Today’s Elder Care / Senior Care Q&A is about Medicaid Eligibility

Medicaid

QUESTION:  Special Needs, Third Party and Self Settled Trusts – What’s with all the Names?

ANSWER:  When a person applies for Medicaid eligibility there are many pitfalls that an unsuspecting or unsophisticated applicant can run afoul of. To help them retain the benefit of certain monies that they would normally have access to third parties or the applicant themselves can create a special needs trust to help keep the public benefits and still benefit from the money in the trust. The various different trusts have different legal requirements that must be met to qualify as that type of trusts.

Moreover, different trusts accomplish different goals and yet other types of trusts exist that have nothing to do with Medicaid or other public entitlement program eligibility but help to reduce tax liability. Some trusts accomplish two tasks, such as a third party special needs trusts, which allow seniors to live a relatively modest and respectable life and qualify for Medicaid at the same time. While other types of trusts only satisfy just one legal goal, such as a grantor retained annuity trust, which allows a person to make a gift of an asset that will likely appreciate rather quickly, but incur no gift tax liability. Finally, there are other types of trusts that outlive their utility, such as pooled trusts.

SPECIAL NEEDS TRUSTS – APPLY TO MEDICAID ELIGIBILITY

Special needs trusts are trusts that allow for a person to benefit from public entitlement programs, such as Medicare or Medicaid, without running afoul of statutory asset limits. To help parse through some of the confusion with respect to the different types of trusts as they apply to Medicaid eligibility it is best to understand the various types of trusts. Under the umbrella of special needs trust there are two general distinctions. The distinctions arise as a result of the answer to the question of who had the right to the money immediately prior to its deposit into the trust. For example, a father may leave money to his daughter in a will.

If that money is given to her outright and she then deposits that money into a trust, it is a self-settled trust. If the will leaves the money to the daughter via a trust, it is a third party trust. In either event the daughter benefits from the money. In the case of leaving the money outright, she can use all, some or none of the money for whatever she chooses. In the case of leaving the money to the trust, the trustee acts as a fiduciary and according to the terms of the trust with respect to whether she can use all, some or none of the money as she chooses. As such, if immediately prior to deposit of the funds into the trust, the money can be used solely at the discretion of the beneficiary, it is a self settled trust. If immediately prior to deposit of the funds into the trust, the money cannot be used at the sole discretion of the beneficiary, it is a third party trust.

  • Self settled special needs trust characteristics:
    • Must include a proviso that pays the state the full amount left in the trust at the time that the beneficiary passes away, but no more than what the state is due.
    • Have limitations on what the trustee is permitted to pay for. These conditions vary from state to state and even county to county.
    • The trust must be for the sole benefit of the beneficiary (except a residuary beneficiary which may be entitled to whatever is in the trust after the state is repaid 100 percent of it’s own expenditures).
  • Third party special needs trust characteristics
    • The Medicaid beneficiary may be one of several beneficiaries.
    • Beneficiaries may even include charities.
    • The trust may terminate if the beneficiary improves and no longer needs Medicaid or other public entitlement program (such as SSI).

Expenditures to the beneficiary may reduce the monthly benefit amount depending on various factors.

Today’s Answer was provided by Michael Ettinger, Esq., from the Ettinger Law Firm in Albany, New York.  Mr. Ettinger is a Partner Member in the national ElderCare Matters Alliance.

21 “Mobile Friendly” Elder Care / Senior Care Directories

If you need help in planning for and/or dealing with this issue or with any Elder Care / Senior Care matter, you can find the professional help you need in one of the following 21Mobile Friendly” Elder Care / Senior Care Directories. These Elder Care / Senior Care – specific Directories are sponsored by the National ElderCare Matters Alliance, an organization of thousands of America’s TOP Elder Care / Senior Care Professsionals who help families plan for and deal with a wide range of Elder Care Matters.

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Today’s Elder Care / Senior Care Q&A for 2/24/2016

 

QUESTION:  What are our rights to refills if Medicare drops coverage of our prescription drugs?

