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Archive for March, 2009

In today’s day and age advances in medicine have permitted us to extend and preserve life more than ever before.  However, for most that means that there is a period of time — especially as we age — when we will live with a disability.  Thus, there needs to be a way of appointing someone to help us with legal and financial decisions when we are not able.  This is especially important when long-term care costs threaten to drain an estate that could be saved with the proper grant of authority.   

A “power of attorney” is the most common way of appointing someone to help with important legal and financial decisions.  It is a written document wherein one can appoint someone to handle some or all of their legal and financial affairs.  The document is based on agency law.  You (the one appointing) are called the “principal” and the one appointed is called the “agent”.   (more…)

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Many of Michigan’s senior citizens who spent their working years employed by larger corporations have the comfort of knowing that they are covered by good quality health insurance.  This insurance is supposed to last well into their retirement years or even for the rest of their lives.  However, in an unexpected offshoot of the current financial crisis, many large companies are threatening to cancel the health coverage of their retirees in an effort to cut costs.  Also, seniors can be caught off-guard when companies file for bankruptcy and eliminate their retirement benefits entirely.   

This frightening prospect has already happened to retirees in some of America’s largest corporations.  Some municipalities are threatening to follow their example.  Paul Miller, the Executive Director of the national retiree advocacy group, ProtectSeniors.org, says that the situation is as dire as the financial crisis in the auto industry, Wall Street and America’s banks. (more…)

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I want to comment on an exciting area of Elder Law that is not well known: Veterans’ Benefits. Why is this area so significant? Because roughly a third of seniors who are candidates for long-term care are either veterans or widows of veterans. None of these persons wants to go to a nursing home if they need only moderately skilled long-term-care. However, Medicaid will only pay for a nursing home, it will not pay for an assisted living facility. As a consequence, many feel they have no choice. Nevertheless, most of these veterans do not realize that they can qualify for an “Aid & Attendance” pension. According to the National Care Planning Council, approximately one-third of all seniors over 65 could be eligible for “Aid & Attendance” benefits, but only about thirty percent of those are actually receiving it. The amounts obtainable are these: monthly payment for an individual: $1519 ($18,234 annually),  monthly payment for a married couple: $1801 ($21,618 annually), and monthly payment for a surviving spouse of a veteran: $976 ($11,712 annually).  Assisted living centers typically charge between $2000-$4000 per month. Thus, many of these persons would not be able to afford the monthly rate without the veterans’ benefit (because they have only $500-$1500 in Social Security and pension). With these Aid & Attendance benefits, most can afford the assisted living care they need. (more…)

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