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5 Things to Include in an Estate Plan

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Things to Include in an Estate Plan

 

Estate planning is important for people of all ages, but as we age, the need for planning becomes even more critical. Many people avoid estate planning, because they do not want to think about the end of life, failing health or disability. Others believe that an estate plan is only for rich people. However, an estate plan is helpful for the senior adult and their families regardless of overall wealth.

 

The estate is all the property owned both individually and jointly, including bank accounts, real estate, jewelry, etc., and what is owed. Without an estate plan, it is very difficult to carry out a person’s wishes and can bring on a long, drawn out probate that can be very expensive for the family. If an estate plan is in place, it can provide peace of mind for the senior adult and their family, as well as protection for the wishes of the senior.

 

Below are some basic guidelines for what should be included in an estate plan.

 

  1. Will. A will provides for an executor of the estate, who will take care of managing the estate, paying debts, and distributing property as specified. The distribution of assets can be outlined in the will. This can be as broad or detailed as a person wishes. In a will, beneficiaries and guardians for minor children should be assigned. It may not seem necessary to discuss minor children when discussing seniors and estate planning, but with the rise of grandparents raising grandchildren, this may indeed be an important part of the will. A senior adult can spell out, in the will, how they want their funeral and burial to be carried out as well.

 

  1. Living Will. A living will outlines a senior’s wishes for end of life medical care. It can include, in as much detail as the senior wishes, what medical treatments the senior would or would not like to have in specific situations. A living will takes the stress of making those decisions off of family members and helps to keep peace in families during times that can be difficult and emotional.

 

  1. Healthcare Power of Attorney. A healthcare power of attorney is also a key part of an estate plan. This legal document provides for someone to legally make healthcare decisions for a senior adult. A durable power of attorney will remain in effect for the senior if the senior becomes unable to make decisions.

  1. Financial Power of Attorney. A financial power of attorney names an agent who has the power to act in the place of the senior adult for matters relating to finances. The durable financial power of attorney stays in effect if the senior adult becomes unable to handle their affairs. By having a financial power of attorney in place, the stress and expense of a guardianship can be avoided, and the senior has the final say in who will make decisions relating to finances.

 

  1. Trust. Setting up a trust can be beneficial for the distribution of specific assets or pieces of property. The benefit of a trust is that it does not go through probate, as compared to a will. Property is still distributed at the death of the trustmaker, but it is done without the need of a court. This also allows for privacy of the trustmaker, where with a will and a probate, all of the deceased person’s assets and the the terms of their will is made public.

 

Having an estate plan is necessary if you or your senior loved one wishes to have a say in what happens in the end of life and with assets after death. Consulting and planning with an elder law attorney will help to ensure that all options are explored and the best possible solution is utilized. The elder law attorney can walk you through all of the necessary parts of the estate plan, provide explanation, and prepare the paperwork. Elder law attorneys will help take the guesswork out of estate planning.

 

If you have any questions about something you have read or would like additional information, please feel free to contact us. 

Greg McIntyre

greg@mcelderlaw.com

Elder Law Attorney
McIntyre Elder Law
123 W. Marion Street

Shelby, NC 28150

704–259–7040

Lady Bird Deed – 3 Things You Should Know

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A Lady Bird Deed is a wonder of elder law. It gives a senior or couple the power to stay in control of their property, keep it in their name their entire lifetime, and give it directly to a named individual upon their passing. This property transfer happens automatically (outside of probate) where Medicaid Liens attach.

Here are three things you must be aware of to safe-guard your property.

 

  1. You are in Control:

 

Seniors routinely ask me, “What age should I give my home to my children?”

I’m not a fan of gifting your home because I’ve heard and witnessed many horror stories of mom or dad being thrown out their house by their own child.

A Lady Bird Deed can prevent that.

 

  1. Avoiding Medicaid’s look-back period:

 

Long-term care services can be very costly. The reality is many do not have enough funds accumulated during their lifetime to pay for long-term care.

In this case, you may apply to a long-term care Medicaid program to pay for care.

The issue here is, this generates a Medicaid lien that could attach to your home when it passes through the estate after the person receiving the care and benefit passes away.

Traditionally, the home property was required to be protected or gifted prior to the benefit look-back period (3 year look-back for assisted living, 5 year look-back for nursing home Medicaid).

However, a Lady Bird Deed may be placed on a property at any time regardless of the look-back period.

 

  1. To sell or mortgage your property the Grantee must also sign:

Because you’re placing a trusted individual on a home deed to receive your property once you and/or your spouse passes away, you are granting them a future interest in that property.

Should you wish to sell or mortgage your property in the future after placing a Lady Bird Deed on the house, the child or children you placed on the deed would need to sign the deed of sale (to a buyer) or deed of trust (to a bank).

This can be both an advantage or disadvantage. It is a disadvantage if your child refuses to sign off on a deed selling the property (against your wishes). However, it can be an advantage to prevent a family member from signing away their home to an undeserving swindler.

 

Greg McIntyre

greg@mcelderlaw.com

Elder Law Attorney
McIntyre Elder Law
123 W. Marion Street

Shelby, NC 28150

704–259–7040

WHAT THE NEW TAX BILL MEANS FOR YOU

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Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in December of 2017 which is aimed at cutting taxes for corporations and all Americans. While the bulk of the legislation went into effect January 2018, most taxpayers will not see much of a difference in their taxes until 2019, when they file their 2018 taxes. However, there are several important changes seniors need to be aware of now that could affect not only their tax bill, but other items such as their health care premiums. Legislation as complicated as a new tax code can be difficult to dissect, and certainly requires the help of a tax professional. Please feel free to contact our office with any questions you may have while reading through the points below:

Before explaining the changes, let’s examine several facets important to seniors that will remain the same. The new tax bill keeps the extra standard deduction for those 65 and older, which is $1,250 for individuals, $1,550 for heads of households, and $2,500 for couples who are both age 65 or older. Also, the new plan keeps the popular medical expense deduction. This deduction is for people with incomes below $75,000 which allows them to deduct medical expenses that exceed 7.5 percent of their income for the 2017 and 2018 tax year. In 2019, this will increase to bills that exceed 10 percent of their income. Further, the new plan does not affect the way Social Security or investment income is taxed.

