Elder Law Articles, Uncategorized

Elder Law Update At Large Edition October 2009 Vol II

Preface:   For F/A’s & CPA’s: Our recent workshop for F/A’s and CPA’s was very well received so we are scheduling another on November 5, 2009 at 4:00 PM.  Call for reservations at 847-292-1220 For the Public:  Don’t miss our new free public workshop: “Don’t Go Broke in a Nursing Home”, on October 27, 2009 at 11:00 AM and 6:30 PM.  Call for reservations at 847-292-1220 1.         Long-Term Care as a Political Football!  For those of you who have been following the national debate on health care, let’s not lose sight of the piece dealing with long-term care.  A provision was submitted to the House and Senate that would establish a new national long-term care insurance program that would offer just basic help to the elderly and disabled.  It appears now that effort is now under attack.  According to policy observers, the provision has a long way to go.  The provision created a voluntary federal long-term care insurance program.  Those who elected to participate would pay a premium of about $65 a month.  The provision indicated that if they had paid for at least 5 years they would be eligible for benefits of $50 or $100 per day depending on how much help they needed.  While this payout would be relatively modest compared to the average cost of nursing home care, which in our area could be anywhere from $175 to $230 a day, it could be viewed as some additional help to the elderly and disabled that would allow them to stay at home longer.  The insurance industry argues that the benefit called “Class Act” (Community Living Assisting Services and Supports) would provide only a modest benefit and would not adequately protect Americans who need nursing home care or 24 hour home health services.  The lobbyists also argue that this benefit might give consumers a false sense of security and further discourage sales of long-term care insurance that might provide more coverage.    Other industry analysts argue that by focusing on the extreme needs of long-term care that the insurance industry is missing the point.  Simply put they indicate what most Americans need is some assistance with things like getting up the stairs or bathing or dressing so that they can stay at home and not enter nursing homes or obtain the required full time care before its truly needed.  This proposed class act benefit can provide as much as up to $27,000 per year which could go a long way to meeting the needs for things like putting in ramps and railings and a few hours of help a day from a home health care provider. That $27,000 per year when combined with possible $26,000 a year that can be obtained for veterans through the aid an attendance program could be a nice way of keeping our clients at home longer so that they don’t end up in a skilled care nursing facility at $6,500 a month or more and instead can remain home with the assistance of the VA benefit and/or Class Act benefit.  Just something to think about.  Some of our clients will never qualify for long-term care insurance because they do not meet the medical standards.  So rather than housing people that have some needs in nursing homes a cheaper alternative might be to subsidize this Class Act provision and similar other benefits like VA benefits so that the overall cost of providing help at home will be less than long-term care in a skilled care facility.  2.         More Alzheimer’s.  A recent report indicates that more than 35 million people around the world are living with Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia.  The U.S. and other developed countries have been preparing themselves for an increase in Alzheimer’s cases.       3.         Taking Care of Mom and Dad Without Going Broke Yourself.    In addition to the overwhelming emotional and physical effort expended by children in caring for elderly parents, sometimes we ignore the significant amounts of money that children are spending to care for their parent.  Often this happens at an alarming rate so that adult children end up ignoring their own savings and retirement needs or even worse some go into debt caring for their elderly parents.  Some of the recommended ways in minimizing this risk is to make sure you check out the multitude of government and not-for-profit organizations geared to deliver services to the elderly throughout the country.  The most often cited reason is that many adult children feel that their parents have too much money to qualify for these governmental benefits that are already funded. Some parents are just too proud to ask for the help.  Therefore, the recommended approach in dealing with this issue is as follows:

