GM: We’re talking about predictions and change, changing of administrations, and changes in policies. We’ve got a lot of changes and upheaval in the country right now. A lot of energy going about, some of it guided, some of it misguided and wasted, but a lot of energy nonetheless.
Happy veteran’s week to all the veteran’s out there. I’m a vet, I was very proud to serve in our military, it was a great time to grow up, to figure out myself and get away from home. I think kids should be booted out the house at eighteen, sometimes before eighteen because I think we stay in high school too long now. At least at eighteen, your kids should be out the house and be doing something on their own.
HS: It had a great effect on my grandson, he matured and matured so well. He went through the army ranger program and became an army ranger. I was just amazed, and I am so proud of him.
GM: I agree, but I can’t remember when there has been so much unrest and upheaval, people at each other’s throats over political philosophies and how to do things. I hope California doesn’t secede, I like California, I was based there.
HS: They wouldn’t be able to pay off their debt.
GM: It’s true, how would they pay off their massive debt? They’re not going anywhere, but it’s fun to talk about. There is change coming though. There is change at the local level, the state level, and there is change at the national level. How does that affect us? How does that affect seniors?
Seniors ask me all the time, hey, what if things change with ladybird deeds? And I say there is one constant in life. It’s going to change. Things are going to change. Things are always going to change. We get scared with the what if’s, and what if they don’t change, then something’s wrong, but there is always change. When I was growing up, ’55 saves lives’ that was the big campaign in schools. Now you can drive at 70.
HS: It did save lives.
GM: It saved gas. I think it was the gas shortage then, but there is always going to be change, in legislation, in laws and political philosophies, and the needs of a people, the needs of a country. I think if you are dependent on the government to do anything for you, then you need an attitude adjustment.
Regardless of whether it’s Democrat, Republican, the Libertarians, the Green Party, and who else? There’s a bunch of other ones out there. I’m okay with whatever you think but regardless, the point is, don’t get so caught up that the person we elect is going to change everything, I just don’t see that happening. I think it is up to us to change things, on a personal level. Change ourselves to change the world kind of thing. And I understand, your vote counts, but the thing is, the people we do put in power are obviously going to make policy changes, right? So, I want to talk about that.
We’re going to try and predict how the law is going to change okay. We are going to give it our best guess. This is tough, this is like saying who’s going to win for President or who’s going to win the superbowl? You can be wrong, but we’re going to give it our best educated guess. So, what do you want to talk about that relates to change?
HS: Fears, I’d like to talk about that.
GM: Fear is the whole thing really, people fear change. People are scared of change.
HS: That’s one of the top five philosophical things people fear. Death, change, rejection, failure, and success.
GM: People sometimes self-sabotage themselves. Have you ever done that? I’ve probably done that, because success or winning brings with it, responsibility.
HS: And work, more success brings more work, those are rational fears. The top 5 irrational of all fears are, spiders, snakes, heights, crowded or open spaces, and dogs.
GM: Who was it who said, ‘the only thing we have to fear is fear itself,’ that was FDR, my kid’s favorite president. I mean, the only thing we do have to fear is fear itself. Fears are usually misplaced. I think the point is, you don’t have anything to fear. It’s all your perception. I think faith conquers fear.
HS: I do have many fears, fear of losing my driver’s license and being dependent on others. I’ve never been someone to ask for what I wanted, so to have to ask someone to drive me to the grocery store.
GM: A loss of independence. Yeah, I think seniors and anyone fears losing their independence.
So, I was looking at US news, they have a list of the top 3 senior fears. Healthcare is number 1. Staying healthy, mentally sharp. There are tons of ways of doing that. But we’re talking about Medicaid and Medicare health programs.
HS: Do you think that would be at the top of the list with the political situation?
GM: I think it’s just a general fear of death and wanting to stay healthy. We all have these fears. I think that’s our most primal fear.
So, №1, what do you think, there has been talk of privatizing Medicare, that’s certainly a political discussion? Do you think there’s going to be change in the Medicare system for seniors in the next 4 years?
GM: I think they are going to privatize the system. I think there is going to be change in the next 4 years. That’s my prediction. Is Medicare going to change, Yes! I don’t know it, it’s my prediction. It will change to save it and extend it. That’s a big issue. So, what’s next?
What about estate tax, I’ve had people ask me about estate tax. Estate tax right now, only applies if you pass more than $5,430,000 dollars. It’s tied to the gift tax, so, if I gave you a million dollars, I can then only pass you $4,430,000 dollars because it would subtract. Do you think that’s going to change, and why?
HS: The numbers may change a little bit. Traditionally Republicans have been kinder to you, on things like that.
GM: Regardless of political affiliation, we’ll leave that out, are they going to leave it alone and allow you to pass $5,430,000 dollars? Or will they monkey with it?
HS: I don’t think they would need to do that.
GM: It used to be a million. George Bush gave a year where it was no estate tax. So, if you were going to die, that was the year to do it. Now the question, it would be betting against the odds politically, if I said, yes, there is going to be a change.
HS: That’s not something that’s a major hitting the news topic. Most people don’t have that kind of money so it’s not so much an issue.
GM: So, you think there will be no change in the estate tax? I’m going to agree with you on that. Our prediction is, no change on estate tax.
