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Retirement Income Planning and Protection – 07-31-2014 – LeGrand Center

in Elder Law TV by Greg McIntyre 1 Comment

Great seminar! Thanks to all who came. I so enjoy doing these and educating the public on tools to help them save their hard earned money and property. Thanks again for a great night!

Helping Families Deal With the Financial and Emotional Costs of Dementia

in Articles, Newsletters by Greg McIntyre Leave a comment

As Elder Law attorneys we are specially situated to help find solutions to many of the problems this condition brings with it.  While we can’t stop dementia, we can help protect those in its clutches while the medical world continues to seek prevention, treatment and reversal of the condition.

 

Losing Brain FunctionDementia Defined

The Alzheimer’s Association defines dementia as, “a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Memory loss is an example. Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia.”

Dementia is not actually a specified disease.  It describes, instead, a general decline in memory or other thinking skills and is identified through a variety of symptoms.  Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases.  In order to be characterized as dementia, at least two of the following mental functions must be significantly impaired:  visual perception; reasoning and judgment; memory; communication and language; or ability to focus and pay attention.  Dementia is not a normal part of aging as the terms “senility” or “senile dementia” infer.  If a loved one is having trouble with any two or more of these mental functions, it’s a good idea to get it checked by a doctor.  Dementia is progressive and typically takes over the mental functions over time.  In this way, it provides the individual and the family with time to plan for its disastrous affects.[1]

 

Cost to the Individual

The cost to the individual with dementia is difficult to quantify.  Because dementia is a progressive condition and one where aging is the greatest risk factor, it is logical that at the beginning and younger stages of dementia, the cost to the individual is minimal.  As dementia progresses, so does the need for assistance with daily activities.  This assistance often comes in the form of meal preparation, help with grooming and hygiene, transportation assistance, as well as help with many other daily activities.  Dementia patients can become so mentally challenged that they may place themselves in dangerous situations, such as roaming neighborhoods and getting lost.  While the individual affected by dementia may need only a few hours of help per week at the beginning of symptoms showing, soon they may need around the clock supervision, not only for assistance with daily activities, but to protect them from themselves.  The individual’s costs will include medical expenses as well as paying a caretaker.

Caretaking for one with dementia varies depending on the quantity of care required.  An in-home caretaker may charge up to $21 per hour or higher.  Adult day care can run as high as $18,200 per year or more.  When an individual can no longer live alone but is not quite ready for a nursing home, Assisted Living facilities are available but may cost as much as $42,600 per year or more.  When around the clock care is needed, a nursing home can cost an individual up to $90,520 per year, or higher.  To view costs in other states and national average costs of long term care, see the MetLife Survey of Long Term Care Costs, https://www.metlife.com/mmi/research/2012-market-survey-long-term-care-costs.html#keyfindings.

 

Cost to the FamilyFamily

Where the individual with dementia is fortunate enough to have family nearby, the family will often step up to assist the ill loved one with their daily activities.  Again, the process can be gradual and before the helpful family member realizes it, they may find themselves missing work and, finally, quitting their job altogether in order to give proper care to the dementia patient.  Obviously, the cost to the family includes the loss of income from this family member’s job.

The less recognizable cost to the family, however, is the emotional strain that is placed on the family member caretaker.  In order to save the family money, many family members will work nearly twenty-four hours, seven days per week.  The ramifications are physical, mental and emotional health problems to the caretaker.  The medical costs and possible future psychological costs to the caretaker, then, must be considered.

It is important that family members take a step back from the situation and assess this cost.  Providing a caretaker with time off every day, week and year is a must to ensure the caretaker’s health.  The caretaker must have appropriate support in order to keep caring for the loved one.

 

Cost to the Nation

As a nation we have begun to recognize the devastation that dementia has caused and will continue to cause.  Organizations such as the Alzheimer’s Association have been effective in lobbying for monies to be put towards the research of dementia treatment, prevention and reversal.  The cost of dementia to our nation has been a great motivator for politicians to fund such research.

A study conducted by RAND Corporation in 2013, estimated the national cost of dementia to be between $159 billion to $215 billion (including an estimate for the monetary value of informal care provided).[2]  The majority of the costs associated with dementia are for institutional and home-based long-term care and not medical services.

Medicare and Medicaid pay for some of this cost, which amounts to a taxpayer burden.  According to the Alzheimer’s Association March 2013 Fact Sheet, in 2013 it is estimated that Medicare and Medicaid paid approximately $142 billion in caring for those with Alzheimer’s or other type of dementia.[3]

It is clearly in the best interest of the nation’s economy to continue research on prevention, treatment and reversal of dementia.

