July, 2019 | Shah & Associates, P.C. Estate Planning & Business Law Blog
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Three Long Term Care Myths

July 17, 2019

Filed under: Estate Planning — Laura Pennington @ 9:15 am

With the rising cost of healthcare and all data showing that many people will need some form of LTC in their older ages, it’s costly to assume that any of the three myths listed below are true. Yet plenty of people are under the impression they don’t need an LTC plan or Medicaid planning, giving them limited options when they or a loved one needs to enter a nursing home suddenly.

Myth #1: Medicaid or Medicare Will Cover Me

Medicare does not cover the vast majority of expenses needed for LTC. And Medicaid requires completing a careful application process. Overlooking the need to plan outside of this can be a big mistake or can require Medicaid crisis planning that doesn’t allow you to exercise all your options.

Myth #2: I’m Covered by Other Insurance

Don’t expect that your HMO or disability insurance will kick in to cover most of your long-term care expenses. This leaves you with little to no coverage at all, and those LTC bills can rack up quickly. It’s important to realize that in order to protect your personal assets and savings, you need something outside of existing disability or health insurance coverage.

Myth #3: Only the Elderly Need It

Did you know that a good portion of people who exercise the benefits in a long term care insurance policy are those who aren’t even close to retirement age? Even a serious car accident could leave a young person in need of LTC support or a nursing home stay. Ignoring the potential for an accident or disabling condition in younger years could be catastrophic.

If you want to work through possible planning options, a good time to speak with your estate planning attorney can be set up now. A lawyer can help explain to you some of the long-term plans you can put into place to help protect you should the need for LTC arise.

Could Your Long Term Care Expenses Be in Excess of $250K?

July 16, 2019

Filed under: Estate Planning — Laura Pennington @ 9:15 am

Retirees today seem to be confused about how much to set aside for long term care. Fidelity Investments shows that the cost of paying for healthcare expenses alone could go as high as $285,000 for an average retired couple at age 65.

Those health care expenses, however, don’t include long-term care. Long term care refers to two different types of support; the first is services for someone who has severe cognitive impairments or requires ongoing supervision for safety reasons, and the second category includes services for someone who needs help with at least two activities of daily living.

Those activities of daily living or ADLs include toileting, bathing, transferring, eating, continence, and dressing. It’s estimated that over 15% of people approaching their older ages will have expenses for long term care in excess of $250,000.

Most people assume that Medicare will kick in to cover these costs or that they won’t need long term care. Both of these can be costly assumptions to make. You’re better off finding an experienced lawyer to help you understand what will and won’t cover your expenses so that you can approach the situation with clarity and make the right decision.

Have you already set aside money to help support you in your older ages and to pay for long term care? If not, it may be an appropriate time to discuss Medicaid planning with an experienced and knowledgeable estate planning lawyer.        

It’s More Important Than Ever to Be Mindful of Long-Term Care Costs

July 15, 2019

Filed under: Estate Planning — Laura Pennington @ 9:15 am

More people today recognize the potential impact of long-term care because most children of baby boomers have experienced it first hand by helping their loved ones with medical issues associated with aging.

Long-Term Care – New chalkboard with outlined text – on wood

However, these children should also be careful to incorporate potential planning sources for long term care in their own estate plan. The Genworth Cost of Care Survey in 2018 found that a private nursing home’s average cost will run your over $100,000 per year.

Given that the National Care Planning Council says that the average stay in a nursing home is 835 days, you need to be prepared for how expensive this could be if you were to have one long term care event. Considering that the US Department of Health and Human Services says that 7 out of 10 people will require some form of long-term care in their lifetimes, you need to be thinking about whether or not you can afford to self-fund.

Those who have taken no other action to prepare for long term care, such as consulting with an estate planning attorney about Medicaid or purchasing a long-term care insurance policy, are essentially set up to fund their own long-term care if it were needed.       

