Latest Blog Posts

Proving Age Discrimination Is Difficult

Posted on: June 6th, 2017
As baby boomers continue to work past retirement age, age discrimination lawsuits are becoming more common. ...

New Protections for Nursing Home Residents

Posted on: June 6th, 2017
New Obama-era rules designed to give nursing home residents more control of their care are gradually going into effect. ...

The Use of Immediate Annuities in Medicaid Planning for Married Couples

Posted on: June 6th, 2017
Immediate annuities can be a useful tool to protect the spouse of a nursing home resident who applies for Medicaid....

DOL Announces That Fiduciary Rule Will Go Into Effect June 9

Posted on: June 6th, 2017
After initially delaying a rule intended to prevent financial advisers from steering their clients to bad retirement investments, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced that the rule will go into effect on June 9, 2017, but its future is still unclear....

Retirement Confidence Declines for Workers, Rises for Retirees

Posted on: April 22nd, 2017
In its 27th annual Retirement Confidence Survey, the Employee Benefit Research Institute discovered that 60% of today's workers feel very or somewhat confident in having enough money to retire comfortably, down from 64% in 2016. ...

New Book Offers Guidance Through the Medicare Maze

Posted on: April 8th, 2017
Medicare is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, it provides guaranteed coverage for Americans over age 65 or who are disabled, and the program has improved the health of millions since it was created in 1965....

Aging Drivers and the Law

Posted on: April 5th, 2017
For better or for worse, our current culture is very car-dependant; in many places, cars are the only convenient link to the outside world....

Hospitals Now Must Provide Notice About Observation Status

Posted on: April 3rd, 2017
All hospitals must now give Medicare recipients notice when they are in the hospital under observation status. The notice requirement is part of a law enacted in 2015 but that just took effect. ...

Four Provisions People Forget to Include in Their Estate Plan

Posted on: April 1st, 2017
Even if you've created an estate plan, are you sure you included everything you need to? There are certain provisions that people often forget to put in in a will or estate plan that can have a big impact on your family....

What bond ratings do agencies use?

Posted on: March 20th, 2017
Bond rating agencies typically use similar scales, and it may be helpful to understand how to compare ratings from multiple agencies....

What are bond ratings?

Posted on: March 18th, 2017
Bond ratings are an essential tool when considering fixed-income investments. Ratings provide a professional assessment of credit risk, or the risk of default, which can be measured to some degree by analyzing the bond issuer's financial condition and creditworthiness....

Spring Cleaning Your Finances

Posted on: March 17th, 2017
The arrival of spring often signifies a time of renewal, a reminder to dust off the cobwebs and get rid of the dirt and grime that have built up throughout the winter season. And while most spring cleaning projects are likely focused on your home, you could take this time to evaluate and clean up your personal finances as well....

Converting Retirement Savings to Retirement Income

Posted on: March 16th, 2017
You've been saving diligently for years, and now it's time to think about how to convert the money in your traditional 401(k)s (or similar workplace savings plans) into retirement income. But hold on, not so fast. You may need to take a few steps first....

Four Ways to Double the Power of Your Tax Refund

Posted on: March 15th, 2017
The IRS expects that more than 70% of taxpayers will receive a refund in 2017.¹ What you do with a tax refund is up to you, but here are some ideas that may make your refund twice as valuable....

Trump Delays Rule That Retirement Advisers Put Their Client's Interests Ahead of Their Own

Posted on: March 5th, 2017
President Trump signed an executive order calling for a review of the so-called fiduciary rule, which was intended to prevent financial advisers from steering their clients to bad retirement investments by requiring advisers to act in the best interests of their clients....

Costs of Some New Long-Term Care Insurance Policies Rise in Latest Survey

Posted on: March 4th, 2017
A couple who are both age 60 and who purchase new long-term care insurance coverage can expect to pay between 6 and 9 percent more compared to a year ago according to the 2017 Long Term Care Insurance Price Index, an annual report from the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, an industry group....

Is It Better to Use Joint Ownership or a Trust to Pass Down a Home?

Posted on: March 3rd, 2017
When leaving a home to your children, you can avoid probate by using either joint ownership or a revocable trust, but which is the better method?...

Things to Remember at Tax Time

Posted on: March 1st, 2017
Tax day, which is April 18th in 2017, is approaching and it is time to begin crossing T's and dotting I's in preparation for paying taxes....

Due Date Approaches for 2016 Federal Income Tax Returns

Posted on: February 20th, 2017
Tax filing season is here again. If you haven't done so already, you'll want to start pulling things together — that includes getting your hands on a copy of last year's tax return and gathering W-2s, 1099s, and deduction records....

Why Diversification Matters

Posted on: February 18th, 2017
When investing, particularly for long-term goals, there is one concept you will likely hear about over and over again — diversification. Why is diversification so important? ...

Why a Life Insurance Claim May Be Denied

Posted on: February 15th, 2017
Life insurance can be an important financial tool for you and your family. For example, life insurance can help replace earnings that would cease upon your death. It can provide a legacy for your children or grandchildren, and can even be used to make a charitable gift after your death....

How can I prepare financially for stormy weather?

Posted on: February 13th, 2017
Floods, tornadoes, torrential rain, lightning, and hail are common events in many parts of the country during the spring and may result in widespread damage. Severe weather often strikes with little warning, so take measures now to protect yourself and your property....

What are some tips for creating a home inventory?

Posted on: February 9th, 2017
Imagine having to remember and describe every item in your home, especially after you've been the victim of a fire, theft, or natural disaster. Rather than relying on your memory, you may want to prepare a home inventory — a detailed record of all your personal property. This record can help substantiate an insurance claim, support a police report when items are stolen, or prove a loss to the IRS. Here are some tips to get started....

Understanding the Tax Consequences of Inheriting a Roth IRA

Posted on: September 1st, 2016
Passing down a Roth IRA can seem like a good idea, but it doesn't always make the most sense. Before converting a traditional IRA into a Roth IRA to benefit your heirs, you should consider the tax consequences....

Jumbo Reverse Mortgages Are Increasingly Available for High-Value Homes

Posted on: August 31st, 2016
Seniors with pricier homes now have an increased ability to get a jumbo reverse mortgage in order to raise cash for retirement. As the housing market has improved, jumbo reverse mortgages are becoming more popular even though they carry some risk....

Revoking a Power of Attorney

Posted on: August 29th, 2016
If for any reason, you become unhappy with the person you have appointed to make decisions for you under a durable power of attorney, you may revoke the power of attorney at any time. There are a few steps you should take to ensure the document is properly revoked....

Medicare Coverage While Traveling Within the U.S.

Posted on: August 22nd, 2016
When people retire they often have more time to travel. Although Medicare coverage is generally not available when beneficiaries are overseas, what about coverage for those exploring our own varied and scenic land?...

Most Caregivers Are Now Entitled to Minimum Wage and Overtime Pay

Posted on: July 14th, 2016
The federal government recently extended minimum wage and overtime protections to most home health care workers. If you are hiring a caregiver for yourself or an elderly loved one, you need to become familiar with the rules, even if the paid caregiver is a family member....

How many types of government savings bonds are there, and what's the difference between them?

