Hickman & Lowder Weblog

Is Preparing Your Will Worse Than a Root Canal?

Wednesday, 18 May 2011 06:55

dentist_toolsA recent survey conducted by Rocket Lawyer indicates that 57% of adults do not have a Last Will and Testament.  The same survey determined that 32% of Americans would rather prepare their taxes, get a root canal, or give up sex for a month than create or update their Will.  Is preparing your Will that bad?

We don’t like to think so, especially if you consider the alternatives.  In Ohio, if you pass away without a Will, the State essentially prepares one for you by enforcing the intestacy statute.  The law will distribute your assets equally to your children at your death if you do not have a living spouse.  This is especially troublesome if you have a child dependent on public benefits (the inheritance could jeopardize their Medicaid, Waiver, or SSI eligibility) or if your child is not capable of managing assets.  If you are survived by your spouse, and that spouse is also the parent of all of your children, then the spouse receives your entire estate.  If your surviving spouse is not the adoptive or natural parent of one or more of your children, then a formula is imposed to divide the estate among your spouse and eligible children.  The state will continue to go up and down the family tree to find an heir, and in rare cases where there is not an heir, the estate will “escheat,” or be distributed, to the state.

Sometimes a spouse doesn’t want to leave all of their assets to their surviving spouse or children, especially if their surviving spouse or child is in a nursing home, disabled, or unable to manage the assets.  We work with the elderly and people of any age with disabilities, and their loved ones, to help determine how assets can be distributed at the owner’s death.  This is accomplished by a Will, beneficiary designations, and other estate planning documents.

So cancel that voluntary root canal appointment and make time to review your estate plans today!

- Posted by Amanda Buzo

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CMS Approves Individual Option Waiver Amendment

Wednesday, 11 May 2011 14:10

The following information appeared in the May 11, 2011, issue of Pipeline, a publication of the Ohio Department of Disabilities:

On May 6, DODD received notification that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has approved the most recent amendment to the DODD-operated Individual Options (IO) waiver. In accordance with the approved amendment, the following changes will be in effect as of July 15, 2011:

Freedom of Choice Form
County Boards of DD no longer will be required to send the Freedom of Choice form (indicating that an individual wishes to be on a waiver instead of residing in an institution) to DODD’s Medicaid Waiver Unit as part of the Initial and Re-Determination Waiver Packets. County Boards must continue to maintain copies of the signed Freedom of Choice form in the individual’s file at the local level, however.

Four New Services
The following four new services will be available under the IO waiver pending approval of corresponding Administrative Rules, which are currently being reviewed by JCARR:

Remote Monitoring: The monitoring of an individual in his or her residence by remote monitoring staff using one or more of the following systems: live video feed; live audio feed; motion sensing system; radio frequency identification; web-based monitoring system; or, other device approved by the Department. The system shall include devices to engage in live two-way communication with the individual being monitored as described in the individual's ISP. To address potential issues of privacy, informed consent for using this service will be documented in the ISP. Remote Monitoring shall be used only to reduce or replace the amount of Homemaker/Personal Care an individual needs.

  • Remote Monitoring Equipment: Defined as the equipment used to operate systems   such as: live video feed; live audio feed; motion sensing system; radio frequency identification; web-based monitoring system; or, other device approved by the Department. It also includes the equipment used to engage in live two-way communication with the individual being monitored. Individuals will be required to lease, rather than purchase, Remote Monitoring Equipment. 

Community Respite: Services provided to individuals unable to care for themselves, that are furnished on a short-term basis due to the absence (or need for relief ) of those persons who normally provide care for the individuals. Community Respite shall be provided only outside of an individual’s home in a camp, recreation center, or other place where an organized community program or activity occurs. Community Respite is limited to 60 calendar days of service per waiver eligibility span.  

Adult Family Living: Similar in nature to Adult Foster Care, Adult Family Living means personal care and support services provided to an adult by a caregiver who is related and lives with the individual receiving services.  Adult Family Living is provided in conjunction with residing in the home, and is part of the rythm of life that naturally occurrs when people live together as a family. 

Respite service as currently defined under the IO Waiver has been modified in the following ways:

  • The service name has been changed to Residential Respite;
  • The types of providers have been amended. This service now may be provided in unlicensed residential settings; and
  • A 90 calendar-day limitation has been placed on the use of this service.

