WHEN YOUR LOVED ONE IS ABUSED IN A NURSING HOME: A PERSONAL STORY

My sister opened the door of our mother’s nursing home room one afternoon just in time to see the nursing assistant hit her. It was a real haymaker that snapped Mother’s head back.

“Why did you hit my mother?” my sister asked.

“I asked her to sit up and she didn’t,” the young woman replied. Our mother was....

….FULL ARTICLE

MARRIED COUPLE MEDICAID ASSET PRESERVATION USING RESOURCE ASSESSMENTS

Medicaid Resource Assessment are an important tool to understand and utilize when one spouse is in need of long term care. A portion of the Medicaid rules is designed to protect the community spouse (spouse at home) from impoverishment and unnecessary dissipation of family assets. Only the institutionalized spouse (spouse in a facility) is required to have assets of $2,000 or less and a pre-paid funeral.

….FULL ARTICLE

CAREGIVER SUPPORT GROUPS: IS THERE ONE THAT’S RIGHT FOR YOU?

If you’re a caregiver, you may have already read articles about the importance of preventing burnout. Usually these articles include a suggestion to join a support group. Perhaps you’re reluctant to do so because you wonder what caregiver groups are all about and whether joining one would really help you.  The overall goal of caregiver support groups is to enhance participants’ coping skills through mutual support and information sharing. Objectives may include:.....

….FULL ARTICLE

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*. “Supplemental Needs Person” means a person who: is disabled or is receiving, or is eligible to receive, assistance or other benefits under a means based government program (such as Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income). “Disabled” is defined under USC Title 42, Section 1382c(a)(3), KAR Title 907 Chapter 20:005, or under any Kentucky law related to means based government programs. “Assistance” is defined in United States Code Title 42, Section 1396d(a), or under Kentucky law related to means based government programs, and in particular KRS 205.510.

The main way most American families save for the future is through private retirement savings plans such as 401(k)s and IRAs.  These plans offer the opportunity to designate a beneficiary upon the death of the account holder.  These designations allow the account assets to bypass probate and pass directly to the named beneficiaries. Often, individuals make these decisions when initially setting up the account and never reconsider them.


Typically, the account holder names a primary beneficiary and a contingent (or back-up) beneficiary.  The contingent beneficiary only receives the account assets if the primary beneficiary predeceases the account holder.  The account holder can generally name more than one person.  Some financial institutions will allow the account holder to name a class of beneficiaries, such as “my children.”   


However, for individuals who have children or loved-ones with special needs*, being the beneficiary of a retirement account could wreak havoc on their needs-based government benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid, or housing assistance. This is not simply a problem for large retirement accounts, many of the needs-based programs have very strict income and asset limits.  A Special Needs Person could lose access to these programs which provide medical coverage, housing, and other neces-sities if they inherit

PREVENTING BENEFICIARY DESIGNATIONS FROM WREAKING HAVOC ON SPECIAL NEEDS BENEFICIARIES

assets or income in their individual name.


Proper planning can prevent a Special Needs Person from losing their government benefits.  Creating a Special Needs Trust to receive the funds on behalf of the Special Needs Person will accomplish this goal. The account holder merely designates the trust as the beneficiary. If properly drafted, the trust can receive funds from a retirement account without negative income tax implications and the funds can be used to assist the beneficiary without compromising government benefits.  The purpose is to supplement the benefits.


A Special Needs Person may be provided for through designating their Special Needs Trust as the beneficiary of a 401(k) or an IRA account. There are also other ways to fund Special Needs Trusts, including designating the trust as a beneficiary of a life insurance policy and giving assets to the Special Needs Trust in a Last Will and Testament.


Routinely review your retirement account beneficiary designations and Estate Planning Documents, especially for the Special Needs Person in your life.       

AMY E. DOUGHERTY

Amy E. Dougherty has been with Bluegrass Elderlaw, PLLC since 2012. Amy focuses her practice on assisting older persons in qualifying for Medicaid long term care using Wills, Powers-of-Attorney, Advanced Directives, and Trusts.  She also advocates for clients before Social Security, Medicare, and Medic-aid agencies and defends against involuntary dismissal from long term care facilities. Previously, Amy practiced elder law for Legal Aid of the Bluegrass.

more articles by amy e. dougherty