Time & Life Update Newsletter

NEWTON COUPLE DISCOVERS SECRET TO PROTECT THEIR HOME & LIFE SAVINGS WHILE AVOIDING PAYMENT OF UNNECESSARY TAXES

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Sep 11, 2012 4:48:00 PM

A financial advisor initially referred the Lowell family to us.  They were concerned about estate planning, taxes, and did not want to loose their life savings to a nursing home.  When they came to our office, they had been told at a cocktail party, barbershop, or beauty parlor, they couldn’t remember which, that they should deed their home to their two children if they wanted to protect it.  When I asked if it made sense for their children to be saddled with $150,000 capital gains tax, they replied, “No, of course not”.  They thought it made a lot more sense to protect their home in a manner that would permit them to sell their home, which they eventually did, completely free of any capital gains tax, up to $500,000.  The Lowells were even happier when they learned they could start the five-year look back period required to protect assets from being spent down on a nursing home if either got sick. 

Unique Educational & Counseling Process

Massachusetts Veterans Benefits, Aid & Attendance, Estate TaxAs part of our unique process, we asked the Lowells about their top planning goals.  They talked to one and other and reported back to us that they wanted, above all else, to protect their life savings and home for each other in the event either got sick or went to a nursing home, so they could protect things for each other and leave a greater legacy for their two children.  With their objective clear, we then helped create and put in place the planning necessary to help the Lowells accomplish their objectives.  The sense of relief as a result of finally taking care of their estate and asset protection planning was visible on Lowells’ faces.  

Planning Early Saves Thousands Later

A number of years later, our office was contacted by an attorney trying to help sell the Lowells’ home.  The attorney happened to be married to the real estate broker who was in the process of helping sell the home.  Upon speaking with the attorney for the bank, we were told said the bank preferred working with the trustee of the trust, and after the home had been deeded to it.  We were able to get the deed recorded and fortunately for the Lowells, that property was deeded to their trust, so the proceeds of the sale were fully protected from the nursing home.  Additionally, the gain on the sale of the home was entirely tax free to their Protective Trust, just like they planned.  As a result of carefull planning, the Lowells were able to sell and close on the property, protect the proceeds from the sale, and avoid paying capital gains tax.

Failing to Review Your Planning: Common, Critical Mistake

Time passed and we did not hear from the Lowells for a few years. We tried to contact the Lowells’ son John, who had moved to California, to discuss the need to review planning in order to make sure that all of their life savings were coordinated with their Trust and protected from the cost of nursing homes, which cost $12,000 to $15,000 per month.  They never did get together to review things, and as time went on, John eventually contacted our office saying, “Dad isn’t doing too well, and he’s going to be moving to a nursing home.  The plan would be for mom is to stay in the house.”  At this point, we hadn’t reviewed things in a several years, though we had developed the “Lifetime Protection Program”, a membership program designed to make sure that the members’ planning is up to date, protects all of their assets and is going to work the way it was supposed to when executed.  Because of changes in the law, especially the new health care law and the coming estate tax changes, as well as changes in financial and personal circumstances planning needs to be monitored and maintained to make sure that clients are getting the best protection.  This is possible with the “Lifetime Protection Program” even as laws, families, finances, and personal circumstances change.  We reminded John again of the fact that reviewing planning crucial aspect of assuring that goals and objectives are accomplished.

Well, John said he’d get back to us, and a year and a half later we still hadn’t heard from him.  By this time, the Lowells had sold the home, Mom was in assisted living in the same complex where Dad was getting nursing home care.  The total cost was in excess of $16,000 per month.  The problem however, was that it turned out there was $550,000 that had not been put in their Trust, as we recommended, so it was not protected!  We contacted John and discussed a strategy to protect the $550,000.  It was difficult since John lived in California, and his sister had moved to Europe.  Because of the significance of the planning we were able to help.

Click Here to Download the Senior & Boomers Guide to Health Care Reform & Avoiding  Nursing Home Poverty

Crisis Planning to Protect Assets

It turned out that out of the $550,000 that had not been coordinated to the Asset Protection Trust, and if it was transferred now the five-year look back period would start all over again on the unprotected $550,000.  We learned shortly thereafter Dad had taken a turn for the worse, and was probably not going to be with us too much longer.  Learning about this, we introduced a special concept to the family, whereby the funds which normally avoid probate are coordinated with a testamentary trust.  Only then the funds are allowed to avoid the five-year look back period.  We quickly arranged to create a testamentary trust, which would protect the funds for Mrs. Lowell after Mr. Lowell died and eliminate the five-year look back period.

