Choosing a Wearable Medical Alert System
Choosing a Wearable Medical Alert System
You or a loved one recently had a stroke and is returning home after a long stay in the hospital and in-patient rehabilitation. The care providers assure you that you will be fine returning home, but you still worry. How can you make sure your parent is safe at home?
A medical alert system is a device that can connect the user with help when activated, either at the press of a button or if a fall is detected. These devices can be life-saving in case of emergency, and can give seniors independence, and their loved ones peace of mind. One might assume that a smartphone or digital assistant is sufficient, but unlike cell phones, medical alert systems stay on your body so that you always have access to it, and unlike Alexa and Google home, medical alerts can call 911. So if you do decide to buy a medical alert system, you’re going to want to choose a quality system; since you rely on them in times of emergency, you want to know it will work. But how do you choose?
Consumer Reports suggests answering three questions before choosing a medical system. The first is, do you want a home-based or mobile system? The answer depends on your lifestyle and preferences. The second question is, should your system be monitored or not? Consumer Reports only recommends monitored systems, which means that the call button connects you with someone at a 24/7 dispatching center, rather than automatically dialing a friend or family member from a programmed emergency call list. And finally, should you add a fall-detection feature? It’s a relatively inexpensive add-on ($15 or under per month), but the technology may not be perfect; it may register something as a fall that isn’t, such as stumbling or dropping your phone.
With these choices in mind, one might look at the systems Consumer Reports recommends, or those on The Senior List has a Recommended list. The Senior List makes its recommendations based on four criteria: (1) works as advertised or better, (2) customer service, (3) pricing, and (4) easy to cancel contracts. For 2020, their top 9 medical alert systems were Bay Alarm Medical, MobileHelp, Medical Guardian, Philips Lifeline, LifeFone, LifeStation, ResponseNow, QMedic, and Alert1. Consumer Reports also recommends Bay Alarm, LifeStation, Medical Guardian, MobileHelp, and Philips Lifeline, but they also recommend GreatCall Lively Mobile, Life Alert, Medical Alert, and Rescue Alert.
Bay Alarm is ranked best overall, at $19.95-$29.95 monthly cost (the lowest on this list!) and no equipment fees, with landline and cellular in-home options, a mobile option with 4G LTE coverage, and an in-car medical alert, among other features. The equipment is easy to install and its range of products are appropriate for various situations without being overwhelming. They don’t require long-term contracts, and they allow you to try it for 30-days risk-free.
MobileHelp is also consistently high quality, in terms of both equipment and customer service. They offer cellular in-home medical alert systems, mobile and GPS systems, and even jewelry or smartwatches. They offer extras like fall detection, medication reminders, and vital sign monitoring. Costs start at $19.95 monthly (with a one-time $49.95 fee for the in-home system, unless you choose an annual plan, in which case that fee is waived). They also have a deal to buy two systems, which is good for couples. They don’t require long-term contracts, and they offer flexible pricing plans.
Finally, before making your purchase, check return policies carefully, especially if you have hearing loss. Read more about The Senior List’s top medical alert systems, including the Medical Guardian, Philips Lifeline, LifeFone, LifeStation, ResponseNow, QMedic, and Alert1, here. Consumer Reports also covered medical alert systems, available here.
If you or a loved one is living at home with care, it is important to consult with an elder law professional to make sure a proper plan is in place that covers your loved one’s care needs and financial needs. We help families plan for the possibility of a loved one needing significant care and would be happy to talk to you about your particular situation. Just give us a call at 1.800.6605.7564 or email us at email@example.com.
New Drug Therapy Gives Hope to Alzheimer’s Prevention
New Drug Therapy Gives Hope to Alzheimer’s Prevention
Researchers at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University recently announced that pharmacological “chaperone therapy” can prevent Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in mice. Alzheimer’s is a chronic neurodegenerative disease that currently has no cure. Abnormal clumps (amyloid-beta plaques) and tangled fiber bundles (neurofibrillary or tau tangles) create brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills. Loss of connections between neurons that transmit messages to different parts of the brain, and brain to organs and muscles in the body, are compromised.
A simple example to help imagine the disease is to think of a wadded up ball of pieces of tape stuck together. Excessive amounts of proteins in the brain begin to lose shape and, like a tape ball, stick, and clump together. This clumping stops the transport of the excess proteins to “recycling sites” within the cells. Trapped in the wrong cellular compartment, they accumulate and eventually bog down cellular mechanisms creating significant disruptions.
To keep the brain’s molecular machinery capable of doing its job sorting through proteins, identifying defective ones, and removing or stabilizing them, scientists developed small drug molecules known as pharmacological chaperones. These chaperones may fulfill a critical role in the prevention of and therapy for Alzheimer’s. The Temple University study cites the journal, Molecular Neurodegeneration, showing that a chaperone drug can productively disrupt the abnormal brain processes that damage neurons and fuel memory loss that ultimately gives rise to Alzheimer’s in animals prone to developing it.
This particular chaperone drug can restore appropriate levels of the sorting molecule called VPS35, permitting the continued moving of proteins out of endosomes, which can be thought of like the sorting stations or recycling sites for damaged proteins allowing for normal cell functioning. Dr. Praticò and colleagues at Temple University who previously had identified how VPS35 actively clears the brain of the harmful proteins amyloid beta and tau most recently have determined that in Alzheimer’s disease, VPS35 levels were significantly reduced. Non-efficient processing of these damaging proteins led to the clumps, or deposits, that interrupt neuron activity, thus contributing to Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative disorders.
Testing the effects of this pharmacological chaperone on young mice that are engineered to develop Alzheimer’s disease as they age allowed the scientists to check for effects on memory and learning as the mice grew older. The treated animals had far better memory and behaved like normal aging mice when compared to untreated mice that readily progressed into Alzheimer’s symptoms, creating a practical technique of Alzheimer’s disease modification for the first time. The test results were confirmed when researchers examined the neurons from the treated mice that had significantly decreased tau tangles and amyloid-beta plaques. Further analysis showed VPS35 levels to be restored, and neuron synapses were fully functional thanks to the chaperone therapy.
“Relative to other therapies under development for Alzheimer’s disease, pharmacological chaperones are inexpensive, and some of these drugs have already been approved for the treatment of other diseases,” Dr. Praticòsaid. “Additionally, these drugs do not block an enzyme or a receptor but target a cellular mechanism, which means that there is a much lower potential for side effects. All these factors add to the appeal of pursuing pharmacological chaperone drugs as novel Alzheimer’s treatments.”
