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Elder Law Articles

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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Maximizing Social Security survivor’s benefits

Social Security survivor’s benefits provide a safety net to widows and widowers. But to get the most out of the benefit, you need to know the right time to claim. While you can claim survivor’s benefits as early as age 60, if you claim benefits before your full retirement age, your benefits will be permanently reduced. If you claim benefits at your full retirement age, you will receive 100 percent of your spouse’s benefit or, if

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Getting paid as a family caregiver through Medicaid

Caring for an ailing family member is difficult work, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be unpaid work. There are programs available that allow Medicaid recipients to hire family members as caregivers.  All 50 states have programs that provide pay to family caregivers. The programs vary by state, but are generally available to Medicaid recipients, although there are also some non-Medicaid programs.  Medicaid’s program began as “cash and counseling,” but is now often called “self-directed,” “consumer-directed”

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Understanding Medicare’s hospice benefit

Medicare’s hospice benefit covers any care that is reasonable and necessary for easing the course of a terminal illness. It is one of Medicare’s most comprehensive benefits and can be extremely helpful to both a terminally ill individual and his or her family, but it is little understood and underutilized. Understanding what is offered ahead of time may help Medicare beneficiaries and their families make the difficult decision to choose hospice if the time comes. The

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Estate planning and retirement considerations for late-in-life parents

It is becoming more common for people to be parents at an older age, partly because of changing cultural mores and advances in fertility treatment. Comedian and author Steve Martin had his first child at age 67. Singer Billy Joel, 70, welcomed his third daughter in 2017. Janet Jackson had a child at age 50. But later-in-life parents have some special estate planning and retirement considerations. For older parents, the first consideration is to have an

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Charitable giving under the new tax law

The new tax law makes it harder to claim a tax deduction for charitable contributions. Charitable giving should not be only about getting a tax break, but if you want to reap a tax benefit from your contributions, there are a couple of options. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, enacted in December 2017, nearly doubled the standard deduction to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for couples. This means that if your charitable contributions along with

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Prenups as an estate planning tool

As more and more people marry more than once, prenuptial agreements have become an important estate planning tool. Without a prenuptial agreement, your new spouse may be able to invalidate your existing estate plan. Such agreements are especially helpful if you have children from a previous marriage or important heirlooms that you want to keep on your side of the family. A prenuptial agreement can be used in a second marriage when both parties have children.

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Prevent mistaken Medicare denials

Have you or a loved one been denied Medicare-covered services because you’re “not improving”? Many health care providers are still unaware that Medicare is required to cover skilled nursing and home care even if a patient is not showing improvement. If you are denied coverage based on this outdated standard, you have the right to appeal. For decades, Medicare applied the so-called “improvement” standard to determine whether residents were entitled to coverage of particular care. The

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Use a lawyer for Medicaid planning

Many seniors and their families don’t use a lawyer to plan for long-term care or Medicaid, often because they’re afraid of the cost. However, an attorney can help you save money in the long run and make sure you’re getting the best care for your loved one. Instead of proceeding based on what you’ve heard from others, doing nothing, or enlisting a non-lawyer referred by a nursing home, you can hire an elder law attorney. Here

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Is it legal to put a camera in a nursing home room?

Technological advances have made it easier to stay connected with family. That includes the ability to install cameras in a loved one’s nursing home room, but these so-called “granny cams” have legal and privacy implications. The benefit of the surveillance camera is the ability to monitor your family member’s care. Being able to observe care from afar can give family members peace of mind that their loved one is being well taken care of, and can

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