ANSWER:  Medicare prescription drug plans can change which drugs they cover, leaving you without coverage for a drug you need. Or you may switch plans into a plan that doesn’t cover your medication. In these circumstances, Medicare drug plans are required to offer you a 30-day transition supply of the drug you were taking.

All Medicare drug plans, including Medicare Advantage plans with prescription drug coverage and stand-alone drug plans, must offer these transition refills. Plans must provide a 30-day supply (unless a lesser amount is prescribed) of an ongoing medication within the first 90 days of plan membership or within the first 90 days of the new contract year. The plans are also required to provide written notice that you are using your transition supply and explaining what your rights are.

You are entitled to a transition refill when you first enroll in a Part D plan, if you move to a new plan that does not cover your current medication, when your current plan drops your medication or imposes new restrictions on the drug, or when you experience a change in your level of care (e.g., a move from a hospital to a nursing home). The 30-day supply is designed to give you time to either talk to your doctor and find a substitute medication or to request a coverage exception from your current plan. If you ask for a coverage exception, your plan must provide temporary refills until the request has been processed.

Residents in long-term care facilities get additional protections. If you are in a long-term care facility, the plan must cover all the 31-day refill requests you submit in the first 90 days on the plan. After the first 90 days, the plan must offer an emergency 31-day supply if your request for an exception has not been processed.

Today’s Answer was provided by Chad R. Oldham, Esq., from the Oldham Law Firm in Jonesboro, Arkansas.  Mr. Oldham is a Partner Member in the national ElderCare Matters Alliance.

21 “Mobile Friendly” Elder Care / Senior Care Directories

If you need help in planning for and/or dealing with this issue or with any Elder Care / Senior Care matter, you can find the professional help you need in one of the following 21Mobile Friendly” Elder Care / Senior Care Directories. These Elder Care / Senior Care – specific Directories are sponsored by the National ElderCare Matters Alliance, an organization of thousands of America’s TOP Elder Care / Senior Care Professsionals who help families plan for and deal with a wide range of Elder Care Matters.

#eldercarematters, #eldercare, #eldercareanswers, #seniorcareanswers,  #eldercaredirectories, #seniorcaredirectories, #findseniorcareprofessionals, #findseniorcareexperts, #elderlawanswers, #seniorcare, #seniorcarematters, #findelderlawattorneys

 


Today’s Elder Care / Senior Care Q&A for Monday 2/22/2016

 

QUESTION:  Is it ethical for an Elder Law Attorney to have his fees paid by a client’s daughter, while preparing documents that benefit that daughter?

ANSWER:   This is a very complex issue that is not uncommon for Attorneys practicing in the area of Elder Law. Frequently a large portion of the interaction about an elderly Clients matters are handled by a designated child or third party. This is just the reality of dealing with someone who has failed to plan properly and no longer has the energy or physical ability to actively participate in every step of the process. The payment of legal fees for someone else is also not uncommon. Children frequently pay for the planning and documents for their elderly parents because they are the ones who will be left to deal with the problems.

The question implies possible lack of capacity. First capacity is generally a legal determination not a medical one, whether legal capacity exists depends also upon what they are doing as there are many forms of capacity. Age or a diagnosis of an illness do NOT establish lack of capacity. Each type of legal capacity has set elements which must be met to determine capacity.

The disparity in treatment in types and amounts of bequests is also very common especially with the elderly. Unlike a younger couple who make equal distributions, the elderly frequently change that division. Whether it is because one child has spoken to them in 10 years, one child has been using them as the bank forever, one child loves them but sees them infrequently because they live far away, or one child has lives nearby and does their shopping, takes them to all their doctor visits, helps them deal with matters they no longer wish to do, there are many reasons for an unbalanced division.

