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Park Ridge, Illinois 60068

Park Ridge IL Medicaid and Estate Planning Legal Blog

Monday, January 22, 2018

The Impact of the New Federal Tax Reform on Property Tax Deduction

Q: Are Illinois pre-paid real property taxes over $10,000 fully deductible?

If you're considering buying a home for your family or your business, a skilled Illinois residential and commercial real estate attorney can help you with everything concerning what may be the largest and most important financial transaction of your life. In fact, you should consult an attorney before signing listing agreements or other contracts with the many different players that are involved in real estate transactions, so your interests can be adequately protected.

If you already own real estate, you might have been caught up in the recent frenzy over one part of the latest federal tax reform legislation--namely the new $10,000 cap on real property tax deductions.
Read more . . .

Friday, December 8, 2017

Seniors and Disabled at Risk Under Proposed Tax Reform

Q: How will the proposed House tax reform impact seniors, the disabled, and Medicaid?

If the House of Representatives’ proposed tax reform plan passes, critics claim that the elimination of the medical expense deduction would "deliver a serious financial blow to seniors and individuals with disabilities "– – particularly those without long-term care insurance who must self-pay for long-term care.

Many people don't realize that comprehensive estate planning involves more than a simple Last Will and Testament. Trusts and tax planning, providing for your incapacity, and protecting your assets to secure your family's future are common goals in estate planning.
Read more . . .

Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Importance of Medicaid Planning in Illinois

Q: How can Medicaid planning protect my assets?

Estate planning is something many of us put off because the thought of our own death or disability makes us uncomfortable. But failure to get our legal affairs in order can leave our loved ones unprotected and financially vulnerable—which is even more frightening.

Read more . . .

Monday, October 16, 2017

Seeing a Tax Attorney Sooner May Help Mitigate Tax-Related Identity Theft

Q: Can the Equifax data breach threaten my income tax refund?

Individuals and businesses have always relied on skilled Illinois federal tax controversy attorneys to avoid or help them resolve federal tax disputes. 

But in light of the recent Equifax hack, more people may need help than ever before. Consulting a tax preparation attorney as soon as possible could help mitigate the risks of becoming a victim of tax-related identity theft.
Read more . . .

Friday, September 22, 2017

The Benefits of Hiring a Tax Preparation Attorney in Illinois

Q: What are the benefits of having a tax attorney prepare my tax return?

What could be better than having someone else prepare your tax return? Having it done by an Illinois tax return preparation attorney who also specializes in multiple areas of tax law.

Read more . . .

Monday, August 21, 2017

Incorporating Digital Assets in Illinois Estate Planning

Q: What happens to my digital assets after I die?

A significant portion of the population is actually addicted to their technology. Not only are their cell phones and tablets glued to their hands, but their eyes don't stray from the screen for long either. Texting and driving is now a national crisis.

Read more . . .

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Is Probate and Estate Administration a Lengthy Process?

In Illinois, experienced estate planning attorneys help residents plan for the inevitable. While nobody wants to think about their mortality, virtually everyone reports that the peace of mind that comes from putting your affairs in order and protecting your loved ones through estate planning far outweighs the discomfort and fear about preparing for their death.

In a nutshell, proper estate planning is a very comprehensive and individualized process that provides for the distribution of your property and the payment of your debts after your death.
Read more . . .

Monday, May 15, 2017

Financial Steps for Special Needs Planning

Q: What kind of financial planning should I have if I have a special needs child?

While estate planning is important for all parents to safeguard the futures of their children, special needs planning is vitally important for the parents of special needs children.
Read more . . .

Saturday, April 15, 2017

ABLE Accounts for the Disabled

Can a disabled person and their family save money without jeopardizing their government disability benefits?

Special needs planning in Illinois just became a bit easier for some disabled people and their families.

Until recently, government benefit programs for the disabled such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) have limited the recipient’s total personal assets to $2000. With such a low total assets cap, and with the devastating penalty of suspending government benefits for exceeding that $2000 limit, disabled recipients and their families weren’t able to save money for a rainy day or any of the disabled person’s supplemental needs.
Read more . . .

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What is Medicaid Planning?

Mary recently visited the office attorney because she was confused. Her husband had been admitted to a nursing home, and Mary had been approached by the home’s caseworker. The caseworker asked for Mary’s financial information, and inquired how she intended to pay for her husband's care, which would total more than $8,000.00 per month. She asked if Mary was going to apply for Medicaid, and that question was the source of Mary’s confusion. Her attorney explained to Mary that Medicaid is a government program to help pay for nursing home costs, but to qualify, Mary had to meet certain income and asset restrictions.

