Three reasons why giving your house to your kids isn’t the best way to protect it from Medicaid

Are you afraid of losing your home if you have to enter a nursing home and apply for Medicaid? While this fear is well-founded, transferring the home to your children is usually not the best way to protect it. Although a home generally does not have to be sold in order to qualify for Medicaid coverage of nursing home care, the state could file a claim against the house after you die. If you get help from Medicaid to pay for the nursing home, the state must attempt to recoup from your estate whatever benefits it paid for your care. This…..

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HUD makes reverse mortgages less attractive

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has made changes to the federal reverse mortgage program. Citing the need to put the program on better financial footing, HUD has raised reverse mortgage fees for some borrowers and lowered the amount homeowners can borrow. The changes took effect on October 2, 2017. They affect borrowers who take out new loans, but not existing loans. A reverse mortgage allows a homeowner who is at least 62 years old to use the equity in his or her home to obtain a loan that does not have to be repaid until the homeowner moves, sells,…..

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How to reverse Medicare surcharges when your income changes

Are you a high-income Medicare beneficiary who is paying a surcharge on your premiums but who has experienced a drop in income or is anticipating one? If your circumstances change, you can reverse those surcharges. Higher-income Medicare beneficiaries (individuals who earn more than $85,000) pay higher Part B and prescription drug benefit premiums than do Medicare beneficiaries with lower incomes. The extra amount the beneficiary owes increases in stages as the beneficiary’s income increases. The Social Security Administration uses income reported two years ago to determine a beneficiary’s premiums. So the income reported on a beneficiary’s 2016 tax return is used to determine…..

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What happens when a nursing home closes?

The expansion of alternatives to nursing homes, such as assisted living and community care, has been financially challenging for the nursing home industry, and every year a small percentage of facilities close their doors. The state or federal government may also shutter a facility for safety issues. Moving into a nursing home can be a stressful experience by itself. If that nursing home closes, residents can experience symptoms that include depression, agitation, and withdrawn behavior, according to The Consumer Voice, a long-term care consumer advocacy group. While there may not be much that can be done to prevent a closure, residents do…..

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Should you enroll in two popular Medigap plans while you can?

If you will soon turn 65 and be applying for Medicare, you should carefully consider which “Medigap” policy to enroll in because two of the most popular plans will be ending soon. Between copayments, deductibles, and coverage exclusions, Medicare does not cover all medical expenses. Medigap (or “supplemental”) plans offered by private insurers are designed to supplement and fill in the “gaps” in Medicare coverage. There are 10 Medigap plans currently being sold, identified by letters. Each plan package offers a different combination of benefits. Plans F and C are popular Medigap plans in part because they both offer coverage…..

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Know when to consult a real estate attorney

It’s generally wise to seek the advice of a real estate attorney any time you buy or sell a property.  Common sale scenarios pose specialized legal risk, and you should consult an experienced attorney if any of the following apply to your sale: Judgements or liens: If there’s a lien on your property, retain an attorney to evaluate the validity of the lien and how to remove it before it holds up a sale. Heir to a property: If you’re an out-of-state heir, you should work with an attorney to ensure all ownership and title issues are in order. Talk…..

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Getting a mortgage with frozen credit

Remember the Equifax data breach last summer? Roughly 145 million Americans had their personal information and credit data compromised, leaving them open to identity fraud and theft. As a result, U.S. credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) saw a surge in consumers signing up to freeze their accounts. Now some would-be homebuyers are running into a hurdle in the mortgage application process: frozen credit. Fortunately, you can request a temporary “thaw” that allows lenders to access your account without permanently lifting your freeze. You’ll need to contact each of the three major credit bureaus separately, and you may need to…..

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Buyers increasing down payments to gain edge

Buyers are facing heavy competition in certain U.S. housing markets, and many are increasing their down payment to gain the competitive edge. In purchase situations with multiple offers, the buyer with the larger down payment is likely to win out. In part, that’s because larger down payments suggest less risk that financing could fall through. More importantly, a higher down payment can effectively bridge any financing gaps should the home appraisal come in at less than the offered purchase price. The median down payment for homes purchased with financing in the third quarter of 2017 rose to a high of…..

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Home values could decline, thanks to tax changes

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, signed into law in late December, will affect millions of Americans in different ways. When it comes to real estate, legal experts suggest that the massive tax overhaul could have some unintended consequences, including discouraging homeownership and slowing the pace of home appreciation. Here’s how the new law affects homeowners: Lower limits on mortgage interest deductions: Under the new law, homeowners can deduct interest on mortgages up to $750,000, down from $1 million. The reduction makes it more expensive to borrow money for high-priced homes. Limits on SALT deductions: Previously all state and local…..

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Tax Reform May Impact Charitable Giving

As the tax reform measures were unveiled, members of the charitable community expressed alarm that the new rules could create a disincentive to donate. With the larger standard income tax deduction ($12,000 for an individual filer and $24,000 for a married couple), fewer people will realize the benefits of itemizing. Some charities fear that, absent the tax write-off, fewer people will give. Yet others argue a household’s higher net income will be a boon to non-profits. How the tax reform changes will actually impact giving remains to be seen. Here’s a summary of some ways the law might impact annual…..

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