Massachusetts Estate Planning & Asset Protection Blog

Tips for Visiting an Elder Loved One with Dementia at Their Nursing Home

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Sun, Jan 26, 2020

P42.Sullivan.Dec2Research tells us that nearly every American family today has been touched by dementia, including its most common form of Alzheimer’s Disease. Dementia cuts across every social and economic demographic, and currently impacts millions of seniors and their loved ones. It is characterized by severe memory loss, diminished communication skills, and poor judgment. Each of these issues can make family relationships more complicated and challenging. We know that this can cause additional frustration at all times throughout the year, but especially during the holiday season and winter.  

No matter what memory issues your loved one is facing, there is no reason to avoid visiting an elder loved one with dementia at his or her nursing home. Know that seniors with dementia can still enjoy visits from family and friends in the moment, regardless of whether they will remember it later. The point is that spending quality time with them contributes to their well-being and offers you the opportunity to experience time with loved ones.

There are considerations, however, that you need to think about before visiting a loved one in a skilled facility. What are the hours for visiting? Are there restrictions to what you can bring? Are there triggers that can upset your loved one? Let us share several tips to consider when visiting.

First, plan ahead and coordinate with nursing home staff to not interrupt the elder person’s routine or activity time. Bring them thoughtful items, like flowers, pictures, familiar objects and even favorite foods, if the dietitian agrees. Introduce yourself to your loved one’s caregivers and announce your presence, “Hi Mom, it’s me, Mary.” If your loved one seems agitated, speak in soothing tones about the weather or other mundane topics to divert his or her attention and create rapport.

It can be helpful to pre-plan a list of things to talk about, as it is likely the elder adult won’t have much information to share. Introducing light activities can also keep the visit flowing smoothly. Consider taking them on a walk around the nursing home facility or sit on a bench in a garden, if the facility has one and it is safe for your loved one to go outside. Remember, some dementia patients are prone to wandering and they may need to remain in a safe environment.

Photo albums or Facebook pictures can stimulate conversation and spark memories. A visit is also an opportunity to gauge the elder loved one’s health and access potential warning signs of elder abuse. Unfortunately, seniors with dementia are particularly vulnerable to physical abuse, neglect, and theft because they are unlikely to remember or be believed. =

There is never a wrong time to visit loved ones in a skilled nursing facility. We know this article may raise more questions than it answers.

For more on nursing home, health care decision-making documents and planning for the future, attend one of our free Trust, Estate and Asset Protection Seminars.

Do not wait to schedule a meeting with our experienced long-term care team on any of the elder law questions you have. We are here for you to help you navigate this process.

Tags: assisted living, seniors, family, Skilled Care

Key Considerations for Your Aging Parents in Their First Estate Planning Meeting

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Mon, Dec 16, 2019

P42.Sullivan.DecBlog1Is your parent’s estate plan current? Does it reflect their wishes for what they want for their person, their family, and their legacy, should they become incapacitated or pass away? Unfortunately, today, many estate plans for us, as well as our parents, are not frequently updated and, as a result, are not an accurate reflection of our wishes.

This can be a dangerous proposition. Perhaps even more concerning, however, is when your parents, or you, do not have any estate planning at all. Without planning your parents may be at risk of not being able to choose their decision makers for healthcare and financial decisions, or make plans that create the legacy they want to leave to those they love.

There are numerous reasons why your parents may not have completed their estate planning but we often find it is because people simply put off planning. They get busy, it is not a priority, and they do not realize they need it until it is too late. Our goal is to encourage you to work with your parents to create their estate plan with their attorney, and to address any concerns they may have about this first meeting early on.

The first question your parents may want to ask their attorney is his or her experience in estate planning for elderly clients. Many attorneys do not specialize in estate plans that are designed to meet the special legal needs of elderly couples. Let us share an example with you here.

For instance, the majority of your parents’ assets may be invested in separate Individual Retirement Accounts. If this is a second marriage for your parent, it may not be advisable for the parent to simply name the surviving spouse as the beneficiary of the IRAs. This is because the surviving spouse may not understand the need for naming all of the children of both marriages as the beneficiaries of the survivor’s IRA. Instead, the surviving parent may simply leave all of the first spouse’s IRA with the survivor’s IRA to his or her children as the beneficiary of the combined IRA’s.  Your parents need an attorney experienced in drafting specialized IRA trusts to protect all involved and to reach your parents’ goals.

