Many people are aware of the high cost of nursing home care. Unfortunately, nursing home costs in Massachusetts rank as some of the highest in the nation and can exceed $12,000 a month. Some insure against these potential costs by purchasing long-term care insurance (LTCI). However, LTCI polices are not without their drawbacks. LTCI premiums can be high and there is generally no residual death benefit if the insurance is not used. Insuring against a risk that may never come to pass without any return on the investment does not sit well with some.
One alternative to purchasing a LTCI policy is to purchase a hybrid life insurance policy that provides long-term care benefits. While hybrid premiums can be five to fifteen percent higher than LTCI premiums, these policies provide a residual death benefit that regular LTCI policies do not. While the downside is if the hybrid policy holder does indeed require long-term care, the value of the death benefit is diminished by the payments made by the insurer toward nursing home care, for many the chance of providing a death benefit for surviving loved-ones is worth the price of the increased premiums. Hybrid policies also function as low-yield investments, which is another benefit they have over regular LTCI.
Of course, those that cannot afford long-term or hybrid policies or are too unhealthy to pass underwriting have other options and can employ trust and gifting strategies that render hard-earned assets uncountable by MassHealth. Contact the Law Office of Brandon L. Campbell for a complimentary telephone consultation to see if any of these strategies may be right for you.
An important aspect of your estate planning that many people might overlook is your digital legacy. You should start considering what you want to happen to all of your online accounts that you have created and maintained over the years. You don’t literally own any online blogs, social network accounts, or digital files, but you are permitted to leave detailed instructions for your executor on what you would like your digital legacy to be after you die.
What is Included in Your Digital Legacy?
While considering your digital legacy and online identity, look through your social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn), blogs, domain names, any listservs or online communities you were a part of, music, photos, selling accounts (Amazon or eBay) and any financial or banking accounts. Any networking accounts are yours by licensing rights only, but they are not technically your actual property, so they will not be included in your will or any other estate plans.
What Instructions Should I Leave for My Executor?
Social media accounts: Each social media company has its own policies on what to do with deceased accounts. You can tell your executor to post a status update, tweet, or post after your death.
Email: What happens to your email accounts will also depend on the individual policies of the company in charge of your account. Eventually it will be deleted, but you can tell your executor to send, print or save any important email before the account expires.
Blogs and domains: You can tell your executor to post on your blog about your death, delete the blog account, or archive its posts. You can also tell your executor to transfer, delete or continue paying for your domain license.
Photos, music, and digital files: Decide how your executor will access any digital files, and you can use your will to leave these items to your friends and loved ones with detailed descriptions.
Sellers accounts: Leave instructions on what you want done with your account; usually you can leave any items you were selling to your loved ones through your will.
Financial accounts: It’s important that your executor has clear access to your financial accounts in order to pay bills and execute your estate plans.
The Law Office of Brandon L. Campbell can continue to help you through this process. Contact us today to start organizing your estate documents and plans.
Elder abuse is an unfortunately common occurrence that happen in multiple scenarios, especially during estate planning. People will try to manipulate others who are in vulnerable positions in order to gain some sort of physical or financial benefit. Undue influence is a legal term that explains this improper manipulation. Relatives of the deceased person who had suspicions that the deceased was taken advantage of can try to prove undue influence in probate court.
How Do I Prove Undue Influence?
If you suspect that there was undue influence involved in an estate plan, you must bring a will contest into probate court, after the will-maker’s death. As the suspicious relative, it will be up to you to prove that the will was written under someone’s undue influence. One way you could prove this is by explaining that the will leaves property or assets in a particular way that you wouldn’t expect, such as unusually leaving out close family members without any obvious explanation. You could also establish undue influence by demonstrating a close and trusting relationship between the manipulator and the deceased. You may also need to prove that the will-maker was mentally and/or physically vulnerable during this time, due to illness, weakness, or generally unhealthy circumstances. Lastly, you must prove that the manipulator took advantage of the will-maker and benefited from their will by substituting his or her own interests for those of the will-maker.
Proving undue influence can be difficult in an undue influence lawsuit, because the court must rely on other witnesses since the person who made the will cannot come to court and speak for themselves. If you believe that a vulnerable family member could be taken advantage of in the future and cannot make rational estate planning decisions, you should contact the Law Office of Brandon L. Campbell.
The Department of Public Health has recently announced that five nursing homes in Massachusetts will be closing down. This means that more than 600 senior citizen residents will have to relocate and find new places to live. Four of the facilities are nursing, transitional care or rehabilitation centers run by Kindred Healthcare in Boston, Canton, Dedham and Needham. The Kentucky-based company has been attempting to transition out of the nursing home business nationally. Last summer, it announced that it was selling 89 nursing homes for $700 million, and the company plans to close the Massachusetts centers in late March 2018.
