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An important change has taken place in Medicare payments for certain types of skilled care, such as physical therapy. Thanks to the terms of a settlement in a class-action lawsuit, no longer will Medicare payments be discontinued because a patient’s condition has stopped improving. This is a significant benefit for many patients whose conditions may not be improving, but who need skilled care to keep their conditions from deteriorating. However, the change was made quietly, without informing Medicare beneficiaries, so many people are not aware of the new rules.

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How Annuities Work

Annuities are an investment tool that investors use to help plan for retirement. Before deciding whether to make an annuity contract part of your financial plan, it is important to understand how annuities work and what potential pitfalls you need to watch out for. Annuity contracts are usually made between an investor and a life insurance company. The individual pays a single premium or series of payments at the outset …

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Guest Blog: Too Well for Rehab, Not Well Enough for Home

Despite our hopes, being discharged from rehab to home is sometimes complicated and inappropriate. A family member recently had an extended hospital stay followed by a few weeks in a rehabilitation facility for therapy to regain physical strength.  He only longed to go home and sleep in his own bed in his own home. We all know how wonderful that would eventually be, but being discharged from rehab to home is sometimes complicated and inappropriate. A hospital stay can be disorienting for the best of us, but more so for older adults, making the transition to home more difficult.

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April is Financial Literacy Month

Financial Literacy Month is being observed in April 2014. This is an excellent time to recognize the important role that financial literacy plays in individual economic security and the financial health of the nation. Many Americans are not well-informed about important financial issues that affect their everyday lives. Schools, parents, government agencies and financial institutions and advisers all have a role to play in helping to increase knowledge and understanding of critical economic issues.

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Innovative Alzheimer’s Village May Be a Model for the U.S.

An Alzheimer’s care facility in the Netherlands is modeled after a village, allowing patients to roam freely and safely, providing a possible model for facilities in the U.S.

As in other dementia-care facilities, patients at Hogeweyk are prevented from leaving for their own safety. However, within the complex, residents may roam freely, visiting parks and shops such as a grocery store and restaurant, staffed by Hogeweyk employees in street clothes. The design of the facility improves residents’ quality of life by allowing them a degree of self-determination in their daily life.

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Many people choose to create a revocable living trust as part of their estate plan. Living trusts may be created for different reasons, and they have several different advantages, including potentially reducing estate taxes, avoiding probate, and allowing for a trustee to manage one’s financial affairs in the event one becomes incapacitated. A living trust should be created with the assistance of a qualified estate planning attorney, and it should also be reviewed, along with the entire estate plan, on a periodic basis.

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MyRA Retirement Accounts: What You Should Know

Workers will soon have a new retirement savings option. In his State of the Union address, President Obama announced the establishment of the new MyRA program, retirement accounts for workers who do not have access to employer-sponsored 401(k)s. MyRAs can be opened through employers with as little as a $25 minimum deposit and future contributions as low as $5, automatically deducted from employees’ paychecks. The money is invested in a …

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IRS Raises Lifetime Limit For Tax-Free Gifts

There are two different IRS limits that affect how much an individual can give to another without a gift tax being imposed: an annual exclusion and a lifetime exclusion. In 2014, the annual limit is not changing, while the lifetime limit is increasing.

During 2014, one may give up to $14,000 to each recipient before having to file a gift tax return, the same limit as in 2013. Spouses can double the size of a gift by combining their exclusions…

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Caregiving from a Distance? Start Planning Now

Elderly parents often need the assistance of their adult children, and this can be difficult when one lives far from them. Even if one’s parents live in an assisted living facility or a nursing home, or have regular in-home caregivers, there may be times when their adult children will need to step in to make decisions, handle financial matters or help with care-giving. If you are separated geographically from your parents, it pays to plan ahead for how you will handle these matters.

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The college savings plans known as 529 plans are a way for parents to invest money for their children’s college education while taking advantage of significant tax breaks. Now there are also ways for friends and family members to more easily contribute to the savings plans, which is becoming a popular graduation or birthday gift option. Several companies operate websites that allow you to set up a profile for the beneficiary of a 529 plan and then let friends and family know that they can give through the site. The services deduct a fee of between 2 and 5 percent before the money is made available for parents to transfer to the 529 account.

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