In my office, in most types of cases we make it clear from day 1 that we represent the senior not the children. As a matter of course, my office takes precautions to prevent actual or the appearance of undue influence or lack of capacity. So if the senior proposes a radical shift from prior plans, has received a diagnosis of dementia or other illness or shows signs of loss of cognitive ability, or if the family relation is volatile, then we provide letters for the seniors physician to complete where the physician is required to give an opinion on the senior in regard to each of the required elements of capacity. At the time of the first meeting we always will spend a good portion of the meeting with just the senior, the attorney and a third member of the firm’s staff to take down notes and observations. At that point we asks questions designed to find factors suggesting potential undue influence, lack of capacity or a variance or uncertainty in regard to the senior’s distributive plan.

If we are comfortable that the senior has capacity and the plan presented is what the senior desires, then we will go forward with the plan but will also include specific separate written acknowledgements of any actual or appearance of conflict of interest, undue influence or lack of capacity which must be signed by the senior, other relevant family members, and usually of member of my firm.

So while on the face of it your facts appear to suggest some undue influence by your sister I would talk to her if you get along or to your father and discuss your concerns. Perhaps the Attorney is skilled in the area and has taken proper safeguards to make sure the plan is what your father wants and is not being controlled by your sister. If you cannot resolve it directly, then you should immediately retain an experienced Elder Law Attorney to assist you in determining and implementing the appropriate action whether it is an out of Court resolution or to bring an emergency guardianship proceeding to prevent your sister from continuing any undue influence and to have the Court determine any document prepared to be of no effect. If there is evidence indicating that the prior Attorney knowingly assisted your sister in any improper conduct, then file the appropriate complaint before your State Attorney ethics Board.

Today’s Answer was provided by James C. Siebert, Esq., from the Law Office of James C. Siebert & Associates from Arlington Heights, Illinois.  Mr. Siebert is a Partner in the national ElderCare Matters Alliance.

21 “Mobile Friendly” Elder Care / Senior Care Directories

If you need help in planning for and/or dealing with this issue or with any Elder Care / Senior Care matter, you can find the professional help you need in one of the following 21Mobile Friendly” Elder Care / Senior Care Directories. These Elder Care / Senior Care – specific Directories are sponsored by the National ElderCare Matters Alliance, an organization of thousands of America’s TOP Elder Care / Senior Care Professsionals who help families plan for and deal with a wide range of Elder Care Matters.

#eldercarematters, #eldercare, #eldercareanswers, #seniorcareanswers,  #eldercaredirectories, #seniorcaredirectories, #findseniorcareprofessionals, #findseniorcareexperts, #elderlawanswers, #seniorcare, #seniorcarematters, #findelderlawattorneys


Today’s Elder Care / Senior Care Q&A for Monday 2/8/2016

QUESTION: Would you please provide us with some information about Reverse Mortgages?

Answered by:
Reverse Mortgage
Beth Miller-Bornemann
Branch Manager & Reverse Mortgage Specialist
The Reverse Mortgage Group, A Branch of American Pacific Mortgage
Pleasant Hill, California
An ElderCare Matters Partner & California State Coordinator

ANSWER: It can be scary: making a major decision concerning your biggest investment, a decision involving a place that means the most to you. Deciding whether or not a reverse mortgage is right for you takes considerable thought and consideration. We hope the following questions and answers help you in this endeavor.

What is a reverse mortgage?

A reverse mortgage is a unique loan that allow homeowner(s) 62 years of age and older to draw on the equity in their home, which is paid to the homeowner(s) in a variety of payout options. One aspect of this loan is that it does not require repayment until the homeowner(s) no longer reside in the residence, the last surviving borrower passes away or does not comply with the loan program obligations such as paying property taxes and insurance, and maintaining the property to FHA guidelines. Regulated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), this federally-insured loan helps those in the senior population meet their financial needs and may ease money worries for greater peace of mind.

Prior to applying for the loan, it is required that you are made aware of the terms and conditions of the loan through sources provided by HUD. Contact the Housing Counseling Clearinghouse at 1-800-569-4287 to obtain the name and telephone number of a HUD-approved counseling agency. You may also contact our office and we will provide you with the list of HUD-approved reverse mortgage counseling agencies.

Is my home eligible for a reverse mortgage?

