Greetings - Welcome to our firm's Blog! Curious to learn more about topics of interest in regards to Estate Planning, Medicaid Planning/Asset Protection and other elder law matters in general? Be sure to check out our online blog! 

To see a listing of our website blog articles tagged and sorted by their own specific topics,  just click on their corresponding 'Blog Categories' links below, located directly under the 'Contact Us Today' field on the lower right of this page. (If viewing this on a desktop or laptop computer.)

Prefer to listen to podcasts on the go instead? Our newest media offering from the firm is an ongoing podcast put out by Robert and Cricket Haley, called 'Aging Intelligently'. 

Welcome to Aging Intelligently, where we walk with you down the path of getting older and together, climb those obstacles that seem insurmountable. Information and preparation can change your perception of aging.

Certified Elder Law Attorney, Robert W. Haley, and his wife, Cricket, a Certified Elder Care Manager, share their journey from fat to fabulous. They discuss their research, personal experience and interview other experts in the fields of Elder Law, Care Management, Finance, Nutrition, Fitness, and even Travel, so you too, can be holistically well and secure wherever life's path may lead.

*This podcast is accessible through many applications, including AppleSpotify, Anchor, Breaker and Google podcastsSubscribes Welcome!

These seniors are certainly born to ride!

In his nearly 50 years as an avid motorcyclist, Grady Howard has roared down the tobacco roads of North Carolina and through the mountains of old Kentucky, all with his wife, Barbara, tucked behind him. But with a balky left leg and myriad other maladies, he knew the only way to stay wild was to add a wheel.

“I told my wife it was either trike it or park it,” said Mr. Howard, 74, wearing a cowboy hat and a bright yellow safety shirt. “And she said, ‘Trike it.’ ”

Read the full story here.

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Congratulations are in order for my friend and colleague, Sandra Chinn-Gilstrap for joining Woods Rogers in Danville:

Sandra T. Chinn-Gilstrap, known for her trial practice and advocacy of family and domestic-law clients as well as mental health patients, has joined the Danville office of Woods Rogers PLC, continuing a life-long love of – and devotion to – the City on the Dan.

Formerly a solo practitioner, she joins Woods Rogers as Of Counsel effective Oct. 1. In addition to running her own firm since 1995, she has served on the first Supreme Court of Virginia Mental Health Rule Task Force Committee, which promotes professional standards for mental health cases and drafts statewide rules.

Chinn-Gilstrap joins one of the most recognized and experienced legal teams in Virginia and welcomes her existing clients to Woods Rogers.

View the full press release here.

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I am not surprised by these findings.  Many people have a misunderstanding of what Medicare will and will not cover!  This is just another reason why asset protection planning is so important!

Many U.S. seniors have trouble saving enough money to handle health care costs beyond what Medicare covers, a new study suggests. As a result, a significant portion of their savings and other assets go to paying their end-of-life costs when they die.

In the last five years of life, out-of-pocket co-payments and deductibles, and the high cost of home care services, assisted living and long-term nursing home care cause 25 percent of seniors to spend more than their total non-housing assets, the study found.

"The biggest problem for many families is covering long-term care," said study author Dr. Amy Kelley, an assistant. Read more here.

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Premiums aren't expected to rise next year for Medicare's prescription-drug benefit.

The Health and Human Services Department said Monday that it expects the average premium to hold steady at $30 per month. It would be the third consecutive year that premiums for the drug benefit haven't changed. 
Flat premiums help highlight the savings that seniors have seen because of President Obama's healthcare law. The law provides a discount for seniors who hit the Medicare "doughnut hole" — the coverage gap in which seniors have to pay for their prescriptions out-of-pocket.

Those discounts have already saved seniors nearly $4 billion, HHS said. Rising premiums might muddle the picture somewhat, but flat premiums mean that the discounts are the only price change seniors will see.

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Recently I had a client ask me about the possibility of donating ones body to science. This client was already an organ donor, but was wondering about a donation of the entire body.  Well, as it just so happens, Virginia has a program for that: the State Anatomical Program of the Virginia Department of Health.

