Wednesday, November 30, 2005

10 Guidelines for Selecting an Elder-Care Attorney

Category: Elder Law

Out of Montgomery, Alabama, but applicable anywhere - some sound advise and 10 guidelines for selecting an elder-care attorney.

"Establishing a relationship with an elder care attorney before you are forced to confront the health issues of aging is proactive and can help you identify a compassionate and experienced professional whom you can trust to guide you legally; this will help ensure that you are not taken advantage of in an effort to meet your needs."

Many times seeking out the right Elder Law attorney is a family affair - the attorney needs to be close to where seniors are, but also able to communicate with the children if their clients so desire. When seeking an Elder Law attorney, it is also important to bear in mind that most times the parents will be the attorney's client - not the children or the family overall. The attorney should be seeking to meet the parents or senior generations goals.

The steps for finding an Elder Law attorney summarized (see the article for more details):

1. Identify prospective attorneys
2. Schedule screening interviews
3. Determine if the attorney is qualified in elder-care issues
4. Understand the network of professionals.
5. Discuss elder-care attorney fees
6. Contact the references
7. Prepare for the second interview
8. Drill down on specifics
9. Select your elder-care attorney
10. Put it in writing

"None of us knows what our future holds, but we can be prepared. By working with an elder-care attorney, you are expanding the team of advisers you work with to help secure a lifestyle you desire when seeking to meet your future needs and protect your legacy."

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Worksheet Helps Beneficiaries Compare Medicare Drug Plans - Elder Law Answers Articles

Category: Elder Law

To help consumers in the selection process, ElderLawAnswers has created a Drug Plan Comparison Worksheet that allows beneficiaries to note important information about each plan, compare the plans side by side, and identify the one that best meets their needs. The Worksheet is available by clicking here. Print it out, fill it in and see how the plans stack up.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Use and Abuse of Annuities for Elderly Clients

Category: Elder Law, Financial Planning

From, a thoughtful article on possible abuses of the sale of annuities to uninformed elderly clients. While and annuity can be an excellent investment option, like all investment options, there are pros and cons to be considered. Some of the inherent limitations in liquidating an annuity make them a bad investment for seniors. Alternatively, these same limitations can make annuities a central part of Medicaid planning, as an annuity may under certain circumstances be deemed an "unavailable asset".

An excerpt:

"The advantages of an annuity are supposed to be that

1. You will get payments for life so you don't outlive your money,
2. Your beneficiaries will get at least the principle invested when you pass on,
3. That they are tax-deferred, meaning taxes are paid only on the money you withdraw.

The problem with annuities and selling them to elderly, are that they are a long-term
investments when it comes to profits, and the charges can be outrageous. If an elderly person decides he or she needs the money they invested in an annuity they can face many complicated charges. Those charges are calculated using different types of rules and include,

1. Surrender charges,
2. 10% federal tax penalty (if the person is not 59 1/2),
3. Underlying mutual fund expenses (of the funds in the annuity),
4. Mortality and expense risk charges, and
5. Fees and charges for other features."

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

House Panel Approves Changes to Medicaid Transfer Rules

Category: Elder Law


House Panel Approves Changes to Medicaid Transfer Rules - Elder Law Answers Articles: "The House Energy and Commerce Committee approved a fiscal year 2006 budget reconciliation package that includes restrictions on asset transfer rules, setting up a fight with the Senate. The House panel voted along party lines on Thursday to approve a proposal that would cut Medicaid spending by $9.5 billion over five years.

The House bill proposes a severe tightening of penalties for the elderly who transfer assets and then apply for Medicaid coverage of nursing home care. It would extend the 'lookback' period for all transfers from three to five years and change the start of the penalty period for transferred assets from the date of transfer to the date of Medicaid application.

The transfer-of-asset proposals, which many elder law attorneys view as harmful to their clients, were among the recommendations of the Medicaid Commission, established to advise Congress on how to cut $10 billion from Medicaid, as called for in the 2006 budget reconciliation bill approved earlier this year.

Other changes in the House bill include making anyone with $500,000 worth of equity in a home ineligible for Medicaid and allowing states to raise Medicaid co-payments from $3 to $5 over three years.

The House bill differs significantly from a bill approved by the Senate Finance Committee earlier in the week. The Senate bill did not include changes to asset transfer rules or co-payments. The full House and Senate still need to vote on both bills.

For more on asset transfers, click here. "