Homes eligible for a reverse mortgage include single-family homes, detached homes, townhouses, and two-to-four unit properties that are owner-occupied. Condominiums must be FHA-approved.Some manufactured homes are eligible but must meet FHA guidelines. Contact your loan officer for more details on manufactured home eligibility.

What are the differences between a home equity loan and a reverse mortgage?

Reverse mortgages have become more popular because they allow the borrower to receive loan proceeds that do not require immediate repayment as long as you remain in your home as your primary residence, do not sell your home, at least one borrower lives in the home and follow loan guidelines. On the other hand, obtaining a home equity loan (or home equity line of credit or second mortgage) requires that you have sufficient income to cover the debt- plus, you must continue to make monthly principal and interest mortgage payments. With a reverse mortgage you do not make monthly principal and interest payments. Keep in mind you must continue to pay all property related fees, taxes and homeowner’s insurance and maintain the property in good condition.

How much cash can I expect to get?

The cash you can potentially receive is based on the age of the youngest borrower, the current expected interest rate, the mortgage option selected, amount of home equity and the appraised value of the home. For instance an older individual with a higher value home typically will be eligible for more than a younger person with the same home value at the same expected interest rate. How much money you can take in the first year is limited. For more information on distribution limits go here.

What happens if I outlive the loan? Will I have to repay the lender?

No. As long as one of the borrowers on the loan note lives in the home, continues to pay the taxes and insurance and maintains the home in good condition, you will not need to repay the loan. Once the last surviving borrower passes away, the home is sold or the obligations of the loan are not met, the loan must be repaid.

Must my house be paid off for me to qualify for a reverse mortgage?

No. You do not need to pay off your home to qualify. However, the loan proceeds you receive from a reverse mortgage must be used to pay off the existing mortgage or liens (if there is a mortgage balance owing). You will continue to hold title to your home.

Do I have to pay taxes on the cash payments I receive?

The cash or proceeds you receive from a reverse mortgage typically is not subject to individual income taxation. But, since you hold the title to your home, you are still responsible for property taxes, insurance, utilities, fuel, maintenance, and other home-related expenses. Interest on reverse mortgages is not deductible on income tax returns until the loan is paid off in part or whole.We sugest you consult with your tax advisor to provide guidance for your particular situation.

How will this loan affect my estate and how much will be left to my heirs?

Once the last surviving borrower dies, sells your home, or no longer resides there as the primary residence, you or your estate is responsible for repayment of the money you received from the reverse mortgage, plus interest and other fees. Any remaining equity belongs to either you or your heirs. A “non-recourse” clause can prevent either you or your estate from being responsible for more than the value of your home when the loan is repaid.

Should I use an estate planning service to find a reverse mortgage?

HUD advises against using any service that charges a fee (except required HECM counseling) or any service that requests a lender referral fee, to obtain a reverse mortgage. HUD provides this information free of charge and can direct you to HUD-approved housing agencies that offer approved reverse mortgage counseling or additional services that are free or have a minimal cost. There is typically a reverse mortgage (HECM) counseling fee of up to $125. If the borrower cannot afford this fee some counseling agencies will waive the fee for qualified applicants. You can find a HUD-approved housing counseling agency near you by calling 1-800-569-4287 toll free.

How do I receive my payments?

Reverse mortgage payments can be received in one of five ways:

          • Tenure: equal monthly payments
          • Term: equal monthly payments for a fixed period of months as decided by the borrower
          • Line of Credit: payments made in installments or at various times and in amounts dictated by the borrower(s)
          • Modified Tenure: monthly payments with a line of credit
          • Modified Term: monthly payments for a fixed period of months with a line of credit

21 “Mobile Friendly” Elder Care / Senior Care Directories

If you need help in planning for and/or dealing with this issue or with any Elder Care / Senior Care matter, you can find the professional help you need in one of the following 21Mobile Friendly” Elder Care / Senior Care Directories. These Elder Care / Senior Care – specific Directories are sponsored by the National ElderCare Matters Alliance, an organization of thousands of America’s TOP Elder Care / Senior Care Professsionals who help families plan for and deal with a wide range of Elder Care Matters.