This plan was successful!  After Mr. Lowell passed away, a testamentary supplemental needs trust was established with the $550,000, which will be available for the lifetime of Mrs. Lowell, and would not be subject to claims of the nursing home.  Again, the family was grateful for what had been accomplished for Mrs. Lowell and the family. 

As time went on, Mrs. Lowell remained in the assisted living for a number of years after Mr. Lowell had passed away and both the proceeds from the sale of the house protected originally and the additional $550,000 were protected. 

Additional Resources Available for Massachusetts Seniors

Since our involvement with the Lowells, we have learned of even more special resources that may be available through Mass Community Health and other programs, which will allow seniors to continue to live in their home and community rather than a nursing home. One such program is for all-inclusive elder needs.  Others include PACE, SCO and the Frail Elder Program.  These new programs are available because nursing homes have become so costly and as a result of the fact that most people don’t need or want to go to a nursing home.  Increasingly we have been able to help families who prefer to stay in their home, or retire in a community or assisted living, rather than going to a nursing home with health assessments and guidance on finding the right care specialty or facility. 

Life Care Planning: What & How?

We’ve introduced a new service called life care planning for all of our clients that looks for the years ahead as to senior running into mobility and memories issues, both simply concerns as we all age.  Life care planning is a process that puts a long-term lens on the required planning that needs to become well ahead of time, in particular because the five-year look back, which most likely will be extended to eight or 10 years down the road.  If you know of a family member in need of assistance finding the right facility, getting the right care, or the like, it is important to be educated and informed about the importance of this planning and what could be accomplished with proactive, forward looking protection to protect spouses, homes, life savings.  For the long-term, there’s quite a bit that can be accomplished for families and their legacies. 

The purpose of Life Care Planning is to put people in control of their health care and living accommodations rather than be forced into a nursing home prematurely, just because that seems to be the only option.  People are much happier having options and control over their financial decisions, their health care, and their living situations. 

Are You Qualified for Additional Benefits Over $2,000/month?

In addition to the Mass Community Health programs there are a number of opportunities for Veterans.   Married Veterans may be eligible to receive over $24,000 a year.  Single Veterans may be eligible for $1,749 a month and widows of veterans approximately $1,100 per month.  If you think you may be eligible, it is important to act quickly, as there has been a bill introduced that would create a three-year look back period for veteran’s benefits. This is a big set back to veterans in need of assistance.

Massachusetts, VA Benefit, Aid & Attendance

Do Not Become a Statistic: Review & Update Your Planning

There exists a wealth of opportunity for those that are informed and proactive about their planning.  We’ve developed a unique 19-Point Trust Estate, Asset Protection Review Program to help people learn about opportunities to improve and enhance their planning so they don’t end up with on of the 86% of trusts that simply DO NOT WORK to accomplish the planner’s current goals and objectives. This failure rate is mainly attributable to the fact that plans are not reviewed, maintained, and adjusted as situations change.   Unaccounted for changes in the law, in personal health or financial circumstances, and even changes in families can cause a once effective plan to fall into the 86% that fail.  Don’t let that happen to you.  Call our office at 781-237-2815 to discuss the above situation or any of the following topics:

  • Life Care Planning

  • Save Investing for Seniors

  • 19 Point Trust, Estate, & Asset Protection Review and Guide

  • Complimentary DVD that explains why your living trust by itself will not protect you

About Our Team

At The Estate Planning and Asset Protection Law Center of Dennis Sullivan & Associates we help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones.  We provide our clients with a unique educational and counseling process so they understand where problems exist as well as where opportunities exist for significant improvement now as they implement plans for a protected future.  We even provide a Lifetime Protection Program to ensure plans continue to meet client & family objectives in the future, even with all of the changes in taxes, healthcare, personal and family situations.

Trust, Estate and Asset Protection Workshops

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

Come to a complimentary workshop to learn how protect you, your spouse, your family, your home, life savings and legacy. Register by calling 800-964-4295 (24/7) or visit us online at our website, www.DSullivan.com.