Perhaps the most talked about change in the new tax plan is the repeal of the individual mandate contained in the Affordable Care Act. According to the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), by 2027, this will increase the number of Americans without health insurance by 13 million. The CBO also states that because there will be a smaller pool of insured, it expects insurance premiums in the individual market to increase by 10 percent over the next 10 years. Citizens age 50 to 64 can expect a premium increase of up to $1,500 in 2019.

Image result for 2018 tax lawThe tax bill slashes taxes across the board, contributing to a loss of $1.5 trillion in revenue to the government over the next decade. This deficit would trigger cuts to “pay-as-you-go” programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare is expected to have its budget slashed by $25 billion in 2018.

Other notable provisions that will affect senior taxpayers include the new tax brackets which range from 10 percent for the lowest earners to 37 percent for those with the highest incomes. Taxpayers can deduct state and local taxes, which may include income, sales, and property taxes. The state and local tax deductions are capped at $10,000. Alimony payments will no longer be deductible. Anyone who inherits an estate can now exempt $10 million compared to the previous $5.6 million. The charitable giving deduction will increase under the new plan until this provision expires in 2026. The mortgage interest deduction is also being updated. Now, the deduction on mortgage interest is capped to loans of $750,000 for new home purchases and interest accrued on home equity loans is no longer deductible.

Under the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the majority of seniors may see their tax bills decrease. However, it is still prudent that seniors be aware of the changes that may affect them such as their health care premiums or deductions on medical expenses. If you would like to meet with a professional who will be able to assess your personal situation and provide you with guidance on how this will affect you, please don’t hesitate to give our office a call.

Greg McIntyre

greg@mcelderlaw.com

Elder Law Attorney
McIntyre Elder Law
123 W. Marion Street

Shelby, NC 28150

704–259–7040

Aging is a Success Story

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Aging is the sign of a successful life. After all, when you think about the alternative to aging your perspective about getting older shifts. You should start seeking self-sufficiency for your retirement years well before the age of sixty-five. But, even if you have not done so, don’t shun the planning stages. You need to address planning no matter what your age. Some preparation is better than none at all. It can provide you with some peace of mind and can take pressure off of family members who would have to make their own income adjustments to be able to provide money to support your cost of living. No one wants to become a burden to their children or otherwise extended family. It feels good to be able to provide for oneself (and one’s spouse) no matter how lavishly or modestly. It is a relief to know that you have solid plans as well as contingency plans for the future. Although it can be hard work and tough to realize how much it will take to cover your future living expenses, putting off the planning stage does not lead to easier or better outcomes.

First of all, consider your location. Many seniors prefer the idea of living out their lives in their own home but there is much to consider about that approach. Are you close to family members or someone willing to help drive you to doctor appointments and grocery stores when you are no longer able? Can your home accommodate a wheel chair; is there a bedroom on the first floor or is there a way to get up and down the stairs? How expensive are the property taxes in your area? How mild is the weather? If you want to go to a retirement community, what locations are most affordable as well as most desirable? How would you transition to less independent living over time?

Once you know your location goals, do some worst-case planning. Adverse health and unforeseen life events can ravage your finances unless you are already managing a sizeable sum of assets or have incorporated proper planning. You might look for advice as to how to turn a nest egg into retirement income, or how to add to your long-term insurance care, or to establish some long-term insurance care. Think particularly about in-home care should your goal be to stay in your own home as you age.

You need to know if your state has approved the Long-Term Care Partnership Program, a joint federal-state policy initiative to encourage the purchase of private long-term care insurance. A professional can explain to you how it can protect some of your assets if you would require extensive care in the future, for instance for Alzheimer’s disease, which could potentially exhaust your private insurance policy benefits and require you to apply for Medicaid. A professional can also advise you if there are any federal or state tax incentives available to you for long-term care partnership insurance. You can also discuss implementing some additional life insurance that can remain in force until you are eighty. It can help a spouse with extra money should something happen to you. In the meantime, both of you could sleep better at night knowing the insurance policy is in place. The point is, you need to examine some potential worst case expenditure scenarios and how you would be able to meet the needs of your care should the moment arise.

Your aging is a success story. Embrace how you prepare for your senior years no matter what your age is, and the sooner the better! Retirement requires careful thought, planning and decision making for the best outcome possible for you and your loved ones.

Contact our office today and schedule an appointment to discuss how we can help you with your planning.

Facts about Veterans Benefits for Veterans and their Families

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  1. The term “Veterans Benefits” is somewhat misleading. Only a percentage of the people covered by VA benefits served formerly in the Armed Forces. The Department of Veterans Affairs provides vocational rehabilitation, health care, employment services, pensions and more to both active and former service members, as well as their spouses, widows, parents and children.

 

  1. When you make up your mind to apply for benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs it is beneficial to have all of your important documents and forms ready, because they will most certainly be needed. Relatives of Veterans who wish to apply for benefits should have any relevant marriage certificates, birth certificates, and the Veteran’s birth and death certificates if necessary. You will also need the Veteran’s discharge papers.

 

  1. Find out if you are eligible for enrollment to receive health care from the Department of Veterans Affairs. This is easily done at the VA website vets.gov, or via telephone at 1-877-222-VETS (8387) where you will be asked no more than 15 questions and be told whether or not you are eligible to receive benefits. You may also mail an application to the Health Eligibility Center, or apply in person at a physical Veterans Affairs location. Veterans and their families should be aware that they may be eligible for care at a non-VA health care provider if certain conditions/hardships are met, such as if they live more than 40 miles from the nearest VA medical facility. The VA will help you determine which “priority group” you best fit in, ranging from 1-8 depending on various conditions, to best give you quality care, as determined by their standards.

