OurSeniors.net https://www.ourseniors.net The Resource Directory For Our Seniors Mon, 19 Oct 2020 15:13:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.1 https://www.ourseniors.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/OSnetCoupleIcon-100x100.png OurSeniors.net https://www.ourseniors.net 32 32 Gospel singer sees youth flocking to Christianity https://www.ourseniors.net/gospel-singer-sees-youth-flocking-to-christianity/ https://www.ourseniors.net/gospel-singer-sees-youth-flocking-to-christianity/#respond Mon, 19 Oct 2020 15:13:05 +0000 https://www.ourseniors.net/?p=67822 | Originally published in the Fall 2020 edition of OurSeniors.net Magazine | On our magazine cover, we have Garrett Hornbuckle, his wife Danielle and daughter Ella Grace, because they are an inspiration that we should look to for hope for our next generation. When he was younger, Garrett grew up in a broken home, not […]

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Garrett Hornbuckle
| Originally published in the Fall 2020 edition of OurSeniors.net Magazine |

On our magazine cover, we have Garrett Hornbuckle, his wife Danielle and daughter Ella Grace, because they are an inspiration that we should look to for hope for our next generation.

When he was younger, Garrett grew up in a broken home, not having a close relationship with his biological father and his mother remarrying when he was nine into a broken marriage. After attempting to find validation in a variety of things during high school, he found a place in his youth group that changed his life forever. His youth pastor invested in him and believed in him telling him that he should pursue something with his music talent.

When his band, All Things New, was climbing the charts and becoming very successful, Garrett went through a traumatic experience. His band members abandoned him just as their second song hit the radio and they were going on tour with famous singer, Colton Dixon. This moment was pivotal in his life as he realized he was in it for the fame and not for spreading the Gospel. Like many of us have experienced, Garrett had a moment of weakness and time to examine his life. With a moment like this, he was able to pick himself up, find his relationship with Christ and move toward the life he has today. During that time, he met his wife as ministers of the same church and later welcomed a beautiful daughter that led them to move back to their hometown in Central Florida. The beautiful message behind Garrett’s experience is that God doesn’t hold a record of wrongs against anyone and if you ask for mercy, you will be forgiven, and life will change for the better.

Since then, Garrett has rebuilt his band by himself and has toured the country singing his own songs with hired band members and moving crowds of Christians. He has seen thousands of people both old and young come together as worshipers of Christ to listen to his music and the positive messages of many other artists. Most people wouldn’t know just how much of the nation’s youth are moving toward Christianity. With so much of us longing for hope, many are moving to Jesus after realizing that everything else is temporary. This is something we all can be happy about knowing that Christianity is still living on and growing stronger.

For people that are worried about the nation’s youth, Garrett has seen firsthand the new wave of Christians through churches like Hillsong, Mosaic, and Zoe that young people are flocking to. He has seen the Georgia Dome sold out for a Christian gospel conference, which means thousands of people coming together. While it may not look like the traditional church we are familiar with, it’s a new way to get to the next generation. Throughout history, people have fallen away from Christianity, but the good news is it’s still around today after centuries and there are new ways that people are getting excited about it.

While the church is still standing, Garrett believes it’s the job of the elders to lead by example. It’s important to show the younger generation how to love because they can’t be told what to do. By practicing patience and gentleness, people see the way you live and how it looks different. This is what can inspire and change someone and help them understand what life is like as a believer in Jesus. Just as Jesus said, “We will be known by our love,” it is our job to love while it is the Holy Spirit’s job to save. Trying to pressure someone or lecture them will not drive them closer to the church but push them away. By being men and women of prayer, others will see the difference and how great it is.

During this time when we can’t go to church or listen to gospel music in person, Garrett says it’s important to engage in online church and not to use only Sunday to fill our faith. We have more time these days to reflect on our personal walk with Christ, which is a beautiful thing. Even with the pandemic giving us doubt and worry, now is the time to get closer to Christ. A few ways Garrett recommends doing this are to:

  • Find a good podcast
  • Find a devotional on YouVersion (the Bible App)
  • Listen to worship music throughout the week
  • Have a prayer journal to keep you accountable
  • Thank God every day and start the day with thankfulness

By doing these things, the issue of not being able to go to church will no longer matter. Adding doses of devotion throughout the week will prove to be a positive change. We shouldn’t wait for Sunday to be our only day of worship anymore as every day is an opportunity to get closer to God.