You give many gifts in your lifetime but there is one special gift that will make a significant and lasting contribution: the gift of donating your body to medical science through the Virginia Department of Health’s State Anatomical Program.

Donation is a gift of education to the many hundreds of doctors, nurses and other health professionals studying in Virginia’s medical schools, colleges and universities who must learn how the human body is constructed before they can successfully treat living patients. No models, films or books can substitute for the actual study of the human body itself.

VDH’s State Anatomical Program is the only entity in Virginia authorized to receive donations of human bodies for scientific study. The primary mission of the State Anatomical Program is to educate health professionals providing human donors for the teaching of anatomy and surgery and for medical research.

Every Virginian has the opportunity to make a valuable and generous gift to the living - the gift of his or her body after death for study and research in medical science.   

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If you have questions on long term care, the Kaiser Foundation website is a tremendous resource!  Here is a tutorial they created to explain long term care financing.  If after watching the vidoe you have questions, please don;t hesitate to make an appointment or drop me an line via the Contact section of the home page.

Presentation:      Long-Term Care 101

Presenter:          Jhamirah Howard - for the Kaiser Family Foundation

URL Link 

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If you think a Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) is just a form you fill out with your names and names of your family members you want to help you in case of incapacity, think again!  As I always tell my clients, a DPOA is a powerful legal document and it's not just a form!

Reversing a trial court, a New York appeals court holds that an attorney-in-fact with authority over estate transactions has the power to amend an irrevocable trust that was created before the execution of the power of attorney. Matter of Matter of Perosi v LiGreci (N.Y. Sup. Ct., App. Div., 2nd Dept., No. 2011-02446, July 11, 2012).

Nicholas LiGreci created an irrevocable trust to benefit his three children, and named his brother as trustee.  Later, Mr. LiGreci named his daughter Linda Perosi as his attorney-in-fact under a durable power of attorney. The power of attorney granted Ms. Perosi authority over estate transactions and the power to designate the trustee of any trust.  According to New York statute, an irrevocable trust may be amended or revoked by the trust's creator with the written consent of the trust beneficiaries.  As attorney-in-fact and with the consent of the other beneficiaries, Ms. Perosi executed an amendment to the trust removing the trustee and naming her son as trustee.

After Mr. LiGreci died, Ms. Perosi and her son filed for an accounting. The trustee moved to set aside the amendment. The trial court granted the motion, holding that the power of attorney did not give Ms. Perosi the power to amend estate planning devices that were created before the execution of the power of attorney. Ms. Perosi and her son appealed.

The Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, reverses holding that the attorney-in-fact has the authority to amend the trust. According to the court, the attorney-in-fact was the alter ego of the creator; therefore "because the creator was alive and had not revoked the power of attorney at the time the amendment was executed, the actions of the attorney-in-fact were within the bounds of her authority."

Click here for the full text of this decision.

So when we sit down to discuss powers of attorney, we need to pay special attention to the specific powers you grant your agent!

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The Elder Law Bar was shocked a few months ago when a federal court held that even though an annuity was purchased in accordance with the Medicaid Manual guidelines, it was a penalty transfer if purchased after one spouse enters long term care.  That court held that the Community Spouse Resource Allowance was the sole provision and that if an annuity was purchased out of "spenddown funds" it caused a penalty.

Thankfully the appeal court did not agree!

Reversing a district court, a U.S. court of appeals holds that an annuity is an unavailable resource even if it is purchased in addition to the community spouse resource allowance, and that there is no transfer penalty for the couple's purchase of the annuity prior to a determination of Medicaid eligibility. Morris v. Oklahoma Dept. of Human Services (10th Cir., No. 10-6241, July 9, 2012). 

When Oklahoma resident Glenda Morris applied for Medicaid benefits, she and her husband, Leroy, had assets totaling $107,812. The state determined that Mr. Morris' community spouse resource allowance (CSRA) would be $53,906 and that the couple would have to spend down $51,906 for Mrs. Morris to become eligible for Medicaid.  The Morrises purchased burial plots as well as an irrevocable annuity for $41,000 that would provide income to Mr. Morris over a three-year period.