Tags: asset protection, Estate Planning, Elder Law, GST tax, gift tax, estate tax, estate tax savings, family, health Care act, Massacusetts Estate Tax

INACTION COULD COST YOU YOUR LIFE SAVINGS: TAKE STEPS TO AVOID NURSING HOME POVERTY

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Aug 20, 2012 1:13:00 PM

Changes in Health Care Law, Medicare, Medicaid, & MassHealth As Well As Estate Taxes…How do They Affect you?

The rules of paying for nursing home care can, quite frankly, get so complicated it makes your head spin! 

elder law, estate planning, health care reform, taxesWe find that many families want to cut to the chase and find out now what their own personal bottom line is.  If that’s you... if you want to know now how you might become eligible for protection and how much you might save, then call our office at (781) 237-2815 and let’s explore whether or not you’re likely to qualify and what you might be able to do if you would like to protect you spouse, home, and life savings.

If you stop for a minute and think about your retirement and life savings, you may have assets in lots of different places. MassHealth, however, focuses on dividing your financial assets into three different categories:  

1.      Available Assets; 2. Exempt Assets; 3. Unavailable Assets

What You Need to Know

Newton Couple Discovers Secret Protect Their Home & Life Savings  While Avoiding Payment  of Unnecessary Taxes

The main focus of MassHealth is the available assets.  This category is made up of assets that you could cash in and use for your own nursing home care. Available assets are also referred to as "countable resources." MassHealth views your available assets, the ones you should cash in and send every month to the nursing home, at a whopping $12,000 to $15,000 a month.

Most people do not have that kind of extra savings to pay for one or both spouses to go to a nursing home.  If one is in a nursing home, the couple’s life savings must be spent down to $115,000.  You read that right, if you do nothing, everything you own including your home, your IRA, and your entire life savings is at risk.  This is the government’s plan for your money.  It does not, however, have to be that way; you can override the government…but only if you take some important steps that many others have taken successfully to plan for their spouse and family.

The Good News: Planning Ahead & Taking Action Could Save Your Family Hundreds or Thousands of dollars

By taking action and implementing a Family Protection Plan, people and their families can avoid the required spend down, qualify for MassHealth, and still get the care they need.  Do you want your hard earned life savings taken from your spouse & family to pay for your nursing home care?  Would you rather leave a lasting legacy for your spouse, children, and grandchildren?  Call our office today at (781) 237-2815 to begin discussing how you can avoid nursing home poverty and protect what matters most: your spouse, home and life savings.  If you would like to attend a free educational workshop call (800) 964-4295 (24/7). 

 Click Here to Download the Seniors  Guide to Health Care Reform & Avoiding  Nuring Home Poverty

Will Medicare Pay for Your Alzheimer’s Care…Unfortunately, No!

One of the most common questions we are asked is, “Will Medicare pay for Alzheimer’s care?  The simple answer is, NO, the Medicare will not pay for long-term care expenses, but Medicaid will. As a result, the burden of financing long-term care is placed on you, your life savings, and your family.  If you do nothing, the cost of long-term care will come out of your pocket.  It is crucial that you take action to avoid having to spend down your assets to pay for long-term care.

Recent studies have shown one half of all people over 80 will develop Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.  Because so many people are being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, we have developed the free online resource center (www.BostonMemoryLawyer.com) to help people at every stage of the Elder Care Journey care for and protect their loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Recent Changes in the Law that Affect the Lives of Millions of Older Americans

With all the uncertainty in the tax law, the NEW HEALTH CARE LAW, shrinking federal and state budgets, combined with a growing senior population, a perfect storm is brewing.  More and more seniors are going to need care with less money available to pay for care.  An increasing number of seniors and families will be at risk of loosing everything to increasing health care and nursing home costs.  Did you know that according to recent estimates, released on July 24, 2012,  by the Congressional Budget Office, repeal of the new health care law would increase spending for Medicare by an estimated $716 billion over ther period from 2013 through 2022?

To learn more about how the new Health Care Laws affect older Americans, please see our new report, “Seniors Guide to Health Care Reform & Avoiding Nursing Home Poverty”, which contains information on the newly passed health care laws all seniors need to know.

What About How the Changes in the Estate Tax Law Will Affect you?

Additionally, significant estate tax changes are on the horizon.  The estate tax exemption, currently at $5,120,000, will be reduced to $1 million. On January 2, 2013, the current top tax rate of 35% will increase to 55%.  The Massachusetts estate tax exemption will remain at $1 million per person, with no portability.  These looming changes are an important aspect of planning to consider in reviewing or creating your estate plan. 

