As you all know we are moving our Danville office to 742 Main Street, just up from the Post Office.  We had set an appointment with Verizon for this afternoon to activate the phone lines and internet in the new building.  Everything regarding the move has been planned around this Verizon appointment; new phone system, computer hook up, the moving of furniture, closing our office for two days to move,  everything!   

Today at 2:00 pm we received an email that the appointment was cancelled.  No reason stated, just cancelled.  Cricket then began a series of phone calls that just ended a few minutes ago.  Here is a summary of Verizon Customer No Service:

1.  "We don't know why it was cancelled."

2.  "We couldn't possibly have a technician come out until Wednesday of next week."

3.  "If you want it done quicker, we understand if you want to go to another carrier."

4.  "We can't turn the call forwarding back on at your current office, there is a disconnect order in effect."

This is the exact opposite of the service we seek to provide to our clients and their families!  So if you call the Danville office and cannot get thorough, please call the Bassett office at 276 629 5381.


Medicaid Myth #4: I will have to use my income to pay for my spouse's care in a nursing home. 

In Virginia, all income in the name of the community spouse is protected for his/her use. In addition, the healthy spouse may be entitled to even some of their spouse's income if needed for their support. The spousal allowance can be more than $2,900.00 a month depending on the healthy spouse's support/maintenance costs.

If you know of anyone who is in or going in the nursing home, please tell them to call us or as a Certified Elder Law Attorney as soon as possible. 

One of the services we offer our LifeCare clients is Social Security planning.  Seldom does claiming your Social Security at age 62 make sense.  Yet, there are times when claiming before full retirement makes sense.

 This article from U.S. News and World Report is a good summary.  If you have a question on Social Security or want information on how to be a LifeCare Client, give us a call.

Covering the costs of long-term care can be confusing.  Many people have no idea they can become eligible for Medicaid!   It is important to know the facts since there are many misconceptions about the program

 3) My spouse will become impoverished or we will have to get divorced for me to qualify.

While all assets held by either spouse are considered available for Medicaid purposes, Medicaid does offer protections for spouses (as well as dependent or disabled children, who remain in the community). Spouses are entitled to retain as much as ½ of the couple's assets up to a capped amount (approximately $119,000.00). In addition, spouses may continue to live in the couple's home. In some cases, an experienced elder law attorneys may be able to advise couples on ways to protect even more resources.

What is a Certified Elder Law Attorney ELA), and Why Does it Matter

Robert W. Haley is one of only 15 attorneys in Virginia who have achieved the status of certified elder law attorney (CELA). He is the only CELA west of Richmond practicing in Southside Virginia.  But what does that certification mean.  Certifications are a dime a dozen aren't they? 

It’s true that many senior certifications are pretty much meaningless. They may signify nothing more than that the advisor took a marketing course and paid a fee to become "certified". The risk that consumers may be mislead into believing that the advisor has some special knowledge or ability is not insubstantial. A provision in the recently enacted Wall Street  Reform Law and Consumer Protection Act orders the Comptroller General to conduct a study of "the possible risk posed to investors and other consumers by individuals who otherwise use titles, designations, or marketing materials in a misleading way in connection with the delivery of financial advice." (Section 919C(b)(4)).  

Covering the costs of long-term care can be confusing.  Many people have no idea they can become eligible for Medicaid!   It is important to know the facts since there are many misconceptions about the program.

2) I can only "spend down" my assets on medical and nursing home bills.

In fact, attorneys specializing in elder law can often give valuable advice on purchasing non-countable assets which can benefit you or your spouse, for instance, pre-paying for burial arrangements and making home repairs. In addition, you may be able to make certain transfers to family members. 

If you or a friend or loved one needs long-term care coverage, we can screen their assets to see if they can become eligible for coverage.  Call for an appointment today!

Medicare does not cover the cost of extended nursing home care. Therefore, if you or a loved one is facing the possibility of a prolonged nursing home stay, other payment options must be considered. Most people entering nursing homes today do not have long term care insurance. Since private payment can average over $80,000.00 a year in our area, most residents are forced to turn to Medicaid at some point. It is important to know the facts since there are many misconceptions about the program.

Ten Common Myths:

 1) I will have to spend everything I have and sell all my property to qualify.

You don't have to be completely destitute to qualify for Medicaid. While the limit for "countable" assets is very low ($2,000.00 or $4,000.00), there are many assets that are considered excluded. These include a car, personal belongings, and some life insurance or a burial plot. If you have a spouse or dependent children, then the house they live in and other property is protected.  Further we utilize proven strategies to protect your assets form the costs of long term care!

Next Myth: I have to spend down my assets in order to qualify for Medicaid. 

We recently had a potential client that had been referred to us by a financial planner.  Evidently, it is the custom of this firm to give three names of estate planning attorneys so as not to favor one over the other.  The referred client made an appointment and then later called back to cancel her appointment because one of the others attorneys would do her documents cheaper.

I just want to point out that as Southside Virginia's only Certified Elder Law Attorney, I also have an eye toward the need for asset protection in the future, not just the drafting of estate planning documents.  How this difference is routinely manifested is seen in three ways:

It is with mixed emotions that we announce the resignation of my associate, Jessica S. Henson from the Estate & Elder Law Center.  Jessica has practiced law here with us ever since her graduation from law school and has been a valuable member of our firm.  However, our loss is Henry County's gain as she will become an Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney in the Commonwealth's Attorneys office.

It has been a pleasure watching Jessica begin her law career and grow as an attorney.  She is a very diligent lawyer and always gave her clients the best representation possible. I want to thank Jessica for her years with us and wish her and her family nothing but the best! 

As I conclude an estate planning consult, I always segue the conversation toward asset protection.  Estate planning addresses death and incapacity, but only asset protection planning addresses the need for long-term care due to failing health.  I always try to warn clients of events that can cause problems for them down the line.  The biggest potential problem? The hiring of caregivers in the home.

Now, let me preface this by saying that if you hire an agency such as Privacare, Team Nurse, Commonwealth Home Health care, etc.  there will be no problems.  However, if you wish to hire an individual, there are two potential problems: Taxes and the IRS and Medicaid eligibility.

Clients ask me all the time how best to protect their assets from the rising costs of long-term care.  That could lead to a conversation about irrevocable trusts, qualified irrevocable annuities, Medicaid asset protection trusts, etc.  But there is one simple act everyone can do to potentially save tens of thousands of dollars:  consolidate your assets in one or two locations.

When we are involved in "crisis planning", someone has already been admitted to the long tern care facility and are paying the bill privately.  That bill could be anywhere from $5500 to over $8000 dollars a month!  Thus, time is of the essence in re-structuring your assets to secure Medicaid eligibility.   The first thing we do is create a List of Assets. This is a list of everything you own: real estate, bank accounts, IRAs or 401Ks, insurance policies, certificates of deposit, etc. If each asset is being held in a different institution, the process of restructuring can be complex, tedious and most devastating, time-consuming!