Comprehensive Planning. Lifelong Solutions.

Options for Paying for Assisted Living

By Hook Law Center

Many older Americans who need help with activities of daily living, such as hygiene and medication, have trouble affording the assisted living services they need. Fortunately, there are a variety of alternative funding options available. Many of these options leverage one’s other assets to fund assisted living.

A life insurance conversion allows policy holders to use their life insurance as income to pay for assisted living. This process can be complex, and is not available with every policy; however, for many life insurance purchases, it can serve as a tax-free loan.

People who own life insurance policies also have the option of selling their policy with a life settlement or a viatical settlement. Both types of settlements allow the policy holder to sell the policy for more than its surrender value, but less than the death benefit.

Reverse mortgages allow homeowners to use the equity on their home to receive cash, allowing seniors to receive money to pay for assisted living expenses and other expenses they may not be able to cover otherwise. With a reverse mortgage, the lender actually makes payments to the borrower, rather than the other way around.

Long-term care insurance is available, but can be expensive for older adults, with potentially limited benefits. Older adults who already require assisted living are unlikely to qualify for long-term care insurance. Because of the high cost and potential limitations, long-term care insurance is not right for everyone.

Government benefits are also available to older adults who cannot afford assisted living on their own. Veterans may qualify for the Aid and Attendance Benefit through the Veterans Administration. Thanks to Medicaid expansion, more older adults than ever also qualify for Medicaid, which can help pay for assisted living in some cases.

Posted on Wednesday, September 30th, 2015. Filed under Long-Term Care, Senior Law News.

Protecting your digital assets

By Hook Law Center

Digital assets represent an aspect of your estate that needs protection as much as the more traditional assets in your estate. In fact, someone who is acting as a personal representative, a conservator or a trustee, has a legal duty to gather and protect all the assets of a decedent or protected individual.

Your personal representative may not have the power to obtain access to your online accounts that may contain valuable and sentimental photos of your family, pets, posts on social media, emails and bank account statements. This is because several online providers have differing policies or terms-of-service contracts concerning whether they will give fiduciaries access to online accounts. For instance, the terms-of-service agreement for Yahoo claims to give the company the power to remove an account upon the demise of the account holder, regardless of how the estate may be affected.

In response to the obstacles that have prevented fiduciaries from carrying out their responsibilities, the Uniform Law Commission embarked on a process that has taken over two years to complete, and has culminated in the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (UFADAA).

It is a statute that was enacted in order to operate along with a state’s current laws regarding probate, trusts, guardianship, and powers of attorney. The new legislation will enable fiduciaries to have authority over an individual’s digital assets in addition to the usual assets, and to act on behalf of a protected person or estate. It is an important statute for the digital age, and it is recommended that each state enact the new law as quickly as possible.

If you are interested in learning more about protection of your digital assets, consult with an experienced estate planning attorney at Hook Law Center.

Posted on Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015. Filed under Estate Planning, Long-Term Care.

Naturally occurring retirement communities are a popular choice

By Hook Law Center

Naturally occurring retirement communities (NORCs) are communities that were not initially created for seniors, but rather evolved over time to include a substantial percentage of residents who are age 60 or older. The demographics of NORCs are in contrast to those of traditional retirement communities, which tend to be more homogeneous in terms of the residents’ ages. Because NORCs are occupied by many individuals who remained and grew older in their homes rather than moving to a retirement community, they often have interactions with younger neighbors.

One of the benefits of NORCs is that upon meeting certain requirements, such communities become eligible for funding by authorities at the local, state, and federal levels for support services that members of the older population usually require. Among those services are programs aimed at health care management and prevention, case management and social work, education, recreation, social activities and opportunities to volunteer.

NORCs originated in New York City, and are currently located throughout the U.S. and the rest of the world. A prime example of one of the advantages offered by a NORC is the Seward Park NORC-SSP Supportive Services Program in NYC, which is a place where the seniors of Seward Park can assemble to organize transportation to their doctor’s office, get a flu shot, register for meals on wheels, and engage in leisure-time activities.

Many NORCs are housing cooperatives of limited equity. When purchasing such a cooperative, you spend a lesser amount than that which you would spend on an apartment that sold at market rate. However, you are not permitted to sell the apartment at market rate; rather, you are required to sell the apartment back to the cooperative at a price that is below market rate, thereby maintaining the affordability of the cooperative.

Posted on Wednesday, September 16th, 2015. Filed under Estate Planning, Long-Term Care, Senior Law News.

Millennials and retirement

By Hook Law Center

Retirement planning is essential for young people in the millennial generation, and money put away while young will grow much more than money put away later, thanks to compounding interest. Despite these compelling reasons to save for retirement early, many people in their 20s and 30s are not on track to save enough for retirement.

The single biggest problem millennials face when it comes to saving for retirement is failing to save — or not saving enough. Only six in 10 workers who are ages 25 to 34 contribute to their 401(k), compared to 74 percent of workers ages 55 to 64, according to a recent Vanguard report.

Those who do put money aside often do not save enough. Workers ages 25 to 34 put an average of 5.5 percent of their income into their 401(k), compared to 8.7 percent for those ages 55 to 64 — and the optimal rate to save may be higher than either of those numbers. As it stands, many millennials do not save enough to receive their employer match, which means they miss out on “free” money.

These issues are particularly troubling because saving for retirement early has the biggest positive impact on retirement saving. It is much more difficult to make up for lost time in one’s 40s and 50s than to save an optimal amount during one’s 20s and 30s.

The good news is that, while millennials as a whole are not on track to be prepared for retirement, individual young people still have time to make the necessary adjustments to get on track — and those changes will reap greater benefits than for an older person putting the same amount of money away.

Posted on Thursday, September 10th, 2015. Filed under Estate Planning.
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