Why Have an Estate Plan? I have $1,000,000 in Life Insurance, That’s Not Big Enough?

Why Have an Estate Plan

Why Have an Estate Plan?

 

Something that is dismissed on its level of importance just as much, if not more than life insurance, is estate planning. In this post, I will address: what an estate is; what happens if you kick the bucket without planning your estate correctly; the key elements of an estate: wills and
living revocable trusts; and what you can do to take action immediately.

 

Of course dying is not one of those things we want to spend our time planning or thinking about, but taking care of or at least starting your estate plan now and updating it later on throughout your lifetime will save your loved one a lot of time, money, and headache when the time does come to pass on your assets and final wishes.

 

First off, what is an estate? An estate is something that nearly every single person has. An individual’s estate is essentially everything they own. Things like life insurance, real estate, investments, automobiles, that super weird clown collection that makes everyone else in the family extremely uncomfortable, etc.

 

Obviously at some point this individual is going to die and pass on to the afterlife and all of their belongings will remain here on planet Earth. What happens with these possessions depends on how the recently deceased set up their estate before their passing. Ok, so why have an estate plan?

 

Let’s start with what happens if the person did absolutely nothing. This happens everyday, and drives families crazy. When an individual dies or even becomes severely disabled, if they did not set up some sort of estate plan, the state gets to have authority over what happens to their
stuff. Even if the family is there and present, nothing was put in place to pass along the individual’s possessions.

 

Of course things like life insurance where a beneficiary or multiple beneficiaries can be named will be ok as long as the beneficiary isn’t a minor. Minors left without parents can be placed into the custody of someone outside the family, and the state even gets to decide what to do with the families inheritance. Is this enough to answer why have an estate plan? No? Please continue then!

 

Probate laws vary from state to state and some can be more brutal than others, but the point is that most people would not want the
probate courts deciding what to do with their belongings after their passing. Ask any family who has been to probate court, “Why have an estate plan?” You might never hear the end of it.

 

Some of the key elements of estate planning should include other things like:

 

  • Instructions for passing your intangible assets
  • Instructions for your care if you become severely disabled
  • Naming a guardian and an inheritance manager for minor children.
  • Provide for loved ones who might be irresponsible with money or who may need future protection from creditors or divorce.
  • Include life insurance, disability income insurance, and long-term care insurance
  • Accommodate the transfer of your business at your disability or death.
  • Minimize taxes, court costs, and unnecessary legal fees.

 

There are two common ways to set up an estate plan and those are to set up either a will or a revocable trust. Now there are subsidiary options to wills and trusts, but to keep this simple we will only talk about these two in this article. A will, is not to be confused with a living will where
you give somebody full power of attorney to make decisions for you in the event your health does not allow you to, is a route that many people go.

 

A will is essentially a set of written instructions on where you want all of your stuff to go. Setting up a will is quicker and cheaper in most cases, but it does not avoid probate. ​Probate is a legal process whereby a court oversees the distribution of assets left by a deceased person. These usually include things like real estate, personal property and cash to name a few. Some things like life insurance or retirement plans
with named beneficiaries will not go through probate, but they may face heavy taxation.

 

As mentioned earlier, probate varies from state to state, and the process can take from 4 months to 2 or more years! If an individual has property in multiple states then things can get really tricky. This is why some people prefer to go with revocable trusts, also commonly referred to as living trusts.

 

Revocable trusts are the more expensive route, but they can also make the process of transferring assets a lot easier. Trusts are valid in any state and they can continue long after your death. You must appoint a trustee to manage your trust after your passing, and you will need to make sure
you follow all the right steps to keep everything in your trust’s name. In this case, your legacy can be managed by someone you trust and torn apart by spouses, children, creditors, etc.

 

These can be adjusted and updated at any point during your lifetime. One other thing that is wise to do is to find a tax expert who can help minimize tax burdens that come with the passing of your assets.

 

Why Have an Estate Plan? More Like When Will You Get an Estate Plan?

