Author Archives: YAY Technology

Staying Physically Active

Tip –There are many enjoyable ways to remain active.

In an article by the American Heart Association, it states, “There are many reasons why staying active is one of the best things you can do to keep your body healthy—no matter what your age. It can also improve your overall wellbeing and quality of life.”

“The idea is to move more and sit less. Every minute of moderate to vigorous activity is helpful. You don’t have to make big changes to see the benefits. Staying active helps delay or prevent chronic illnesses and diseases associated with aging. You can start by building more activity into your day, one step at a time.” (American Heart Association,” Healthy for Good”)

We all know walking is a great way to get moving. There is nothing better than a nature ‘walk and talk’ with a friend. Senior Centers often offer exercise classes and trip opportunities. I have gotten hooked on Chair Volleyball, offered at the Blackfoot Senior Center. Each team has 6 players with the players sitting on chairs and volleying a beachball across a low net. People in wheelchairs love to
participate. We play twice a week on Mondays and Wednesdays at 9:00 AM. Chair volleyball gives us the opportunity to stay active, have fun, and connect with friends, helping us to feel happier and less stressed. We welcome all who would like to join us!

In Southeast Idaho, every year Pocatello hosts the “Senior Games.” This is designed with the goal of staying active in mind! This takes place every July, and it includes a variety of competitive, friendly events you can choose to be a part of. Basketball, tennis, pickleball, and chair volleyball are just a few of them. Chair Volleyball was a new event last year in the Pocatello Senior Games and is
spreading to other Senior Centers in the area.

If you want to improve your quality of life—stay active. Consider finding something you enjoy, and like the Nike motto says: “Just do it.”

View our “Senior’s Guide to a Well-Planned Future” on our website! Packer Elder Care Law – with you for life!

Tom Packer is an Elder Law Attorney serving all Southeast Idaho. As part of his law practice, Tom offers Life Care Planning to deal with the challenges created by long-term illness, disability and incapacity. If you have a question about a Senior’s legal, financial or healthcare needs, please call us.

February 2024

Powerful Tools for Caregivers

Tip – Caregivers may use available resources for help and support.

Being a caregiver can be a wonderful blessing, as well as a tremendous challenge. It can give you a new perspective on life and help you to love others more fully. It also shows those you care for the love that still exists in the world. On the other hand, being a caregiver requires things that are difficult—like merging schedules, constantly putting someone else first, and dealing with their struggles, pains, and emotions, while keeping your own in check.

One of the services Packer Elder Care Law provides is to connect people who have a need to the resources that can help and support them. Thankfully, there are resources to go to for help, both online and in person. Many resources are free and have various time schedules. Some of these resources include joining a support group or taking a class to learn how to be a better caregiver and how to take care of yourself at the same time. These resources can teach you effective ideas such as teaming up with someone—like a family member or a friend—so that the time, energy, and responsibility in caring for someone is shared.

The Pocatello Area Agency on Aging is offering a class, free of charge, for anyone who would like to attend. The classes are held every Wednesday, starting January 24 — February 28, 2024. The same class is given twice a day – one from 2:00- 3:30pm, and one from 7:00-8:30pm. Here is a list of the classes that are being taught:

Jan 24
1. Taking Care of You

Jan 31
2. Identifying & Reducing Personal Stress

Feb 7
3. Communicating Feelings, Needs, & Concerns

Feb 14
4. Communicating in Challenging Situations

Feb 21
5. Learning from our Emotions

Feb 28
6. Mastering Caregiving Decisions

The classes are held virtually, via Zoom, and each class has handouts as well as a
Caregiver’s Help Book.

The class is sponsored by grants through the Area Agency on Aging and is taught by Ann Harrild and Jamie Ramsayer. For more information on the class and how to register, call or text Ann Harrild at 208-530-0844, or call the Pocatello Area Agency on Aging at 208-233-4032.

Here is a flyer on the classes being offered.

P.S. Disregard the incorrect year of 2023.

View our “Senior’s Guide to a Well-Planned Future” on our website! Packer Elder Care Law – with you for life!

Tom Packer is an Elder Law Attorney serving all Southeast Idaho. As part of his law practice, Tom offers Life Care Planning to deal with the challenges created by long-term illness, disability and incapacity. If you have a question about a Senior’s legal, financial or healthcare needs, please call us.

January 2024

Estate Planning for Blended Families

Tip – Planning for your spouse and children in a second marriage.

