Useful Info During COVID (v.6)

February 17, 2021

Filed under: Elder Abuse,Financial,Uncategorized — Alexis @ 1:49 PM

Scammers Gonna Scam

As we begin vaccinations, you can be sure that scammers will be coming up with creative ways to separate you from your money.  Per the FTC, keep the following in mind:

  • You likely will not need to pay anything out of pocket to get the vaccine during this public health emergency.
  • You can’t pay to put your name on a list to get the vaccine.
  • You can’t pay to get early access to the vaccine.
  • No one from a vaccine distribution site or health care payer, like a private insurance company, will call you asking for your Social Security number or your credit card or bank account information to sign you up to get the vaccine.
  • Beware of providers offering other products, treatments, or medicines to prevent the virus.  Check with your health care provider before paying for or receiving any COVID-19-related treatment.

If you get a call, text, email — or even someone knocking on your door — claiming they can get you early access to the vaccine, STOP.  That’s a scam.  Don’t pay for a promise of vaccine access or share personal information.  Instead, report it to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov or file a complaint with the Massachusetts Attorney General.

Our team is working mostly from home still.  As always, reach out with any questions related to elder law, veterans benefits, long-term care, estate planning, and special needs planning.  Get outside, and wear your mask!

– Alexis

Useful Info During COVID (v. 5)

August 15, 2020

Hello Friends!

I hope you have been enjoying / avoiding / surviving this heat, depending on your predisposition to such weather.  We live in a proper New England house with not enough storage and no A/C (just window units), so I have definitely been missing the luxurious central air conditioning in my office lately!  But we have been getting to the beach a bit, especially in the evening (the best time of day).  I hope you have too.  Don’t you just love living on the South Shore?

Let’s start at the top:

#1 If you have a loved one in a nursing home, then you know there are a lot of changes going on lately when it comes to procedures and protocols.   Here are a few places where you can go to keep up: Consumer Voice, MANR, Center for Medicare Advocacy, and mass.gov.  If you have an issue with a nursing home and you don’t feel like you are making headway, call your Ombudsman.  These are volunteers who genuinely love the role and usually want to help develop a solution that is win-win.

#2 Great news on qualifying for MassHealth home care!  As you may know, MassHealth has some programs that will pay to send home health aides into you home.  To qualify, you must (1) medically need a certain level of care, (2) be below an asset limit, and (3) be below an income limit of $2349/month.

Ironically, this last piece, the income requirement, has put home care out of reach for many over the years, needlessly forcing people into the nursing home, which MassHealth will pay for with no income cutoff.  For far too long, if an elder meets the other requirements for home care, but is $1 over the income limit, she must spend down, every single month, on medical care, every dollar over $542.  That means that she could use the excess over $542 to pay for health insurance, private aides, and the like, but then she is somehow supposed to pay for groceries, heat, home repairs, sundries, and all the rest on just $542 per month!  Impossible to do.  Most elders in that situation have no choice but to move to a nursing home (which can cost the state much more than a home care package!!).

But – great news.  On a temporary basis, during the state of emergency, MassHealth is CHANGING the rules for anyone over-income for home care.  Instead of spending down to $542, an elder can simply spend down to the actual home care income limit of $2349.  It will be very interesting to see the data as the months go by, to see how many more seniors were able to stay at home with this simple change.  But what about after the state of emergency, you may ask?  Well, there is a health care bill currently in conference at the state legislature.  Please call your state representative and your state senator, and ask them both to talk to their caucus representatives about making this change permanent.

#3 Last week I had my first telehealth appointment!  What a pleasure to not have to drive, navigate through a building, and then sit in a waiting room forever.  An added bonus was getting a glimpse into the doctor’s life and personality, as he was sitting in his studio at home, surrounded by musical instruments.  That added a new dimension to the relationship.  Congress is talking about making telehealth a more prominent part of our medical landscape post-pandemic – yes, please.

#4 This is your periodic reminder to keep your health care proxy and emergency contact information with you at all times!  If you are out and about, that could mean keeping copies in the glove compartment of your car or making up a card to keep in your wallet.  We enroll all of our clients in DocuBank, and they send you a wallet card that connects emergency responders to your key health information.  I keep my DocuBank card in my wallet, and if I am going off adventuring without my bag, I put the card in my pocket.  Like when I go rowing with the fabulous crew out of the Hull Lifesaving Museum.

#5 Along the same lines… your health care agent can do a better job for you if you have shared your care wishes.  There are some great tools out there to help you think through your priorities and wishes for yourself, and then share them with your health care agent.  One free option online is the Conversation Project.  We give our clients the Your Way Workbook.  If we gave you one and you have not completed it – go pull out your black folder with all of your estate planning documents, find the Your Way workbook in there, and fill it out!

As always, reach out with any questions related to elder law, veterans benefits, long-term care, estate planning, and special needs planning.  Get outside, and wash those hands!

– Alexis

How Not to Sign Documents for Your Parents

September 20, 2018

Filed under: Caregiver Issues,Estate Planning,Uncategorized — Alexis @ 1:43 PM

Very often, adult children find themselves in the position of signing documents on behalf of their parents.  This could take the form of signing a parent into a hospital or nursing home, signing a Medicare notice, signing the lease at an assisted living, etc.