To learn more about Garrett, check out this video:

If you want to listen to Garrett Hornbuckle’s music, follow him on Facebook at the All Things New page!

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Are your Social Security benefits taxable? https://www.ourseniors.net/are-your-social-security-benefits-taxable/ https://www.ourseniors.net/are-your-social-security-benefits-taxable/#respond Mon, 19 Oct 2020 15:10:29 +0000 https://www.ourseniors.net/?p=67856 Will you have to pay income tax on the Social Security benefits you receive? It depends on many variables. The IRS uses a measurement called “combined income” to determine if you need to pay taxes on any part of your Social Security benefits. Combined income is made up of two parts: 50% of your Social […]

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social-security

Will you have to pay income tax on the Social Security benefits you receive? It depends on many variables.

The IRS uses a measurement called “combined income” to determine if you need to pay taxes on any part of your Social Security benefits. Combined income is made up of two parts:

  1. 50% of your Social Security benefits and;
  2. ALL of your other income.

Your “combined income” equals ½ of your Social Security benefits + your adjusted gross income + nontaxable interest or other nontaxable income (if any). For many taxpayers, there is no difference because they do not have income that need to be excluded from their “Adjusted Gross Income” (AGI) total.

If you are married, filing jointly and your total combined income is between $32,000 and $44,000, you may have to pay an income tax on up to 50 percent of your benefits. If your combined income is more than $44,000, up to 85 percent of your benefits may be taxable. If you are filing a single return, the threshold is $25,000. If your combined income is between $25,000 and $34,000, you may have to pay income tax on up to 50% of your benefits. If your combined income is more than $34,000, up to 85% of your benefits may be taxable.

Do not panic! The information above is sometimes misinterpreted or misunderstood. It does not mean that you owe up to 50% or 85% of your Social Security benefits in taxes. It does mean that some of your benefits may be added to the base amount (taxable income) on which you are taxed. Social Security benefits are not taxed at all if the combined income amounts are below $25,000 for single filers or $34,000 for joint filers.

Here is an example:

During 2016, a couple filing a joint return received a total of $25,000 in Social Security benefits. This includes the cash deposits from Social Security and also the insurance premiums paid to the Medicare system. These amounts are reported in Box 5 of Form SSA-1099, sent to taxpayers each year.

  • Part 1 of the couple’s combined income is 50% of $25,000 or $12,500.
  • Part 2 of combined income is ALL of the couple’s income that did not come from Social Security.

Unlike Adjusted Gross Income (AGI), there are no adjustments when figuring combined income. These special categories of nontaxable income include things like interest paid on city and state bonds and nontaxable withdrawals from pension plans. Let’s say that this couple had a total income of $24,000 from sources other than Social Security. Their combined income is the total of parts 1 and 2 or $12,500 plus $24,000. The combined income is $36,500, which is $2,500 over the threshold amount for joint filers.

What does this mean?

Once more, do not panic! It does not mean that they owe $2,500 in taxes. It does mean that 50% of the amount over the threshold ($1,250) is added to the AGI. After taking their two personal exemptions and a standard deduction, their taxable income will be in the 10 or 15 percent bracket, so the effect will be to add $125 or $187.50 to their total tax.

In short, it is not possible to cover all of the possible rates, rules and other variables that may affect these calculations. These variables may change from year to year and their consequence increases as non-social security income grows. For some taxpayers, the computer based tax programs that are widely available can handle these problems and the year-to-year changes. However, if you have any doubt, you should consult a tax professional, a CPA or an attorney who can answer tax related questions.