#eldercarematters, #eldercare, #eldercareanswers, #seniorcareanswers,  #eldercaredirectories, #seniorcaredirectories, #findseniorcareprofessionals, #findseniorcareexperts, #elderlawanswers, #seniorcare, #seniorcarematters, #estateplanning, #estateplanningattorneys, #findestateplanningattorneys


Today’s Elder Care / Senior Care Q&A for Tuesday, 1/12/2016

QUESTION: Should I put all of my assets in joint tenancy?

Answered by:
Joint Tenancy
John J. Campbell, Esq., CELA
Law Offices of John J. Campbell, P.C.
Denver, Colorado
An ElderCare Matters Partner

ANSWER: No! There are times when titling a particular item of property in joint tenancy makes sense.  However, putting all your assets in joint tenancy, especially without proper planning, can be disastrous. Your joint tenant isn’t just a signer, he or she owns an undivided one-half (½) of your assets. Nothing prevents a joint tenant from clearing out all of your bank account; and nothing prevents a creditor of your joint tenant from executing judgments against your joint tenant’s interest in your property. Putting your assets in joint tenancy will not protect them from Medicaid and certainly won’t solve your estate planning issues. If your will says “leave everything to my daughter,” but your assets are in joint tenancy (with right of survivorship) with your son, then your son will take everything when you die; not your daughter.

21 “Mobile Friendly” Elder Care / Senior Care Directories

If you need help in planning for and/or dealing with this issue or with any Elder Care / Senior Care matter, you can find the professional help you need in one of the following 21Mobile Friendly” Elder Care / Senior Care Directories. These Elder Care / Senior Care – specific Directories are sponsored by the National ElderCare Matters Alliance, an organization of thousands of America’s TOP Elder Care / Senior Care Professsionals who help families plan for and deal with a wide range of Elder Care Matters.


#eldercarematters, #eldercare, #eldercareanswers, #seniorcareanswers,  #eldercaredirectories, #seniorcaredirectories, #findseniorcareprofessionals, #findseniorcareexperts, #elderlawanswers, #seniorcare, #seniorcarematters, #estateplanning, #estateplanningattorneys, #findestateplanningattorneys


Today’s Elder Care / Senior Care Q&A for Thursday, 1/7/2016

QUESTION: How long is a will valid?

Answered by:
will
Michelle Wilson, Esq.
Wilson Legal, PC
Cumming, Georgia
An ElderCare Matters Partner

ANSWER: The mere passage of time has no effect on the validity of the will. Individuals and families experience life changes every 2 to 5 years. So even though a will remains valid, the individual and family’s needs change. Tax laws and statutes controlling wills and trusts change as well. – Your estate plan – whether it’s a will or trust – should generally be reviewed every 2 to 3 years and more often if you have a major life change such as the birth or adoption of a child, a divorce or marriage, or a significant increase in assets. – Legally, a will does not take effect until the testator dies and the probate court approves the will. Prior to death, a competent testator can amend or revoke an existing will. No notice to or approval of the beneficiaries is required. – You can change your will by writing and signing a new will or signing an amendment to the will called a “codicil”. A codicil is a separate document that explains the changes to the will and you make it effective by using the same formalities as with a will.

21 “Mobile Friendly” Elder Care / Senior Care Directories

If you need help in planning for and/or dealing with this issue or with any Elder Care / Senior Care matter, you can find the professional help you need in one of the following 21Mobile Friendly” Elder Care / Senior Care Directories. These Elder Care / Senior Care – specific Directories are sponsored by the National ElderCare Matters Alliance, an organization of thousands of America’s TOP Elder Care / Senior Care Professsionals who help families plan for and deal with a wide range of Elder Care Matters.


