggest that you revise and update your estate plan to reflect your current and future needs as soon as possible.

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

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

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

Tags: will, living will, Estate Planning, Estate Planning, Alzheimer's Disease, Elder Law, asset protection, long term care, Medicaid, in-home care, Health Care, estate reduction, estate, elder care journey, hospice, Alzheimers Disease, medicaid qualification, Wills, assets, Medicaid penalties, alzheimer's activities, in home, incapacity, Elder Law, Attorney, myths, Alzheimer's, alzheimers, financial, Attorney, income, Alzheimer's, federal, health, surviving spouse, in-home care, long term care insurance

Massachusetts Estate Planning Attorney | Powers of Attorney - 7 Things You Need to Include!

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Mon, Oct 08, 2012

Powers of Attorney - 7 Things You Need to Include!

Do You Have Them?


It never fails.

 

A prospective client comes into the office and is very old or very ill, or both.  The client proclaims they have powers of attorney.

 

We take one look at the powers of attorney and, with a gasp, realize that the documents they have are outdated and nearly worthless.power of attorney, medicaid, medicare

 

Why?

 

Because their powers of attorney are just "plain-vanilla".

 

There are no specific authorizations inserted for:

 

- public benefits planning, Medicaid, Medicare,  etc.

- Social Security elections

- retirement planning elections

- gifting for Medicaid benefits planning or tax planning

- account changes

- options for housing changes

- tax planning authority

 

Be careful though, some of these powers can create tax problems if not customized properly.

 

So, don't rely on old outdated powers of attorney that were done years ago with no forethought toward what is required during the senior years.

 

Remember, a long-term care spend-down can totally deplete remaining assets. This is what is most devastating to the middle class these days.

 

Get updated powers of attorney that have appropriate authorizations (especially long-term care authorizations).

 

Also, one must do this before mental incapacity closes the window of opportunity.

 

Don't rely on some old outdated documents that have been laying on the shelf for years. 

 

Bottom Line: What worked for you or a client at age 25,or even at age 50, may not work for you at age 65.

 

We have developed our Unique Self-Guided 19-Point Trust, Estate, & Asset Protection Legal Guide, so you can learn where problems may exist in your planning as well as opportunities for improvement and how to implement a plan to protect your spouse, home, family, and life savings.

Click Here to Download our Trust, Estate, & Asset Protection  Legal Guide

 

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: power of attorney, Medicare, social security, Medicaid, taxes, tax, middle class, incapacity

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