In addition, clarification has been made regarding the subject of guardians being paid providers, which states that unrelated guardians cannot provide waiver services to those individuals for whom they are guardians.

Posted by Franklin Hickman

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Gifts Ideas for Elders in Care Facilities

Tuesday, 03 May 2011 10:50

giftPurchasing gifts for loved ones in care facilities can be difficult since they are limited in the amount of space provided in their rooms.  Likewise, it is challenging to generate gift ideas since their basic needs are being met on a daily basis and each care facility has its own rules and regulations regarding items that are permissible in the facility.

The next time you are looking to buy a loved one a gift, consider the following gift items:

Box Set of Holiday and/or Birthday Cards
It can be extremely difficult for residents of an assisted living facility or nursing home to go to the store and pick out holiday cards and birthday cards for their family and friends.  Therefore, you can purchase a stylish box and several different cards to place in the box for your loved one that will itemize occasion dates and provide a list of addresses for family and friends.  If your loved one is artistic and would prefer to make the card, you can purchase blank cards at a local craft store and some supplies with which to decorate the cards.

Flowers/Fruit/Muffin of the Month Club
Consider weekly or monthly deliveries of flowers, fruits and/or muffins. 

Brain Teasers/Puzzles
There are many handheld, electronic games on the market that serve to keep the brain active.  For instance, 20Q is a game that keeps the brain alert and provides entertainment to your loved one.   Games for the elderly can be found online at www.seniorstore.com.

Spa/Salon Treatment
Spa gift certificates are wonderful if the elder would enjoy a soothing massage.  Or perhaps they would enjoy a salon gift certificate where they can not only get their hair styled, but also treat themselves to a manicure or pedicure.  These services may be provided at the care facility, but your loved one may enjoy the day out.  If they are unable to physically leave the facility, you may be able to retain services where the professional goes to the care facility.

Book and Magazines
Reading materials provide hours of entertainment.  Consider purchasing magazine subscriptions or a small collection of books (and perhaps even a small bookshelf) for your loved one.

Digital Picture Frames
Many residents in care facilities are not provided with much shelf space.  Therefore, you may want to consider purchasing a digital picture frame that you can upload photos to.  This will certainly give your loved one something to boast about.

Clothing and accessories easily get worn out and may even get lost at the facility.   You may want to purchase an adequate supply of clothing (perhaps zipper clothing for ease and convenience), scarves, watches, nonskid socks and shoes.  Similarly, the bedding gets overused and new throws, linens and pillows are needed.

Often, electronics, such as telephones, TV’s with a remote control and alarm radios are already provided to your loved one by the care facility.  However, your loved one may benefit from a large button phone or a large button television remote control.  They may even need an alarm clock with large numbers.   

Lap Tables
You can have a personalized lap table made for your loved one that is cushioned with a bean bag on the bottom and filled with pictures of family and friends on top of the table.  Your loved one may use this lap table while eating meals and playing cards; the possibilities are endless.

Family Celebrations Book
Store your family’s memories in a personalized family celebration book.  There is no limit to how these books can be designed and it may provide significant quality time that you can spend with your loved one as you design the book together.  Family celebration books can be purchased at www.elderluxe.com.

- Posted by Mary Kastelic

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U.S. Savings Bonds Options Upon Death

Wednesday, 13 April 2011 14:29

savings_bondU.S. savings bonds (Series E & EE) have been a popular investment for a long time.  While they accrue interest, taxation of that interest is usually deferred until the bonds are cashed.  If a bond is titled jointly with another then, upon the death of the principal owner, that other can have the bond reissued in his name and continue to defer taxation.  He can also choose to have the bond reissued with another joint owner, creating the possibility of continuing the deferral of taxation almost indefinitely.

An E or EE bond that is titled solely to someone who dies is included in his estate and the income tax on accrued interest usually paid by the heirs.  Often those heirs are still employed, and pay taxes at a much higher rate than the deceased owner had.  Tax law provides a solution for that.

Even after the owner dies, it is possible to include on his final income tax return the savings bond interest that accrued while he was alive.  Thus that interest can be taxed at his lower rate, saving the heirs money.


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