Long-term care insurance policyholder wins breach of contract suit over increased premiums

A long-term care policyholder has successfully sued her insurance company for breach of contract after the company raised her premiums. At age 56, Margery Newman bought a long-term care insurance policy from Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. She chose an option called “Reduced-Pay at 65” in which she paid higher premiums until she reached age 65, after which the premium would drop to half the original amount. The long-term care insurance contract set out the terms of the reduced-pay option. It also stated that the company could increase premiums on policyholders in the same “class.” When Newman was 67 years old, the…..

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Be on the lookout for new Medicare cards (and new related scams)

The federal government is issuing new Medicare cards to all Medicare beneficiaries. To prevent fraud and fight identity theft, the new cards will no longer have beneficiaries’ Social Security numbers on them. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency that oversees the Medicare program, is replacing each beneficiary’s Social Security number with a unique identification number, called a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI). Each MBI will consist of a combination of 11 randomly generated numbers and upper-case letters. The characters are “non-intelligent,” which means they don’t have any hidden or special meaning. An MBI is confidential like a…..

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How to appeal a Medicare prescription drug denial

If your Medicare drug (Part D) plan denies coverage for a drug you need, you don’t have to simply accept it. There are several steps you can take to fight the decision. The insurers offering Medicare drug plans choose both brand-name and generic medicines that they will include in a plan’s “formulary.” This is the roster of drugs the plan covers and will pay for, and it changes year-to-year. If a drug you need is not in the plan’s formulary or has been dropped, the plan can deny coverage. Plans may also charge more for a drug than you think…..

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Proving a transfer was not made in order to qualify for Medicaid

Medicaid law imposes a penalty period if you transferred assets within five years of applying, but what if the transfers had nothing to do with Medicaid? It is difficult to do, but if you can prove you made the transfers for a purpose other than to qualify for Medicaid, you can avoid a penalty. You are not supposed to move into a nursing home on Monday, give all your money away on Tuesday, and qualify for Medicaid on Wednesday. So the government looks back five years for any asset transfers, and levies a penalty on people who transferred assets without…..

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Be aware of housing protections for tenants with support animals

While everyone gets some level of comfort and companionship from their pets, some people get extra support that improves their mental well-being on a daily basis. Emotional support animals help people with life-limiting disabilities, including mental health issues, feel more comfortable functioning in the world. If you have an emotional support animal, you are entitled to certain housing protections. Landlords and property managers are governed by the Fair Housing Act (FHA), a federal law that prevents discrimination against tenants and requires accommodations for all assistance animals, including those who provide emotional support. Different designations, different rules By definition, assistance animals…..

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Buying long term care insurance for your parents

Are your parents adequately prepared for retirement? If not, are you planning to help them out? In many families, one or more adult children will step up to help Mom and Dad when they can no longer safely take care of themselves. That could mean time away from your family and job or pitching in financially to cover a variety of expenses. Your parents will inevitably need some care in their retirement years. If they’re not prepared to pay for it on their own, you might consider it as part of your own estate plan — particularly if you have…..

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Make an estate plan for your digital assets

Today, 77 percent of Americans go online every day, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey, and most of us maintain at least some kind of digital data in the cloud. We save emails, post to social media, and store photos in online albums. All of this digital information has created a new issue for you, your heirs, and the technology firms that hold your assets. The key concern is maintaining your privacy and security and determining who can legally access this information upon your death. A statute called the Revised Uniform Access to Digital Assets Act provides a…..

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Housing hunt: Should parents buy off-campus property?

A college town can be a good place to own rental property. Students are continually rotating through, and even faculty can be a transient group in need of temporary places to live. With dorm costs rising and space at a premium in certain college towns, some parents are investing in off-campus property as a way to manage costs and ensure their student has reliable housing. Buying property can cost less than dorm living or renting, but the math varies by market. A 2017 study by Redfin calculated that monthly mortgage payments were less expensive than renting a dorm room at…..

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Protect work with lasting value: Estate planning for copyrights

Artists and their families have unique needs when it comes to estate planning. Be aware of the following strategies to protect the value of an artist’s work during and after his or her lifetime: Copyright eligibility. The first step is understanding what constitutes a copyrightable work. Protection is available to original works that are either written or otherwise recorded, including literary, musical, artistic and certain other intellectual works. These categories are to be interpreted broadly and can include maps, architectural plans, buildings and mobile apps. Registering a copyright. Next, ensure that the artist’s assets have been registered with the U.S……

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New tax law prompts IRA conversions

Lower income tax rates make this an attractive time to convert your traditional IRA into a Roth IRA. By converting, you’ll pay taxes on those funds now instead of at some future (likely higher) rate. The main hurdle will be paying taxes owed. If you convert $50,000 from a traditional IRA to a Roth, your taxable income will increase by $50,000. If you’re in the 24% tax bracket, that amounts to $12,000 in taxes owed. That might feel like a hit now, but it could be a financially sound decision, particularly if you expect to be in a higher tax…..

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