- A debt collector must send you a letter within five days after calling you spelling out how much you owe, to whom you owe it and how long you have to dispute the debt.
- You have 30 days from the date you are contacted by the debt collector to send the collector a letter disputing the debt and specifically requesting verification of it.
- Whether or not you owe the debt, you can tell debt collectors in writing not to contact you again. That doesn’t eliminate the debt.
DEBT COLLECTORS CAN’T:
- Harass or use obscene words when talking to you.
- Contact you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
- Contact you without identifying themselves.
- Tell others about your debt.
- Contact you at work if your employer disapproves.
- Threaten you with arrest or jail time.
Problem with a debt collector?
- You can file a complaint, with the Ohio attorney general’s office at 1-800-282-0515 and with the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-382-4357.
While the Ohio Tenth and First District Courts of Appeals have both unanimously ruled that a “well spouse” may utilize immediate annuities, the agency is still attempting to litigate those cases in the other eight Ohio Appellate districts.
For example: Husband enters a nursing home, has $1,200 of Social Security income. Wife still resides at home with $800 a month of Social Security income. The couple’s assets consist of bank accounts, IRAs and other various accounts totaling $200,000. In this circumstance, the well spouse may consider utilizing an immediate annuity to enhance her position both in the short and long term.
An immediate annuity provides that an insurance company will make payments to the individual or their spouse for the balance of their lifetimes. Once this annuity contract is completed, it cannot be revoked or revised. For example, if the “well spouse” purchased an immediate annuity for $100,000, she may receive in the neighborhood of an additional $800.00 per month for the balance of her life. During her husband’s lifetime, this will not have a significant benefit. However, upon his death, his social security will disappear.
Based upon this fact scenario, she would still have roughly $1,600 per month between the Social Security and the annuity. Had she not entered into this plan, her fixed income upon her husband’s death would have been $800 per month. While this sort of planning is beneficial to the well spouse and will enable her to continue living independently, the agency has challenged this approach as it allows the husband to become eligible for Medicaid after only spending $50,000 (if the annuity is purchased) as opposed to $100,000 towards his nursing home care prior to Medicaid eligibility. The Tenth and First District Courts of Appeals have both found this approach to be appropriate and the Ohio Supreme Court refused the state’s request to review the First District Court of Appeals’ Decision this year. Two Akron attorneys have asked for our firm’s assistance, and we are currently litigating a case in Federal District Court to obtain a final decision and to stop the state from litigating this matter eight more times (there are ten District Courts of Appeals).
In our Ohio elder law practice, we find that many people either live in Ohio and have family in Florida or vice versa. If you or someone you know happens to fall into one of those categories, you may want to consider the following comparison chart between Florida and Ohio as it relates to taxes, assets and medicaid:
COMPARISON BETWEEN FLORIDA AND OHIO
TAXES, ASSETS AND MEDICAID
|Income Tax||None||Income Tax|
|Estate Tax||None||Estate Tax|
|Homestead Exemption (Primary Residence )||Allowed (Residence is free of Medicaid liens)||None (Residence must be sold or lien)|
|Care Management Agreement allowed||Yes||Restricted|
|Income Producing Assets||Yes||Limited|
|Income Producing Real Estate||Yes||Limited|
|CSRA $109, 560||100%||50%|
|Pooled Trust Over 65||Yes||Yes|
|MIDGTS Grantor Trusts/Deduction Trust||Yes||Yes|
Browning, Meyer & Ball, Co., L.P. A. is a law office with over 55 years of experience in the firm’s specialized areas of practice, which include estate planning, elder law, estate administration, probate administration, trust administration, asset preservation, tax planning, guardianships, special needs planning, and Medicaid eligibility planning and litigation. With offices conveniently located in Columbus and Sandusky, Ohio, and a Florida attorney of-counsel with our firm, we have the ability to offer a wide array of legal services to assist you and your family as you move through the stages of life.
Medicaid applications are filed with the County Department of Job and Family Services. Caseworkers generally know the rules that govern Medicaid but they aren’t there to give advice. You can attempt to do this yourself or turn to an elder law attorney who will represent your interests and will help you protect your assets including your home. Frankly, the State would rather you spend all your money towards nursing home care, even if it means leaving you without much to live on. There are protects in the law for spouses and others that are very complex, but may allow you to keep your home, your car, your income and enough resources to live in the community.
It’s a cheap way to protect your assets from potentially devastating lawsuits. Even if your assets aren’t substantial, it can be well worthwhile to purchase a million dollar policy (or higher) to supplement your auto and homeowners liability coverage.
Why? In the rare event you are sued, you could be forced to pay a legal judgment from your current assets and future earnings. Although premiums vary, someone with one house and two cars would generally pay about $200 per year for the first million in coverage.