Question: What happens after a second marriage if you die without a will or trust
in place?

Answer: Under Idaho Code § 15-2-102 your half of the community property (property you acquire during your marriage to your spouse) would pass to your surviving spouse and one-half of your separate property (property you bring into your marriage or receive as a gift) would pass to your spouse and one-half would pass to your children.

In addition, Idaho Code § 15-2-402 and Idaho Code § 15-2-403 provides that your surviving spouse may be entitled to a Homestead allowance of $50,000 and an Exempt property allowance of $10,000 respectively. These allowances can be taken by your spouse from property in your estate before any distributions are made to the persons you have designated in your will to receive your property.

You can see that in a second marriage, if you do not have a will or trust, the bulk of your estate could go to your spouse, and not to your children. Rather than letting the laws of the state determine how your estate is distributed, it makes sense to have an estate plan to distribute your property to whom you want it to go.

No matter who you decide to leave your property to, you need to make sure your wishes are clear and binding. Avoiding the misunderstandings and fights that can come from a lack of planning is maybe the best gift you can give your spouse and children.

View our “Senior’s Guide to a Well-Planned Future” on our website! Packer Elder Care Law – with you for life!

Tom Packer is an Elder Law Attorney serving all Southeast Idaho. As part of his law practice, Tom offers Life Care Planning to deal with the challenges created by long-term illness, disability and incapacity. If you have a question about a Senior’s legal, financial or healthcare needs, please call us.

December 2023

Be Prepared

Tip – Give a trusted individual authority to act on your behalf, give them instructions on what to do, and give them the information they need.

When I turned 12 years old—nearly 60 years ago—I became a Boy Scout. I learned the Scout Motto, “Be Prepared.” It made sense to me. Being prepared helped me to avoid problems and to handle challenges when they arose. As an attorney who works with seniors, my advice to them is to be prepared. As we age, being prepared can be a big help to our families. Through my
experience, I have found that there are three components to being prepared.

First, put legal documents in place that give someone you trust the authority to act for you. These documents can include a Will that names a personal representative to administer your estate; a Power of Attorney for Finances and for Healthcare that names agents that can step in and help when needed; and a document designating someone to make funeral arrangements.

Second, give that person instructions, so he or she will know what you want them to do. This can be done by having conversations with them about your financial situation, your healthcare wishes, and how to handle your estate. Even better, I like the idea of preparing written instructions that you can keep with your documents. These instructions are not legally binding, but they explain what you
would like your agents to do.

Third, give information to the people that you have named in your documents. For your personal representative, how do you want your estate handled? For finances, what are your retirement accounts, where are your insurance policies and investments and where are your bank accounts located? For healthcare, what medications are you taking, who is your doctor, and what kind of care do you want to receive?

My Dad had a stroke in his later years. He recovered but lost most of his speech, only being able to say a few words. One day he came to me and said, “Insurance.” I asked, “Do you have a life insurance policy?” “Find out,” was his reply. I checked with all the insurance agents in town and none of them had a policy with my Dad. I have often wondered if he had an insurance policy that I never found that would have paid a benefit at his death. I was my Dad’s power of attorney for finances. I
had the authority to act for him; however, I didn’t have the information I needed to take care of his affairs properly.

Being prepared for the future will bring you peace of mind and will be a gift to
your family.

View our “Senior’s Guide to a Well-Planned Future” on our website! Packer Elder Care Law – with you for life!

Tom Packer is an Elder Law Attorney serving all Southeast Idaho. As part of his law practice, Tom offers Life Care Planning to deal with the challenges created by long-term illness, disability and incapacity. If you have a question about a Senior’s legal, financial or healthcare needs, please call us.

November 2023

Aging Gracefully

Tip – Interact with others, contribute, and enjoy life.

“As we age, physical changes—such as discomfort, illness or frailty—are simply the most visible of a host of other changes. You also may notice emotional fluctuations such as loneliness, anxiety or sadness. As we grow older, our amount of stress often increases while our ability to deal with it decreases.” (Caring For Aging Loved Ones, Henry Holstege, Ph.D and Robert Riekse, Ph.D., pg. 184)

Maintaining relationships with family and friends is very important and can help us handle the emotional challenges we face. Humans are social creatures and need to be around other people and have meaningful interactions. Where can these meaningful interactions be found? There are many answers to that question, including family, friends, neighbors, and religious fellowship. You might
also go to your local Senior Center and ask about the activities and services that are provided there.