Posted on: July 11th, 2016
While the U.S. government has issued 13 types of savings bonds, there are currently only two series available for purchase through the U.S. Treasury Department: Series EE bonds and Series I bonds. U.S. savings bonds are nonmarketable securities, which means you can't resell them unless you're authorized as an issuing or redeeming agent by the U.S. Treasury Department. Savings bonds are guaranteed by the federal government as to the timely payment of principal and interest....

I have matured U.S. savings bonds. Are they still earning interest and, if not, can I roll them over to another savings bond?

Posted on: July 8th, 2016
Once U.S savings bonds have reached maturity, they stop earning interest. Prior to 2004, you could convert your Series E or EE savings bonds for Series HH bonds. This would have allowed you to continue earning tax-deferred interest. However, after August 31, 2004, the government discontinued the exchange of any form of savings bonds for HH bonds, so that option is no longer available....

Called for Jury Duty? You May Be Excused Based on Your Age

Posted on: July 7th, 2016
In many states, seniors have the right to decline jury duty based on their age. ...

What Is Required of an Executor?

Posted on: July 5th, 2016
Being the executor of an estate is not a task to take lightly. An executor is the person responsible for managing the administration of a deceased individual's estate. Although the time and effort involved will vary with the size of the estate, even if you are the executor of a small estate you will have important duties that must be performed correctly or you may be liable to the estate or the beneficiaries....

Finding and Claiming Forgotten Funds

Posted on: July 4th, 2016
As a child, you may have dreamed about finding buried treasure, but you probably realized at an early age that it was unlikely you would discover a chest full of pirate booty. However, the possibility that you have unclaimed funds or other assets waiting for you is not a fantasy. According to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA), $41.7 billion is waiting to be returned by state unclaimed property programs. So how do you find what is owed to you, even if it's not a fortune?...

Beware of Non-Lawyers Offering Medicaid Planning Advice

Posted on: July 1st, 2016
In recent years a number of non-lawyers have started businesses offering Medicaid planning services to seniors. While using one of these services may be cheaper than hiring a lawyer, the overall costs may be far greater....

Q&As on Roth 401(k)s

Posted on: July 1st, 2016
The Roth 401(k) is 10 years old! With 62% of employers now offering this option, it's more likely than not that you can make Roth contributions to your 401(k) plan.1 Are you taking advantage of this opportunity?...

Mid-Year 2016: An Investment Reality Check

Posted on: June 25th, 2016
Market volatility is alive and well in 2016. Low oil prices, China's slowing growth, the prospect of rising interest rates, the strong U.S. dollar, global conflicts--all of these factors have contributed to turbulent markets this year. Many investors may be tempted to review their portfolios only when the markets hit a rough patch, but careful planning is essential in all economic climates. So whether the markets are up or down, reviewing your portfolio with your financial professional can be an excellent way to keep your investments on track, and midway through the year is a good time for a reality check. Here are three questions to consider....

Four Lessons Grandparents and Grandchildren Can Learn Together

Posted on: June 6th, 2016
If you're a grandparent, maintaining a strong connection with your grandchildren is important, but that may become harder over the years as they leave for college or become busier building their careers and families. ...

Four Social Security Myths Debunked

Posted on: June 5th, 2016
There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding the Social Security system. Here are four common myths and the truth about how Social Security works and its future prospects....

Medicaid's Benefits for Assisted Living Facility Residents

Posted on: June 4th, 2016
Assisted living facilities are a housing option for people who can still live independently but who need some assistance. Costs can range from $2,000 to more than $6,000 a month, depending on location. Medicare won’t pay for this type of care, but Medicaid might. Almost all state Medicaid programs will cover at least some assisted living costs for eligible residents....

Ending Our Shameful Segregation of Persons with Disabilities

Posted on: June 3rd, 2016
NAELA supports care in the community and the greatest amount of independence possible for persons of any age with disabilities. By Jason A. Frank, CELA, CAP ...

Nursing Home Care Costs Are Only Slightly Higher in 2016

Posted on: June 2nd, 2016
The median cost of a private nursing home room in the United States has increased slightly to $92,378 a year, up 1.24 percent from 2015, according to Genworth's 2016 Cost of Care survey, which the insurer conducts annually. ...

Beware: Your Estate May Contain an Unnecessary Bypass Trust

Posted on: June 1st, 2016
A once-popular estate planning tool may now cost families more in taxes than it saves. Changes in the estate tax have made the "bypass trust" a less appealing option for many families. If your estate plan includes one, you should reconsider its necessity because it could be doing more harm than good....

What are some tips for organizing financial records?

Posted on: May 31st, 2016
Organizing your financial records is a cyclical process rather than a one-time event. You'll need to set up a system that helps you organize incoming documents and maintain existing files so that you can easily find what you need. Here are a few tips....

How long should I keep financial records?

Posted on: May 29th, 2016
There's a fine line between keeping financial records for a reasonable period of time and becoming a pack rat. ...

Nearing Retirement? Time to Get Focused

Posted on: May 26th, 2016
If you're within 10 years of retirement, you've probably spent some time thinking about this major life change. The transition to retirement can seem a bit daunting, even overwhelming. ...

Understanding Stock Market Indexes

Posted on: May 23rd, 2016
No doubt you've seen headlines reporting that a particular stock index is up or down. But do you know what an index is, and how understanding the nuts and bolts of a specific index may be helpful to you?...

Common Financial Wisdom: Theory vs. Practice

Posted on: May 18th, 2016
In the financial world, there are a lot of rules about what you should be doing. In theory, they sound reasonable. But in practice, it may not be easy, or even possible, to follow them. Let's look at some common financial maxims and why it can be hard to implement them. ...

Can I name a charity as beneficiary of my IRA?

Posted on: May 6th, 2016
Yes, you can name a charity as beneficiary of your IRA, but be sure to understand the advantages and disadvantages....

Can I make charitable contributions from my IRA in 2016?

Posted on: May 4th, 2016
Yes, if you qualify. The law authorizing qualified charitable distributions, or QCDs, has recently been made permanent by the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015. ...

Debt Optimization Strategies

Posted on: May 2nd, 2016
As part of improving your financial situation, you might consider reducing your debt load. A number of strategies can be used to pay off debt. However, before starting any debt payoff strategy (or combination of strategies), be sure you understand the terms of your debts, including interest rates, terms of payment, and any prepayment or other penalties. ...

Projecting a Happy Retirement

Posted on: May 1st, 2016
A 2015 study found that 41% of households headed by someone aged 55 to 64 had no retirement savings, and only about a third of them had a traditional pension. Among households in this age group with savings, the median amount was just $104,000.1...

Chart: Tracking the Fed

Posted on: April 30th, 2016
Although the prime rate has been closely aligned to the federal funds rate over the past 20 years, rates on conventional 30-year fixed mortgages have followed a more independent trajectory, generally trending downward over the period. ...

What is the federal funds rate?

Posted on: April 18th, 2016
In December 2015, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) raised the federal funds target rate to a range of 0.25% to 0.50%, the first shift from the rock-bottom 0% to 0.25% level where it had remained since December 2008....

What's New in the World of Higher Education?

Posted on: April 18th, 2016
If you're a parent or grandparent of a college student or soon-to-be college student, you might be interested to learn what's new in the world of higher education....

