Category Archives: Elder Law

12 Free Preventive Services Medicare Provides

Retirees are entitled to a variety of preventive tests and services once they sign up for Medicare at age 65.  Some of these screenings are provided with no out-of-pocket costs for retirees. Here are some of the free preventive services

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2017 Medicaid Figures for Long Term Care

There are asset limits and income thresholds for Medicaid eligibility to pay for care at home or in a nursing home.  These figures change from year to year, and the numbers for 2017 are explained below. Home and Community-Based Services

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2017 Social Security Benefit Figures

Based on the increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI-W) from the third quarter of 2014 through the third quarter of 2016, Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries will receive a 0.3 percent COLA for 2017.  Other important 2017 Social Security

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ABA Commission Develops App for Healthcare Directives

April 16 was National Health Care Decisions Day, and we posted an article in our last newsletter emphasizing the importance of having a current Advance Health Care Directive.  This document names the person(s) who would have legal authority to make

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Are You a Digital Immigrant?

The federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act turns 50 this year — about the age when many American workers begin to encounter the kinds of biases the law was intended to prevent. At this “milestone of middle age,” quipped Victoria

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Baseball, RBIs and Caregivers

Dear Will, A couple weeks ago you had a great night at the ballpark.  Your team was behind (and eventually lost, but that’s not a big deal).  You came to the plate and took a strike from the pitching machine

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Can Daddy Sign a Will or Power of Attorney?

When a spouse or parent has been diagnosed with dementia or some other condition that affects cognition, the family members may conclude (or be told by others) that the person no longer can sign a valid will or power of

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Can Medicaid Take My Momma’s House?

We have helped many clients get their spouse or parent on Medicaid to help pay for nursing home care.  One frequent question has been “Can Medicaid take my parent’s (or spouse’s) house when she passes away?”  This authority of this

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Can You Prevent Challenges to Your Will?

Some people wish to leave certain children, grandchildren or others out of their wills, or leave them less than others. These clients may wish to use a “no contest” clause. This clause in a will states that a beneficiary of

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Caregiver Agreements Can Clarify Family Roles

Paying a relative for care of a frail parent or of an adult child or sibling with disabilities is an option that sometimes solves a variety of problems. “Caregiver agreements” can enable an individual with special needs to remain living

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Court Decides Which Grandparents Have Rights

As a grandparent, I know how strong can be the desire to be with grandchildren.  However, some family conflicts can threaten to prevent such contact.  For this reason, our legislature passed the Grandparents’ Visitation Law.  A recent court decision considered

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Dementia and the Vanishing Legacy

A 2009 Smart Money article addressed the issue of dementia and its effect on a person’s finances.  It found that, during the recession, problems in the economy were difficult enough, but for a senior with dementia, the problems are magnified.

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Don’t Get Hit With Surprise Ambulance Bills

Courtney Elder Law Associates Law Firm, released an article discussing "Don’t Get Hit With Surprise Ambulance Bills", if you would like to know more Please continue reading here. Sometimes, a Good Samaritan turns out to be anything but.  That's how

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Elder Exploitation a Growing Problem

June 15 was World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.  On June 14, Richard Courtney attended the summer meeting of the Elder Law Committee of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC) in Seattle.  A large portion of that meeting

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Fifty Years of Medicare for Mississippians

On July 30, 2015 we celebrated the 50th anniversary of Medicare, the medical insurance program for the elderly and persons with disabilities. In 1963, when President John Kennedy signed the Senior Citizens Act (later renamed the Older Americans Act by

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Give Some Help to a Caregiver This Christmas Season

About 1 in 9 people over 65 has Alzheimer’s disease.  As noted in this article from Kaiser Health Network, the task of caregiving creates quite an unpaid burden on caregivers who help these older adults.  This Christmas season, offer to

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Giving a Beneficiary Power Over a Will or Trust

A recent Mississippi court case involved a trust created by a mother. She left the assets at her death to her children and grandchildren. However, she gave them in the trust a power to change that disposition. Many clients find

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Gus Don’t Dance Now, and I Don’t Care

If you have seen the Staff page of my website, www.ElderLawMS.com/staff, you know that Gus is my therapy dog. He is a handsome, blond Golden Retriever, about 95 pounds, a big boy. He is such a gentleman, loves everyone, is