Life is unpredictable so the perfect time to plan your estate would be as soon as possible. There are multiple routes you can go with it. There are plenty of attorneys out there who specialize in estate planning all over the country.

 

There are also online platforms like NetLaw that allow you to create and securely store all of the same documents you would be able to create with an attorney at a fraction of the price.

 

 

Burial Insurance for Veterans 2020: A Tragic Myth

Burial Insurance for Veterans

Burial Insurance For Veterans

  There is a common misconception among military veterans and their families as to what benefits are paid out upon a retired veteran’s death. Everyday, individuals all over the United States purchase what is known as final expense insurance to cover just that, final expenses. Although veterans’ loved ones do receive a small payout, burial insurance for veterans is not covered by the VA.   The amount of coverage individuals get is most often used for the purposes of covering funeral or cremation costs. Right now, the average cost of a traditional funeral in the United States ranges from $7,500 to $12,000. This amount can be more or less depending on factors like: the individual’s geographic location; transportation of the body; the size of the service; etc.   I had a heart breaking story that I will not share the names of the family members involved, but I feel as though their story needs to be told and they would agree. All names have been changed to protect privacy. More on this story later.   Being a final expense field underwriter, we are tasked with the preliminary job of assessing a person’s health to match them with the insurance company, who is:
  1. Going to insure them.
  2. Going to get them the best possible rate.
The most common thing we hear is, “I can’t afford it.” The true professionals in this industry are fully aware that most seniors live on a fixed income and every penny counts. It’s still a good idea to find out exactly what your rates are.   Rates do NOT go down as you get older and your health deteriorates. The whole goal of this coverage is to leave tax-free money to a loved one so they do not have to reap the costs of your untimely death. Fill out a quote request on our website and/or book an appointment with one of our underwriters to get an official quote! We promise to educate and provide full disclosure in our consultations so you feel confident in knowing your loved ones do not have to suffer from the financial burden of your passing.  

Burial Insurance For Veterans Myth Exposed

**DISCLAIMER, VERY SAD STORY BELOW**   When I first started in the business, I was like every other agent, hungry to get started and build a book of business, but not as knowledgeable as I’d like to be on everything. That goes with just about anything in life, you learn a little bit from reading, but you will learn so much more by gaining experience and actually just doing the job.   This is where the sad part comes in.   It was my first or second week as a field underwriter for final expense insurance and I was talking with a married couple, the Johnsons, who were interested in coverage. The couple had just turned 65 in the same year and they had 1 child who was married and lived in a different state.   While going over options and picking out plans, we were getting close to finding something that was within their budget and was an adequate amount to cover each other’s final expenses for their funeral costs. Both John and Wendy had already picked out their plots and paid for them and knew where they wanted to be buried. We went through the applications with the insurance company, and they qualified, and coverage was to begin at the beginning of the next month — which was a week away.   What happens next still haunts me and it was my own damn fault being a rookie.   ONE DAY before the coverage was to begin, John called me and let me know that they wanted to cancel because they talked to some of their old military friends, the Palmers, who made fun of them for buying burial coverage.   The Palmers told the Johnsons one the most common misconception concerning VA benefits. This common misconception is that burial insurance for veterans is already taken care of, and VA handles everything for funerals for their veterans… Because the VA has always had the veteran’s backs right?   Me being young and misinformed, I thought that was valid, and decided to call the insurance company and cancel the policy. Although, I was confused and wondered why nobody had told me about special burial insurance for veterans that was covered by the VA.   During the weekend, I was in a bad mood because the case I had been working on all week for the Johnsons had fallen through due to all parties involved thinking that the VA covered all funeral expenses. While I laid in bed disappointed and restless, I started researching on my phone what the VA paid out for funerals, and what I saw blew my mind.   The VA at that time only paid $300 towards non-service related death burial services! This has since changed and now the VA will pay $796 towards any non service related death on or after October 1, 2019. I have included a link at the end of this story that details the VA’s obligations as it pertains to burial insurance for veterans.   Being the optimist that I am, I was going to call John and Wendy first thing Monday morning and let them know of the news. They both had $15,000 policies on each other before they cancelled them.   Monday morning I called twice and no answer.   Tuesday I called twice and left a voicemail and no answer.   Wednesday I got a call back from Wendy telling me that John had suffered a heart attack Sunday night and died before the ambulance even got there. Aside from the devastating news that her husband had suddenly died, she had to turn right around and make funeral arrangements.   Financially, the couple had some money put aside for retirement, but not much. She had to drain most of the retirement account which was not tax free to do so, and she had to take out another loan on the home just to come up with enough money to cover his funeral services that cost over $14,000!   Although they never should of listened to the Palmers and they should have kept the policies, they were misinformed, just like I was.   This haunted me for quite some time, and to this day it still does. If I would have known sooner that the VA does not pay nearly enough to cover final expenses I would have told them on the day they called me trying to cancel, and I would of never let this happen out of my moral obligation to save families from financial tragedy.   I write this article today trying to find purpose and meaning in all of this. The purpose and meaning I have gotten from this situation is that I want to inform as many veterans and their loved ones as possible that the VA hardly covers anything, and if you think that they cover more, just go to their website and look for yourself.   Please feel free to use our quoting tool and book an appointment with a member of our team to find the best rates available for you. Life insurance rates do NOT go down as you get older and your health deteriorates. Do NOT leave your loved ones with the burden of your final expenses and tarnish your legacy if you do not have to.   VA Burial Insurance For Veterans