#eldercarematters, #eldercare, #eldercareanswers, #seniorcareanswers,  #eldercaredirectories, #seniorcaredirectories, #findseniorcareprofessionals, #findseniorcareexperts, #elderlawanswers, #seniorcare, #seniorcarematters


Today’s Elder Care / Senior Care Q&A for Wednesday, 1/6/2016

QUESTION: What is ONE simple New Year’s Resolution that Everyone should make regarding Estate Planning?

Answered by:
beneficiary designation
Stephen J. Silverberg, Esq., CELA
Law Office of Stephen J. Silverberg
Roslyn Heights, New York
An ElderCare Matters Partner

ANSWER:  One simple New Year’s Resolution that EVERYONE should make regarding Estate Planning is to Check Their Beneficiary Designations.

Many people fail to change the beneficiaries named in their IRA or retirement plans. If you have been divorced and especially if you’ve remarried, don’t give your ex your hard-earned retirement savings. Make sure the beneficiaries on your retirement accounts are up-to-date.

If you’re married, you’ll want to designate your spouse as the primary beneficiary. Federal law requires your surviving spouse to be the primary beneficiary in employer-sponsored retirement plans, like a 401(k), unless your spouse signs a written waiver letting you name someone else as the primary beneficiary. In most cases, spouses will name each other as the primary beneficiaries to their retirement plans. Those funds help maintain the lifestyle they’ve enjoyed in the marriage.

The big tax advantage of doing this is that a spouse can transfer the IRA or plan into his or her name without have to pay any taxes, which will further maintain the plan’s tax deferral status.

Retirement assets that pass between husband and wife at death don’t create a taxable event. So the surviving spouse as the beneficiary is free to use the inherited funds as they want after their spouse’s death. Be aware that your spouse might remarry and thereafter name a new spouse as the primary beneficiary instead of your children.

Unfortunately, many folks think that designating their estate or trust beneficiary of their retirement plans is enough to be safe. Not so. If the estate is the beneficiary, you can set up an expensive legal mess for the people you really intend to be the beneficiaries.

Don’t let a judge make the decision. If you are set on having a trust as a beneficiary, make sure that you speak with your estate planning attorney to be certain that the language in the trust will provide your heirs with the benefits legally available.

To ensure that the right people in your life receive the benefits of your hard work, take the time to review the beneficiary designations on all of your retirement plans, IRAs, investment accounts, insurance policies and any other assets that ask you to name a beneficiary.

21 “Mobile Friendly” Elder Care / Senior Care Directories

If you need help in planning for and/or dealing with this issue or with any Elder Care / Senior Care matter, you can find the professional help you need in one of the following 21Mobile Friendly” Elder Care / Senior Care Directories. These Elder Care / Senior Care – specific Directories are sponsored by the National ElderCare Matters Alliance, an organization of thousands of America’s TOP Elder Care / Senior Care Professsionals who help families plan for and deal with a wide range of Elder Care Matters.


#eldercarematters, #eldercare, #eldercareanswers, #seniorcareanswers,  #eldercaredirectories, #seniorcaredirectories, #findseniorcareprofessionals, #findseniorcareexperts


Today’s Elder Care / Senior Care Q&A for Tuesday, 1/5/2016

QUESTION: What are some things we should keep in mind when dealing with funeral and burial planning issues?

Answered by:
funeral and burial planning
Don L. Rosenberg, Attorney and Counselor
Barron, Rosenberg, Mayoras & Mayoras, P.C.
Troy, Michigan
An ElderCare Matters Partner

ANSWER: When a loved one passes away, family and friends feel stricken with grief and loss. During this difficult time, figuring out how to handle the deceased’s estate and carry out their wishes can be an overwhelming burden. One of the smartest things you can do for your family is to make burial and funeral arrangements in advance. When an individual passes away without leaving behind a plan expressing their wishes, surviving family members may bicker, stymieing progress.

Planning ahead while you are still living ensures not only that your wishes will be carried out to your satisfaction, but it also will limit problems for your family after you pass on. Planning for burial and funeral arrangements means anything from picking an individual who will carry out your wishes, deciding whether you want a ceremony or not and how that will be carried out, choosing burial or cremation, and deciding how funeral and burial expenses will be paid.