Mary was even more confused. She told the attorney she was already on Medicare and that she didn't know why she had to do anything else. She asked, “Why isn't Medicare paying?” Mary’s attorney explained that Medicare is health insurance for individuals over 65 or those who have been disabled for two years. Medicaid, on the other hand, is a social program to pay for people with few assets or low income to ensure they have proper health care, including nursing home care. Mary didn't know what to do. She didn’t think she had the money to pay for her husband’s care, but her attorney had mentioned that she wasn’t currently eligible for Medicaid benefits because she had too much money to qualify. He went on to explain how Medicaid planning works by sharing with Mary the information that follows.

There are two elements associated with Medicaid planning: the legal strategies needed to qualify for benefits, and the actual application process.

The first step of the planning is to make a series of legal and financial decisions that will result in Mary's assets and income qualifying for Medicaid. There are several legal strategies to choose from, including the use of certain types of trusts.

For many clients the process seems overly complicated. Fortunately, it is possible to calculate and explain what assets are at risk and what assets would be immediately protected. It is also possible to determine when a person needing nursing care will qualify for Medicaid, and how to ensure that Medicaid begins paying as soon as legally possible, to minimize the loss of assets to the spouse who still lives at home. This stage of income and asset adjustments will usually result in a period of ineligibility for Medicaid benefits.

The second step of the planning is the formal qualification and application process. After all ineligibility periods created during the planning process have expired, there is a specific qualification and application process to receive benefits. The MPN attorney can be retained separately to assist in the filing of the application for Medicaid benefits with the local Medicaid department so that the nursing home resident can begin to receive the benefits.

It’s important to understand that Medicaid planning to get the nursing home resident eligible for Medicaid in the future is separate from and different than actually applying for the benefits from the local Medicaid Department. In fact, the second step will not be necessary if the person under care returns home, or if he or she does not survive the ineligibility period created under the plan. Like most financial and estate planning, Medicaid planning is always better if done in advance. However, even if tragedy strikes unexpectedly, it’s good to know that there are still options available to keep from depleting your assets.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Special Needs Trusts for People Without Special Needs?

Would it surprise you if your professional advisor recommended “special needs” planning when you don’t have any special needs children or grandchildren? It’s important to think about what might happen to your loved ones after you’re gone, that would impact your estate plan. We try to plan for unforeseen financial circumstances, and thus build into our plans some creditor protections for our beneficiaries whenever possible. The same type of preventive planning can be done to protect loved ones in a tragedy that leads to physical and/or mental disability. Consider what happened with the estate plan of John and Elizabeth.

John and Elizabeth had three children: John Jr., Michelle, and Jerry. Their estate planning attorney prepared a living trust that passed their estate in equal shares to the children in trust. At John and Elizabeth's death, the estate, which was estimated at $2,100,000 after taxes and expenses, would be divided among the children   $700,000 to each of their trusts, which they were free to spend as needed.

The trusts for the children provide that if John Jr., Michelle, or Jerry passes away, anything that’s left in their trust will be distributed to their own children. All three of John and Elizabeth's children had children of their own, and everyone in the extended family was in good health.

One day John, Elizabeth, and Jerry were traveling together and were involved in a terrible automobile accident. John and Elizabeth were killed, and Jerry was injured so badly that he was no longer able to care for himself.

The person named as his guardian immediately sought help for Jerry's medical expenses from Medicaid or other means-based government programs. They were shocked to learn that Jerry’s entire inheritance of $700,000 would have to be spent on medical expenses before Medicaid would assist him. As an alternative, the guardian learned that the assets could be placed in a special kind of trust to be used for Jerry's benefit. But at Jerry's death, that trust must reimburse Medicaid for what was spent for care during his life. The result in either case is that little or nothing will be left for Jerry’s children.

This result could have been avoided by creating a special needs trust. A special needs trust is specially designed to hold the inheritance of a beneficiary, and to be used for needs above and beyond those covered by government programs. These trusts contain instructions that allow the Trustee to meet the needs of the beneficiary, but prohibit the Trustee from providing for those needs if already covered by Medicaid or other programs. It also prohibits the Trustee from using the assets to reimburse any government program after the beneficiary’s death.

John and Elizabeth could have included instructions in their living trust that if one of their children were disabled, their share of the inheritance would pass to a special needs trust which could be used at the discretion of the Trustee. The result in Jerry’s case would be that his needs would be met during his lifetime, and anything left over at the time of Jerry's death could be passed on to his children.

Thomas J. Hansen, LTD. assists clients in Park Ridge, Cook County, IL as well as Niles, Des Plaines, Glenview, Norridge, and Rosemont.

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422 North Northwest Highway, B-5, Park Ridge, IL 60068
| Phone: 847-292-1800

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