Estate Planning During Uncertain Times

Author

Bellomo & Associates

For more information about the author, click to view their website: Bellomo & Associates

Posted on

Nov 03, 2023

Book/Edition

Pennsylvania - South Central PA

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It is very easy with everything that is going on in our country and our world right now, to be concerned about the pandemic and start to think about your own mortality and planning. 

While we recommend planning at all times to always be prepared ahead of time, this certainly provides a reminder for us to stop and take a look at our current situation to make sure that we have at least our basics in place.  

Powers of Attorney

Each person should have a financial power of attorney that authorizes another individual to make financial decisions on their behalf in case they cannot.  They could be unable to because of an illness or an incapacitation or simply just not in town, or maybe they are traveling out of the country. 

We cannot stress the importance of having a financial power of attorney in place to avoid the necessity for guardianship.  We have discussed in detail in other blogs and articles about powers of attorney and guardianships, and we would encourage you to please take a further look at those, and why it would become important to have a financial power of attorney in place.

A medical power of attorney is an essential document that authorizes another individual to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are not capable or able to make those medical decisions for yourself.  Although there is a healthcare statute in the state of Pennsylvania that will name the next of kin to be able to make those healthcare decisions in case you cannot, we stress the importance enough of having this document in place to ensure that the people that you want making those decisions can make them without unintended people being named as well. 

When you reach the end-of-life stage it's also important that you have in place a living will.  If the living will is coupled in one single document with a medical power of attorney, that is also considered an advanced healthcare directive.  We recommend having these documents in place to ease the burden on your family.  This will save them from having to make those end-of-life decisions if two qualified physicians put in writing that there is no realistic hope of recovery – that you will always remain end-stage medical or vegetative, comatose, permanently unconscious, or terminally ill. 

There is certainly a lot that goes into the medical definition, but plainly stated, it is imperative to decide for yourself how you would like those decisions to be made rather than to put the burden on a loved one to feel like they have to play God or pull the plug on their family member.  

Review  Your Current Documents, Including Beneficiaries, to Ensure They Meet Your Needs and Desires  

We encourage anyone who has planning in place to not assume that it is up to date or that it is what their current wishes are, things change over time.  It is also important to review all of your beneficiary designations on accounts, such as life insurance policies, annuities, retirement accounts, etc.  Often, the most overlooked item is reviewing the beneficiary designations of an account, and it is probably the most critical thing that can screw up an estate plan. 

Please make it a priority to review your documents to make sure they accurately reflect your wishes.  If you have questions or need to make some changes we would be more than happy to see you at one of our workshops to discuss the different documents and how they can assist you and your family.  We certainly understand if there is any anxiety or stress that you are experiencing but encourage you to be prepared no matter what, which will give you a sense of comfort and security.  If you would like further information about this topic or to learn more about our firm, please visit us at www.bellomoassociates.com or call the office at 717-845-5390.

 

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Maximizing Medicaid: How Asset Protection Plans Can Help You Save Money on Long-Term Care

Medicaid is a government program that provides health coverage to individuals, and it is the leading payor of skilled nursing facility care in the United States due to the high cost of such care. Many people mistakenly believe that Medicaid is only for those with minimal resources, but an asset protection plan can help you protect your assets and still qualify for long-term Medicaid benefits.Asset protection planning uses exemptions that allow you to keep some of your assets. For example, in Pennsylvania, you are allowed to keep $45 of your income per month plus any amount you use to pay for health insurance; the rest of your income must be used to pay for your care. When applying for Medicaid, countable resources include assets such as real estate, cash, investment accounts, retirement accounts, life insurance with a face value greater than $1,500, vehicles, and any business interests. However, you can exempt the house you live in, one vehicle, and your spouse can retain their retirement accounts and anywhere between $29,724 and $148,620 of the joint assets, depending upon the total amount of your combined assets. Anything over this calculated amount of exemptions could be put into an asset protection trust and protected from skilled nursing facility costs.An asset protection plan will allow you to immediately protect a portion of your assets, in addition to the assets that are exempt from Medicaid, for significant immediate savings that begin the moment your plan is fully funded.An asset protection plan consists of an asset protection trust, in which you can control the assets, but cant have direct access to them. Giving up direct access to the assets in the trust keeps creditors and predators away. If you do need access to an asset in the trust, you always have the ability to make distributions to someone other than yourself.Asset protection plans not only protect your assets during life but also provide tremendous value for your loved ones when youre gone.Laws and statutes in the area of long-term care Medicaid are always changing, so its highly recommended to review your options with a local elder law/estate planning attorney. At Bellomo & Associates, we can help you learn more about asset protection plans and how they can benefit you and your family while protecting your legacy from the rapidly rising cost of long-term care. Dont wait lets get your estate plan in place!Are you ready to start protecting your assets and planning for long-term care? Contact Bellomo & Associates today to register for an educational workshop. We can help you create a customized asset protection plan and provide guidance on long-term care Medicaid eligibility and planning. Dont wait until its too latetake action now and secure your financial future.  