Before moving to clinical trials in humans, Dr. Praticò and his colleagues will first investigate the effects of this pharmacological chaperone therapy in older mice as their first study was a preventative investigation. Testing older mice exhibiting Alzheimer’s symptoms can identify if the treatment can work for patients already diagnosed with AD.
These studies conducted at Temple University and partially funded by the National Institutes of Health grants bring hope to the millions of people who already have Alzheimer’s disease and to the tens of millions who are projected to get the disease. Finding relatively inexpensive prevention and treatment techniques of the illness can bring about amazing changes not only to patients and their families but can lessen the increasing cost burden for caring for Americans with Alzheimer’s.
We help families who have a loved one with Alzheimer’s. We can help create a legal plan that will help protect a loved one’s savings and their home in the event extensive long term care is required. If you would like to learn more, please give us a call at 1.800.660.7564 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ways to Hold Title to Property
Ways to Hold Title to Property
For many people, real property, including their home, is a big part of their overall net worth. How the home and other pieces of real property is titled deserves careful consideration. Real estate constitutes the land and any structure, including vegetation, livestock, crops, and other natural resources that sit on the land under the state’s law. Real estate can be commercial or residentially owned. Ultimately how you hold a property title has far-reaching consequences for liability, and when it comes time for sale or the bequeathing of it as an inheritable asset.
The title is a reference to the document that lists the legal owner(s) of a piece of property and can depict ownership of both personal and real property. Real estate titles are regarded as real property as it is a tangible asset. The title for real property, by law, must be transferred if the asset is sold or inherited and must be clear for the title transfer to take place. A clear title is free of liens or any other encumbrance posing a threat to proper ownership. The most common types of real estate titles are joint tenancy, tenancy in common, tenants by the entirety, sole ownership, and community property. Less common property ownership titles are corporate, partnership, and trust ownership.
Individual name or sole ownership allows for a single person to hold title, even if you are married. If the person becomes mentally or physically incapacitated due to injury or illness, a spouse or family member typically will need to conduct business with regards to your property. Your family member will not be able to do business transactions like refinancing or changing lines of credit, and they will be unable to act until a court appoints someone to act on your behalf. Many people assume if they have a will it will address the problem, yet a will does not go into effect until after you die and is not in effect if you become incapacitated.
Joint tenants (some may have rights of survivorship) occur when two or more people hold the title to real estate jointly. This type of title is widespread among but not exclusive to married couples. Unmarried couples may also hold joint tenant title as can parents and their adult children. It is a fair, uncomplicated, and free way to hold the title. In the case of a couple, the death of one automatically transfers full ownership to the surviving owner without probate. However, probate is more than likely just to be postponed. In the event the surviving owner dies without adding another owner, or if both owners die at the same time, probate is almost certain to occur before the property can go to the heirs.
Being a co-owner means that to sell, refinance, or take any action to the property, both owners must agree to the business action. If there is disagreement or in the event your co-owner becomes incapacitated, the court will become involved to resolve the disagreement or to protect the interest of the one who has become incapacitated. Court involvement will occur even in the event the incapacitated owner is your spouse. Joint tenants also expose the property to both of the co-owners obligations and debts. If a creditor successfully sues your co-owner, you could lose your home. In the case a co-owner is not a spouse, there can be income tax or gift tax problems. A will does not control any jointly owned assets, and you may mistakenly disinherit your family when your co-owner inherits your share, particularly in the case of second marriages with children from a previous union.
Tenants in common (TIC) allows for two or more people to hold title to real estate with equal rights during their lifetime to enjoy the property. A tenant in common title creates shares of ownership, and those shares will be distributed as directed in a will upon an owner’s death. In the absence of a will, the property goes to the heirs of the owner. As a tenant in common individually holds title for a respective part of the property, they are at liberty to dispose of said owned property or encumber it at will. Owners of their respective shares are permitted to use their portion of the property as collateral or in financial transactions. They may also be sued or have creditors place liens on only their portion of the property.
Tenants by entirety (TBE) are only permissible if the owners are legally married. This title, for purposes of ownership, treats the couple as one person for legal action and interpretation. Upon the death of one person, the TBE title is transferred in its entirety to the other spouse. This is advantageous as no legal action is necessary upon the death of one’s spouse. It does not require a will and probate is unnecessary.
Community property is only in effect in nine states (AZ, CA, ID, LA, NV, NM, TX, WA, and WI) and is a form of joint ownership between spouses commonly referred to as community property. When you die, your share of the community property is automatically transferred to your surviving spouse unless your will provides otherwise. Both tenants, by the entirety and community property titles, can find the remaining owner with several new co-owners, who, upon their death, can have their heirs inherit the property. Also, issues of incapacity and lawsuits are magnified if several property owners are trying to reach a consensus about the sale of the property or other business actions.
Corporate ownership allows a legal entity, a company owned by shareholders, to hold title to property. Partnership Owners can own real estate as a partnership. This title constitutes two or more people who transact business for profit as co-owners. There are also limited partnerships where an investor has limited liability because they do not make management decisions regarding business transactions of the property. In the case of limited liability, a singular general partner will typically be responsible for making business decisions on behalf of the identified limited partners.
Trust ownership, most often in the format of a revocable living trust, is a legal entity that owns the real property, which is managed by a founding or designated trustee on behalf of all trust beneficiaries. In the event you become incapacitated, your named successor trustee can seamlessly take control of your trust without court interference. A successor trustee is legally obligated to follow the instructions put forth in your trust. If you recover from incapacitation, you resume control of your trust. If you were to die, the property would be distributed according to your trust instructions and without probate. Holding real estate in trust ownership has challenges regarding benefits that surround financial and legal liability, managerial influence, and tax considerations. A real estate trust document can provide significant advantages to property owners but only if created by competent legal staff who take into account the complexities surrounding the trust and its interaction with the liabilities listed.
Methods of holding and owning title to real estate property are determined by state law and, as such, must be considered when researching and determining the best method to acquire and hold title to real property where you live. Depending on the complexity of your situation, assessing the best way to title your real estate may require professional real estate, legal and tax guidance. We help clients determine the best way to hold title to property, and whether a trust would be beneficial. Give us a call at 1.800.660.7564 or email us at email@example.com – we would be happy to help.
Why a Living Will is Important
Why a Living Will is Important
A living will lays out your preferences for life-sustaining medical treatment. It is often accompanied by a health-care proxy or power of attorney, which allows someone to make treatment decisions for you if you are incapacitated and the living will does not have specific instructions for the situation at hand. “Living will” and “advance directive” are often used synonymously, but a living will legally only applies after a terminal diagnosis, whereas an advance directive is much more comprehensive and includes the health care proxy.
