Elder Law Changes

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know the laws and the numbers

Beginning in 2014, there were some changes to a variety of laws that may interest elders and their loved ones. The following updated laws are particularly relevant for seniors and their families who are attempting to plan for the future.

Gift and Estate Taxes:

The annual gift tax exclusion continues at $14,000. This means a wealthy relative can give away gifts totaling $14,000 per year, per individual, and the benefactor will not incur a tax. If your relative is in a really generous spirit, he can, upon his death, bequeath up to and including $5.34 million with no tax penalty to the recipient. The $5.34 million is a lifetime tax exclusion for gifts. This cap also applies to generation-skipping gifts.

It is important that seniors and their families are familiar with changes in tax laws and government benefits that may affect their plans for the future.

It is important that seniors and their families are familiar with changes in tax laws and government benefits that may affect their plans for the future.

Medicare Premiums, Deductibles, and Co-payments:

In some parts of the country, there have been some modest increases in co-payments. In Part A, the deductible has gone from $1,184 to $1,216 (an increase to the consumer). However, this has been balanced out with higher reimbursement for hospital stays for days 61-90, which went from $296 to $304 per day. For days 91 and beyond, the copayment has gone from $592 to $608 per day. Part B premiums and deductibles remain unchanged.

The good news for married couples, filing jointly or filing separately, is that for incomes of $85,000 or more, there are no changes in your premium payments!

Medicaid Spousal Impoverishment Amounts:

If you and your spouse are contemplating applying for Medicaid because of the need to place one of you in a nursing home, keep in mind that there are income and asset limits, which will prevent eligibility. If your assets exceed $23,448 (excluding your house, one automobile and household possessions), you will be eliminated from Medicaid eligibility without correct planning. There are ways to shelter assets above that amount. Consult an experienced elder law attorney for more detailed advice.

Social Security Benefit Changes:

For 2014, there have been modest increases for those who are eligible. The average Social Security payment will increase from $1,275 for individuals to $1,294. For couples, the amount will increase from $2,080 to $2,111. Modest is definitely the operative word, but every little bit helps.

The issues related to taxes and estate planning are ever-changing. Seniors and their families should consider consulting with a qualified elder law attorney when they are making financial decisions and planning for the future.

Information provided by The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C., an elder law firm representing older persons, disabled persons, their families, and their advocates. For more information, please visit http://www.chroniccareadvocacy.com.

Published: April 2014

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