Category Archives: Elder Law

Elder Law. Advanced directives. Power of attorney. Living will. Health care power of attorney. HIPPA. DNR. Long Term Care Insurance. Medicaid. Medicaid Penalty Period. Medallion Signature. Social Security Payee Representative.

End-of-life care: We must find ways to improve it

In the 1900’s, death often took place in someone’s home with loved ones nearby. Now, as more people are living longer and lifestyles have changed, death often occurs in a hospital overseen by trained staff. The resulting increase in the cost of dying has raised serious issues related to the current American health care system.

The National Institute of Medicine, the health branch of the National Academy of Sciences, recently announced that “given the rapidly changing environment for health care delivery, punctuated by the landmark passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, and the twin imperatives of improving the quality of health care while controlling costs, the time is ripe for a new examination of how individual values and preferences can be aligned while assuring compassionate care focused on the needs of individuals approaching death in an affordable and sustainable manner.” “…the matter of death and dying has become a political as well as an ethical, moral and societal one.”

The Institute said that it is pulling together a panel of experts to tackle this critical subject. “Given the importance of death and dying to our citizens and our nation, the IOM plans to examine the current state of end-of-life care with respect to delivery of medical care and social support; patient-family-provider communication of values and preferences; advance care planning; health care cost, financing and reimbursement; and education of health professionals, patients and their loved ones.

The study will also explore approaches to advance the issues surrounding the end of life from a wide variety of perspectives including clinical care and delivery, resources and workforce, economics, spirituality and compassion.”

On January 29th and 30th, the National Academy of Sciences also hosted the first National Summit on Advanced Illness as part of their effort to find ways for people to get good end-of-life care.

As our society ages, end-of-life care – how to afford and sustain it – becomes a critical subject. To read more, go to http://www.diesmart.com/.

Have you collected the Social Security benefits to which you may be entitled?

You worked hard your whole life and paid money into the Social Security program evey month. So did your spouse. And now that you are both retired, you are relaxing, enjoying life and collecting a benefit check every month.

But Social Security benefits are not just for retirement. They are for widows and widowers, too. That’s right. Some of the money you paid into Social Security during your working life goes to survivor’s insurance from which you may one day be entitled to collect benefits. The amount of those benefits is based on lifetime earnings.

It is important to know that the surviving spouse is not the only one who can collect benefits. Surviving minor or disabled children are eligible as well.

Diesmart has received questions from widows and widowers who want to be sure they have collected all of the pension benefits to which they are entitled. However, they usually either forget or don’t know that they are leaving money on the table when they don’t file for Social Security survivor benefits as well.

Don’t forget to contact the Social Security administration to find out what steps you need to take to collect benefits to which you are entitled. www.ssa.gov/survivorplan/ifyou.htm

For more information about death benefits, go to www.diesmart.com.

Don’t Pay an Inheritance Tax on Your Own Money!

If you live in Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey or Pennsylvania beware. These states tax your inheritance, no matter what the amount is.

Barry and Susan Brown of Philadelphia, PA learned this the hard way. Because they were getting older, they decided to add their son’s name to their bank accounts. They decided this would be the easiest way to enable him to access their funds in case of a health emergency.
Unfortunately, their son died before they did. Shortly thereafter, they received a tax bill for several thousand dollars. Why? Under Pennsylvania law, one third of the money in their accounts was considered to be their son’s. Since, according to the law, they had inherited it, they owed 4.5 percent as tax. Their son had none of his own money in the accounts, but that didn’t matter. They had to pay the tax.

This problem could have very easily been avoided. Instead of putting their son’s name on their bank accounts, they should have prepared a financial power of attorney document. In this document, they could have given their son the right to access their money and make financial decisions on their behalf when they were unable to do so. This method would have allowed them to keep all of their money instead of giving some of it away to the government needlessly.

For helpful information about how to plan for incapacity and death, go to www.diesmart.com.

Do You Have a Succession Plan for Your Small Business?

