October Round Up: Covid, Care Homes & Taxes

It’s the last Monday of the month. That means we’re a bit closer to closing out 2020 and also that it’s time for the October Round Up of developments in elder law.

Covid-19 and Care Homes

The pandemic has hit nursing homes particularly hard. AARP this month launched a “Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard,” which tracks nursing home statistics in every state, to try to assess how states are doing to combat the virus and maintain pressure on public officials to offer solutions. The dashboard aggregates and analyzes data from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on resident deaths and virus cases per 100 residents, staff cases per 100 residents, the percentage of nursing homes without a one-week supply of personal protective equipment, and the percentage of nursing homes with staffing shortages.

Nationally, the data shows that shortages of PPE are still a significant problem, with more than a quarter of nursing homes reporting a shortage during the four weeks ending September 20.

For Arizona, data shows that, during the period, PPE shortages were the same as the national average, and in other categories, we’re doing better than the rest of the country. Just over 22% of nursing homes reported cases among residents during the period. They reported 82% since January. Cases among staff remain higher: 45.6%. The Dashboard will be updated every four weeks.

Meanwhile, AARP also raises five questions to ask now that care facilities are starting to allow visitors–before you go.

Speaking of our government at work, the feds released final regulations for ABLE accounts and announced the 2021 cost of living adjustments for Social Security and other benefits.

In-Home Care Instead?

Most believe the “aging in place” movement will grow as a result of the pandemic. But staying home can bring significant challenges, at least six of them to consider if you are pondering your own future living arrangements. This article advises anyone over 65 to have a plan in place.

If you are helping an aging loved one and want to avoid nursing home, here’s more advice: be sure to vet in-home caregivers carefully and provide help with employing them.

For many people, living at home vs. a facility depends on Medicaid. That’s not the only problem with the state-federal program; it’s also fragmented, confusing, and results in inequitable care.

Scaretaxtics

If Joe Biden wins the presidency, it’s pretty obvious that taxes of one sort or another are headed higher.

As you may know, the current $11.58 million estate tax exemption is set to expire after 2025. But that could happen sooner. (Again, Biden.) Are you ready?

The wealthy aren’t sitting around waiting to see what happens, this report says they’re “scrambling” to make changes now. The winners are typically the next generation, which could receive billions. But creating these tax-advantageous plans has in some cases caused family tension, partly because of generational political disagreements.

Taxes also factor heavily in these 10 estate planning recommendations before the end of the year, but the piece ends with “never let the ‘tax tail wag the dog.’ “ Some things are more important.

Non-Tax Planning

Clients often ask about the difference between a Will and a trust. Here’s a pretty good primer.

Clients also often grapple with whether they want a “springing” or an “immediate” financial power of attorney. Some things to think about.

But a lot of people never get that far. Actor Chadwick Boseman, who died in August, never got around to it. Don’t be one of them.

That’s it for the October Round Up. Stay well. And vote.

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