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Holiday Blues – Depression in the Elderly

The holiday season is quickly coming upon us.  If you are a caregiver for an elderly loved one, you may notice a change in your loved one's mood as the holidays approach.  Perhaps you are one of many who visit

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Holiday Helps for Alzheimer’s Caregivers

This article is a complement to our other article in this issue entitled “Holiday Blues and Depression in the Elderly,” which focuses on the different symptoms of dementia and depression and on how to help the older adult who experiences

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Holiday Helps for Alzheimer’s Caregivers

November and December are holiday months.  The holiday season is a time for visiting and reconnecting with family, friends and neighbors.  Sometimes this season can be sad or stressful for those caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease.  Here

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Long-Term Care Insurance Cost Changes and Buying Tips

Long-term care insurance is a useful component of a lifetime financial plan. We have helped clients coordinate long-term care insurance benefits with Medicaid to pay for nursing home and at-home waiver care. A recent New York Times article points out

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Medicaid Turns 50! Coverage in Mississippi

On July 30, 2015 we celebrated the 50th anniversary of Medicaid, the medical insurance program for children, the poor, the elderly and persons with disabilities. Some facts about Medicaid are well-documented: All state Medicaid programs cover a set of standard

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Medicaid’s Spouse Allowance

Many people believe that, if their spouse goes into a nursing home, they will be left without sufficient assets or income to meet their own needs for support.  However, Medicaid law provides assets and income allowances for the at-home spouse’s

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Medicaid’s Spouse Allowance Saves Money

Many people believe that, if their spouse goes into a nursing home, they will be left without sufficient assets or income to meet their own needs for support.  However, Medicaid law provides assets and income allowances for the at-home spouse’s

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Medicare Milestones

On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Medicare, a health insurance program for elderly Americans, into law.  At the bill-signing ceremony, which took place at the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri, former President Harry S. Truman was enrolled

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Medicare Premium Hikes Will Be Modest for Most in 2017

Premiums for Medicare Part B will rise by a modest amount in the new year.  The average premium for Part B, which covers physician services, outpatient hospital services and medical equipment, will rise to approximately $109 for most retirees, according

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Medicare to Improve Nursing Home Ratings System

The Obama administration says it’s launching a makeover for Nursing Home Compare, the government website consumers can turn to when a loved one needs long-term care.  Officials said a key improvement will involve a new electronic reporting system to gather

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New Fact Sheet Explains SSI for Elders and Disabled

Millions of seniors and people with disabilities rely on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to make ends meet. There are people relying on this to survive in every community in the country.  [In December 2015, there were 123,207 Mississippians receiving SSI

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New SS Regulations Abandon Treating Physician Rule

Courtney Elder Law Associates Law Firm, released an article discussing "New SS Regulations Abandon Treating Physician Rule", if you would like to know more Please continue reading here. New regulations that went into effect for the Social Security Administration on

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Observations on Being Mortal

In a recent lecture at the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel Summer Meeting, Hanson Reynolds discussed what may bother those who are dying the most and ways that doctors and attorneys may be able to assist patients and

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Review ACA Insurance Plans Before Automatic Renewal

The open enrollment period for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on the federal and state marketplaces started November 15 and continues until February 15 for 2015 coverage.  So far, enrollment is proceeding much more smoothly than last

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Social Security Plans Cutback on Benefits Statements

The Social Security Administration recently quietly noted on its website that it will mail out even fewer earnings and estimated benefits statements to save the agency money.  The agency said it had “no choice” because Congress has cut its budget

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Social Security to Resume Mailing Benefits Statements

Do you remember getting your annual benefits statement from Social Security around the time of your birthday each year?  These Personal Earnings and Benefits Estimate Statements (PEBES) included:  an estimate of monthly benefits you could expect to receive at various

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Some Latin Words That Really Matter to Your Heirs

We draft wills and trusts for many clients who have children and grandchildren.  Clients have specific intentions about which of those descendants receive assets and how they receive them.  A recent court decision showed the importance of using the right

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States Simplify Medicaid Sign-Ups

In the past two years, 31 states and the District of Columbia have expanded eligibility for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, but even more have simplified sign-ups and renewals, according to a 50-state survey released January 21.  For example,

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Taking Care of the Family Business at the Holidays

The holidays might not seem like an ideal time for adult children to discuss serious issues with aging parents.  A Wall Street Journal article a few years back suggested that December is actually the perfect time to discuss such issues,

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The 7 Ages That Matter Most When Planning Retirement

A recent article in Forbes magazine pointed out the importance of certain birthdays and ages in the retirement process.  At these milestones, numerous financial and healthcare benefits become available for most persons.  The analysis by Matt Carey is reprised here.