When signing documents for a parent, do not sign just your own name.  On most documents, that makes you the financially responsible party!

ALWAYS sign this way: your name, comma, your role.

For example: “Alexis Levitt, POA for Cpt. Jack Sparrow” or “Alexis Levitt, POA” or “Alexis Levitt, HCP”, etc.

Signing your own name can open you personally to unwanted liabilities.  Always remember that you are not signing as yourself, but as an assistant to your parent.

Elder Care Workshop Series at Norwell Public Library

March 7, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — rec1 @ 12:17 PM

Getting older? Taking care of someone who is? Come to this three-part series to learn some helpful tips from local Elder Services professionals.

Wednesday, March 8:

“Who Can Help Me?”

Find out how to access elder services in your community.

Presented by Susan Curtin, Director at Norwell Council on Aging.

“Elder Law 101”

Get to know the basics of preparing for your future.

Presented by Attorney Alexis B. Levitt.

Wednesday, March 15:

“Learn to Speak Alzheimereze”

Discover tips to work with a person who is changing before your eyes and to learn to speak ‘Alzheimereze.’

Presented by Alzheimer’s coach Beverly Moore.

Wednesday, March 29: 

“Hospital to Home”

Understand how to make a successful transition from hospital to home.

Presented by Kim Bennett, LSW, of Visiting Angels, Inc.

“Do I Need Palliative or Hospice Care?”

Learn about the difference in important care choices.

Presented by Catherine Harrington, BA, RN, of Norwell VNA and Hospice.

***Workshops will be held at the Norwell Public Library from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. Registration is requested, but not required via email at Doreen@alexislevitt.com or calling 781.740.7269.

This series is sponsored by the Law Office of Alexis B. Levitt, the Norwell Council on Aging, and the Norwell Public Library.

WATD Radio Show!

December 21, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alexis @ 11:29 AM

I had a new experience this weekend – I was on the radio!

Patti Abbate & Tom Foye co-host WATD’s “My Generation” radio show every Sunday from 7p – 8p. This week, I was their guest and we talked about a host of issues related to elder law and special needs – the need for everyone to have a health care proxy and power of attorney, the rules around nursing home payment and Medicaid, who does and doesn’t need a will, the vital importance of estate planning for parents of adult disabled children, and more. And there is so much more we still need to talk about! Looking forward to being on again.

You can listen to the whole show here.

Thanks for having me, Patti, Tom & WATD!

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Life Estate Deeds – An Antique Technique Providing Modern Convenience

October 16, 2014

Filed under: Estate Planning,Financial,Uncategorized — Tags: , — Alexis @ 9:30 AM

When we pass away, our assets are divided into two groups – probate and non-probate. Non-probate assets are things like bank accounts and life insurance policies that you have named joint owners or TODs on – they transfer to the named beneficiaries upon your death without any court involvement. Probate assets are held only in your name. The court looks to your will, or the intestacy statute, if there isn’t a will, to determine who receives these assets. This can be a lengthy, and potentially costly, process.

 

One way to make your home a non-probate asset is to create a life estate. This concept was borrowed from old English property law. You, as the owner of the home, deed the home to yourself for life (making you the “life tenant”) and then to another person(s) known as the “remainderman” (most often your children). Upon your passing, the remaindermen immediately become the owners of the home (they just need to file a copy of your death certificate with the Registry of Deeds).

 

Creating a life estate has many benefits. First, upon your passing, your home transfers seamlessly to the remaindermen without any court involvement. Second, you are guaranteed the right to remain in your home for the rest of your lifetime – you cannot be compelled to sell or move out. Next, after your passing, the remaindermen receive a step-up basis for capital gains purposes, minimizing the capital gains tax due should they decide to sell the property after your death. Fourth, because the remaindermen have no ownership interest in the home until after your death, their creditors (in the event of a bankruptcy or divorce, for example) cannot access the equity in the home during your lifetime. Lastly, the entire value of the home can be protected from your nursing home costs so long as the life estate is created at least five years before you ask MassHealth for assistance in paying for nursing home care (more on this below).

 

Creating a life estate, however, has its potential pitfalls. First, the remaindermen must all sign off if you decide you want to mortgage, reverse mortgage or sell the property. The thought of giving up so much control can be frightening for many homeowners. (It’s worthwhile to note that your remaindermen should have their own powers of attorney in place, in the event you need their approval and they are out of the country, in the hospital, or otherwise incapacitated.)

 

Also, if you need to ask the state for assistance in paying for nursing home care in the five years following the creation of a life estate, you could be disqualified for a period of time. MassHealth uses a formula to calculate the “value” of your life estate based on your life expectancy and the value of the home. The disqualification can also be cured if the remaindermen agree to deed the property back to the life tenant outright, destroying the life estate. If it’s likely that you’ll be asking MassHealth to help pay for your nursing home care in the next five years, then you should meet with an elder law attorney to explore other options to protect the value of your home to the greatest extent possible.