Let your family and those around you know that you would like visits or phone calls. Interactions with others keeps loneliness at bay and helps you maintain independence. A luncheon, a trip to the grocery store, or even a phone call can make a huge difference.

As a senior citizen, there is still much you can contribute. I know of one elderly lady who was feeling lonely, so she decided to call other seniors from the Senior Center on their birthdays. There are also many opportunities to contribute to the community through humanitarian projects, food distribution, and other worthwhile activities.

Aging gracefully is being able to successfully master life changes and stresses
and find a way to keep contributing and enjoying life.

View our “Senior’s Guide to a Well-Planned Future” on our website! Packer Elder Care Law – with you for life!

Tom Packer is an Elder Law Attorney serving all Southeast Idaho. As part of his law practice, Tom offers Life Care Planning to deal with the challenges created by long-term illness, disability and incapacity. If you have a question about a Senior’s legal, financial or healthcare needs, please call us.

October 2023

 

Annual Enrollment Period for Medicare

Tip – It’s that time of year! Understand your options and plan choices!

The annual Medicare Open Enrollment period is upon us! During open enrollment, individuals can make changes to their Medicare Part D prescription drug plans and change or enroll in Medicare Advantage plans.

This annual open enrollment period lasts from October 15th to December 7th and any changes you make will be reflected starting in January 2024. For example, if you decide to change your prescription drug plan during open enrollment, the new plan will be effective on January 1, 2024.

Why might you want to make a change to your prescription drug plan or Medicare Advantage plan? Some people choose to change plans if they have high prescription drug costs with prescriptions that are not covered under their current Part D plan’s formulary (the plan’s list of covered drugs). Some people also may change plans if they are paying a high monthly premium for their plan but have few medications and may be able to enroll in a plan with a lower monthly premium. Still others may change a Medicare Advantage plan if they have been dissatisfied with their current plan.

What if you are satisfied with your current coverage? If you are already enrolled in a Medicare Part D prescription plan or a Medicare Advantage plan and you are satisfied with your coverage, you do not need to do anything during open enrollment. Your coverage will automatically enroll for the coming year. Just remember, many plans will make changes to their coverage each year, so it is still a good idea to review your plan information.

Individuals who have a Medigap plan where Medicare pays 80% of their hospital and doctor costs and the Medigap policy pays the additional 20% of the costs, can make changes to their plan or change their insurance carrier under the Birthday Rule. The Birthday Rule provides that individuals with a Medigap policy may make changes to their policy for 63 days from the date of their Birthday.

Sometimes plans will discontinue service in your area and you may receive a non-renewal notice from the plan. If this occurs, or if you simply want to review your options, contact your local SHIBA office (1-800-247-4422 – SHIBA Medicare Helpline), your insurance agent, or go online to www.medicare.gov to review your plan options and choose a different plan that meets your needs.

View our “Senior’s Guide to a Well-Planned Future” on our website! Packer Elder Care Law – with you for life!

Tom Packer is an Elder Law Attorney serving all Southeast Idaho. As part of his law practice, Tom offers Life Care Planning to deal with the challenges created by long-term illness, disability and incapacity. If you have a question about a Senior’s legal, financial or healthcare needs, please call us.

September 2023

Will With a Special Needs Trust

Tip – A Will with a Special Needs Trust protects the assets of your spouse who is on Medicaid.

If you are married and your spouse needs help with his or her care—whether in a facility or in your own home—you may apply for Medicaid to help pay for their care. Once your spouse is on Medicaid, if you pass away before your spouse does and all your assets go to him or her, it will put your spouse over Medicaid’s asset limit of $2,000, and they will no longer be eligible to receive Medicaid. It is a little known fact that if you have a spouse who is receiving Medicaid, you can write a Will with a Special Needs Trust. If you have a Special Needs Trust for your spouse, your assets go into a Trust instead of going to your spouse. This keeps your spouse from losing his or her eligibility for Medicaid.

A Will with a Special Needs Trust works just like a regular Will, except it protects the assets of your spouse who is on Medicaid. The Trust funds may be used to supplement the needs of your spouse over and above their care, support, and maintenance. The Trust can be used to cover medical services not covered by Medicaid. In addition, the Trust can make expenditures for travel, companionship, cultural experiences, recreational activities, sporting activities, trips, hobby
materials, furnishings, or personal needs—anything that will enhance the quality of life of your spouse. After your spouse passes, the assets in the Trust are subject to Estate Recovery.