Here’s another one, health insurance, what about long term care insurance? You hear people all the time say, you should have long term care insurance. I think something that should change is in-home care services should be treated on equal footing as institutional care like assisted living and nursing home care.
HS: Well it is statistically more beneficial to care for someone at home.
GM: There is probably a concern about abuse of Medicaid with in-home care. Long term care is a great thing to have, however, pre-existing conditions, right now, one of the changes in healthcare law, that has happened in the last 4 years that I agree with, is that you cannot be denied because of a pre-existing condition, that is no fault of your own.
HS: What the problem is, they’re insuring you knowing that you’ve got a condition that will cost $200,000 a year or whatever for medication, versus someone who doesn’t have that risk. The potential is much less. So how do you make it fair?
GM: The theory now is, the cost will be absorbed by all. What about car insurance, how do they do it? If you have a wreck, then you pay higher rates.
HS: Or you go into a pool and you are divided out among the different insurance agencies, and it’s a higher cost.
GM: But long term health insurance that you can buy, you can’t get it sometime if you have pre-existing conditions.
So, question, will the government intervene and force insurance companies to accept pre-existing conditions for long term care insurance?
HS: I’m going to say no, because I’ve never heard them mention that.
I agree with Hayden, I’m going to say no, the government will not intervene and force insurance companies to accept pre-existing conditions for long term care insurance.
HS: We should have a time capsule we open in 4 years to see how we did.
GM: We have, this is it. In 4 year’s we are going to do another of these to see how we did on our predictions. We’ll grade ourselves.
What about VA, it’s just been veterans weekend. So, VA benefits, you can apply for veteran’s aid and attendance benefit which is a pension benefit, where a veteran or a spouse of a veteran can receive good money monthly to help care for that veteran even in-home. Are there going to be any changes to that system?
There is no look back period if you are a veteran on Aid and Attendance. A look back period is something where Medicaid is looking back 5 years on how you handled and transferred assets. You must do it under a strict set of rules and guidelines, or you can get disqualified. So, VA has no look back period so it’s easier to qualify, and position assets for qualification. Is there going to be changes to the VA?
HS: I think there is going to be improvements to the VA. It’s a hot bed issue, but as far as Aid and Attendance goes, I doubt it.
GM: So, changes overall in VA?
HS: Yes, I think you will see services at the VA hospitals improved.
GM: I think you will see major Batman ‘POW, YES, POW’ changes coming to VA and veterans, and I think that’s a good thing.
I would localize it. I would localize the delivery of services.
I’ll tell you where I think there will be huge changes in VA benefits applications as it affects veterans and Aid and Attendance. I do not think there will be localized attendance for veterans overnight, I think there will be a push over the years for that. The incoming administration has made promises which I hope they live up to. I believe very strongly that coming January 1st, there will be a 2 year look back period placed on Aid and Attendance benefits given to veterans on all assets transfers.
HS: I say no.
GM: Hayden says no. I say yes, big time. I have an inside source okay.
So, plan ahead, I can help you plan ahead. I am certified as an attorney to the US department of veteran’s affairs, that allows me to do that type of planning and VA disability benefits.
Another change I think is going to happen is about ‘not knowing how much money you can keep’. There is no hard and fast rule, is it $80,000, or is it $20,000 for VA that a senior can have. I believe it’s going to go to $120,000 and it’s going to be a written, hard and fast rule. And I think there will be strategies developed by elder law attorneys and veterans certified attorneys like myself to allow you to keep much more, even with a 2 year look back period.
HS: You mentioned a while ago about Ladybird deeds and how they might change.
GM: Yes, let’s talk about ladybird deeds. Right now, and over the last several years, North Carolina has allowed ladybird deeds. Ladybird deeds are important in protecting property, especially if you are going into a nursing home or assisted living facility, and you need Medicaid benefits to come in, and you want to save the farm. My book ‘Saving the Farm’ explains all about these types of strategies. Lady bird deeds are cool tools that allow you to protect your home instead of losing it, because of a healthcare situation where you had to get Medicaid to pay for long term care. That’s awesome. It avoids the 5 year look back period.
Are there going to be any changes?
HS: I have some inside information.
GM: I love inside information.
HS: It’s not really inside information. You have said you believe they will grandfather that in and make changes.
GM: It’s a policy not a law, but I hope that if changes are made they will be grandfathered in. So the question is, are they going to change it so we cannot do Ladybird deeds?
HS: I think with the new administration, that there will be no change.
GM: Okay, I think North Carolina has been very accommodating to seniors, it’s a senior destination a lot of the time, and I think there is not going to be a change. So, no change. I think North Carolina has been very progressive in welcoming seniors to come here.
I want to go one more. Medicaid. Nursing home Medicaid in North Carolina is under a system called long term care Medicaid. There is a 5 year look back period.
What about the 3 year look back period for assisted living? Are they going to change those look back periods of 5 and 3 years?
HS: I’m going to say it’s not going to change over the next 4 years.
GM: I have wanted to disagree with Hayden all day, so I’m going to disagree. I think it will change. I think there will be a change in the next 4 years to the look back period. I think assisted living Medicaid will go to 5 years, and nursing home Medicaid will go to 7 years.
We have covered a lot here, and I don’t know if we are going to be right or not, but if you have any questions about this, you can contact us at 704–259–7040.
Elder Law Attorney
McIntyre Elder Law
123 W. Marion Street
Shelby, NC 28150