Michigan Funeral and Burial Default Rules and Appointing a Representative

Michigan has no law allowing an individual to designate another person to carry out funeral and burial wishes. However, you should still choose someone and document your wishes clearly in writing. Family members will be more likely to honor your wishes, and if there is any dispute, a court will be more likely to honor your wishes as well. Furthermore, keep in mind that if one wants to be cremated, then all of the closest next of kin have to agree or the cremation will not occur.

If you do not plan ahead at all, however, the state will apply the default rules to choose a representative. State default rules choose a decision maker as follows:

    • Surviving spouse
    • Adult children
    • Siblings
    • Grandparents
    • Next of kin (next closest degree of consanguinity)
    • Personal representative of deceased’s estate
    • Personal guardian
    • Special personal representative
    • Designated public official

Upon first glance, this default order seems sensible enough. But what if your children do not get along? When there is more than one member to a class, majority rules. If there is no majority, then they would likely go to court to sort out their differences. Or what if you never got along with your siblings, and you would have much preferred that your cousin make decisions for your funeral and burial? Anything could happen between now and the date of your passing. People you thought would be around to take care of your final wishes might predecease you. To avoid these problems, it is best if you set out an explicit plan in advance.Before creating a plan, find an experienced attorney to draft your final wishes properly. Some people think they can designate a person to handle funeral and burial matters within a will. However, the funeral and burial or cremation typically happens before a court reviews the will. This means your wishes may not get carried out.A better approach is to draft a separate document that only deals with your preferences surrounding funeral and burial arrangements.You should decide whether you would like to be buried in a casket or cremated. Decide what will happen to your ashes. Choose a casket and where you would like to be buried. Make decisions about what kind of funeral ceremony, if any, you would like to have. Budget the expenses so your wishes can be fulfilled regarding the remainder of your estate.

21 “Mobile Friendly” Elder Care / Senior Care Directories

If you need help in planning for and/or dealing with this issue or with any Elder Care / Senior Care matter, you can find the professional help you need in one of the following 21Mobile Friendly” Elder Care / Senior Care Directories. These Elder Care / Senior Care – specific Directories are sponsored by the National ElderCare Matters Alliance, an organization of thousands of America’s TOP Elder Care / Senior Care Professsionals who help families plan for and deal with a wide range of Elder Care Matters.


#eldercarematters, #eldercare, #eldercareanswers, #seniorcareanswers,  #eldercaredirectories, #seniorcaredirectories, #findseniorcareprofessionals, #findseniorcareexperts


Today’s Elder Care / Senior Care Q&A for Wednesday, 12/30/2015

QUESTION: What are some tips that we can use to pay off credit card debt?

Answered by:
Credit Card Debt
E. Dennis Bridges, CPA
Atlanta, Georgia
An ElderCare Matters Partner

ANSWER: The average credit card balance for an American household as of August of this year was $7,529, which is an increase over years previous and not something that any of us really would like to see increase further. And that counts the households that carry no debt, so the figure for those who *do* is even worse.

So, you may be in a better situation … it may also be worse. So, to answer the questions we often get around here from clients facing tough times, I’ve put together a step-by-step process which we often help people work through.

1. First, pay more than the minimums
If you only pay the minimum payment each month, your credit card debt could continue to INCREASE, even if you completely stop using your card. This is called “negative amortization”–where you think you are paying on your debt but the additional fees and finance charges are more than the minimum payment. The bottom line is: Pay more than your minimum or you will eventually be in debt over your head.

2. Create an automated system
With online banking and automatic payment options, there are GREAT tools for ensuring you don’t mess up because of administrative chaos. If you feel you can’t manage all your bills by pen and paper, there are several good software programs available for keeping track of your financial records.

In fact, I recommend that you automate a payment ABOVE the minimum monthly payment, just to be certain that you start getting ahead of the game. Those minimum payments are rigged against you, and the only way to get ahead is to … get ahead. I have some more thoughts on automation in a moment.

