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Elder Law Articles

Raising grandchildren? EITC may be an option

Working grandparents who support their grandchildren may qualify for the earned income tax credit, which could reduce the amount they pay in taxes by thousands of dollars, or allow them to receive a refund. The earned income tax credit is a benefit for working people with low to moderate incomes who have dependents, a category that includes grandparents. (Taxpayers without a dependent may also qualify, but it is more difficult.) To be able to claim the credit,

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Most are taking Social Security at the wrong time

A recent report found that almost no retirees are making financially optimal decisions about when to take Social Security and are losing out on more than $100,000 per household as a result. The average Social Security recipient would receive 9 percent more income in retirement if he or she made a financially optimal decision. When claiming Social Security, you have three options: you may begin taking benefits between age 62 and your full retirement age, you

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Medicare launches app to help determine coverage

Do you need to know if a procedure is covered by Medicare? There’s an app for that. Medicare has launched a free app, called “What’s Covered,” that gives beneficiaries a quick way of determining if the program covers a medical item or service. The app offers information on what is covered under Medicare Parts A and B and provides details on basic costs. It includes a list of covered preventive services. It does not, however, provide information

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How gifts can affect Medicaid eligibility

We’ve all heard that it’s better to give than to receive, but if you think you might someday want to apply for Medicaid long-term care benefits, you need to be careful, because giving away money or property can interfere with your eligibility. If you transfer certain assets within five years before applying for Medicaid, you will be ineligible for a period of time under federal Medicaid law, depending on how much money you transferred. This is

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Is it better to use joint ownership or a trust to pass down a home?

When leaving a home to your children, it is possible to avoid probate by using either joint ownership or a revocable trust, but which is the better method? If you add your child as a joint tenant on your house, you will both have an equal ownership interest in the property. If one joint tenant dies, his or her interest immediately ceases to exist and the other joint tenant owns the entire property. This has the advantage of

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Drafting a power of attorney that reduces the chances of abuse

A power of attorney is one of the most important estate planning documents you can create, but it is also one that can be misused. While it isn’t possible to entirely prevent the possibility of abuse, there are steps you can take in drafting the document to greatly reduce the chances. A power of attorney allows a person you appoint — your “attorney-in-fact” or “agent” — to act in place of you —the “principal” — for

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Four Social Security myths debunked

There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding the Social Security system. Here are four common myths and the facts about how Social Security works and its future prospects. Myth 1: You should collect benefits early. This is one of the biggest Social Security myths. Beneficiaries can start taking retirement benefits as early as age 62, but if you take Social Security between age 62 and your full retirement age (which ranges from 65 to 67, depending

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Don’t make the mistake of not signing up for Medicare supplemental coverage

If you are turning 65 and enrolling in Medicare as a healthy senior, do you really need to sign up for Medicare’s supplemental coverage as well? Not signing up initially could be very costly down the road.  With all the deductibles, copayments and coverage exclusions, basic Medicare pays for only about half of all medical costs. To augment Medicare’s coverage, you can purchase a supplemental, or “Medigap,” insurance policy from a private insurer.  There are 10

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Should you prepare a Medicaid application yourself, or get help?

A decision on whether to prepare and file a Medicaid application on your own or hire help depends on answers to these questions: How old is the applicant? How complicated is the applicant’s financial situation? Is the individual applying for community or nursing home benefits? How much time do you have available? How organized are you? Medicaid is the health care program for individuals without other insurance or those whose insurance does not cover what they

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Guns and dementia: Dealing with a loved one’s firearms

Having a loved one with dementia can be scary, but add in access to a firearm and things can become especially dangerous. Research shows that 45 percent of all adults aged 65 years or older either own a gun or live in a household with someone who does. For someone with dementia, the risk of suicide increases; firearms are the most common method of suicide among people with dementia. In addition, someone with dementia who has a gun may

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