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What is a revocable living trust and do I need one? https://www.ourseniors.net/what-is-a-revocable-living-trust-and-do-i-need-one/ https://www.ourseniors.net/what-is-a-revocable-living-trust-and-do-i-need-one/#respond Mon, 19 Oct 2020 15:03:37 +0000 https://www.ourseniors.net/?p=67857 | Written by Andrew C. Grant | One of the most frequent questions I get when meeting with new clients to plan for their estates is whether they need a trust or not.  This question is usually prompted by a lack of information, or misinformation, as to what a trust does as part of a […]

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| Written by Andrew C. Grant |

One of the most frequent questions I get when meeting with new clients to plan for their estates is whether they need a trust or not.  This question is usually prompted by a lack of information, or misinformation, as to what a trust does as part of a person’s estate plan.  This article will attempt to provide a little clarity on the subject.

A trust is most commonly used as a means of avoiding probate at the grantor’s death.  These trusts are referred to as revocable, or living, trusts.  As the name implies, they are created during a person’s lifetime and are fully revocable or amendable during that lifetime.  All assets transferred to the trust are treated as if the grantor (who is usually also the trustee) still owns them directly with no loss of control.  Upon the grantor’s death, assets that are already in the trust pass to the grantor’s beneficiaries without having to go through a probate proceeding.

Except avoid probate, a revocable trust operates very much like a will.  Both documents nominate someone to manage the estate, either a successor trustee or a personal representative, and both documents lay out the person’s estate plan for distributing the decedent’s property.

Unlike a will, however, a revocable trust has features that can operate during the grantor’s lifetime, not just at death.  For example, if all of a grantor’s assets are in the trust and the grantor becomes disabled then the successor trustee can step in to use the trust assets to take care of the grantor without going through a guardianship.

Revocable trusts are also very useful when planning for large estates with complicated needs, such as dynasty trust planning, or estate tax planning. But the main reason to use a revocable trust is probably probate avoidance which only works if the trust is properly funded.  That means the grantor must transfer all assets that would otherwise go through probate to the trust during the grantor’s lifetime, including real property (other than a Florida homestead, which is a whole other topic), especially real property located outside of Florida, and individual bank or investment accounts.

To be sure, there are ways of avoiding probate without using a revocable trust, and some assets, like retirement accounts and life insurance, pass to named beneficiaries without probate anyway.  Some assets that are otherwise subject to probate can have beneficiaries named, like adding a pay-on-death designation to a bank account. In addition, transferring non-Florida real estate to a business entity, like a limited liability company, can convert the property interest so that it isn’t subject to probate in that state, although the business would be a probate asset in Florida.  Are these strategies easier or less expensive than a revocable trust?  Sometimes, but not always.

Revocable trusts are not generally useful for small estates that would otherwise have, at most, a summary probate proceeding (total estate less than $75,000 not including Florida homestead).  Revocable trusts also offer no asset or liability protection for the grantors, although trusts set up for beneficiaries can protect against their creditors.

So, to answer the question at the beginning of the article, “Do I need a trust?”, the answer is maybe, depending on what assets you own and how you want to structure your estate plan.  Probate can be a hassle, but it’s not always the nightmare it’s portrayed to be, and there are ways of avoiding it short of a trust.  Still, for those with significant estates, or diverse assets across state lines, a revocable trust may be the simplest solution to the probate problem.

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Plan now for the 2021 Medicare open enrollment period https://www.ourseniors.net/plan-now-for-the-2021-medicare-open-enrollment-period/ https://www.ourseniors.net/plan-now-for-the-2021-medicare-open-enrollment-period/#respond Thu, 15 Oct 2020 17:50:28 +0000 https://www.ourseniors.net/?p=67825 Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period (OEP) runs from October 15 to December 7 of each year. The choices made during that time become effective the following January 1, remaining in effect for the coming year. During the OEP, Medicare patients may make changes that can substantially affect the way they receive and pay for medical care. […]

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medicare open enrollment

Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period (OEP) runs from October 15 to December 7 of each year. The choices made during that time become effective the following January 1, remaining in effect for the coming year. During the OEP, Medicare patients may make changes that can substantially affect the way they receive and pay for medical care.