As of 2017, only around one in three American adults had an advance directive for end-of-life care prepared. Those who are older than 65 are more likely to have an advance directive prepared than those who are younger, as are those have chronic illness more likely than those who are not. People may be unwilling to prepare these documents because they fear that they won’t necessarily reflect their wishes at the time they become relevant; sometimes patients become more willing to undergo treatments they rejected when they were younger as they age and develop medical problems. However, the documents can be changed as long as they are witnessed and potentially notarized (depending on current law). And if you continue to communicate your values with your proxy, they can make decisions based on your most recent preferences.
So why is a living will important? It reduces ambiguity which can prevent family disputes during what is already a difficult time. It may seem like something that can be put off, but life is unpredictable; one never knows when these documents could become relevant. Furthermore, it needn’t be a hassle. A living will is a straightforward document, however it’s important to work with legal counsel to make sure your beliefs are properly stated. Other health care documents should also be prepared at that time, like a health care power of attorney that designates a person to make health care decisions for you if you are unable. Once you have signed any documents make sure you keep them updated, especially if you change states, and be diligent in communicating with whomever you named to act on your behalf.
If you need a living will or health care power of attorney or already have one that you would like reviewed, give us a call at 1.800.660.7564 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Understanding Gift Taxes
Understanding Gift Taxes
Now that we have passed into a new year, many people will begin to think about making gifts to children and grandchildren in addition to holiday gifts just given. These are typically larger gifts of cash or marketable securities. When we make a gift of something to someone else, that is what is called a “gift taxable transaction” – meaning someone has to pay a tax on the making of that gift. So who pays the tax, and how much is the tax is the subject of this blog post.
The one who is making the gift is often referred to as the “donor.” The “donee” is the person receiving the gift. Any gift taxes that may have to be paid upon making the gift are always paid by the donor, not the donee.
The gift tax is simply a tax on the transfer of assets, cash or property, to another without receiving something of equal value. The asset has to be of a certain value for the tax to apply; otherwise, it falls under the gift tax exclusion, either annual or lifetime. If the gift is above a certain value, you will have to fix out a tax form, but you may still be able to avoid the tax.
The value is based on the IRS definition of “fair market value.” If the asset is cash, then the calculation is straightforward: it is what it is. If the asset is a house, then its value is what someone would pay for it if neither buyer nor seller was under duress to commit. And some things which seem not to be gifts on their face may nonetheless be considered such by the IRS, for example, casual loans to friends and families, or naming someone other than a spouse on a bank account.
The annual gift tax exclusion in 2019 and 2020 applies to assets up to $15,000 in value. It is counted per recipient, meaning you can give up to $15,000 to however many people you like without having to file a gift tax return. It is also per person, so you and your spouse could give up to $30,000 per year without having to file a gift tax return. Note that gifts between spouses are unlimited and don’t generally trigger a gift tax return and that giving money to a nonprofit is a charitable donation and not a gift. Finally, the person receiving the gift usually doesn’t have to report it.
The lifetime gift tax exclusion is how you avoid the tax, even if you give more than $15,000 per year and have to fill out the form. The gift tax return keeps track of the amount you have given. In 2019, the lifetime exclusion was $11.4 million; in 2020, it rises to $11.58 million. As with the annual gift tax exclusion, the lifetime exclusion is per person, so married couples can exclude twice the gifted amount.
The tax only applies once you use up not only the $15,000 exclusion but also the $11 million-plus exclusion. So if you gift someone $50,000 one year, that counts as $35,000 against the lifetime exclusion. If you do manage to use up your exclusions, the rates range from 18% to 40%, paid by the donor.
However, there are exceptions and special rules for how to calculate the tax, which can be found on IRS Form 709. These apply to things like college tuition and medical bills by allowing you to spread one-time gifts across multiple years’ worth of gift tax returns, or to pay the institution directly to avoid the gift tax return requirement.
If you have questions or would like to discuss your personal estate plan, please don’t hesitate to reach out by calling us as 1.800.660.7564 or by emailing us at email@example.com.
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The SECURE Act of 2020
The SECURE ACT of 2020
Congress has passed a bipartisan appropriations bill. In the contents of this spending bill is a piece of legislation known as the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act (SECURE), the first significant change in retirement legislation since the Pension Protection Act in 2006. The President signed the Act into law on December 20, and its effective date is January 1, 2020.
The impact of the SECURE Act to some retirees, near-retirees, and their future beneficiaries is profound, and it is imperative to schedule a review of your retirement, estate, and trust plans. Failure to act on the changes brought forward by the SECURE Act can create substantial tax burdens for some beneficiaries and even the possibility that they become locked out of their inheritance for a decade.
One of the most important provisions of the SECURE Act to understand is the removal of the stretch IRA required minimum distribution (stretch RMD). In essence, the removal will act as a tax revenue generator. This change means many Americans will face a tax increase as non-spouse beneficiaries must spread withdrawals over a maximum of ten years and not the lifetime of the account holder. The removal of the RMD for stretch IRAs is going to create significant problems for certain types of trusts, like the “see-through trust,” that were written before the SECURE Act. Previously, a see-through trust allowed an individual, upon their death, to pass retirement assets of their IRAs via a trust to a chosen beneficiary. If the trust is not updated to match the current SECURE Act language, there could be restrictions in accessing funds to the heirs, which may cause massive tax liabilities down the line.
Annuities are also affected by the SECURE Act as the legislation will ease restrictions to include them in consumers’ 401(k)s. While this is a positive for lifetime income, the bill also lessens and even removes some of the fiduciary requirements to vet insurance companies and their financial products before allowing them into your 401(k) plan. This change, coupled with a reduction in overall standards the SEC imposed earlier this year, creates an increased likelihood that consumers could experience negative consequences from poorly designed financial products and the possibility of insurance company failure.
According to Forbes, there are eight significant ways the SECURE Act will impact your retirement plans. They include an increase in ability for small employer access to retirement plans, an increase in annuity options inside of retirement plans, an increase in required minimum distribution (RMD) ages, and the removal of age limits on IRA contributions. There is also a tax credit to encourage automatic enrollment into retirement plans through small employers, penalty-free distributions for childbirth or adoption, lifetime income disclosure for defined contribution plans for transparency, and the removal of stretch inherited IRA provisions.