The second question you parents may want to ask their attorney is about his or her specialized education and training in estate planning. How many years has the attorney specialized in estate planning? What does his or her practice focus on? What about his or her focus on elder law? While initially you may only think of estate planning, bear in mind, elder law encompasses the special needs of the elderly such as Medicaid planning for married couples.  

These are just a few of the questions and ideas we want to share with you as you work with your parents on their estate planning goals. There is never a wrong time to talk to your parents about these issues and the plan forward for the future.

At Dennis Sullivan & Associates we help family plan for the future, and with our lifetime protection program, and our Unique 19 point Trust, Estate & Asset Protection Analysis, we emphasize making sure the estate plan continues to meet the needs of all involved.

To discover what your estate planning options are, attend a free Trust, Estate and Asset Protection Seminar, and speak with one of our attorneys to discuss your goals for yourself, your loved ones, and for your parents.

Tags: Estate Planning, Lifetime Protection Program, Elder Law, seniors, family, trusts, Estate Planning Tip, estate

5 Care Tips to Help Out-of-Town Senior Loved Ones This National Older Americans Month

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Thu, May 30, 2019


National Older Americans Month began in 1963 and is now observed every May. At the time of its creation, about one-third of all American seniors lived in poverty, and there were few government programs to assist them. In fact, Medicare had not even been created. Thankfully, seniors are faring much better today and there are more abundant resources available to help them, although there is still much work to be done.

This month-long celebration involves honoring senior adults and the many ways they contribute to society and to the lives of others. National Older Americans Month also calls for communities and adult family members of older adults to get involved. What if, however, your senior loved one lives out of town? Let us share five tips to help you support them.

  1. Maintain Good Communication. Call often and visit as often as you can. Encourage other family members and friends to do the same. It is not just a nice thing to do, but regular communication helps prevent isolation, and can identify unmet needs. If your Older American does not like to have prolonged telephone conversations or has a hard time beginning them, consider trying some leading questions. For example, you could ask: “What’s on the agenda for this afternoon?” or “How was your appointment with Dr. Smith?”
  2. Keep a Caregiver Notebook. Create an online digital notebook of doctors, health providers, insurance agents, friends, neighbors, and other important contacts for an elder loved one. Do not wait to share it with other family members and your loved one. Be sure to let him or her know how valuable this can be and work with him or her if the technology side of this caregiver notebook is hard for him or her to use at first. After you become familiar with working together on this project, keeping an up-to-date online calendar can also be helpful.
  3. Enlist Local Support.  One way to hedge against emergencies is to develop relationships with key individuals who are in regular contact with an older family member. These people can include neighbors, care providers, doctors, support group members, and even church members. Try to develop a friendly, two-way communication along with developing a plan for communication in a crisis.
  4. Daily Assistance. Long distance relationships are difficult at any age. For out-of-town seniors, however, it is important to build up their care network in their community. Consider coordinating with various organizations and individuals to schedule frequent assistance, such as meal deliveries, driving to appointments, social visits, and check-ups from home health aides.
  5. Other Family Members. Keeping up with an out-of-town senior loved one can be a lot for any single person to handle. If possible, involve other family members to help with communication, health care, financial, and legal responsibilities. As a team, you can accomplish so much more than you can alone. This also will ensure you have a back-up in the event you take a vacation or are sick for a period of time.

We know this article may raise more questions than it answers for you. In our experience, planning forward to help Older Americans navigate the challenges they might face now or in the future is essential to ensure everyone has peace of mind. Do not wait to contact our practice and schedule an appointment to learn how we may work together to find the right solutions for you and your family.

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we help people  protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones.  We even provide a unique educational and counseling process 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 Elder Law, Medicare, the Affordable Care Act, or the impact of new health care laws on your health care coverage, request your free preview of our guide, the Senior & Boomers’ Guide to Health Care Reform & Avoiding Nursing Home Poverty.  

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops, 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. By attending our workshop, you will also be entitle to more than $900 in valuable benefits, including your choice of books, DVDs and more! Call 800-964-4295 (24/7)

Tags: Elder Law, seniors

5 Questions to Ask When Updating Your Estate Plan in the New Year 2019

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Mon, Jan 07, 2019

P42.Sullivan.Blog.Dec1Creating a personalized estate plan may be the single most important thing you can do to make sure your decisions are honored if you become incapacitated or when you pass away. If you do not have an estate plan right now, or it has been years since you reviewed it, the new year may be the right time to ensure you are able to protect yourself and those you love most.

