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Plan For Their Future
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Medicare’s Part B Premium Will Be Unchanged in 2018, But Many Will Pay More. Got That?

medicare part b premium 2018

When it comes to the 2018 Medicare premium, there’s good news and bad news.

The good news? The standard monthly Part B premium, which is what roughly 30 percent of Medicare beneficiaries pay, will stay at 2017’s rate of $134 next year.

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What Type of Trust is Right For You?

Types of Trusts for SeniorsWhenever we elect a new president, we hear a lot of talk about something called a “blind trust.”

This term refers to a financial arrangement in which a person in elected office sets aside their business interests to avoid a conflict of interest.

It’s one of many types of trusts, all of which are designed to keep assets safe in the long term, either for you or for your loved ones.

Let’s look at some common types of trusts, their benefits and what pitfalls to avoid.

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IRS Announces 2017 Estate Tax Limits

2017 Estate Tax LimitsThe Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has announced the 2017 Estate and Gift Tax limits.  The exemptions will increase in 2017 to $5,490,000 ($5.49 million) from $5,450,000 ($5.45 million) in 2016.  Therefore, if you die in 2017 and your estate is less than $5,490,000, your estate is not required to pay Federal estate tax.  If you are married, both you and your spouse can each claim the $5.49 million exemption, for a total of $10.98 million. If you need any help with your estate administration in the Philadelphia or Bucks County region, please contact Gummer Elder Law for assistance.

How Medicaid’s Look-Back Period Works

elderly transfer of assetsMedicaid’s look-back period can be confusing, but it’s important because it can have a very significant effect on your ability to pay for long-term care.

Unlike Medicare, Medicaid is a system that’s available only to people who have very few assets. As a result, the government is concerned that people will “game the system” by giving away all their assets to family members and then applying for Medicaid shortly afterward. That’s obviously not fair to the taxpayers who support the system.

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What You Need to Know About Required Distributions from Your IRA or 401(K)

IRA Required Distributions  - Senior Asset ManagementThe oldest of America’s 75 million baby boomers are turning 70 this year. That means the IRS will soon be requiring them to start cashing out their tax-deferred retirement savings accounts. How you handle these withdrawals can have a profound effect on your own retirement and on what you leave to your heirs.

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Your IRA Can Affect Your Medicaid Eligibility

Long Term Care PlanningWhen you are planning for Medicaid coverage in a nursing home, it’s important to take any IRAs you own into account.

Medicaid applicants can keep only a small amount of resources (usually $2,400) in order to be eligible for benefits. Certain resources may be exempt from this rule. Whether your IRA is exempt often depends on whether it is in “payout status.”

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‘Tis the Season for Gifting

2016 Estate and Gift Tax At this time of year, we think about gifting for the holiday season. While gift-giving is considered an act of kindness, it can also be an important estate planning tool.

You may wish to give away assets during your life so they are not included in your estate and subject to tax upon your death. However, you need to consider the tax laws that may apply.

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Congress Limits Insurance For Medicare Deductibles

Medicare beneficiaries often buy “Medigap” insurance policies that pay for many of regular Medicare’s deductibles and copayments. But as a result of a new law passed by Congress, starting in 2020 Medigap plans will no longer be allowed to offer coverage of the Medicare Part B deductible, which is currently $147.

However, current Medigap policyholders and those buying policies before 2020 will still be eligible for the deductible coverage after that date, so this is something to keep in mind.

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Filial Support Act Alive in PA!

The Pennsylvania Filial Support Act, which is contained in Chapter 46 of Title 23 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, permits an indigent person or any agency involved in the care of the indigent person, such as a nursing home, to make a claim against you for their care and for financial assistance if you are the spouse, the child, or the parent of the indigent person.

The amount of your liability to your indigent relative will be determined by the court in the judicial district in which the indigent person lives. If the court determines, after reviewing evidence of your assets and income, that you do not have sufficient financial ability to support the indigent person, then the Filial Support Act will not apply to you. Also, a child will not be liable for the support of their parent if the child was abandoned by the parent, and the abandonment lasted for at least a period of ten years during the child’s minority.

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Nursing home residents should prepare financially in case their spouse dies first

Seniors who are relying on Medicaid to help pay for expensive nursing home care need to plan carefully for the possibility that their spouse will pass away before they do.

Unlike Medicare, not all seniors are eligible for Medicaid. Medicaid is designed for people with limited income and assets, and to be eligible, you must meet strict financial guidelines. Many people have to spend down their assets to almost nothing and/or exhaust their long-term care insurance before they become eligible.

Of course, this is a problem if a senior is married and his or her spouse does not need nursing home care. It would mean that the spouse would have to be reduced to living in poverty before the senior could be eligible for benefits.

To avoid this problem, most states allow the spouse of a Medicaid recipient to keep a fairly generous amount of assets to live on. Many also allow the spouse to continue to receive some income without having to contribute to the senior’s nursing home costs.

But what happens if the spouse dies before the nursing home resident?

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