What Will Happen to All Of The Residents?
The care facilities will still be operating until the proposed close date, and facility officials will be finalizing the plan for closing until then. Kindred will be working with local and state departments of Public Health and Elder Affairs on plans for relocation. Relocation will be based off of individual residents’ needs and preferences. Kindred employees will arrange visitations for residents and families to other facilities, and the company has even offered to pay for moving expenses. The company will also provide job fairs and job placement support for future employees. The fifth nursing home to close is Heritage Nursing Care Center in Lowell. The center has needed significant renovations for years now, and it has experienced a severe decline in referrals and population. The center is also working with state officials to transfer residents to other facilities.
Overall decline in nursing home care can be explained by two factors: their support and needs are being met through household care, and Medicaid does not cover the cost of most care for nursing facilities. MassHealth (Massachusetts’ Medicaid program) has actually been a huge assistance in providing a trustworthy transition from inadequate facility care to suitable home care.
If you or someone you love is a Massachusetts resident and is interested in knowing more about nursing home care, contact at the Law Office of Brandon L. Campbell.
The number of retirement-age senior adults in our country is growing; between the years of 2020 and 2030 the number of seniors will increase by 18 million. With the baby boomer generation aging and beginning to live with serious illnesses, the need for a better and more effective health care system is even more important. Additionally, there are about $6 million senior adults in America that are now living in poverty; they are struggling financially due to cuts to pension and safety net programs, longer life spans, rising health care costs, and deficient retirement savings. Civil legal aid provides free legal assistance to low-income people facing non-criminal legal problems; this is a great program to assist senior citizens in securing proper health care and housing and to protect them financially. There are a few civil legal services in Massachusetts that are fighting (financial) elder abuse:
What Are Some Civil Legal Aids in Massachusetts?
There are civil legal organizations in Massachusetts that are specifically dedicated to focusing on the legal needs of the senior population. The Greater Boston Legal Services’ (GBLS) Elder Abuse Prevention Project not only assists elder clients, but also provides training for care providers, community members and seniors to raise public awareness of the forms of financial and emotional elder abuse.
The MetroWest Legal Services’ (MWLS) Senior Citizen’s Legal Project helps seniors in Massachusetts with housing, health care, nursing home issues, domestic relationships, and other similar dilemmas. MWLS attorneys have advocated and fought for seniors when it came to lease negotiations, medical malpractices, and other examples.
As we face a near future of assisting a large population of senior Americans, it’s extremely important for us to improve our senior care, and continue to grow our already existing legal services. If you or a loved one is facing a situation where you need more information on Massachusetts legal services for the elderly, contact the Law Office of Brandon L. Campbell. Our office will assist you with any financial concerns, long-term care questions, and healthcare worries.
One of the key parts of estate planning is knowing where the finances to handle your medical expenses are coming from. Depending on the services you require to maintain your quality of life, these expenses may vary, but there are many programs out there to help soften the blow of these costs. MassHealth is one such program. In Massachusetts, MassHealth helps pay for care services and medical treatment for qualified seniors, but a new bill may change the way this program works, and some may not be happy about that.
Will the State Choose a MassHealth Plan for You?
Early November, a Senate bill called S 2200 passed the Health Care Financing Committee. This bill promises to save over $1 billion in reforms to the health insurance commercial market and MassHealth. Though many are still debating whether the bill can truly achieve these goals, some are focusing on aspect of the bill that they claim isn’t right.
The bill would allow the automatic enrollment of qualified seniors into MassHealth’s Senior Care Options—a program that covers people who qualify for both Medicare and MassHealth. But if you don’t want to be a part of the program, then you would have to notify state officials. Many say that this will take away the freedom of choice from seniors, while others argue that it will keep many elderly people from falling through the cracks in the system.
This change in the law could also affect your estate by changing the way your medical expenses are handled, so the Law Office of Brandon L. Campbell will keep an eye on this story. Knowing how our state’s regulations will affect you is a top priority when planning estates, setting up asset protections and establishing pet trusts. It’s part of how we give our clients the personal attention that they deserve.
Tax season is upon us once again, and you know what that means. Mad dashes to the accountant, financial counselor, or tax attorney as you try to organize all your important papers and send them to the IRS. It can be a stressful time, but for criminals it is a season of opportunity. This time of the year, scammers do their best to trick you out of your personal information, and seniors are often their prime targets. Thankfully, there are things you can do to protect your assets from identity theft.
