This year, we are getting the word out there about the Life Care Planning we offer that involves a licensed social worker to act as the Client Care Advocate. A question that we keep getting is what is “What is the difference between Life Care Planning and Elder Law and why did you make the change?” The way that I explain it is that a traditional elder law firm prepares documents for an individual and then either waits until the client passes or until they need to go to a nursing home and will qualify them for public benefits.
A life care planning firm is a more holistic approach to providing care. Our licensed social worker, Meg Motter, works with families to assist in figuring out ways to keep their loved ones home and how to receive care in a home or in a less restrictive environment than a nursing home. A licensed social worker will be able to provide different cognitive assessments and evaluate safety and necessity of levels of care, unlike an attorney. The elder care coordinator allows the firm to provide a more comprehensive approach, separate from just estate planning documents or qualification for Medicaid. The care coordinator allows the firm to provide information and advice that was not otherwise available to the firm prior to becoming a life care planning model firm.
We are ecstatic to have Meg Motter onboard as our elder care coordinator and we look forward to assisting you and your family in the future.
Please feel free to give us a call if you have any questions or comments at 717-845-5390.
As parents, it’s hard to treat all children fairly, despite their different personalities and capabilities. Most try to ensure that one child never feels less loved than another. Some will carry that over into their estate planning. However, there are times when inequity may be a better choice. A recent Tickertape article is appropriately titled “Estate Planning for Special Needs Children: Trying to Be Even-Steven?” The article says that one instance when fair is not always equal, is when you’re planning the future for a special needs child after you die.
Children with special needs are typically eligible for state and federal benefits to provide them with assistance for their long-term support. Among the most common are Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid. In many states, SSI may qualify children for Medicaid, or Medicaid comes automatically with SSI. These are need-based benefits that are means-tested. SSI recipients have a strict assets threshold of $2,000 for an individual. If a special needs child gets an inheritance, it might push him or her, above that ceiling. This could result in ineligibility for the program benefits that might be used to cover medical, therapeutic, or housing needs.
When money is paid directly to the child as beneficiary, it can cut SSI benefits. The same is true, if the special-needs heir disclaims the inheritance.
Government benefits may be retained, if an inheritance is set up in a Special Needs Trust (SNT), which is designed to help a beneficiary with special needs and preserve government aid while protecting assets. The trust allocates inheritance assets to the child with special needs, but it’s via a third-party.
However, there might be tax implications. While the inheritance itself isn’t taxed, the income that it generates in a special trust is typically taxable at trust tax levels. Creating an SNT can be complicated, and the rules can vary from state to state. Speak to a qualified trust attorney to be sure that all income is reported properly and there are no deductions left on the table.
Treating children equally when one has special needs, may result in creating an inequality. Because of the government program eligibility requirements, you must consider the net tax implications when dividing your estate. Be straightforward with your children as to your intentions, especially if one child will be needing long-term care. Knowing the plans will help everyone prepare for the future.
As we think of our parents aging, we may also start to think about our own aging. Sometimes it takes a negative experience with a parent’s estate planning to motivate us to start planning for our own long-term care and end-of-life decisions.
Take a look at your vision for how you want to age and how you want to address your end-of-life issues, before you make any moves with your estate plan or insurance coverage. If you have a partner, first work independently on your own wishes, and then have a conversation together.
Working with aging parents can also make you think about your planning for long-term care insurance. Start the process when you’re in your 50s. The older you get, the greater chance you have of running out of time to save or of becoming uninsurable. Recent statistics published by AARP show that 52% of those individuals who turn 65 today, will develop some form of severe disability requiring long-term care support. The average lifetime cost of long-term care in retirement tops $250,000.
The next step is to review your current estate plan in light of your goals. Many individuals or couples who have a plan in place will forget about them, letting their documents become out-of-date. If you don’t have an estate plan yet, getting it completed should be a top priority. Your estate planning attorney is experienced at working with clients to understand their wishes and to create a plan that reflects those intentions.
Before executing a plan, you’ll need to calculate your total level of wealth, create a list of intended heirs and charitable organization names, as well as a divorce decree, if applicable. If you have minor children, you’ll need to designate guardians to act in your absence. It is also necessary to decide whether those same people will manage the inheritance for your children or whether you want someone else to assume that responsibility.
Planning for aging means taking careful consideration of many components of your financial plan. Look at how your retirement lifestyle and legacy plan could be impacted by a long-term care need.