When Disaster Strikes: Deducting Casualty Losses

Posted on: April 11th, 2016
Wildfires, tornadoes, storms, landslides, and flooding.... It's almost as if you can't turn on the news without seeing images of a disaster striking somewhere. If you've suffered property loss as the result of these events or other circumstances, you may be able to claim a casualty loss deduction on your federal income tax return. ...

How Does the Medicaid Look-Back Period Work?

Posted on: April 5th, 2016
One area that causes a lot of confusion with regard to Medicaid is the look-back period. Medicaid, unlike Medicare, is a means-based program, which means that you are only eligible for it if you have very few assets. The government does not want you to transfer all your assets on Monday in order to qualify for Medicaid on Tuesday, so it has imposed a penalty on people who transfer assets without receiving fair value in return....

Six Potential 401(k) Rollover Pitfalls

Posted on: April 4th, 2016
You're about to receive a distribution from your 401(k) plan, and you're considering a rollover to a traditional IRA. While these transactions are normally straightforward and trouble free, there are some pitfalls you'll want to avoid....

Hybrid Policies Allow You to Have Your Long-Term Care Insurance Cake and Eat It, Too

Posted on: April 4th, 2016
As long-term care insurance premiums rise and fewer companies offer policies, alternatives to traditional long-term care insurance policies are springing up. Previously, we wrote about annuity “doublers” that help pay for long-term care. Another increasingly popular hybrid product combines life insurance with long-term care coverage and offers buyers solutions to a number of problems that have kept people from buying traditional long-term care policies. ...

Problems with Guardianship Abuse Leading to Calls for Reform

Posted on: April 2nd, 2016
A growing problem with adult guardianship abuse is causing calls to reform the system. Vulnerable elderly can get caught in the guardianship system, being harmed and exploited by the very process that is supposed to protect them....

10 Ways the Elderly Can Avoid Financial Abuse

Posted on: April 1st, 2016
Increased dependency due to illness, disability or cognitive impairments can make seniors susceptible to financial abuse. Nest eggs accumulated over decades also often make seniors attractive targets for predators, whether the predator is an offshore bogus sweepstakes or a care provider who sees an opportunity to be paid more than an hourly wage....

Your Right to Refills If Medicare Drops Coverage of Your Drugs

Posted on: March 4th, 2016
Medicare prescription drug plans can change which drugs they cover, leaving you without coverage for a drug you need. Or you may switch plans into a plan that doesn't cover your medication. In these circumstances, Medicare drug plans are required to offer you a 30-day transition supply of the drug you were taking....

How Likely Are You to Need Long-Term Care?

Posted on: March 2nd, 2016
Planning for retirement and deciding whether to buy long-term care insurance would be a lot easier if you knew your odds of needing long-term care, as well as at what age and for how long. Unfortunately, there's no definite answer. On the other hand, some statistics do provide a bit of guidance....

Things to Remember at Tax Time

Posted on: March 1st, 2016
April 15th is approaching and it is time to begin crossing T's and dotting I's in preparation for paying taxes. As tax time draws near, you want to make sure you file all the proper forms and take all deductions you're entitled to. Following are some things to keep in mind as you prepare your tax form....

Last Chance to Use File and Suspend Strategy for Claiming Social Security Benefits

Posted on: March 1st, 2016
Time is running out to use a potentially very lucrative Social Security benefits-claiming strategy. Spouses will no longer be able to use the "file and suspend" strategy after April 29, 2016. Beware, however, that the new rules are causing confusion at some Social Security offices....

Should I loan my child money for a down payment on a house?

Posted on: February 19th, 2016
For a lot of young people today, it's difficult to purchase a home without at least some financial assistance. As a result, many young adults turn to their parents or other family members for help with a down payment. ...

How long will I have to pay for private mortgage insurance?

Posted on: February 17th, 2016
It depends. There are generally two ways that private mortgage insurance (PMI) can be removed from your mortgage loan. The first is if you request PMI cancellation directly from your lender. The second is through termination by your lender....

Can You Get to a Million Dollars?

Posted on: February 15th, 2016
Often in life, you have investment goals that you hope to reach. Say, for example, you have determined that you would like to have $1 million in your investment portfolio by the time you retire. But will you be able to get there? ...

Cost of Living: Where You Live Can Affect How Rich You Feel

Posted on: February 12th, 2016
Do you find yourself treading water financially even with a relatively healthy household income? Even with your new higher-paying job and your spouse's promotion, do you still find it difficult to get ahead, despite carefully counting your pennies? Does your friend or relative halfway across the country have a better quality of life on less income? If so, the cost of living might be to blame. ...

Rates on the Rise: Strategies for Fixed-Income Investors

Posted on: February 8th, 2016
A long period of low yields has been challenging for many fixed-income investors, but owning bond investments in a rising interest-rate environment could become even trickier. When interest rates go up, the prices of existing bonds typically fall. Consequently, the Federal Reserve's rate-setting decisions could affect the entire fixed-income market....

Underestimating the Risk of Disability - The Importance of Being Prepared

Posted on: January 21st, 2016
No one likes to think about the possibility of their own disability or the disability of a loved one. However, as the statistics below demonstrate, we should all plan for at least a temporary disability. This issue of The ElderCounselorTM examines the eye-opening statistics surrounding disability and some of the common disability planning options. Disability planning is one area where we can give each and every person and family we work with great comfort in knowing that, if they or a loved one becomes disabled, they will be prepared....

Changes to Social Security Claiming Strategies

Posted on: January 1st, 2016
The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 included a section titled "Closure of Unintended Loopholes" that ends two Social Security claiming strategies that have become increasingly popular over the last several years. These two strategies, known as "file and suspend" and "restricted application" for a spousal benefit, have often been used to optimize Social Security income for married couples....

How to Choose a Trustee

Posted on: December 5th, 2015
If you create a trust, you will need a separate person or institution, called a "trustee," to manage the trust either now or in the future, depending on the type of trust. ...

Activities of Daily Living Measure the Need for Long-Term Care Assistance

Posted on: December 4th, 2015
Most long-term care involves assisting with basic personal needs rather than providing medical care. ...

New Federal Budget Ends Two Spousal Social Security Claiming Strategies

Posted on: December 2nd, 2015
The federal budget agreement that President Obama signed into law November 2, 2015, spells the end to two Social Security strategies that some spouses have used to maximize benefits....

Medicare Announces Parts A and B Premiums and Deductibles for 2016

Posted on: December 1st, 2015
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid has announced the Medicare premiums, deductibles, and coinsurances for 2016....

New Rules Will Make It Harder to Qualify for Long-Term Care Help From the VA

Posted on: November 8th, 2015
The Veteran's Administration (VA) offers a pension benefit to low-income veterans (or their spouses) who are in nursing homes or who need help at home with everyday tasks like dressing or bathing. ...

Do Frequent Flier Miles Expire When You Do?

Posted on: November 7th, 2015
Accumulated frequent flier miles can be valuable assets, but what happens to those miles after someone dies? Can a spouse or other heirs inherit them, or do the miles simply evaporate like a contrail?...

What Is Cost Basis and How Do You Prove It?

Posted on: November 6th, 2015
Knowing the "cost basis" of your property is important for tax purposes, but proving cost basis can be difficult. Cost basis adjusts at death, so it is a good idea to appraise property when a joint owner dies....

Medicare Open Enrollment Means It's Time to Shop Around

Posted on: November 5th, 2015
Are you happy with your Medicare coverage? Could you get a better plan for less money? It is time to review whether your plan or plans are working for you....

