How Medicare Handles Second Medical Opinions

 

Does Medicare cover second medical opinions? The doctor I currently see thinks I need back surgery, but I would like to get some other treatment options before I proceed. What can you tell me?
Getting a second medical opinion from another doctor is a smart idea that may offer you a fresh perspective and additional options so you can make a more informed decision. If the second doctor agrees with your current one, it can also give you some reassurance.
Thankfully, Medicare pays for second opinions if your current doctor has recommended surgery or some other major diagnostic or therapeutic procedure.
If you're enrolled in original Medicare, 80% of the costs for second medical opinions are covered under Part B (you or your Medicare supplemental policy are responsible for the other 20%), and you don't need an order or referral from your doctor to get one. Medicare will even pay 80% for a third opinion if the first two differ.
Most Medicare Advantage plans cover second opinions too, but you may need to follow certain steps to get it paid for. For example, some plans will only help pay for a second opinion if you have a referral from your primary care doctor, and/or they may require that you can only use a doctor in their network. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, you'll need to call to find out their rules.

Finding Another Doctor

To find another doctor for a second opinion you can ask your current doctor for a name or two. You can also ask another doctor you trust for a referral or you can find one on your own.
Whatever route you choose, it's best to go with a doctor that's affiliated with a different practice or hospital than your original doctor. Hospitals and practices can be set in their ways when it comes to treatments and are likely to offer similar advice.
If you choose to find a doctor on your own, use the Physician Compare tool at Medicare.gov/physiciancompare. This will let you find doctors by name, medical specialty or by geographic location that accept original Medicare. You can also get this information by calling Medicare at 800-633-4227. If you're enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, you can call or visit your plan's website for a list of candidates.
After you have a few doctors' names, there are a number of free online resources to help you research them, including HealthGrades.com and Vitals.com. Also consider AngiesList.com (888-888-5478), which is a membership service that currently offers doctors' ratings and reviews from other members in your area for $3.50 for one month or $11.32 for the year. Angie's List will be offering free reviews this summer.
After you find another doctor, before you get a second opinion you'll need to have your current doctor's office send your medical records ahead to the second doctor, or you may have to pick them up and deliver them yourself. That way, you won't have to repeat the tests you already had. Fortunately, if the second doctor wants you to have additional tests performed as a result of your visit, Medicare will help pay for these tests too.
For more information, see the Medicare publication "Getting a Second Opinion Before Surgery" at Medicare.gov/pubs/pdf/02173.pdf.
Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.
 

Deciding What to Do in Retirement

 

I just turned 62 and am financially prepared for retirement, but I'm less certain about how to spend my time after leaving work. Can you recommend some resources or tools that can help me with this?
This is a great question! Many people, when asked what they want to do when they retire, will say they want a mix of travel, play and meaningful work. Specifics, however, tend to be few and far between. But planning how to fill your time in retirement is just as important as the financial planning aspect. Here are some resources that can help.

Online Tools

A good starting point to figuring out what you want to do in retirement is at LifeReimagined.aarp.org. This is an AARP website (you don't have to be a member to use it) that can help you rediscover what truly matters to you and focus on what you really want to do. It offers a variety of online exercises and programs that will hopefully spark some ideas and give you inspiration.
Encore.org is another good resource that helps people who are seeking work that matters in the second half of life. Click on "Resources" on the menu bar and download their free Encore Guide and consider purchasing a copy of their excellent "Encore Career Handbook" (available at Amazon.com or BN.com for $10.50) by Marci Alboher.
Also check out the free E-book called "The Age for Change," which can help answer the question: "What now?" You can download this at ComingOfAge.org.
And, if you've never taken a personality test before, this too can be a good tool to help you figure out what type of activities or work you'd like to do. A good option for this is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment, which you can take online at MBTIcomplete.com for $50.