This topic can become confusing, even scary. The torrents of marketing material received, and the critical importance of this issue lead many seniors to freeze in place and do nothing. This is a mistake; nothing is more important to seniors than getting the very best out of Medicare. Each year, the Medicare OEP should be a time to reevaluate your personal situation and make an intelligent decision.

Advertisements aimed at Medicare patients sometimes cloud this issue. The changes coming to Medicare in 2021 are not great, but this does not mean that seniors should let the enrollment period pass without considering their own circumstances. A senior’s personal health can vary quickly, and the reasons for changing Medicare coverage usually relate to seniors themselves, not to Medicare. A Medicare plan that is suited to a healthy 65-year-old beneficiary will not be adequate for an 80-year-old patient with diabetes or other chronic diseases.

Most people enter the Medicare system at age 65 through “Original Medicare.” As of 2019, two-thirds of all Medicare recipients were still on these two pillars of the system—Part A (hospital coverage) and Part B (doctor and professional services). Parts A and B of Medicare are the bedrocks of senior healthcare, but alone they are not adequate. To fill in the “gaps” in Parts A and B coverage, the private sector insurance industry has developed an array of “Medigap” plans.

A newer option, Part C or Advantage Plans, was added over two decades ago. Actually, Advantage Plans are not a part of anything; they are a complete replacement for Original Medicare and Medigap supplement plans. An Advantage Plan is an entire package, complete onto itself. It will certainly include Parts A and B, and most include Part D benefits for Rx drugs (see below).  From the senior’s view, there are some key differences between Original Medicare and Advantage Medicare.

The annual out-of-pocket expenses a senior may pay are limited by Advantage-type plans.  Parts A and B of Original Medicare do not limit these expenses and force seniors to buy supplemental Medigap coverage. On the other hand, Advantage Plans force beneficiaries into a network of medical professionals and penalize seniors who go out-of-network for care.  The best plan for any given senior may vary with changing health or changes in the plans. The Open Enrollment Period is the time to consider these possible changes. Here are some things to consider.

  • Are you spending too much out of pocket for health care? Original Medicare and its Medigap supplements may have been adequate in the past, but as you have aged, the coverage has not kept pace. This may be especially true if you have developed a chronic condition. Medicare Special Needs Programs (SNPs) are a type of Advantage Plan aimed at specific groups. They adapt their networks, benefits and drug formularies to fit these patients.
  • Do your doctors and pharmacies still accept your current plan? The members of provider networks can change from time to time. Check your preferred providers to be sure they continue to honor your insurance.
  • Compare what you are getting from a Medigap letter plan to the benefits offered by Advantage options. Advantage Plans are the best reason to look at your coverage. Any senior qualified for Medicare insurance is qualified for an Advantage Plan.
  • Consider extras offered by some Advantage Plans. These may include anything from gym membership to yoga lessons. COVID-19 has reduced the attractiveness of some Advantage extras, but this pandemic will not last forever.
  • Are you taking medications that are not covered? The newest member of the Medicare family is Part D, Rx drug coverage. This has been a boon to seniors, but also the cause of confusion. Drug formularies change from time to time. If you are taking an expensive drug, look for the stand-alone Plan D or Advantage Plan that has the best coverage.

Many of these situations are best handled by an experienced professional who knows the local conditions, networks and available plans. Contact our Approved Vendors, CMD Insurance Agency at 386-217-3039 or United Healthcare at 386-243-9993. Each with over 25 years of experience in the industry. Please click on their link to find out more.

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Important documents you should have in place now https://www.ourseniors.net/important-documents-you-need-to-have-in-place-now/ https://www.ourseniors.net/important-documents-you-need-to-have-in-place-now/#comments Mon, 12 Oct 2020 15:00:07 +0000 https://www.ourseniors.net/?p=56260 | Written by Laurie Taylor | “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” ― Benjamin Franklin When I talk to clients about having their Estate Documents in place, I am often dismissed because “we don’t have enough money to worry about.” Estate Documents deal with much more than money. They also state your […]

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| Written by Laurie Taylor |

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.
― Benjamin Franklin

When I talk to clients about having their Estate Documents in place, I am often dismissed because “we don’t have enough money to worry about.” Estate Documents deal with much more than money. They also state your wishes and provide for your needs if you should become incapacitated.

