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Using a Hybrid Approach to Long Term Care
In many areas in and around Baltimore, nursing-home care ranges between $9,000 and $13,000 per month. This can drain a life savings very quickly causing many seniors to attempt to “age in place” as long as possible, meaning they attempt to stay in their home with health care aides.

In many areas in and around Baltimore, nursing-home care ranges between $9,000 and $13,000 per month. This can drain a life savings very quickly causing many seniors to attempt to “age in place” as long as possible, meaning they attempt to stay in their home with health care aides.

Long-term care insurance (LTCI) and the Medicaid Asset Protection Trust (MAPT) are ways to address these soaring long-term care costs. Often viewed as either/or options, using a hybrid approach may be a better alternative.

Long-term care insurance protects both income and assets from the costs of long-term care. It is a form of self-insuring and is typically purchased when one is younger and healthier in anticipation of getting older and needing long-term care. When needed, the insurance will pay for health aides in the home.

Depending on the benefits of the policy, long term care insurance may also pay for assisted living and nursing-home costs. The downside is that long term care insurance is expensive and requires passing certain health assessments to qualify.

Another option for planning for long term care needs is a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust (MAPT) that protects assets from going to nursing-home costs after the assets are in the trust for five years. Once the time limit passes, you may then apply for Medicaid to pay for nursing-home costs.

However, unlike long term care insurance, the trust does not protect your income. Medicaid income rules determine how much income you keep.

Now for the hybrid approach: buy some long-term care insurance and also create a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust. Factors that help make the decision regarding the hybrid approach include the daily benefit of the LTCI, the maximum lifetime payout, if there is an inflation rider, and other assets and income that could supplement the insurance. For more information on this strategy and how to best apply it to your situation, contact the experienced Elder Law attorneys with Stouffer Legal at 443-470-3599.

April 27, 2020
How Living Trust Can Help Seniors
It’s an unfortunate fact that seniors can be prime targets for financial abuse and scams. Sadly, the elderly are often taken advantage of by strangers — and sometimes even their own family members. That’s why it’s important that planning is in place to help seniors protect themselves and their assets.

It’s an unfortunate fact that seniors can be prime targets for financial abuse and scams. Sadly, the elderly are often taken advantage of by strangers — and sometimes even their own family members. That’s why it’s important that planning is in place to help seniors protect themselves and their assets.

As we age, it can become increasingly difficult to manage our assets. Most of us will, at some point, need assistance with these details to help ensure that our financial and other assets aren’t depleted. If you or an aging loved one are looking for ways to safeguard assets, a Living Trust is often the best way to do so. Living Trusts allow seniors to rest assured that their finances and assets are managed by a trusted person.

What is a Living Trust?

Living Trusts help protect and manage the assets of those who cannot do so themselves due to age, illness, or disability. Many seniors assume that a will is the only protection they need. However, trusts are designed to safeguard the assets of the living, while wills only outline what happens to a person’s assets when the pass away. Furthermore, wills must go before a probate court and taxes must be paid on inheritances, while Living Trusts allow beneficiaries to avoid probate after their loved one’s passing.

To establish a Living Trust the owner, or grantor, places assets within the trust. The grantor then appoints a trustee to manage it and names beneficiaries to receive the assets of the trust when the time comes.

There are different types of Living Trusts. Let’s take a look at each and the ways these trusts can benefit seniors.

Testamentary Trust

A Testamentary Trust protects an elderly person’s assets when a spouse dies. Assets of the deceased are transferred into a trust — enabling the appointed trustee to make all financial decisions regarding those assets. This helps a surviving spouse by protecting him or her from fraud or mismanagement of assets. Trustees can help the surviving senior generate income from remaining assets via sales or investments and take advantage of tax benefits.

Revocable Living Trusts

A Revocable Living Trust safeguards seniors by making it more difficult for non-trustee family members to mismanage money or assets. The grantor (senior) can amend or revoke the trust at his or her own discretion without the consent of the beneficiary. This type of trust allows the grantor to stay in control of assets by either serving as a trustee or appointing one. In this case the grantor, serving as trustee and beneficiary of the trust, appoints a successor in the event he or she becomes incapacitated or dies. This appointed person is then responsible for disposal of the trust’s assets.

Irrevocable Living Trusts

An Irrevocable Living Trust is one that cannot be changed or revoked by the trustmaker. This means that the grantor/trustmaker gives up his or her rights to the assets once they are transferred. Seniors over 65 who are eligible for Medicaid often choose to transfer assets into an Irrevocable Living Trust to avoid having to dispose of assets in order to remain eligible for Medicaid coverage or long-term care benefits. Once assets are in an irrevocable trust, they cannot be counted for Medicaid eligibility purposes, but there could be a penalty for transferring assets to an irrevocable trust.