With all the changes in the law, finances, health, and personal circumstances, there is a tremendous amount of uncertainty.  It does not have to be that way.  If you'd like to understand how the changes affect you and your planning, as well as what steps you can take right now to protect you family, give us a call at (781) 237-2815. Our experienced team of caring and compassionate professionals can show you how MassHealth "sees" your life savings and if they will force you to spend them. We help families protect their lifesavings by transforming some of your "available" life savings into exempt, unavailable and even protected assets.

You Gain Understanding & Control

Research shows that 86% of trusts don’t work.  That’s why we 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 the Guide.

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

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, even with all these changes.

Register NOW for a Trust, Estate, & Asset Protection Workshop and receive a free Unique Self-Guided 19-Point Trust Estate & Asset Protection Legal Guide with a BONUS DVD  

Nursing home care is more than $140,000-$180,000 per year! Attend this FREE educational seminar to learn:  

  • How to protect your home and assets from the costs of long-term care

  • How to stay out of the nursing home and access in-home care

  • How to make sure your spouse is not left financially ruined if you need nursing home care

  • How to access Veterans benefits to pay for long-term care

  • How the MA & Federal Estate Tax Changes Affect You & Your Family

       To register call (800) 964-4295 (24/7) or online at www.SeniorWorkshop.com 

 

PS:  All those who attend a workshop will receive our new report, “Seniors Guide to Health Care Reform & Avoiding Nursing Home Poverty”, which contains information on the newly passed health care laws all seniors need to know.  

PPS:  The Elder Care Journey is difficult to navigate, but with the help of our team of trusted advisors to guide you, the trip becomes a whole lot easier.    Taxes and Health Care are important areas in which people and their families need to know who to trust. Click here to see what others are saying about their experience working with a team of dedicated, caring, passionate professionals at the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center.

 

Tags: asset protection, elder care, Elder Law, budget cuts, Debt Ceiling, Estate Planning, GST tax, gift tax, estate tax

The Top Ten Mistakes in Estate Planning for 2012

Posted by Wellesley Estate Planning Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Jan 24, 2012 2:42:00 PM

We enter 2012 with a roller coaster economy, elections, and changes in tax law as well as, medical and nursing home costs going skyward. All these changes together with the Baby Boomers retiring in record numbers and Alzheimer's disease at almost epidemic proportions, updating and maintaining your estate and asset protection plan is an absolute necessity.

In order to help families manage these changes and uncertainties, the Estate Planning and Asset Protection Law Center of Dennis Sullivan & Associates has provided the top 10 mistakes to avoid in estate and asset protection planning for 2012. For more information on how best to protect your life savings and eliminate these and other mistakes, attend one of our Trust, Estate & Asset Protection workshops by calling 800-964-4295 (24/7) or by registering online.

Mistake No. 1: Failing to Update and Maintain Your Estate & Asset Protection Plan

Statistics show that 86% of all trusts don't work often because the trusts were not maintained and updated to reflect current circumstances. Planning is an ongoing process because of the changes in our lives and the law. An estate plan should be reviewed on a regular basis to make sure it is protecting you and your family. That is why we created the 19-Point Trust, Estate and Asset Protection Review to help you discover where problems may exist in your planning and the opportunities you have to fix the problems before it’s too late. For more information on how you can review your own planning, refer to our 19-Point Trust, Estate & Asset Protection Guide, which is available on our website at www.DSullivan.com.

We also offer existing clients a Lifetime Protection Program to make sure their planning stays on track for the years ahead.

Mistake No. 2: Not Planning to Avoid Probate

"I have a Will...I'm all set"...

A will alone does not avoid the probate process; actually, it guarantees it. In Massachusetts, the probate process takes a minimum of 1 year; it is also public, so family and financial matters become public record. Probate can be avoided by executing and funding a trust. Trusts are extremely flexible estate planning documents that should be considered as part of your estate plan.  Trusts can also provide disability planning where a will cannot.

Mistake No. 3: Not Coordinating Your Assets to Your Trust(s)

Not coordinating investments and other assets to a trust means that probate will not be avoided. Probate is the process by which assets of a deceased person are passed to those who will inherit them. The probate public process can take up to one year and can be very expensive. By properly coordinating your assets to your trust, you can avoid probate and save your family time and money.  For many who have created a trust, they miss the critical step of properly coordinating their home and investments to their trust.