Protecting Your Assets from Identity Theft
Brian Thomas, a special agent at the IRS, told a crowd of people at the Pennsylvania Institute for Certified Public Accountants that the most common way “cyber criminals” steal your personal information is simply by asking you. Often these scammers will use telephone calls, emails and other means simply to pose as trusted businesses, friends or family members and ask you for the info they need. But there are key ways to spot these scammers before they have a chance to ruin you.
Emails sent by scammers can often times look genuine, but usually have subtle signs that reveal that they are phony. For example, an email from Microsoft asking for your password may come from an address like “[email protected]”. But a scammer’s email may come from “[email protected]”, using an “r” and an “n” to trick your eye and make you think the email is genuinely from Microsoft.
Another method scammers use is to call the victims posing as IRS agents. They ask taxpayers to reveal personal or financial information over the phone, or they will say you owe the agency money. These scammers will try to get you to pay the fake outstanding balance with gift cards or prepaid debit cards, and if you refuse, they will threaten lawsuits or jail time. This method has proven particularly effective against the elderly, but no government agency or legitimate business will make such threats over the phone.
Knowing about these scams and how they work may be the best way avoid falling for them this tax season. For more information on keeping your hard-earned assets safe, the IRS has online resources, and you can check back with estate planning attorney Brandon Campbell for up-to-date news you need to know in order to keep your assets safe.
As you age, your ability to take care of your physical and healthcare needs changes. When this happens, most people will turn to their families and spouses for help, but sometimes these loved ones aren’t able to handle these changes. That can leave seniors looking for in home options for care, but inviting a stranger into your home can be problematic. Now Massachusetts lawmakers are considering a home care worker registry to make hiring in home help safer, but could this solution actually invade worker privacy?
Will a Home Care Worker Registry Invade Worker Privacy?
In the 2018 fiscal budget presented to Governor Charlie Baker, language that would set up a home care worker registry was included in the bill. And though the bill passed the Legislature, the Governor vetoed it due to privacy concerns. That was because the registry that would have been set up would have included workers’ name, home and mailing addresses, gender, job title, and training certifications. This could be a problem for many home care workers all across the state.
Home health workers who have been the victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking could have their private information exposed to the public. This could lead to their abusers figuring out where they live, and could result in dangerous domestic incidents.
Law makers in the House, Senate and Governor’s office are searching for a solution to this privacy concern. They believe a registry will allow seniors in the state to vet the home care aides they are looking to hire. This could improve safety for these seniors and their families while encouraging aides to pursue training that will improve their standing on the registry.
For now, the legislation is at an impasse while lawmakers work out a solution, but can they reach an agreement that both improves elder safety and protects workers’ rights? Knowing firsthand how important home care can be for elder rights, the Law Office of Brandon L. Campbell will continue to monitor this bill and others that could affect the rights of Massachusetts seniors.
Seniors here in Massachusetts have many needs. From estate planning to the acquisition of healthcare benefits—such as MassHealth—seniors have many concerns that must be attended to. Considering that the senior population in the commonwealth is growing, these services may be more important than you realize. But just how fast is the 60 plus population growing, and how will that affect future generations?
Do You Know How Fast the Senior Population Is Growing?
Since April 2010, the population of people in Massachusetts over the age of 60 has grown by 24.6 percent (MCOA). That’s a lot considering that between 2000 and 2010, the senior population only grew by 16 percent. So, why has the population of seniors in our state jumped so rapidly? Many believe aging Baby Boomers are at the center of the spike.
The Baby Boomer generation has been one of the most populous in American history. Now, these people born between 1945 and 1964 are reaching the age of 60 at a staggering rate. Estimates from the Social Security Administration and Pew Research says that 10,000 Baby Boomers reach age 65 and retire every day. That puts a serious strain on healthcare programs and on areas of elder law.
Previous generations of seniors were well supported by a vast younger population—the baby boomers—but that may not be true of the current generation. As of December 2016, there are more people over the age of 60 in the commonwealth than there are people under the age of 20. This has never happened before in the state’s history.
This means that planning your golden years are even more important now than they have ever been before. Establishing wills and proper estate planning will be essential to help the state avoid costly and drawn out probate litigation. It also means planning out your future healthcare needs will be equally important. Otherwise, a court appointed guardian or conservator may have to make decisions for you in lieu of your family and friends.
Learn more about these considerations by reading our FAQS page—From the Law Office of Brandon L. Campbell, helping you plan, protect and provide.