An elder law attorney can assist in determining the best way to set up this type of trust and how to best transfer assets based on Medicaid stipulations. An Irrevocable Living Trust can provide income for seniors and their spouses. It also protects their property and other assets from being seized to pay for medical costs, without impacting Medicaid eligibility. This type of trust can also remain in place for a surviving spouse after the grantor’s death.

The sooner assets are placed in an Irrevocable Living Trust the better, as a penalty will be assessed by Medicaid during the first 5 years the trust is in existence (if Medicaid is required during that time).

Ultimately, Living Trusts give seniors more control over their assets than a will, allowing them to set parameters and stipulations and appoint a trusted advisor to help them make decisions. If you or your loved one would like more information about setting up a Living Trust, we can help. Contact our firm today at 443-470-3599 to discuss how we can tailor a trust to your specific situation and needs.

April 23, 2020
Live Webinar April 30th at 10am-Now is the time to protect and plan!
Our webinars are designed to be educational, interactive, informative and generate relevant discussion for attendees. Modern Estate Planning is more than just preparing a will and putting it in a safe. Find out how a comprehensive Estate Plan will protect your assets and your family.

LIVE Webinar – Click Here to Register for April 30th at 10:00 AM

How to Protect your "Stuff" in 3 Easy Steps (Estate Planning Workshop)

This webinar covers frequently asked questions and common misconceptions regarding: Wills & Trust, Asset Protection, Nursing Home Issues, Medicaid Qualification, and Estate Taxes.

Please click to register for our webinar:

LIVE Webinar – Click Here to Register for April 30th at 10:00 AM

Our webinars are designed to be educational, interactive, informative and generate relevant discussion for attendees. Modern Estate Planning is more than just preparing a will and putting it in a safe. Find out how a comprehensive Estate Plan will protect your assets and your family. Our experienced attorney, Wilson McManus, will be sharing stories on how Estate Planning is beneficial and sometimes crucial. In an Estate Plan, you need to know the Rules: Who's "Rule-book" controls your Estate Plan? Yours? The Governments? Someone else? You need to know your Predators: Who's a Threat to Your Stuff? The Government? Long-term Care Costs? Your Family? You need to know your Options: What Plans are out there? Does a Will work? What about a Trust? Which kind of Trust?

Please click to register for our webinar:

LIVE Webinar – Click Here to Register for April 30th at 10:00 AM

Our workshops fill up fast, so please call (443) 470-3599 today to RSVP.

April 21, 2020
Understanding What Elder Law Attorneys Do
According to the US Census Bureau, more than 51 million Americans are currently aged 65 or older, and the number is steadily increasing while medical and technological advancements are allowing seniors to live longer and better lives than ever before. The expanding needs of the US aging population are contributing to an increase in federal government senior assistance programs complexity and availability.

According to the US Census Bureau, more than 51 million Americans are currently aged 65 or older, and the number is steadily increasing while medical and technological advancements are allowing seniors to live longer and better lives than ever before. The expanding needs of the US aging population are contributing to an increase in federal government senior assistance programs complexity and availability. Every senior has a unique set of circumstances that set parameters to navigate a successful aging plan, and the best way to determine what your plan should be is to retain the counsel of an elder law attorney.

How can an elder law attorney assist you? An elder law attorney provides overarching coordination for the financial, legal and health care decisions that seniors face. Finding and paying for long term care is something that many seniors and their family members fail to plan for, which can result in running out of money or not being able to secure appropriate care. Seniors or their families should seek legal assistance well before there is a need for long-term care of a loved one to plan for what type of long term care is desired and how it will be paid for. While an elder law attorney cannot be a specialist in all facets of a seniors plan for aging, they work in conjunction with other specialists when specific expertise is required.

Elder law attorneys can facilitate the establishment of a medical power of attorney, advanced health care directives in the case of dementia, or aiding in the selection process of the right long-term care facility and assisting in structuring the financial resources that cover the cost of that care. Those resources may include maintaining eligibility for Medicaid or Veterans’ benefits while protecting the senior's assets for themselves and their legacy.

Elder law attorneys often assist with guardianships if a senior is no longer capable of making responsible and informed decisions regarding their health, living, and financial affairs, and no one has been designated to do so. Guardianships are normally a last resort, as they are costly, require court involvement for the lifetime of the incapacitated person, and a stranger could be appointed to oversee the incapacitated person’s finances. Ideally, a senior will have proper legal documents in place to avoid a guardianship, but unfortunately this isn’t always the case.

A properly drafted estate or long term care plan can help avoid a guardianship, as the estate planning documents make sure there are proper agents named to handle financial and medical decisions in the event you or a loved one can no longer make those decisions. A properly drafted estate or long term care plan will also address how long term care will be paid for, and whether assistance with government benefits is necessary.