Personalized Guidance

If you want personalized help, you can also get one-on-one guidance from a retirement or life planning coach. Some resources that can help you here include LifePlanningForYou.com, which has a free exercise called EVOKE to help identify a path that might suit you best in later life and provides a directory to registered life planners to help guide you.
Also see RetirementOptions.com, which will connect you with a retirement coach who will give you an assessment to help reveal your attitudes and opinions about work, family life, relationships, leisure time and more. Another resource is LifePlanningNetwork.org, which is a group of professionals and organizations that help people navigate the second half of life. You can also find life and retirement coaching at the International Coach Federation at CoachFederation.org.
Coaching sessions typically range from $75 to $300 or more and usually require four to six sessions to get the most out of the process.

Other Resources

If you're primarily interested in volunteering, finding a retirement job or even starting a business when you retire, there are lots of resources that can help here too.
For volunteering, PointsOfLight.org, VolunteerMatch.org and SeniorCorps.gov help you search for opportunities, or even create one of your own.
To look for job ideas, sites like RetirementJobs.com, Workforce50.com and RetiredBrains.com list thousands of jobs nationwide from companies that are actively seeking older workers. FlexJobs.com can help you find good work-at-home jobs. CoolWorks.com and BackDoorJobs.com are great for locating seasonal or summer jobs in great places. Or to search for freelance opportunities in a wide variety of areas, there's Elance.com and Guru.com.
And if you're interested in starting a new business, the U.S. Small Business Administration offers tips, tools and free online courses to entrepreneurs that are 50 and older at SBA.gov/content/50-entrepreneurs, as does the nonprofit association Score at Score.org.
Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.
Published June 24, 2016

Eastern, Salem, and West Washington to Tackle Hunger this Fall

For the first time in history, all three county football teams will work together to take down the same opponent: hunger in Washington County.

Turnover Hunger takes aim at fighting hunger by raising money for the Washington County Food Bank Fund in the Washington County Community Foundation.

“The idea is to take something everybody loves (football), and use it to fight something everybody hates (hunger),” explained Andrew Burks, assistant football coach at West Washington High School, who suggested the program. “We shared the idea with others, and it took off from there. 

What makes this special is for the first time all three county head football coaches are Washington County born and raised. Phillip, RJ, and Luke are all phenomenal leaders whose respective programs are about more than just winning games.  They all want to make a difference in the lives of young men, and in this case, in our community.”

Members of all three teams are now looking for people to sign up and pledge a certain amount of money for each turnover their team forces during the regular and post season play. For example, if a person pledges $1 per turnover and their team forces 25 turnovers, then that individual will make a $25.00 donation to the Washington County Community Foundation for the Washington County Food Bank Fund.

“We honestly have one of the best community foundations in the state,” said Burks. “As a past Lilly Endowment Community Scholar, I can personally speak of the impact our Foundation has had in my life, and the impact they will have in this program will be just as dynamic.  Their involvement is essential to the success of Turnover Hunger.”

“While there is some friendly competition going on, everyone is focused on the bigger picture: making sure the elderly, children, or anyone else who needs help getting food in our county, gets fed.  It is that simple, and it is that important.”

Players are taking pledges now. This is a great way to demonstrate your school spirit and get involved in a very important cause.  Big or small, all the pledges combined will have a huge impact, now and forever. 

If you would like to have a pledge form emailed to you, please contact Judy Johnson at director@wccf.biz.  You can turn in the pledge form at the Washington County Community Foundation office or at the first home game for your favorite team.  Weekly updates will be emailed to participants.  Please contact the Washington County Community Foundation office at 812.883.7334 if you have any questions. 

 

Local youth say “Yes!” to being a good sport

Several years ago Terry Schuler established a fund in the Washington County Community Foundation. He wanted to help youth in our community experience summer league baseball and softball and to grow as a result of the experience.

This year, the first Terry Schuler Good Sportsmanship Awards were presented to local youth who participated in the Salem Park and Rec summer baseball/softball season. Players were nominated by the league directors. “We are excited joining forces with the Washington County Community Foundation by way of this special Terry Schuler Fund to encourage and reward outstanding sportsmanship within our Baseball/Softball/Tee Ball program,” stated Denise Newkirk, Director of the Salem Park and Rec Department.  “Our three league directors over Girls Softball, Tee Ball/Rookie, and 10U/12U Baseball were asked to observe and nominate one player from each age division who displayed positive sportsmanship during the 2016 season.  The actual process was left up to the individual league director.  Congratulations to the recipients, and thank you to the Washington County Community Foundation.  Each player received a backpack and a book. 