 

  1. Although it may first seem unlikely, the Department of Veterans Affairs offers services to Veterans and their spouses that go far beyond simple health care. The VA can help you secure a house for your family via specialized home loans or purchase a car. Naturally these programs take into account the various levels of physical disabilities with which the recipient may struggle. For example, the VA can help you modify your home to be wheelchair accessible, should you require.

 

  1. The words “GI Bill” probably bring to mind images of baby boomers’ parents and the post-World War II program designed to help returning Veterans receive a college education, but did you know that the GI Bill still exists? The Forever GI Bill, the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act, is a comprehensive program that offers post-9/11 Veterans a wide variety of tools to help them get their degree, including a monthly housing allowance and priority enrollment in classes wherein Veterans are allowed to register before the general public.

 

  1. Although we probably do not like to think about it, there are thousands of servicemen and women who do not return home from the field of battle. For these heroes, the Department of Veterans Affairs offers funeral services and/or burial in a national military cemetery, whereupon the gravesite will be maintained in perpetuity.

 

Contact our office today for more information on benefits for war-time Veterans.

Memory Care Innovations

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Within the next 20 years, the need for memory care housing options will become more necessary than ever. In 2016 alone, more than 2.5 million Baby Boomers turned 70 years old, the youngest boomers hitting age 52. With advancing age comes an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia. Recent estimates state that the number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease could potentially triple from the 5 million sufferers in 2013 to around 14 million by the year 2050. By the year 1976, Alzheimer’s disease was officially identified as the most common cause of dementia. In most cases in the past, people living with Alzheimer’s disease would stay in a typical nursing home or assisted living community, receiving the same basic care as other residents. However, because so much more is being discovered about the disease in recent years, the way we think about caring for people with dementia is changing.

Some of the most recent innovations in memory care include:

Alternative Therapies
Music, art, and even pet therapy are often provided to residents with dementia as a way to stimulate memory, cognitive skills, and communication. In addition, these therapies can help improve residents’ physical and social skills, as well as reduce their stress and ease aggressive behaviors.

Dementia Staging
Dementia staging refers to the ability to understand exactly what stage of the disease a person is in to help provide the correct level of care needed. This person-centered approach sees each individual as unique and focuses on what they can do, rather than what their limitations may be.

Specialized Technology
As smartphone and computer technology advances, so does technology for dementia sufferers. GPS tracking devices for those who are at risk of wandering, emergency response devices to detect warning signs of illness or a fall, and the use tablets to play brain games or keep in touch with distant relatives, technology makes memory care today more efficient and streamlined. Technology is also beneficial for the person with memory care issues as it allows their cognitive abilities to continue functioning at a high level.

Unique Housing Designs
While many senior living communities have a special area designated for those living with Alzheimer’s or dementia, some communities today go above and beyond, providing just one floor to these residents. Intimate homes are offered that house up to 10 residents with a staff that specializes in memory care. These types of environments nurture a familial experience and build deep relationships between the residents and the caregiving team. The residents are allowed to maintain their own personal routines and are encouraged to continue to pursue their interests.

Dining Experience
In a central dining area setting, everyone sits around a single table for meals. The seniors are encouraged to engage in conversation and develop friendships.

Colors and Patterns
Because people see more yellow as they get older, gray was often chosen as the common denominator for institutional living. Instead, using green or yellow paint enhances colors as visualized by seniors. Coral blended with a bit of yellow makes a nice combination and engages the senses.

Memory Recall
Nostalgia-evoking displays throughout the halls, such as workbench stations or wooden coat racks draped with glamorous dresses from a distant era, are meant to stir residents’ memories. Personal touches like family photo cases near the entrances of their rooms brighten otherwise unremarkable hallways.

As research continues for this disease, more and more innovative ideas are uncovered that can help seniors with memory care issues and can help care givers of those individuals.

If you would like more information about caring for a loved one who suffers from memory issues, contact our office for an appointment today.

Greg McIntyre

greg@mcelderlaw.com

Elder Law Attorney
McIntyre Elder Law
123 W. Marion Street

Shelby, NC 28150

704–259–7040

Changes to Social Security in 2018

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Related image There is good news! Social Security payments will increase by 2% in 2018. The bad news? It’s not enough to keep up with inflation.

Many senior citizens will be happy to learn that the amount of money they will receive in their social security checks will increase two percent in 2018. This averages about $27.38 per month, or $329 per year under a new Cost of Living Allowance (COLA). “It will help them make ends meet,” says Erin Parrish of AARP Minnesota, pointing to an example of how the modes increase may allow a person to purchase a month’s worth of medication.

Unfortunately, this modest increase in benefits, the largest since 2012, still does not allow many seniors to keep up with the ever-rising costs of medical care. As the age of retirement has continued to rise, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has continued to warn that the present rate of depletion of social security funding will result in the fund being empty by 2034.

Other changes to social security in 2018 include a slightly higher tax cap. At present, Americans in the workforce who pay social security taxes give up 6.2% of their pay to Social Security if they make up to $127,200. That cap will slightly increase to $128,700 in 2018.

The SSA has announced that the maximum possible benefits that a person can receive increased from $2,687 per month to $2,788 per month, or $33,456 per year. Additionally, seniors who continue to work while receiving Social Security can earn up to $17,040 without being penalized. This is a modest increase from $16,920 in 2017. Likewise, disability payments will increase in 2018 by $10 per month.