At the bare minimum, you need to have in place:

  1. A Living Will – A living will is a document that provides specific instructions about healthcare treatment. It is generally used to declare wishes to refuse life-sustaining treatment under certain circumstances. If you do not want to be kept on life care support, you absolutely need this document.
  2. Health Care Proxy or Durable Health Power of Attorney – In the event that you are unable to make treatment decisions, the healthcare proxy allows you to choose someone you trust to make treatment decisions on your behalf. The person you pick as your proxy should use your living will directives as a guideline when they are making decisions for your care.
  3. Financial Durable Power of Attorney – This document has been said to be the most important. The person you designate as your Power of Attorney (POA) will act in place of you for financial purposes when and if you are unable to. If you become unable to decide for yourself and you don’t have a durable power of attorney, a court will appoint a conservator or guardian. Court takes time and money, and the judge may choose someone who doesn’t even know you or your wishes. You can specify when the power of attorney goes into effect, such as when a doctor certifies you are incapacitated. You can give the person you select as your POA, or agent, as much or as little power as you wish. For example, you may want them to be able to pay your bills but not buy stock on your behalf. Your agent is required to act in your best interests, maintain accurate records, and keep your property separate from theirs. Once you pass away, your agent no longer has the authority to act on your behalf.
  4. Last Will and Testament – This is a written legal document that states how you’d like your property and assets distributed after your death. Wills can be of various degrees of complexity and can be utilized to achieve a wide range of family and tax objectives. A will allows you to designate an executor to ensure your specifications are carried out. You may also name a guardian for your minor children. Your will does not govern the disposition of your property that is controlled by a beneficiary, such as retirement accounts. A Florida resident who dies without a valid will dies “intestate”, which means that a person’s estate will be distributed by the probate court as directed by law.
Laurie Taylor
Laurie Taylor

Once you have obtained the above documents, you should give copies of these documents to your agent(s) or executor (s). You should also submit a copy of your Financial Durable Power of Attorney to your bank or investment company before it is needed. They have a legal team that will accept or reject this document. The bank may want to change the titling of your account to reflect that you have a Power of Attorney on file. In some cases, the bank may have additional forms for you to sign. When there is a triggering event, such as you become incapacitated, your agent will need to provide identification and perhaps a letter from your doctor in order to access your money. If your Power of Attorney document has not already been accepted by your bank, your agent may be denied access to your money to pay your bills. It is better to take care of these things before they are needed.

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Happy Columbus Day https://www.ourseniors.net/happy-columbus-day/ https://www.ourseniors.net/happy-columbus-day/#respond Mon, 12 Oct 2020 13:55:49 +0000 https://www.ourseniors.net/?p=67776 Happy Columbus Day from OurSeniors.net!

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Columbus Day

Happy Columbus Day from OurSeniors.net!

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Why tax-deductible items are not what they appear https://www.ourseniors.net/why-tax-deductible-items-are-not-what-they-appear/ Sun, 11 Oct 2020 16:12:19 +0000 https://www.ourseniors.net/?p=67836 | Written by Brett Porter, EA for Winter 2020 Edition of OurSeniors.net Magazine | Every year you hear it. You may even say it yourself. “I can just write it off on my taxes,” but can you really? Most people are completely confused as to whether or not all their tax deductions are even making […]

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| Written by Brett Porter, EA for Winter 2020 Edition of OurSeniors.net Magazine |

Every year you hear it. You may even say it yourself. “I can just write it off on my taxes,” but can you really? Most people are completely confused as to whether or not all their tax deductions are even making a difference. Why is this?

Most people find their tax return to be a huge burden—they do not want to think about it throughout the year, they do not want to do it come April, and they most certainly do not want to review what all those numbers are on their 1040. They just want to hand in their information to their accountant and be done with it.

Do you know if you itemized last year? A lot of people do not even know that there are two options—itemizing or the standard deduction, or what these options mean. They just hear throughout their life that certain items are deductible and assume that those items are going to affect their tax return.

