Attorney Ethan Welch’s Estate Planning Article is Featured in The Morning Journal’s Senior Living Edition

Attorney Ethan Welch had his blog Should I Share My Estate Planning Information with My Family featured in the Senior Living tab for The Morning Journal’s July Edition. Ethan states “there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to sharing estate plan information, and some approaches may work better than others”.

 

 

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Medicaid and Your Home

One of the most common questions I get asked is if Medicaid is going to take the home. For many families, their home is their most valuable asset. But even if you have assets worth more, you probably don’t have the same emotional attachment to your retirement account as you do to your home. It’s easy to see why! You live in your home for many years, and your time there is full of memories. The thought of Medicaid forcing you to leave your home is frightening. Unfortunately, a lot of bad information is out there about Medicaid and your home. So let me be clear: Medicaid will not take your home. Hopefully, this blog post helps you better understand how Medicaid treats your home, how you can protect your home from Medicaid spend-down, and how to be ‘Medicaid smart’ if you do decide to sell your home.

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Medicaid and Medicare Working Together

Medicaid and Medicare are the two largest publicly funded health programs in the country with different missions that often overlap. Medicare provides health coverage to seniors and some individuals with disabilities. Medicaid covers adults and children who cannot afford insurance, or who have health care costs they cannot afford. Often, an individual will be eligible for coverage through both programs. Today, I will focus on how both programs work together by answering some commonly asked questions.

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Paying For Long-Term Care

Long-term care is not just nursing home care, like many of us think. I often speak about the “Elder Care Continuum”, which describes what many of us and our loved ones will or are experiencing as we age or face health challenges. In the beginning you may have little to no real limitations, reside in your home with no cost of care, and have private insurance through Medicare and various compliments. As you continue to age and some health issues arise, perhaps you’ll need to pay for some in-home assistance, which may be covered or paid for by VA Benefits, community services, or private caretakers. As your needs become greater and limitations increase, perhaps a move into a retirement community becomes more appropriate, funded by Social Security and retirement income.

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Medicaid for Beginners: 5 Facts about Ohio Medicaid

Everyone has heard of Medicaid. It is one of the largest health insurance providers in Ohio and covers individuals and families who don’t have insurance and can’t afford to buy it. More than 2.9 million people in Ohio get health insurance through Medicaid every year. But did you know that Medicaid is much more than health insurance for the poor? Here are five facts about Medicaid that might surprise you.

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Thoughtful Estate Planning Brings Protection and Peace of Mind

Estate planning begins with an exercise of the mind – an uncomfortable internal question and answer session.  What happens to my assets when I die?  Who will manage my money if I’m in the hospital or a nursing home?  For many, answering these questions is difficult and uncomfortable.  Sometimes people don’t have relatives to leave their assets with or to name as a power of attorney.  Sometimes they have relatives, but they can’t trust them or don’t get along with them.

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Take Simple Steps Early to Protect Your Most Important Asset: The Family Home

On August 1, 2016, Ohio changed its Medicaid regulations regarding the treatment of the home. Federal and State Medicaid laws recognize that the family home is often times the largest asset of an individual, and Medicaid rules account for the reality that the family home is critical to the well-being of a spouse, a child, or other family members. Still, the changes in the law make protection of the house even more difficult and cumbersome. Now more than ever, early planning involving the relatively simple act of transferring the home into an irrevocable trust can ensure that the home will remain in the family for generations, regardless of the need for long-term care.

Medicaid defines the “Home” as any real property in which an individual has an ownership interest and is the individual’s principal place of residence. A “principal place of residence” is the home to which a person would intend to return if they were absent, like in the case of a stay in a rehab facility or a nursing home.

Generally, the family home that is considered the principal place of residence by an individual or a married couple is an excluded resource, regardless of value. However, the new rules state that the home is no longer considered to be the principal place of residence and will be countable if the individual does not intend to return home. However, the rule states that a “temporary” absence from the home does not affect the exclusion of the home as

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Caring for Caregivers

Many of my clients are caregivers. They are often caregiving for their children with disabilities or for their elderly parents. Others are more distant relatives who have taken it upon themselves to care for their loved one. Although their situations vary greatly, I see many recurring themes. I see strength, compassion, and selflessness on a grand scale. I see struggle, grief, and a unique optimism that finds joy in the little moments. I would like to touch on some of those struggles and offer some solutions and hope.

Society fails to recognize the great sacrifices made by caregivers across the country. Approximately 34.2 million people in the United States are caregivers for an adult age 50 or older, according to a 2015 AARP report. About half are caring for a parent. Some caregivers retired early, reduced their hours to part-time, or quit their jobs entirely to care for their loved one. Unpaid family caregivers contribute $470 billion worth of care to the US economy. What I personally find the most frustrating is that this sacrifice is assumed by society and often goes unthanked and unrecognized. Caregivers often feel a sense of duty to sacrifice their careers, their time, and often, their own health. This results in martyrdom of our most kind and deserving citizens. Not only should we as a society better appreciate and care for our caregivers, but we must support caregivers in caring for themselves.

There are a few different ways to get support as a caregiver.

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Can I Trust That Life or Death Decision?

For years, I have been helping people complete durable powers of attorney for healthcare, living wills, and do-not-resuscitate (DNR) orders. Collectively, these documents are called “advance directives.” They give directions about the care desired in advance of the need for that care. Advance directives allow you to select whether or not you want your healthcare providers to stop giving you “life-sustaining treatment” when you are in a “permanently unconscious state” or a “terminal condition.” Additionally, a living will and a DNR order allows you to tell healthcare providers and emergency medical service providers that you do not want to have CPR given to you in those cases when your heart has stopped beating (cardiac arrest).

Inevitably these questions come up during my discussions with people about their advanced directives: “What if my health care providers are making a mistake?” “How can someone stop a mistake from being made?” The answer is that there are checks and balances built into the laws that control how your advance directives operate. Let me explain.

First, I think it’s important to make sure you understand the meaning of some of the terms in your advance directives. A “permanently unconscious state” means, that to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, determined using reasonable medical standards, your doctor and one other doctor who has examined you, determine that you are irreversibly unaware of your environment and you have a total loss of cerebral functioning. In a permanently unconscious state you have no capacity for pain or

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