Much of estate planning deals with protecting and distributing property. A Last Will and Testament, for example, provides instructions for how a deceased person’s possessions should be distributed. Similarly, a Revocable Trust can direct the distribution of assets upon one’s death, although it can also manage the creator’s assets while he or she is alive.

There is much more to estate planning than Wills and Trusts, however, and your estate planning attorney can provide plenty of guidance. Let us share five questions to ask not only when you are considering crafting an estate plan but if you are updating an existing plan in the new year.


  1. Did you move to a different state? Every state has its own laws governing estate planning. Some features in an existing plan will be unaffected, while some key items may need to be revised. Do not wait to review with an estate planning attorney in your new state to ensure your plans can be fulfilled as you originally wanted them to be.


  1. Do any of your beneficiaries have special needs? If a special needs loved one is named in your estate plan, then it is worth exploring ways of specifically providing for them, especially after you are gone. Unfortunately, without planning that contemplates the needs of your disabled loved one, he or she may be at risk of losing valuable government benefits.


  1. Do you need to update a power of attorney? A power of attorney document gives someone else the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf. The document can be tailored to meet your specific needs, or provide for general decision making authority. Talk to your attorney to ensure there is a durability provision to cover the possibility of your incapacitation.


  1. Have you considered advanced healthcare directives? Advanced healthcare directives, including tools such as the living will, are legal documents in which a person specifies what actions are to be taken regarding his or her health if he or she is no longer able to make decisions. You may want to review any existing plans to ensure you have the right person named to make your healthcare decisions.


  1. Do you want to change beneficiaries? A marriage, a death in the family, a divorce, or the birth of new child or grandchild, are only a few reasons to update beneficiary designations in estate planning documents. You may also want to add a charity or a cause you care about. The new year is a great time to do so.

 Do not wait to think about the estate planning you need to protect yourself and your loved ones. Although the new year can be a great time to get things in order, remember, there is never a “wrong” time to ensure you have the planning you need. Do not wait to contact us with your questions and to schedule your attendance at one of our free Trust, Estate and Asset Protection Workshops.

Tags: asset protection, long term care, Retirement, Estate Planning, Baby Boomers, Elder Law, HIPAA, durable power of attorney, Health Care, health care proxy, seniors, estate tax, family, New Year's Resolutions, Estate Planning Tip, 2019

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

Driving Mobility Affects Seniors' Social Lives, Overall Health

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Thu, May 04, 2017


According to a recent study, elderly drivers who stop driving and have no transportation alternatives become less socially active and risk isolation. This can lead to declines in physical, mental, emotional health.

The survey found that an increase in driving mobility in seniors lead to an increase in the overall health of a senior, whereas a decrease in driving mobility lead to a significant decrease in overall health.

With a longer life expectancy, older adults can remain socially engaged in later years; leading to better health, lower mortality risk over time, and lower rates of depression, dementia and other cognitive impairments. Social participation is also linked to greater life satisfaction, self-esteem and positive effect. For these reasons, maintaining participation in social, economic, cultural, spiritual and civic affairs is part of healthy, active and successful aging.

Fewer Older Drivers

Driving is a way of life in the U.S. and is often crucial for social participation and having access to services. Physical, mental, and emotional decline in later years eventually lead to a decision to reduce and cease driving. In the U.S., more than 600,000 seniors over the age of 65 stop driving every year and must rely on other transportation.

Limited Driving Leads to Cessation

Most seniors start ceasing to drive by limiting their driving behaviors. They drive less frequently, shorter distances and to fewer destinations, adapt speed, and restrict trips to familiar roads and particular hours.

Some need a little help in making the decision to stop driving, and family members can watch for signs. A driver who becomes disoriented or has trouble following directions may also need to be discouraged from driving. At some point, it becomes a safety issue—both for the senior and for the public at large.

Receiving Rides Can Help Prolong Social Participation

Receiving rides, a component of driving mobility, is a crucial alternative transportation option for older adults as their own ability to drive declines. Family members, friends and caregivers are often best able to provide flexible, supportive, door-to-door service, with escort assistance that best meets the older individual’s changing needs.

