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Richardson Elder Law And Estate Planning Blog

Aid and Attendance benefit allowance for aging Veterans

According to data from the 2012 census, there are over 12 million Veterans age 65 and older. The Veterans Administration (VA) offers a long-term care benefit to help aging Veterans and their surviving spouses manage the financial challenges of aging and health concerns.

The VA bases benefits on need, meaning the countable household income and net worth cannot exceed an annual limit set by Congress. To be eligible for pension benefits the Veteran must have served 90 days of active duty during a wartime period and been honorably discharged. The Veteran must also be age 65 or older, permanently disabled, a patient in a nursing home or receiving income from either Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income.

Nearly 60 percent of Americans haven't made a will

A 2017 study by demonstrates how unprepared most Americans are for their end of life. Over half of all Americans reported no will or estate plan in place.

The number of people without a will increased the younger the population. Over 70 percent of millennials ages 18-36 have no plans in place. That number drops slightly to 64 percent of people ages 37-52.

Senior care staffing shortage could hurt the quality of care

While the Texas population has surged recently, the number of nursing graduates has not kept pace with this growth. According to the Texas Health Care Association, the turnover rate for nurses coupled with the of lack available staff means nursing homes are suffering from a shortage of staff that is at crisis level. Skilled Nursing News states there is a 97 percent rate of turnover for certified nursing assistants and a 90 percent turnover for other important caregiver positions.

Texas nursing homes provide care for more than 92,000 people daily. A shortage of staff has lead the Texas long term care industry to fall below national averages in terms of survey, quality, and staffing measurements. For elderly patients, the consequences can be serious.

What will happen to the family business?

For many, the idea of a family business conjures up images of quaint store fronts straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting. However, family businesses account for an astonishing 50 percent of the national gross domestic product and businesses controlled by families make up 35 percent of Fortune 500 companies.

Even more surprising is the fact that more than half of small business owners are 50 and older and considering retirement, but less than 30 percent have a written succession plan. Lack of a formal succession plan leaves the future success of the business fraught with uncertainty.

Five easy ways to avoid a probate headache

While probate can be a complicated, expensive, and time-consuming process, it doesn't always have to be. By taking steps to reduce the amount of property going through probate, you can save your beneficiaries months of waiting and potentially thousands of dollars in legal fees.

Here are five ways to facilitate probate-free property transfer:

  • Joint ownership of property. Joint tenancy with right of survivorship, tenancy by the entirety, and community property with right of survivorship are three methods of setting up joint ownership of your property. This allows you to avoid probate completely.

Student Loans Can Follow You Beyond The Grave

When a person dies with debt, creditors can tap the value of the estate to recoup their money in the probate process, whether for credit card debt, a car loan, a mortgage or a personal loan. But does this also apply to student loan debt? That depends on the source of the debt.

Forgiven loans are taxable

Dementia Costly On Many Fronts

Caring for an elderly loved one can be emotionally and financially exhausting no matter the circumstances. For those with loved ones with dementia, the costs of care can be even more taxing. From the financial costs of care and potential lost income to the emotional toll caring for someone with dementia can take, the journey is not an easy one.

Financial challenges

The costs of professional care for a family member with dementia can be overwhelming, especially considering that many dementia patients require care over a long period of time. In 2016, average costs ranged from $1,517 a month for adult day care to $8,121 per month for a private room in a nursing home. Those attempting to sidestep those costs by providing in-care home often lost income from missed work, reduced hours or reduced Social Security or retirement benefits. So how do families pay for these costs? Medicare doesn't cover nursing home care. Medicaid does, but you have to have spent almost all your money to qualify for the program. Long-term care insurance can provide help--if you have it. But the insurance is pricey and not everybody has it.

Who Pays When Parents Die With Debt?

Some people worry that if their parent dies with debt, that they will be responsible for paying it off. In most cases, this is not true. In the probate process, when a person dies, their assets become part of the estate, and it's the value of the estate that pays for any debt the person who has died still owes. Whatever is left after the debts are paid then gets distributed to designated beneficiaries. In situations where debt exceeds the value of the estate, children may not end up inheriting anything. But unless children are joint owners of the debt, it's the estate that will pay, and not the children themselves.

Let's take a look at how three types of debt are handled in probate when a parent dies.

Three Alternatives To Long-Term Care Insurance

If you think paying a mortgage seems expensive, compare it to the cost of a stay in a nursing home, the median price of which is $6,000. for a private institution. Ideally, everyone would have their own long-term care insurance to help shoulder the burden of these costs. But long-term care insurance is beyond the means of many Americans. Furthermore, the policies are becoming harder to find, as insurers drop such policies in the face of rising costs. 

Reality check

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  • Richard P. Johnson is Board certified Texas Board of Legal Specialization Estate Planning And Probate
  • Wealth Counsel
  • The College of the State Bar Of Texas Professionalism Through Education
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