May 28

Japanese-Americans Could Serve as Model for Aging Population

The elderly Japanese-American population in California could serve as a model for caring for future aging populations of all ethnicities in the state and across the U.S., according to a study by researchers at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, Payers & Providers reports. According to the study, nearly 25 percent of Japanese-Americans are over age 65, twice that of the U.S. population. The study noted that over the next 35 years, the proportion of the U.S. population over age 65 will reach the current percentage of Japanese-Americans at that age. According to the study, the Japanese-American population could serve as a “study cohort,” adding, “Information on key lifestyle and quality-of-life practices that support healthy aging among the Japanese[-American] population can help the U.S. prepare for the influx of aging Baby Boomers.” The study cited several metrics that showed Japanese-Americans outpacing the rest of the population in certain health measures.

May 25

A Personal Representative May Sell Estate Property if Acting Reasonably for Benefit of Beneficiaries

Jeanne Johnson died with her children Sandra, Stuart and Steven, as well as a grandchild, Scott, as surviving beneficiaries. Sandra, as personal representative of Jeanne’s estate, entered into a rental contract with an option to purchase with Stuart regarding farmland owned by the estate. Steven and Scott filed a petition to have the estate distribute their interest in the farmland and prohibit Sandra from selling the property. The court denied the request holding that Sandra has the power as personal representative to sell estate property and she was acting for the benefit of the interested parties in entering into the contract with Stuart. After the order, Sandra conveyed the property to Stuart. Steven and Scott appealed. Sandra sought to dismiss the appeal arguing the matter is moot because the property had been sold based on a valid contract.

On appeal, the court reversed and remanded the matter for further proceedings. The appellate court held that the matter is not moot due to the sale because Stuart is an interested party to the probate proceedings and not a bona fide good faith, third-party purchaser. As such, due to his interest in the probate proceedings, the court retains jurisdiction over the property even after the sale. Additionally, the court held that North Dakota statute does authorize a personal representative absolute power to sell estate property if evidence is presented that the sale is in the best interest of the estate and the personal representative is acting in a way to reasonably benefit all beneficiaries. However, the court held that the lower court did not explain the basis of its finding that Sandra was acting in the estate’s best interest and cited no testimony or evidence on the record that she was acting reasonably for the benefit of the others. The matter was remanded with instructions for the lower court to make further findings on the record or otherwise support its decision with a more detailed analysis of its determination that the sale was reasonably for the benefit of the estate and the beneficiaries.

Estate of Johnson, 2015 WL 1959394 (May 1, 2015)

May 21

Shift Toward Hospice Care Has Increased Medicare Costs

The popularity of hospice care grew between 2004 and 2009, but that didn’t bring down Medicare costs for people dying in nursing homes, according to a new study of three quarters of a million U.S. nursing home residents. “We found that although hospice use was associated with a reduction in aggressive end-of-life care, it was also associated with a net increase of $6,761 in Medicare expenditures per decedent in the last year of life,” writes the research team, led by Dr. Pedro Gozalo of Brown University. Gozalo told Reuters Health in a telephone interview that the higher costs may be due, in part, to the fact that more patients are being enrolled in hospice earlier and those patients are more likely to be suffering from dementia or other problems that make it difficult to predict how long they will live. In 2004, the mean hospice length of stay was 72 days; by 2009 it was just under 93 days. The study did not look at Medicare costs for people who receive hospice care in their homes, and who account for the majority of hospice cases. Of all the money Medicare spends on health care, one quarter is spent in the final year of a person’s life.

For the article from Reuters, click here.

May 19

Everything you ever wanted to know about Caring for your Aging Parent

On Thursday, June 4th, elder law attorney Harold Grodberg, Esq. will be offering a special seminar to discuss everything you ever wanted to know about caring for your aging parent, but were afraid to ask. The program will also include a discussion about protecting yourself when your spouse needs care.

Montclair Public Library
50 South Fullerton Avenue
Montclair, NJ 07042
June 4, 2015 at 6:00 PM

Please RSVP at (973) 774-0500, Ext. 2243.

May 18

VA Eliminates Net Worth Requirement for Health Care

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has updated the way it determines eligibility for VA health care benefits, making it easier for many veterans to get access to the benefits. The VA will no longer use the veteran’s net worth as a factor to determine eligibility and copayments.

Previously, veterans who did not fit into certain categories were required to provide their income and net worth before receiving benefits. Veterans whose combined income and net worth was above the limit would have to make copayments in order to receive health benefits. This meant that some low-income veterans with a high net worth were struggling to make copayments.

Under the new rule, implemented in March 2015, the VA will now only consider a veteran’s gross household income and deductible expenses from the previous year. While veterans whose income exceeds the income thresholds will still be required to pay a copay, the VA estimates that with the new rule 190,000 veterans will become eligible for reduced health care costs over a five-year period.

“Everything that we do and every decision we make has to be focused on the Veterans we serve,” said VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald in a press release. “We are working every day to earn their trust. Changing the way we determine eligibility to make the process easier for Veterans is part of our promise to our Veterans.”

For more information about the changes, click here.  

For more information about veteran’s benefits, click here