Blog

The information discussed and/or provided is not intended as legal advice and persons should not rely on anything posted on this blog. Please also be advised that no attorney-client relationship is established until the firm has been contacted by telephone and an appointment made to discuss your situation with us.

2018 Social Security Updates

October 16, 2017

The Social Security Administration (SSA) recently announced that the cost-of-living and other adjustments for 2018.

The maximum Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment will increase from $735 to $750 per month for eligible individuals. For eligible couples, the maximum monthly payment will increase to $1,125. SSI is a benefit available to people 65 or older, disabled, or blind and who have very limited income and assets.

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The Gift Tax, the Estate Tax, and Medicaid Planning

October 9, 2017

In order to qualify for Medicaid nursing home coverage, an individual’s assets have to be below a certain level. If used early enough in the planning process, transfers, or gifts, out of an individual’s countable assets are one tool that can help qualify individuals to fit under the asset cap.

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Insurance Planning for Special Needs Families

October 2, 2017

When considering life insurance, families often consider just buying life insurance to insure the life of income-earning individuals.

In some special needs families, where one spouse primarily earns an income and the other spouse serves as primary caretaker, the death of either spouse could create a heavy burden on the family. While the caretaker spouse is not primarily generating income, the caretaking services they perform have significant value compared to the cost of a professional caretaker or a care facility.

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Updating an Estate Plan After Becoming Single

September 26, 2017

Becoming single, either after divorce or a spouse’s passing, can have significant impacts on an individual’s estate plan. Nearly all of an individual’s assets and documents should be revisited to check for potential issues. While some items may only need a minor tweak, other documents may need to be rewritten entirely.

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Divorce and Special Needs Children

September 15, 2017

Previous blog posts have discussed the importance of making sure inheritances and gifts to provide for individuals with special needs go to designated Special Needs Trusts or, in certain circumstances, ABLE accounts. Making sure that payments go to the trust or ABLE account ensure that the special needs individual can receive support while still maintaining eligibility for government benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid.

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Planning for Medicaid with an Elder Law Attorney

September 6, 2017

Medicaid nursing home coverage can be a valuable resource in helping individuals afford nursing home care. However, the process of planning, applying, and qualifying for Medicaid nursing home coverage is fraught with many pitfalls.

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Asset Preservation Trusts and Medicaid Eligibility

August 28, 2017

An asset preservation trust is a type of trust that allows individuals to set aside assets to protect them from being counted toward Medicaid nursing home eligibility. However, to be a fully effective shield against being counted for Medicaid eligibility, assets must be in the trust for five years before applying for Medicaid nursing home coverage. Therefore, the use of an asset preservation trust does require advance planning.

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Living Trusts

August 1, 2017

A living trust (also known as a revocable trust) can be an important estate planning tool, however, living trusts are complex and not necessarily for everyone.

First a word of warning: in order for a living trust to function properly and efficiently, a living trust document should only be drafted by an experienced elder law attorney with a specific client’s needs in mind. An attorney needs expertise in elder law in order to properly know what a living trust can and cannot do and how to determine whether or not a living trust is even appropriate for a specific client. There is no such thing as a generic living trust document that will work for everyone.

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Types of Special Needs Trusts

July 24, 2017

A special needs trust is a type of trust established for the benefit of a disabled individual in order to provide them with a means of support while still qualifying for government benefits such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Government benefits only provide a very basic level of support. A special needs trust can provide the ability to significantly improve the quality of life of a disabled individual.

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Changes to MO HealthNet (Medicaid) Allowances

July 11, 2017

In order to be eligible for MO HealthNet nursing home coverage an individual has to remain under certain asset limits. MO HealthNet is the Missouri equivalent of Medicaid.

As of July 2017, the individual asset cap is set to change. There are also changes to allow the spouse of the individual in a nursing home to have more resources.

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Martha C. Brown & Associates, LLC assist clients with Estate Planning, Elder Law and Probate in St. Louis City, St. Louis County, St. Charles County, Jefferson County, Franklin County and the surrounding areas including Arnold, Ballwin, Barnhart, Bellefontaine Neighbors, Black Jack, Bonne Terre, Brentwood, Bridgeton, Cedar Hill, Chesterfield, Clayton, Crestwood, Creve Coeur, Crystal City, Des Peres, DeSoto, Ellisville, Farmington, Fenton, Festus, Ferguson, Florissant, Fredericktown, Frontenac, Hazelwood, Herculaneum, High Ridge, Hillsboro, House Springs, Imperial, Kirkwood, Ladue, Lake St. Louis, Manchester, Maplewood, Maryland Heights, Mehlville, Normandy, O'Fallon, Olivette, Pacific, Pevely, Richmond Heights, St. Ann, St. Charles, St. Clair, St. Peters, Ste. Genevieve, Sunset Hills, Town & Country, University City, Union, Valley Park, Washington, Webster Groves, Wentzville , Wildwood.