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Elder Law

Monday, February 4, 2019

Six "Must Haves" for Nursing Home Contracts

The decision to place a family member into a nursing home is a dilemma for an ever-increasing number of Americans. In addition to the emotional difficulties inherent in making such a decision, if a family decides to place a member into a nursing home, there is a mountain of paperwork awaiting them. While nursing homes will often argue that their contacts are standard and cannot be changed, this is rarely the case. To ensure that your contract doesn’t have any hidden or illegal clauses, it’s essential to consult with an experienced elder law attorney before you sign it.

When you receive the nursing home contract, make sure to actually read the contract in detail to understand the provisions. Make sure that the following provisions are included:


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Thursday, January 31, 2019

What is the Medicaid Lookback Period?

Medicaid is a healthcare program jointly operated by the individual states and the federal government. Medicaid is designed to help individuals with limited income and resources pay for healthcare costs including nursing home care, assisted living, or in-home care. However, qualifying for Medicaid can be difficult. While eligibility is state-dependent, there are generally four key requirements: (1) you must be 65 years of age or older, permanently disabled, or otherwise qualify depending on your specific state’s class requirements, (2) you must be a resident of the state in which you are applying, and either a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or legal alien, (3) your income must be within your state’s income limitations, and (4) your assets must be within your state’s asset limitations.

To help individuals qualify for much-needed Medicaid coverage, multiple strategies exist to reduce one’s income and assets to the state threshold without adversely affecting the individual’s life. These include gifting assets to family and friends, transferring assets to a spouse, and investing in exempt assets (exempt assets are assets that do not count as “assets” for Medicaid purposes – most states allow certain home values to be exempt).


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Friday, January 18, 2019

The Effects of Gifts on Medicaid Planning

Medicaid is a healthcare program designed to help individuals with limited income and assets afford needed medical care. Importantly, Medicaid covers long-term healthcare services such as nursing home costs and costs for at-home personal healthcare. Because Medicaid is intended to benefit those with limited income and assets, there are strict eligibility requirements based on income and assets. Although Medicaid is a federal creation, it is jointly operated by the federal and state governments. As a result, the specific income and asset eligibility requirements for each state are different and you should consult with a Medicaid planning attorney in your area for specific eligibility advice.


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Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Reverse Mortgages and Older Americans

Perhaps you’ve seen the catchy commercials for a reverse mortgage stating that many older Americans are struggling to get by because they currently do not have enough in savings and retirement funds to manage their expenses, but yet many have equity in their homes. To solve the financial difficulties, the commercial recommends using a reverse mortgage to access that equity.

Suppose you’re one of the many individuals such commercials are targeting. You’re struggling financially but have significant equity in your home – perhaps you paid off your mortgage ten years ago. How exactly does a reverse mortgage help you?

At a basic level, a reverse mortgage is a loan from a bank secured by your house – just like a regular mortgage. The primary difference is that for a reverse mortgage, you receive a lump sum payment or continuous payments from the bank and do not make payments on the principal balance. Whereas in a regular mortgage you take out a loan and then make monthly payments, a reverse mortgage doesn’t require any payments to be made until a specified event occurs, such as your death, the sale of the property, or another event identified in the loan agreement.


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Friday, December 28, 2018

Preventing Falls in the Home

Unfortunately, as we get older, falls become more serious as they can result in health complications such as fractured arms or hips, internal bleeding, and head trauma. To minimize your risk of falling while at home, consider taking the following steps.

Add assistive devices

 Assistive devices can be installed throughout your residence to provide for better support in day-to-day activities. Some examples include:


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Friday, December 14, 2018

Legal Issues of Caring for Parents with Dementia

Ever increasing life expectancies mean we get to spend more time with our loved ones, but it also means facing greater health problems as we age. One of the most challenging health issues for aging adults is dementia. Dementia is not a specific disease, but rather describes a group of symptoms that are associated with a decline in memory and cognitive function. In severe cases, those suffering from dementia may not remember their family members, or who they are, and may generally not be able to continue to live independently. As a result, many families take on a caregiver role for parents who suffer dementia. The following legal issues should be considered by families when caring for parents with dementia at any stage:


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Monday, December 3, 2018

A Brief Introduction to End of Life Legal Planning

While being one of the most important aspects of your later stages in life, end of life legal planning is often the hardest to deal with. The issue is a mix of emotions, finance, and law – a combination that will bring anxiety to anyone. Nonetheless, being prepared for the unexpected, and eventually the expected, is exceptionally important. End of life legal planning can be split into two primary categories: healthcare and financial.

Healthcare Planning

Everyone will have an opinion on what is the best medical decision to make should something happen to you. There are three primary healthcare documents that can ensure your intentions are known and carried out.


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Friday, November 30, 2018

What is the Older Americans Act?

The Older Americans Act was signed into law on July 19, 1965 by President Lyndon B. Johnson to address economic shortcomings for those in their later years of life. While focused on aiding Americans who are 60 years of age and older, the Older Americans Act has had far reaching implications affecting Americans of all ages. The Older Americans Act is a piece of umbrella legislation that introduced many new programs, agencies, and centers, including the Aging and Disability Resource Centers, the National Family Caregiver Support Program, and the Administration on Aging. The Older Americans Act also brought in many new forms of funding for services required by seniors to retain their independence, such as transportation services, education services, and legal aid. Notably, the Older Americans Act was brought in during 1965, the year of significant change in social welfare programs in the United States – 1965 also seeing Medicaid and Medicare coming into existence.


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Thursday, August 16, 2018

Think Treasure Hunts are Fun and Games? Think Again

You’ve had an attorney draft your estate planning documents, including your living trust and will. Probate avoidance and tax saving strategies have been implemented. Your documents are signed, notarized and witnessed in accordance with all applicable laws, and are stored in a location known to your chosen executor or estate administrator. Your work is done, right? Not exactly.


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Thursday, July 12, 2018

Preventing a Will Contest & Preserving Peace in the Family

The purpose of writing a Last Will and Testament is to make sure that you – and not an anonymous probate court judge – have control over the distribution of your property after your death.  If one or more family members disputes the instructions in your will, however, then it is possible  that a probate court judge may decide how your assets will be distributed.

Protect yourself, your family members and your last wishes by taking steps to prevent a will contest after your death.  Will contests (this is the legal term used to describe a family member’s challenge to the contents of a will) can be based on one or more of these claims:


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Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The Basics of Conservatorships

Sometimes, bad things happen to good people. A tragic accident. A sudden, devastating illness. Have you ever wondered what would happen if a loved one became incapacitated and unable to take care of himself? While many associate incapacity with a comatose state, an individual, while technically functioning, may be considered incapacitated if he cannot communicate through speech or gestures and is unable sign a document, even with a mark. In some cases, an individual may have no trouble communicating, but may not be able to fully appreciate the consequences of their decisions and hence may be deemed to lack capacity. With proper incapacity planning which includes important legal documents such as a durable power of attorney, healthcare proxy and living will, the individuals named in such documents are empowered to make necessary financial and medial decisions on behalf of the incapacitated person without obtaining additional legal authorization.  Without proper incapacity planning documents, even a spouse or adult child cannot make financial and healthcare decisions on behalf of an incapacitated individual.  In such cases, a conservatorship (or guardianship) proceeding is necessary so that loved ones are able to provide for their financial and medical healthcare needs.


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