It is imperative as an individual to be responsive to the changes this proposed new law will enact. Currently, estate attorneys, CPAs, and financial advisors are receiving additional training to understand the long-term tax implications of SECURE Act provisions. For those affluent retirees, Kiplinger advises there are five things you can do immediately to respond to the SECURE Act. The first is to delay your IRA distributions if possible, and continue to save but perhaps not in an IRA. Also, consider paying taxes BEFORE your children inherit your IRA. Talk to your financial planner, tax advisor, and revisit your existing estate planning documents to make sure the plans don’t compromise any existing IRAs that will be passed on to your beneficiaries.
The overall implications of the SECURE Act to your retirement and your estate plan are numerous. Give us a call at 1.800.660.7564 to discuss how we can help make sure your retirement assets pass with as few tax consequences as possible – or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gray Divorce is Destroying the Finances of Older Americans
Gray Divorce is Destroying the Lives of Older Americans
Americans aged 50 or more are experiencing gray divorce more than ever. The term gray divorce generally refers to the baby boomer generation and affects all classes and education levels. Research shows that splitting during middle age is particularly damaging to your financial well being. According to Bloomberg News, the US divorce rate for couples past the age of 50 has doubled since 1990 and occurs most often in people who have married and divorced more than once. The rate of divorce among remarried individuals is 2.5 times higher than those in first marriages. And the financial outlook is usually the bleakest for those who have married and divorced more than once. Losing accumulated wealth for a second or third time can ruin personal finances on an unprecedented scale.
As such, relative wealth can be a protective factor in keeping couples together. Midlife marriages are not always torn apart by empty nest syndrome or a late mid-life crisis. Often, divorcing couples are already experiencing financial problems due to unemployment or job insecurity. These couples may not have the resources to enter into marriage counseling and may not see the point in fighting to remain in an unsuccessful economic partnership. Married couples with more to lose in divorce will often keep a less than perfect marriage viable to protect a lifestyle they are unwilling to forfeit. These couples will often live separate lives but maintain the economic structure within the marriage.
Susan Brown, who is co-director of the National Center for Family & Marriage Research, explains that if you are getting a divorce after the age of 50, expect your wealth to decrease by 50 percent. Brown goes on to state that the depression rate for those experiencing gray divorce is higher than the levels of those who have experienced the death of a spouse. If you are a woman and going through a gray divorce, expect your standard of living to plunge by 45 percent compared to a man’s 21 percent. One of the biggest financial tragedies of gray divorce is there is no appreciable window of time to recover the wealth you lost. The event horizon of your life is shrinking, and there is no time to undo the financial destruction. Even qualified career individuals will find ageism is rife within the corporate hiring sector. The prospects for landing a great new job or winning a lottery are very bleak. Statistics show you will be most unlikely to recoup your previous standard of living. This fact is particularly true in the case of women aged 63 or more who, in part, are experiencing poverty rates of 27 percent because of gray divorce. The Journal of Gerontology projects that by the year 2030, more than 828,000 Americans will be divorcing each year even if the gray divorce rate stays the same.
What to do if you become a gray divorce statistic then? One of the best ways to recover is to re-partner. Many older people are looking to re-couple and the digital age is providing more ways to meet than ever before. Online dating sites for older Americans are popular as are the more traditional senior community centers to make connections to like-aged people. If you choose to remain un-partnered however, you can expect to take about four years to end the depression cycle of gray divorce. However, remarrying or re-partnering will end the depression almost immediately with the stipulation you have chosen your partner wisely. Generally, re-partnering is more successful if you are a man since they tend to look for a partner who is significantly younger than themselves. As women live longer than men and because men do tend to seek younger women, older women are left with a vastly smaller pool of potential partners.
Protect your well being and financial interests from gray divorce. Your best hope is to stay successfully married and continue on the path of building wealth and enjoying retirement years. If you find yourself going through a gray divorce, be sure to seek trusted legal counsel who can best advise you on how to protect your assets and future retirement years. Whether you are on your first, second, or third marriage take a look at how best to protect your financial picture in the event gray divorce happens to you. Contact our office today and schedule an appointment to discuss how we can help you with your planning. Call us at 1.800.660.7564 or email us at email@example.com.
Everyday Devices that can be Hacked
Everyday Devices That Can Be Hacked
The internet of things (IoT) is responsible for many conveniences via embedded electronic devices, and many seniors are making use of these technologies. It is becoming increasingly common for everyday items like refrigerators, thermostats, and doorbells to be internet-connected making our homes and personal information subject to hacking. A hacker will subvert computer security for malicious purposes. Seniors who employ IoT devices for safety and convenience may be less wary of all the ways their devices can be compromised. If you are a senior or have a loved one who is, it is imperative to have them, or a trusted friend, update software from device manufacturers and routinely monitor their devices.
A Smart TV provides many hacking opportunities. The problem can be an annoying prankster blasting the volume control, switching channels, or even ordering movies you did not select. Or the hacker can also compromise your security and safety as your Smart TV is a gateway to other internet-connected devices in your home. TV apps can be data mined for credit card payment information since many manufacturers reuse default passwords, and users neglect to change them. Even companies who sell Smart TVs are now post-purchase monetizing the Smart TV by harvesting your information via data collection and using it for advertising and direct sales of entertainment to the consumer.
Digital Thermostats are a great way to keep heating and cooling costs down. However, a hacker who takes control of your thermostat can crank up the heat or cooling until the owner pays a ransom to regain control of the device. An older person can experience health consequences due to extremes temperatures as well as the anxiety and fear it breeds. Baby monitors are often connected to your home’s Wi-Fi network for the convenience of a mobile app to check the display at any time. Many homes use these monitors for seniors instead of small children. Typically, people do not change the default password on the monitor, meaning that it is visible to the network. A hacker can scan transmitting internet protocol or IP addresses (numerical labels assigned to every device that connects to a computer). Once they have your IP data, they can find the baby monitor and watch you or your loved one at any time. For better protection shop for baby monitors that are made to be invisible to scans. If you have a Samsungsmart refrigerator, it can be hacked. The wiring in the fridge leaves the new owner’s Google login credentials out in the wild for a hacker to grab and then infiltrate your home’s IoT devices.
Smart cameras have vulnerability issues allowing a hacker to remotely access audio and video feeds. Be sure to keep track of all of your IoT devices that are network connected. Actively seek out all software and firmware updates for maximum protection against hackers. Smart voice-activated speakers like Alexa, Google, Echo, and many more open up every conversation you have in your home to be monitored by a hacker. Without even being aware, you can divulge sensitive information like doctor appointments, luncheon dates, and upcoming trips. Even your bank account and credit card information can be compromised. If your home security system is connected to your voice-activated speaker, a hacker can turn it off and enter your home.