Incentive Trusts: Ensuring That an Inheritance Will Be Well Spent

Posted on: October 5th, 2015
Many parents or grandparents with sizable amounts of money to pass on to their heirs are apprehensive about the effect it many have on their children or grandchildren. In some instances, they fear that the recipients will misspend the funds on drugs, fancy cars or failing businesses. In other cases, the fear is simply that their children will lose their drive to achieve and overcome barriers that may present themselves if there's no financial necessity to do so....

Woman's Efforts to Change Will Without Professional Assistance Backfire

Posted on: October 3rd, 2015
Just as making a will without the help of a qualified attorney can be dangerous, trying to change an existing will on your own can fail as well. A recent court decision in Minnesota serves as a cautionary reminder to anyone thinking of altering their estate plan on their own. ...

Incentives to Keep Working While You Collect Social Security

Posted on: October 2nd, 2015
In general, it is better to wait as long as possible before taking Social Security benefits, but sometimes it is necessary to start taking benefits early. However, if you are able to continue working while receiving benefits, you may be able to increase your overall benefit. In addition, although your benefits may be reduced due to your work, you can recoup those lost benefits....

Court Approves Use of Short-Term Annuities for Medicaid Planning

Posted on: October 1st, 2015
Immediate annuities are among the tools elder law attorneys use to help married nursing home residents qualify for Medicaid coverage while protecting the standard of living of the healthy spouse and to help preserve assets for the families of unmarried or widowed nursing home residents....

Key projected figures for 2016

Posted on: October 1st, 2015
...

My employer now offers wellness benefits as part of its employee benefits package. But what are they?

Posted on: October 1st, 2015
It's no surprise that your company has started offering wellness benefits, since many employers are already offering these types of programs as part of an overall employee benefits package....

How do I compare my health insurance options during open enrollment?

Posted on: September 30th, 2015
...

Frequently Asked Questions on Opening a 529 Plan Account

Posted on: September 27th, 2015
529 plans are savings vehicles tailor-made for college. Anyone can open an account, lifetime contribution limits are typically over $300,000, and 529 plans offer federal and sometimes state tax benefits if certain conditions are met. Here are some common questions on opening an account....

2015 Year-End Tax Planning Basics

Posted on: September 26th, 2015
As the end of the 2015 tax year approaches, set aside some time to evaluate your situation and consider potential opportunities. Effective year-end planning depends on a good understanding of both your current circumstances and how those circumstances might change next year....

Six Common 401(k) Plan Misconceptions

Posted on: September 25th, 2015
Do you really know as much as you think you do about your 401(k) plan? Let's find out....

Same-sex marriage and estate planning: What all couples need to know

Posted on: August 31st, 2015
Here’s how same-sex spouses can properly leverage the benefits of legal marriage. By Matthew T. McClintock, J.D. Vice President, Educational Content, WealthCounsel...

Resident-on-Resident Abuse Is Common in Nursing Homes

Posted on: August 9th, 2015
One of a family's worst nightmares is their loved one suffering abuse in a nursing home or assisted living facility. Abuse can come from staff members, but a more common source of abuse may actually be other residents. Researchers believe that despite the prevalence of the problem, resident-on-resident abuse is underreported....

Six Ideas for Distributing an Estate's Personal Property in a Fair Way

Posted on: August 7th, 2015
Unlike money, personal belongings usually cannot be divided equally after their owner passes away. For this reason, distributing possessions like furniture, jewelry, dishes, silverware, artwork, photographs or clothing is often the most difficult challenge in settling an estate. (Just ask Audrey Hepburn's two sons.)...

Nearing 65 and in a Marketplace Plan? Medicare Is Almost Always Your Best Bet

Posted on: August 3rd, 2015
Are you approaching age 65 and currently covered by a marketplace health care plan under the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”)? ...

5 Rights That Trust Beneficiaries Have

Posted on: August 1st, 2015
As a trust beneficiary, you may feel like you are at the mercy of the trustee, but depending on the type of trust, trust beneficiaries may have rights to ensure the trust is properly managed....

Medicaid Applicant with Care Agreement Assessed Transfer Penalty Because Rate Was Too High

Posted on: July 30th, 2015
A New Jersey appeals court rules ...

Medicaid-Eligible Nursing Home Resident Is Stuck With Costs of Private-Pay Room

Posted on: July 29th, 2015
An Illinois appeals court rules ...

Updates in the Special Needs Planning Area

Posted on: July 16th, 2015
The special needs community and its advocates are making headway as of late. Last month, the IRS proposed regulations for the new state-sponsored ABLE accounts. In addition, the Special Needs Trust Fairness Act was reintroduced to Congress earlier this year and appears to be making progress. As advocates for those with special needs, we celebrate these minor, but important accomplishments and can use them as inspiration as we continue to fight for the rights of this special community. ...

Understanding Tenancy: The Different Ways to Co-Own Property

Posted on: July 2nd, 2015
When two or more individuals own property -- whether it's a condominium, a home, or a piece of land -- the relationship between the owners is very important. The form of ownership of the property affects how property is transferred to someone else. It is important to make sure you have the right form of ownership for your property....

Use This Form to Avoid Loved Ones Being Denied Medical Information About You

Posted on: July 2nd, 2015
If you are in the hospital, the last thing you want is for a family member or a trusted friend to be denied information about your condition or prognosis. But this could happen if you haven’t already given authorization about who can receive details of your medical condition....

How Do an Estate's Debts Get Paid?

Posted on: July 1st, 2015
An executor is the person responsible for managing the administration of a deceased person's estate. One of the executor's main jobs is to pay people or institutions to whom the estate owes money -- the estate's creditors. This can be an overwhelming task, especially when dealing with the death of a loved one, but it is important to follow the right procedures to avoid unnecessary problems and expenses....

Estate planning for same-sex couples after Obergefell v. Hodges

Posted on: June 26th, 2015
On June 26, 2015 the United States Supreme Court issued its opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges, the name assigned to a series of consolidated cases on same-sex marriage rights. ...

Nursing Home Debt Collector's Filial Support Lawsuit Against Family Does Not Violate Fair Debt Collection Law

Posted on: June 9th, 2015
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit holds that a law firm that was attempting to collect a debt from a nursing home resident's family did not violate debt collection law when it filed a lawsuit against the family based on Pennsylvania's filial support law. Eades v. Kennedy, PC Law Offices (U.S. Ct. App., 2nd Cir., No. 14-104-cv, June 5, 2015)....

SSA Clarifies Its Position on Court-Established (d)(4)(A) Trusts

Posted on: June 8th, 2015
After a rash of criticism from advocates claiming that the Social Security Administration (SSA) was unfairly refusing to allow court-established (d)(4)(A) trusts to qualify as exempt resources for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) purposes, the SSA has issued an Administrative Message clarifying its policy regarding these trusts and ordering officials to approve the trusts if they meet the other (d)(4)(A) requirements and were not created prior to the order issued by the court....

SSA Message Clarifying Treatment of Court-Established (d)(4)(A) Trusts

Posted on: June 7th, 2015
Read the Social Security Administration's AM-15032, an Administrative Message clarifying the SSA's treatment of court-established (d)(4)(A) trusts. Portions in red are emphasis supplied by Illinois attorney and Social Security expert Avram L. Sacks....

