Author: adminlin

Medicare Open Enrollment 2020: What You Need to Know

Are you ready for Medicare Open Enrollment? Every year, Medicare health and drug plans make changes to costs, coverage, providers, and pharmacies in their networks. Have you considered that, between coverage changes and health condition changes, it may be wise to revisit health plans during the open enrollment period annually? This year, Medicare’s annual open enrollment period begins October 15th and ends December 7th.

For those already on Medicare, you should have received an “annual notice of change” from your Medicare plan in September. This letter explains all the changes coming in the new year, including coverage and costs such as premiums, deductibles, and copays. Review your medical expenses over the last six months, including a list of the doctors you see regularly and the medications you need.

Medicare beneficiaries without some sort of Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) may face Medicare cost-sharing if they have health problems. Original Medicare pays for much, but not all of the cost for covered health care services and supplies. A Medigap policy can help pay some of the remaining health care costs, such as copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles.

If you are not able to purchase a Medigap policy, a Medicare Medical Savings Account (MSA) might be a good option. MSAs combine high-deductible insurance plans with a medical savings account that you can use to pay for your health care costs.

Medicare Advantage plans are a type of Medicare health plan offered by a private company that contracts with Medicare to provide all of your Part A and Part B benefits. Most Medicare Advantage plans also offer prescription drug coverage. Before switching to a Medicare Advantage plan, be sure to examine it closely to see if it makes sense. While many have $0 premiums, the out-of-pocket costs can be high, or your hospital or your doctor may not be in-network.

The Medicare Plan Finder on is an online tool from the government to help you select a plan. After you enter your zip code and details about your medications and whether you receive them by mail, you can compare plans available in your area. You can also try the State Health Insurance Assistance Programs, which offer free local counseling to enrollees, or call 1-800-MEDICARE. 

For help evaluating your Medicare coverage options and which plan may work best for you, contact our office today to schedule a meeting time.

 

Estate Planning Awareness Week: How to Prepare for COVID-19 Continuation

Estate planning can be important for a number of reasons. Did you know that the U.S. House of Representatives even designated the third week of October as National Estate Planning Awareness Week? The week is an opportunity to recognize and raise awareness as to the many things that can be accomplished through a strong estate plan. The protections put in place by a comprehensive estate plan seem especially important during the Covid-19 pandemic.

When developing an estate plan, you should consider including:

1. A Durable Power of Attorney: A durable power of attorney is a legal document that gives an agent the authority to carry on your financial and legal affairs and protect your property by acting on your behalf when you are incapacitated. The power of attorney can give the agent the ability to do things like pay bills, write checks, make deposits, sell or purchase assets, and sign tax returns.

2. Health Care Planning Documents: These documents empower you to select a trusted individual who will be given the authority to make health care decisions on your behalf if you are incompetent or incapacitated.

3. A Living Will: A living will allows you to indicate what kinds of end-of-life care you do and do not want when you are in a terminal medical situation. Without this document, your family will be uncertain about what types of care you would want, decisions which are often fraught and stressful.

4. A Will: This is possibly the most common legal document in estate planning. It can be used to direct the distribution of your property at the time of your death. It also allows you to appoint a personal representative to oversee the distribution of your assets. Additionally, it allows you to appoint a guardian to take care of minor children.

5. A Revocable Trust: This is a tool that can be used both for incapacity planning and for your estate after you pass away. This can be a great tool for maintaining privacy, and ensuring that your wishes are followed both during end-of-life and after you pass.

We know you may have questions. Let us help. Please contact us today to discuss the tools you need in your estate plan.

Using a Trust to Provide for a Child with Substance Abuse Issue

Did you know that, every September, we celebrate National Alcohol & Drug Addiction Recovery Month? Observance of this month nationally can be important to those who have recovered from substance abuse addictions and to their loved ones, for whom de-stigmatizing addiction can be a lifelong goal. Proper substance abuse treatment and mental health services for those impacted by addiction can be critical to making a lasting recovery.

