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YOUR LEGAL UPDATE 
AUGUST 2013

 

  

Our Attorneys
From left to right: 

Helen Mesoloras, Janna Dutton, Kathryn Casey, Hanny Pei.  

 

click here to learn more about our attorneys.

NEW MEDICARE SUMMARY NOTICE 

New MSNs Can Help You Fight Medicare Fraud  medicare pic 


Many people read about Medicare fraud in the news when a provider, doctor, or supplier is caught fraudulently billing Medicare. What many people do not know is that there is something they can do to fight this fraud. This tool is waiting in their mailbox.


This summer, Medicare is making it even easier to see what is billed to your account with a new design for the Medicare Summary Notice (MSN). Medicare sends this notice every three months. The new MSN has larger fonts and simpler language. With this new, easy-to-read design, Medicare hopes that more people will read this statement and use it to identify and report fraud.


The Illinois SMP (Senior Medicare Patrol) Program at AgeOptions shares thismedicare fraud patrol hope. Through outreach and education, SMP works to empower Medicare beneficiaries to fight fraud. To encourage people to read their MSN and to make this easier, SMP just released a new resource called "How to Read a Medicare Summary Notice." This is a guide through the new MSN, explaining the information on each page and what to look for with images of the new MSN.


Why is the MSN such a powerful fraud fighting tool? It shows every claim that has been billed to your Medicare account. By reading it, you can ensure that your doctor or supplier is billing Medicare for the services and products that you actually receive. When you read your MSN, look for three things that might indicate fraud:
* Services you did not receive
* Services different than what you received
* Services that were not medically necessary


When you notice something on your MSN that does not seem right, you can call your provider or you can call the Illinois SMP (Senior Medicare Patrol) Program at AgeOptions at (800) 699-9043.


To request a copy of "How to Read a Medicare Summary Notice," call SMP at AgeOptions at (800) 699-9043. You can also visit our website. 

 

Author:

Jason Echols, Health Care Consumer Protection Coordinator, AgeOptions

 

Editor's Note: Each week, the Illinois SMP publishes a "Fraud Alert" email. To be added to the distribution list for this helpful resource, email Jason Echols.

ESTATE PLANNING IN THE AGE
OF STEP-FAMILIES

More than 4 in 10 Americans have at least one step-relative in their family -  either a stepparent, a step or half sibling or a stepchild -- according to the Pew Research Center. The National Center for Family and Marriage Research estimates that about one-third of all weddings in America create stepfamilies.

 

A recent trust case from North Dakota highlights the importance of taking current and potential step-relationships into account when planning your estate. William and Patricia Clairmont created two trusts for their grandson, Matthew. In both trusts, "the brother and sisters" of Matthew were contingent beneficiaries (meaning they would be the trust beneficiaries if Matthew died).

 

After the trusts were created, the Clairmonts' daughter, Cindy (Matthew's mother), divorced Matthew's father, Greg, and Greg remarried and had two children with a second wife. In March 2011, Matthew died suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of 25 without a wife, children or a will.

 

Under North Dakota law, Greg's two children with his second wife were technically "brothers and sisters" of Matthew and, thus, eligible beneficiaries under the trusts. The Clairmonts argued for an interpretation of the trust that would exclude Matthew's stepsiblings as beneficiaries or, alternatively, for reformation of the trust to include language that only lineal descendants of the Clairmonts could benefit from the trusts.

 

Ultimately, the North Dakota Supreme Court granted the Clairmonts' petition to reform the trusts based on evidence that the Clairmonts made a mistake of law by interpreting the phrase "brothers and sisters" to include only full blood siblings and based on testimony by the Clairmonts themselves on their intention to benefit their lineal descendants alone.

 

Although things turned out well for the Clairmonts in the end, it took much time and money to get there. The case stresses the importance of addressing step-relations in your estate plan whether or not you are already a member of a stepfamily.

HAVE YOU PLANNED FOR ESTATE AND INHERITANCE TAX?  
Although many people's estates aren't large enough to be affected by the federal estate tax, residents in many states have to consider how state taxes may reduce their estates. Several states have their own estate tax, which can affect much smaller estates than the federal estate tax does. In addition, some states impose an inheritance tax on beneficiaries of an estate.
 

The federal estate tax exemption is currently $5.25 million for an individual, so most estates are exempt. However, 15 states (Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, and Washington) and the District of Columbia currently have separate state estate taxes, and six states have an inheritance tax (Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania). The numbers change constantly. In recent years, the trend has been for states to eliminate such taxes. For example, Tennessee is currently phasing out its estate tax, which is set to end in 2016.