Mistake No. 4: Not Reviewing Your IRAs and Investments To Make Sure They Are Safe and Productive for You Based on Your Age and Objectives

Whether you are growing your savings to fund your retirement or are in retirement, it is important to manage your investments and minimize your investment risk.  With the current economic climate you want to make sure now more than ever that you have an investment program designed especially with your goals and safety in mind.

For more information on trust and investment management, please call our office 781-237-2815 to request a copy of our DVD series, "Safe Investing for Seniors," which we provide as part of our educational series for members of the Lifetime Protection Program.


Mistake No. 5 Not Planning for Disability

If you become disabled, what will happen to your family? Who will make your financial decisions? If the proper disability documents are not part of your estate plan, your family may be forced to go to court to appoint a guardian or conservator just to be able to participate in your health care and financial decisions. If you have executed the proper documents years ago but have not updated them, your family could still be forced into court. Many of the top hospitals in Massachusetts do not accept disability documents that are more than 1 year old. The most effective way to avoid these issues is to plan ahead with a trust that will provide for your family financially if you are disabled and to have current disability documents.

Mistake No. 6: Not Planning to Avoid State and Federal Estate Taxes

A trust is an effective way of doubling the amounts that a married couple can pass tax-free to their children and grandchildren. The federal estate tax-free amounts are constantly changing. The exemption amount is scheduled to drop to $1 million per person in 2013, unless it is changed before then. It is important to consider how the growth of your assets over time will effect your tax situation. The state of Massachusetts also imposes a separate estate tax on all estates over $1 million. Therefore, for both federal and Massachusetts purposes it is important to utilize the tax-free amounts, up to $2 million for a married couple, but it is not automatic. Your planning should address both state and federal estate taxes, which can be substantial.

Mistake No. 7: Not Considering the Potential “Double Taxation” on Retirement Benefits

Taxes on IRAs and other retirement benefits can be as high as 70% before your children or grandchildren can collect a cent. This is because IRAs and other retirement benefits are taxed once as part of your taxable estate and again as income when the money comes out of the fund. By planning to avoid this “double taxation” you can stretch out and protect your IRA and retirement benefits, create tax savings, and increase the growth of the fund.

Mistake No 8: Not Planning to Avoid the Cost of Nursing Home Care

One out of every three people over 65 and one of every two people over 80 will need nursing home care for some period of time. Increasing health care and nursing home costs are one of the greatest threats to a comfortable retirement. In Massachusetts, nursing home care costs range from $12,000-$15,000 per month, $144,000-$180,000 per year. Because long-term care is so expensive, many families have elected to execute a Protective Trust to keep their life savings from the reach of a nursing home and protected for the spouse so they avoid nursing home poverty.  For additional reports and guides on avoiding nursing home poverty, please visit our website www.DSullivan.com.

Mistake No. 9: Believing Estate Planning is for The Elderly

No one can predict what will happen or when, and as the saying goes, “It’s better to be safe than sorry.” Not executing basic estate planning documents can cost your loved ones time and money. To take the first step in protecting you and your family visit www.DSullivan.com and register for a free educational workshophosted by the estate planning and asset professionals at Dennis Sullivan & Associates. Upcoming workshops will take place at 10AM and 2PM on Thursday, February 2; and Friday, February 17. Check our website for future dates and times as well as helpful educational reports, guides, videos and other resources such as CDs and DVDs.

Mistake No. 10: Not Planning to Protect Children and Grandchildren's Inheritances

Any significant gift or inheritance raises the question of whether the recipient will be able to have full enjoyment after the transfer, given considerations relating to potential creditors, divorce, or lawsuits against a beneficiary. Is the beneficiary able to handle investment and spending decisions, and will the beneficiary be subject to pressure from a spouse or other individual to place the assets into joint names, to make gifts that they might not otherwise want to make, or to make high-risk investments or loans?

If it has been a while since you’ve created your estate plan or even if it has only been a couple of years, you owe it to yourself and your family to find out if your plan is going to protect you and them when you need it.  Eliminate ALL these above-mentioned, common mistakes and misconceptions by scheduling a Trust, Estate & Asset Protection review based on our unique, 19-point review process to make sure you have protected your home, spouse, life savings and legacy for 2012 and beyond.