3. Yes, you can negotiate
No, you do not need to be an attorney or other professional to negotiate with your credit card company (negotiating with the IRS, on the other hand, is a very different story!). The rising amount of consumer debt in this country has made creditors realize that they need to be more understanding of their customers — if they hope to get any money back. If you file bankruptcy they are only going to get pennies on the dollar, so they are willing to make deals.

4. Proactively contact your creditors — in writing
Open communication always helps. Usually credit card companies get ignored and end up sending delinquent files to a collections agency. So they’ll actually appreciate your openness in contacting them and may be more understanding of your situation. Proactively dealing with your credit card debt rather than hiding will not only help your financial problem, but will make you feel better about yourself as well.

5. Develop a simple tracking system
If you are not able to pay the full amount of your credit each month, you still should still pay something to stay on top of it. You should work off a written budget so you know exactly where you stand. Some experts suggest that you divide your monthly debt budget by the percentage each bill makes of the total and pay that amount.

Here’s an example: If you owe a total of $1,000, and one credit card is $800 and the other is $200, and you only have $100 available to pay for that month… You should pay $80 on the $800 balance, and $20 on the $200 balance. This way you are reducing each debt by the same percentage.

6. Do NOT be intimidated
No matter how forthcoming and honest you are, some creditors have been taught to be mean and downright nasty. Hang in there and don’t let this tactic intimidate you.

Lastly–don’t let the IRS be one of those creditors. Let us help you this tax season, and THAT will be one less creditor to worry about, I assure you!

21 “Mobile Friendly” Elder Care / Senior Care Directories

If you need help in planning for and/or dealing with this issue or with any Elder Care / Senior Care matter, you can find the professional help you need in one of the following 21Mobile Friendly” Elder Care / Senior Care Directories. These Elder Care / Senior Care – specific Directories are sponsored by the National ElderCare Matters Alliance, an organization of thousands of America’s TOP Elder Care / Senior Care Professsionals who help families plan for and deal with a wide range of Elder Care Matters.


#eldercarematters, #eldercare, #eldercareanswers, #seniorcareanswers,  #eldercaredirectories, #seniorcaredirectories, #findseniorcareprofessionals, #findseniorcareexperts


Today’s Elder Care / Senior Care Q&A for Thursday, 12/17/2015

QUESTION:  What is Life Care Planning?

Answered by:
Life Care Planning
Shana Siegel, Esq., CELA
WanderPolo & Siegel, Counselors at Law, LLC
Upper Montclair, New Jersey
An ElderCare Matters Partner

ANSWER: Estate planning is merely one piece of the puzzle for our clients. Life care planning focuses on ensuring a continued quality of life, maintaining independence for as long as possible, and maximizing benefits and community resources. We work with care managers, financial planners, insurance agents, accountants and families to develop a comprehensive plan that is customized to meet your needs. We then coordinate that plan providing you with information and support so you can focus on living your life and have the peace of mind that you are equipped to handle inevitable life challenges.

One of the important differences in life care planning is that elder law attorneys work hand-in-hand with care managers to ensure the client’s medical and psycho-social needs, as well as family dynamics are properly addressed.

21 “Mobile Friendly” Elder Care / Senior Care Directories

If you need help in planning for and/or dealing with this issue or with any Elder Care / Senior Care matter, you can find the professional help you need in one of the following 21Mobile Friendly” Elder Care / Senior Care Directories. These Elder Care / Senior Care – specific Directories are sponsored by the National ElderCare Matters Alliance, an organization of thousands of America’s TOP Elder Care / Senior Care Professsionals who help families plan for and deal with a wide range of Elder Care Matters.


#elderlaw, #eldercarematters, #eldercare, #eldercareanswers, #elderlawattorneys, #elderlawanswers, #seniorcareanswers,  #estateplanning, #estateplanningattorneys, #findelderlawattorneys, #findestateplanningattorneys, #lifecareplanning, #caremanagers, #geriatriccaremanagers, #findgeriatriccaremanagers


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