Parents of addicts and recovering addicts can face difficult personal choices when deciding how to financially provide for their adult children to help ensure they can receive the treatment they need and live comfortably, without enabling or encouraging an addiction or relapse. Setting up a trust with special conditions can be an effective tool for parents of adult children with substance abuse issues to provide for them long-term.

When considering how much money you should leave to your adult child with substance abuse issues in a trust, there may be a few things you want to take into consideration. For instance, rather than leaving money to be distributed in large amounts, you may want to consider inserting planned distributions of modest amounts of money at regular intervals. This will provide enough money for your child to live on with a budget, but not enough to dissipate at any given time on addiction-related purchases.

You may also want to include provisions that allow the trustee to withhold distributions if he or she suspects substance abuse and allow the trustee to instead dictate that a distribution can be used only for treatment purposes in a given period of time. You can include provisions that allow the trustee to use extra money above the typical distribution for direct payments for counseling and treatment.

If you are setting up a trust for the benefit of your child with substance abuse issues and for siblings without similar issues, you may decide that the siblings’ inheritances will be distributed to them earlier, or even that they should receive their shares outright without being held in trust for any period of time. You do not have to make the same decision for every beneficiary. You could choose instead to keep the portion of the inheritance for your child with substance abuse issues in trust for life, with a trustee responsible for overseeing distributions, and the remainder going to his or her children, if they have any, or to the secondary beneficiary of your choice.

If you are the parent of an adult child with substance abuse issues, you may fear leaving him or her a lump sum of money that may be squandered or disinheriting him or her with the possible result of poverty and homelessness. Setting up a trust with specific conditions related to your child’s addiction may be a wise choice. It would be best to consult an estate planning attorney in your state to learn more about setting up a trust for the benefit of your adult child with substance abuse issues. Our office helps families put estate plans in place that reflect their unique needs and circumstances. Please feel free to reach out to our office to set up an appointment.

Helping Loved Ones Understand on World Alzheimer’s Day

On September 21, we celebrate World Alzheimer’s Day to raise awareness of the impact of Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia on loved ones afflicted and on family members and friends impacted by their diagnoses. Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia are often called a “family” disease because of the difficult impacts it can have on the afflicted person’s family members and friends. Supporting those with Alzheimer’s can also mean supporting their loved ones who help them to cope over time.

There can be many ways to promote understanding of Alzheimer’s Disease among family and friends. The first step may be to tell your loved ones, as soon as you feel comfortable doing so, after receiving a diagnosis. When you decide to have the conversation, it may be helpful to bring some articles that explain what Alzheimer’s means, and discuss the typical prognosis. 

You can also encourage loved ones to go online and visit the Alzheimer’s Association website to learn more. This way, instead of having to be the scientific resource yourself, you can give them the tools to learn more and make yourself available for more practical and emotional discussions about the specific situation and changes for your family.

If your spouse or parent has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, you may want to take some time to discuss future caregiving plans with extended family members who want to be included in the process. It may also be advisable to complete any estate planning needs that remain unfinished before your loved one becomes incapacitated by Alzheimer’s, so that they can take an active role in the planning. 

It can be difficult for friends and family to explain Alzheimer’s when their loved one struggles in public. Sometimes, giving visitors a helpful speaking prompt and asking them to say their name and explain who they are, rather than expecting your loved one to recognize them immediately, can be helpful. Speaking to them naturally, and not treating them like a child, can help preserve their dignity. You can also explain that correcting your loved one when they make a mistake may be embarrassing to them, so letting the little things go can be the smoothest path for everyone. 

If you are out in a very public setting, like the grocery store or a park, you may want to carry some literature from the Alzheimer’s Association with you. If someone asks you questions, it can be an opportunity to educate and raise awareness of the disease. You never know, the person asking you might have a loved one who was recently diagnosed. Having information on hand could help him or her on his or her own journey. 

For more information about legal issues associated with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, please reach out to our office to schedule an appointment.