Elder Law Extra

Posted on: June 7th, 2015
A weekly roundup of recent elder law news and practice development articles culled from news sources around the nation. Click on the headline to read the full article....

5 Estate Planning Tips for the Non-Traditional Family (Which Probably Means Yours)

Posted on: June 6th, 2015
Is your family of the “Leave It to Beaver” variety -- opposite-gender parents, the first marriage for each, one or more kids, all healthy and thriving? If so, your estate plan will probably be pretty straightforward. But if not, it's not as simple and you have a lot of company....

Passing on Assets Outside of Probate: PODs and TODs

Posted on: June 5th, 2015
For a variety of reasons, people sometimes want some or all of their assets to pass directly to specific individuals upon their deaths, outside of probate. One way to accomplish this is to set up a “payable on death” (POD) account for money in a bank account or a “transfer on death” (TOD) account if funds are in a brokerage account....

3 Little-Known Strategies to Maximize Social Security Benefits

Posted on: June 3rd, 2015
While collecting Social Security benefits may seem straightforward, there are actually several strategies for collecting benefits -- especially if you are married -- that can increase your retirement benefits....

Medicaid Recipient Cannot Bring Claim to Require State to Deduct Guardianship Fees From Income

Posted on: June 1st, 2015
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit holds that a Medicaid recipient who is under guardianship cannot bring a § 1983 claim to require the state to deduct guardianship fees from her available income. Backer v. Shah (U.S. Ct. App., 2nd Cir., No. 14-1367-cv, June 3, 2015)....

Do You Need a Lawyer to Write a Will?

Posted on: June 1st, 2015
While you aren't technically required to hire a lawyer to draft a will, failing to do so can lead to costly problems for your family and other heirs....

Medicaid's Gift to Children Who Help Parents Postpone Nursing Home Care

Posted on: May 15th, 2015
In most states, transferring your house to your children (or someone else) may lead to a Medicaid penalty period, which would make you ineligible for Medicaid for a period of time. However, there are circumstances in which transferring a house will not result in a penalty period. ...

Cost of Private Nursing Home Room Now Averaging $91,250

Posted on: May 10th, 2015
The median cost of a private nursing home room in the United States has increased 4.2 percent to $91,250 a year, according to the 2015 edition of a Cost of Care survey that the insurer Genworth has conducted for the past 12 years. Genworth reports that the median cost of a semi-private room in a nursing home is $80,300, up 3.8 percent from 2014....

VA Eliminates Net Worth Requirement for Health Care

Posted on: May 5th, 2015
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has updated the way it determines eligibility for VA health care benefits, making it easier for many veterans to get access to the benefits. The VA will no longer use the veteran's net worth as a factor to determine eligibility and copayments....

Decisions to Make for Your Power of Attorney

Posted on: May 1st, 2015
A power of attorney may seem like a simple document, but there are several important decisions that need to be made when creating one. From whom to appoint to what powers to grant, care and consideration should be put into each choice....

State 'Right-to-Try' Laws Begin to Spread, But Are They Only a Placebo?

Posted on: April 14th, 2015
Five states have enacted laws giving terminally ill patients access to experimental drugs, and 25 other states are considering similar legislation. ...

To Ensure Your End-of-Life Wishes Are Honored, a Directive May Not Be Enough

Posted on: April 14th, 2015
Do you want to live out your last days hooked up to a ventilator or a feeding tube? ...

Always Put Caregiver Contracts in Writing

Posted on: April 14th, 2015
When hiring a caregiver, it is important to put the contract in writing. Courts can be especially strict about requiring contracts when caregivers are relatives, but a formal agreement is still necessary even if the caregiver is not a relative. ...

Pooled Special Needs Trusts

Posted on: April 14th, 2015
A Worthwhile Option When Future Planning for a Loved One with a Disability By Joanne Marcus, MSW ...

Long-Term Care Insurance Premiums Rise Almost 9 Percent

Posted on: April 1st, 2015
Overall costs for new long-term care insurance coverage -- which pays for care in nursing homes and, increasingly, at home as well -- increased 8.6 percent compared to a year ago, according to the 2015 Long Term Care Insurance Price Index....

Retiring Abroad with a Long-Term Care Insurance Policy

Posted on: March 5th, 2015
As more people consider retiring abroad, questions are arising about how an overseas retirement will affect long-term care insurance benefits. If you are planning to relocate out of the country and want to purchase or already have long-term care insurance, the best advice is to read the fine print on your policy....

Some Senior Living Facilities Are Discriminating on the Basis of Disability

Posted on: March 1st, 2015
Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) sound like a great idea, and in many ways they are. They offer residents access to the entire residential continuum -- from independent housing to assisted living to round-the-clock nursing services -- under one "roof." Residents pay an entry fee and an adjustable monthly rent in return for the guarantee of care for the rest of their life....

The 6 Biggest Estate Planning Mistakes

Posted on: February 25th, 2015
If you’re like most people, you have the best of intentions with regard to how you want your estate distributed when you die or your affairs handled should you become incapacitated. Unfortunately, without proper planning, your best intentions may not be enough. Here are six of the most common estate planning mistakes people make: ...

White House Proposes New Rules to Protect Investors Saving for Retirement

Posted on: February 18th, 2015
You might think that the top priority of the broker or financial adviser managing your retirement funds is to maximize your returns, but that’s not always the case. Some steer their clients to bad retirement investments with high fees and low returns because they get higher commissions or other incentives to do so. And there’s nothing currently in the law that requires advisers to put their clients’ interests first....

Law boosts ability of those with disabilities to save

Posted on: February 12th, 2015
By Ellie Silverman McClatchy Washington Bureau February 11, 2015 ...

Can You Be Buried With Your Pet?

Posted on: February 8th, 2015
Pets are often regarded as a part of the family and increasingly their needs are accounted for in planning decisions. There is health insurance for pets, and most states allow for “pet trusts” to ensure that a cherished animal will be cared for after the owner’s demise. ...

Tougher Reverse Mortgage Rules to Take Effect

Posted on: February 6th, 2015
Beginning March 2, 2015, borrowers will have to pass a financial assessment before they can take out a reverse mortgage. ...

Estate Planning for a Single Person

Posted on: February 4th, 2015
If you are single, you may not think you need to plan your estate, but single people are in as much need of a plan as anyone else. ...

Case Illustrates Need for a Formal Contract When Paying Relatives for Care

Posted on: February 2nd, 2015
A growing number of people are entering into caregiver contracts with their family members. These contracts, also called personal service or personal care agreements, have many benefits, including rewarding the family member for indispensable help. ...

When do I need to submit college financial aid forms?

Posted on: January 22nd, 2015
It depends on the form you're filling out and whether your child is a new college student or a returning student....

Healthy Resolutions Can Pay Off (Literally)

Posted on: January 22nd, 2015
Fifteen years ago, the Social Security Administration (SSA) launched the Social Security Statement, a tool to help Americans understand the features and benefits that Social Security offers. Since then, millions of Americans have reviewed their personalized statements to see a detailed record of their earnings, as well as estimates of retirement, survivor, and disability benefits based on those earnings. Here's how to get a copy of your statement, and why it deserves more than just a quick glance, even if you're years away from retirement....