Additionally, Judy Johnson, Executive Director of the Washington County Community Foundation presented a check to Denise Newkirk. The check for $690.00 was from the Terry Schuler fund and is to be used to buy baseball/softball equipment.  “Terry wanted local kids to find the joy and learn the important life lessons that he did we he played summer ball,” explained Johnson.  “He believed that the lessons he learned on the ballfield helped to develop his character and values.  It is our hope that these awards will nurture good sportsmanship in all our youth.” 

The mission of the Washington County Community Foundation is to engage people, build resources and strengthen our community. Visit the website at www.wccf.biz and like the Foundation on Facebook. 

The New MIND Diet May Help Prevent Alzheimer's

 

I've heard that there's a new diet that can help prevent Alzheimer's disease. What can you tell me about this? My 80-year-old mother has Alzheimer's and I want to do everything I can to protect myself.
It's true! Research has found that a new diet plan – called the MIND diet – can have a profound impact on your brain health as you age and can even lower your odds of getting Alzheimer's disease.
The MIND diet takes two proven diets – the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet and the blood-pressure lowering DASH diet – and zeroes in on the foods in each that specifically affect brain health.
The MIND diet, which stands for “Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay,” was developed by Martha Clare Morris, a nutritional epidemiologist at Rush University Medical Center, through a study funded by the National Institute on Aging.
The study followed the diets of nearly 1,000 elderly adults. The participants filled out food questionnaires and underwent repeated neurological testing for an average of 4.5 years.
It found participants whose diets most closely followed the MIND recommendations had brains that functioned as if they were 7.5 years younger and it lowered their risk of developing Alzheimer's disease by as much as 53%. Even those who didn't strictly follow the diet reduced their risk of Alzheimer's by 35%.

The MIND Menu

The MIND diet has 15 dietary components. The emphasis is on eating from 10 brain-healthy food groups and limiting foods from five unhealthy groups. Here's a rundown of the healthy foods you should work into your diet:
  • Green leafy vegetables (like spinach and salad greens): Eat at least one serving per day.
  • Other vegetables: At least one other vegetable a day.
  • Whole grains: Three or more servings a day.
  • Nuts: Five one-ounce servings a week.
  • Beans: At least three servings a week.
  • Berries: Two or more servings a week.
  • Fish: Once a week.
  • Poultry (not fried): Two times a week.
  • Olive oil: Use it as your primary cooking oil.
And the five unhealthy food groups you should limit include:
  • Red meat: Eat fewer than four servings a week.
  • Butter and margarine: Less than a tablespoon daily.
  • Cheese: Less than one serving a week.
  • Pastries and sweets: Less than five servings a week.
  • Fried or fast food: Less than one serving a week.

Other Benefits

One of the best things about the MIND diet is that it's easier to follow than most other diets and you don't have to stick to it perfectly to gain the benefits, which makes it easier to follow for a long time. And the longer you eat the MIND way, the lower the risk of getting Alzheimer's disease.
Another advantage is that the MIND diet can help you lose some weight too, if you keep your portions in check and are careful about how the food is prepared.
It's also important to understand that even though diet plays a big role, it's only one aspect of Alzheimer's disease. Getting regular exercise, quitting smoking (if you smoke) and learning how to manage stress can even further reduce your risk of Alzheimer's.
Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Seven Questions on Gifts to Children

 

 
Many questions arise when we consider the options for giving to children. Why should we give? When, what and how should we give? Will gifts impact the self-esteem and initiative of the child? Can a gift plan transfer values to children?
These are all very important questions. Clearly there are better ways to give and a prudent parent will consider carefully the manner, nature and amount of gifts. If the gifts are given in a proper way, they can be very beneficial for the child. Alternatively, gifts given at the wrong time or in the wrong amounts can lessen the initiative and even weaken the character of the child. Thus, it is important to make gifts in the optimum manner at the right time.

Why Give to Children?