So let’s go over what these two options are. We’ll start with the standard deduction. Every year, the government comes out with the standard deduction. This amount varies based on your filing status. For single filers – $12,200, for head of household – $18,350, for married filing jointly – $24,400, and $12,200 for married filing separately. This amount increases $1,100 per person for those over 65 years old. This amount gets deducted from your adjusted gross income (AGI), and barring any other credits, gives you your taxable income.

For example, you’re a single schoolteacher with an AGI of $40,000. Assuming you take the standard deduction, your taxable income would be $27,800 ($40,000-$12,200 standard deduction). That’s how the standard deduction works.

Itemizing can be a little more confusing. But in general, if your itemized deductions amount to more than your standard deduction, you should itemize. What are itemized deductions? Some of the more common itemized deductions are unreimbursed medical expenses, mortgage interest, real estate taxes, and charitable contributions. Let’s look at these a little closer.

So, you had a rough year health wise and racked up thousands of dollars in medical expenses, but at least it will help lower your taxes this year, right? Not so fast. Medical expenses are subject to what is known as a 10% floor. What this means is that none of your medical expenses count towards your itemized deductions until they are greater than 10% of your AGI. Let’s say you needed a hip replacement this year. Your insurance isn’t great, so the replacement cost you $6,500 out of pocket. You have a healthy retirement income and an AGI of $70,000.  Guess how much is deductible on your tax return? Zero! Absolutely none of it. Pretty terrible, huh? For any of your medical expenses to count towards your itemized deductions, you would need $7,001 ($70,000 x 10% = $7,000) in medical expenses. Even then, it may not help you if you do not have enough other itemized deductions to put you over your standard deduction.

What’s included as a medical expense? First, it must be unreimbursed! If you pay for it, then your insurance company pays you back, it does not count. Common medical deductions include insurance premiums, doctor co-pays, prescription medicine, long-term care, and hospital stays. Some of the more uncommon deductions are miles driven for medical reasons, medical equipment (CPAP, crutches, wheelchair, adjustable bed (if needed for medical reasons), improvements made to your house to the extent they do not increase the value of your house (wheelchair ramps, chair lifts, shower seats, etc.), bandages, knee/elbow/wrist braces, contact lenses, contact solution, contact cases, and glasses. It is important to note that for some reason, over the counter medicines are NOT deductible.

The mortgage interest deduction is a bit simpler to understand. You can deduct the interest paid during the current year on a mortgage for your main home and a second home that’s not a rental. If your mortgages total more than $750,000, you can only deduct the interest on the first $750,000. If you have three homes, you can pick two of the mortgages to take the deduction for. Also, mortgage insurance premiums are deductible here too!

Real estate taxes are simpler yet. If you pay real estate taxes during the tax year, you can deduct them. You can also deduct state income taxes paid and sales tax on large purchases like cars, trucks, RVs, and boats.

Charitable contributions are those gifts to companies that are IRS-registered charities. These can include churches, hospitals, schools, veteran’s organizations, etc. These contributions can be cash or non-cash. Your cash contributions cannot exceed 50% of your AGI for most charities. For veteran’s organizations and non-cash donations, they cannot exceed more than 30% of your AGI. If your donation is greater than $250, you need a receipt from the organization. Payments made to an individual are NEVER deductible! So, if you give $1,000 to help a single mom out with school? You’re an awesome person, but it is no help to you on your taxes. Miles driven for charitable purposes are also deductible.

So after all is said and done, if all these itemized deductions are greater than your standard deduction, congratulations! You can itemize! If not, you can leave your box of receipts at home when it’s time for your tax appointment!

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Are people not speaking clearly or is it me? https://www.ourseniors.net/why-cant-they-speak-clearly/ Sun, 11 Oct 2020 14:00:43 +0000 https://www.ourseniors.net/?p=65134 Have you noticed how quickly people are speaking these days? Do their words seem more like gibberish than English? Have you had to ask them to repeat themselves not twice but three times? If so, as surprising as it may sound, you may be suffering from hearing loss. Hearing loss is a healthy and natural […]

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hard of hearing

Have you noticed how quickly people are speaking these days? Do their words seem more like gibberish than English? Have you had to ask them to repeat themselves not twice but three times? If so, as surprising as it may sound, you may be suffering from hearing loss.

