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April Newsletter

Welcome to the monthly newsletter of A/Z Health & Elder Law where we share tips and information in relevent topics focused on estate planning, elder law services, and life care planning.

We invite you to contact our office at (630) 510-3213 for additional information or to schedule a consultation for assistance with your planning needs.

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Upcoming Presentations by Mary Kay Furiasse


Long Term Care Planning and Medicaid

April 21, 2021
12:00 PM
Many people in health care face a huge array of questions as their clients and patients face the tough decisions of planning for diminishing capacity, health care treatment and skilled care arrangements. This presentation offers answers based on the current information infused with the hard-won wisdom of the experienced Aging Care Solutions panel of professionals.
 
Click Here for More Information and Registration

Advance Care Planning - Talking Matters!

April 27th, 2021
12:00 PM
Live Webinar Presentation
When it comes to issues of mortality, all of us have a story to tell. Advance healthcare decision-making includes much more than living wills; it is a process that allows an individual to decide in advance what care they want to receive if they become unable to speak for themselves. Please join us as we begin the conversation on your values - “what matters to you, not what’s the matter with you.  Reservations are required.
 
Click Here for More Information and Registration

View a Complete List of Coming Events

Click to View Coming Events and Presentations

Exciting Announcement!

We are pleased to announce that Mary Kay Furiasse has been appointed to serve as a member of the ISBA Elder Law Section Council for 2021-2022.
 

Stimulus Payments and Medicaid

As part of the coronavirus recovery effort, most Americans are getting direct payments from the federal government known as “stimulus checks.” This money is paid to ease the pain of the Covid pandemic and to jump-start the economy.
 
The stimulus money should have arrived in the same way that Social Security payments or tax refunds are made, either direct-deposited into a bank account or mailed as a paper check. If the money has not arrived, or for guidance in general, consult the IRS website:
https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payment-information-center#more. Other options are to call 800-919-9835 or 800-829-1040, or you can visit your local Taxpayer Assistance Center.
 
Those who are receiving means-tied government assistance, like SSI, VA benefits, or Medicaid to pay for long-term care, need not worry that stimulus money will be counted against them for eligibility. As long as recipients spend the money within twelve months, the money will not push them over the maximum amount they are permitted before they are penalized.
 
Recipients may use the money to buy new clothing, cell phones or televisions, toiletries, snacks, dental treatment, or improved quality of medical supplies. They may buy an irrevocable funeral trust, to avoid future expense to family members. They may give the money away to family or charities. The money might pay for updating estate-planning documents, or for consulting a geriatric care manager. (Some commentators believe that you could give the money away to family or charities. While this may be OK under federal law, it’s probably best not to take chances with how the states may interpret it. Spend the money, don’t donate it.)
 
Provided that the money is not spent on what could be called an asset or an investment – like, for example, rare coins or stocks or bonds – the money will not be counted against the asset limit for Medicaid eligibility. And, again, the money must be spent within twelve months. It must not be forgotten-about or left unnoticed in a bank account.
 
It also must not be misappropriated by nursing homes or assisted-living facilities. If this has happened to you or your loved one, inform the facility manager that the money must be refunded to the resident. Cite the law that carves out the payment from being counted toward federally assisted programs like Medicaid: 26 U.S.C. § 6409.  Or, show them a handout downloadable from the Congressional Research Service.
 
If the facility will not refund the money, contact your state’s attorney general. Then lodge a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
 
Recipients of assistance, like anyone else, are free to spend their stimulus money. The money is theirs. It is tax-free. It is intended to be spent, and it should be spent, in any way the recipient would like (subject to the conditions above).
 
This is one time when spending is unquestionably a good thing – for buyers and sellers.
 
If you have questions or would like to discuss your situation in a confidential setting, please contact our office at (630) 510-3213.

Dementia Affects Famous and Everyday People

Jack Hanna, wildlife expert, author, guest TV personality, and TV producer known for starring in shows like Animal Adventures, Voices for Wildlife, and Into the Wild, is retiring from work and public life because he has dementia. Known as "Jungle" Jack, he left the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, where he served as director, then director emeritus, for 42 years in December 2020.

His family most recently posted on his verified Twitter account explaining his condition to his many fans. "Doctors have diagnosed our dad, Jack Hanna, with dementia, now believed to be Alzheimer's disease," further stating, "His condition has progressed much faster in the last few months than any of us could have anticipated."

Jack Hanna lives a healthy, active lifestyle and is currently age 74. Let that sink in.

Worldwide the statistics are not good, and they are not in favor of the average aging American. The Alzheimer's Association website states that one in three seniors currently dies with Alzheimer's or some other dementia. In the absence of a medical breakthrough to prevent, slow, or cure Alzheimer's disease, the predictive numbers will only increase.

By 2050 more than 15 percent, or 12.7 million Americans age 65 or more, will be diagnosed with dementia. There will be still more elderly Americans living with the disease undiagnosed by a medical professional, often due to poverty associated with lack of proper medical care. Living with dementia is not only a challenge to an individual's daily life, but it is also expensive. When it comes to footing the costly care bill, where does that leave our country, our health care system, our caregivers, our families, and you?

Alzheimer's and other dementias' problems are overwhelming in the larger sense, so control what you can. As an individual, create a plan responsive to the changing needs of Alzheimer's care should you receive the diagnosis. Women, more than men and certain ethnic groups, tend to be hit hardest with the disease. If you fall into these categories, pay special attention to the onset of early symptoms because, as in all diseases, early diagnosis is key to more successful intervention. All individuals should speak with their doctors honestly about any cognitive challenges they experience as they age. The Alzheimer's Association has a checklist of symptoms that you can use as a starting point.

The early, middle and late stages of Alzheimer's disease all require different degrees of caregiving as behaviors change in each stage. The one truism is that your caregiving situation will require a team providing support on many levels. Look for community and online community resources. The Alzheimer’s Association also has a Cognitive Impairment Care Planning Toolkit to help define and deliver person-centered care planning.

One of the earliest challenges you will face after a dementia diagnosis is developing or adapting your existing estate plan and advance directives that speak to financial and medical issues. You may have to move to be nearer family members, which can upend your will and other legal documents as they are executed by state authority. Adapting your legal plans early on can protect any challenges by heirs regarding your mental fitness and any estate plan changes. In truth, funding care for a dementia diagnosis can drain your assets to the point where generational wealth no longer exists for your inheritors. You cannot afford to have family challenges to your estate, particularly when you are no longer capable of understanding the scope of the issues due to your dementia.

There is a lot to take in, and much to get done should you receive an Alzheimer's disease diagnosis. Even if you do not fall into a high-risk category for dementia, you ignore the possibility of the disease at your peril. Even the seemingly healthiest and most advantaged persons like Jack Hanna can experience the diagnosis and have the disease attack swiftly.

We help families create plans that address long-term care concerns, financial issues such as how to pay for care, and tax issues. Many clients of ours have a dementia diagnosis and we understand the challenges that come with such a diagnosis. We welcome the opportunity to discuss your concerns and your wishes so that they can be properly documented for you and your loved ones. Please contact our office at (630) 510-3213 and schedule an appointment to discuss your particular situation.
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A/Z Health & Elder Law, LLC
3030 Warrenville Road
Suite 411
Lisle, IL 60532
(630) 510-3213

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AZ Health & Elder Law · 3030 Warrenville Rd Ste 411 · Lisle, IL 60532-3710 · USA

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