 

Conclusion

The costs of dementia can be devastating to the affected individual, their family and the nation.  While scientists continue to search for solutions to the debilitating condition, the families affected with it must face its challenges.  It is recommended that those families seek emotional support by way of a therapist or support group.  In addition, seeking out an Elder Law attorney can benefit the affected individual and family members in several ways.  Elder law attorneys can guide families to important resources available for the financial and other challenges they will face.  Elder law attorneys can also ensure that the family’s assets are being used in the most efficient manner considering other available resources and the family’s individual goals.

Getting an Elder Law attorney involved in planning for the challenges ahead is one of the MOST important steps a family facing the impact of dementia will take.  If you or someone you know is affected by dementia, we can help and we welcome the opportunity to do so.

 

[1] http://www.alz.org/what-is-dementia.asp

National Healthcare Decision Day

in Elder Law TV by Greg McIntyre 1 Comment

We will be at the Dover Foundation YMCA to assist the public with their healthcare directives on National Healthcare Decisions Day, Wednesday, April 16, 2014.

Practical Tips for Special Needs Planning from The Elder Law Guy

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Practical Tips for Special Needs Planning

Understanding the pitfalls associated with special needs planning is a must for all who assist families with children, grandchildren or other loved ones (such as parents) with special needs.

Tip #1: Special needs beneficiaries require special planning.  As a society, we have come a long way since 1987 regarding stereotyping people with special needs and these individuals’ planning requirements, but there remain numerous misconceptions that often result in costly mistakes when planning for special needs beneficiaries. These misperceptions may become even more costly in the future as fiscal pressures cause state and federal governments to cut back funding for people with disabilities. Thus, it is critically important that loved ones proactively and properly plan for these individuals.

The fiscal pressures of the federal and state governments make proactive planning for special needs beneficiaries increasingly more important.  It is important not to make the mistakes below that could cause special needs beneficiaries to rely exclusively on shrinking government funds, or that place them in unduly restrictive or ineffective structures.

 

Tip #2: Don’t disinherit the special needs beneficiary.  Many disabled persons receive Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”), Medicaid or other government benefits that provide basic food, shelter and/or medical care. The loved ones of the special needs beneficiaries may have been advised to disinherit them – beneficiaries who need their help most – to protect the public benefits. But these benefits rarely provide more than basic needs. And this solution (which normally involves leaving the inheritance to another sibling) does not allow loved ones to help their special needs beneficiaries after they themselves become incapacitated or die.  The best solution is for loved ones to create a special needs trust to hold the inheritance of a special needs beneficiary.  A properly drafted special needs trust will protect public benefits a disabled beneficiary may be receiving, and it will provide for proper care of that individual throughout their lifetime.

 

Tip #3: Don’t rely on siblings to use their money for the benefit of a special needs beneficiary.  Many family members rely on their other children to provide, from their own inheritances, for a child with special needs. This can be a very temporary solution, such as during a brief incapacity, if the other children are financially secure and have money to spare. However, it is not a solution that will protect a child with special needs after the death of the parents or when siblings have their own expenses and financial priorities.

For example, what if an inheriting sibling divorces or loses a lawsuit? His or her spouse (or a judgment creditor) may be entitled to half of it and will likely not care for the child with special needs. What if the sibling dies or becomes incapacitated while the child with special needs is still living? Will his or her heirs care for the child with special needs as thoughtfully and completely as the sibling did?

Siblings of a child with special needs often feel a great responsibility for that child and have felt so all of their lives. When parents provide clear instructions and a helpful structure, they lessen the burden on all their children and support a loving and involved relationship among them.

Tip #4: Procrastination can be especially costly for special needs beneficiaries.  None of us know when we may die or become incapacitated.  It is important for loved ones with a special needs beneficiary to plan early, just as they should for other dependents such as minor children. However, unlike most other beneficiaries, special needs beneficiaries may never be able to compensate for a failure to plan. Minor beneficiaries without special needs can obtain more resources as they reach adulthood and can work to meet essential needs, but special needs beneficiaries may never have that ability.

Tip #5: Don’t ignore a special needs beneficiary when planning.  Planning that is not designed with the beneficiary’s special needs in mind will probably render the beneficiary ineligible for essential government benefits. A properly designed special needs trust promotes the comfort and happiness of the special needs beneficiary without sacrificing eligibility.

Special needs can include medical and dental expenses, annual independent check-ups, necessary or desirable equipment (for example, a specially equipped van), training and education, insurance, transportation and essential dietary needs. If the trust is sufficiently funded, the disabled person also can receive funds to be used for quality-of-life-enhancing expenses: the types of benefits families currently provide to their child or other special needs beneficiary.  However, the rules often change on the types of expenses that can be paid for by a special needs trust. Therefore it is important to continually seek advice when drafting or administering a special needs trust.