 

If you live in one of the states with an estate tax, you need to take the tax into account when planning your estate. While some states (e.g., Delaware and Hawaii) exempt the same amount as federal law, other states' estate taxes can affect much smaller estates. For example, New Jersey taxes estates worth more than $675,000 and Oregon taxes estates of more than $1 million. Most states with an estate tax exempt the first $1 million to $2 million of an estate's value. To find out whether your state has an estate tax and how much it is, click here.

 

Another state tax to take into account when planning your estate is the inheritance tax. An inheritance tax is a tax on the person receiving an inheritance. Spouses are usually exempt from the tax, and in some states, children are as well. Charitable beneficiaries may also be exempt. Usually, the less closely related the beneficiary, the higher the tax. Even if the beneficiary doesn't live in a state with an inheritance tax, if the person who died resided in an inheritance tax state, the beneficiary can still be taxed. For more information about inheritance taxes, click here.

 

You have several options for avoiding state estate and inheritance taxes, including creating a trust or gifting money. Talk to your attorney to find out the best solution for you. Because the law is constantly changing, even if you have an estate plan, you should check with your attorney to ensure your plan does not need updating.

 

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The attorneys at Dutton & Casey concentrate in estate planning, probate, and elder law. With over 60 years of combined legal experience, we can assist you, and those who you care about, plan for today.... and tomorrow. 

 

For information on how we can assist you, please go to our website or call us at 312-899-0950 for Chicago or 847-261-4708 for our suburban locations (Arlington Heights, Skokie, and Vernon Hills).

BENEFITS CHECK UP 

BenefitsCheckUp is free service of the  National Council  on Aging (NCOA), a nonprofit service and advocacy organization in Washington, DC.

 

Many adults over 55 need help paying for prescription drugs, health care, utilities, and other basic needs. There are over 2,000 federal, state and private benefits programs available to help. But, many people don't know these programs exist or how they can apply.

 

BenefitsCheckUp asks a series of questions to help identify benefits that could save you money and cover the costs of everyday expenses. After answering the questions, you will get a report created just for you that describes the programs you may get help from.

  benefits check up

click here to learn more.

IN-HOME HELP 

There is a great deal of confusion regarding levels and types of care that can be provided in the home, what Medicare pays for, what is the state pays for, and what is private pay.

 

Here is a list of resources to, hopefully, help reduce the confusion.

 

-click here to learn more about the American Academy of Home Care Physicians 

 

-click here to read a guide on Hospice benefits from Medicare.

 

-click here to read the guide from Medicare regarding Home Health

 

-click here to learn more about the Home Care Association of America.

 

-click here to learn about the Community Care Program from the Illinois Department on Aging. 

 

-click here to read a Guide to Hiring in-Home Help offered by Dutton & Casey.

 PREMISE ALERT PROGRAM ACT

If you are thinking about having in-home help, you want to  make sure to enroll in this program....

 

On August 28, 2009, the Illinois Premise Alert Program Act (PAP) became law in Illinois. The PAP is a safety program that supports individuals living with disabilities, as well as police and paramedics responding to calls at a specific address. This program requires 911 call centers to maintain a database of information about individuals with special needs when requested by families, caregivers, or the individuals themselves. The PAP assists local police departments in identifying individuals who have special needs, which will enable responding police officers and paramedics to have additional information at their disposal in the event of an emergency.

 

For more information on the Premise Alert Program, call the non-emergency police department phone number in the city where you live. 
ILLINOIS EXPANDS DO-NOT-RESUSCITATE (DNR) 
TO PHYSICIAN ORDERS FOR
LIFE SUSTAINING TREATMENT (POLST)

On March 14, 2013, the Illinois Department of Public Health released a  revised version of its "IDPH Uniform Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) Advance Directive." The updated form is subtitled "Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment" (POLST) This form represents a widely recognized best practice that documents medical orders for life-extending treatments for seriously ill patients. POLST is now in use in 38 states with adoptions by Illinois and Indiana in 2013. It is intended to promote more patient-centered conversations between physicians/other healthcare professionals and the patient or legal surrogate.

 

click here to learn more.  

   UPCOMING PROGRAMS FOR COMMUNITY MEMBERS
Have a Say in Your Futureevent 2 

What are Powers of Attorney, Living Trusts, Wills? How can you assist yourself and your family now? and ... if care is needed in the future? For answers to these and other questions, plan on attending this session!