Seniors are often hesitant to ask for rides because they fear being a burden to others. When they do ask for help, they tend to request rides for basic needs, like doctor visits and grocery shopping, not for social activities.

Public Transportation

Those who live in metropolitan areas may have public transportation options, including buses, taxis, and Uber or Lyft.

Public and community transportation are often unsuitable for older individuals due to limited schedules during non-peak times, limited service to nonwork destinations, poor accessibility, low availability, inadequately trained drivers and limited personal assistance. Additionally, many seniors and their families are simply not aware these options exist.

Senior Living Centers

Social interaction can also be provided in community living centers, whether for active seniors or for those requiring some assistance with daily living activities. Most provide field trips and outings, in addition to on-site activities and community dining. These can be a good, albeit often costly, choice to encourage social participation if transportation options are limited.


At Dennis Sullivan & Associates, we work with seniors and their families to ensure that independence and safety are preserved as long as possible. To learn more about how you can protect your home, spouse and life savings as well as saving on taxes and preserving your independence, register for a free workshop today.

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: seniors, safe driving, senior drivers, senior driving, driving mobility

The Costs of Dementia: For the Patient and the Family - Part III What Can be Done

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Mon, Apr 17, 2017

In the last installment of our three-part blog on the Costs of Dementia, we discuss the steps you can take to help alleviate the burden of caring for someone with dementia.


What can be done?

Planning is important. Challenges that caregivers face include finding relief from the emotional stress associated with providing care for a loved one, planning to cover the responsibilities that could jeopardize the caregiver’s job or career, and easing financial pressures that strain a family’s budget. Having options—additional caregivers, alternate sources of funds, respite care for the caregiver—can help relieve many of these stresses. In addition, there are a number of legal options to help families protect hard-earned assets from the rising costs of long term care, and to access funds to help pay for that care.

Plannng ahead is the best way to ensure you have options if a loved one has dementia or any long term illness. Unfortunately, most people fail to plan ahead. According to the Genworth survey, the top reasons people fail to plan are they didn’t want to admit care was needed; the timing of the long-term care need was unforeseen or unexpected; they didn’t want to talk about it; they thought they had more time; and they hoped the issue would resolve itself.

Waiting too long to plan for the need for long-term care, especially for dementia, can throw a family into confusion about what Mom or Dad would want, what options are available, what resources can help pay for care and who is best-suited to help provide hands-on care, if needed. Having the courage to discuss the possibility of incapacity and/or dementia before it happens can go a long way toward being prepared should that time come.

Watch for early signs of dementia. The Alzheimer’s Association ( has prepared a list of signs and symptoms that can help individuals and family members recognize the beginnings of dementia. Early diagnosis provides the best opportunities for treatment, support and planning for the future. Some medications can slow the progress of the disease, and new discoveries are being made every year.

Take good care of the caregiver. Caregivers need support and time off to take care of themselves. Arrange for relief from outside caregivers or other family members. All will benefit from joining a caregiver support group to share questions and frustrations, and learn how other caregivers are coping. Caregivers need to determine what they need to maintain their stamina, energy and positive outlook. That may include regular exercise (a yoga class, golf, walk or run), a weekly Bible study, an outing with friends, or time to read or simply watch TV.

If the main caregiver currently works outside the home, they can inquire about resources and accomodations at work that might be available. Depending on how long they expect to be caring for the person, they may be able to work on a flex time schedule or from home. Consider whether other family members can provide compensation to the one who will be the main caregiver.

Seek assistance. Find out what resources might be available. A local Elder Law attorney can prepare necessary legal documents, help maximize income, retirement savings and long-time care insurance, and apply for VA or Medicaid benefits. He or she will also be familiar with various living communities in the area and in-home care agencies.


Caring for a loved one with dementia is more demanding and more expensive for a longer time than caring for a loved one without dementia. It requires the entire family to come together to discuss and explore all options so that the burden of providing care is shared by all.

We help families who may need long term care by creating an asset protection plan that will provide peace of mind to all. Attend one of our free educational workshops to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.

Click Here To Sign-Up For a FREE Workshop

Tags: Alzheimer's Disease, seniors, caregiver, dementia, caretaker, care costs, alzheimers care, costs of dementia

The Costs of Dementia: For the Patient and the Family - Part II

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Wed, Apr 05, 2017

In Part II of our three-part blog on the Costs of Dementia, we discuss the Financial, Emotional and Physical Costs of caring for someone with dementia.


