Category Archives: Elder Law

Illinois power of attorney law changed July 1

On July 1, 2011, Illinois redid its laws regarding power of attorneys (POAs) for health care and property.

POAs for property are used to control property outside of a living trust in the event of a disability. A POA for health care designates who makes health decisions if one is incapacitated.

The changes are not gigantic or earth-shattering. But it would be a wise idea for clients to update their poas just to be safe. This excellent article describes the changes in detail.

To summarize, the new law does the following:

1. Sets out new “standard” forms with supposedly simpler, more direct language.

2.  Includes a notice to the agent (the person who uses the poa) to describe better his or her duties as agent.

3.  Limits who can act as agent (no relatives, doctors or agents).

4.  Updates the POA for health care to make it easier to understand and includes some HIPAA provisions.

It would be wise to update your POAs to comply with the new law.  Most clients never have to use their POA. But if they do need it, they want the bannk or health care provider to accept it and not hassle them to death, right? Banks and health care providers can be reluctant to accept POAs that don’t look like the most recent form set out in the statute.  So why not play along and update your POAs.

Since the witnessing and notarizing are kind of confusing,  I think it’s better to have an attorney handle it for you. If you are a do-it-yourselfer (or just curious), examples of the new forms are here.

Greatest veteran's program that no one knows about…

Twice in the last few months, I’ve run across an amazing program that makes monthly payments to veterans who are disabled or having trouble living on their own. The name of the program is the VA Aid and Attendance Program.

Here’s what it does:

  • Pays $1744 per month to a veteran or $945 to a surviving spouse of a veteran to assist in bathing, meals, medication monitoring and other activities of daily living.
  • Applies to individuals who live in assisted living, at home, skilled nursing facilities or in-home care

What it takes to qualify

  • Must qualify medically and financially
  • Assets can’t exceed $80,000 (home, vehicle, annuities, pre-paid funeral and other things are not included in this number)
  • Takes 3-6 months to get approval.
  • Pays retroactively to date of application.
  • Applies to any veteran with 90 days of service

Here is how to apply.


Major Medicaid Overhaul Coming

It is expected that on February 1, 2006, President Bush will sign a bill drastically changing medicaid planning. Many things will change including:

1. 36 month look-back period extended to 60 months;
2. The start of the penalty period is no longer the date of the gift;
3. Recordkeeping requirements for gifts;
4. Homes over $500,000.00 in value will not be exempt.

Here is a good summary of the proposed changes.

Great Elder Law Blawg

A really well done blawg on elder law is the site of Texas attorney Jeanne Pi. Today there’s a story on how online access by senior citizens has increased by 47% in the last four years. That’s not groundbreaking, but to me, it’s interesting. There’s also a ton on medicaid and the dreaded HIPAA. (It doesn’t look like the site can be syndicated to view through a blog reader. But you can sign up for a daily email digest instead.)

Medicaid for Those Between Home and a Nursing Home

There is a fairly new program called the Supportive Living Program. This is a program that “waives” the requirement of skilled nursing care normally required for medicaid. It allows low-income seniors to qualify for medicaid-paid “assisted living,” where they otherwise would not qualify because of lack of medical need (medicaid otherwise requires full-time nursing care). The senior must have income of about $900.00 per month; all but $90 of which goes to Medicaid. The “asset” levels are the same as regular medicaid ($2000.00 cash, prepaid funeral, a car etc.) It can be a great alternative for a senior who needs day-to-day help and can’t stay home alone anymore, but doesn’t need the care of a full-time nursing facility.

Click here for more information.

One of the Best Elder Law Sites on the Internet

In my opinion is one of the best elder law site on the internet. It has general information on estate planning, medicaid planning, and an interactive section in which an elder law attorney answers questions for the public.

There is a simple, but very useful, half-a-loaf calculator that I use frequently. (Half-a-loaf is a medicaid gifting strategy in which a person, usually already in a nursing home, gifts some of their assets, knowingly creating a penalty period, but saves the rest of the funds to private-pay in the nursing home until they can apply for medicaid– after the penalty period expires- whew, that was a mouthful..) The half a loaf calculator is very helpful, as is the site itself. I do not suggest using this calculator without consulting an elder law attorney:)

Truth about Annuities

Many clients buy annuities. I think it is fair to say that most clients do not understand the annuities and, in many cases, the annuity purchase was an inappropriate choice. In my opininion annuities are appropriate when:

1. The client wants to save more for retirement and already puts the maximum in his or her IRA/401k;

2. The client is in a high tax bracket and wants to reduce taxes;

3. The client won’t need the principal for quite a long time and the annuity makes up a small portion of the client’s total investments.

I have one client who paid no income tax, was 85 years old, had been retired for 20 years and purchased 4 annuities with all of her liquid assets; her only other assets, after the mass annuity purchases, were her condo and a checking account. The annuities were “unsuitable” for her, but were perfect for the annuity salesperson who netted at least $20,000 in commissions.

See the annuity truth web site for some interesting reading on annuities and whether one is right for you