If you’re not sure what your next step is in crafting a Medicaid plan, you don’t have to do it alone. Sitting down with a lawyer can present you with options and give you a set of next steps.

How to Handle the Plans for A Loved One Who Has A Chronic Illness

July 10, 2019

Filed under: Estate Planning — Laura Pennington @ 9:15 am

Chronic illness is much more common than most people anticipate. There’s a good chance that it has already touched your life in some way. If your loved one is living with some type of chronic disease like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s or multiple sclerosis, you already should be aware of the fact that your estate planning should reflect these additional challenges.

According to reports, over 130 million Americans are already living with chronic illness, and that number will increase to 157 million by 2020. A quarter of people between the ages of 65 and 74 have already had their lives affected by chronic illness, so the impact of chronic disease is significant.

Estate planning documents for those who have chronic illness are imperative. If your loved one is already living with at least one chronic illness, you will the need the same estate planning documents that most people use as the cornerstone of their estate plan.

Having a partnership with an experienced estate planning attorney is important, because if the chronic illness has already advanced significantly, it could impede the loved one’s ability to understand and sign these legal documents.

Some of the most common estate planning documents important for someone with a chronic illness include, HIPAA releases, a living will, a health care proxy, an order for life sustaining treatment and a financial power of attorney. Schedule a consultation with an estate planning attorney today to learn more.     

New Government Report Reveals Big Scale for Elder Abuse

July 9, 2019

Filed under: Estate Planning — Laura Pennington @ 9:15 am

The decision that you make to place a loved one in a nursing home can be a complicated one, and it probably required a lot of research and asking of questions on your part to determine that right facility. Unfortunately, elder neglect and abuse in nursing homes across the United States is not regularly reported by health care workers, according to a recent government watchdog report.

It is a federal requirement for those health care workers who become aware of elder abuse to report it as soon as possible, but the US Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of the Inspector General found that many nursing homes across the country did not report elder abuse in about one of five potential cases.

It is expected that the elder population will increase significantly by 2050, reaching a total of 84 million people. Sadly, in 2008 a report found that one out of every 10 elderly individuals reported some form of neglect in the previous year.

Another form of elder abuse is known as financial abuse. Financial abuse can occur when someone attempts to take advantage of an elderly person by trying to update their will or making other edits to their existing estate planning documents. This can often come up in the context of an estate planning lawsuit or dispute after the fact. Being involved with your loved one’s life can help you identify situations in which he or she could be accidentally exposed to elder abuse or neglect.

Getting the support of an experienced attorney to create documents, to protect your loved one in advance can help to minimize the chances of this financial and elder abuse.     

Make sure you have documents set up to allow your trusted family members or loved ones to make decisions on your behalf- an estate planning attorney can help you put together power of attorney documents. These can help reduce the chances of elder financial abuse.

Plenty of Parents Missing Key Documents for Estate

July 8, 2019

Filed under: Estate Planning — Laura Pennington @ 9:15 am

Having an estate plan is an important part of your overall financial picture, especially if you’re a parent. A recent study found that plenty of parents are missing key components of the protective documents they could use in order to outline a future for themselves and their children.

Having a child is a big milestone in your life, but it also calls on you to think bigger about how you’ll protect that child if something happens to you. A will is the most basic of estate planning documents, since it allows you to determine who will be the minor guardian if something happens to you and your spouse in addition to outlining where your assets will go.

If you have children, you get to have a say in who will be their guardian. Most parents don’t want this process left up to the courts. You can choose who you want to step into this important role based on what is best for your family rather than what the court deems appropriate.

Sitting down with your spouse or the other parent to discuss this all-important role is recommended. Even if you are separated or divorced, there are important considerations in choosing a person who will be active in your child’s life if you are no longer around.

Finally, the person you choose to serve as the guardian for your minor should be aware of this fact and fine with serving in this way. Even if you believe someone would be the perfect fit to take care of your children if you’re no longer around, you need to make sure they are comfortable serving in such a role, too.