Financial Costs for the Family

Women routinely serve as caregivers for spouses, parents, in-laws and friends. While some men do serve as caregivers, women spend approximately 50% more time caregiving than men.

The financial impact on women caregivers is substantial. In a Genworth study, Beyond Dollars 2015, more than 60% of the women surveyed reported they pay for care with their own savings and retirement funds. These expenses include household expenses, personal items, transportation services, informal caregivers and long-term care facilities. Almost half report having to reduce their own quality of living in order to pay for the care.

In addition, absences, reduced hours and chronic tardiness can mean a significant reduction in a caregiver’s pay. 77% of those surveyed missed time from work in order to provide care for a loved one, with an average of seven hours missed per week. About one-third of caregivers provide 30 or more hours of care per week, and half of those estimate they lost around one-third of their income. More than half had to work fewer hours, felt their career was negatively affected and had to leave their job as the result of a long-term care situation.

Caregivers who lose income also lose retirement benefits and social security benefits. They may be sacrificing their children’s college funds and their own retirement. Other family members who contribute to the costs of care may also see their standard of living and savings reduced.

 Emotional and Physical Costs to Caregivers

In addition to the financial costs, caregivers report increased stress, anxiety and depression. The Genworth study found that while a high percentage of caregivers have some positive feelings about providing care for their loved one, almost half also experienced depression, mood swings and resentment, and admitted the event negatively affected their personal health and well-being. About a third reported an extremely high level of stress and said their relationships with their family and spouse were affected. More than half did not feel qualified to provide physical care and worried about the lack of time for themselves and their families.

Providing care to someone with dementia increases the levels of distress and depression higher than caring for someone without dementia. People with dementia may wander, become aggressive and often no longer recognize family members, even those caring for them. Caregivers can become exhausted physically and emotionally, and the patient may simply become too much for them to handle, especially when the caregiver is an older person providing care for his/her ill spouse. This can lead to feelings of failure and guilt. In addition, these caregivers often have high blood pressure, an increased risk of developing hypertension, spend less time on preventative care and have a higher risk of developing coronary heart disease.

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we have helped many clients plan for caring for loved ones with dimentia. To learn more,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: seniors, Alzheimers Disease, dementia, care costs, alzheimers care

What to Know Before You Enroll in Medicare

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Fri, Feb 10, 2017


 Three critical things to know to keep your healthcare costs in check and make smart decisions.


  1. The importance of enrolling in Medicare on time

It sounds like a no-brainer, but most people don’t realize that the effects of procrastination in their enrollment can cost them a rise in their part B premiums (these are the premiums that cover medical services) by 10% for each year they were eligible for Medicare but didn’t enroll. The “Initial Enrollment Period” is 7 months long, beginning three months before your 65th birthday and ending three months after. You may still enroll during the “General Enrollment Period” (from January 1 – March 31 of each year), however coverage won’t begin until July and be advised that you may have a late penalty. 

Another item to note: if you’re already receiving Social Security benefits before your 65th birthday, you may be automatically enrolled in Medicare (you’ll receive notification in the mail via a Medicare card in the 3 months before your 65th birthday if you are automatically enrolled) Special enrollment periods are available for  people who are either working as a volunteer abroad or still working at age 65 with employer-provided healthcare coverage.

  1. Which plan is right for you?

There are two main plan choices for a Medicare enrollee – the “original” Medicare plan or a Medicare Advantage Plan. Read on to discover the basic components of each plan and which is best for your needs.

 The “Original” Medicare Plan includes:

  • Part A: hospital coverage
  • Part B: physician/medical insurance
  • Part D: optional, provides prescription drug coverage
  • Enrollees can also opt to add on a private ‘Medigap’ plan which will pay for more of what Medicare doesn’t cover

 Medicare Advantage Plan, sometimes a better option than the Original Medicare Plan, are regulated by the US government although they are offered by private insurers. These plans are required to offer at least as much coverage as the original Medicare Plan and many often include prescription drug coverage as well as vision, dental or hearing coverage.

The Medicare website offers a helpful tool – the Medicare Plan Finder to help you compare your plan options. Whichever plan you choose, be aware that you may choose a different plan the following year.

