Welcome to My Blog

Attorney Michael MillonigHi,

I’m Michael Millonig and you’ve managed to find your way to my blog.

I have been a certified specialist in elder law since 1998. [see https://www.michaelmillonig.com/cela-certification/ ]. There are frequent changes in elder law, estate planning, trust and probate law. The Ohio Medicaid program is constantly changing even at the county level. It is difficult for me to keep you up to date with my email newsletter, seminars or client appointments. That’s why I’ve started this blog.

I will try to keep you updated on new developments in elder law, estate planning, trust and probate. I will particularly be focusing on local issues in Dayton and Ohio law in general. Some specific topics I will cover are: caring for aging parents, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, home care, independent senior retirement communities, Ohio’s Medicaid program, protecting your estate from nursing home costs, revocable living trusts, avoiding probate, financial powers of attorneys, health care powers of attorney, living wills and other topics related to elder law.

Hopefully you enjoy what you find here and learn some things. Once again, welcome to my blog.

 

Michael  J.  Millonig
Certified as an Elder Law Attorney
by the National Elder Law Foundation since 1998
OSBA Board Certified Estate Planning
Trust and Probate Specialist
937-438-3977

Any legal information communicated in this blog is a general statement of the law.  It is not intended as legal advice and should not be relied upon to answer any specific questions concerning your own circumstances or for purposes of legal planning. These communications are not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. Please contact my office for an appointment if you have any legal questions.

What to Do With Your Stimulus Check if You Are in a Nursing Home

As the second (and maybe third) round of stimulus checks go out, it is important to know that nursing home residents are not required to turn their checks over to their nursing home. And Medicaid recipients need to spend the cash within a year if it puts them over Medicaid’s resource limit.

In December 2020, Congress approved $600 stimulus checks for individuals making less than $75,000 a year. And Congress is currently considering whether to approve another round of $1,400 stimulus checks. Those checks should be sent to everyone eligible, including individuals on Medicaid and in a nursing home or assisted living facility.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is reminding nursing home and assisted living residents that their stimulus checks are for them, not their facility. With the first round of stimulus checks, there were reports that facilities were taking the checks without residents’ permission. The FTC says that if nursing homes ask for a resident’s check, the resident should contact the state attorney general and the FTC.

Medicaid recipients who receive a stimulus check that puts them above Medicaid’s resource limit will need to spend down the money within a year or risk losing benefits. The Social Security Administration has said that it will not consider stimulus payments as income, and that the payments will be excluded from a Medicaid recipient’s resources for 12 months. The following are examples of what a Medicaid recipient may be able to spend the money on without affecting their eligibility:

Make a payment toward paying off debt.
Make small repairs around the house.
Update personal effects. Buy household goods or personal comfort objects. Buy a new wardrobe, electronics, or furniture.
Buy needed medical equipment, see a dentist or get eyes checked if those items aren’t covered by insurance.

If you have questions about how you or a family member in a nursing home can spend the money, contact your elder law attorney.

Alzheimer’s – the other Pandemic

The Barron’s weekly February 8, 2021 publication had a comprehensive article on Alzheimer’s disease which they called The Other Pandemic. https://www.barrons.com/articles/the-coming-alzheimers-crisisand-what-to-do-about-it-51612543200?mod=hp_MAG It is a fairly basic article but good for those who are just beginning to struggle with this for a family member. A more advanced and interesting article discusses the new Biogen Alzheimer’s drug, aducanumab, in development. https://www.barrons.com/articles/biogens-big-bet-on-its-alzheimers-drug-what-happens-to-the-biotechs-stock-51612526499?mod=hp_LEAD_4 It has been 18 years since we have had any new approved drugs for treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. This article discusses the status of approval for aducanumab and other drugs.

Our website has very comprehensive information on asset protection planning for families dealing with Alzheimer’s, Medicaid eligibility in Ohio https://www.michaelmillonig.com/ohio-medicaid/ as well as basic estate planning important to be done in the early stages of the disease. In the middle or later stages the Alzheimer’s patient will not be legally competent to sign any legal documents.

What To Do With Your Stimulus Check if You Are in a Nursing Home

As the second round of stimulus checks go out, it is important to know that nursing home residents are not required to turn their checks over to their nursing home. And Medicaid recipients need to spend the cash within a year if it puts them over Medicaid’s resource limit.