Confused or Feeling Anxious About Medicare Enrollment 2020?

Medicare and Long Term Care

Medicare Enrollment 2020

If you are an American citizen, or you have lived in the United States for 5 years or more without leaving, then you are eligible for Medicare when you turn 65 years of age. There are however some exceptions to this rule for individuals under the age of 65 who meet certain qualifications for early enrollment into Medicare. These special circumstances can be any of the following:

 

  • You have received Social Security benefits for 24 months and on the 25th month you are automatically enrolled into Medicare part A and B
  • You have been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease also known as ALS and you are on Social Security, you are eligible for Medicare coverage on the sixth month that your disability started
  • You have been diagnosed with end-stage renal failure also known as ESRD, and you have either been on dialysis for 3 months or you have had a kidney transplant

 

There are of course many other special circumstances for individuals with unique needs and or conditions. The average American should know that they are automatically eligible for Medicare enrollment at age 65.

 

When is Medicare Enrollment 2020 For Part B?

 

There are multiple enrollment periods for Medicare, and it all depends on your specific circumstances. The open enrollment period for all eligible beneficiaries (AEP) for Medicare enrollment 2020, was from October 15th 2019 to December 7th 2019. During this time: Medicare Beneficiaries with Original Medicare can switch to a Medicare Advantage Plan and vice versa, any beneficiary with an Advantage (Part C) plan can switch back to Original Medicare parts A and B. During this time, anyone electing Original Medicare can switch, add or drop their Part D Prescription Drug Coverage. Beneficiaries can also switch their Advantage Plans. All of these plan changes will take effect and new coverage will begin on January 1 of the following year.

 

If you missed this enrollment period, or you had other employer coverage that allowed you to delay Medicare enrollment, there are other enrollment periods.

 

The first of these is the Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). This is the time when a beneficiary is eligible for their first ever Medicare enrollment. During the initial enrollment, beneficiaries may enroll in Medicare Parts A, B, C and D and/or Medigap. The initial enrollment period is:

 

  • 3 months before your 65th birthday
  • The month of your 65th birthday
  • The three months after your birthday

 

Unless you have special circumstances allowing you to delay Medicare enrollment, it is highly recommended that you sign up for your Medicare Part B coverage as soon as you are eligible. Delaying enrollment will push back your coverage start date, and you could be subject to penalties if you wait too long. If you enroll:

 

  • In the three months before your 65th birthday; coverage will begin on the first day of your birthday month
  • During your birthday month; coverage begins the first day of the month after your birthday
  • The month after your birthday; coverage begins three months after your birth month
  • The second month after your birthday month; coverage will start 5 months after your birthday month
  • During the third month after your birthday month; coverage will start 6 months after your birthday month

 

Let’s take a look at an example or further clarification. Let’s say that Charles will turn 65 on April 15th 2020. Carl’s initially became eligible in January of 2020. Charles can choose to make elections for his Medicare enrollment in January February and March, and it’s coverage will begin on April 1st because that is his birth month.

