Articles Posted in Elder Law

Many older individuals in the United States depend on Medicare to pay for health care needs. It can be challenging to determine what’s covered under Medicare and how much it costs. To make matters even more complex, there are various changes to the Medicare system each year. For example, at the beginning of 2021, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services issued a final ruling addressing Medicare Part C and Part D. This far-reaching rule is just one of several changes to Medicare. This article reviews some of the other important issues to consider about other Medicare changes that will occur in 2021.

The Four Parts of Medicare

Medicare is divided into four separate categories that pay for distinct health services. This includes:

For many Americans, the phrase “golden years” refers to the period between when one begins retirement and the beginning of age-imposed cognitive and physical limitations. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics has found that the number of adults in this age group who continue to work has been on the increase since the 1990s. The most recent data shows that more than 20% of people age 65 or older are choosing to continue work. This marked an increase of 10% since the mid-1980s. This article reviews some critical details to understand this trend as well as how it intersects with the field of elder law.

Various Advantages Can Be Realized by Continuing to Work

Some particular advantages exist to continue working after retirement, which includes the following:

Medicaid is a primary payment source for various long-term medical care solutions in the United States. In many situations, Medicaid is utilized to pay for residential care facilities. Deciding that one needs to transition to a nursing home, however, is rarely an easy decision and many elderly individuals attempt to stay at home as long as possible. Many senior citizens rely on home-based services to postpone moving into nursing homes. Medicaid offers two types of long-term care: home community-based services and institutional care. States have discretion in regards to whether they should offer home community-based services in addition to institutional care, which has led to significant gaps in services between states.

 While funding for home-based services has not risen to meet demands, these options might change soon. In March 2021, the American Jobs Plan proposed increasing the funds utilized to provide Medicaid long-term care services to more individuals.

The Role of the American Jobs Plan

Taxes continue even after you retire. Choosing not to pay attention to the possibility of taxes incurred during retirement could substantially lower your standard of living in retirement. To make matters even more complex, some of the common-sense strategies that people utilize to reduce taxes can lead to paying more in retirement and on inheritances. 

This article reviews just one of many strategies that can be utilized to minimize the amount of taxes that you end up paying in retirement.

# 1 – Make the Most of Timing

The elderly are at risk of financial abuse, and unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic has led to an increase in the rate of financial abuse. Abusers are known to look for individuals who are particularly vulnerable and factors like death, incapacity, health challenges, and diminished capacity can all lead a person to face such a situation. Data, however, shows that the pandemic has increased the risk of these factors. As a result, it’s critical to understand what financial abuse among the elderly can include as well as what you can do to prevent your elderly loved one from being harmed in this way.

Common Types of Financial Abuse

Some of the most common types of financial abuse to which elderly individuals often fall victim include the following:

One of the primary purposes of estate planning is to appoint someone to handle your estate after you pass away as well as describe how you would like your remaining assets distributed. Many people decide that the best way to pass on assets is to family members, which often include children and/or grandchildren. While there are many estate planning strategies, you should likely at some point consider whether passing on a lifetime gift makes sense.

The Current Exemption Amounts for Lifetime Gifts

In 2021, each person in the United States can transfer up to $11.7 million either during that person’s life or time of death without being subject to any federal estate or gift taxes. If your transfers exceed this amount, only the excess amount is taxed at 40%. New York currently does not have a gift tax. While this provides an even greater reason to utilize lifetime gift taxes, it’s worth remembering that several of the states surrounding New York have gift taxes. Due to these currently advantageous taxes, many individuals utilize this opportunity to keep wealth within their families. Making gifts to your family while you are still alive offers the advantage of seeing your loved ones enjoy these assets.

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused some people to leave the country. There also many other reasons why people choose to take residence in a foreign place including job opportunities or to live closer to loved ones. If you’re planning on moving out of the country, it’s critical to understand some potential estate planning implications. 

Select Someone to Oversee Your US Assets

If you still own any type of assets within the United States, you should consider utilizing a power of attorney to name an “attorney-in-fact”, which is a person who makes financial decisions on your behalf while you reside outside of the country. This person should be close to the assets in a question so they can help oversee them. This person might be granted various powers including the ability to pay bills and to apply for loans. 

Data shows that more than 11 million Americans currently need some type of long-term care due to chronic illnesses and conditions. Statistics also show that over a million Americans reside in long-term care facilities. Over half of these residents are between the ages of 75 to 94. Many times, long-term care refers to care at locations like a home but also assisted living or hospitals. It’s a good idea to sufficiently plan for how you will receive long-term care as well as how to preserve assets you’d like to keep. 

# 1 – You Have Options to Pay for Nursing Home Costs

The costs for long-term care options like nursing homes are often substantial. Potential applicants are often overwhelmed at how large these costs are. As a result, it’s often the best idea to begin planning for how to pay nursing home costs as soon as possible. Some of the options that people rely on to pay for long-term costs include:

Nursing home Medicaid requires recipients to either be over the age of 65 or blind or disabled. Unfortunately, an increasing number of families are searching for long-term care while the recipient is still below the age of 65. Many of these individuals are just a few years short of 65 but have already experienced serious medical conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, strokes, or traumatic brain injuries. Unfortunately, the circumstances that lead a person to require long-term care are not always predictable. If you’re under 65 and interested in utilizing Medicaid, there are some important issues that you should consider.

Nursing Home Is a Valid Option for Someone Under 65

If a Medicaid applicant is below the age of 65, they have the option of establishing that they are disabled to qualify. Verification of disability involves “prima facie” evidence and might include disability determination by the Social Security Administration, disability determination by the Railroad Retirement Board, or proof of receipt of Medicaid benefits. 

A challenge to the Affordable Care Act is still pending at the United Supreme Court, but other challenges against the law have also been introduced including one case in which a Texas federal judge suggested that most Americans receive preventive services like mammograms without charge. In this ruling, the judge also noted that businesses, as well as individuals who challenge the Affordable Care Act’s “first-dollar” coverage requirement for preventive services, have legal standing to do so. 

This judge has also previously found the entire Affordable Care Act unconstitutional. The plaintiffs who initiated the case argue that religious and free-market objections exist regarding the Affordable Care Act’s requirement and seek to halt enforcement of the law. 

Based on a recent order, it appears likely that the judge will rule in favor of the plaintiffs and end up interfering with the Affordable Care Act’s application. 

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