Hearing loss is a healthy and natural part of aging. According to the National Institute of Deafness and other Communication Disorders, one in three people between 65 and 74 suffers from hearing loss. If you are older than 75, the likelihood of hearing loss increases by up to 50%. But how do you know you’re hard of hearing?

If you are not sure where you stand within those statistics, answer the questions1:

  • Do you sometimes feel embarrassed when you meet new people because you struggle to hear?
  • Do you feel frustrated when talking to members of your family because you have difficulty understanding them?
  • Do you have trouble hearing or understanding co-workers, clients, or customers?
  • Do you feel restricted or limited by a hearing problem?
  • Do you have difficulty hearing when visiting friends, relatives, or neighbors?
  • Do you have trouble hearing in the movies or in the theater?
  • Does a hearing problem cause you to argue with family members?
  • Do you have trouble hearing the TV or radio at levels that are loud enough for others?
  • Do you feel that any difficulty with your hearing limits your personal or social life?
  • Do you have trouble hearing family or friends when you are together in a restaurant?

If you answered YES to three or more of these questions, consider having your hearing checked by a healthcare provider. The loss of hearing increases the risk of depression, isolation, and is even linked to cognitive decline.

Fortunately, by having your ears checked and treated, you can significantly improve cognitive performance, like your memory. Many professionals can help like your primary care physician or an audiologist. Still, if you would prefer to stay home and take the test, there are options. The National Institutes of Health is offering AARP members a free telephone hearing test. This test is a scientifically validated hearing screen test, but it can only be taken for free once a year, so make it count! Remember, preventative medicine is the best medicine.

If you would like any additional information on age-related hearing loss, visit NIDCD’s directory of organizations that provide information on communication disorders.

1 The questionnaire above was adapted from Newman, C.W., Weinstein, B.E., Jacobson, G.P., & Hug, G.A. (1990). The Hearing Handicap Inventory for Adults [HHIA]: Psychometric adequacy and audiometric correlates. Ear Hear, 11, 430-433.

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What happens to your email when you die? https://www.ourseniors.net/happens-email-die-managing-digital-assets-estate-plan/ https://www.ourseniors.net/happens-email-die-managing-digital-assets-estate-plan/#comments Sun, 11 Oct 2020 14:00:36 +0000 https://www.ourseniors.net/?p=57039 | Written by Andrew Grant | As a child of the 80’s, when I heard the term “digital” it usually had to do with watches, and when I finally got one I thought it was one of the coolest things ever. It was really the only “digital” asset I had. Now, of course, most of […]

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| Written by Andrew Grant |

As a child of the 80’s, when I heard the term “digital” it usually had to do with watches, and when I finally got one I thought it was one of the coolest things ever. It was really the only “digital” asset I had.

Now, of course, most of us have “digital assets” we can’t physically touch. We have email, cloud photos, Facebook, or Instagram accounts. All of these are “digital assets” that until recently have been a very uncertain part of people’s estate plans. For example, if spouses shared an email account but only one was listed as the “owner” the surviving spouse could have trouble accessing or changing the email account if the “owner” spouse died. This would be especially problematic if the couple had elected paperless billing so that credit cards or utilities only emailed monthly bills instead of mailing through the post office.

This year Florida joined a growing number of states that enacted laws allowing fiduciaries (personal representatives, trustees, guardians, or an attorney-in-fact under a durable power of attorney) access to a decedent’s or incapacitated person’s online accounts. Under this law, the person named as a fiduciary under a will, trust document, guardianship or durable power of attorney, would have the express legal authority to access online information pertinent to the administration of the estate provided the proper documentation is in place.

Most importantly, the law allows a fiduciary to access online information so that the affairs of a decedent or incapacitated person can be properly managed so that bills can be paid and important online documents can be preserved. To make sure this is possible for your digital assets, you must either use the online tools provided by the companies you deal with or should provide in your estate planning documents that the fiduciary has the right to access your online information. Without that designation, the online company’s standard terms of service will control who can access your account when you can’t.

