Articles Posted in Elder Law

A trust is an important estate plan document. Other estate planning documents include a last will and testament and intestate succession.

 
Every state has laws that determine who your heirs are and what proportion of the estate the heir is entitled to receive. Heir refers to blood relatives and are usually grouped according to closeness of relationship:  Children and spouse; siblings and parents; aunts, uncles, and cousins. Where there is no will or trust, the estate is deemed “intestate” and must be settled according to state probate law. Individuals who inherit property under a will or trust are referred to as beneficiaries. Persons can be named as beneficiaries on bank accounts, life insurance policies, financial portfolios, retirement accounts, and certain types of titled property such as real estate – they need not be heirs. Remember heirs can be beneficiaries, but beneficiaries are not always heirs.

 
To complete an estate plan, you should consider adding trust documents.

Creating a thoughtful estate plan is one of the greatest gifts anyone can leave their loved ones. It is important to update your will when major changes occur. These might include marriage, divorce, opening or closing a business, buying or selling real estate, or birth or death of an heir.

 
Estate planning is a process that helps ensure that your desires for distribution of your property and assets at death are carried out. During life, to complete an estate plan, you should consider the following: 

 

  •     Will: A will is the primary document that should be prepared while living, to be effective at death. A will is a written document expressing how you would like your estate to be distributed after death. Usually a will must be executed in the presence of two disinterested witness and be notarized. You must also have testamentary capacity (over the age of 18, of sound mind, and competent).

If you have fewer than 35 Social Security credits and are married, you may be able to get your spouse’s requirement benefits if you are at least 62 years old and your spouse receives retirement or disability benefits. You are also able to apply for and receive Medicare at age 65.

 
If you elect to seek Social Security spousal benefits rather than relying on your own work record alone, your benefit amount will be determined by such factors as your spouse’s full benefit amount, the date and your age when you begin receiving payments, and your own work history.

 
When you apply for Social Security spousal benefits:

If you are approaching retirement age, or are still in the middle of your career, understanding the Social Security program, and what income you can rely on when you retire will help you properly plan for your retirement.

 
Social Security Credits + Full Retirement Age

Eligibility for Social Security benefits based on your own work record depends on the total number of Social Security credits earned plus your full retirement age. For most Americans, after earning 40 Social Security “credits” or 40 quarters of coverage, they are eligible for Social Security benefits. In 2019, one Social Security credit was earned for every $1,360 in Social Security taxable income earned for a maximum of four credits and $5,440 in a calendar year.

More than 30 million Americans are living with diabetes. Many types of insulin can be used to treat diabetes and are usually described by how they affect your body. According to WebMd, insulin is a hormone that your pancreas makes to allow cells to use glucose. When your body isn’t making or using insulin correctly, you can control your blood sugar by taking man-made insulin.

 
The American Diabetes Association, published its Conclusions and Recommendations, made by the Insulin Access and Affordability Working Group to tackle the rising cost of insulin. In the seminal report, they found that “Achieving glycemic control and controlling cardiovascular risk factors have been conclusively shown to reduce diabetes complications, comorbidities, and mortality. To achieve these desired outcomes, the medical community now has available many classes of medications and many formulations of insulin to effectively manage the metabolic abnormalities for people with diabetes. However, the affordability of medications in general, and for insulin specifically, is currently of great concern to people with diabetes, their families, health care providers, insurers, and employers. For millions of people living with diabetes, including all individuals with type 1 diabetes, access to insulin is literally a matter of life and death. The average list price of insulin has skyrocketed in recent years, nearly tripling between 2002 and 2013. The reasons for this increase are not entirely clear but are due in part to the complexity of drug pricing in general and of insulin pricing in particular. As the price of insulin continues to rise, individuals with diabetes are often forced to choose between purchasing their medications or paying for other necessities, exposing them to serious short- and long-term health consequences.”

 
Is it legal to enter U.S. with insulin from Canada?

In the early 2000s it was common for groups of seniors in Michigan to travel to Canada by bus to buy cheaper prescription drugs. Church groups, community groups, and senior citizen groups routinely organized these trips to help people buy their prescription drugs. Prescription drug prices are the highest in the world. Across the board, all prescription drugs in the U.S. are higher than in any other country. There is no dispute from any American that prescription drug prices are high, even if an individual has a health insurance plan that covers all or part of their prescription process.