There are several reasons why you may choose to make gifts to children during life. Some parents wish to start the inheritance process. If they have substantial resources, it is desirable to begin the inheritance while the children are in their 30s, 40s and 50s. Many children can use the help at that time to start careers, purchase a home and assist in the cost of raising their own children.
Another reason for making gifts is to teach conservation. Most parents who have significant resources have been careful to conserve their assets and build them up during life. By making transfers of assets during life, the parents can see how the children handle those assets and, in turn, offer advice and encouragement. In addition, when the parents have the opportunity to see the effect of inheritance on children, it helps to clarify the parents' goals. Goals for inheritance should include the amount transferred during life, the time of transfer, the principal and income amounts and times for transfer of those items to family in the estate.
Starting the property transfer process during life enables parents to understand how to plan for the optimum inheritance for children.

When Should a Parent Start Giving?

There is both an easy answer and a difficult answer to this question. First, parents should start giving to children when they reach the "age of financial responsibility." But what is that age? Some children reach the "age of financial responsibility" at 25, while others might not attain that status at age 75.
Another factor that affects the "when to give" question is the resources of the parent. Many people in our society live to be age 80, 90 or even older. The parents should make certain that they have sufficient assets to provide for long-term care, if that is needed. Some parents may wish to purchase long-term care insurance prior to making gifts to children. Alternatively, other parents of retirement age may determine that they have adequate resources to provide for their long-term care and can make gifts to family members. In making this determination, you will want to consider pensions, Social Security, IRAs and other assets.
If a parent determines that there are sufficient assets and that the children have reached an appropriate age (which in most cases is when children are in their 30s, 40s and 50s), then the parent may choose to start making gifts.

What Should I Give?

In the book The Millionaire Next Door, the authors studied the impact of gifts of cash to children in their 30s and 40s. The essence of their research was that, for most children, gifts of cash are typically spent.
Furthermore, with the exception of elementary school teachers and college professors, children in other professions who received cash gifts actually had less in savings by retirement age than those who received no gifts. Those who received cash gifts not only spent the gifts, but also continued to spend other personal cash and ended up with smaller estates than those who had received no gifts.
If parents are not concerned about whether or not the gift is spent, then the gift of cash is appropriate. However, many parents make gifts to children with the hope that the child will invest and build up some reserve assets. If the hope is that children will invest and begin to build their estates, then gifts of property show much more promise.
For example, many parents hold stock and can transfer shares by gift to the children. Alternatively, some parents hold real property or have created family limited partnerships and can transfer either the real property or the partnership units to children.
If the gifts are less than the annual exclusion amount per parent, per child each year ($14,000 in 2016 and potentially higher in future years), then the gift is not subject to gift tax. It should be noted that the child takes the cost basis of the parent when property is gifted. Thus, if the child were to sell the appreciated stock or land, he or she would have to pay a capital gains tax. Many parents actually look at this as a favorable circumstance, since their intention is for the child to hold the asset. If there is significant appreciation, these parents deem it beneficial since that potential gain could dissuade children from selling the asset, paying the capital gains tax and spending the money.
How much can be transferred using annual gift exclusions? There are cases in which appreciated stock gifts were held by family members and there was significant value transferred. After a ten-year period, the stock transferred with annual exclusions may be worth several hundred thousand dollars. In one case, the parents used gift exclusions over a period of 30 years and the children held the gifted stock. At the conclusion of that gifting program, the children were all multimillionaires—and all with zero gift or estate tax!

Should I Give Different Amounts?

Most parents will attempt to treat all children equally. From the perspective of the child, the gift is viewed as a representation of the love of the parent. Thus, it seems appropriate in most circumstances for there to be equal transfers to the children.
However, most rules have reasonable and logical exceptions. The two most common exceptions in this area are the special needs trust and a family business. If one child has a disability, the rest of the family understands the need for additional provision for that child through what is commonly called a special needs trust. This is a trust with an independent trustee who has discretion to make distributions to the child, but is not normally required to do so. The special needs trust makes provision for the maximum benefit of the child and could potentially allow some beneficiaries to also receive government benefits.
The other exception to equal treatment for children may occur with a family business. If some children are involved in the business and other children are not, it is desirable to provide a substantial inheritance for all children. However, maintaining business viability may require the transfer of a majority of the business interest to the child that is involved in the business.
In addition, many parents believe that transfer is fair because the efforts of the children in the business have contributed to the overall growth of the business and the overall growth of the parents' estate. These are delicate questions to which parents should give careful thought, but in the case of the special needs trust and the family business, it is common for one child to receive a greater benefit than the other children.

