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Last year I wrote about the challenge of keeping Medicaid after you’ve been approved.   Whenever I give prospective clients an overview of the Medicaid rules and what is necessary to qualify, I also explain that the rules must be followed even after Medicaid eligibility is achieved.  You can’t let your guard down and completely forget about the Medicaid rules. Medicaid does a redetermination once a year.  For many years the redeterminations were sporadic.  I had clients on Medicaid who never received a redetermination notice.  I’ve noticed, however, in the last 5 years or so that just about every county in which I file Medicaid applications now sends annual redetermination notices like clockwork.  While the” redets” as we call them are much easier to work thru (since the process doesn’t involve providing 5 years of records), most of our clients either handle it themselves or the facilities take care of it, especially in the case of single Medicaid recipients where all the income goes directly to the facility and they have most of the information needed to process it.  There are several reasons redeterminations are necessary.  Some of the numbers change from year to year.  For example, Social Security and pensions typically have a cost of living adjustment.  Health insurance premiums, which can be deducted from income before turning the

6 years ago I wrote about the fight over Casey Kasem. (Blog post 11-25-13).  Some may not be old enough to remember Kasem who was an actor and radio personality.  He is probably best known as the host of American Top 40, a nationally syndicated radio program in the 1970’s and 80’s which counted down the top pop songs every week. Kasem died in June 2014 but not before his children from his first marriage fought with his second wife over their right to see their father and to make decisions regarding his medical care.  Kasem had advanced Parkinson’s Disease and was reported to be bedridden.  A legal battle ensued in which the children filed for conservatorship in a California court.  His wife then removed him from a California nursing home to one in Washington state and that is where he died.  6 months after his death she buried him in Norway.  The children then filed a wrongful death lawsuit against his wife and she filed a countersuit against them. It is now nearly 6 years after his death and both sides finally agreed to an undisclosed settlement in which they both dismissed their claims.  The case highlights several issues which I have previously written about.  One is the challenges presented by second marriages.  It appears that Kasem’s children

If you are a regular reader of my blog you know that getting a Medicaid application approved can be tricky to say the least.  As the process becomes more and more involved and complex, we are receiving more calls than we ever have seeking our assistance. When I discuss our fee, people often tell me that they have spoken with a “Medicaid company” whose fee is less than ours.  My response has always been that you get what you pay for.  Medicaid is a combination federal and state program that consists of laws, regulations and court decisions interpreting those laws and regulations.  I explain to prospects that when an interpretation of these laws and regulations is necessary or when the State misapply these laws and regulations, you need an attorney to advocate on your behalf.  While to some, hiring an attorney seems costly or unnecessary, if it turns out you weren’t eligible when you thought you were, but that realization happens 3 or 4 or 6 months after you filed for Medicaid, you can only fix the problem moving forward.  Even if you hire an attorney at that point, more likely than not you will lose months of Medicaid eligibility costing tens and in some cases hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid long term care costs.

In last week’s post I reviewed the changes to retirement accounts under a new law called the SECURE Act.  I started with the positive changes but not all about the new law is a plus.  The SECURE Act severely limits the ability of retirement account beneficiaries to stretch out the payouts. As I explained last week, under the old rules, beneficiaries could stretch out the withdrawals over their life expectancies.  Now spousal beneficiaries can still take the distributions over their own life expectancies, however, other non-spouse beneficiaries can no longer do so (with some limited exceptions).  The majority of non-spouse beneficiaries must now withdraw the entire account value within 10 years.  Besides spousal beneficiaries, minor child beneficiaries, beneficiaries who are no more than 10 years younger than the deceased account owner and chronically ill individuals can still exercise the stretch provisions. This change has an obvious impact for Americans whose retirement accounts have grown to six and seven figures.  Many have intended to withdraw only the minimum and leave as much as possible to children and grandchildren who could then stretch the withdrawals out over 30, 40 or 50 years or more.  That is no longer possible.  In fact, the tax hit could be greater for the children than for the senior account

Just before the holidays last month, Congress passed and President Trump signed into law significant changes to retirement accounts that affects owners and beneficiaries of tax deferred retirement accounts including IRAs and 401ks.  Known as the SECURE Act (Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act), it became effective 1/1/2020.  While some of the changes are favorable, others are definitely not. First let’s review the favorable ones.  Before the SECURE Act, once an account owner reached 70 and ½ years of age, no more contributions could be made to traditional IRAs.  The SECURE Act repealed this age restriction so now you can make contributions no matter your age.  This was always the case, by the way, for Roth IRAs and remains unchanged. The new law also raises the required minimum distribution age, the point when you must begin withdrawals from your retirement account.  It was 70 and ½ and now it is 72 but only for people who reach 70 and ½ in 2020 or later.  For anyone who already turned 70 and ½ the RMD age remains 70 and ½.  There is an exception to the RMD requirement that remains the same.  If you continue to be employed beyond your RMD date, you can postpone that date until you do retire – as long as you

My posts the past two weeks have been about Mary’s problem caring for her stepmom, June after her dad died. Last week I told you that we needed to file a guardianship action. 2 doctors needed to examine June and sign affidavits stating that in their medical opinion she was incompetent. A court appointed attorney then was assigned to represent June. Our guardianship application also included an assertion on June’s behalf to her right to the elective share. We also had to provide notice and copies of all court papers to Mary’s sisters. Because guardianship hearings can take 60 days or longer to schedule in some counties we needed to request temporary guardianship in order to allow Mary to move June to another facility. Since she had no assets of her own, I had to make the facility comfortable that while we could not pay them yet, once the elective share was determined we would immediately make payments. That by itself, however, was not enough to assure the nursing facility. They also asked us when we could expect to qualify for Medicaid and if there would be any Medicaid penalties resulting from any transfers for less than fair value. That required Mary