 
Plans to combat rising prescription drug prices

 
Combating rising prescription drug prices are an issue that has wide support among the American public. This past summer, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, running for U.S. President in 2020, traveled with a group of seniors to Canada to buy insulin, to build support for various proposals for lowering prescription drug prices in the U.S. The Trump Administration is working on a plan to import certain prescription drugs from Canada directly. A bill making its way through the U.S. House of Representatives is seeking to allow Medicare to negotiate down drug prices.

There are many reasons, all quite valid, that people enter retirement with little to no savings. Prolonged medical illness, catastrophic life events, poor job prospects, or modest means, are just some of the many reasons that contribute to little to no retirement savings for many seniors. As children of such parents, there are steps you can take now that can lessen the economic impact of little retirement savings on your parent’s lives.

For starters, many seniors live with a child. The Harvard Health Letter analyzed data from the U.S. Census and concluded that close to 3.4 million people over the age of 65 were living with an adult child. Housing, for many people, regardless of age, is a big chunk of a person’s household budget. Living with an adult child can help seniors reduce and even eliminate such an expenditure. Solving housing issues is just one consideration.

Approach the issue of little to no retirement savings holistically. Begin the process with the goal of getting all of your parents’ financial affairs in order. Here are some tips you and your siblings can implement.

By now, many homes across the nation are decked out with holiday decorations. String lights are strung around trees, houses, and even apartment windows. Almost all retail shops contain some form of holiday decorations, from simple Christmas trees to menorahs, to elaborate Christmas towns.

While for many people the end of year holiday festivities is the most wonderful time of the year, for others it brings back unpleasant memories of holidays past. Instead of sparking joy feelings of sadness, isolation, and anxiety follow. Holiday lights in particular have been shown to conjure up unhappy memories.

Multiple studies demonstrate that holiday lights and decorations help people recall memories of earlier holidays, especially during early childhood years. If your memories are pleasant, feelings of joy, excitement, and fun to follow. If your memories are unpleasant, and even traumatic, feelings of sadness, isolation, and hurt follow. You may not be over your particular unpleasant memory. Especially if around the holidays you experienced a death in the family, went through a particularly bad breakup, or had a difficult childhood, holiday lights and decorations can be a harbinger of holiday blues.

Millions of seniors collect Social Security in retirement and use those benefits to help pay for their living costs. If you are nearing retirement without much or any savings, you should know that Social Security income alone won’t cover all of your living expenses.

The average senior citizen today collects $ 17,748 a year in benefits. In most of New York State, the minimum wage at the time of this publication (late 2019) is $13.26 per hour. If work in Nassau, Suffolk or Westchester County, your minimum wage is currently $14.00 per hour. And if you work in New York City, your minimum wage is $15.00 per hour if your employer employs 10 people or fewer and $13.00 per hour if your employer employs 11 people or more. However, all of those hourly rates are set to gradually increase over the next several years, with the goal of the rate capping at $15.00 per hour for all state employers. Using the $15 per hour rate, based on a 35-hour week, would mean $31,200 a year in income. The income shortfall, based on the average Social Security benefit, is $13,452. To fund the gap, you have to tap into your savings.

To see where you fall based on the average benefit amount, compare your current annual income to the average Social Security benefit ($ 17,748). The difference is your shortfall. In other words, you will need additional funds to cover your living costs. Your savings can bridge the gap. However, if you’re nearing retirement without much savings, you may need a part-time job to cover your living costs. That is why you can’t neglect to save for retirement.

Social Security is facing a funding shortfall, that if left unaddressed, could result in a major reduction across the board, in the retirement benefits millions of retired workers receive. If a cut in benefits were to happen, many seniors would not be able to cover their living expenses. Others would be pushed into poverty, particularly if they suffer from chronic conditions that would make it impossible for seniors to work, even on a part-time basis to cover the loss of benefits. Future retirees would also have to work longer than planned, should the retirement age for eligibility for the Social Security program change, because of the funding shortfall.

A proposal was introduced in Congress by U.S. Senator Mitt Romney from Utah, to raise the full retirement age at which seniors can collect their monthly benefits in full. Raising the Social Security’s program retirement age for program eligibility was last done over 35 years ago. Legislation effective in 1983, pushed Social Security’s former full retirement age of 65 up to a range of 66 through 67, depending on year of birth. Today, seniors can take benefits as early as age 62. However, each month claimed before full retirement age reduces the benefit paid on a lifelong basis.

Proponents of raising Social Security’s full retirement age say it’s a reasonable thing to do given increased life expectancy. Opponents argue that it won’t solve the problem. Raising Social Security’s retirement age would be unfair to many seniors they argue.

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