Even pacemakers are subject to hacking however improbable that might seem. Anyone with bad intentions toward you can remotely change the pace of your heartbeat, which can even result in your death. Implanted medical devices, in general, are now subject to more stringent controls that use code to secure data and instructions in these devices and monitor them in real-time. Talk with your medical professional to know that you are protected against medical hackers.
Default passwords need to change in order to protect your devices from hackers. Most internet-connected devices have simple default passwords, and a search run on the name brand of a device will often yield the manufacturer’s default password. When you change your password, make it very strong, and use unique passwords for each device. Out of convenience, many seniors will use the same password for everything. In this case, if a hacker gets into one device, they can be in all of them if you do not use different passwords.
Cell phones, home Wi-Fi routers, and even landline voicemail are susceptible to hacking. Inexpensive signal-proof cases are good to use for protection when you are out in public. It is possible for a hacker to clone your phone in seconds while standing next to you and they will get everything you store on your phone. Home Wi-Fi routers must be up to date on all software and firmware, and a unique, strong password can help protect you from hackers. Once a hacker gains access, all of your devices connected via the internet of things have been compromised as the router is the nerve center of your digital footprint. Many seniors still like to have a landline telephone and its associated voicemail. Passwords to access voicemail must be very secure, or a hacker can listen in to your conversations as well as delete potentially important messages.
All senior grandparents love pictures of their family to be proudly displayed. Picture frames that are digital and allow you to scroll through photos or change an art display with the swipe of a hand are vulnerable. If your frame becomes hacked, a thief can discern non-active times in your home by the frame’s ambient light sensors and can plan a robbery while you are away.
Garage door openers are also able to be hacked if you have a newer smart version device. A hacker can monitor garage door activity and identify times when you are not at home. It is very convenient for a burglar to avoid encountering people during a robbery. Be sure to update a manufacturer’s default password setting to something difficult to break, and a would-be robber will move to an easier target.
Cars and Self-driving cars can be hacked. It doesn’t take a lot of equipment to break into and start a vehicle, even disabling the alarm system. Car thieves now employ sophisticated hacking technology, especially when they must bypass the electronic anti-theft systems. If a self-driving car is hacked, the attacker can take direct control over the throttle, brake, and steering while remaining anonymous as to their identity and location creating a very dangerous scenario.
Convenience comes at a cost to your privacy when using the internet of things. Taking the necessary steps to protect your devices from hackers is of paramount importance. Once secure procedures are in place, it is crucial to monitor for suspicious activity that can lead to robbery, electronic banking theft, and more. Taking control of your internet-enabled devices is essential to protect your home and your strategy for aging successfully. No one wants to be victimized by unwanted hackers. If you have questions or would like to talk about your legal needs, please don’t hesitate to contact us by calling at 1.800.660.7564 or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gen Xers Retirement Planning and Longevity
Gen Xers Retirement Planning & Longevity
As Gen Xers enter into their 40s and 50s, it is time for them to become active in the creation and execution of their retirement planning. There are many things to consider, including finances, investments, insurance policies, legal documents, living arrangements, and healthcare. It is advisable to make a detailed checklist within these categories and take action on each item. Meeting with an attorney can help you establish overall goals for your retirement and legacy planning while ensuring the steps you take will lead you to retirement success.
With regards to longevity, things may not be what they seem in the United States. While the world is experiencing an increase in life expectancy, Americans have seen a life expectancy decline for three years in a row. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers this a worrying trend. Assessing life expectancy based on these CDC numbers using their traditional approach is just one part of the equation for Gen X retirement planning because the statistic is derived from birth years while retirement years are calculated from age 65 and beyond. Yes, some Americans are living until the age of 100, and fewer are having heart attacks in their 50s because of prescription medications; however, according to the Smithsonian Magazine, there is “no large extension of adult lifespan in old age.” Making a reasonable estimation of your life expectancy is crucial as it affects planning for how long retirement will likely be and the amount of money needed to cover associated expenses.
MDVIP Health and Longevity Survey reveal that more than half of Gen Xers want to live past 90 years of age, with some wanting to make it to 100, and yet, nearly half have not had a comprehensive medical exam in the past five years. One-third of Generation X avoids going to the doctor at all out of fear of finding something medically wrong. Two-thirds admit they could be doing better when it comes to regular exercise, eating healthy, maintaining a healthy weight, and managing stress levels. There is good news, however. Generation Xers have a reasonable amount of lifespan left to identify changes that need to be made and implement them. Barring an unforeseen accident or illness, time is still on the Gen Xer’s side to make their retirement a success story.
The face of retirement has changed. The vision for most retirees is a full life bustling with activity and interpersonal relationships. Semi-retired is how many prefer to see their goal. There are many excellent reasons to keep working beyond age 65. Continuing to earn an income from work is great for health reasons and economic reasons. Generation X will further test the solvency of social security benefits after most of the baby boomer generation will have stressed the federal program to its limits. Staying productive and useful are key elements to financial well being, happiness, and long-term health. Entrepreneurial pursuits and consulting are more accessible than ever with the advent of the World Wide Web online community. Try pursuing or inventing a new career, perhaps something you have always dreamed about doing.
Joint life expectancy, whether married or not, is an important consideration when planning for and working toward retirement goals. According to the Vanguard Group, a heterosexual Gen X couple where both partners are age 50, the female partner has a 50 percent chance of reaching 85 years of age while her male counterpart only a 38 percent chance of reaching that same age. Since the couple is most likely to pass away at different times, factoring in the longevity of the surviving partner is crucial to planning. When extending longevity retirement scenarios understand that what is discretionary spending for fun in your 70s and 80s may shift to cover increasingly extensive medical aid and expenses in your 90th decade and possibly beyond. A financial planner can help you to create scenarios that will accommodate repurposing of monies.
We welcome the opportunity to work with you on your retirement goals to help create a legal plan that supports those goals. Email us at email@example.com or call us at 1.800.660.7564.
A Guide for Elderly Parent Care
A Guide for Elderly Parent Care
Aging is something you cannot escape, and it affects all family systems. It can be challenging for adult children to imagine their parents as seniors and to understand and respond to the reality that each parent will age differently. Even if you are in the fortunate circumstance where your aging parents can go it alone for a long time there will come a day when assistance or long term care will be needed. There are things to consider as you help your parents live their best possible aging scenario. Managing their welfare takes time, research, and planning.
Your parents and their abilities to remain independent are most easily defined by activities of daily living and instrumental activities of daily living (ADLs and IADLs). Activities of daily living address daily functional mobility like getting in and out of bed or a chair, self-feeding, bathing and personal hygiene, the ability to use the toilet, and the ability to get dressed. These are essential daily living requirements that promote dignity and physical as well as emotional well- being for your elderly parents. If your parents are having difficulty managing these ADLs, it is an appropriate time to find help for them whether it is you or another qualified caregiver.
