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Federal Assistance Programs are Running Out of Money

Social Security and Medicare, are the two most expensive federal social programs, and it has been recently announced that they will run out of money three years earlier than original estimates indicated. Trustees estimated that Social Security will run out of funds in the year 2033, and Medicare will be insolvent in 2024. More and more pressure is being put on lawmakers to reform these programs for millions of Americans, so that future retirees have a security net for their retirement years.

It is extremely important to get your portfolio and documents reviewed by a financial adviser and an attorney, to make sure you will not be ready if these programs go away. Please call Skillern Law Firm today to set up an appointment.

See Reuters, US Retirement Fund to Run Dry Earlier: Trustees, CNBC, Apr. 23, 2012.

Special Needs Planning

It seems everyone knows at least someone with special needs, whether it be a family member, a church member, or a friend. When it come to estate and financial planning, the term “special needs” applies to family members who cannot, for some reason, take care of themselves. The reasons are varied, whether it be a child with a condition, such as Down’s syndrome, a teenager with mental problems, or an elderly person with a condition like dementia or Alzheimer. Another reason someone may need special needs planning can be someone with a physical disability, such as a quadriplegic, or many other disabilities.

Most of our clients who come to us wanting special needs are parents or grandparents that need special needs planning for their children or grandchildren.  Most clients are people who want to provide for their special needs family member through inheritance, however, leaving money as inheritance or life insurance to a special needs person will usually not improve their life, in fact, it generally has a detrimental effect on their financial well-being and stability.

One of the main reasons why leaving inheritance or life insurance benefits to a special needs person can be detrimental is that it can disqualify a special needs member from Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSI is a federal financial support program that gives money to special needs individuals. Medicaid is another federal and state program that gives financial support to special needs individuals. Your inheritance can disqualify the special needs person from Medicaid support as well, since in order to qualify for Medicaid a person must have less than $2,000 in assets (which is really, really low for someone with special needs).

Special needs estate planning can help give your family member with special needs the ability to qualify for federal and state financial support programs, while also inheriting some money from your estate. Making sure your family member with special needs is left with enough money to support their health, care, and maintenance costs, while at the same time qualifying for federal programs, requires complex planning that is best done with the advice of a qualified attorney. Skillern Law Firm, PLLC is happy to explain the benefits and inter-workings of special needs estate planning. Please call today to schedule your free appointment.

Medicaid Planning – Planning for Your Future Health Costs

Skillern Law is excited to be adding Medicaid/Nursing Home Estate Planning to our practice areas. It’s a new type of estate planning in the law, and it’s becoming more and more important as the baby boomers are growing older. A lot of people do not know what it is or what it entails exactly. Let’s answer all those questions today on Tulsa Estate Planning Blog.

First of all, there are a lot of misconceptions about Medicaid and what it provides for. Medicaid is not a welfare program. It was before 1989, however Congress passed the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act in 1988 after Congress saw that Americans were getting older, and nursing homes were rising in costs. This act changed Medicaid to make it a Federal insurance program that helps middle-class America pay for long-term care costs.

Medicaid Estate Planning, or “nursing home planning” as it is commonly called, helps qualify a client for Medicaid benefits for future assistance. The planning helps qualify the future Medicaid applicant, which will help pay for nursing home costs, prescription drug costs, and medical expenses. Medicaid planning can help families save money from having to be spent on nursing homes and prescription drugs. This is especially true in the case of family held farms or businesses. Most people spend their lives paying into the Medicaid system, and Medicaid planning will help middle-class families from having to spend their retirement fund solely on health costs.

The essential thing to remember about Medicaid or nursing home planning is to get it done early. While there are planning methods to be used in “emergency 911” situations, that planning is expensive, can be time-consuming, and will not be able to get as much Medicaid help as early planning can. Preventative Estate Planning should happen years before the client is expected to be in need of Medicaid money. Typically, it is good to get done when you get your other estate planning documents drafted. At least five (5) years before an expected need, but the earlier the better in the case of Medicaid planning.

The exciting news is that Skillern Law Firm offers Medicaid, VA & Social Security Benefit planning in conjunction with Senior Resources & Benefits, LLC. Please feel free to look at SRB’s website here.   Set up an appointment today to discuss your options!

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