Tip #6: A special needs trust does not have to be inflexible.  Some special needs trusts are unnecessarily inflexible and generic. Although an attorney with some knowledge of the area can protect almost any trust from invalidating the beneficiary’s public benefits, many trusts are not customized to the particular beneficiary’s needs. Thus the beneficiary fails to receive the benefits that the parents or others provide while they were alive.

Another frequent mistake occurs when the special needs trust includes a pay-back provision rather than allowing the remainder of the trust to go to others upon the death of the special needs beneficiary. While these pay-back provisions are necessary in certain types of special needs trusts, an attorney who understands this area and knows the difference can save family members and loved ones hundreds of thousands of dollars, or more.

 

Tip #7: Exercise great caution in selecting a trustee.  Loved ones or family members can manage the special needs trust while alive and well if they are willing to serve and have proper training and guidance. Once the family member or loved one is no longer able to serve as trustee, they can choose who will serve according to the instructions provided in the trust. Families or loved ones who create a special needs trust may choose a team of advisors and/or a professional trustee to serve. Whoever they choose, it is crucial that the trustee is financially savvy, well-organized and of course, ethical.

 

Tip #8: Invite others to contribute to the special needs trust.  A key benefit of creating a special needs trust now is that the beneficiary’s extended family and friends can make gifts to the trust or remember the trust as they plan their own estates. For example, these family members and friends can name the special needs trust as the beneficiary of their own assets in their revocable trust or will, and they can also name the special needs trust as a beneficiary of life insurance or retirement benefits.  Unfortunately, many extended family members may not be aware that a trust exists, or that they could contribute money to the special needs trust now or as an inheritance later.

 

Tip #9:  This is an ever-changing area of the law.  The rules applicable to special needs trusts and planning are constantly changing.  For example, the Affordable Care Act now makes private health insurance an option for people with special needs. However, private insurance will still not cover the costs of long-term care and other services or equipment necessary for a loved one with special needs.  Thus, even if the family chooses private insurance, the special needs beneficiary may still require Medicaid eligibility, necessitating a special needs trust. Please contact us if you have questions about these options.

 

Conclusion

Planning for a special needs beneficiary requires particular care and knowledge on the part of the planning team.  A properly drafted and funded special needs trust can ensure that a special needs beneficiary has sufficient assets to care for him or her, in a manner intended by loved ones, throughout the beneficiary’s lifetime.  Please contact us if you have any questions regarding planning for special needs beneficiaries.
To comply with the U.S. Treasury regulations, we must inform you that (i) any U.S. federal tax advice contained in this newsletter was not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by any person for the purpose of avoiding U.S. federal tax penalties that may be imposed on such person and (ii) each taxpayer should seek advice from their tax advisor based on the taxpayer’s particular circumstances.

Beat the Odds: Long-Term Care

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Beat_The_Odds

Recent studies estimate that of people turning 65 by the year 2005, 69% will need some form of long-term medical care. What does this mean to you? Statistically, the odds are you’re going to need some type of prolonged treatment and that’s going to be a huge financial drain on your resources.

Even estates of a half-million to two million dollars could be drawn down to zero with the enormous costs of prolonged healthcare, especially if that care involves some type of specialized treatment in addition to a long-term care or nursing home facility. How can you prepare for or plan around this? You find somebody that can help you, someone that can plan around it. That’s what we’re here for.

Give me a call at (704) 259-7040 to discuss your options.

Wills Versus Trusts

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trustsandwills

There are some key differences between wills and trusts. Wills are publicly filed documents, meaning they will be probated at the courthouse and can be seen by any member of the public that wanted to go down to the courthouse and peruse through them. Trusts, on the other hand, are private documents. They’re maintained at your lawyer’s office and within your own family.

This is very advantageous because it prevents prying eyes from seeing how you distributed your assets at your passing. Trusts aren’t just for the wealthy. Trusts are for people that want to avoid the probate and keep information regarding how your estate was passed on within your immediate family. 

If you ever need assistance or have any questions for me, give me a call on my personal line at (704) 259-7040. You can also reach me through my personal e-mail at Greg@McElderLaw.com.

Why Greg Practices Elder Law

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image_1

Hi, I’m Greg McIntyre. I attended Campbell University, where I earned both my law degree and MBA. Before that, I served in the United States Navy for four years. However, I’m more than just a lawyer. I have a beautiful wife with whom I share five gorgeous kids. I spent my childhood in Shelby, a cozy, classic small town in North Carolina.

Toward the end of my grandfather’s life, I watched as his belongings were sold off and taken away. The extended long-term healthcare that he needed toward the end of his life eventually whittled his estate down to only about two thousand dollars per month. Even though he lived to the ripe old age of 98, it really showed me the cost of healthcare in America.