  1. Take Advantage of the Available Services

Screenings and preventative care may sometimes be available at no extra cost, in addition to the wellness benefits included in your coverage. One annual wellness visit to your primary care doctor is included at no extra charge in your membership. You may also be eligible to other perks such as discounts on gym membership.

 In conclusion, following the tips above to make the most of your Medicare enrollment can enable seniors to live a longer and healthier life.

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.

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

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops, 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.

Sources: Fox BusinessNews

Tags: Medicare, Elder Law, Health Care, seniors, elder care, medical expenses, health, care costs, applying for medicare

What will 2017 bring to Seniors and Persons with Disabilities? - Part II

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Tue, Jan 24, 2017

What will 2017 bring to Seniors and Persons with Disabilities? - Part II

In last week's blog 'What will 2017 Bring to Seniors and Persons with Disabilities? - Part I' we discussed some of the key issues to watch out for in 2017 including Medicare and Medicaid reform. In Part II of the blog we continue our review of potential impacts on legislation that affects seniors and persons with disabilities.


Affordable Care Act

Republicans are already moving to repeal and replace Obamacare. The question is: How much will be repealed? There are several programs included in the ACA, not related to traditional health insurance, that are important to elder law attorneys and their clients. For example, Medicaid expansion, a kind of Medicaid reform, is part of the ACA.

The ACA also includes programs that work toward ending the institutional bias in Medicaid. One is Community First Choice, a state plan that provides home- and community-based services. Currently it has an extremely low-income threshold so it’s a limited population, but it’s a start.

Another is Money Follows the Person, which pays for transition services. For example, it could provide extra funds to help someone leave a nursing home, by paying for a housing coordinator to find an apartment, a roommate, buy basic furniture and so on.

We are moving toward home- and community-based service, which many people favor. How will that interact with Medicaid reforms? Because they are optional, some fear that with per capita caps, these services will be among the first to go. There may be more opportunities to expand these services through block grants because they allow more flexibility in what is offered. Along this line, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has introduced a bill called the Disability Integration Act, which would make home- and community-based services a civil right.

Other Medicaid-Related Issues to Watch

Limiting home equity: This proposal, H.R. 1361, would take away the state option to expand the cap for single individual home owners. It would not impact people who have a community spouse living in the home or if you have a disabled child or a dependent under 21. 

Medical liability reform: This could impact whether individuals get adequate access to personal injury settlements and funds that can be put into a special needs trust.

Long-Term Care Reform

There has been a lot of discussion on Capitol Hill about picking up the pieces on long-term care. After a decade, the market has completely collapsed. John Hancock just withdrew, and Genworth was bought out by a Chinese private equity firm. Republicans and Democrats agree on the problem, but there doesn’t seem to be common ground yet on a solution. The Senate Aging Committee is starting the process, which is a positive step. There are calls for catastrophic coverage, at least on the back end, and probably some sort of front-end coverage for two or three years. There may be some long-term care reform as part of Medicaid reform.

VA Benefit Rules

The new rules have been delayed again until at least April, 2017. Fixing the VA is a Trump priority. An important piece to what will happen with the VA is who Trump names to head the VA and Veterans Benefit Administration (VBA). 

Nursing home binding arbitration rules

Nursing homes must comply with binding arbitration rules to have access to Medicare or Medicaid funds. NAELA has been working with others to push CMS to ban pre-dispute binding arbitration. The for-profit nursing home industry association is fighting it and recently won a preliminary injunction in a Mississippi district court (American Health Care Association et al v. Burwell). We do not yet know if the Trump Administration will appeal this ruling and continue with banning binding arbitration for nursing home contracts. 

In Kindred Nursing Centers Limited Partnership v. Clark in Kentucky, the issue is whether federal arbitration acts overrule the state’s arbitration acts. The state of Kentucky has a law that says in order to waive the principal’s constitutional right to a jury trial, the agent must be given that specific authority within the power of attorney. Whether this is overturned is likely to hinge on President Trump’s pick to fill Justice Scalia’s vacancy on the Supreme Court.


There are a number of issues that will be addressed in 2017 that can have significant impact on seniors and their loved ones, Veterans, and persons with disabilities. If you have questions or would like to discuss any of the issues raised here, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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.

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Tags: Nursing Home Costs, Medicaid, Estate Planning, Elder Law, seniors, elder care, social security, trusts, Nursing Home, Affordable Health Care Act, New estate tax law, Veteran, VA, VA benefits, disabled, new regulations

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