Do you understand the definition of financial aid?

Posted on: January 21st, 2015
The term "financial aid" goes hand in hand with paying for college. But it can mean different things to different people, and often the term is used in various ways, even by colleges....

Healthy Resolutions Can Pay Off (Literally)

Posted on: January 16th, 2015
If you made a New Year's Resolution to get healthy, you may get more bang for your resolution buck than you bargained for. That's because healthy habits can benefit your wallet as well as your body. ...

What Happens to Your Online Content When You Die?

Posted on: January 10th, 2015
More and more of the music, movies, and books we own exist only online, in digital form. What happens to these collections after the owner dies? Surprisingly, while you may want your heirs to have access to the books, music and films that you loved, without a physical copy these items cannot be easily passed down....

The Overuse of Antipsychotic Drugs in Nursing Homes

Posted on: January 8th, 2015
Many nursing homes are improperly prescribing antipsychotic drugs to patients even though federal law restricts their use. Almost 300,000 nursing home residents are currently receiving antipsychotic drugs normally used to treat bipolar disorder or schizophrenia and that are considered dangerous for patients with dementia. ...

Level of Assets That Spouses of Medicaid Recipients May Keep Rises for 2015

Posted on: January 6th, 2015
Medicaid law provides special protections for the spouses of Medicaid applicants to make sure the spouses have the minimum support needed to continue to live in the community while their husband or wife is receiving long-term care benefits, usually in a nursing home....

Congress Approves Tax-Free Savings Accounts for Some People with Disabilities

Posted on: December 23rd, 2014
A new law just passed by Congress and signed by President Obama will allow people with disabilities who became disabled before they turned 26 to set aside up to $14,000 a year in tax-free savings accounts without affecting their eligibility for government benefits. ...

Congress Approves Tax-Free Savings Accounts for Some People with Disabilities

Posted on: December 23rd, 2014
A new law just passed by Congress and signed by President Obama will allow people with disabilities who became disabled before they turned 26 to set aside up to $14,000 a year in tax-free savings accounts without affecting their eligibility for government benefits. ...

Attention 401(k) Participants: Consistency May Pay Off, Study Finds

Posted on: September 30th, 2014
Despite the stock market drops of 2008, the average account balance of 401(k) participants who continued investing during the five-year period ending December 31, 2012, grew by a compound average annual rate of 6.8%, according to a study released jointly by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) and the Investment Company Institute (ICI). ...

Deadline Approaching for Undoing a 2013 Roth IRA Conversion

Posted on: September 26th, 2014
If you converted a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA in 2013 and your Roth IRA has sustained losses, you may want to consider whether it makes sense to undo your conversion--you have until October 15, 2014, to do so....

U.S. Census Bureau Issues Report on Health Insurance Coverage in 2013

Posted on: September 25th, 2014
The U.S. Census Bureau recently released its report, Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2013. While previous reports often compared statistics from prior years, this report includes a "complete redesign of the health insurance questions," so caution is recommended when comparing figures from the 2013 report to estimates from prior years. Here are some of the highlights....

The 2014 Social Security Trustees Report: What Does the Future Hold?

Posted on: August 10th, 2014
Every year, the Trustees of the Social Security Trust Funds release a report to Congress on the current financial condition and projected financial outlook of the program. This year's report, released on July 28, contains valuable information about the health of Social Security that may help you understand how your Social Security benefits might be affected....

GAO Report Reveals Why People Claim Social Security Benefits Early

Posted on: July 29th, 2014
Why would people choose to claim Social Security retirement benefits at the earliest possible age of 62, rather than waiting until their full retirement age (66 to 67 for anyone born in 1943 or later), when doing so would reduce their monthly benefit by as much as 30%? There are many reasons, according to a recent General Accounting Office report titled, "Challenges for Those Claiming Social Security Benefits Early and New Health Coverage Options," including work-related and demographic factors....

IRA Rollover Passes House – On To Senate

Posted on: July 19th, 2014
On July 17 the IRA rollover and four other charitable bills passed the House on a 277-130 vote. Of the 12 different permanent tax extenders that have moved through the House Ways and Means Committee, 10 have now been passed by the full House of Representatives....

Heir Liable for Reimbursement of Mother's Medicaid Expenses

Posted on: July 9th, 2014
A California appeals court rules that the heir of an estate who sold her interest in her mother’s house to her brother is liable to the state for reimbursement of her mother’s Medicaid expenses. Estate of Mays (Cal. App., 3d, No. C070568, June 30, 2014)....

Transfer of House in Exchange for Promissory Note Is Not Subject to Penalty

Posted on: July 8th, 2014
A U.S. district court holds that a Medicaid recipient who transferred his house to his daughter in exchange for a promissory note does not incur a transfer penalty and that the promissory note is not an available asset. Peterson v. Lake (U.S. Dist. Ct., W.D. Okla., No. CIV-13-1235-W, June 30, 2014)....

IRAs as Countable Assets for a Community Spouse

Posted on: July 1st, 2014
The latest in a line of cases from various states holding that an IRA or other retirement account of a community spouse is not exempt in determining Medicaid eligibility for the institutionalized spouse is Ark. Dep’t of Human Svcs. v. Pierce, 2014 Ark. 251 (May 29, 2014). This is a problem in many states, and it may become a problem in other states which currently exempt spousal retirement accounts but may change their policies in the future....

Inherited IRAs and Bankruptcy

Posted on: June 25th, 2014
Since the enactment of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act in 2005, individual retirement accounts (IRAs) have been protected under federal law if you declare bankruptcy. The exemption was originally capped at $1 million, but has since grown to $1,245,475 (as of April 1, 2013) due to cost-of-living increases. (The million-dollar cap does not apply to amounts rolled over from a qualified employer plan like a 401(k)--these amounts are fully protected under federal law.)...

Estate Plan

Posted on: June 6th, 2014
CREATING YOUR ESTATE PLAN...

How Your Ex-Spouse Could Inherit Most of Your Money

Posted on: June 5th, 2014
A 'Good Morning America' news story by Laura Mattia If you have a will — and you should have one — you may have executed it after years of putting it off. You’ve paid your attorney a lot of money and given serious consideration to make the right choices and ensure that the will is air-tight. Finally your will is finished, and you can sleep soundly knowing that your heirs will receive the assets that you intend. Right?...

5 Family Gifting Strategies

Posted on: May 22nd, 2014
While many popular gifting strategies involve charities, gifting to family members can be equally rewarding. Here are a few easy approaches that can reduce or avoid taxes, and are also effective wealth transfer techniques....

Top 10 Tax Breaks You'll Miss in 2014

Posted on: May 15th, 2014
You probably didn't notice, but when the clock struck midnight on December 31, 2013, a number of popular tax benefits, commonly included in the list of provisions referred to as "tax extenders" expired. While it's possible that Congress could retroactively extend some or all of these items, you'll have to evaluate your 2014 tax situation based on the fact that they're no longer available....

"Estate Planning, Family Isn’t Always First" NYT article by Caitlin Kelly

Posted on: May 14th, 2014
Whether it’s treasured pearl earrings or a vintage camera, a house or what’s left of your life savings, deciding who should inherit your worldly goods means making sometimes wrenching choices. For older people without children, stepchildren or grandchildren, the decision can be even more complex....