Will My Gift Decrease Motivation and Self-esteem?

This is a concern of all parents. If an estate is substantial, it is a very important issue to consider. Nearly everyone knows of cases where a large inheritance was transferred to an individual and it was spent in very unhealthy ways. Indeed, sometimes the size of the inheritance contributes to tearing down rather than building up the child's character.
Perhaps the best gift most parents and grandparents should consider is education, which can be used during an entire lifetime. Because one competes with other students in the class, education is also a very good character-building exercise.
A second very fine gift that may not involve significant financial resources is help with a career or business. Many businesspeople are able to assist their children in starting careers or businesses through advice and financing. These opportunities are excellent because the child then has the self-esteem derived from building a career or a business of his or her own.
Another strategy is to wait for a reasonable level of maturity. Some parents wait until the children are in their 40s or 50s to start gifting programs. At that time, values are more likely to be established for the children and they are more likely to make productive use of the property.

Why Don't My Children Think Like Me?

This question surely has crossed the mind of nearly all parents. A parent may consider a particular property or asset and say, "If I had that property, this is what I would do with it."
As all parents know, children quite often hold different opinions. They have generally not been tested in as many different circumstances as their parents. The children need "time to learn." When transferring an inheritance to children, parents need to remember that they have quite often acquired that property over 30 or 40 years. The parents had many opportunities to learn the value of thrift, conservation, investment and careful planning.
Children will not learn these principles from a ten-minute discussion with their parents. They will need to learn some of these lessons out in the real world, operating with real money and real property. It is inevitable that some children will make mistakes. However, their parents also made mistakes along the way. This is the educational part of the gift process.
Parents should be willing to provide "opportunity to make mistakes" property to their children. This does not necessarily mean that the property must have enormous value. However, there must be some value to the property. This "opportunity to make mistakes" property can best be gifted during life. After one or two such episodes, the children may suddenly have a greater understanding of some of the values held by the parents.

How Do I Support Charity and Transfer Values to Children?

One goal of parents is to teach values to children. We all hope that our children will be honest, loving, loyal, faithful, true and upright. How do you teach those values? First, values are caught and not taught. Fortunately, many parents have shared the lesson of the importance of family and extended family with the children. The family includes children and, in some cases, nephews, nieces and other relatives. The extended family includes the wider group of individuals who are helped by charities that the parents support.
One especially effective way to teach the principle of helping others is to model that behavior through support of charities that benefit the extended family. Children realize that they are here on Earth not just to acquire the best homes, fastest cars and most exotic vacations, but also to find a sense of purpose and value through assisting others. The extended family example of the parents is one of the best lessons that encourage children to acquire values similar to the parents. This lesson is taught during life both through contribution of time and gifts of cash and property to charity.
In addition, a very effective teaching method is to use planned giving concepts. These planned giving opportunities can provide benefits for children and a remainder to charity. In using these gift plans, the parent teaches the child to consider both the family and the extended family in planning. If major benefit for the extended family can be realized through tax savings, this becomes a particularly powerful lesson.
Gifts to children during life can accomplish many goals and objectives. Parents need to give careful thought to the children's needs and opportunities. If your assets permit, you may have the ability to give children "time to learn," provide them the "opportunity-to-make-mistakes" property and to facilitate the transfer of values. Truly, these objectives make giving during life an important part of your efforts to "help the child become a better person."