Presenter: Hanny Pei, JD

Date: Thursday, August 22, 2013

Program: 10:00 AM - 11:15 AM

Location: City of Chicago's Central West Regional Senior Center, 2102 West Ogden Ave., Chicago

Registration: There is no cost to attend. However, advanced registration is required. Please call 312-746-5300 to register.

 .......... 

Frontotemporal Degeneration (FTD) and Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA) Caregiver and Professional Education and Support Conference

 

As part of this conference, two sessions of "Expanding Your Care Team as Needs Change - Early to Middle Stage"

will be presented by:

Janna Dutton, JD, Attorney; Mary O'Hara, AM, LCSW, Social Worker and Assistant Director of Education; Sandra Weintraub, Ph.D., Professor, Psychiatry and Behavior Sciences

Date:  Monday, November 4, 2013

Location:  Doubletree, 300 East Ohio Street, Chicago

Click here to learn more. 

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Legal Ability Planning - How to Prepare For and Prosper in Adulthood

Adequate legal planning for living with a disability, whether your own or your loved one's, involves more than writing a will. It requires legal documents designed for living. Attend this session, led by an attorney practicing disability and elder law, as she discusses important topics, including health care planning and coverage, financial and health care surrogate decision-making, long term care, and other important planning tools designed to protect your physical, mental, and financial health, or that of someone you care about, during life

Presenter: Janna Dutton, JD

Date:  Thursday, November 14, 2013

Time:  6:00 PM-8:00 PM

Location:  Jewish Community and Family Services, 5150 West Golf, Skokie, IL

Registration: There is no charge to attend. However, advanced registration is required. click here to register

 UPCOMING PROGRAMS FOR PROFESSIONALS
Elder Law and Ethics, 2013 ce

This will offer an interactive presentation and

case studies of elder law & ethics topics such as:

  • Determination of decisional capacity
  • Risk factors for neglect, abuse, exploitation, and undue influence
  • Solutions for helping those at risk
  • Medicaid

2 Sessions:

 

Presenter: Janna Dutton, JD

Date: Thursday, September 12, 2013

Registration: 8:30 AM - 9:00 AM

Program: 9:00 AM - 12 Noon

Location: Abington, 3901 Glenview Rd., Glenview, IL       

 

Presenter: Kathryn C. Casey, JD

Date: Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Registration: 8:30 AM - 9:00 AM

Program: 9:00 AM - 12 Noon

Location: Friendship Village, 350 W. Schaumburg Road, Schaumburg, IL

                

Continuing Education: These programs will award 3.0 clock hours to Illinois Social Workers, Professional Counselors, and Nurses and satisfies the Illinois social worker 3 hour ethics requirement. 

Registration: There is no cost to attend. However, advanced registration is required and remaining seating is very limited.

 

click here to register for the September session

click here to register for the October session.   

 

..........

Frontotemporal Degeneration (FTD) and Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA) Caregiver and Professional Education and Support Conference

As part of this conference, two sessions of "Expanding Your Care Team as Needs Change - Early to Middle Stage"

will be presented by:

Janna Dutton, JD, Attorney; Mary O'Hara, AM, LCSW, Social Worker and Assistant Director of Education; Sandra Weintraub, PhD, Professor, Psychiatry and Behavior Sciences

Date: Monday, November 4, 2013

Location: Doubletree, 300 East Ohio Street, Chicago, IL

Click here to learn more.

..........

Legal Ability Planning - How to Prepare For and Prosper in Adulthood

Adequate legal planning for living with a disability, whether your own or your loved one's, involves more than writing a will. It requires legal documents designed for living. Attend this session, led by an attorney practicing disability and elder law, as she discusses important topics, including health care planning and coverage, financial and health care surrogate decision-making, long term care, and other important planning tools designed to protect your physical, mental, and financial health, or that of someone you care about, during life

Presenter: Janna Dutton, JD

Date: Thursday, November 14, 2013

Time: 6::00 PM-8:00PM

Location: Jewish Community and Family Services, 5150 West Golf, Skokie, IL

Continuing Education: 2 continuing education credits will be awarded for Illinois Social Workers, Professional Counselors, and Nurses.

Registration: There is no charge to attend. However, advanced registration is required. click here to register

Appointments with our attorneys are available in
Arlington Heights, Chicago, Skokie and Vernon Hills, Illinois.