IADLs include all ADL activities and more. The additions are grocery shopping and cooking, medication management, laundry, and other housework, bill paying and finance management, using a telephone, and driving or using public transportation. Recognizing your parent’s limitations in any of these categories is a sign that you need to develop a care plan that provides appropriate assistance. The degree of change or sometimes multiple changes is an indication that staying at home may no longer be appropriate and safe for your parent. If you require assistance in determining suitable care needs, you can set up a comprehensive geriatric assessment by a medical professional. Take an honest look at the stage of life your parent is experiencing and then find the support and help they require.
Your aging parents’ geographical location is critical to consider as a family. Families are fortunate when one adult child lives nearby and can ensure their parent’s well-being. Video chat either online or through a phone application is one way to daily check on a parent. A friend may live close by and can do wellness checks and provide information about behavioral or health changes. If none of these options are viable, it may be time to discuss the idea of your parent(s) downsizing into another more supportive location and living arrangement.
Having this discussion is best before a parent’s adverse health event. Making residential changes without a previous plan in place can negatively impact on the parent, especially when experiencing a health care crisis. When aging at home cannot be appropriately managed, it is time to consider the alternatives. These alternatives may include independent living communities, assisted living communities, nursing homes, or living with a trustworthy and capable relative or family member.
All of these assessments and changes in your parents’ lives impact their financial outlook. Making necessary residential changes can often be very costly, and your parent may need additional financial support from government or community programs to offset the difference in expenses. It is critical to take advantage of all possible financial help. As an adult child, you may have to begin managing their finances and retirement funds more actively. There are various federal, state, and non-profit groups that provide free tax assistance for seniors.
Some of the better organizations to help you navigate what is available are online and include Benefits.gov, Area Agency on Aging, and Benefitscheckup.org. These groups can help you assess the best strategies for housing, healthcare, financial assistance, legal aid, transportation, in-home services, prescription drugs, energy and utility support, and nutrition. BenefitsCheckUp is part of the National Council on Aging and is considered the nation’s most comprehensive online service for seniors with limited income and resources. The information available canvases all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Caring for your aging parents should not be the job of one family member. The commitment should not be a burden, and responsibilities should be shared. Look for caregiver support organizations and forums as well as involving all family members. Everyone should do their part. The goal is to find the best blend of options and resources to allow your parents to age happily and well. Your parents’ health changes require that programs and opportunities change too. Caring for your aging parent is a dynamic process that must be retooled as their needs change.
We help families who are trying to navigate the maze of long term care either for themselves or for an aging parent. Please give us a call so we can discuss your particular needs at 1.800.660.7564 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Link Between Diet, Exercise and Alzheimer’s
The Link Between Diet, Exercise & Alzheimer’s
Concerns about your memory or that of a loved one should never be ignored. There are many resources available through a simple internet search, and professional associations that provide education and guidance through a maze of questions you may have regarding how to approach someone you suspect may be experiencing memory loss, or how to ask for help if that someone is you. There is even a free online memory test you can take in the privacy of your own home.But, did you also know that through many years of research, there is a link between diet, exercise and Alzheimer’s disease? It is never too late to start making proactive changes to your diet and lifestyle now to help lessen the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Even if you have been given an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, a study published in late October by Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, noted that it is possible to improve cognition with modifications to diet, exercise, and sleep.
This study, summarized by the Wall Street Journal, acknowledged that the methods tested would not prevent Alzheimer’s, but through their findings, healthy individuals, as well as those with mild cognitive impairment who followed personalized recommendations over the 18 months of the study, did show improvement in cognition.The study included 157 participants who varied in age from 25 to 86 and who all had a family history of Alzheimer’s.A small group in the study had mild cognitive impairment and were asked, after going through certain measurements and many tests, such as blood, genetic and cognitive function, to adhere to a little over 20 recommendations of food selection, daily vitamins and personalized exercise plans. Those who followed at least 60% of the recommendations showed significant improvement from their baseline in cognitive testing. Participants who followed less than sixty percent of the recommendations experienced cognitive decline similar to the control groups. Cognitive decline is a precursor to memory problems.
The larger group of participants studied were healthy individuals who had no memory loss though some in this group had less than ideal cognitive testing. After 18 months of following recommendations, all participants showed improvement in cognitive testing compared to their baselines and the control group, even if all the recommendations were not followed. Results showed that younger participants did better in general than those who were over 60 years old. Some of the measurements that went into developing a personalized plan included body fat and muscle mass, since the memory center of the brain, the hippocampus, is known to shrink as belly fat increases. Because cholesterol, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure are linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s, these values were monitored throughout the study.
In reviewing sites such as the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, a free memory test was found that will test how quickly and accurately you recognize repeated images during a timed test. On the Alzheimer’s Association website, one can find many recommendations for diet and lifestyle modification to follow, which are also listed in the Wall Street Journal article. Some examples of diet modification include limiting red meat, adding foods to your diet that are high in omega 3’s, such as a certain type of fish, and foods high in antioxidants, such as strawberries and blueberries. A mix of aerobic exercise and resistance training/weight lifting was recommended for good brain and heart health. Hours of sleep and quality of sleep were other factors that can affect mood and memory.It is generally recommended that a person try to get at least 7.5 hours of sleep each night and reduce caffeine consumption and ‘screen time’ well before bedtime to improve the quality of sleep.As for general brain health, meditation for stress reduction and learning a new skill, such as a foreign language were recommendations to keep you mentally sharp. There are many other ways to start now to improve or maintain your brain health with numerous online resources to help. If you have a family history of Alzheimer’s, don’t let another day go by worrying about what may happen. Educate yourself and take steps now that could minimize your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s Foundation of America at https://www.Alzfdn.org
Alzheimer’s Association at https://www.alz.org
Poor Financial Decisions May be Indicative of Dementia
Poor Financial Decisions May Be Indicative of Dementia
Diminishing brain function due to the onset of dementia can lead to the destruction of your financial well-being. If you are age 50 or older, easy access to your financial assets like stocks and bonds, checking and savings accounts, money market accounts, and other assets can lead to loss of these funds if an unauthorized person gains access to them, or if they are mismanaged. Family members are often unaware their loved one needs help before the unintentionally mismanaged assets, now gone, bring about devastating consequences for both the person living with dementia as well as their family. The Alzheimer’s Association reports that from diagnosis to death, Alzheimer’s disease (AD) care will cost an average of $424,000 per individual, and 70 percent of that cost is out of pocket expenses to the family system of the affected loved one.
