Wednesday, December 28, 2016

It's Not (But Almost Is) Too Late for Your RMD

In the excitement of shopping for those special grandkid gifts, it may have slipped your mind. But please – don’t forget that December 31st deadline for making your Required Minimum Distribution from your IRA account.
How does that work, again? Well, when you save money in a retirement plan, eventually you are forced by law to start making annual withdrawals in the form of RMDs, beginning no later than your age 70 ½. Of course, you may choose to make withdrawals sooner (after your age 59 ½), but you cannot wait longer than 70 ½). The RMD requirements apply to:
  • traditional IRAs (not Roth IRAs)
  • 401(k)s
  • 403(b)s
  • pension plans
You can take more than the required minimum amount, but the government says you must take at least the RMD amount.

How are you to know what that minimum amount is? In most cases, your custodian (a bank, mutual fund company, insurance company, or brokerage firm) will calculate the RMD for you and each one will tell you what you need to withdraw for the account you have with that institution. If you have more than one account, you may choose to take enough out of just one of them, as long as you take enough to cover the RMD for all your retirement accounts.

If you just turned 70 ½ in 2016, there’s a “grace period”, and you may delay your first withdrawal until April 1 of the year following the year in which you turn 70½.

What’s the “or else” associated with not taking the RMD?  If you don't take your RMD or you take too little, an IRS penalty equal to 50% of the amount not distributed may apply. What if you don’t need the money?  Have your withdrawal deposited in a “non-qualified” (non-retirement) account in your bank or brokerage account.

It happens often – we’ll be talking to clients here at Rebecca W. Geyer & Associates about their estate plans and mention the RMD requirement. They will have heard about the RMD, but most don’t understand why, if they don’t want to take out money, they still have to.

Look at it this way, we explain. The IRS has been very, very patient with you, allowing your money to grow tax-free for many years in order to help fund your retirement needs. But the IRS is not willing to give you a totally “free pass” on those taxes.  You’re of an age to be retired (whether you are or not); now it’s time for us to collect at least some of those “back taxes” on the money.

Just a reminder…if you’re 70- ½ or older, it is not (but almost is) too late to take your RMD!
- by Rebecca W. Geyer

Wherever Possible, Consider the Resident's Preferences

When it comes to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the old statement “I’m from the government and I’m here to help you” may actually be true. The updated federal nursing home regulations issued this year are designed to protect residents of nursing homes and long term care facilities and ensure “person-centered care”.

This is the first comprehensive revision to the regulations since they were issued in 1991, the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long Term Care explains. The new rules are set to be implemented in three phases. The first phase became effective last month, and the second will go into effect November 2017, the third in November 2018.

With Rebecca Geyer playing an active role in three separate legislative advisory groups, we feel proud to have played a part in the ongoing effort to provide residents of nursing homes and long term care facilities with improved care and enhanced protections.

Some of the language used in the document is very positive, showing the intention to allow nursing home residents as much independent decision-making as possible:
  •  self-determination
  •  environment
  • freedom from physical and chemical restraint
  •  quality of life
  •  dignity
 At the same time, the intent is to protect residents from
  • abuse
  • adverse events
  • exploitation
  • misappropriation of property
  • neglect
  • sexual abuse
Each resident will have the right to a resident representative.  Yet that representative will be allowed to exercise only those rights specifically delegated to him/her by the resident.
The general idea is clear: help and protect residents, but, wherever possible, consider the resident’s preferences!

- by Ronnie of the Rebecca W. Geyer blog team

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Understanding Home Health Care

Home care services can offer you and your family members trained help with medical and personal care. Keep in mind, though, that home care is limited to specific tasks, cautions Next Step in Care.

Home health aides and personal care attendants primarily provide personal care, which includes assistance with:
  • eating
  • bathing
  • walking
  • dressing

Home health aides provide assistance with activities of daily living as well, including:
  • shopping
  • meal preparation
  • laundry

Home health aides are allowed to do certain health-related tasks:
  • taking patient’s temperature
  • checking blood pressure
  • changing dry dressings
  • moving arms and legs in range-of-motion exercises

Important caution: Home health aides are not supposed to provide services for a spouse or other members of the household.

Very important caution about medications: A qualified medication aide is a CNA who has completed additional training, annual in-service training, and demonstrated competency while dispensing and passing medications and or applying/administrating treatments under the direct supervision of a registered nurse or a licensed practical nurse.

The Indiana State Department of Health Home Health Agency Licensing and Certification Program licenses agencies and individuals that provide:
  • nursing services
  • physical therapy
  • occupational therapy
  • speech therapy
  • medical social worker
  • home health aide other therapeutic services
to the patient at the patient's temporary or permanent residence. 

In talking with our clients at Rebecca W. Geyer & Associates, we often find that, while the caregiver is a family member, he/she needs to call on outside professional help.
- by Ronnie of the Rebecca W. Geyer blog team

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Why It's Important to Call Yourself a Caregiver

Big events in life are often marked by ceremonies and rituals, notes Next Step in Care. A wedding makes you a spouse. A graduation acknowledges your educational achievements. A naming ceremony celebrates the birth of a child. Even a funeral is an event, marking the loss of someone you love. “But when you become a family caregiver, there are no ceremonies or rituals.  No one congratulates you.  No one even asks if you want to become a caregiver, or tells you what it might mean.”

Are you, in fact, a caregiver?  Yes, if you:
  • take care of someone with a chronic illness or disease
  • manage someone’s medications
  • talk to doctors and nurses on someone’s behalf
  • help bathe or dress someone who is frail or disabled
  • take care of household chores and meals for someone who cannot do this alone
  • take care of someone’s bills 
Many sons, daughters, partners, or spouses don’t like saying they are caregivers, afraid that their basic relationship to the family member will mean less.  Some might feel they are not doing anything special enough to warrant a “title”.

If you’re the one taking care of someone, it’s important to actually call yourself – and to see yourself as – a caregiver, Next Step in Care advises. Why?  As a caregiver, you have the right to:
  • be given information about your family member’s condition
  • be involved in decision-making about your family member’s care
  • be trained to provide care
Next Step in Care suggests you embrace and act upon certain priorities now that you’ve become a caregiver:
  • Learn all about your family member’s condition and the treatments that have been recommended.
  • Find out what insurance pays for and what it doesn’t.  Is your family member eligible for public programs, such as Medicaid?
  • Review or create legal documents, including an advance directive and health care proxy. You may need a durable power of attorney for financial affairs.
Embracing the name “family caregiver” has become even more important in Indiana.  The CARE Act, a law that just went into effect January 1st of this year, now provides better assistance for the 1.3 million Hoosiers who care for loved ones. (The acronym CARE stands for Caregiver Advise, Record, and Enable.)

At Geyer Law, we hail this legislation as a real landmark.  The three main benefits include:
  1. When a loved one is admitted for treatment to a hospital or rehab facility, the name of his/her caregiver must be recorded.
  2. When patients are discharged to either another facility or to their home, the caregiver must be notified.
  3. The facility must provide instructions about the medical tasks the caregiver will need to perform. 
Many people say, “I’m not a caregiver, I’m a daughter, son, partner, or wife,” Next Step In Care explains. (They may be afraid that if they acknowledge their caregiving role, their basic relationship to their family member will mean less to both of them). This fear is understandable, but not realistic. You will always be a daughter, son, husband, or wife, but now you’re taking on a new, very important and very loving role – family caregiver!

- by Ronnie of the Rebecca W. Geyer blog team