Identifying the right elder law attorney is essential for a senior, their future, and the future of their legacy. Typical questions to consider include: how long the attorney has specifically practiced elder law, if they have a particular specialty such as veteran’s benefits, Medicaid, estate planning or probate expertise. You should also seek an elder law attorney whose practice is dedicated to elder law as this area of law is often changing and it is important to have an attorney who is on top of the latest rule changes.

Selecting the right elder law attorney for your personal needs or those of a loved one will make a significant impact on your plan for successful aging. Start well in advance of the time you or your family anticipates the need for your long-term care. If we can help you or a loved one with your elder law needs, please don’t hesitate to reach out call 443-470-3599.

April 20, 2020
Comparing Joint Versus Separate Trusts for Married Couples
Traditionally, joint trusts reigned as the most popular among married couples due to their less expensive start up costs and ease of management. There are some advantages that in some situations make the extra cost worth creating and managing separate trusts.

Traditionally, joint trusts reigned as the most popular among married couples due to their less expensive start up costs and ease of management. There are some advantages that in some situations make the extra cost worth creating and managing separate trusts. Let’s compare:

First, separate trusts offer better asset protection. Separating the marital estate into two separate trusts helps to insulate those assets from creditors brought against the other spouse.

Next, while managing one trust is simpler than two, separate trusts still offer the opportunity for each spouse to name the other as co-trustee. This allows both spouses to maintain control of all assets despite those assets being funded into separate trusts.

Finally, once the first spouse dies, the trust assets are disbursed according to that spouse’s designations. Separate trusts preserve the surviving spouse’s ability to amend or revoke the assets held in the surviving spouse’s trust. If they were combined together in one joint account, the surviving spouse would not have that ability because all the assets would be distributed according to the terms of the joint trust.

To summarize:

Separate Trusts – May be better options for remarriages and couples who own individual property or who expect to inherit separate property.

Joint Trusts – May be a good option for couples who have the same beneficiaries in mind, the same distribution goals, want to use the same trustee, and prefer the ease of only one trust to manage. To discuss options for setting up trusts, please contact Stouffer Legal at 443-470-3599 in the Greater Baltimore area.

April 17, 2020
5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Signing Off on Your Advance Directives
Advance Directives are legal documents that you allow you to disclose your wishes about end-of-life care options. You spell out how you would like for your family and health care professionals to handle various situations should any of those arise.

Advance Directives are legal documents that you allow you to disclose your wishes about end-of-life care options. You spell out how you would like for your family and health care professionals to handle various situations should any of those arise.

You need to think through the different life-sustaining treatment options available to determine how you would want your caregivers and health care agent to proceed. Life-sustaining treatment includes any type of intervention that prolongs the moment of death, regardless of whether the treatment impacts any of the underlying causes or symptoms leading to the terminal condition.

Some examples of life-sustaining treatment include ventilation, feeding tubes, transfusions, CPR and Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO). Before signing your advance directives ask yourself these 5 questions:

1. Is there a chance my underlying illness will improve? Is recovery possible?

2. What are my goals? Do I want more time or more comfort during the time left?

3. Will life-sustaining treatments cause unwanted side effects that impact my goals?

4. How does my faith or religious beliefs play into these decisions?

5. Is it possible that a cure for my illness is close to being developed that will justify life-prolonging measures?

At Stouffer Legal, we know how difficult it can be to make these determinations. Our experienced estate planning attorneys are happy to discuss the options at length. Contact Stouffer Legal at 443-470-3599 in the Greater Baltimore area to schedule a consultation.

April 16, 2020
Apps and Activities for Those Suffering from Dementia
A dementia diagnosis causes hardship not only on the individual diagnosed but also among all the family members and caregivers. Memory loss, personality changes and even physical symptoms like vision impairment and hearing loss may be evident.

A dementia diagnosis causes hardship not only on the individual diagnosed but also among all the family members and caregivers. Memory loss, personality changes and even physical symptoms like vision impairment and hearing loss may be evident. For those looking for ways to improve or prolong mental decline, here are a few apps and activities to try:

- Alz Calls: A chatbot that allows a caregiver to upload a photo and record his or her voice answering frequently asked questions can be used as a comforting tool. This allows a patient to have an interactive conservation repeatedly and on demand even though a caregiver is not available.

- AmuseIT: A simple to use app for smart phones that offers thousands of quizzes designed to promote conversation and stimulate memory.

- Constant Therapy: A speech therapy app for smart phones that contains brain rehabilitation exercises developed by scientists from Boston University.

- MEternally.com: A website promoting reminiscence, defined as an enjoyable recollection of past events. Reminiscence therapy focuses on finding joy and connection by sharing memories.

- Music: Playing familiar music has been shown to reduce anxiety and promote joy among those diagnosed with dementia related illnesses.