It is common to have AD symptoms long before an official medical diagnosis. Difficulty managing money is one of the first signs of Alzheimer’s disease. To spot problems early, look for the warning signs of ill-advised financial transactions through oversight. Unopened or unpaid household bills, overspending on credit cards and making just minimum payments on the debt, falling prey to frauds and scams, and not paying attention to more significant investments that constitute the bulk of a person’s wealth are all indicators of mental decline. As a whole, the situation is very concerning as the poor financial outcomes that asset spending brings about are also happening at a time when expenditures to pay for increasing caregiving needs for dementia becomes extensive.
Projections are that by 2050, the prevalence of Alzheimer’s will triple in the US. Those individuals suffering from AD who do not have personal or family financial support will most likely become a beneficiary of the US Medicaid program. Total Medicaid spending in the fiscal year 2018 was 593 billion dollars. The federal government paid 62.5 percent, and the states paid 37.5 percent of the budget. Research statistics data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are projecting that, under current law, from 2018 – 2027 national health spending will be nearly 6 trillion dollars with a substantial portion of that going to underfunded seniors living with dementia.
One of the best ways to protect your finances from the unintended consequence of mismanagement due to cognitive impairment is to accept that this problem exists, and there is a need to put systems in place for financial oversight long before mental decline sets it. Meet with an elder law attorney to put the legal documents in place, allowing for power of attorney, financial control, medical power of attorney, as well as a dementia directive, as early as your 50th decade. You may also allow a trusted adult family member, friend, or financial advisor to review your monthly spending habits and bill paying. If there is a noted error in your financial judgment or a lapse in your standard financial operating procedures, they can call it to your attention well before all of your money is gone.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, only 16 percent of seniors regularly receive cognitive assessments in their annual medical exams. Keep yourself from becoming vulnerable by protecting your liquid assets and your net worth with provisions for financial oversight. The safety net you put in place today can protect your finances and even be an indicator that you require testing for cognitive problems. Currently, there is no solution to the problem of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia however; there are systems you can put in place to protect yourself financially. It is best to prepare for the possibility that you may develop cognitive problems and have protections in place rather than unwittingly put yourself in financial jeopardy.
5 Reasons to Rethink Your Retirement Investments
5 Reasons to Rethink Your Retirement Investments
Kiplinger.com is suggesting it is time to rethink your financial retirement portfolio. You may have built up a significant nest egg in a 401(k) plan, but it does come with serious baggage during your golden years. It is impossible to argue against the early stages of a 401(k) when employers match your contribution to the plan. You can take advantage of the tax breaks because contribution money comes out of your paycheck before calculating taxes and that money compounds every year. When you retire, however, the tax impact of a 401(k), 403(b), or traditional IRA can become significant.
You have probably been told at retirement time that you will be in a lower tax bracket however; it is more likely that the opposite will be true. Your tax rate is expected to increase. If you maintain the same standard of living, it will require the same amount of income, which translates to the same tax rate. Additionally, your children will be grown, the house paid off, and those substantial tax deductions are gone which may push you into a higher tax bracket. You will pay taxes on withdrawals from your contribution plan(s) annually irrespective of if the money comes from dividends, capital gains, or your contributions. That money will be taxed at your income tax rate at the time of withdrawal. Currently, the top marginal income tax rate is 37 percent, and taking into account the US deficit that tax rate could increase in time.
Double taxation can eat away at your retirement savings and is often the norm because you can pay more taxes on your Social Security benefits. Unless you have a Roth IRA, distributions from your retirement plans count against your tax situation when calculating what percentage of your Social Security is subject to tax. The result is you are paying more taxes on your retirement plan distributions and Social Security income. You are also paying more taxes from capital gains, dividends, and interest from your investments.
Required minimum distributions (RMDs) can be frustrating and expensive if you neglect to take them. You have to withdraw funds from your retirement fund accounts when the IRS deems it necessary. Even if you want to leave the money in the account, the IRS will schedule your withdrawals when you reach 70 ½ years old. There are stiff penalties for not taking out the required minimum distribution. You may pay as high as an additional 50 percent tax.
If you are married a 401(k) or IRA is the worst account to leave to your surviving spouse. No one wants to die without leaving their spouse financially secure, but these two financial vehicles are fully taxable accounts. Upon your passing, your spouse is about to change tax filing status from married filing jointly to single. That takes your spouse’s tax obligation from the lowest to the highest bracket. Probably not exactly what you had in mind.
Both your 401(k) and IRA plans are subject to tax law changes. Every time Congress convenes a session, there is the possibility that increases in taxes on your retirement plans can occur. It is highly unlikely that your taxes won’t increase. The US debt continues to grow at an alarming rate. The US government will tax its citizens more than ever to gain some level of financial control. Privatize the gains, socialize the losses is the federal government’s rule of thumb, particularly when considering how massive the US debt is.
Get together with a tax planner to identify ways to move your retirement funds into better financial retirement vehicles. Sometimes conversion can cost a bit of money upfront, but in the long run, you will be far better off with regards to your retirement tax obligations.
If you have questions or would like to discuss your personal situation, please don’t hesitate to reach out by calling us at 1.800.660.7564 or by emailing us at email@example.com.
The Difference Between Medicare and Medicaid
The Difference Between Medicare & Medicaid
Most people who work in healthcare may recognize the acronym LASA, which stands for “look-alike-sound-alike” and is usually seen when referencing medications. When it comes to federal programs, Medicaid and Medicare, in written form, look alike and they do sound alike but work very differently.
Both Medicare and Medicaid were started in 1965 under Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration in response to the inability of older and low-income people to purchase private insurance. Medicaid is an assistance program, funded federally and at the state level, that provides coverage for health care to low-income individuals regardless of age. It is governed federally with each state administering its own plan, which can vary from one state to the next. Medicare is a federal insurance program that provides health coverage for people aged 65 and over or to those under age 65 with a severe disability such as end-stage renal disease or Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as ALS-amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Dependents are not typically covered.
Medicaid eligibility is needs-based, meaning both income and assets are counted when determining eligibility. Both Medicare and Medicaid will cover a broad range of health care services, including hospital stays and physician office visits, yet Medicaid will cover nursing home care, in-home care services, long term care, and transportation to receive medical care which Medicare will not pay for. It is possible to qualify for dual coverage, which means both Medicare and Medicaid will work together to provide health care coverage and lower costs.