In December 2020, Congress approved $600 stimulus checks for individuals making less than $75,000 a year. Those checks should be sent to everyone eligible, including individuals on Medicaid and in a nursing home or assisted living facility.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is reminding nursing home and assisted living residents that their stimulus checks are for them, not their facility. With the first round of stimulus checks, there were reports that facilities were taking the checks without residents’ permission. The FTC says that if nursing homes ask for a resident’s check, the resident should contact the state attorney general and the FTC.

Medicaid recipients who receive a stimulus check that puts them above Medicaid’s resource limit will need to spend down the money within a year or risk losing benefits. The Social Security Administration has said that it will not consider stimulus payments as income, and that the payments will be excluded from a Medicaid recipient’s resources for 12 months. The following are examples of what a Medicaid recipient may be able to spend the money on without affecting their eligibility:

Make a payment toward paying off debt.
Make small repairs around the house.
Update personal effects. Buy household goods or personal comfort objects. Buy a new wardrobe, electronics, or furniture.
Buy needed medical equipment, see a dentist or get eyes checked if those items aren’t covered by insurance.

If you have questions about how you or a family member in a nursing home can spend the money, contact your elder law attorney. To find an attorney near you, click here https://www.elderlawanswers.com/elder-law-attorneys

Ohio Legacy Asset Protection Trusts

There are certain types of trusts that a person can create to protect their estate from lawsuits, bankruptcy, divorce settlements, government expropriation and other creditor claims against their property. Many persons have what is commonly referred to as a revocable living trust. These are usually set up in order to avoid probate. However, this type of trust offers no creditor protection. Traditionally, a person could not set up their own trust for their benefit and at the same time protect their estate from creditors. Trust law prohibited this type of trust. However, this has changed in many states.

Ohio is one of those states that has a special statute permitting a person to create this type of trust. The Ohio Legacy Trust Act was passed effective March 27, 2013 adding new provisions for the creation of an asset protection trust. The Ohio version of a domestic asset protection trust is known as an “Ohio Legacy Trust.” It is one of the best statutes in the country of this type. There are many other details that I can’t cover in this short biog. One important detail to be aware of is that you must plan ahead and create this trust prior to any actual creditor claims or other legal actions against you. The law prohibits any type of transfer of property to this trust if you have a pending creditor claim. As with all other estate planning, it is important to plan ahead.

Can You Visit Nursing Home Residents After They are Vaccinated?

COVID vaccines are starting to roll out to nursing homes across the country, signaling the beginning of the end of the pandemic. Once your loved one has had both doses of the vaccine, you may be able to visit, but precautions are still necessary.

The federal government entered into a partnership with CVS and Walgreens to deliver the vaccines to nursing home residents, who have high priority for being vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. The pharmacy companies began administering vaccines in 12 states in mid-December and will expand to 36 states before year’s end. Both the Pfizer the Moderna vaccines require two shots three or four weeks apart.

Restrictions on nursing home visitors vary from state to state, with some states limiting them and others allowing more visitation. Currently, the CDC recommends that nursing homes allow indoor visitors if the facility has had no COVID cases for 14 days. Once vaccines have been distributed, restrictions may ease further.

According to the New York Times, experts recommend that to be safe, you should wait until two weeks after your loved one gets the second dose of the vaccine before visiting. The safest time to visit would be after all the residents and staff have been vaccinated and you receive the vaccine as well. Even if you and your loved one are vaccinated, you should still wear a mask when visiting. As long as COVID is spreading in the community, mask wearing is still recommended.

Noting that the vast majority of older adults with chronic conditions live at home, long-term care consultant Howard Gleckman asserts that these vulnerable adults along with their caregivers should also be vaccinated as soon as possible. As states ration their limited initial supplies of the vaccines, Gleckman says, “they should remember the millions of people who are at high risk of severe illness or death from the virus, but who are living at home.”

For more information about the vaccine rollout to nursing homes, click here and here.

SEMINARS FOR CPA’S & FINANCIAL PLANNERS

The following seminars are offered for CPA’s, financial planners and insurance agents for continuing education credits. These are not consumer oriented seminars. Registration links are at the bottom of this post.

