Dying without a Will is called dying “intestate”. What this means is that your intentions as to who inherits your assets, who administers your estate, and who acts as guardians for any young children are determined by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It is often said that if you don’t have an estate plan, the Commonwealth has one for you. And as of January 2nd, 2012, the Commonwealth has an updated plan for you! That’s when the last phase of the Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code (MUPC) takes effect. [Read more…]
Welcome to the new singles scene. With the average life expectancy in the United States about 78 years old, people are living longer and healthier lives than ever before and more and more seniors are falling in love. However, what can be a thrilling and romantic time for an older couple can also be an anxious time for family members that have expectations regarding inheritance. It is worth noting that once married, a spouse will automatically inherit, at the very least, a portion of deceased partner’s estate, unless measures are taken to avoid this. [Read more…]
An irrevocable trust is an excellent tool when preplanning for Medicaid benefits. Anything that is put into the irrevocable trust is protected from a Medicaid spend-down if five years pass from the date of the transfer. [Read more…]
An estate plan that was suitable a few years ago may no longer be suitable today. One should look to update their estate planning every three to five years or even sooner if you experience a dramatic change in life circumstances. [Read more…]
Medicaid, or MassHealth as it is referred to in Massachusetts, is an avenue available for funding long-term nursing home care. To qualify, you must meet asset thresholds that many elders exceed. Additionally there are income requirements for MassHealth/Mediciad. Adequate understanding of MassHealth/Medicaid law and proper strategizing is a critical component of any plan for the future. With the proper planning of an elder-law attorney, you can protect your property, spouse, and assets. [Read more…]
For many years, the Massachusetts Legislature has provided funding for MassHealth to keep a nursing home resident’s bed empty for up to ten days during a period of hospitalization or temporary discharge- “bed-hold”. In 2010, the benefit was used in Massachusetts 28, 854 times. However, the State Senate recently concluded that Massachusetts cannot afford to maintain this policy.
The MassHealth bed-hold-policy now permits an individual in receipt of MassHealth to leave a nursing home to seek outside medical treatment or time with family and friends for a period of ten consecutive days without incurring any private pay cost. The policy also assures that if a MassHealth recipient returns to a long-term care facility within ten days, their own bed and room will be held free until their return.
Cuts would most significantly affect persons suffering from dementia and other cognitive impairments. For these individuals, a certain routine and comfort with the attending staff and surrounding residents are particularly significant. People with advanced dementia may suffer fright, disorientation and distress with any move – they have lost their home and may have trouble processing why.
Young people in nursing homes would also be seriously affected. The Boston Globe remarked on the case of a 31-year-old man who needs round-the-clock care after being permanently disabled in a car accident. Without bed-hold funds he will be unable to attend a summer camp without losing his place.
Although the Patrick administration has publicly declared that an average of 10 empty beds are present in a facility on any given day, so that a nursing home is usually able to retain an individual’s bed following a hospitalization or temporary illness, residents that live in homes specializing in a specific type of care face a greater amount of competition for beds.
Significantly, the financial limit for a single MassHealth recipient is $2,000. Given that private nursing home rates differ between $250-$350 per day, if recipients want their bed to be held by the facility, they will be expected to pay out of pocket.
The current MassHealth bed-hold policy also provides for non-medical leaves of absence for up to 10 days per year. Generally, this allows a recipient to leave a nursing home to attend family gatherings without putting his or her bed in jeopardy. Eliminating the bed-hold policy would force individuals to pay privately for their beds if they wish to temporarily leave the facility for a wedding or holiday function.
Disallowing residents the financial freedom to attend such events would undoubtedly result in compounded isolation from family members and the outside world.
Fortunately, advocates for upholding the MassHealth bed-hold policy have persuaded the postponement of the elimination of the policy from July 8, 2011 until July 22. Elder law advocates seek to secure the signatures of as many legislators as possible in opposition to the policy to dissuade the Executive Office of Health and Human Services Secretary, Judy Ann Bigby, from abolishing existing policy. If you are interested in fighting to maintain the 10 day bed-hold policy, contact your local legislature.
A three-day hospitalization often serves as a gateway for a senior citizen’s transition into a skilled care facility. When the patient is discharged to a skilled care facility for occupational, physical, or speech therapy, the patient’s health insurance (Medicare) will continue to finance treatment for up to 100 days per stay (as long as the person continues to benefit from rehab). Medicare coverage ultimately ends, and when it does, the patient must pay from income, savings, long-term care insurance, Medicaid, or a combination of these resources. [Read more…]
Home security systems can be extremely useful for all home owners, but they can be particularly beneficial to the elderly and senior citizens. As elderly people often stay at home during old age, these systems can provide reassurance, as well as added security.
There are many benefits to be had from installing a home security system. Not only do such systems act as a deterrent from intrusion, but they can also be used to raise the alarm should such an intrusion take place. Surveillance cameras and motion sensor technology can provide a high level of security, which is particularly beneficial for more vulnerable member of the community. For elderly people who might be concerned that they would be unable to alert authorities in the event of an intrusion, it can be extremely reassuring to know that this would happen automatically. This can also provide reassurance for those who live some distance from their elderly relatives. [Read more…]
In the coming years we will see a marked increase in the number of cases challenging the legality of a will on the grounds of mental incapacitation of the person making the will. Though the reason for the increase in will contests is debatable, the growing number of elders with medical issues affecting their cognition; the transfer of wealth between World War II and baby boomer generations; and the change in the traditional nuclear family certainly play a role. [Read more…]
Most everyone would say that they want to be independent and remain in their own homes as long as possible. This sense of autonomy can be kept in place longer than ever before due to medical advances, assistive devices, and in-home care provided by family members and private caretakers. However, what happens when an elder can no longer remain safely in their home and an adult child is trying to get them the help they need?
Esther is 89 years old. She has lived alone since the death of her husband 23 years ago. She gave up driving two years ago, but is regularly visited by her children and grandchildren, who take care of errands or drive her to handle things herself. Lately, she has been rather unsteady on her feet. Additionally, she has been very forgetful and once left the stove on all night. She is also having trouble remembering to take her medications. There were so many her daughter, Susan, sorts them every week into a pill box. Esther still forgets to take them and sometimes actually doubles up on doses. Susan can see its time for more help but Esther is adamant about not having strangers in the house and doesn’t want to end up in “one of those places…” [Read more…]