Elder Law Articles

What’s a health care proxy and why do I need one?

If you become incapacitated, who will make your medical decisions? A health care proxy allows you to appoint someone else to act as your agent for medical decisions. It will ensure that your medical treatment instructions are carried out, and it is especially important to have a health care proxy if you and your family may disagree about treatment. Without a health care proxy, your doctor may be required to provide you with medical treatment that you

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More skilled nursing coverage for Medicare beneficiaries?

The COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly devastating for nursing homes and their residents. Aside from the tragically disproportionate loss of life, care for surviving residents has been delayed or interrupted due to infection, facility lockdowns or other health system disruptions. In such cases, Medicare beneficiaries who qualified for skilled nursing facility (SNF) coverage may be eligible for an additional 100 days of coverage. Whether all qualified beneficiaries will actually get the extended coverage is another question. Medicare does not pay

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Should you sell your life insurance policy?

Older Americans with a life insurance policy that they no longer need have the option to sell the policy to investors. These transactions, called “life settlements,” can bring in needed cash, but are they a good idea? If your children are grown and your mortgage is paid off, you may decide that there is no longer a reason to be paying premiums every month for a life insurance policy, or you may reach a time when

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Estate planning when you have a stepfamily

Ideally, a second marriage that joins two families together is a joyous occasion that creates one bigger family unit. Unfortunately, it too often also can eventually produce inheritance fights between stepparents and children. A good estate plan is necessary to help avoid these types of family squabbles. When two people marry who both have children from previous relationships, complications can arise. Married people typically leave everything to their spouse, so children from the previous relationship may

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Providing for a caregiver child

Taking care of an aging parent can be a full-time job. Children may have to give up paying jobs in order to provide adequate care. Unfortunately, caregiving is usually unpaid work. Parents who want to compensate a child who takes on the burden of caregiving may do so in one of several ways: Caregiver agreements. Caregiver agreements are an increasingly popular way to ensure a caregiver child is compensated for his or her work. A caregiver agreement (also

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‘Poor performance’ doesn’t justify denial of unemployment benefits.

A Missouri court recently ruled that a man’s termination for “poor performance” at work didn’t justify a denial of unemployment benefits. The employee, Mark Wayne, was fired in 2019 after being written up several times for mistakes while loading freight. The employer challenged his unemployment claim, arguing that his failure to follow instructions amounted to “insubordination.” A hearing officer denied Wayne’s claim and an appeals tribunal agreed. Both rulings relied on a 2014 state law that

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How the pandemic may affect long-term care insurance

If you have a long-term care insurance policy, you may wonder how it is affected by the pandemic. If you don’t have a policy, you may wonder if the pandemic will make it more difficult to get one. There are lots of uncertainties regarding COVID-19’s impact on long-term care insurance, but here is some of what we know: Qualifying for insurance. It is already more difficult to qualify for long-term care insurance as you get older.

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Medicare’s different treatment of post-hospital care options

Hospital patients who need additional care after being discharged are usually sent to either an inpatient rehabilitation facility (IRF) or a skilled nursing facility (SNF). Although these facilities may look similar from the outside, Medicare offers very different coverage for each. While you may not have a complete say in where you go after a hospital stay, understanding the difference between the two facilities can help you advocate for what you need and know what to

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Estate planning essential for unmarried couples

While estate planning is important for married couples, it is arguably even more critical for couples who live together but aren’t married. Without an estate plan, unmarried couples won’t be able to make end-of-life decisions or inherit from each other. Estate planning serves two main functions: determining who can make decisions for you if you become incapacitated and who gets your assets when you die.   For couples who have failed to plan, there are laws

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Free tax preparation help is available to seniors

Seniors and retirees should know that they may be able to use online tax preparation software free of charge. Most low- and middle-income Americans qualify for free help but do not take advantage of it, and all seniors, regardless of their income, are eligible for free counseling assistance from the Internal Revenue Service. The tax preparation software industry has had a decades-long deal with the IRS to make free versions of its software available to low-

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