  1. Have “the talk” with mom and dad.
  2. Make sure your parents have the basic fundamental estate planning documents in place which here in Illinois are the Illinois power of attorney for property (with carefully customized long-term care authorizations written into them by an experienced elder law attorney) and a durable power of attorney for health care
  3. Some families consider hiring a geriatric care manager in order to analyze the needs and best solutions for in-home care for the parent.
  4. Some families rely on hiring a consultant that is skilled in looking at assisted living facilities and nursing home that best suit the needs of the parents based on the accommodations of the parent’s financial position, medical situation, and family preferences with regard to geographical location and intangibles such as look, feel and grace associated with the facility. 
  To the extent that any of these plans are not yet taken contact our offices and we can direct you to qualified professionals that are skilled in the above areas. 4.         Reorganization of IRS.  Just for your information since its 2007 reorganization, the IRS estate tax division has been working with reduced staff.  However we understand that the estate tax division has received permission to recruit 12 new estate tax attorneys.  Stay tuned.   The estate tax maybe undergoing dramatic changes in the next year or two or yet again or it may remain at current levels.  Another Political Football! 5.         Estate Tax Changes are Coming.  The never ending saga the federal estate tax is becoming an exceedingly complex issue.  The number of discussions that are going on in the legal community and financial communities dealing with many possibilities including the potential return to the 2001 transfer tax rules on January 1, 2011.  This means that if nothing is done between now and then we will revert to a $1,000,000 estate tax exemption.  This year we are at a $3.5 million estate tax exemption.  What this means is that in this chaotic environment and the possibility of the return of hire estate taxes, fee based planners such as our firm who provides estate planning advice and long-term care planning strategies will inundated with work.  We’re already beginning to see that.  CPAs will have more returns to file.  The insurance industry will see a substantial increase in life insurance sales to fund estate taxes.  That is what is projected if we revert back to the $1,000,000 estate tax level.  Stay tuned. 6.         How do you keep Mom and Dad safe at home?  If you have an aging parent still living at home how do you begin to make sure that your family member is safe and managing well in his or her home? There are numerous geriatric care managers who can do evaluations of homes and make recommendations on safety.  There are also home safety and medical alert companies that provide GPS based bracelets and pendants that can track the elderly if they have tendency to wander.  Be aware that neighbors, local church groups, senior centers and local state agencies are some places to look for assistance.  Also be aware that classified ads are filled with people looking for work as aides to the elderly.  CAUTION:  If you do look to hire someone individually rather than through a licensed bonded and insured agency, you need to check references and qualifications, you need to make sure your withholding payroll taxes and providing insurance including workman’s compensation insurance in case that person is injured on the job.  Once you add of these factors up it may be easier to go with a home care agency who already has this handled by making the aid serving your loved one an employee of their agency.  Therefore, you should look into a professional home care service agencies7.         Do Long-Term Care Planning Now.  What we are unfortunately seeing too often in our practice is that people fail to plan and think about the issues of long-term care.  They wait until an emergency occurs and at that point the only option that is available is for care in a facility that is a skilled care facility.  By doing advanced planning more money can be legally protected and kept on the side, governmental benefits can be obtained Medicaid and VA benefits, and we can enable the elderly to remain in their homes for a longer period of times.  Yes, Medicaid is available to pay for nursing home care at the end of our lives, but every day we can stay at home with assets that are legally protected provides us with more options even when we might eventually migrate to a skilled care facility.  Our firm, everyday, helps families with loved ones who need nursing home care protect significant assets and still qualify for Medicaid.  Because our firm concentrates in asset protection for long-term care and estate planning we are able to provide and legally protect significant assets for our clients, who then have options to avoid the devastating expenses of long-term care.  Long Term Care Planning Attorneys The “3 Phase” Lawyers   Legal Counsel Assisting You in the 3 Phases of Your Life:   –           Maturing Years – Will, Trust, Taxes, and Asset Protection –           Senior Years – Long Term Care: Pre-Planning and Crisis Planning –           Post Death Years – Estate, Probate, and Trust Administration     “Educate to Motivate”   Anthony B. Ferraro Attorney-CPA The Law Offices of Anthony B. Ferraro, LLC The Estate & Trust, Elder and Asset Protection Law Firm Columbia Centre I 5600 N. River Road, Suite 764  Rosemont, IL 60018 PH (847) 292-1220 FAX (847) 292-1221 Websiteabferrarolaw.com Emailabferraro@abferrarolaw.com NOTE: The information contained in this message is confidential and may be protected by the attorney-client privilege and/or the work product doctrine.  If you have received this electronic message in error, please reply to the sender and destroy this message. Pursuant to federal regulations imposed on practitioners who render tax advice (“Circular 230”), we are required to advise you that any tax advice contained herein is not intended or written to be used for the purpose of avoiding tax penalties that may be imposed by the Internal Revenue Service.   The Illinois rules of Professional Conduct require attorneys to identify unsolicited communications to prospective clients as Advertising Material.  If the context requires, please consider this letter and the enclosed literature to be Advertising Materials. To unsubscribe, please reply to this email.  In the subject line, please write your name and the word “unsubscribe.”  If you are responding on someone else’s behalf, please also include the email address that our message was sent to.  Thank you. This document is for discussion purposes only and is not intended to be, nor should it be, considered as legal advice.  You should never attempt Medicaid planning, Estate Planning, Probate, or Estate and Trust Administration without the advice of competent legal counsel.