You may be taking care of elderly parents now or looking at that possibility in the near future. According to a report from USATODAY/ABCNews/Gallup Poll, 41% of baby boomers are helping take care of elderly parents by providing personal help or financial assistance or both.
If financial planning and long term care planning have not been done previous to the need for care, the burden falls on the caregiving family member. Decisions about how care will be paid for, who will be responsible for managing the estate as well as how the long term care will be given can cause stress and contention among family members.
It is best for parents and all family members to be involved in planning for future financial needs. The financial resources being used today could change drastically with the occurrence of a stroke, illness or onset of dementia. In order to plan financially for long term care, you need to know what the costs are now and what they will be in the future. (more…)
My wife and I recently had our house painted. I might have been able to do the job myself; I even thought about it for a few crazy moments. In the end, though, given the time involved and the risks (I once took a nasty fall from a ladder), it just made sense to get help. Trust me: You need the same mind-set when choosing or changing your Medicare coverage.
Now 45 years old, Medicare has become too much of a good thing-;too big, too costly and far too complicated. In the past few years, we’ve seen the introduction of prescription drug coverage, the indexing of premiums for doctors’ services and, this summer, a shake-up in supplemental insurance plans, known as Medigap. Starting Jan. 1, given that government payments to private insurers in 2011 will be frozen at 2010 levels, some participants in Medicare Advantage, the alternative to the original Medicare, could see higher fees, reduced benefits-;or both.
Trying to make sense of it all can deter even the most systematic of souls. A year ago Barry Wood, a retiree in Plymouth, Mich., was approaching his 65th birthday, making him eligible for Medicare. The former pharmaceuticals manager began compiling a chart, listing and comparing coverage options. But before long, he gave up, he told me recently. Given the dozens of possible insurance plans and the dozens of features within each plan, “it was the most confusing thing I’ve seen in my entire life,” Wood said. (more…)
While you generally do not have to sell your home in order to qualify for Medicaid coverage of nursing home care, it is possible the state can file a claim against your 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 is called “estate recovery,” and given the rules for Medicaid eligibility, the only property of substantial value that a Medicaid recipient is likely to own at death is his or her home. If possible, you should consult with an attorney before entering a nursing home, or as soon as possible afterwards, in order to discuss ways to protect your home.
In those states that have implemented the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, the home is not counted as an asset for Medicaid eligibility purposes if the equity is less than $500,000 ($750,000 in some states). In all states, you may keep your house with no equity limit if your spouse or another dependent relative lives there.
Transferring a Home
In most states, transferring your house to your children (or someone else) may lead to a Medicaid penalty period, which would make you ineligible for Medicaid for a period of time. (more…)
Most banks in Columbus offer annuity products as part of their services, and some of those banks regularly “market” these products to senior citizens. For most senior citizens, deferred annuities are not an appropriate investment vehicle. These annuities contain provisions that provide a severe penalty for early withdrawal. The usual period for withdrawal penalties is seven (7) years, and the penalties may be as high as 10% of the balance.
Most deferred annuities are not FDIC protected and are actually invested in stocks, bonds or mutual funds. Many deferred annuities during calendar year 2008 lost significant value. Thus if you purchased such an annuity in 2007 for $100,000, it may now only have a “cash value” of $70,000. If you wanted to withdraw from that investment at this time, you would likely pay approximately five thousand dollars ($5,000) as a penalty for “early withdrawal” and you would only be returned $65,000. Immediate annuities are offered by insurance companies and generally cannot be liquidated. Thus, if the same elderly person had $100,000 in an IRA and wished to annuitize that fund in January of 2007, he or she would have received a monthly distribution either over a certain period of years or over his or her life expectancy. The actual rate of return on these annuities (assuming that this person lives to their expected life expectancy under the Actuarial Tables) is approximately 2.0% to 2.5%.Those who purchased these immediate annuities prior to October 2008 are likely very satisfied with their decision as they did not take losses in the stock market; however, there are some immediate annuities that are “variable,” which are affected by the stock market. Once you “annuitize” and start receiving monthly checks, you cannot change your mind and withdraw your money. (more…)
Many individuals are currently facing the risk of foreclosure due to the decrease in home values and/or loss of income. If you or someone you know may soon be in a position where you are unable to pay your monthly mortgage payments, the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan may be something you should consider.
Help for Homeowners
The President’s strategy for economic recovery is a stool with several legs, as he’s said, and one of them is solving the foreclosure crisis.
”We must stem the spread of foreclosures and falling home values for all Americans, and do everything we can to help responsible homeowners stay in their homes,” he said yesterday as he signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law.
Though communities across the country have been affected by the crisis, Arizona has been hit particularly hard in 2008, only two states had more foreclosures.
And President Obama is there today, in Phoenix, to unveil his “Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan,” which wilt help bring relief to homeowners and bring some order to the housing market. (more…)