 

Let’s say Charles puts off his enrollment for whatever reason and he decides to make elections for his Medicare enrollment 2020 in April during his birth month. Coverage for Charles will start on May 1st 2020, which is the first day of the month after his birthday month.

 

If Charles decides to make his elections for Medicare enrollment 2020 in May, which is the month after his birth month, coverage for Charles will not begin until July 1st of 2020 which is 3 months after his birthday month.

 

If Charles decides to make his elections for Medicare enrollment 2020 in June, which is 2 months after his birthday month, then his coverage will not begin until months after his birthday month which would be September 1st 2020.

 

Charles decides to make his elections for Medicare enrollment 2020 in July, which is the last month of his initial enrollment., and 3 months after his birthday month, then his coverage will not begin until October 1st of 2020.

 

To enroll in Medicare Parts A and B, go to, https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/medicare/

 

Medicare Enrollment 2020 for Part D

 

When you enroll in Medicare Parts A and B for the first time, you must also enroll in a prescription drug plan which is also known as Medicare Part D. Just to clarify, regardless of whether or not you choose to stick with Original Medicare or you decide that a Medicare Advantage plan (Part C) is a better option, you must always enroll in Medicare parts A and B first. If you then choose to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, which is also known as a Medicare Part C plan, your plan will in most cases include your prescription drug plan,and you will not need to enroll in Medicare Part D.

 

The initial enrollment period for Medicare Part B is almost identical to the initial enrollment period for Medicare Part D. The Part D initial enrollment period allows the beneficiary 7 months to elect coverage. This means 3 months before the beneficiary’s birthday, the month of the beneficiary’s birthday, and the three months following the beneficiary’s birthday. There are however, some slight differences when coverage begins. If the beneficiary signs up:

 

  • 3 months before their birth month; Plan D coverage begins the 1st day of the birth month
  • Beneficiary signs up during their birthday month; Plan D coverage begins the 1st day of the month after their birth month
  • 1, 2, or 3 months after their birth month; Plan D coverage begins the 1st day of the month following their enrollment

 

Let’s look at another example for Charles:

 

Charles who turns 65 in April of 2020, has an initial enrollment period for his Medicare Part D from January 2020 to July 2020. Based on when he enrolls is when his coverage begins. If he enrolls in:

  • January, February, or March; his coverage begins on April 1
  • April; his coverage begins on May 1
  • May; coverage begins on June 1
  • June; coverage begins on July 1
  • July; coverage begins on August 1

 

What if I Miss Medicare Enrollment 2020?

If you do end up missing your initial enrollment period for Medicare parts A and B, then there is another option known as the General Enrollment Period. The general enrollment period for parts A and B takes place from January 1, 2020 to March 31, 2020. The coverage will begin on July 1, 2020.

 

Medicare Advantage Enrollment 2020

There is an additional enrollment period for beneficiaries who are currently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan. The enrollment period is known as the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA OEP). The annual MA OEP takes place from January 1, 2020 to March 31, 2020. During this time, beneficiaries who are signed up for a Medicare Advantage plan may switch to another Advantage plan, or they have the option to switch back to original medicare parts A and B along with a Part D Prescription Drug Plan.

 

A beneficiary enrolled in original medicare does not have the opportunity to switch plans during this time, UNLESS, they are in their first 3 months of being enrolled in Medicare parts A and B. Every individual has the opportunity to switch to a Medicare Advantage plan within their first 3 months of being enrolled in Medicare parts A and B.