 

A life estate deed can be a valuable addition to your estate plan. If you’re interested in learning more about life estates and whether this might be the right solution for you, call our office to schedule a planning session.

Home Care Goes High-Tech

October 9, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alexis @ 9:30 AM

CNN recently ran a fascinating article about the expanding use of technology in the field of home care for seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia, allowing them to remain independently in their homes longer.

 

You’ve probably heard of “call for help” bracelet or necklace devices, but did you know that a wireless sensor attached to a key fob can text a caregiver if a parent or loved one leaves his or her home? Or that a bedroom motion sensor can monitor sleep interruptions and middle of the night bathroom trips? A company called SmartThings manufactures a variety of sensors, which compile data wirelessly and report back to you via a smartphone app. Stores such as Lowe’s and Home Depot also have their own automated home-monitoring sensor systems.

 

More senior-specific systems include Lively, GrandCare, and BeClose. They offer senior-targeted products such as bathroom and pillbox sensors, and blood pressure and glucose monitoring devices. Reports from these devices can be easily shared with the elder’s doctor. In a nod to social media, caregivers and loved ones can even upload photos and messages using the Lively app, which are printed and sent to the elder via mail twice per month!

 

Of course, even the niftiest of devices can’t replace a caregiver. But these devices can supplement in-home care and enable seniors to remain safely in their homes longer, while giving their families some peace of mind.

 

(Disclaimer: We haven’t used or investigated any of these devices, we are just passing along the information. Before investing in any new device, you may want to do some research, such as reading online reviews or asking friends if they have used them.)

Shared Office Space Available to Lease in Hingham

October 6, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alexis @ 2:35 PM

Are you a South Shore professional in search of a nice, sunny, 14 x 12 corner office? Our law firm consists of two attorneys and an assistant – we would like to add another professional to our suite. We have a top-floor space that consists of three offices, a spacious conference room, and a waiting area.

 

Clients love the location, right off Route 3 at Exit 15 near the Derby Street Shoppes. The building is handicapped-accessible, with a ramp and an elevator. There is plenty of parking.

 

Rent is $945 per month, which includes heat, electricity, etc. You would just pay for your own phone line, and share the internet cost. The space is available November 1.

 

Doreen, my assistant, is available to greet your clients and make them feel comfortable. She can also provide limited hours of secretarial support, if needed.

 

This is a great space for a solo practitioner, but the office is large enough to have an assistant join you. You do not have to be another attorney – you could be an accountant, a graphic designer, a bookkeeper, a webmaster… any professional who needs a sunlit, spacious office in a conveniently located, modern building.

 

Please contact alexis@alexislevitt.com or doreen@alexislevitt.com for more information.

14 x 12 corner office space.

Sunlit top-floor space.

 

 

Sunlit top-floor space.

14 x 12 corner office.

 

 

 

Friendship Home’s First Annual Walk With Friends

June 5, 2014

Filed under: Community,Family Fun,Uncategorized — Tags: , — Alexis @ 10:00 AM

Friendship Home in Norwell is hosting its First Annual Walk with Friends on Sunday, June 22, 2014. The 5K (3.1 mile) walk will take place at Wompatuck State Park in Hingham. This family-friendly event will raise funds and awareness for Friendship Home. Here are some more details if you’re interested in participating:

Registration is from 10:30 a.m. to noon, with the walk beginning at noon. Walkers will have until 2:00 p.m. to complete the course. You can register ahead of time online at friendshiphome.net or by calling (781) 659-8202 to request a registration form. You can sign up as an individual or form a team with friends and family members. Registration is $25.00 for individuals and just $50.00 for a family.

If you would like to lend a hand but not walk, volunteers are also welcome. For more information on volunteering, contact Linda Malone at 781-659-8202.

Walkers can also opt to fundraise and collect additional donations. All money raised will provide support for the Friendship Club program, which “offers individuals with developmental disabilities a unique opportunity to build and nurture friendships while contributing to our community, learning new skills and having fun!”

Friendship Home does wonderful work for people with developmental disabilities. If you’re around on the 22nd I encourage you to round up your friends and family to enjoy a nice summertime walk to support this great organization.

Shred Day This Saturday 9/21 @ South Shore Bank

September 17, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alexis @ 2:12 PM

Received this email:

 

Shred Day
Saturday, September 21, 2013
9:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Pembroke Branch
75 Washington Street, Pembroke

For those who feel like they are buried in personal documents that they don’t want to throw out for fear of identity theft, South Shore Bank has the answer.  The Bank will host a “Shred Day” at their branch office at 75 Washington Street in Pembroke on Saturday, September 21st, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., during which people can bring their confidential documents to the Bank and watch as they are turned into confetti in a mobile shredding unit.

Shredding services at South Shore Bank’s “Shred Day” will be provided by Shred King Corp., which is AAA-certified by the National Association for Information Destruction (NAID).  All shredded material will be delivered by Shred King to a recycling center.

The South Shore Bank “Shred Day” is free and open to the public.

For more information, call 781-337-3000.

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