ASSET PROTECTION PLANNING
FOR NURSING HOME COSTS
Friday, December 11, 2020 @ 8:45 AM – 12:00 PM
via ZOOM online of course

▸ Review of all new changes resulting from Ohio’s conversion to an SSI/1634 State
▸ Review all new resource eligibility rules
▸ Miller Trusts (aka Qualified Income Trusts) now required for many applicants
▸ Problems with clients not using Miller trusts correctly; caseworkers now requiring stricter compliance
▸ New rule for Residence exemption for single persons & our success with exemptions
▸ Medicaid Transfer rule; more changes and problems
▸ Resource exemptions for the community spouse (spouse at home)
▸ Restrictions on Medicaid annuities and planning opportunities
▸ Annuities used for planning & related malpractice of agents
▸ Medicaid Transfer rule; not just 5 years but an ineligibility period beginning after spend down!
▸ Office procedures to avoid malpractice
▸ Long Term Care Insurance for nursing home costs
▸ Additional Medicaid exemptions for persons with Partnership Plan Policies
▸ Assisted Living rules for Medicaid
▸ Many other planning options to protect the estate and qualify for Medicaid
▸ Why your clients should not be giving their assets to their children
▸ Special Needs Trusts under Medicaid law for children with disabilities

OHIO TRUST CODE
(also approved as “The Complete Trust Course”)
Thursday, December 10, 2020 @ 8:45 AM – 12:00 PM

Trusts are usually the centerpiece in estate planning for high net worth individuals. Therefore, it is important to understand some fundamentals about trusts and the specifics of the many types of trusts used in estate planning.

▸ This presentation will cover fundamental legal principles of trust law to help you be able to read a trust document and understand legal terminology.
▸ Comprehensive Review of a Trust Document; this will help you in your discussions with the attorney who drafted the document.
▸ Rights of beneficiaries that apply even if contrary to the trust.
▸ Avoiding probate with a revocable living trust; common mistakes by clients; comparison to TOD, POD accounts and beneficiary designations; disadvantages of the latter.
▸ How to explain trusts to clients; Trust Terminology review
▸ A-B Trusts, Life Insurance Trusts, Incentive Trusts, Spendthrift Trusts, Trusts for second marriages
▸ Estate tax planning under the higher exclusion amount ($11,580,000 for 2020)
▸ A-B Trusts compared to the portability election; pitfalls of portability
▸ Asset Protection Trusts to protect clients from lawsuits
▸ Ohio Legacy Trust Act: an asset protection trust under Ohio law
▸ Foreign Asset Protection Trusts under laws of other countries
▸ Perpetual Dynasty Trusts that continue to provide protection and avoid estate tax for grandchildren and beyond
▸ Many other different types of trusts will be covered

CONTINUING EDUCATION CREDIT

The above seminars have been approved for CE credit by the Ohio Department of Insurance. There is no exam required to obtain CE credit. Michael Millonig LLC is registered with the Accountancy Board of Ohio as a Continuing Education Sponsor. Asset Protection Planning for Nursing Home Costs and The Ohio Trust Code (“The Complete Trust Course”) are each approved for 3 CE Credits.

REFUND POLICY: Cancellations received by 5:00 PM two business days prior to the seminar will be refunded less a $15 office fee. Those not attending will receive the course materials in full consideration of tuition paid.

TUITION: Tuition is $60 per seminar if pre-registered and paid two business days prior to the day of the seminar. Registration on the day before or the day of the seminar is $70.00. There is a discount if you pre-register for two courses (see below).

To register, click below
Asset Protection Planning for Nursing Home Costs:
https://zoom.us/webinar/register/6816063141111/WN_767br6d7QFuNt3gcccjggA

Trust seminar:
https://zoom.us/webinar/register/7316063140479/WN_464eBaU7TsCEinPM-s4L7w

Reservations must be made in advance on online with Zoom. Please check your email for the link for Zoom registration. In addition, you must send payment in advance. Please send a check via U. S. Mail to Michael Millonig LLC, Attn: Agent/CPA CE Seminars, 7929 Washington Woods Drive, Dayton, Ohio 45459-4026.

Thanksgiving during COVID

This is a difficult time for us to continue to balance COVID-19 safety protocols & government restrictions with spending time with our families and loved ones. The CDC has issued some guidelines for celebrating Thanksgiving :
https://m.emailupdates.cdc.gov/rest/head/mirrorPage/@lIie1UBTdMtWe9u7NFnRaoqgvmZv-N5jV6fmPS2nYOQXVIPyuiVz9uULj_TGPOZSg-G–UIZHBdxY-xmVVBRTO7q0jrfS1VkJRnfxjMYMBm5F1d5.html

The National Consumer Voice for Quality Care is an organization that is an advocate for nursing home residents and their families. They have also issued some specific guidance related to nursing home residents:

https://act.theconsumervoice.org/site/MessageViewer?dlv_id=6827&em_id=3465.0

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday.

 

Asset Protection with Trusts

Clients often ask me about protecting their estate. Sometimes they are not specific and I have to ask them: Who or what do you want to protect your estate from? Often the reply is something vague about the government or taxes. After some discussion, we usually narrow this down to the following risks:

1. Protecting your estate from the cost of nursing home care.
2. Avoiding probate.
3. Protecting against lawsuits.
4. Protecting against possible civil unrest or major changes to our political, tax or legal system.