Simple Smartphones for Seniors

 

Can you recommend some smartphones that are specifically designed for seniors? My 75-year-old mother is interested in upgrading from a basic cellphone to a smartphone, but will need one that's very easy to operate.
I wrote about this topic just last year, but in the fast changing world of personal technology devices, there's a new crop of simplified smartphones that have recently hit the market that are better than ever for tech-shy seniors. Here are my three top options.
Doro 824 SmartEasy: Offered by Consumer Cellular, the new Doro 824 SmartEasy is one of the best, simplified smartphones available today. It starts with a bright, 5-inch high-resolution touch screen display that offers large icons and text. It also has customizable volume settings. Its simplified design pairs down the options, providing uncluttered, easy access to key and frequently used features right from the home screen, including the phone's calling feature, contacts, text messages, email, Internet and the camera feature. In addition, it provides help as you go along from a built-in coach.
It also offers a unique pre-installed app called "My Doro Manager," which can also be downloaded by family or friends. This app provides a number of tutorials that will show your mom how to enjoy her phone. It will also give her trusted contacts the remote ability to help manage and adjust her Doro smartphone from their own smartphones no matter where they are.
For added convenience and safety, the Doro 824 provides three physical buttons on the front of the phone for quick, one-touch access to the home screen, recently used applications, and a "Back" button that will return to the previous screen. Lastly, there is an "Emergency Alert" button on the back of the phone that will automatically dial a predetermined contact in the event of an emergency.
The Doro 824 is sold online at ConsumerCellular.com, over the phone at 888-532-5366, or at any Target or Sears store for $200 with no contract.
Jitterbug Smart: Offered by GreatCall wireless, the new 4th generation Jitterbug Smart is much bigger than previous GreatCall smartphones. This phone is actually an Alcatel smartphone that's been rebranded and loaded with GreatCall's simplified user interface software.
It has a big, bright 5.5-inch high-definition touch screen. Its simple single-list menu on the home page provides easy access to only frequently used features, along with one-touch access to contacts and other apps.
It also provides convenient voice typing for emails and texts and offers a variety of optional health and safety features, like MedCoach, which can send medication and prescription refill reminders. Another health feature offered is Urgent Care, which provides unlimited access to registered nurses and doctors to answer health questions. Lastly, phone users have the option to install a 5Star medical-alert service that lets them speak to a live emergency-alert agent around the clock. These trained agents will confirm your mom's location via GPS tracking technology and dispatch help as needed.
The Jitterbug Smart is available online at GreatCall.com, or at Best Buy, Rite Aid, Sears and Walmart stores for $150 with a onetime $35 activation fee and no contract.
Samsung Galaxy Note5: While this smartphone isn't designed specifically for seniors, its large size (5.7-inch screen) and unique "Easy" mode setting, which boosts the icon and font sizes and simplifies the home-screen layout, makes it a good option for seniors.
With the Easy mode turned on, the Note5's home screen will display only the time, date and local weather and six frequently used functions. To access the user's 12 most important contacts, the user would simply swipe the home screen to the right. To access the user's 12 favorite apps, he or she would swipe to the left.
The Note5 (see Samsung.com/galaxynote5) is available with 32 and 64 GB of storage from major phone carriers (AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile) and some smaller carriers at prices ranging between $615 and $840 without a contract.
Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.
Published June 10, 2016
 
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Caring for Minor Children

 

 
"Who would take our children? I am not sure anyone would be willing to take them," remarked Shelly to her attorney, Jim. "It's not that they aren't good children. They are all fine, but there are 11 of them! If something happens to Pat and me, who will take them?"

Personal Guardian for Minor Children

One very important decision for you to make when creating a plan is to decide who would be the guardian of your minor children. When you write your first will, it is very possible that you still have minor children at home. While you may not have 11 children and face the challenge that confronted Shelly and Pat, this is still a very crucial and important decision.
Your guardian will raise the children, teach them values, select the schools they attend and perform the functions of a parent. If you do not have a guardian selected in a will, a court may select a person. That person may not share your cultural background, your religion, your general world view, or any other aspects of the character that you think important for the person who raises your children. By selecting a guardian and an alternate in your will, you have a much better prospect of finding someone that you think is the right person to raise your children.

