Who’s On First?

USA Abbott and Costello postage stamp  If you are my age you remember this comedy routine performed by Bud Abbott and Lou Costello as it made its way to late night television and TBS a number of times during the 1970’s. Additionally, a board game with the same name was also released around this time. First performed in 1938 this routine was based on a fictional baseball team in which the players were named Who, What, I don’t Know, Why, Because, Tomorrow, Today and I don’t Care. If you can and could follow the relationship of the players to one another throughout the skit you are better than me.  Continue reading

Planning for Old Age

Business partners

Wow. I cannot believe it has been almost two months since my last blog post. I wrote last time that I had herniated a disk in my back; however, that has not been the end of my woes. The first week in April I tore the Achilles tendon from my heel. Ultimately, both my back and my Achilles tendon required surgery. Currently, I am recovering from both procedures, and my right leg is in a non-weight bearing cast. Fortunately, the numbness from my herniated disk is mostly gone, and I am regaining strength in my left leg.  I am grateful to have good health care coverage, but even so the last months have been extremely stressful. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to be prepared for the curves we all have thrown at us. I never expected to undergo what I have recently, but it happened nonetheless.

With this in mind now is the time to prepare for our later years. When most of us think of Medicaid we think of a program for poor people. The reality is that many of us will need it in the future because long-term care costs are so high. The problem with waiting until a need arises is that doing so places one’s assets at risk.

But before we get into a deeper discussion understand that Medicaid is a federal program administered by the states. Each state has enacted legislation governing its implementation of Medicaid, and the rules are changing all the time.  The reason for the constant state of flux is that as health care costs rise the states are seeking ways to cut their costs. The result is that strategies for protecting assets that used to work may not today.

Accordingly, the key when thinking about Medicaid is to plan early. As most are aware, there is a five year, or 60 month lookback period. What this means is that Medicaid will look back five years from the date of eligibility to determine if any assets owned by the applicant were transferred without receiving adequate compensation for the asset sold or disposed of. If it is determined that an uncompensated transfer did occur then Medicaid can impose a penalty period during which the applicant will have to fund his or her own care. Consequently, as noted, the key is to plan early so that any transfers necessary can be made early enough so they fall outside the look-back period so that no penalty is incurred. This generally means beginning Medicaid planning as one approaches retirement age.

Next time: What are countable assets and what constitutes an uncompensated transfer? Take care until then, and if we can help please contact us.

What to Do When Mom or Dad or Both Move In Redux

(As I mentioned in the previous blog this subject was suggested by a follower, so if you have an issue you want addressed let me know, and if I can address it I will try to do so.)

Herniated disc with pressure on spinal cord

26 years ago I fractured my back at the T7 vertebrae. I was participating in a training exercise and I had a partial parachute malfunction. I actually heard my back break when I hit the runway; it did not help that I was carrying 60 pounds in radios alone. Anyway, I recovered, but I have had back issues since then, and last week I blew out a disc in my back. I was doing something I should not have been: I was getting out of bed. I can only tell you the pain was excruciating; it went on and on for hours, and then around 3 pm it stopped. The negative to this was that I then had nerve impairment, and as a consequence I cannot make my left ankle and the associated muscles work.

I have a number of consults set up, but right now I do not know what will happen with my back and leg.

While I am optimistic, I would give a great deal to “know” that everything will be alright. So it is with most of you as you face the uncertainty of how to care for elderly loved ones. I can only say that the best advice I can give is to prepare now. Old age is coming for us all, and we all need to plan accordingly. Last week I talked about the importance of powers of attorney, and this week I will address advance planning.

Long-term care is incredibly expensive. Right now it costs around $7000 per month to provide the care my mother needs. She has received such care for nearly 18 months; as you can see this amounts to $126,000. My mother-in-law has been in a facility for over 3 1/2 years, amounting to over $315,000!I don’t know about most of you, but I don’t have this amount just lying about. This means you need to plan ahead. One tool for doing so is to invest now in long-term care insurance. I will not mislead you; long-term care insurance is expensive.

The principal advantage to purchasing long-term care insurance is that it will protect family assets in the event long-term care is required. It might be a better idea to think about a whole life policy that allows an individual to use the cash value for long-term care. I am not an expert in this area, but contact me and I can put you in touch with people who can give you more information. Candidly, most people fail to pursue either option, so next week we will talk about Medicaid and other planning options. Until then take care.

 

What to Do When Mom or Dad (or Both) Move In

Serious Senior Man With Adult Daughter At Home

I am writing this in response to a request made by a blog follower whose elderly mother just moved in with her. If you have issues you would like addressed please let us know, and if I can I will try to address them. This said, whether we like it or not, our population is aging. Where I live the latest demographic studies suggest that in 20 years the majority of county residents will be seniors. Moreover, I have come to know first-hand the effects of this trend as both my mother and mother-in-law are in long term care facilities. So what to do?  Continue reading

“Snow” Time For Trouble!

Snow Nov 17 2015I got up this morning to find that the snow I had thought we would get and what we had received were two different things. The Weather Channel had called for over a foot, but I had assumed the forecast would be off as usual and that we might receive a few inches. We actually got 18” of new snow. As I went out to clear our drive, which by the way is 530” long, I was struck by how hard the wind was blowing and how the snow was still coming down.  Continue reading

Find Out Before You Dig in Too Deep

Garage wallsI am going to deviate a bit from what I had planned to write about; instead, I am going to rant for a moment. My wife and I are building a garage at our home. When we bought our home it had a carport in name only; it was something the original owner had cobbled together. We never dared to park a car beneath it, and we used it only to store firewood. Our fears were well placed because a few years ago it collapsed under the weight of a heavy snow. Continue reading

Perfect Storm of Events

Grounded Sailboat    Last week’s blog touched on change and how difficult it is to enact; this week I want to build on some of what I expressed last week. When I was about 13 my father owned a small sailboat which he kept on the Florida Gulf Coast. One Saturday during late spring my father, sister and I went for a sail, and in the early afternoon we anchored in a small bay to eat lunch and to swim. Continue reading