For additional educational information call us at (781)-237-2815, to request our latest DVD on "Life-Care Planning and Safe Investing for Seniors", register online or call 800-964-4295 (24/7) to attend a Trust, Estate and Asset Protection Workshop where the 19 Point Self Guided Trust, Estate and Asset Protection review process will be discussed.  We are hosting educational workshops on the following dates:

 

            Thursday, February 2 @ 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. 

            Friday, February 17 @ 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.  

            Thursday, March 1 @ 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

 

We look forward to hearing from you. 

 


Tags: Protective Trusts, Alzheimer's Disease, asset protection, Estate Planning, Lifetime Protection Program, Mistakes, Nursing Homes, probate

What Resources Are Available for The Alzheimer's Family?

Posted by Wellesley Estate Planning Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Nov 7, 2011 4:25:00 PM

With the number of families affected by Alzheimer’s Disease growing daily, it is becoming vital information for almost everyone to learn how to manage this dread disease and its far-reaching ramifications.   

What Are The Predictions? 

Latest studies indicate that the number of Americans with Alzheimer’s Disease could double by 2020 (9 million people) and quadruple (to 16 million) by 2050.

What To Do.

The first step is to tap available resources and become informed about the disease.  The Alzheimer's Resource Kit  (retail value of $197) can be downloaded free and is an invaluable source of information for the patient, family, and caregiver. 

Next, it’s important to build a support network that may include other families dealing with Alzheimer’s, relatives and friends.  Individuals who are suffering from memory loss and their families should, of course, also address the health-related issues with their doctors. While there is no cure yet for Alzheimer’s, there are a variety of treatment options and significant research continues.

Another crucial step is estate and asset protection planning with a reputable elder law attorney. Establishing powers of attorney for both health care and financial matters is the only way a family member can legally make decisions for a loved one if he or she becomes mentally incapacitated. There are multiple other legal issues to discuss during the Alzheimer’s estate planning process, and each individual’s needs vary.

How To Pay for Alzheimer's Care?

Medicare is a type of public health insurance for age 65 and older.  However, Medicare does not pay for long-term care. The criterion is that there must be some actual improvement to your condition. Since diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's have no known cure today, rehabilitation is not possible, so Medicare will not pay.

Unlike Medicare, Medicaid will pay for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, or dementia-related diseases, or a decline in functioning due to the aging process. You must, however, exhaust all your resources (including your spouse's) before you will be eligible, that is unless you take steps to protect your home, spouse and life-savings so you can avoid nursing home poverty. We can help. To learn more, call our office.  In addition, visit our website, www.DSullivan.com to download our free elder guide The Massachusetts Elder Guide to Medicaid, Nursing Homes and Asset Protection or watch our educational video on "How To Avoid Nursing Home Poverty."

Take Control - Establish A Life-Care Plan.

With longevity, comes expense.  (We are all living longer and may have many years ahead of us post-retirement, so it is all the more important that we plan ahead for those years.) Life-care planning is an integrated planning approach that addresses the health care, legal, and financial issues of aging and disability.  As such, it is critically important for seniors and their families to begin talking about a life-care plan.  If executed properly, a life-care plan can save seniors and their families lots of trouble and heartache.

The goals of a quality life-care plan include, maintaining the health and well-being of your loved one; assessing long-term care options in the home and outside the home; identifying all sources of income available to pay for care; obtaining eligibility for public benefits programs like SSDI, VA, and Medicaid benefits; protecting assets.   In addition, the life-care plan provides the services of a Geriatric Care Manager (GCM) to assist with the development and implementation of the plan.  It also provides assistance with living arrangements and placements, coordination  of available community resources as well as working with the family to provide support, guidance, and advocacy.

What Are The Special Benefits for Veterans?

The Veteran's Administration (VA) has reported that thousands of Massachusetts veterans may not be receiving the disability benefits they deserve.  One of the VA's best-kept secrets, which is an excellent potential source of funds for long-term care, is a veteran's benefit for non-service connected disability.   

Most VA benefits and pensions are based on a disability that was incurred during a veteran's wartime service.  This particular benefit, however, is available for individuals who are disabled due to issues of old age, such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis, and other physical disabilities and have the additional requirement of needing the aid and attendance of another person in order to avoid the hazards of his or her daily environment.  

