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What is a Medicaid spend-down?

If you are a mature Texas resident, or if your parents are getting on in years, you may be concerned about what will happen if you or they eventually need nursing home or other long-term care. Even if you and/or your parents are relatively well-to-do financially, few people can afford the extraordinary costs of long-term care and must rely on Medicaid to pay these costs. Unfortunately, you must meet strict financial requirements to obtain Medicaid benefits. However, contrary to popular belief, you need not go broke in order to qualify

Virtually all state Medicaid programs require that a person must be “indigent” in order to qualify. This means that if single, a person must have no more than $2,000 worth of assets; married couples must have no more than $4,000 in combined assets. Few people have only this virtually negligible amount of assets, so it becomes necessary for them to reduce their assets to this amount. One of the ways you may be able to do this is through a Medicaid spend-down, a perfectly legal, albeit deliberate, way to “impoverish” yourself or your parents.

Does your power of attorney still apply if you recover?

A medical power of attorney appoints an agent to act on your behalf. For most people, this agent is a direct relative, such as a child. This person can then make decisions when you are not able to do so.

For instance, you may suffer a stroke and go into a coma. Doctors need to do surgery right away, but the type of surgery they want to do is very risky. They also need to keep you on life support.

7 pieces of information you'll need for VA pension benefits

You are thinking of applying for your VA pension benefits. You have not done it yet, but you believe you are eligible and you want to get the process started.

You have also heard other people talk about getting denied for simple reasons and mistakes on their forms. You want to avoid dragging the process out any more than necessary. To help, here are seven crucial pieces of information that you will need to provide:

  1. Your Social Security number: You can also use your VA file number. This information is absolutely required and you will not be able to move forward with a successful application without it.
  2. Records of your military history: Again, you are required to provide this information to get benefits.
  3. Your personal financial information: You have no choice but to turn over this information disclosing assets, income, debts and the like.
  4. Your dependents' personal financial information: This is the final piece of absolutely required information, though providing everything on this list is still important to help the process go smoothly.
  5. Your bank account information: This includes your account number and your routing number. It will be used to send you direct deposit payments if you do wind up getting the benefits.
  6. Any relevant medical information: It may be worth a trip to your doctor to make sure that all of your files are up to date.
  7. Information about your work history: Note if you have held other jobs besides being in the military.

Do not procrastinate with your estate plan

One of the biggest mistakes people make with estate planning is simply putting it off. They procrastinate. They forget about it. They don't want to talk about. They figure those are decisions best made another day.

In some cases, the real reason is that they do not want to think about the end. That's understandable. It can be a delicate subject, and many people do whatever they can to avoid it.

By 2050, 20 percent of Americans will be 65 or older

The number of Americans who are 65 years old or older has been climbing for decades, and it is predicted to keep doing so. Some believe that by 2050, one out of every five people in the country will be at least 65.

As noted, that's part of a larger trend. In 1950, the 65-year-olds' total sat at just 8 percent. Remember, that's just five years after World War II, which tragically took many young lives, and the percentage was still that low. By 2000, it had risen to 12 percent.

Is a special needs trust better than an inheritance?

You are going to leave money behind to an individual with disabilities that prevent that person from working, and you are trying to figure out the best way to do it. Should you leave that person a direct inheritance or should you set up a special needs trust?

What you choose is up to you, but there is one huge benefit to creating the trust.

How does life expectancy in America compare to other countries?

One thing you want to think about when doing long-term care planning is your life expectancy. Of course, things like accidents and disease can cause anyone to pass away well before this age, but it still gives you a reasonable figure when planning financially for a realistic future.

In the United States, the life expectancy for men is rising, although just slightly. For instance, it now sits at 77.5, and it is predicted to hit 79.5 by 2030. For women, it is 82.1 right now and it is expected to reach 83.3 by 2030.

Your parents may not be in good hands when cared for by relatives

You know that your parents’ mental and physical abilities have been in decline for several years, but your worries about putting them in assisted living were assuaged when a nearby relative offered to move in and care for them. Your relative is retired, and therefore has the time to meet your parents’ needs. You also felt it fair when your relative requested compensation for taking on the responsibility of caring for your parents. However, many Texans have found to their dismay that people they trusted to care for their elderly loved ones did not provide the quality of care they had hoped for, and may even have abused or neglected them.

Elder abuse is not uncommon in the United States, unfortunately, with an estimated one out of every 10 senior citizens being the victims of physical, emotional or financial abuse. The National Care Planning Council states that family members instigated 90 percent of senior abuse cases. It might never cross your mind to cause harm to vulnerable seniors when they have cognitive or physical impairments. Some family members do not have the same viewpoint.

Not having a succession plan can pit children against one another

When you create a succession plan for your business, you are doing more than just focusing on the future of your company. You are also working to create the best possible future for your family. With no plan in place, you may inadvertently pit your children against one another.

This is exactly what happened when one man's mother passed away after building up a successful food-based corporation. The man and his mother worked together to start the business while she was alive.