Articles Posted in Medicaid Planning

A Florida DNR is a document you will not complete with your Jacksonville Estate Planning Lawyer. Many feel that estate planning is a great area of law because it allows people to plan ahead for how they wish to be treated medically in a scenario when someone is not able to decide on their own.  This is why we recommend that every person plan for their future through estate planning documents such as a will, trust, living will, medical and financial powers of attorney and even simple documents such as a Florida “Do Not Resuscitate Order.”

A Florida DNR, Do Not Resuscitate Order, is a form developed by the Florida Department of Health, known formally as Form 1896, that identifies a person that does not wish to be resuscitated in the event of respiratory or cardiac arrest.  This form, tells hospitals, doctors, and other health providers to not resuscitate you when certain conditions occur because you do not feel your quality of life will be sufficient after resuscitation. We recommend that everyone have a Florida DNR, Do Not Resuscitate Order, if they do not wish to be revived under certain conditions because most doctors and health care providers will attempt to resuscitate a person by default.

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In Florida, Medicaid is a federal and state level program that offers health care assistance to members of the program.  Medicaid is a complicated program that is administered differently on a state-by-state basis.  There are many common misunderstandings regarding Medicaid.  This article will help to debunk some common myths and set the record right.

1) Status of a Home in Florida

FALSE. One common myth is that Florida residents cannot own a home and also qualify for Medicaid.  This is not true.  Florida does place a cap on the amount of gross income and assets a person can own and qualify for Medicaid.  A person with too many assets or income is ineligible to receive Medicaid benefits.

Several reverse mortgage companies were fined a collective amount of $790,000 for using deceptive advertising that claimed consumers could never lose their homes through a reverse mortgage.

The reverse mortgage firms fined were American Advisors Group, Reverse Mortgage Solutions, and Aegean Financial.  The three firms reached a consent agreement with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  The regulators for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found the ads used by the companies misled consumers.

Specifically, the ads used statements that implied a person could never lose his or her home with a reverse mortgage.  Another ad promised, “ I can show you how to use a government-insured program that allows you to save money, get cash and live payment-free as long as you live in your home.”

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The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 is still going strong, and there are some changes to the tax code in store for this New Year.  For those who are not familiar with the law, this act made the following permanent: the reunification of the estate and gift tax regimes, the $5 million estate along with the generation skipping transfer tax exemptions, and the portability of the federal estate tax exemption between spouses at death.

The great aspect of The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 is that the gift tax exemptions adjust for inflation each year.  In 2017, the federal estate tax exemption will be increased to $5,490,000.  The exemption was $5,450,000 in 2016.   Further, the generation skipping transfer tax exemption has also been increased to $5,490,000.

The more commonly used exemptions are the lifetime gift tax exemption.  The lifetime exemption is the amount a person can give throughout his or her life without paying any federal gift taxes.  In 2017, the rate will now be $5,490,000, which was also increased from $5,450,000 in 2016.  Further, a married couple may combine their lifetime exemptions so the combined estate can give up to $10,980,00.
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As a Jacksonville elder law attorney we often run across phone scams that target the elderly.  Besides the typical IRS and credit card scams the Department of Elder Affairs is warning Florida residents to watch out for scam artists who are allegedly making calls pretending to be the Department or an organization they refer to as Senior Services. These callers are using a method known as “spoofing” to make it appear on Caller ID as if the call is coming from a number belonging to the Florida Department of Elder Affairs’ fax line – (850) 414-2004.
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Most financial planners are unfamiliar with some of the modern twists available with irrevocable trusts.  They tend to be familiar with the older style of irrevocable trust that can pose several problems for those who use them. These problems include:

  1. Loss of control over the management of the assets;
  2. A separate EIN number for tax reporting purposes;
  3. A larger tax bills because of the way traditional irrevocable trusts are taxed;
  4. A loss of the step up in basis available to assets owned by an individual upon the death of the settlor; and
  5. The inability to change provisions or beneficiaries in the future.

The irrevocable trust, you have chosen does not suffer from any of the traditional problems discussed above.  It is an Irrevocable Pure Grantor trust  (IPUG™). With the iPug™ many of the advantages that are traditionally only found with a revocable trust can be provided in an irrevocable trust.  Some may ask, why should we use an irrevocable trust instead of a revocable trust.  Here is a summary of the reasons that the iPug™ trust is superior to the revocable trust and does not pose the problems that a traditional irrevocable trust presents:

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Estate planning often focuses on married couples, but estate planning for a single person is equally as important. A single person often owns assets in their name individually, which means these assets must go through the probate process when the person dies. The big question then becomes whom do these assets pass to?   In addition, asset protection and Medicaid issues become more important to address with a single person than a married couple.

A single person like any other person can own many assets and have a desire to see those assets distributed to certain people. Some assets, such as life insurance and retirement plans, are distrusted at death according to the beneficiary designations. If a person dies without a will, his or her possessions are passed intestate according to the intestate laws of the state. For a single person, the state law usually provides that a single person’s assets are passed to his or her closest relatives. If there are no relatives then the assets are collected by the state. So estate planning is needed if a person wants a say in how his or her assets will distributed.

What documents does a single person need?

With the current estate tax exception of $5.43 Million for an individual and $10.86 Milliion for a married couple, some estate planners have begun to question whether gifting provisions in a Durable Power of Attorney pose more risk than reward.  While it is true, that these provisions can be abused by individuals, there are several situations when estate taxes is not the primary concern and removing gifting provisions could pose a substantial risk to the individuals.

In Florida, individuals must initial next to any gifting provision for them to be valid under current law.  Generally there are those provisions which permit the amount under the annual gift tax exemption (currently $14,000 a year per person) and those which permit larger gifting.  While many estate planners may not see a need for these anymore, elder law attorneys use them all the time to protect the assets from loss due to the need for nursing home coverage for the individual or their spouse.  So while it may be true that less than 0.2%  (2 in 1000) people are actually subject to estate taxes, many more will need long term care.  Without these important gifting provisions, individuals could end up being bankrupt or leaving little or no money for their surviving spouse to live on.

In addition, there is no guarantee that the estate tax exemption will continue to increase or remain the same. Congress could change the numbers in the future and without gifting provisions, your family may not be able to decrease the amount of your estate that would be subject to estate taxes.

Asset protection was previously out of reach for most Americans.  Thanks to a new trust called the IPUG™ Trust, Asset Protection is affordable for the average family.  In the past many families created trusts to avoid estate tax, but with the recent increases in the Federal estate tax exemptions, many use trusts to manage assets, avoid probate, and protect assets from creditors.

The iPug™ Trust not only provides advantageous tax benefits, but it also provides asset protection, while retaining Grantor control,” explains David J. Zumpano, CPA, ESQ., President and Founder of MPS and creator of the iPug™ Trust. “iPug™ Planning will  apply to 99.5% of Americans.”

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The amount you can give anyone without having to file a gift tax return in 2015 remains the same as 2014 at $14,000.

Remember that you can give your children, their spouses, your grandkids $14,000 each. In addition, if you are married, your spouse can also gift $14,000 to each person.

Generally, families use gifting to reduce the size of their estate do not need Medicaid long-term care coverage, but if you or your spouse need care and you have gifted money in the past, it may affect your ability to obtain coverage.

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