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.

Long term care insurance: If you’re a woman, be prepared to pay more!

Over ten million people have purchased long term care insurance, primarily to cover healthcare expenses that may occur in old age or during catastrophic illness.

Up until now, this insurance usually treated men and women equally.  Policy price depended on health status and age, not gender.

But this year, long term care insurance companies have indicated that they are going to start charging women more for their policies.  One of the first companies to introduce this new type of pricing is Genworth Financial Inc., purported to be the largest seller of insurance in the United States.  Their goal is to reflect statistical realities.  Women live longer than men and prepare more effectively for their futures by buying long term care policies.

According to Genworth, two thirds of its long term care payouts go to women, even though, in 2011, women only bought about 57% of its policies.  Women live longer than men and have higher rates of disability and chronic health problems.

So this spring, if their proposed plan is approved by regulatory agencies, Genworth will introduce gender specific policy pricing.  For women, that will boost the cost of a new policy by 20 to 40%, depending on age and benefit package selected.

A Genworth spokesperson said that the new pricing will only affect women applying on their own.  Lower rates will still be offered to married couples who purchase joint coverage and the changes won’t affect current policy holders.

For more information about long term care, go to www.diesmart.com.

 

Nursing Home: If your parent needs one, will you have to pay the bill?

This is a true and shocking story.  John Pittas was ordered by a Pennsylvania court to pay his mother’s $92,943.41 nursing home bill under a filial support law.  The filial support law states that certain family members are liable for the care, maintenance and financial support of some other indigent members of that family.  It’s a law that’s been around since colonial times in one form or another.  Several states have abolished it but 29 have not.

John’s mother entered the Liberty Nursing Rehabilitation Center in Allentown, PA and spent about six months there after breaking two legs in an auto accident in September 2007. 

In March 2008, his mother, who was born in the United States, relocated to Greece where two other children live.

As the only family member still living in this country, Pittas was sued for payment of the huge bill.  The owners of the nursing home sued him for the money and a 2011 court trial was decided in the nursing home’s favor.

If his mother’s Medicaid application had been approved prior to the accident, this never would have happened.  Medicaid would have paid.  Last year, Pittas appealed but the Superior Court of Pennsylvania once again ruled in favor of the nursing home.

If you have an aging parent who may one day need nursing home care, what can you do to avoid having the same problem as John Pittas?

1) Talk with your parent about his or her financial resources.  If your parent is reluctant to have this discussion, relate John Pittas’ story.  It’s better to have a plan prior to an accident or other health crisis.

2) If your parent has limited resources, find out whether that parent is eligible for Medicaid.   If so, get your parent to apply immediately so that it will be available when needed.

3) If your parent is not eligible, sit down with all the members of your immediate family and talk about which family members can provide care or financial aid in case it is needed.

Don’t delay.  Put a plan in place today so that you won’t suddenly receive an unexpected bill for $93,000 or more.

For more information about planning for long term care and Medicaid, go to www.diesmart.com.

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.