HIPAA

MISTAKEN IDEAS REGARDING ESTATE PLANNING

There is a great deal of confusion and mythology regarding estate planning. It’s a subject that healthy, busy people really don’t want to think about. Understandably, the thought of suddenly becoming unable to function (due to disease or a catastrophic illness) and needing to depend upon someone else, along with having to come to grips with the inevitability of death, can really be distressing. However, by taking methodical, concerted action by creating a well-advised estate plan, one can at least confront these unpleasant realities in a rational way.     The following are some examples of erroneous information some people have regarding estate planning:   1. “I don’t have a will and I don’t really own a lot of property, so what’s the problem if I die without one?” You DO have a problem. Without having a witnessed will that is also valid within your state, if you die as a single custodial parent, your surviving minor children run the chance of being taken care of by blood relatives of the probate court’s choosing—not yours. In addition, any remaining financial assets in your name will be evenly distributed to your immediate family members. Without a clear-cut estate plan, your surviving spouse may not have enough of your money to supplement his/her retirement income.   2. “If I become incapacitated, my executor will take care of everything.” WRONG . Your executor is someone you have designated in your will to carry out your wishes after you pass away. If you’re still alive, and find yourself in failing health, your executor can’t help you. With a smart estate plan, you can...

HIPAA PRIVACY PROTECTIONS AND CHARLIE SHEEN

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which is also known as “HIPAA”, is a body of laws enacted by Congress in 1996 which are designed to uphold and protect the transmission, confidentiality and privacy of our medical records and other related healthcare information (known collectively as Protected Health Information). No one can peruse your confidential files without your explicit approval. Those found violating this federal mandate are subject to fines, jail time, or both. The maximum penalty for flagrant disregard of this legislation is one million dollars and up to 10 years in federal prison. This governmental safeguard shields every U. S. citizen—including tabloid celebrities such as Charlie Sheen. Mr. Sheen was having a dental procedure performed recently, and his healthcare records/privacy became compromised. A dental assistant who worked there told her son that Mr. Sheen was going to be at her dental office on a particular date and time—which is a flagrant violation of HIPAA’s privacy protections. Instead of facing potential financial liability and incarceration, her boss simply fired her. In retaliation, this dental assistant leveled charges against Mr. Sheen saying that he had gone mad, “pulled out a knife,” and destroyed her workplace due to a violent reaction to nitrous oxide (also known as laughing gas).   Sheen’s dentist/oral surgeon denied the allegations when questioned by the Los Angeles Police Department. In his professional opinion, the star’s reaction was a consequence of the anesthetic being mixed with prescription pain medication that Charlie was taking. In all likelihood, no charges will be filed against Mr. Sheen. This case underscores the value of HIPAA. It upholds (and has the...
WHAT IS “ASSISTED” LIVING?

WHAT IS “ASSISTED” LIVING?

As we, our parents and relatives age, their ability to live independently eventually becomes unsafe, unrealistic—or both. One option in having them avoid the very real possibilities of household accidents and injuries can be found in convincing our elder loved ones to reside in assisted living facilities. Not to be confused with convalescent homes, assisted living accommodations are less expensive and offer options that can enable seniors to enjoy a large degree of autonomy. They range from single residences to multi-level apartment complexes. Visually, they are more appealing than nursing homes (without their depressing atmosphere). In addition, they provide a more traditional residential ambiance in that they have reading areas, kitchenettes and private sleeping quarters. What also distinguishes them from a convalescent setting is that they reinforce “activities of daily living” or ADL’s (morning routines, bathing, preparing meals, and getting dressed). This is provided by staffing case managers who instruct and recommend more efficient ways to help them continue to live independent lives. In many ways, it is the best of both worlds. Seniors are able to have onsite care/support as needed, while being able to enjoy their golden years in a safe, independent environment. Tenants are encouraged to participate in group activities (such as shuttle service to attend concerts, movies, and casinos). In addition, many are allowed to have small pets live with them. As they age, seniors can transition to an elder care facility once it becomes evident that intensive medical care and attention are needed. According to Arizona Assisted Living Cost, assisted living facilities are regulated at the state level. In general, these facilities are required...

Estate Planning: Affordable Care Act and expanded Medi-Cal

Under the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”), low income persons under age 65 may enroll in the expanded Medi-Cal in order to meet the federal requirement that everyone have health care insurance. At age 65, Medicare covers doctor visits, hospital visits and some prescription drugs. Read...

Eight Common Estate Planning Objectives Of Married Couples

As the previous posts demonstrate, estate planners still struggle with how to structure estate plans for married couples in order to accomplish both the tax and nontax objectives of such couples. Introducing the portability election into the arena has only made such choices even more varied. If you asked 10 different […] Read...