One of the biggest changes to Social Security is that it no longer mails paper statements. Beneficiaries in 2018 are now required to have an online account at ssa.gov. This development may be quite irksome for senior citizens who are not tech-savvy. To make matters more complicated, the SSA will require two-step verification for security purposes which will likely require more than one pin or password to access an account. While security is always a concern, some seniors may wish to have a trustworthy friend or relative walk them through the procedure the first few times.

So, there are some modest increases coming to various aspects of social security benefits in 2018 that will be welcome for millions of Americans. What has long been “the bedrock of American financial security” will continue to be so for the short term but what happens after 2034? With the social security predicted to be depleted, what will our seniors do then?

The aging population needs to take steps today to ensure their financial security. Look at alternative means for future income such as safe investments and early planning. They should take these actions while they are still working. Go one step further and work with an elder law attorney to create a strategy that will help protect assets and allocate funds for long term care. It’s crucial to plan as early as possible, contact our office today for an appointment.

Greg McIntyre

greg@mcelderlaw.com

Elder Law Attorney
McIntyre Elder Law
123 W. Marion Street

Shelby, NC 28150

704–259–7040

Veterans Benefits: Aid and Attendance

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Many veterans and their spouses are eligible but do not apply for the benefit.

Aid and Attendance is for veterans, spouse of a veteran, or spouse of a deceased veteran needing day-to-day care to get paid a monthly benefit.

The term applies to individuals needing the aid and attendance of another person to help with daily activities, and is paid in addition to an individual’s pension. Clearly, to receive the Aid and Attendance benefit, you must first receive a pension.

There are certain requirements to qualify. If the veteran is in assisted living or a nursing home, they automatically meet the initial requirements. After the initial qualification, further criteria still need to be met.

There are three tiers of additional aid offered to veterans and people that meet the requirements.

The Third Tier: Aid and Attendance

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, one of the following is needed for an individual to qualify to receive Aid and Attendance:

  • The individual must prove he/she requires aid and attendance of someone to carry out basic daily functions, such as bathing and getting dressed.
  • The individual must be disabled to the point of being bedridden.
  • The individual must be admitted to a nursing home because they cannot provide basic care for himself/herself.
  • The individual must record an eyesight of 5/200 or below in both eyes.

 

The maximum amount individuals will receive once qualified for Aid and Attendance differs on a case-by-case basis. Below are the current maximum monthly benefit amounts as of 2018:

The Asset Level Threshold for Aid and Attendance qualification. The threshold is accepted as being below $80,000, but we believe it’s around $20,000. However, there are ways to position assets and still qualify for Aid and Attendance.

One day of war time duty

If you’re a veteran, and have served ninety days of active duty, one day beginning or ending during a period of War, you may be eligible for Aid and Attendance benefit.

Here is a link to all war time events the Veterans Administration has designated for A&A benefits: http://www.veteranaid.org/docs/Periods_of_War.pdf

Example: I would qualify because I was in the military during the window for the Gulf War. It also qualifies my spouse. Even if I passed away, she’d be eligible for that benefit through me.

Check to see if you qualify for this beneficial program. Eligibility must be proven by filing the Veterans Application for Pension or Compensation.

This requires:

  • A copy of DD-214 or separation papers
  • Medical Evaluation from a physician
  • Current medical issues
  • Net worth limitations
  • Net income
  • Out-of-pocket Medical Expenses.

To qualify (financially), an applicant must have on average less than $80,000 in assets, excluding their home and vehicles.

Checklist for Veterans Aid & Attendance Benefits:

  • Veteran? Spouse of Veteran? Spouse of deceased veteran?
  • At least 90 days of active duty service
  • At least one day of active duty service during a wartime event. Service does not have to be in a combat theater.
  • Under $20,000 in assets, excluding home.
  • A current need: At least 2 out of 6 standard ADLs impaired*:

 

Activities of Daily Living:

§ Eating?

§ Preparing Meals?

§ Walking?

§ Dressing?

§ Bathing?

§ Toileting?

* A physician must sign an FL2 form confirming current need.

Surviving Spouses

I often get questions about surviving spouses of veterans.

What happens if the veteran is of good health, yet their spouse has healthcare problems and incurs staggering medical bills?

According to veteranaid.org, the spouse of a veteran who incurs healthcare costs is eligible to receive no more than $1,176 each month. Similarly, a veteran with a sick spouse is eligible to receive no more than $1,436 each month. These figures are of January 1, 2018.

Veterans Improved Pension: Other Tiers

As mentioned, the Veterans Improved Pension program has three tiers.

The First Tier — Basic Pension for disabled veterans 65 years and up. This also extends to the surviving spouse of a veteran if he/she meets the income qualifications.

The following are the countable income requirements (as of January 1, 2015) a veteran must meet for the Basic Pension.

  • The joint countable income of a veteran and spouse must be less than the pension amount for which they are eligible. Example, a married veteran in 2017 is eligible for $25,525 in pension; if their countable income is $10,000, they are eligible for an additional $15,525 / year in pension.*

 

The Second Tier Housebound Pension. You must also qualify to be eligible for this monthly amount.

Housebound Pension recipients must prove they require assistance of another individual in their home, by having their primary physician sign that they need the help. Their day-to-day actions are not as limited as those receiving Aid and Attendance.

(*Conditions to be met for countable income for Housebound Pension are the same as above).

When speaking about countable income, it is imperative you record all your expenses. The VA discourages individuals from paying various expenses in cash, this way you maintain a paper trail and can add this to your countable income.

Here’s how to calculate Countable Income.

(See VeteranAid.org for downloadable chart)

First Step Estimate total annual income of veteran whether single or married.

What to include

  • All income including social security, pension, interest income, dividends, income from rental properties, etc.
  • CDs, annuities, stocks, bonds, savings/checking, IRAs, etc.
  • Assets owned by spouse

 

What NOT to include

  • Residence or vehicle when calculating net worth
  • Life insurance policy

 

When taken into consideration, you get the estimated annual income of the veteran.