Schedule a meeting with NJ estate planning lawyer if you’re missing a will, power of attorney, or other documents.

Is Asset Protection Planning Only for Avoiding Paying Taxes?

July 3, 2019

Filed under: Estate Planning — Laura Pennington @ 9:15 am

Too many people are under the impression that asset protection planning is only relevant for the very rich who want to downsize their tax bill. The truth is that every family benefits from asset protection because this is a legal method of arranging your assets in a manner to protect them from future attacks like those from creditors or predators.

When done early, asset protection planning can be a firm shield against challenges and problems. Asset protection planning can also help with other aspects of your estate plan.

Benefits of asset protection planning extend far beyond the tax advantages and can include benefits from Medicaid planning, protecting money from adult children who may be irresponsible and need additional structure and control for the money flow, planning for a child with special needs, and protecting money from your own future creditors.

Far too many people who overlook all of these different aspects of asset protection planning could expose themselves and their loved ones to unnecessary risks that could have been prevented with a little bit of planning structured by an experienced and knowledgeable estate planning lawyer.

If you are new to the concept of asset protection planning and are not sure how this fits into your overall estate planning picture, schedule a consultation today to sit down with a lawyer and discuss some of the ways that your assets could be threatened.     

New Study Shows that Nursing Home Costs in the United States Are Rising Quickly

July 2, 2019

Filed under: Estate Planning — Laura Pennington @ 9:15 am

Many people already know that the cost of nursing home or long term care in their older ages can be extremely high. The average cost of a nursing home in the United States can easily go above $70,000 a year, and according to a Georgetown University Medical Center study, this has risen even faster than the cost of overall medical care in some states.


The cost of putting a family member in a nursing home can be a significant financial burden even for those Americans who have set aside necessary retirement funds. But this can be a crushing and devastating challenge for those who have not set aside the appropriate money.

The expense of nursing home care is a particular concern for those people who do not have Medicaid coverage or long term care insurance. Annual out of pocket expenditures for a nursing home can go well beyond $70,000, and in certain states can be much higher. For a person who is not classified as qualified for Medicaid or doesn’t have LTC insurance, this financial burden can put pressure on loved ones as well.

According to the study, for-profit nursing home chains were the least expensive whereas non-profit were the most expensive. For-profit and non-profit facilities operated independently had similar costs. While the majority of Americans are eligible for Medicare at age 65, this doesn’t cover many important long term care costs. You need to have a long term care strategy set aside and partner with an experienced and knowledgeable estate planning attorney to discuss how this could affect your future.     

What is the Cost of Taking Social Security Too Early?

July 1, 2019

Filed under: Estate Planning — Laura Pennington @ 9:15 am

As part of your overall retirement plan, you’re probably counting on your Social Security benefits. But what happens if you miscalculate and end up taking the benefits too early? Couldn’t this short term boost help you if you’ve falling short in other retirement vehicles?


A new study from United Income says that a couple electing for Social Security benefits too early could lose up to $111,000 over the course of their retirement. Given that people are living longer, deciding when to start receiving benefits is an important consideration that could have big impacts on your golden years.

The study found that only a very small portion of retirees-4 percent- took their government retirement benefits at the ideal point in time. To determine that optimal age, there are numerous factors that must be taken into account, including future retirement costs, being single vs. married, life expectancy, other sources of income, and whether or not the person intends to continue working.

Many retirees would get a big bump in their overall benefits if they waited until age 70 to claim, according to the study’s findings. Very few retirees are in a better position by taking these benefits prior to age 64.

Calculating the best age to claim SS benefits is a challenge for plenty of people. Thinking ahead about your retirement, however, helps you have an overall plan for accomplishing your goals in your own life and passing on your remaining assets to your loved ones, too. This can include working with professionals like an estate planning lawyer.

If you’re interested in the big picture, set aside time to talk to your CPA or other financial professional, your insurance specialist, your investment broker, and your estate planning lawyer so that you have considered the impacts of your accounts across the board.