It made me realize that what you work for your entire life can be so easily taken away from you at no fault of your own. Just a lack of proper planning that involves knowing the law and how to protect certain assets. That’s why I decided that I wanted to help families with estate planning and seniors with elder law issues by founding the McIntyre Elder Law Firm.

If you ever need assistance or have any questions for me, give me a call on my personal line at (704) 259-7040. You can also reach me through my personal e-mail at greg@mcelderlaw.com.

Where to Start in Making a Plan to Protect Your Property

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Taking inventory of your assets is a great place to start when you’re developing an estate or elder law plan. Once you get a good inventory of all the assets you have, you can start looking at how you want to distribute those assets and who you want to be in charge of executing those wishes.

If you need help, the estate planning workbook on our site can be a great tool. Download the workbook or click the link to open it directly through the website. It’s a fill in the blank form that allows you to capture all your assets and designate how those assets are distributed and handled. It’s an excellent place to tell me where to start in evaluating your estate and how to strategically plan to protect your savings.

Take Inventory and Download Our Planning Information Form Here!

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Vacationing and Healthcare Directives

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Hey guys, it’s Greg McIntyre here with McIntyre Elder Law, and I’m currently at a resort called Rumbling Bald. It’s located in the mountains of North Carolina, just 45 minutes or so from where I practice, but it feels like a world away.

I’m on vacation right now with my wife and children. As I enjoy the deck area of our mountain bungalow with my daughter Madison, I thought I would take the opportunity to comment on a couple of things that were on my mind. I was thinking about how important it was to make sure I took the proper steps to keep myself protected. Not only saving for retirement but having the correct legal documents in place to protect all that I’m working for.

Now, I’m very guilty of this and I’m sure many of you are, too. Sometimes I am working 100% to make sure others are protected and neglect getting my own affairs in order. I’m striving very hard to provide for my family and ensure that my kids can go to college but it’s also very important that I have my own situation handled. That means setting up things like my powers of attorney for healthcare or otherwise and my living will, especially when traveling. Should anything happen to me, I’d want to be able to show those to a doctor in this area.

Should I have some type of accident or be in a bad situation, I’d want there to be no question on how I want to be handled and who’s going to make those decisions. We’re very proud of our eDocs access system that places your most important legal documents right at your fingertips, no matter where you are. Our eDocs access card allows you to view all of your critical information from anywhere. It’s bank level security, so just like your online banking, you can have your important legal papers stored securely online as well. We provide that service for our clients.

We give you an eDocs access card that you or your loved one can show to a doctor. Even when I’m traveling here, I don’t have my safe or my legal documents with me. These things can be pulled up and the hospital’s doctor and staff can see all of my healthcare directives. Should I ever be in a situation where I’m, God forbid, in a persistent vegetative state, brain dead, or something of that nature, this will provide them with everything they need to know. Who’s my power of attorney, who has the right to make important healthcare decisions for me, do I want to be maintained by machines, receive artificial hydration or nutrition, and things of that nature.

Should I be traveling alone, my next of kin can grant access by e-mail and it will provide a link. It doesn’t send the documents as an attachment and expose it to the internet, it gives a secure log-in where they can access them. You can provide a log-in to a son, daughter, trusted adviser, or wife so that they can have access to those legal documents as well. If you want your children to be able to view those healthcare documents and powers of attorney but not the will or trust documents that are also on your eDocs log-in, you can use the system to grant and restrict access to those different areas.

It’s just very important to have those things in place and I’m very proud and excited about that eDocs access system that provides a secure way to carry all those important legal documents. A pristine copy that will never fade, to carry with you anywhere you go where you have internet access.

Give us a call if you have any questions or you need to make sure that your documents are in proper order. Our number is (704) 259-7040 and our website is www.McElderLaw.com.

Medicaid Planning – Why it is Important to Plan Ahead

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Medicaid

What about Medicaid and Medicare? Well, Medicare only covers one hundred days of skilled nursing care. After that, you’re on your own or you have to apply and roll over to Medicaid. In order to do that, you can only have a small, limited number of assets in your possession. How do you avoid having to spend down all your assets?

You plan ahead. I can help if you or a family member gets into a situation where they have to go to Medicaid now and work to save as many assets as possible. However, the only way to keep every asset is to plan ahead by at least five years.

That’s because Medicaid currently has a five year look-back period, as opposed to the three years they practiced in the past. That means they can go back and look at any transfers that have been made in the previous five years and determine if any of those transactions have been made for the purposes of avoiding the Medicaid spend-out or preventing that asset from being countable. At which point, that asset transfer could be voided, you could be denied long-term care, or deemed ineligible for Medicaid entirely.

Give me a call when you’re interested in planning for the future.

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