Second Step Add all recurring healthcare expenses incurred by veteran each month. This includes:

  • Assisted Living costs
  • Nursing home costs
  • Home Care service costs
  • Health Insurance premium
  • Medicare premium
  • Monthly prescription costs

Add up these monthly costs and multiply by 12 for the annual healthcare expenses.

Third Step Subtract annual healthcare expenses from annual income.

Total annual income — (minus) Total annual healthcare expenses

= Countable Income.

This amount determines the veteran’s eligibility for one of the three tiers of the Pension program.

Proposed Changes to VA Pension Eligibility Rules

It’s a basic right to know when legislation is introduced that affects large groups.

The proposed changes to the VA Pension Eligibility were on the table January 23, 2015 by the Department of Veteran Affairs.

The VA Pension Eligibility is a needs-based program. Benefits awarded to veterans and their families provide help throughout the years.

Below are proposed changes and how they may impact you if you’re a veteran, or family member of a veteran.

Current Reading of the Law

Since 1980, the law stated that to qualify for Aid and Attendance benefits, a veteran must have served a minimum of 24 months. At least one of those days must be actively served during a “wartime period”. Veterans who have been dishonorably discharged do not qualify. Allowances can be made for veterans 65 years of age and older who have a permanent disability.

In terms of income, the veteran’s household income cannot exceed the amount the veteran is trying to qualify for in assistance and benefits. Much of the language regarding income is about countable income.

What Might Change

Below are some proposed changes for Veterans Aid and Attendance benefits qualifications. These changes, if imposed, make it harder for veterans to qualify, and allows them to keep and protect less money and property.

Proposed changes:

  • A clear net worth limit. The VA proposed that the net worth limit a veteran can claim when applying for the Eligibility program cannot exceed $119,220.
  • Income and net worth calculation. The Federal Register has provided an example breakdown of how calculations will be made. First, the VA will calculate income to establish the pension entitlement. They will “subtract all applicable deductible expenses to include appropriate prospective medical expenses”. When calculating the net worth, the VA will take the annual income and add it to the assets. For instance, let’s say a veteran’s net worth limit is $115,000. The annual income of the spouse is $7,000 and the total assets are $116,000. The total net worth would come to $123,000, which exceeds the net worth limit by $8,000.
  • Exempt asset. A primary residence will not be included as an asset in the calculation of net worth as long as the residence sits on an area not exceeding 2 acres. Right now, there is no limit on the acreage of the primary residence and it is exempt from the net worth calculation.

 

If you want to read the full legislation, go to FederalRegister.gov and read their article entitled “Net Worth, Asset Transfers, and Income Exclusions for Needs-Based Benefits”.

I strongly urge you, if you are a veteran, or you are the spouse or child of one, to sift through the proposed changes to see how you might be impacted.

Should you have any questions or need would like to discuss qualification for Veterans Aid & Attendance Benefits further, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Greg McIntyre

V.A. Certified & Elder Law Attorney

McIntyre Elder Law

704–259–7040

greg@mcelderlaw.com

http://www.mcelderlaw.com

 

The New Elder Law Report: Find the right spot for your loved one!

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Welcome to the elder law report, I’m Greg McIntyre, the elder law guy and I have my usual support team with me today, Hayden Soloway and Taylor Shelton, and our special guest is Billy Peeler who is with Mike House Senior Consulting Services.

This is an awesome business organization that helps and guides seniors and their families through the unchartered waters of finding the right place to care for their loved one. For many people, they don’t know the answers to these questions. That is where our guest will come in and what we will talk about here.

Before we get to that, Taylor, what is memorial day about?

TS: You’ve put me on the spot. Memorial day is about remembering the fallen veterans that served our country.

GM: That’s true, it is remembering those who have fallen or been injured defending our freedoms and serving our country, so we can sit back and talk on the radio and talk freely, and all that stuff. One way we do that is to display the American flag and eat hot dogs.

As a veteran of the US Navy, I love my brothers and sisters in arms, and appreciate those who are serving now. I am a certified attorney with the US Department of Veteran’s Affairs and qualify veteran seniors for veteran’s aid and attendance. Many veterans could get up to $34,000 dollars a year to help pay for in-home, assisted living or nursing home care if they ever need it.

That is a great benefit many veterans and their families do not know about. We qualify veterans for this benefit on a regular basis.

So, now it’s time for Hayden’s happy place, and I know you love lighthouses?

HS: I do love lighthouses, I will go out of my way to photograph a lighthouse.

GM: Didn’t you live in a lighthouse for a short time?

HS: No, but I spent a lot of time travelling by them, my favorite being Cape Lookout.

Everybody looks at the lighthouses in the gift stores and think, we’ve got eight lighthouses, well no, there are about nineteen and may be more, because you look at some lights that are just utilitarian out on a point, so it goes beyond Cape Lookout and Cape Hatteras and the ones we see in the gift stores.

There are some interesting things about lighthouses and Taylor told me something about them.

TS: The United States has more lighthouses than any other country, and Cape Hatteras is the tallest lighthouse in North Carolina at one hundred and ninety six feet.

HS: And do you know which state has the most lighthouses?

TS: Virginia.

GM: Florida.

BP: Florida.

HS: Michigan. Think about the lakes and the curvature of the land. They have one hundred and fifteen lighthouses in Michigan. Another interesting fact is that lighthouse keeping was one of the first United States government jobs made available to women. There are still lighthouses being used by the US Coastguard today. You would think with GPS and all the technology we have that they would have fallen out of use. Also, when lighthouses were close together, they had different flash patterns so mariners could count the number of seconds it takes for a rotation and determine the lighthouse and where they were. From 1886 to 1902 the tallest lighthouse that was active in the world was the Statue of Liberty. The newest one is the Charleston light which was completed in 1962 and is triangular. The oldest standing lighthouse in North Carolina which has been guiding ships since 1817 was ‘old baldy’ on Bald head Island.