All of these financial risks are valid concerns but require a client discussion of the potential risk and the client’s risk tolerance. There are many persons who have lost their hard earned life savings or their business because they did not plan for one of these events.

There are certain types of trusts and other legal arrangements that can accomplish protection against all these threats to preservation of your estate. However, especially with respect to items 3 & 4 above, you must do this planning prior to any actual lawsuit or government action. There are laws that will prevent you from successfully implementing this type of planning if the government or a creditor has already taken action against you. Legal planning in advance is essential for a successful estate plan to protect your estate.

MEDICAID ELIGIBILITY FOR NURSING HOME RESIDENTS

Thursday, November 18, 2020 @ 8:45 AM – 12:00 PM
and Wednesday December 9 2020 @ 8:45 AM – 12:00 PM
via ZOOM online of course

This seminar has been approved for 3 CEU’s for Licensed Social Workers & Counselors. This is not a consumer oriented seminar. The intended audience is nursing home and other personnel who work with residents applying for Medicaid eligibility. This seminar will focus on Medicaid eligibility from the point of view of the nursing facility. It will not focus on planning techniques to preserve assets and achieve Medicaid eligibility. The objective is to provide information, tips and relate the experience of Michael J. Millonig to assist nursing homes in avoiding problems with Medicaid applications.

TUITION: Tuition is $40 for persons requiring credit if pre-registered and paid two business days prior to the day of the seminar. Registration on the day before or the day of the seminar is $60.00. COVID-19 special: If you do not need Licensed Social Workers & Counselors CEU credit, there is no charge. However, you must register. Please send a check for $40.00 via U S Mail to Michael Millonig LLC, Attn: Medicaid CE Seminars, 7929 Washington Woods Drive, Dayton, Ohio 45459-4026.

November 18 Zoom registration link:

https://zoom.us/webinar/register/8516040660756/WN_jORW2WfUQ3CrEXgaXsLoRA

December 9 zoom registration link:

https://zoom.us/webinar/register/8316040662131/WN_nB6W7TKOTqaPm1DHhvCXBA

Medicare Open Enrollment Starts October 15: Is It Time to Change Plans?

Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, during which you can freely enroll in or switch plans, runs from October 15 to December 7. Now is the time to start shopping around to see whether your current choices are still the best ones for you.

During this period you may enroll in a Medicare Part D (prescription drug) plan or, if you currently have a plan, you may change plans. In addition, during the seven-week period you can return to traditional Medicare (Parts A and B) from a Medicare Advantage (Part C, managed care) plan, enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, or change Advantage plans.

Beneficiaries can go to www.medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) to make changes in their Medicare prescription drug and health plan coverage.

According to the New York Times, few Medicare beneficiaries take advantage of Open Enrollment, but of those who do, nearly half cut their premiums by at least 5 percent. Even beneficiaries who have been satisfied with their plans in 2020 should review their choices for 2021, as both premiums and plan coverage can fluctuate from year to year. Are the doctors you use still part of your Medicare Advantage plan’s provider network? Have any of the prescriptions you take been dropped from your prescription plan’s list of covered drugs (the “formulary”)? Could you save money with the same coverage by switching to a different plan?

For answers to questions like these, carefully look over the plan’s “Annual Notice of Change” letter to you. Prescription drug plans can change their premiums, deductibles, the list of drugs they cover, and their plan rules for covered drugs, exceptions, and appeals. Medicare Advantage plans can change their benefit packages, as well as their provider networks.

Remember that fraud perpetrators will inevitably use the Open Enrollment Period to try to gain access to individuals’ personal financial information. Medicare beneficiaries should never give their personal information out to anyone making unsolicited phone calls selling Medicare-related products or services or showing up on their doorstep uninvited. If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud or identity theft, contact Medicare.

Here are more resources for navigating the Open Enrollment Period:

Medicare Plan Finder, which helps you find a plan to match your needs: www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan
Medicare coverage options: https://www.medicare.gov/medicarecoverageoptions/
The 2020 Medicare & You handbook, which all Medicare beneficiaries should have received. The handbook can also be downloaded online at: medicare.gov/forms-help-resources/medicare-you-handbook/download-medicare-you-in-different-formats
The Medicare Rights Center: www.medicareinteractive.org
Your State Health Insurance Assistance Program, which offers independent counseling: https://www.shiptacenter.org