Category Archives: Blog

How to Handle Sibling Disputes Over a Power of Attorney

A power of attorney is one of the most important estate planning documents, but when one sibling is named in a power of attorney, there is the potential for disputes with other siblings. No matter which side you are on, it is important to know your rights and limitations. A power of attorney allows someone to appoint another person — an “attorney-in-fact” or “agent” — to act in place of him or her – the “principal” — if the principal ever becomes incapacitated. There are two types of powers of attorney: financial and medical. Financial powers of attorney usually include…

It’s Important to Shop Around for Your Medigap Policy

Medigap premiums can vary widely depending on the insurance company, according to a new study, so be sure to shop around before choosing a policy. When you first become eligible for Medicare, you may purchase a Medigap policy from a private insurer to supplement Medicare’s coverage and plug some or virtually all of Medicare’s coverage gaps. You can currently choose one of 10 Medigap plans that are identified by letters A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M, and N. Each plan package offers a different combination of benefits, allowing purchasers to choose the combination that is right for them….

The New Tax Law Means It’s Time Review Your Estate Plan

While the new tax law doubles the federal estate tax exemption, meaning the vast majority of estates will not have to pay any federal estate tax, it doesn’t mean you should ignore its impact on your estate plan. In December 2017, Republicans in Congress and President Trump doubled the federal estate tax exemption to $11.18 million for individuals and $22.36 million for couples, indexed for inflation. The tax rate for those few estates subject to taxation is 40 percent. While most estates won’t be subject to the federal estate tax, you should review your estate plan to make sure the changes…

Fear of Losing Home to Medicaid Contributed to Elder Abuse Case

A California daughter and granddaughter’s fear of losing their home to Medicaid may have contributed to a severe case of elder abuse. If the pair had consulted with an elder law attorney, they might have figured out a way to get their mother the care she needed and also protect their house. Amanda Havens was sentenced to 17 years in prison for elder abuse after her grandmother, Dorothy Havens, was found neglected, with bedsores and open wounds, in the home they shared.  The grandmother died the day after being discovered by authorities.  Amanda’s mother, Kathryn Havens, who also lived with Dorothy,…

Don’t Wait Too Long to Purchase Long-Term Care Insurance

The older you get, the harder it is to qualify for long-term care insurance. If you are interested in buying this insurance, it is better to act sooner rather than later. Many people put off purchasing long-term care insurance until they need it, but by then, it may be too late. Not only do premiums increase as you age, you also may not even qualify for insurance due to your health. The older you are, the more likely you are to have a pre-existing health condition that will disqualify you from getting long-term care insurance. According to a recent study…

Proposed New Medicare Payment System May Affect Beneficiaries

The Trump administration is proposing a new flat rate reimbursement system for doctors who treat Medicare patients. Some worry that the plan may reduce payments to specialists and cause fewer doctors to accept Medicare patients. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) says the proposed changes are designed to reduce paperwork by combining four levels of forms required for reimbursement into one form and one fee paid to doctors. Under the new system, doctors who see generally healthy patients and doctors who see more complicated patients would receive the same flat fee. According to a report by NPR, the…

New Law Expands Benefits for Chronically Ill Medicare Advantage Beneficiaries

Congress expanded benefits for Medicare recipients with chronic conditions in its latest budget bill. The law gives some Medicare plans the option of covering certain non-medical benefits and also increases telehealth services. Passed with bipartisan support as part of the budget bill approved in early 2018, the Creating High-Quality Results and Outcomes Necessary to Improve Chronic (CHRONIC) Care Act of 2018, gives Medicare Advantage plans the flexibility to cover equipment and supplies for beneficiaries who are chronically ill beginning in 2020. Covered items could include wheelchair ramps, grab bars, visits by a personal assistant, transportation, and meal delivery. Currently, Medicare…

Lawsuit Alleges Assisted Living Facilities Discriminate Against Wheelchair Users

A lawsuit in New York state highlights an issue with some assisted living facilities: No wheelchairs allowed. The lawsuit claims that state regulations and facility policies discriminate against residents and potential residents who use wheelchairs. Filed on behalf of the Fair Housing Justice Center and an anonymous assisted living resident, the lawsuit alleges that four assisted living facilities in New York refused to admit applicants who were in a wheelchair and threatened to evict or actually evicted residents who started using wheelchairs. According to the lawsuit, state regulations are to blame. The regulations prohibit assisted living facilities from admitting residents…

Where’s My New Medicare Card? How to Find Out the Status

The federal government has begun mailing new Medicare cards to 59 million Americans. You should keep track of when your new card will arrive and contact Medicare if you don’t receive it. To prevent fraud and fight identity theft, the federal government is issuing new cards to all Medicare beneficiaries that will no longer have beneficiaries’ Social Security numbers on them. The government began mailing the cards in April 2018 and the new cards should be completely distributed by April 2019. The cards are being mailed in phases based on the state the beneficiary lives in. To check the status…

Watch Out for These Hidden Taxes in Your Retirement Plan

If you have started to further develop your retirement plans, you may have noticed that your taxes in retirement can be a lot more complicated than your working taxes. Social Security checks are not always taxed, which will depend on your income. Tax rates will depend on additional state taxes, as well as any other investments you might have. What Taxes Should I Look Out for in My Retirement Plan? Combined income taxes. How your Social Security benefit is taxed will depend on your combined income. This is also known as your adjusted gross income, plus any non-taxable interest and…