Young Blood May Hold Key to Reversing Aging

Posted on: May 7th, 2014
A trio of new studies has discovered that the blood of young mice appears to reverse some of the effects of aging when put into the circulatory systems of elderly mice. ...

Many Skilled Care Providers Still Unaware of New Medicare Rules

Posted on: May 6th, 2014
Even though Medicare is now covering skilled care for beneficiaries who are not improving, many are still being denied coverage, according to Judith Stein, director of the Center for Medicare Advocacy. ...

Observation Stays in the Hospital: The Impact on Medicare Beneficiaries

Posted on: May 5th, 2014
By Judith Stein, Esq. In December 2013, Ms. M., 99, was found on the floor in her assisted-living apartment. She was sent to the hospital and treated for a broken shoulder. She stayed at the hospital for three nights, but instead of being deemed an “inpatient,” she was considered to be under “observation.” As a result, she had to pay $300 a day for subsequent skilled nursing facility care that otherwise would have been covered by Medicare....

My Health Care Wishes App

Posted on: April 30th, 2014
While most all Americans think it’s a good idea to talk with their loved ones about end-of-life care, less than 30% have actually done it....

My parents can't manage alone anymore. What should I do?

Posted on: April 30th, 2014
Are one or both of your parents having health problems, suffering mental lapses, or just slowing down with age? Do you find they can't manage on their own anymore? If so, you'll want to consider the various living arrangements that are available to older individuals. Before you begin, however, you'll want to talk to your parents and siblings....

Taking Inventory of Your Assets is a Good Place to Start to help your Trustee

Posted on: April 29th, 2014
Periodically evaluating your assets saves time and frustration down the road for your Trustees. ...

What is an assisted-living facility, and how do I choose one?

Posted on: April 23rd, 2014
What is an assisted-living facility? The wide number of options available makes defining the term difficult. Generally, however, assisted-living facilities primarily serve senior citizens who need more help than those who live in independent living communities. ...

Two Popular Charitable Trusts for You to Consider

Posted on: April 17th, 2014
A couple of charitable trusts are very popular with people making significant gifts to charity: the charitable lead annuity trust (CLAT) and the charitable remainder unitrust (CRUT). They each allow income, gift, and estate tax charitable deductions for a trust with both charitable and noncharitable beneficiaries. A CLAT leads off with a stream of annuity payments for the charity, while the CRUT provides a remainder interest for the charity when the trust ends. ...

15 Facts about Social Security

Posted on: April 15th, 2014
It's easy to take Social Security for granted when retirement is years away, but with 94% of the U.S. workforce covered by Social Security,* it's likely that this program will play a role in your financial future, perhaps even sooner than you think. Here are some facts and statistics from the Social Security Administration that highlight why Social Security is important to so many people. ...

Clean SGR Bill Clears House, Senate, and President’s Desk

Posted on: April 11th, 2014
Permanently repealing the sustainable growth rate (SGR) has been a primary objective of Congress this year. The primary obstacle to a compromise has been how to pay for the SGR repeal estimated to cost $150 million. So Congress for the 17th time in 11 years approved a temporary fix (12 months) to this long-term problem. The SGR patch (H.R. 4302) that averts a 24 percent cut to Medicare physician reimbursements passed the House on March 28, the Senate on March 31, and was signed into law on April 1, 2014. ...

Americans Continue to Face Saving Challenges, Survey Finds

Posted on: April 1st, 2014
According to a survey released last month by America Saves and the American Savings Education Council (ASEC), just 35% of Americans feel they are making good or excellent progress in saving money. Nearly two-thirds (63%) say they're making fair or no progress. ...

Practical Tips for Special Needs Planning

Posted on: March 21st, 2014
In honor of “Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month,” proclaimed by President Ronald Reagan in March 1987, this month’s issue of The ElderCounselor™ examines the unique planning requirements of families who have loved ones with special needs. Understanding the pitfalls associated with special needs planning is a must for all who assist families with children, grandchildren or other loved ones (such as parents) with special needs. ...

How do I figure the tax on the sale of my home?

Posted on: March 19th, 2014
In general, when you sell your home any amount you receive over your cost basis (what you paid for the home, plus capital improvements, plus the costs of selling the home) is subject to capital gains taxes. However, if you owned and used the home as your principal residence for a total of two out of the five years before the sale (the two years do not have to be consecutive), you may be able to exclude from federal income tax up to $250,000 (up to $500,000 if you're married and file a joint return) of the capital gain when you sell your home. You can use this exclusion only once every two years, and the exclusion does not apply to vacation homes and pure investment properties....

Is there a new way to calculate my home office deduction?

Posted on: March 19th, 2014
Yes, but first it's important to understand what hasn't changed. To qualify for an income tax deduction for home office expenses, the IRS still requires that you meet two tests--the place of business test and the exclusive and regular use test....

Saving through Your Retirement Plan at Work? Don't Let These Five Risks Derail Your Progress

Posted on: March 19th, 2014
As a participant in your work-sponsored retirement savings plan, you've made a very important commitment to yourself and your family: to prepare for your future. Congratulations! Making that commitment is an important first step in your pursuit of a successful retirement. Now it's important to stay focused--and be aware of a few key risks that could derail your progress along the way. ...

Spring Cleaning Your Debt

Posted on: March 19th, 2014
It's springtime--time for you to take stock of your surroundings and get rid of the dirt and clutter that you've accumulated during this past year. In addition to typical spring cleaning tasks, you may want to take this time to focus on your finances. In particular, now may be as good a time as ever to evaluate your debt situation and try to reduce and/or eliminate any debt obligations you may have. The following are some tips to get you started. ...

The Fed's Great Unwind and Your Portfolio

Posted on: March 18th, 2014
After more than five years of unprecedented support for the economy, the Federal Reserve Board has begun to reduce its purchases of bonds. And though the Fed has said interest rates may stay low even after unemployment has fallen to 6.5%, higher rates increasingly seem to be a question of timing. Both of those actions can affect your portfolio....

What You Need to Know about myRAs

Posted on: February 1st, 2014
What is a myRA? The myRA (rhymes with IRA) is a new workplace retirement savings account discussed by President Obama in the State of the Union address, and subsequently authorized by executive order. The administration hopes that employers who currently don't offer a workplace retirement plan will make myRAs available to their employees. Only limited details are currently available. ...

New Mortgage Rules Scheduled to Take Effect in January

Posted on: December 30th, 2013
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has issued new mortgage rules that are scheduled to take effect on January 10, 2014. ...

Bonds vs. Bond Funds: Which Is Better When Interest Rates Rise?

Posted on: December 11th, 2013
The Federal Reserve has said it expects to begin raising its target rate sometime in 2014. Since bond prices fall when interest rates rise, it may be a good time to pay increased attention to any fixed-income investments you have. Here are some factors to consider when you review your portfolio....

The Impact of Health-Care Costs on Social Security

Posted on: December 9th, 2013
For many retirees and their families, Social Security provides a dependable source of income. In fact, for the majority of retirees, Social Security accounts for at least half of their income (Source: Fast Facts & Figures About Social Security, 2013). However, more of that income is being spent on health-related costs each year, leaving less available for other retirement expenses. ...

What can I do to protect my username and password information from computer hackers?