GM: When I was in the Navy I did the light morse code on the ship, and one time I saw this ship or light coming toward us, and I said in morse code, ‘move, we’re an aircraft carrier and we’re coming toward you and will probably run right over you’, and the response was, ‘we’re a lighthouse, so you might want to correct course.’

So, Billy, how are you today?

BP: I’m doing fantastic Greg.

GM: We have known each other for a while, we’ve done some breakfasts and lunches, networking groups and seminars together. That was way back in the beginning when I first started doing seminars, so, you’ve been in the senior care world for quite a while, and have worked for some assisted living facilities?

BP: Yes, I worked for Carillon Assisted living, a great organization. I enjoyed what I did and it set the platform for what I wanted to do with this company, and what I wanted to provide. The biggest issue was, I wanted to help everybody and not cater to just one individual facility because that might not be best for everyone. I wanted to do what I could to guide folks in the right direction for what’s going to suit them the best.

GM: So, you’re someone they can trust to evaluate the care need and help them determine if this is the right fit, this in-home service, or this assisted living service, or this skilled nursing service?

BP: Absolutely. We have two wonderful contracted nurses on staff who will go in and do a physical level assessment, a cognitive level assessment, and then an in-home assessment, because if someone wants to stay home, we want them to be able to do that. We want them to come up with a plan but if that is not an option, we do have ways where we can do the assessments, talk with the doctors, talk with the family to see what the ultimate goal is, and have them provide a plan that way.

GM: That is awesome. I didn’t know about the nurses you have.

BP: Yes, we have two wonderful nurses who have been in nursing for, lord, as long as I can remember, since I was born, because one of them is my mom. She is very knowledgeable, and has been in the nursing field a long time. She’s worked for doctor’s offices, hospitals and skilled nursing facilities, so she knows the ropes.

GM: I’m a huge fan of family businesses. So, you guys go in and evaluate a care need, and then what happens? What questions do you think seniors or the families of seniors have when someone has a care need?

BP: Well, there is a couple of things:

Number one, when is the time to make a move?

It’s not always an easy transition or easy conversation to have with your family, with your loved one. That is one way we can come in and scope, and have the conversations with your loved one and the family, because you have some families where the primary caregiver is ready to do something but the family who lives out of town thinks, oh, mom or dad are fine. They think they don’t need any help, you’ve got it under control. They don’t see the everyday care that is involved and what a toll it takes on the caregiver and their family.

GM: A lot of the time, family caregivers will pre-decease the person they are caring for. That is crazy. Why is that?

BP: Because the caregiver gets so worn out. All the time and the energy, the mental state, it all takes a toll on the whole person, not just one side but it takes everything inside of you to care for a loved one.

HS: Caregivers often put aside their own needs to care, which can include delaying checkups and putting off social activities with friends, which brings about one of the things we need for longevity, happiness.

GM: You talk about that a lot.

HS: Well, I am a caregiver. Fortunately I have a brother and sister and it works out well for us but we have a dilemma coming up over a weekend when one wants to be gone for four days. We’re trying to put that together now.

In situations, especially where someone has had to quit their job, and it’s their only income, it effects their quality of life.

GM: Taking care of yourself is important. You must take some time for yourself. It doesn’t mean you don’t love the care recipient, your husband or wife, you have to take some time to take care of yourself.

HS: There are things like respite care, and sometimes it is expensive but if you qualify, you can go through care solutions. They can organize some money for a temporary respite so the family can have some time away.

BP: Respite is a great way for the family to get a break. Sometimes even the caregiver and person they’re taking care of just need to be separated for a little bit because you get tired of each other. If you’re the primary caregiver, you’re in there every day, it takes a toll on both of them.

HS: Is respite care a good opportunity for someone who anticipates having to go somewhere to go visit and see what the facility is really like on a day to day basis?

BP: I really can’t tell you how many folks I have moved into a community that just want to test it out, or who are not sure if it’s going to be the right fit. They go in and do a week, or a two week respite to see how they will adjust.

I would say be careful with that because the simple fact is, there is a transition period when someone moves into a community. A lot of time that transition is two to three weeks. So, can you really get the full idea of how that person will adjust during that short amount of time. I would make sure it is worth your time before you do it.

There are a lot of folks out there who would rather do these assisted living communities on a month by month basis. If you can do a month to allow the person to adjust and really see how they will do, give them that instead of just trying a week. That week is going to be your loved one adjusting to the move, so let them settle in, let them get used to the socialization, the activity and the structure of that facility.

I talk about those three things all the time, and even if you have the ability to stay at home and take care of a loved one, really take into consideration other than yourself, the care giver and the care receiver, what other socialization is that person getting? What other types of activities are they doing, and what is the structure because of the old saying, if you don’t use it, you lose it.

HS: But you can take someone out of a care facility in many cases if they don’t require constant medical care. You can take them to dinner, we take my father out to dinner at least twice a week. When he goes to rehab which he does about every six to eight weeks, and he has to be there a couple of weeks, we try and get him out. He went to the beach last week with my sister and brother.

BP: That’s what it’s all about. As long as you are able to do that and have the means to do that, then why shouldn’t that person stay at home? Then there are some families that have to work, there’s not a chance, especially when you think of alzheimers and dementia to leave someone at home by themselves while you are at work? How safe is that? They’re home alone.

GM: It’s not.

HS: There is certain technology available, such as, I’ve fallen and can’t get up, and the medication dispensers.

BP: Right, and now people are using baby monitors to hear what’s going on at home, or in-home camera systems, which are great things, but I still want to focus on that socialization, activity and structure because that is going to be key, especially in alzheimers, to know the development and progression of the disease.

