Hooper Law Office,LLC Estate Planning Blog

Thursday, August 1, 2013

I have Medicare; should I worry about nursing home costs?

Yes; Medicare is a health insurance program for those people over the age 65. Medicare will not pay for custodial care in the nursing home, but it will pay rehabilitative care in a nursing home setting. To qualify for Medicare coverage, a patient's nursing home stay must have been preceded by a three night, or longer, hospital stay. Typically, Medicare will pay for the first 20 days in the nursing home for those patients receiving physical therapy or other rehabilitative treatment. Medicare will then pay a portion of the next 80 days in a nursing home. After 100 days, Medicare will, in virtually all cases, cease payment. Medicare also have the ability to terminate coverage before the end of the 100-day period if the patient is not making progress towards rehabilitation and recovery.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

How much does a nursing home cost?

The cost of nursing home care varies greatly between geographic regions and depends on the type of care required. For example, the costs associated with Alzheimer patients, are likely to be much higher than the costs incurred by a patient with circulatory problems. At the time this is written in 2013, the average cost is generally between $7,000 and $9,000 per month. Like all health care, the costs are climbing fast. The average cost over the past 14 years has increased at a compounded rate of 5% per year. If this rate of increase sustains, nursing home prices will double every 14 years.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

I am single. What is the limit of assets I can own and still qualify for Medicaid.

As a single person you must "spend down" your assets to a very low level before you are qualified to receieve Medicaid assistance. The amount you are allowed to keep is roughly $2,000. Not included in this limit are certain exempt assets such as a modestly priced car, a small amount of life insurance, personal property and funds designated for your burial. 

Your personal residence will not be counted in the asset limit if you have expressed the intent to return to your home. The government may place a lien on your home that will be paid when the house is sold. There are ways to either defeat this lien or to minimize it, but this requires a thorough knowledge of the rules. This is an area where you will definitely need expert legal advice from an attorney who concentrates in long term care planning. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

I'm on a fixed income; how will I make ends meet if my spouse goes to the nursing home?

It is not the government's intent to impoverish the spouse who remains at home. In general, the "community spouse" gets to keep all of their income. In addition, if the community spouse has a low level of income they will get some or all of the "nursing home" spouse's income up to about $2,500 per month. As an example, assume the husband is in the nursing home and the wife's (community spouse) only income is $600 os socail security. She would be eligible to take $1,900 of the husband's income.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Do I get to choose my nursing home?

Your options for choosing a nursing home are best if you enter as a "private pay". This means you are initially paying with your own assets or with long term care insurance. If you enter the nursing home on Medicaid you may have limited optioins. Most nursing homes will have a limited number of "Medicaid beds". If there are no Medicaid beds available locally you might wind up in a nursing home not in your community, and difficult for loved ones to get to. Obtaining accessible care is one of the reasons people get long term care insurance, even is the policy benefit is for a limited perios of time. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I have health problems; will i qualify for long term care insurance?

A common mistake that people make is assuming that, because they have a medical condition, they cannot get long term care insurance. While it is true that some medical conditions will disqualify you for coverage, you cannot know for sure without working with a qualified long term care insurance professional. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

What are the chances I'll need long term care?

Studies have determined that up to 6 out of 10 people over the age of 65 will need some form of long term care. The fact that most people will need some form of care during their life time illustrates the need to start planning far in advance. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

What do I do about out- of- state real estate?


This is where there is a big difference between real estate and everything else. Personal property (everything that is not real estate) is handled by the decedent’s state of domicile. However, the rule is different for real estate. Each state will require a licensed attorney to administer any out-of-state property. This is one 

Friday, May 3, 2013

After my Mother died, my deceased brother’s young children inherited his share. How do I distribute property left to young children?


This can be a real problem because a beneficiary who is less than 18 years old cannot own property. If your mother left either a Will or Living Trust it will usually contain provisions so that a minor’s property can be maintained in a trust. However, if your mom either died intestate (no Will or trust) or if the bequest was part of the beneficiary designation, then the answer depends upon the amount of the inheritance. Generally, if it is a small amount you will be able to put it into a Uniform Transfers to Minors Act account. If the inheritance exceeds the statutory limit you will need to initiate a probate proceeding to have a guardian named for each minor beneficiary. The named guardian will then manage the money for the benefit of the ward (the minor) until they reach the age of 18.

Monday, April 8, 2013

When am I done acting as Personal Representative / Trustee?

As a personal representative, once all matters are settled, a Personal Representative’s Statement to Close must be filed with the court. Final steps leading up to the statement are:

-Paying any outstanding debts;

-Filing the estate income taxes and receiving approval (a Closing Certificate) from the IRS;

-Distributing all assets to rightful beneficiaries; and

-Completing the sale of any property

If any matters need to be handled after the statement is filed, the personal representative would need to petition the court to reopen the probate. Generally the same steps apply for trust settlement; however there is no need to file a statement with the court. The trustee would not have to file any sort of petition to reopen a trust settlement because technically the trust is still “living” many years after distributions have been made and any property is sold.

Friday, April 5, 2013

We have a living trust. How much is it going to cost after one of us dies?

Cost will depend upon the size and complexity of the trust assets, how much of the work your family does and how much is done by attorneys and accountants. Most of the tasks associated with doing a trust settlement are the same as probate. One thing can be said however, and that is that the cost will be significantly less than if the identical estate went through the probate process. By having your family in charge, rather than some judge, many of the tasks are simplified and streamlined.

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