In conclusion, if you pass away before your spouse who is on Medicaid, a Special Needs Trust, written in your Will, can protect your assets and be used to enhance your spouse’s quality of life.

View our “Senior’s Guide to a Well-Planned Future” on our website! Packer Elder Care Law – with you for life!

Tom Packer is an Elder Law Attorney serving all Southeast Idaho. As part of his law practice, Tom offers Life Care Planning to deal with the challenges created by long-term illness, disability and incapacity. If you have a question about a Senior’s legal, financial or healthcare needs, please call us.

August 2023

To Probate or Not to Probate

Tip – Depending on current circumstances, you may not need to probate.

Whether you have a Will or don’t have a Will, your estate must be probated if there is property in your estate that someone needs to take care of and distribute to your heirs—such as a home, a bank account, an investment, etc.

When there is a couple, after the first spouse dies, if the surviving spouse wants to stay in the home, he or she doesn’t have to probate unless the house needs to be sold or the spouse wants to take out a mortgage or home equity loan. In that case, there are various legal procedures that can be followed to transfer the deceased spouse’s interest in the home to the surviving spouse. If nothing is done, when the second spouse passes away, then a joint probate is filed.

If the surviving spouse’s circumstances change, the estate of the surviving spouse may not need to be probated. For instance, if the surviving spouse sells the house to live in a facility or to live with someone else, and if the value of the estate is less than $100,000 probate may not be necessary. To accomplish this, you can put a Pay on Death (POD) on your bank account and make sure that you have named beneficiaries on your financial investments and insurance policies.

In Idaho, probate is a quick and easy process. Nevertheless, as time goes by your situation may become more modest, and you may not have to probate if you put a few things in place. It’s a good idea to review your estate planning documents regularly, especially if events such as marriages, divorces, health problems, death of a spouse or significant financial changes occur. This could save you money and make things simpler for your posterity. It could be looked at as one more nice thing you can do for your loved ones.

View our “Senior’s Guide to a Well-Planned Future” on our website! Packer Elder Care Law – with you for life!

Tom Packer is an Elder Law Attorney serving all Southeast Idaho. As part of his law practice, Tom offers Life Care Planning to deal with the challenges created by long-term illness, disability and incapacity. If you have a question about a Senior’s legal, financial or healthcare needs, please call us.

July 2023

Medicaid Review

Tip – There are very specific rules to become eligible for Medicaid.

In Idaho, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (IDHW) administers the state’s Medicaid program and provides services for nursing home care through the Home and Community Based Services or Aged and Disabled waiver program for qualified individuals who are age 65 or older who need long term care. Medicaid is a means-tested entitlement program. Eligibility for Medicaid is based on the applicant’s medical condition, their assets, and their income. When applying for Medicaid, the IDHW requires proof of citizenship or legal status, residence in Idaho, social security, pensions and other incomes, assets and for couples, proof of marriage.

Medical eligibility. To be eligible for Medicaid, a person age 65 or older must have a medical need. In Idaho, IDHW uses a Uniform Assessment Indicator form to determine whether the candidate meets the medical need requirements. An application for Medicaid will require a Level of Care Verification from a physician or nursing home representative showing that the participant meets the required level of care.

Resource Eligibility. Medicaid strictly limits the assets people may own while accepting benefits.  Generally, the assets that do not count against the beneficiary are the following:

  • The principal residence
  • One car
  • Burial plot/prepaid funeral
  • $2,000 in cash

All other assets count toward the state determined maximum, which in Idaho for a single person is $2,000. Countable assets are bank accounts, CDs, cash, stocks, retirement accounts, second cars, recreational vehicles, camp trailers, and any other items that can be turned into cash.

When there is a community spouse (the spouse still living at home), Idaho has established levels of exempt assets within a range of what’s allowable under federal standards. These exempt assets, called the Community Spouse Resource Allowance (CSRA), will be the amount of money available to a community spouse as a resource allowance when an institutionalized spouse applies for benefits under the Medicaid program. For 2023 the minimum CSRA in Idaho is $29,724 and the maximum CSRA is $148,620. If the couple’s assets are below the minimum CSRA, the community spouse is allowed to keep all the couple’s assets. If the couple’s assets exceed this amount, the community spouse may only keep half of the couple’s countable assets calculated at the time the couple’s resources are assessed up to the maximum Community Spouse Resource Allowance.