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The Extra Cost of Extra Weight for Older Adults

We have long heard and known that being seriously overweight contributes to many chronic health problems. This Kaiser Health News report reveals how researchers in the fields of aging have found some troubling connections between obesity and dementia. Bayou La

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The Life Care Plan – Helping You Care For Mom

A Common Family Crisis.  Consider the following situation:  Your mom has recently begun to suffer the effects of dementia, stroke or other incapacitating illness. You have a spouse and full-time job and are raising children of your own, but you

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Transferring Guardianship Across State Lines

Courtney Elder Law Associates Law Firm, released an article discussing "Transferring Guardianship Across State Lines", if you would like to know more Please continue reading here. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that more than seven million United States residents moved

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Uncle Brewer’s Bed

Dear Melissa, Last night I slept in your room.  Even though you have been gone from this house for over a decade, it still is hard not to think of it as your room.  Since Mom had knee surgery yesterday,

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Upcoming Events and Presentations

Below are some upcoming presentations by Richard Courtney on various elder law and special needs planning topics, followed by important information about some great events to be put on by a variety of non-profit groups.  (Contact us if you would

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We Need to Be Careful with Tax Reform

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R. 1) was introduced in the House of Representatives last week. This is the first major tax law overhaul since the 1986 Tax Act, which took approximately four years of bipartisan Congressional activity to

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What “Capped” Medicaid Would Mean for Mississippi

Medicaid is the federal medical insurance program for persons who are elderly or disabled.  While it is subject to federal legal minimum standards for coverage, the states are given wide latitude to offer additional programs for certain groups and to

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What Elder Law Is and Why You Need It

May is National Elder Law Month.  In our April 2014 newsletter, we provided an article entitled “Tips for Finding and Choosing an Elder Law Attorney.”  It gave helpful tips for evaluating and identifying elder law attorneys to help with estate

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What Goes Around . . .

“Hello, Rick. It’s good to see you again.” Before I turned to see who spoke those words, I knew. That resonant, clear, deep voice could only belong to one man. As I set eyes on him coming across the ballroom,

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What is a Health-Care Surrogate?

Many times a person may suffer an injury or illness and require medical decision-making for their care.  If that person is unable to understand the doctors or medical professionals and give “informed consent” for such health care, and if that

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What Is a Trust Protector and When Might You Need One?

I was with a small group of attorneys last weekend discussing various topics we encounter in estate planning and  special needs practice.  One topic centered on the effective management of special needs trusts and other types of trusts.  A “trust

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When Seniors Stop Driving, Social Isolation Looms

Many adult children are quick to suggest to their elderly parents that they should quit driving.  However, a recent study found that when elderly drivers have to stop getting behind the wheel, they run the risk of social isolation, especially

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When Undue Influence Won’t Overturn a Will

When a person provides care or occupies a special, close relationship with another, that closeness may turn into reliance.  If a caregiver participates or has input in the making of the other person’s will, the will may be overturned on

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Who Can Challenge Abuse of a Power of Attorney?

Elva Mae Hemphill passed away at the age of ninety-nine without a will. Her primary assets consisted of five certificates of deposit and a checking account. As of April 6, 2007, she had named three of her sisters as joint owners

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Who Will Feed the Baby Boomers When They’re 94?

by Jeffrey Marshall Life expectancy has expanded since John Lennon and Paul McCartney came out with their great song, “When I’m 64.” The question now, for baby-boomers, is who will feed me when I’m 94. The Caregiver Deficit We all

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Why Name Your Doctor in Your Health Care Directive?

The Mississippi health care power of attorney, or “Advance Health Care Directive,” contains a section where you may give the name, address and phone number of your primary physician.  Why is that section there?  While it may give a hospital

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You Must Take This Important Step by April 16!

March 31 was a sad but important anniversary.  Nine years ago on that date, Terri Schiavo died.  But not before her husband and parents battled for over 15 years in at least nine courts to decide whether the young Florida

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