You probably have a will and/or a trust that covers what you want done with your personal assets when you die. But do you have a formal succession plan for your small business?

According to the Small Business Administration, about 90% of businesses are owned by a family. And about 90% of those family business owners believe that their business will be kept in the family when they can no longer run it. However, according to the Family Business Institute, only about 30% of family and businesses survive into the second generation.

Planning for your succession is critically important and has implications for your employees, business structure, assets and tax obligation, but it isn’t easy.

You should think about who you want to take over your business if something happens to you. Choosing someone to replace you as head of your organization may be as simple as appointing a family member who has been working in the business. On the other hand, there may be several people from whom you will have to choose and each may have different strengths and weaknesses. The correct decision is vital; it may cause family conflict and turmoil which, in turn, may impact the continued success or future failure of the company.

Another thing to think about is whether you want to sell your business to family members or just give it to them. This may have tax implications for your estate and for those family members.

If you have partners, do you have a buy/sell agreement with them?

There are several different business succession planning strategies. Make sure you speak with an estate planner who is skilled in this area, explore the options and create the plan that will be the best option for your small business.

Planning for Incapacity or Death: “A Cranky Old Man”

A friend sent me this poem by a “Cranky Old Man”. It has a message that all of us should think about as we care for elderly or incapacitated family members.

When an old man died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home in an Australian country town, it was believed that he had nothing left of any value.

Later, when the nurses were going through his meagre possessions, They found this poem. Its quality and content so impressed the staff that copies were made and distributed to every nurse in the hospital.

One nurse took her copy to Melbourne. The old man’s sole bequest to posterity has since appeared in the Christmas editions of magazines around the country and appearing in mags for Mental Health. A slide presentation has also been made based on his simple, but eloquent, poem.

And this old man, with nothing left to give to the world, is now the author of this ‘anonymous’ poem winging across the Internet.

Cranky Old Man

What do you see nurses? . . .. . .What do you see?
What are you thinking .. . when you’re looking at me?
A cranky old man, . . . . . .not very wise,
Uncertain of habit .. . . . . . . .. with faraway eyes?
Who dribbles his food .. . … . . and makes no reply.
When you say in a loud voice . .’I do wish you’d try!’
Who seems not to notice . . .the things that you do.
And forever is losing . . . . . .. . . A sock or shoe?
Who, resisting or not . . . … lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding . . . .The long day to fill?
Is that what you’re thinking?. .Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse .you’re not looking at me.
I’ll tell you who I am . . . . .. As I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding, .. . . . as I eat at your will.
I’m a small child of Ten . .with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters .. . . .. . who love one another
A young boy of Sixteen . . . .. with wings on his feet
Dreaming that soon now . . .. . . a lover he’ll meet.
A groom soon at Twenty . . . ..my heart gives a leap.
Remembering, the vows .. .. .that I promised to keep.
At Twenty-Five, now . . . . .I have young of my own.
Who need me to guide . . . And a secure happy home.
A man of Thirty . .. . . . . My young now grown fast,
Bound to each other . . .. With ties that should last.
At Forty, my young sons .. .have grown and are gone,
But my woman is beside me . . to see I don’t mourn.
At Fifty, once more, .. …Babies play ’round my knee,
Again, we know children . . . . My loved one and me.
Dark days are upon me . . . . My wife is now dead.
I look at the future … . . . . I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing .. . . young of their own.
And I think of the years . . . And the love that I’ve known.
I’m now an old man . . . . . . .. and nature is cruel.
It’s jest to make old age . . . . . . . look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles .. .. . grace and vigour, depart.
There is now a stone . . . where I once had a heart.
But inside this old carcass . A young man still dwells,
And now and again . . . . . my battered heart swells
I remember the joys . . . . .. . I remember the pain.
And I’m loving and living . . . . . . . life over again.
I think of the years, all too few . . .. gone too fast.
And accept the stark fact . . . that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, people .. . . . .. . . open and see.
Not a cranky old man .
Look closer . . . . see .. .. . .. …. . ME!!