These benefits can be a blessing for the eligible disabled individual who is not yet ready for a nursing home.  A veteran married to another veteran can receive a maximum of $1,949 per month in benefits and a widow can receive up to $1,056 per month (for the year 2011).  The applicant must be “permanently and totally disabled” based on VA standards, which means  he/she need only show that he/she is in need of aid and attendance on a regular basis.  Someone who is housebound or in an assisted living facility and over the age of 65 is presumed by the Veterans Administration to be in need of aid and attendance. 

For more about these benefits, download our free guide entitled, "The Nuts and Bolts Guide to Veterans Benefits".  If you have questions, please call our office 781-237-2815.  To learn more about how to protect yourself, your spouse, your home and life-savings from increasing medical and nursing home costs, you may register online or call 800-964-4295 (24/7) to attend one of our Trust, Estate & Asset Protection Workshops.  Upcoming dates in Wellesley are as follows:

Friday, November 18 @ 10AM & 2PM   

Thursday, December 8 @ 10AM & 2PM

Thursday, December 15 @ 10AM & 2PM.

Tags: Medicare, Alzheimer's Disease, asset protection, Medicaid, veterans benefits

Medicare vs. Medicaid and The Rise of Alzheimer's Disease

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on May 4, 2011 5:40:00 PM

Do you know the difference between Medicare and Medicaid?  For ANY senior it is vital to know the difference.  Your future may depend on it, particularly with the new statistics regarding Alzheimer's Disease and other incurable, long-term care illnesses.

According to the World Alzheimer Report 2010, Alzheimer's Disease is taking a terrible toll on the world – not to mention on individual families and their life savings.  With no cure on the horizon, the problem is only expected to get worse.

According to Dr. Daisy Acosta of Alzheimer’s Disease International, “This is a wake-up call that Alzheimer's disease and other dementias are the single most significant health and social crisis of the 21st century.”

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What’s even worse is that dementia is on the rise, and in the US almost half the seniors over age 80 have this tragic disease.  For more information about what you can do to make your life as a caregiver better today, read our free Alzheimer's Resource Guide, or call our office for options about how to pay for care.

So what does this have to do with Medicare & Medicaid?

Medicare provides health care benefits for people over 65, the blind, and the disabled; while Medicaid provides medical benefits for the poor.

Medicare is mainly a type of public health insurance for those age 65 and older. It is their primary health insurance coverage. Many seniors do not realize that Medicare does not pay for long-term care.  Actually, it is excluded! The confusion is easy to understand because Medicare does pay for rehabilitation. So, if a senior citizen is enrolled in the traditional Medicare plan and is hospitalized for a stay of at least three days, and is then admitted into a skilled nursing facility, Medicare may pay - for a short while. But once those Medicare benefits hit 100 consecutive days, you've hit the maximum.

In some cases, Medicare may not even cover the full 100 days. There must be some actual improvement in your condition, otherwise Medicare will decide that it is a long-term care need, and they'll cut you off. Medicare really only cares about you if you can get better. Since diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's have no known cure today, rehabilitation is not possible, so Medicare will not pay for nursing home care if you have Alzheimer's or Parkinson's.

Unlike Medicare, Medicaid will pay for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, or dementia-related diseases or a decline in functioning due to the aging process. You must, however, exhaust all your resources (including your spouse's as well) first before you will be eligible.  Medicaid, however, is paid for by both federal and state funds but is "administered" on a state level. The federal government covers between 50-80% of the program costs within the state, and the state pays the rest. Therefore, rules can vary from state to state (even county to county) rather dramatically.  Also, the law enables you to take steps to protect your home, life-savings and spouse so they are not impoverished if you go to a nursing home.

So, as you can see, Medicare is health insurance, and Medicaid is public long-term care coverage, but often there are stages in between that require examination and discussion.  For more information, download our free elder guide The Massachusetts Elder Guide to Medicaid, Nursing Homes and Asset Protection or watch Dennis Sullivan being interviewed about how to avoid nursing home poverty on the national talk show, "Ask The Lawyer."

To learn more about your options, call us at (781) 237-2815; (800) 964-4295 (24/7) or register online to attend one of our free workshops.  You need to be informed about your particular situation and for that you’ll need some honest, legal strategies to protect yourself, your spouse, and your hard-earned assets for the future. 

Tags: Nursing Home Costs, Alzheimer's Disease, asset protection, long term care, Medicare, Medicaid, MassHealth, Nursing Home Guide, Nursing Homes