When assessing the couple’s resources to determine the resource allowance, the resources are assessed on a snapshot date which is the first day of a continuous period of long-term care that lasts at least 30 consecutive days or the date a physician states that the institutionalized spouse meets the required level of care. Establishing a snapshot date is crucial in protecting the couple’s countable assets for the community spouse.

Once the resource allowance is determined, if the couple’s assets exceed the minimum CSRA, the couple must spend down their countable assets before the institutionalized spouse will qualify for Medicaid benefits. The issue for the elder law attorney is to educate and guide the couple in spending down their countable assets. To spend down assets a couple may convert their countable assets into noncountable assets. For example, the couple may purchase a new car or pay down a mortgage.

Income eligibility. For 2023, a candidate for Medicaid cannot have more the $2,742 per month in income in order to qualify for Medicaid. Income is anything that can be used to meet needs for food or shelter. Income is cash, wages, pensions, in-kind payments, inheritances, gifts, awards, rent, dividends, interest, or royalties the participant receives during a month. If a potential participant has too much income, they may still qualify for Medicaid by creating a Miller Trust. The Medicaid applicant may divert the excess income into a Miller Trust account bringing their income below the income cap. The diverted income is used to pay for the Medicaid applicant’s monthly care costs.

View our “Senior’s Guide to a Well-Planned Future” on our website! Packer Elder Care Law – with you for life!

Tom Packer is an Elder Law Attorney serving all Southeast Idaho. As part of his law practice, Tom offers Life Care Planning to deal with the challenges created by long-term illness, disability and incapacity. If you have a question about a Senior’s legal, financial or healthcare needs, please call us.

June 2023

Medicare Vs Medicaid

Tip – There’s a lot of misinformation and misunderstandings about these two programs.

On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Medicare and Medicaid Act, also known as the Social Security Amendments of 1965, into law. It established Medicare, a health insurance program for the elderly, and Medicaid, a health insurance program for people with limited income.

Medicare is an entitlement program that pays for hospital, doctor, and prescription medication costs. Medicare covers skilled-nursing services, physical, vocational, and speech therapy, and hospice care whether provided in a facility or in the home. It will cover up to 100 days of rehabilitation following a hospital stay in a rehabilitation center. Medicare does not pay for personal care services or the cost of care in an assisted-living facility or a skilled-nursing facility beyond the 100 days. There is no repayment requirement for any services you receive from Medicare. To qualify for Medicare all you have to do is to turn 65 and apply for the program.

When the elderly need long-term care they apply to Medicaid. Medicaid is not an entitlement program, and you must prove eligibility to receive Medicaid benefits. For an individual to qualify for Medicaid, they must have liquid assets of less than $2,000, which does not include their home, a single vehicle, or a prepaid funeral policy. A Medicaid recipient who is single cannot have income over $2,567 a month. (as of May 2023). However, if their income does exceed that amount, they can set up and use a Miller Trust, and still qualify. Finally, they must meet certain healthcare needs as evaluated by a nurse who is working for the Department of Health and Welfare.

Medicaid will pay for limited personal care services in the home, or it will pay for long-term care in an assisted-living facility or skilled-nursing facility. If you apply and qualify for the Medicaid program, your monthly income is applied to the cost of your care at the facility, and then Medicaid will pay the unpaid balance. You are allowed to keep a small amount of your income for personal needs and to pay for prescription costs. The calculation for a married couple is more complicated.

Generally, the spouse who is not in the facility can keep the home, car, and half of the liquid assets to provide for their needs.

Unlike Medicare, the benefits paid to you for your care under the Medicaid program must be repaid from your estate when you pass. This program is known as Estate Recovery. Your personal representative must notify Estate Recovery of your passing, and then your estate will receive a claim against it for the money that was paid by Medicaid for your care. I often compare it to a student loan; once you graduate from school, you receive a letter from the government saying that you now must pay your student loan back.

It has been my experience that there is a lot of misunderstanding and misinformation about how these programs work. It makes sense to talk with an attorney who specializes in this area of the law to help you receive the benefits you need.

View our “Senior’s Guide to a Well-Planned Future” on our website! Packer Elder Care Law – with you for life!

Tom Packer is an Elder Law Attorney serving all Southeast Idaho. As part of his law practice, Tom offers Life Care Planning to deal with the challenges created by long-term illness, disability and incapacity. If you have a question about a Senior’s legal, financial or healthcare needs, please call us.

May 2023