Elder Law Articles

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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Turning 65? You may need sign up for Medicare Part B

If you are paying for your own insurance, you may not think you need to sign up for Medicare when you turn 65. However, not signing up for Medicare Part B right away can cost you down the road. You can first sign up for Medicare during your Initial Enrollment Period, which is the seven-month period that includes the three months before the month you become eligible (usually age 65), the month you are eligible and

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When inheriting real estate, consider your options

Inheriting real estate from your parents can be both a blessing and a burden. Figuring out what to do with the property can be overwhelming, so it is good to carefully think through all of your choices. There are three main options when you inherit real estate: move in, sell, or rent. Which one you choose will depend on your current living situation, whether or not you have siblings, the state of your finances, whether the

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How does the Coronavirus Relief Act affect seniors?

In addition to authorizing direct payments to most Americans, including seniors, the $2 trillion economic relief package that Congress passed to help Americans deal with the devastating financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic changes required retirement plan distributions for this year and includes Medicare-related provisions. Signed into law on March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided a one-time direct payment of $1,200 to individuals earning less than $75,000 per year

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Three changes you may want to make to your estate plan now

The unique aspects of the coronavirus pandemic may make it advisable to review your current estate plan. Language in estate planning documents that is fine under normal conditions may cause problems for you and your loved ones if you fall ill during the pandemic. Look over the following documents to see if they may need updating: Living will. A living will is a document that you can use to give instructions regarding treatment if you become terminally

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States may not terminate Medicaid benefits during coronavirus pandemic

Access to affordable medical care is especially important during a health crisis. One of the bills passed by Congress in response to the coronavirus pandemic increases Medicaid funding for states and includes a provision preventing states that accept the additional money from terminating Medicaid benefits while the current emergency continues. The Secretary of Health and Human Services has declared a nationwide public health emergency for COVID-19. In light of that, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

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Know the difference between wellness visit and physical

Confusing a wellness visit with a physical could be very costly. As part of the Affordable Care Act, Medicare beneficiaries receive a free annual wellness visit. At this visit, your doctor, nurse practitioner or physician assistant will generally: ask you to fill out a health risk assessment questionnaire; update your medical history and current prescriptions; measure your height, weight, blood pressure and body mass index; provide personalized health advice; create a screening schedule for the next 5

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What to look for in a prepaid funeral plan

In addition to making things easier for your family during a difficult time, prepaid funeral plans can also be a good way to spend down money in order to qualify for Medicaid. But the plans come with risks. Consumers lose millions of dollars every year when prepaid funeral funds are misspent or misappropriated. A funeral provider could mishandle, mismanage or embezzle the funds. Some go out of business before the need for the prepaid funeral arises. Others

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Understanding how assets are distributed in a will

When creating an estate plan, the main decision is how your assets will be distributed after you pass away. The terms “per stirpes” and “per capita” become important when your descendants include children and grandchildren. In a will, these terms are often written as “I leave my [fill in the blank] to my descendants, per stirpes (or per capita).” Per stirpes Distributing your assets per stirpes (sometimes called “by right of representation”) means that your assets

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Important to know how Medicaid could treat your home

Nursing home residents do not automatically have to sell their homes in order to qualify for Medicaid, but that doesn’t mean the house is completely protected. The state will likely put a lien on the house while the resident is living and attempt to recover the property after the resident has passed away. Medicaid (known as MassHealth in Massachusetts and Medi-Cal in California) will not count a nursing home resident’s home as an asset when determining

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