Its Not Enough Just to Have Documents

Protecting your health and well-being is a top priority, especially as we get older. One important way to safeguard yourself is by creating a health care power of attorney document. This legal document designates a trusted individual to make health care decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. But as important as creating this document is, its not enough to simply have it you also need to make sure its in the right hands.A recent story shared by a friend highlights just how critical it is to ensure your healthcare power of attorney is given to the appropriate parties. In this case, a woman was acting as the power of attorney for her mother but didnt have the document on hand when her mother needed medical attention. The hospital demanded the document immediately, and in the chaos of the moment, the daughter ended up agreeing to have her mother fill out a new one on the spot.The problem arose when the nurse asked who should be listed as a power of attorney. The daughter suggested including herself and her mothers husband, who had raised her and was like a father to her. But her mother insisted that only her daughter be listed, causing tension and awkwardness between the family members. It was a situation that could have been avoided if the daughter had simply provided the existing document to the hospital.This story underscores the importance of not only creating a healthcare power of attorney but also ensuring that it is given to the appropriate parties. At Bellomo & Associates, we urge our clients to not only create these documents but to also provide copies to their doctors and keep them on file at hospitals. We provide extra copies so family members can have them as well. Taking these steps can help you avoid any unnecessary stress or heartache should an emergency situation arise.Creating a healthcare power of attorney is a smart move, but its only half the battle. To ensure that your wishes are carried out properly, its crucial to share the document with your healthcare providers and loved ones. Dont let a lack of preparation cause unnecessary tension or problems for your family take the necessary steps to protect yourself and your loved ones.Please give us a call at 717-845-5390 and well set you up with a free consultation or register for a free workshop by clicking here.  

My Journey in Life Care Planning

I have been an Estate Planning and Elder Law Attorney for approximately 20 years. I have been fortunate enough to obtain the designation to become a Certified Elder Law Attorney and to receive a Master of Law in Taxation and a certificate in Estate Planning. There is no doubt that finding Elder Law as a career was the best thing that allowed me to go to work every day, excited to assist people and help them. Over the years, I have known a bit about Life Care Planning and have admired it from a distance. The bottom line was I did not understand it nor truly understand what the purpose was and how it could help clients. Over time, I became frustrated in meetings when clients would ask me if their mom was safe to be at home, or what modifications would need to be done to keep mom at home, or how long could mom stay in the assisted living, and under what circumstances would she then have to move on to another level of care. I did not know the answers to many of these questions and, although I did have referral sources, I felt inadequate, or disappointed, that I was not able to help the client directly. I have also known Meg Motter for many years. Meg is a Masters prepared Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has been in the industry for most of her career. I knew I always wanted to work with Meg, but unfortunately, the timing and the money never worked out until the Spring of 2021. When the opportunity presented itself and she was available, I acted immediately and, without even truly understanding the Life Care Planning model, jumped in with two feet, knowing I had the right person. Now that our firm is knee-deep in Life Care Planning, there is no doubt that it was the best decision that I have made, mostly for the clients that we serve. The assistance that she can provide, which we were not able to offer previously, is astounding. I believe that everything happens for a reason and, although it took several years for us to embrace the model and to have the right person, there is no doubt that it is the right thing for our clients, and I am excited to share everything about the life care planning model to anyone who will listen. Monthly Life Care Planning Workshops are offered at both our York and Lancaster offices. If you would like to learn more about Life Care Planning and our Client Care Advocate, Meg Motter, LCSW, CDP please reach out to the office at (717) 208-4546.

Local Services By This Author

Bellomo & Associates

Estate Planning 3198 E Market St, York, Pennsylvania, 17402

We Educate so what happened to the Bellomo Family doesn't happen to yours!Our firms mission is to ensure that you and your family never needlessly, painfully suffer. Every team member has a personal story that has brought us here to advocate for you and your family. We want to replace your burden with peace of mind. We have the answers, but more important, we have your back.Bellomo & Associates, LLC advises Individuals and families, business owners, senior citizens, and their families about the estate planning and elder law challenges facing them today. For seniors and their families facing the issues of aging, or for those of any age who wish to protect their familys financial future, we counsel clients and provide solutions on Asset Protection; Specials Needs Trusts; Wills; Trust Design; Medicaid; Estate Planning; Nursing Home Matters; and Estate Administration. For our clients who own businesses, our team assists them with succession planning for their business in conjunction with their estate planning.  We have office locations in York, PA, and Lancaster, PA.We offer FREE workshops!  Our workshops are fun and entertaining ways to learn! We provide you with the information to decide what is right for you. If after attending, you decide we arent the right fit no problem! Youll never feel any pressure from our team.