The judge said the police officer was protected by his good faith actions in responding to an emergency. He had qualified immunity from a suit filed by the owners of the home he entered, in alleged violation of residents' Fourth Amendment rights to privacy. The judge went on to say that even if Buccilli's beliefs that his actions were justified in entering the home were based on wrong assumptions, the officer’s actions weren’t so "plainly incompetent" as would qualify as a violation of the resident's Fourth Amendment rights.
The judge said "…no one has pointed this court to any controlling case that clearly establishes the answer to this question: When performing a welfare check on an individual in response to a request from adult protective services (or a similar agency), may a police officer enter a location to determine the welfare of that individual?"
Buccilli was called to the Buffalo area home of the Batt family. LuAnn was the daughter of the elderly Fred Puntoriero, whom the family had taken in after he was diagnosed years earlier with dementia. Fred's daughter-in-law called the local Adult Protective Services in April 2012, complaining that she and her husband hadn’t been permitted to see Fred for several weeks. They were concerned about his condition. Fred’s son (Joe) and daughter (LuAnn) each had power of attorney over their father, according to the ruling.
Adult Protective Services made a 911 call to Buccilli the next day. Joe didn’t want to let the officer in, but Buccilli followed Joe through a side door and found wheelchair-bound Fred inside the home. Fred looked well-groomed and well-fed. He was able to identify himself, and an Adult Protective Services case worker later confirmed that Fred was under hospice care and was receiving good care. Fred died later in 2012, at age 76.
The daughter sued the police officer for violation of their Fourth Amendment rights in a 42 U.S.C. §1983 action.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found in 2015 that 53 million adults in the U.S. (about 20%) live with a disability. As tax day approaches, Yahoo Finance offers some tax strategies for people with disabilities and their caregivers to consider in its article “8 Tax Tips for People With Disabilities (and Their Caregivers).”
ABLE accounts. These accounts are newer savings vehicles for those who become blind or disabled before the age of 26. The accounts are like 529 college savings accounts—the account grows tax-free and can be spent on eligible expenses with no taxes. Contributions to these accounts don’t qualify for a federal tax credit or deduction. However, Iowa, Michigan, and Nebraska offer state tax benefits for contributing.
Take a higher standard deduction. Many deductions or credits require that you itemize, but if you take the standard deduction, you may qualify for a higher one, if you or your spouse is blind. In the 2016 tax year, the standard deduction for single or married filing separately is $6,300. That amount increases to $7,850 if the filer is blind or over the age of 65 or $9,400 if the filer is both blind and over the age of 65.
Child and dependent care credit. If you pay for day care or other care for a dependent, while you work or are seeking employment for work, this credit can decrease your taxes by up to $3,000 per dependent or a maximum of $6,000 for all dependents. This credit can also be used to pay for adult day care for a spouse or other dependent, who is physically or mentally not able to care for themselves, but you must itemize to get this credit.
Disability credit. People who receive stable disability income and are retired on permanent and total disability or who are age 65 or older may qualify for the Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled on their own tax return, which is between $3,750 and $7,500. However, there are income limits based on the filing status and adjusted gross income.
Disabled person as a dependent. Typically, you can’t claim a child as a dependent after age 19, or 24 if the child is a student. But a disabled child or other relative can be claimed as a dependent at any age, if you provide at least half their support.
Deduct medical expenses. If you itemize, and your family's medical and dental expenses in a calendar year are more than 10% of your adjusted gross income (7.5% if you or your spouse is age 65 or older), you can deduct the excess amount. This isn’t just for those with special needs, but parents with special needs children have a lot of out-of-pocket expenses.
Adoption of a child with special needs. Families that adopt a child who is a U.S. resident or citizen and whose state welfare agency deems them to have special needs, will usually be eligible for the maximum adoption credit of $13,460 per child in the year the adoption is finalized. Income limits apply, but in adoptions involving a child with special needs, the adoptive parents can claim the maximum credit regardless of whether they had qualified expenses of $13,460.
Declare disability payments. These aren’t always taxable income, since it depends on the situation. Review what type of disability benefits are being received and see if they’re subject to taxes. As an example, the IRS says that Veteran Affairs disability benefits shouldn’t be included in gross income, but if you receive long-term disability benefits from a plan that was paid for by your employer, the IRS says those can be taxable. Children who get disability benefits can also create confusion when filing returns, since some parents whose children receive payments from Social Security Disability Insurance think they must report that income on their own tax return. This is not true. It is reported on the child's tax return if the child has a filing requirement, not the parent's return. If the child doesn’t get income from other sources, their benefits are probably not taxable.