 

To view Medicare Advantage plans available in your area, go to:

https://westfallinsurance.com/MAPD

 

Medigap Open Enrollment 2020

 

Medigap or “Medicare Supplement” open enrollment is a one time 6 month period that starts from the time you are 65 or older and enrolled in Medicare part B. This is the guaranteed issue period for a medigap plan, which means that anyone eligible during this period can enroll regardless of health issues. You can not enroll in Medigap if you choose to enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan. Essentially you have two choices for coverage:

  1. Medicare Parts A and B, with a Stand-alone Part D prescription Drug plan and a medigap plan that assists in the cost-sharing of your medical bills that original medicare does not cover.
  2. Medicare Advantage plan that comes with a prescription drug plan, these are often referred to as MA-PD plans. These plans come with an annual Maximum out of Pocket (MOOP) and do not allow for beneficiaries to enroll in a Medigap plan.

 

Beneficiaries are allowed to switch back to original medicare from an advantage plan, but there is no guarantee that they will be approved for another medigap plan once they are outside of their one time guaranteed issue period, and they should speak with a Medicare Professional about this decision because it is VERY IMPORTANT.

Increased Medicare Telehealth 2020 Availability For Seniors During Covid-19 Crisis

Medicare Telehealth 2020

Medicare Telehealth 2020 will be made available to all beneficiaries! As of March 6, 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services CMS, have lifted the limitations on Telehealth services for Seniors in response to the Covid-19 pandemic that is plaguing the entire planet. This was all made possible after President Donald Trump declared the United States was in a state of emergency under the 1135 Waiver Authority and the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act.

Up until just recently, Telehealth services for Medicare beneficiaries were typically limited to beneficiaries living in rural areas. In order for the services to be covered by original Medicare, these beneficiaries typically had to drive to a medical facility miles away from their homes, just to speak with a doctor over the phone or video call. This is in the best interest of the senior population who are the most susceptible to death by the Coronavirus.

This is not to be mistaken with Medicare Advantage plans, ,the private alternative to Original Medicare which you can learn more about here: https://westfallinsurance.com/MAPD Nearly all Medicare Advantage plans have some form of Telehealth services for their beneficiaries. Telehealth services currently come in three different options: Telehealth visits, virtual check-ins, and E- visits and part B of original Medicare assists with the cost-sharing of these specific services.

 

3 Medicare Telehealth 2020 Options

Telehealth visits are for routine doctor and other medical professional visits that are non life-threatening, and typically done in person.

Virtual check-ins were designed for already established Medicare beneficiaries who need to quickly communicate with their medical professional through text messaging, picture messaging, video messaging Etc.

E-visits, are the one type of Telehealth option that do not require any type of face-to-face or spoken communication with a medical professional. Patients can access their portal and receive the basic care they are looking for.

 

What Does Medicare Telehealth 2020 Expansion Mean?

There is no telling when the Covid-19 virus will subside, and I believe we are getting a very real glimpse into the future of what will begin to be the new norm in modern healthcare. Not only will we see change in this industry, but in many different Industries. Bars and restaurants seem to be shifting towards more delivery, cars are self driving, and e-sports are the only thing people can get together for. Insurance agents like myself, working in Medicare, will have to adapt and operate on a remote basis. Virtual Doctor visits are is by no means a brand new thing.

Americans working at medium and larger sized companies usually have some sort of phone-a-doctor program in their benefits package that hardly anyone uses, but that could change very soon because it is sounding a lot better than being around sick people and I think the popularity of it will only go up! These days you can’t even sneeze in public without people looking at you funny! In 2019 people used to just say, “Bless You.”

Initially, we will not be happy with these changes that are coming because we are human and we want to be comfortable. With all the chaos going on, I am predicting that Medicare Telehealth 2020 participation skyrockets. It certainly feels like the shifts we are seeing across a number of industries and in our own lifestyles was inevitable. It would also appear that the Corona Virus is the catalyst for this change in more ways than one.

If you or someone you know is looking for some options and consulting on Medicare from the comfort of your own home and computer. Go check out this site that will list many of the top Medicare supplement plans, Prescription Drug Plans, and Medicare Advantage plans available in your area. https://medicareful.com/westfallinsurance or just go straight to the government website at : https://www.medicare.gov/