Generally, the custodian of your online information (the company you have email through, or an account with) must comply with your fiduciary’s requests under the Act. However, the custodian has some discretion in how they respond, whether in disclosing the content of the communication or simply cataloging its existence. The custodian also does not need to disclose information relative to your employment, or information that was not intended to be disclosed, like emails in the trash folder.

Andrew Grant
Andrew Grant
Tax Certified Attorney

As our society moves more and more toward storing important information online, in our “digital assets,” it is crucial that we arrange our affairs so that our loved ones are not locked out of the accounts where that information is stored. So if you use email, Facebook, or any of the other multitudes of online information services, it is important that you make sure your estate plan provides for how those assets are managed at your death or incapacity. Please check with your estate planning attorney to make sure your digital assets are covered.

Mr. Andrew Grant is part of the Senior Transition Pro Team as well as an OurSeniors.net Approved Vendors which is a growing network of professionals and business owners who can meet any of the challenges encountered in senior life transition. 

 

DISCLAIMER

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You may not know this detail about elder law and estate planning https://www.ourseniors.net/getting-old-dying-juncture-elder-law-estate-planning/ Sun, 11 Oct 2020 14:00:33 +0000 https://www.ourseniors.net/?p=58919 | Written by Andrew C. Grant | Any caricature of Florida inevitably shows a sizable senior population, which makes it no less true.  With an aging population come certain needs, including increased needs for health care and day-to-day living assistance.  Lawyers who work in Elder Law seek to assist clients with those needs in an […]

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| Written by Andrew C. Grant |

Andrew Grant
Andrew Grant, Tax Certified Attorney

Any caricature of Florida inevitably shows a sizable senior population, which makes it no less true.  With an aging population come certain needs, including increased needs for health care and day-to-day living assistance.  Lawyers who work in Elder Law seek to assist clients with those needs in an economically efficient manner, whether by qualifying for Medicaid for long-term care costs, or structuring asset ownership so that long-term care costs don’t gobble up all the client’s assets.

Planning for long-term care costs may require significant changes to the client’s estate plan, as well.  For example, qualifying for Medicaid may require giving assets away now instead of waiting until death.  That makes it important to consider both aspects of planning when trying to meet the client’s needs.

Generally, there are three categories of persons when it comes to long-term care planning:  there are those with sufficient wealth to self-pay, or who have procured long-term care insurance that will cover them;  there are those with very few assets who do not have a problem qualifying for Medicaid; and there are those in-between with too much wealth for Medicaid and too little to self-pay.

Most Elder Law planning involves clients in the last category who need specialized strategies to meet their long-term care needs.  The goal with such clients, generally, is to get them qualified for Medicaid by reducing their assets or income to a qualifying level.  In Florida, married couples’ total assets must be under approximately $120,000, while an individual applicant can have around $2,000.  Importantly, those asset limits do not include a Florida homestead which is exempt from Medicaid limits and should never be sold or given away without consulting a professional first.

Getting total assets down to the maximum level means either giving them away or giving away some aspect of control over them.  It may include creating an asset protection trust where the clients retain the right to income from their assets, but they give up the right to access them directly.  Either way, gifting triggers a 5-year lookback period which may mean delaying Medicaid benefits.

Even if total assets aren’t a problem some clients have too much income coming in, whether from retirement, pensions, or social security, to qualify for Medicaid.  Those clients may need a separate qualifying income trust set up to direct the income stream to where it needs to go to qualify.  Again, married couples have slightly different rules for qualifying than individuals, and special care is needed to make sure the well spouse is not impoverished.

When extraordinary means are necessary to qualify a person for Medicaid there is a direct impact on that person’s ability to plan for their estate because their resources must be reallocated to make sure end of life care is provided for.  In those cases, it is critical to consult with professional advisors to make sure the person’s needs are met as well as that person’s wishes.  It is usually possible to accommodate both, but only through careful planning.

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