The state denied benefits, finding that Mrs. Morris could not spend her share of the couple's resources on an annuity payable to Mr. Morris, or in the alternative, that Mrs. Morris was subject to a transfer penalty for transferring to Mr. Morris an amount above his CSRA. After a hearing officer upheld the denial, Mrs. Morris sued the state in federal court, arguing that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' Transmittal 64 provides that resources that are converted into income for the community spouse through the purchase of an annuity are no longer deemed available to the institutionalized spouse.

The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma granted the state's motion for summary judgment, finding that federal law prohibits the community spouse from purchasing, after an initial determination of eligibility, an annuity above that spouse's  CSRA. According to the court, Transmittal 64 refers only to transfers made before an eligibility determination.  Mr. Morris appealed as personal representative of his wife’s estate.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit reverses, ruling that "the purchase of a qualifying annuity renders resources unavailable to the institutionalized spouse even if the annuity is purchased in addition to the community spouse's CSRA."  The court holds that qualifying annuities and the CSRA are "separate provisions [that] create two different mechanisms by which a Medicaid applicant can render resources unavailable.  The statute does not require an applicant to pick one or the other." Distinguishing between an "initial determination of eligibility" and "after an individual has been found to be eligible for Medicaid," the court finds that no transfer penalty applies "to qualifying annuities purchased prior to a determination that the institutionalized spouse is eligible for benefits."  The court remands to the district court to resolve outstanding issues concerning the timing of the Morrises’ application relative to the annuity purchase.

Click here for the full text of this decision.

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This story from the Eagle Tribune reminds us that just because you have a Caretaker or a Sitter coming in to the home of your loved one, that is just the beginning of your due diligence.  Once hired, someone must be responsible for supervision and oversight!  Just as you must take actions to be involved in the nursing home care of an elder, that may be even more important when the care is provided in the home.

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As you read this story, realize that there is help available.  Through our Life Care Planning service our Elder Care Coordinator (ECC) can not only help you get the care your loved one needs, the ECC can also make visits to the home to provide oversight and make sure all is well.  This service is perfect for parents whose children have moved away from the area.  Our ECC can keep them informed as to their loved ones care no mater where they live! 

Now that's peace of mind!

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As I read daily to keep up with what is new in the world of elder law, one trend that I am noticing is the trend toward what some bamks and financial institutions are calling "elder care".  Here in my firm we call it Life Care Planning.  According to the Life Care Planning Law Firm Association:  Life Care Planning is a holistic, elder-centered approach to the practice of law that helps families respond to every challenge caused by chronic illness or disability of an elderly loved one. The goal of Life Care Planning is to promote and maintain the good health, safety, well-being, and quality of life of elders and their families. Elders and their families get access to a wider variety of options for care as well as knowledgeable guidance from a team of compassionate advisors who help them make the right choices about every aspect of their loved one's well-being.

US News & World Report recently carried an article on the subject here.

At my firm, we have an Elder Care Coordinator (ECC) on staff so we can assess the needs of an elder and then make action recommendations and then follow-up to ensure the plan is put into place.  Our ECC educated family members on caregiving issues, long twerm care and watch to look for if your loved on is in the nursing home.  Life Crae Planning is a service I began to offer when I saw the value it gave to my clients!

If you have a loved on that may benefit from the services of an Elder Care Coordinator, please give us a call as set up a Life Care Planning consultation.

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One of the first comparison tools that rates long term care facilities was at the Medicare website.  Nursing Home Compare has detailed information about every Medicare and Medicaid-certified nursing home in the country. Before you get started, you or your family member may have other long-term care choices like community-based services, home care, or assisted living depending on your needs and resources.

Remember, these are just tools.  We urge our clients to visit the facilities and talk to the staff.  Our Elder Care Coordinator can help you screen facilities through our Life Care Planning services.

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