HS: In my short and abbreviated experience, the things that matter the most, at least to my father, is food and visitors. I would say that for some, there would be bingo and activities like that. You must find out what means the most to your parents, or whoever you’re caring for.

GM: For families needing help in these situations, and there really is a great need, there seems to be no one to call. They’re feeling like there’s a void. In the senior care world, Billy Peeler can be that person to contact. You can be that lighthouse helping to guide them to where they need to go, and steering them away from situations that might be a bad fit. Plus, I see clients on a regular basis who say, they are full over here, they are full over there, where can we go, what can we do? You would be the person to call who can help them find the right place, where there is an open bed or room, or in-home solution. You also evaluate, and decide if can they do private pay or do we need to find a care benefit for them.

BP: I think that’s what is different about us from some of these other companies. We promote the one on one, guide you through the whole process, instead of just finding you somewhere and say, there you go. I want to be able to help everyone, so if it is Medicaid, I want to help educate them on the facilities that accept Medicaid. You know as much as I do, all the changes in Medicaid now, who bills for Personal Care Services and who doesn’t?

GM: We routinely qualify families for Medicaid. Regardless of asset situation, we will find the right benefit whether it be VA or Medicaid.

I want to thank you for coming on the show today. Maybe we can do a follow up on this, say, how seniors and their families can locate the right care facility?

BP: If anyone needs to get in touch with me, our number is 704-473-6149. We are in the process of getting our website up and running, and on Facebook, look up Mike House Senior Consulting Services.

 

If anyone needs to contact McIntyre Elder Law about anything discussed here, you can call us, if you are listening in the Charlotte to Tryon area on 704-343-6933, or if you are in the Henderson/ Asheville area you can reach us at 828-398-0181.

We are located in Shelby NC, at 123 W. Marion St. We see clients by appointment only in-home, or in one of our meeting locations in Asheville or Charlotte. You can see a video of this show on Facebook at McIntyre elder law, or go to our website at mcelderlaw.com

Contact me if you have any questions. Elder Law is what we do!

Greg McIntyre

greg@mcelderlaw.com

Elder Law Attorney
McIntyre Elder Law
123 W. Marion Street

Shelby, NC 28150

704–259–7040

The New Elder Law Report: Winn the Game: Avoid losing it all.

in Articles by Greg McIntyre Comments are off

I’m Greg McIntyre and this is the elder law report. I have a crowded studio this morning, my special guest is Jason Winn of Winn Insurance and we will be talking about how you can avoid losing it all.

If you want to talk about the dream team, you have that with your insurance professional and your elder law and estate planning attorney working together, that team can protect you over all. We are going to do a whole show based around that today.  

We are going to talk about the new world of long term care insurance which has been totally revamped. I call that the unicorn right now because it’s rare and when I have a client who has long term care insurance, it makes my planning job a lot easier. I tell them I don’t provide as many services to them because they don’t need as much, they have some bases covered. If something happens to them or their spouse, they have it paid for, they can stay at home.

How many people want to go to a long-term care facility after all?

No-one wants to go. People want to stay at home and be taken care of in their own house, if it comes to that. Statistics show that seventy percent (70%) of seniors over sixty-five years of age will need some type of long term care, be it in-home, assisted living or nursing home care. Those are better, or worse, depending on how you look at it than Vegas odds.

HS: Vegas takes the money and leaves you with empty pockets. That’s why I don’t gamble in Vegas.

GM: That’s right, so why would you gamble your entire life to accumulate wealth, or to pay off your mortgage on your house over thirty years only to risk losing it in the last few years of your life. That is my mission and the reason I do what I do. I can’t stand the idea that people will work their whole live to lose it all in the end.

I would also like to introduce Taylor, she has been with McIntyre Elder Law for a while now, and I wanted to introduce her to our audience. She will be a guest on the show at some time. She is Hayden’s protégé.

HS: Yes, and sometimes I might not be here.

GM: Which brings us to Hayden’s happy place. What have you got for us?

HS: I was looking at a picture of my grandson proposing to his fiancé, and he did it at the top of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai and it got me thinking, that is the tallest building in the world, but what are the others?

GM: Is it still called the Burj Khalifa because it used to be the Burj Dubai? You want to talk about a huge building, I want to say it’s about two and half Empire State buildings on top of one another. It is unreal how tall it is.

HS: It is two thousand, seven hundred and twenty three (2723) feet high. It’s half a mile high. The future tallest building is going to be the Kingdom Tower in Saudi Arabia which will be three thousand two hundred and eighty one (3281) feet high and will be completed in 2019.

GM: When I was in the Navy, I spent quite a bit of time in Dubai. I was brought up between Shelby and Boiling Springs and my world view of the middle east was that it was just dirt camels, but no, there is this future city in the middle of the desert. A lot of oil money, money coming out of the ground over there.

HS: The United States had the tallest building until the Burj was built, which was the World Trade Center. Now, the biggest building in the world is the New Century Global Center, we’re talking eighteen million two hundred and ninety eight thousand six hundred and forty eight square feet (18,298,648 sq ft) and it’s in China. The longest bridge in the world is the Danyang Kunshan Grand bridge in China and is one hundred and two point four miles (102.4 miles) long.  

GM: There are a lot of big things out there and the biggest one seniors and their families face, is losing everything they have worked for. I certainly don’t want to lose everything I am currently building up just because I didn’t plan.

So, Jason, why did you get in to insurance?

JW: Well, twenty years ago my mother passed away at the age of forty-two, so the distribution and the preservation of life she never knew.  She was in the middle of that accumulation phase. My dad was a banker but my mom owned her own business. She moved her business in to the house after cancer ravaged her body. At her funeral, Fred Hamrick came through the line, not with a bucket of chicken, but with an actual check. I will never forget that. We didn’t have to move. One of the most traumatic things for folks beyond losing a parent or a child or a loved one, is having to move schools and their home. Imagine the compounding effect that happens when people pass away. So, we didn’t have to move, my sister and I had a little starter fund.

