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 If that nursing home closes, residents can experience symptoms that include depression, agitation, and withdrawn behavior, according to The Consumer Voice, a long-term care consumer advocacy group.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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Evaluating Generation-Skipping Tax Transfers

Your current financial plan may include wealth transfers to grandchildren, great-grandchildren or other descendants, and these gifts may be subject to a generation-skipping tax (GST). The GST was created to prevent families from essentially “skipping” a generation’s worth of estate taxes as wealth is passed down. In 2017, the GST exemption (the amount that can be transferred to grandchildren without incurring a federal GST tax) was $5.45 million adjusted for inflation. Now, under the new tax reform law, the GST exemption is doubled to roughly $11.2 million. In 2026, however, the exemptions revert back to pre-2018 levels. Doubling the exemption…..

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‘Clawback’ Concerns Linger Under New Tax Law

The new tax reform package increases an individual’s lifetime exemption from roughly $5.5 million to $11.2 million, with an expiration date of December 31, 2025. For individuals who don’t expect to die in the next eight years, your gift strategy could include protecting assets from future estate taxes while still maintaining adequate resources for your lifetime. You may, for example, choose to max out your lifetime exemption now, while you are still alive, to minimize the tax burden on your heirs when you die. Let’s assume you are a high-net worth individual with no surviving spouse. If you give your…..

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Estate Planning Still Essential, Despite Increased Exemptions

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) reduces individual and corporate tax rates, eliminates a bevy of deductions and makes a host of changes to how Americans can preserve their wealth. Although the act falls short of repealing the death tax, it doubles the amount an individual may transfer tax free, either in his or her lifetime or at death. Effective January 1, 2018 (and expiring December 31, 2025), the combined gift and estate tax exemption and the generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax exemption amounts double from an inflation-adjusted $5 million to $10 million. Taking into account inflationary adjustments, the actual…..

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