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Long-Term Care Insurance and Medicaid Planning

When applying for Medicaid benefits, the look-back period for individuals seeking nursing home care is five years. The look-back period is the time period prior to the Medicaid filing Medicaid reviews to confirm the applicant’s financial eligibility. Any assets gifted to children or other individuals within 5 years of the need for nursing home care will cause a penalty period, or the amount of time the applicant must wait before qualifying for Medicaid benefits.

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Gifting Programs Can Help With Asset Protection

The federal gift tax exemption is currently $1 million — meaning you can gift up to $1 million cumulatively over the course of your lifetime without incurring any gift tax. There is not marriage penalty; married couples can give up to $1 million per spouse. A gift made under $13,000 in 2009 will not count against your $1 million exemption. This is known as the annual gift tax amount exclusion. …

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An estate plan should be reviewed regularly to make sure it still conforms to your wishes and current economic conditions. During a turbulent economy, such as the one we are experiencing now, it is particularly important to review your investment strategy. The direction you take your retirement saving plan will depend on your risk tolerance and how close you are to retiring. People who can take a long-term strategy should …

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One common mistake in estate planning is not getting around to writing a Will at all. Many people sincerely intend to create a will, but most do not actually follow through with their intentions. Excuses for not drafting a will usually involve waiting for a certain event, such as the purchase of a house, the sale of a business, the birth of a child or a marriage. The thought usually goes something along the lines of, “I will make a will once…X happens.”

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Unmarried couples that have been together for many years, or even decades, may give little thought to inheritance issues. However, in the absence of a Will, the state will decide upon the distribution of assets, and the state is under no legal obligation to consider a non-spousal partner or his or her children. Unmarried couples should at a minimum draft a will and establish beneficiaries for their assets.

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What You Should Know When Considering a Reverse Mortgage

Reverse mortgages are available to homeowners at least 62 years of age or older. A reverse mortgage is one of several options available to older homeowners that allows them to take advantage of any equity that has accrued in their homes. In a reverse mortgage, the homeowner receives income from the home’s equity tax free without having to take on a new monthly payment. The payments work in reverse, with the homeowner receiving monthly payments from the bank.

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While a Living Trust is a valuable estate planning tool that can protect beneficiaries from the hassle and expense of probate, it does not automatically protect assets from estate taxes or creditors. Currently, the Federal estate tax exemption is set at $3.5 million, meaning that only assets above that amount will be subject to Federal estate taxes. The estate tax will be repealed in 2010 and reinstated in 2011 with …

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Focus on the benefit of estate planning for your family

Estate planning is often thought about only in terms of numbers, property, assets and finances. While estate planning does involve all of these things, the primary focus of a good estate plan is how people will benefit from it through your efforts and legacy. Estate planning is about maximizing the benefits of your work while you are alive and providing for family and loved ones after your death. Keeping in …

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The complexity of an estate plan will depend on each individual’s goals and circumstances. Some people will need to establish Trusts; others to plan for the long term care of loved ones with special needs, and still others to prepare for the transfer of business assets. Some people will need to do all three and more. However, a basic estate plan consists of four documents that everyone should have: a last Will and Testament, a Durable Power of Attorney, a Health Care Proxy and a Living Will.

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