GM: He was your insurance agent?

JW: Yes, Fred Hamrick, Maxwell B Hamrick insurance. They’re a good organization, they are competitors of ours but we do some different things. That small amount that mom had the foresight to purchase at thirty-eight years old was just a miracle to us. So, I am a proponent of that and I go out and preach that. Everyone can afford life insurance, get it young, get it early. It has now moved so far, it hits all three phases of life. As you do elder law planning with seniors, if they have the proper insurances in place, then they don’t have to worry about some of the crisis planning.

GM: Then they don’t have to worry about spending hundreds of thousands out on their spouse, and all their life savings are going to be gone, and we might lose the house in the end.

JW: Then they can put that worry in the rear-view window and move on.

GM: Exactly, because they have a long-term care policy that’s kicking in and paying.

JW: If they have that, I call it winning the game. To me, at the end of life, in the preservation phase of life, to leave a legacy, as you would say, if you are going to have a legacy, you need something besides just memories.

GM: I know Hayden has some questions about long term care insurance?

HS: Well, yes, I have two term policies, one hundred thousand dollars each. I think when I got them they were twenty-six dollars each. I think they have gone up a bit since then as I’ve got older, but they are meant for young families to cover emergencies and things like that.

JW: Well, you know, life insurance, just like an automobile has gone through many changes. When our grandfathers were buying their first automobile, there was no power steering, or door locks, or automatic windows, or defrosters, or heated seats, the kind of things we’re used to now, and my point is, life insurance used to be only whole life insurance, term insurance, then there was something called universal life, but as time moved forward, they advance it. So, if you had term insurance, the first step would be to contact that company and see if it’s convertible to a permanent policy. You mentioned whole life, it’s an older product, been around for one hundred and fifty plus years but there are newer products on the market. If they will convert that, you may not have to go through underwriting and they might even include a long-term care rider with just minimal underwriting.

Life insurance has radically changed, so if you have a belief system that said life insurance is bad because once it was bad, just like used car salesmen, bad doctors or bad lawyers, long term care has radically changed. Stand-alone long-term care is moving to the wayside, there are few companies that offer it. People still think of that just as they think of long term care as a nursing home that smells of urine, no, not anymore. It is stay at home, have your family take care of you and have a bucket of money to pull out of to refurbish the bathroom, or put in hardwood floors instead of carpet. All those things that you want to do as a senior or for a loved one you can do now.

GM: Or put in a roll-in shower?

JW: Exactly. Who wants to lift their one hundred and fifty pound husband in to the tub? You are not going to be able to do it, or you will end up needing long term care yourself.

HS: It’s something people don’t think about. The products are so different. You have Taylor who has a young child, people like me who have grandchildren, and some my age who might need what they should have bought years earlier, that their children could buy now.

JW: A great example is that Taylor should buy term insurance that is convertible to permanent. When she gets to my age and Greg’s age, she should convert that, because now we have more disposable income unless you have nineteen children like Greg. You should be able to afford the conversion. When you get to a certain point in life you begin to think about it.

My grandparents passed in 2015 but both had alzheimers and stayed at hospice, or at a care facility that was seven thousand dollars ($7000) a month.

GM: Those places love when you have insurance because then they don’t have to scramble trying to find how you are going to pay for those services, or if this is going to be a short or long term thing. You’re in there and they can take care of you and you don’t have to worry about the money, your family doesn’t have to worry about it. Getting insurance is an unselfish thing to do because it takes the financial burden off your kids and off your spouse, it really does.

Speaking of grandparents, you have an office in Boiling Springs on Main Street which is an old home place.

JW: My great grandmother and great grandfather lived there, and I live I Boiling Springs with my family and we love it there.

GM: People need to think, how am I going to replace income, how am I going to send my child to college, how would my wife survive if I suddenly passed away, how would he or she send the kids to school.

TY: You don’t think about those things until you have kids.

HS: You can’t assume it won’t happen. I’ve had six wrecks in two years, none of them were bad but it could happen at any time.

GM: Six wrecks in two years? The whole point for me is, I see people all the time losing assets because of a tragic health care situation. With the revolutionary changes in life insurance and long term care, if you have those things in place, they will pay off far more than you invest in them. They are also beneficiary assets that allows you to pass them to the kids and grandkids if you don’t use them, tax free. So, there is multiple benefits. A lot of people I meet do have money in insurance, in whole life policies or 401K’s, or a checking account.

JW: Those are sleeping assets. It’s not about use it or lose it anymore.

HS: It used to be though?

JW: That’s exactly right. Now, you use it or keep it.

GM: If people want to contact you and set up a meeting, do they have to come to your office, or will you go to them? How does that work?

JW: One thing I recommend is, they call McIntyre elder law, you have a wonderful process where you evaluate all the things in their life, their needs in life, and you package that up and then that document with their permission can be sent to me. We’ll set up an appointment and then we’ll meet. If they want to find out more information about me, Facebook is the best way, so Facebook WinnInsurance, that is the best way to get ahold of us.

HS: If they don’t have access to Facebook how else can they get in touch with you?

JW: My number is 704-482-7746. When you call that number, you will talk to one of my fantastic staff, Elisha, Lisa or Jody.

GM: I want to thank you for being on the show today Jason.  

If you have any questions you can call me at 704-343-6933, or at 828-398-0181. I or my staff will be glad to talk to you and schedule an appointment.

Contact me if you have any questions. Elder Law is what we do!

Greg McIntyre

greg@mcelderlaw.com

Elder Law Attorney
McIntyre Elder Law
123 W. Marion Street

Shelby, NC 28150

704–259–7040

 

 

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