If you are concerned about memory loss in a loved one, or the potential that you could develop Alzheimer’s or dementia, contact the knowledgeable and caring elder law attorneys at Stouffer Legal at 443-470-3599 to make a plan and learn what resources are available to you.

April 15, 2020
Live Webinar April 22nd at 10am-Now is the time to protect and plan!
Our workshops are designed to be educational, interactive, informative and generate relevant discussion for attendees. Modern Estate Planning is more than just preparing a will and putting it in a safe.

LIVE Webinar – Click Here to Register for April 22nd at 10:00 AM

How to Protect your "Stuff" in 3 Easy Steps (Estate Planning Workshop)

This webinar covers frequently asked questions and common misconceptions regarding: Wills & Trust, Asset Protection, Nursing Home Issues, Medicaid Qualification, and Estate Taxes.

Please click to register for our webinar:

LIVE Webinar – Click Here to Register for April 22nd at 10:00 AM

Our webinars are designed to be educational, interactive, informative and generate relevant discussion for attendees. Modern Estate Planning is more than just preparing a will and putting it in a safe. Find out how a comprehensive Estate Plan will protect your assets and your family. Our experienced attorney, Wilson McManus, will be sharing stories on how Estate Planning is beneficial and sometimes crucial. In an Estate Plan, you need to know the Rules: Who's "Rule-book" controls your Estate Plan? Yours? The Governments? Someone else? You need to know your Predators: Who's a Threat to Your Stuff? The Government? Long-term Care Costs? Your Family? You need to know your Options: What Plans are out there? Does a Will work? What about a Trust? Which kind of Trust?

Please click to register for our webinar:

LIVE Webinar – Click Here to Register for April 22nd at 10:00 AM

Our workshops fill up fast, so please call (443) 470-3599 today to RSVP.

April 14, 2020
Retirement Savings Plummeting? Don’t Panic
With recent economic upheaval resulting from Covid-19 pandemic, many investors are suffering losses, many workers now face unemployment or reduced income, and many Americans have sadly watched their savings accounts and retirement accounts dwindle.

With recent economic upheaval resulting from Covid-19 pandemic, many investors are suffering losses, many workers now face unemployment or reduced income, and many Americans have sadly watched their savings accounts and retirement accounts dwindle.

Don’t panic. Make the best of a bad situation.

1. Cut back on spending. Use these cutbacks to establish a small cash reserve. Anything is better than nothing. Your goal should be to have at least three months of living expenses tucked away.

2. Keep in mind the stock market will bounce back and your long-term investments will improve once the crisis is over. Making rash decisions during times of crisis can lead to unintended consequences. Discuss all transactions with a trusted financial advisor and let knowledge and experience guide you rather than anxiety and emotions.

3. Cashing out retirement accounts and 401(k)s result in penalties and additional taxes which will only serve to further deplete your assets.

4. Talk to your financial advisor about your asset allocation strategy. If you are approaching retirement, your risk tolerance may be lower. The older you get, the more conservative your portfolio should be.

During uncertain times, meeting with trusted advisors can help give you peace of mind. Make sure your estate planning documents are up to date. Now is not the time to panic, but the time to plan. Contact Stouffer Legal at 443-470-3599 in the Greater Baltimore area.

April 10, 2020
Nursing Home Infection Plans Face Scrutiny
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services require health inspectors to focus on infection control practices at nursing homes and hospitals. Guidelines are in place regarding using and changing gloves, handwashing, laundry methods and food-handling practices.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services require health inspectors to focus on infection control practices at nursing homes and hospitals. Guidelines are in place regarding using and changing gloves, handwashing, laundry methods and food-handling practices. Inspectors have the duty to ensure these guidelines are properly followed.

A recent Kaiser study showed 61% of nursing homes were cited for failure to adhere to infection prevention protocols. Staffing levels showed to be a huge factor in this statistic. When choosing a nursing home facility consider whether it has an adequate staff according to recommended ratios because staff to patient ratios directly correlate to better infection prevention.

When understaffed, nursing home employees may not have the necessary time between patients to properly wash their hands or sanitize surfaces. While preventing the spread of the Coronavirus prompted more scrutiny, these protocols have been in place for years to prevent the spread of influenza and antibiotic-resistant bacteria like methicillin-resistant Staphlyoccoccus aureaus (MRSA), both of which can be very lethal to elderly patients.

Some key types of Infection Prevention practices include:

- Hand hygiene

- Proper use of masks, gloves and gowns

- Surface cleaning and disinfection

- Respiratory Hygiene

- Proper waste disposal

Ensuring your loved ones are cared for in a safe environment is an essential part of Long-Term Care Planning. To learn more contact Stouffer Legal at 443-470-3599 in the Greater Baltimore area.

April 9, 2020
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