Regarding cost, Medicaid in most instances is free of cost though a small copay may be required depending on the plan. Medicaid can also recover against assets in a recipient’s estate after the death of the recipient. This could mean a lien is placed and executed on a recipient’s home, depending on whether a surviving spouse or blind or disabled child is residing in the home. Medicare is not free in that premiums and co-payments may be required for some parts of Medicare, and may be larger for those with a higher income, but eligibility is not income-based.
With Medicare, one has to work for about 10 years (40 qualifying quarters), at which point no premiums are required for Part A, which covers hospitalizations. Premiums may be necessary if you sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan, which is different from Original Medicare where you are permitted to purchase supplemental coverage for out of pocket costs. Because Medicare is not administered by each state, a Medicare recipient will usually have the same coverage and pay the same copays and deductibles regardless of the state of residence. Co-pays and deductibles are required for Medicare’s Part B (outpatient services) and Part D (medication) plans. Also, a financial penalty can be assessed if one does not sign up for Medicare Part B when you first become eligible, and there may be a delay in getting coverage.
Though basic differences are covered here, there is much more information to know regarding both plans, so research is encouraged before you hit the age of eligibility for Medicare to determine which Medicare plan may be right for you. Medicaid plans and coverage differ from state to state, and sometimes county to county. We would be happy to answer any questions you have about your potential eligibility for either program. Just give us a call at 1.800.660.7564 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pause Before You Sign That Nursing-Home Contract
Pause Before You Sign that Nursing Home Contract
Suppose your mother can no longer make decisions for herself and she now needs nursing-home care. You are stressed and anxious. The nursing home puts a twenty-page, single-spaced contract in front of you. You wish you could flip straight to the last page and sign then and there, just to get it over with.
Do not do this. You could be agreeing to pay, out of your own pocket, many thousands of dollars for your mother’s care.
Try to get your mother admitted and then, before you sign the contract, bring it to us for our review and guidance. Once your mother has moved in, she can’t be evicted just because you want to negotiate the contract.
But if that is not feasible, then sit down and take a few deep breaths. Read the contract carefully. Make a list of questions and ask a facility representative to explain. Ideally, that person would sit with you as you go through the document. Don’t sign until you understand.
Here is what to watch out for.
You should not use your own money to pay
* Do not sign the contract if it requires you to obligate yourself to pay with your own money. Carefully scrutinize any language referring to you as the “responsible party” or “resident representative” or “agent.”
The suspect buzz-words are “co-signor,” “guarantor,” “personally guarantee,” “personally liable,” “private-pay guarantor,” “surety,” “individual capacity,” or any such language. Words like these obligate you, personally, to pay if your mother doesn’t have the money. Don’t sign even if there are no buzz-words, but the language looks something like this: “If the resident does not or cannot pay, I will pay the amount owed for residency charges, services, equipment, supplies, medication, and other charges.”
Please understand that it is legal for the facility to require you, if you hold financial power of attorney or are guardian, to pay nursing-home bills from your mother’s money and assets. It is legal to require you to spend her money on her care and not for any other purpose. It is not legal to condition your mother’s admission on your agreeing to pay her bills with your own money, which is what the above buzz-words mean in plain English. The nursing home can ask you to agree – and if they ask, refuse – but you cannot be forced to agree to pay with your own money.
If your mother lacks the money, the next step is to apply for Medicaid assistance, not to go digging into your pocket.
Sometimes the contract is confusing. For instance, one nursing-home agreement says that the representative “personally guarantees continuity of payment.” This alarming language is properly followed by an italicized statement that the representative is “not required to pay for Resident’s care from his/her own personal funds.” The agreement proceeds, though, to use the phrase “personally guarantee” in other contexts. Ambiguity like this is why we recommend that you first bring the agreement to us. We can ensure, on your behalf, that the facility clarifies such language and does not misapply it.
Everyone in need has the right to apply for Medicaid
* The nursing-home contract must not require your mother to waive – give up – her right to seek government assistance like Medicare or Medicaid, nor can it ask her or you to sign any statement that she is ineligible for those benefits.
* If your mother has no money to pay for care, a Medicaid application will be required. The contract may seek your permission to apply for Medicaid for you. You have the right to decline that option and, instead, seek legal counsel to help you apply. We have seen some facilities mishandle Medicaid applications, which wound up being denied when they should not have been.
In any case, though, whoever files for Medicaid, you must cooperate by immediately providing all records necessary for that application.
If your mother is eligible for Medicaid, Medicaid pays
* If your mother does get Medicaid, the nursing home must not require an additional payment over and above that designated by the Medicaid scheme in your State.
* The nursing home must not demand that your mother receive additional services not covered by Medicaid and then, if your mother declines those services, evict her. It should ask, in advance, whether those services are desired at specified additional cost.
* The nursing home must not require additional donations to a charity as a condition of admittance.
Do not agree to arbitration
* The contract may seek your consent to arbitration. If you agree, you will be giving up your right to a jury trial if a dispute arises. The rules are in flux at the moment, but, generally, you should decline such a provision.
The nursing home must protect property reasonably
* The nursing-home contract may try to fudge its responsibility to take care of your mother’s property, but the bottom line is that it is obligated to care for your mother’s property during her stay. You should, however, use good judgment to safeguard her valuable property like fine jewelry by keeping it elsewhere.
Protect yourself. Cross out, and sign the right way
* Cross out provisions in the contract that you decline, and put your initials by the strike-outs.
* Be sure to sign the contract only as your mother’s agent. Your signature should read: “[Mother’s name], by [your name], her agent.”
To be fair to nursing homes, they are entitled to be paid and they often have difficulty collecting on legitimate debts. Facilities are forbidden from suing to take a resident’s Social Security or pension income. They must comply with strict federal consumer-protection restrictions. Despite these payment hurdles, they must still protect frail and vulnerable people from all manner of harm. They also suffer public hostility, thanks to the misconduct of some bad actors. We always urge cooperation with nursing-home personnel if feasible, because their job is a difficult one.
On the other hand, you and your family have the right to be protected from the excesses of bad actors – or from the imperfections, for example, of the facility mentioned above that misuses the “personally liable” language. Thus, no matter how reputable the facility, it is good judgment to consult an attorney before you sign an admission contract. If that’s not possible, then take care and time to study the contract, get facility staff to explain it to you, and strike out the objectionable provisions as advised above.
A few moments of care, even despite the stressful circumstances you are surely in at the time, can save you a lot of difficulties later. Please feel free to reach out if you have questions or need assistance by calling us at 1.800.660.7564 or by emailing us at email@example.com.
Covert | Law
Covert | Law
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