Posted on: December 4th, 2013
At one time, computer hackers were viewed as a few rogue individuals who mainly worked alone. Today, many hackers are part of highly sophisticated networks that carry out well-organized cyber attacks. Unfortunately, these online security breaches can result in your username and password information being compromised. ...

Social Security and Medicare Figures for 2014

Posted on: December 4th, 2013
New figures announced...

Galliano Advisory Monthly

Posted on: December 2nd, 2013
It's December 31. Do You Know Where Your Money Is?...

Should You Roll Your 401(k) to an IRA?

Posted on: December 1st, 2013
If you're entitled to a distribution from your 401(k) plan (for example, because you've left your job, or you've reached age 59½), and it's rollover-eligible, you may be faced with a choice. Should you take the distribution and roll the funds over to an IRA, or should you leave your money where it is? ...

What's in Store for Health-Care Reform in 2014

Posted on: November 29th, 2013
While the Affordable Care Act (ACA) became law in 2010, several of the more substantive provisions of the law don't take effect until 2014. Here's a review of some of the key parts of the ACA that are scheduled to begin in 2014. ...

What will happen to my digital assets if I die or become incapacitated?

Posted on: November 25th, 2013
In today's digital age, many individuals live at least a part of their life online. Whether you share your life with others through e-mail, Facebook posts, and tweets, or simply have a number of online, password protected accounts, you'll want to make plans for the disposition of all of your digital assets in the event of your death or incapacity. ...

IRA and Retirement Plan Limits for 2014

Posted on: November 25th, 2013
The maximum amount you can contribute to a traditional IRA or Roth IRA in 2014 remains unchanged at $5,500 (or 100% of your earned income, if less). The maximum catch-up contribution for those age 50 or older in 2014 is $1,000, also unchanged from 2013. (You can contribute to both a traditional and Roth IRA in 2014, but your total contributions can't exceed this annual limit.)...

Health-Care Insurance Enrollment: Questions and Challenges

Posted on: November 12th, 2013
An important part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) is the creation of Health Insurance Exchanges or Marketplaces (the terms are interchangeable) through which consumers may compare and buy health insurance, and find out whether they are eligible for Medicaid or tax credits/subsidies that reduce the cost of insurance....

IRS Issues Long-Term Care Premium Deductibility Limits for 2014

Posted on: November 4th, 2013
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is increasing the amount taxpayers can deduct from their 2014 taxes as a result of buying long-term care insurance....

College Costs 2013/2014: Increases Slow, but So Does Growth in Grant Aid

Posted on: November 1st, 2013
Every October, the College Board releases its Trends in College Pricing report that highlights college cost increases for the current academic year along with trends in the world of higher education. While costs can vary significantly depending on the region and individual college, the College Board publishes average cost figures, which are based on its survey of nearly 4,000 colleges across the country. ...

Does the Health-Care Reform Law Apply to You?

Posted on: October 29th, 2013
Beginning in 2014, the mandatory health insurance coverage provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) go into effect. But the law does not require everyone to have health insurance, nor are all of the coverage requirements applicable to all types of health insurance....

Famous People Who Failed to Properly Plan

Posted on: October 29th, 2013
It's almost impossible to overstate the importance of estate planning, regardless of the size of your estate or the stage of life you're in. A close second to the need to plan your estate is getting it done correctly, based on your individual circumstances. ...

Veteran Opportunities with Aid & Attendance Benefits

Posted on: October 29th, 2013
What is Aid & Attendance? Aid and Attendance is a "special monthly pension" available to wartime veterans or surviving spouses of wartime veterans....

Health-Care Reform: Looking Back and Ahead

Posted on: April 18th, 2013
Three years ago, on March 23, 2010, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) into law. While several substantial provisions don't take effect until 2014, many of the Act's requirements already have been implemented, including:...

New Private Letter Ruling Breathes Life into Nevada Incomplete Gift Non-Grantor Trusts

Posted on: April 18th, 2013
PLR 201310002 (released March 8, 2013) is great news for taxpayers wishing to use a very powerful tax-planning strategy. Taxpayers in high tax states with large unrealized capital gains or a regular stream of ordinary income from an investment portfolio have always wanted to find a way to eliminate or minimize their state tax exposure without giving up the economic benefit of the underlying assets. Over time, such a strategy could produce dramatic results. ...

Net Unrealized Appreciation: The Untold Story

Posted on: March 17th, 2013
If you participate in a 401(k), ESOP, or other qualified retirement plan that lets you invest in your employer's stock, you need to know about net unrealized appreciation--a simple tax deferral opportunity with an unfortunately complicated name....

Understanding the New Medicare Tax on Unearned Income

Posted on: March 16th, 2013
Health-care reform legislation enacted in 2010 included a new 3.8% Medicare tax on the unearned income of certain high-income individuals. The new tax, known as the unearned income Medicare contribution tax, or the net investment income tax (NIIT), took effect on January 1, 2013....

Estate Tax After the Fiscal Cliff

Posted on: March 16th, 2013
After threatening to go over the fiscal cliff, the gift tax, estate tax, and generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax have come in for a soft landing. ...

There's Still Time to Contribute to an IRA for 2012

Posted on: March 14th, 2013
There's still time to make a regular IRA contribution for 2012! You have until your tax return due date (not including extensions) to contribute up to $5,000 for 2012 ($6,000 if you were age 50 by December 31, 2012). For most taxpayers, the contribution deadline for 2012 is April 15, 2013. ...

Understanding the Opportunities with Aid & Attendance Benefits

Posted on: March 14th, 2013
...

Protecting Inherited IRAs

Posted on: March 8th, 2013
Americans hold nearly $15 Trillion in IRAs and qualified retirement plans. Qualified retirement plan accounts are asset protected under federal law. IRAs are protected to at least some extent under state law. Many wrongly believe that these accounts will remain asset protected after their owners die....

How to Leave Assets to Adult Children

Posted on: March 8th, 2013
When considering how to leave assets to adult children, the first step is to decide how much each one should receive. Most parents want to treat their children fairly, but this doesn't necessarily mean they should receive equal shares of the estate....

10 Tips for Helping Families with Special Needs

Posted on: March 8th, 2013
There are unique planning requirements of families with children, grandchildren or other family members (such as parents) with special needs. There are many misconceptions in this area that result in costly mistakes.....(read more)...

Second Marriages

Posted on: November 2nd, 2012
Second marriages (after divorce or death of the first spouse) are different....

What needs to be done when a Trustor Dies

Posted on: November 2nd, 2012
The trustee is responsible for seeing that the assets of the trust are distributed properly...

Asset Protection Trusts

Posted on: October 31st, 2012
With a domestic self-settled asset protection trust, you irrevocably transfer assets to the trust and name yourself as a beneficiary to receive distributions within the discretion of an independent trustee...

Planning Tip For Special Needs Beneficiaries

Posted on: October 31st, 2012
Many parents think a sibling would be the best trustee, but this is rarely a good idea. Most individuals are just not prepared to handle the responsibilities...

What to Tell Your Children About Their Inheritance

Posted on: October 31st, 2012
Not many parents like to talk to their children about their wealth...

Long Term Care Planning

Posted on: October 31st, 2012
With people living longer due to advances in medicine and changes in lifestyle, odds are that most of us will become disabled...

4 Common Estate Planning Mistakes

Posted on: October 31st, 2012
Here are four more common mistakes in estate planning...

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