Two Parents

If there are two parents, normally the survivor will be selected as the guardian of the children. But if both were to pass away, then it would be necessary to select a guardian.
Even if you select a guardian, there could still be an objection or contest by other family members. The probate judge usually will approve your selection unless there is strong evidence that indicates the person is not qualified. For example, evidence of alcoholism, criminal background or a history of child abuse could lead the judge to select another person. However, in nearly all cases the person that you select is chosen because he or she is the best possible individual to raise your children.

Single Parent

There are several reasons why a person may be a single parent in our society. A single parent may never have been married, there could have been a divorce, or the spouse could have passed away. In all three cases, it is especially important for single parents to have carefully selected a guardian.

Blended Family

If you have divorced and remarried, it may be your desire to have your new spouse as the guardian for children from your first marriage.
Normally, children are placed with their biological parent. However, if you can show good reasons why it is in "the best interest of the child" for your new spouse to be guardian, the court may permit him or her to raise your children. It is desirable for you to write a letter that is retained with your will to explain your reasons why the biological parent is not a good choice and how your current spouse would be the best person to raise your children.

Property for Your Children

If you have a high level of trust in the person selected to be guardian, it is possible to transfer property outright to him or her. However, if you choose to entrust a guardian with your property, you need to recognize that the guardian will have complete control and may choose to use the property for other purposes. This may be an acceptable solution if you have moderate resources, but if your property is substantial, a trust may be a better choice.

Trust for Children

With a moderate to substantial amount of property, it is quite common to create a trust. One person is selected as trustee to manage the property. He or she then transfers the income and, if required, principal to the guardian. The combination of one person managing the property and the guardian raising the children provides checks and balances that achieve the best result for the child.

How to Pick a Medicare Advantage Plan

 

I'm approaching 65 and am interested in a Medicare Advantage plan to cover my healthcare and medications. What tips can you provide to help me pick a plan?
Medicare Advantage plans have become increasingly popular among retirees over the past 10 years, as more than 30% of Medicare participants are now enrolled in an Advantage plan. Here are some tips and tools to help you pick a plan that fits your needs.
First, let's start with a quick review. Medicare Advantage plans (also known as Medicare Part C) are government approved health plans sold by private insurance companies that you can choose in place of original Medicare. The vast majority of Advantage plans are managed-care policies such as HMOs or PPOs that require you to get your care within a network of doctors.
If you join an Advantage plan, the plan will provide all of your Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance) coverage. Some plans even offer extra benefits like vision, dental and hearing, and most plans include Part D prescription drug coverage too.
You also need to know that the monthly premiums for many Advantage plans are cheaper than if you got original Medicare, plus a separate Part D drug plan and a Medigap policy, but their deductibles and co-pays are usually higher. That makes these plans better suited for healthier retirees.

How to Pick

To help you pick a plan, a good first step is to call the office managers of the doctors you use and find out which Advantage plans they accept, and which ones they recommend. Then go to the Medicare Plan Finder tool at Medicare.gov/find-a-plan and type in your ZIP code or your personal information to compare health plans with drug coverage in your area.
This tool also provides a five-star rating system that evaluates each plan based on past customer satisfaction and quality of care the plan delivers. When comparing, here are some key points to consider:
Total costs: Look at the plan's entire pricing package, not just the premiums and deductibles. Compare the maximum out-of-pocket costs plus the copays and coinsurance charged for doctor office visits, hospital stays, visits to specialists, prescription drugs and other medical services. This is important because if you choose an Advantage plan, you're not allowed to purchase a Medigap policy, which means you'll be responsible for paying these expenses out of your own pocket.
Drug coverage: Check the plan's formulary - the list of prescription drugs covered - to be sure all the medications you take are covered without excessive co-pays or requirements that you try less expensive drugs first.
Dental, vision and hearing: Some Advantage plans come with dental, vision and hearing benefits, but are often limited. Get the details on what exactly is covered.
Coverage while traveling: Most Advantage plans limit you to using in-network doctors only within a service area or geographic region, so find out what's covered if you need medical care when you're away from home.
Out-of-network coverage: Check to see what's covered if you want to see a specialist in a hospital that is not in a plan's network. You can get a list of doctors and hospitals that take part in a plan on the plan's website.
Retiree benefits: If you have employer-based retiree health coverage, be sure you speak with the benefits manager, because signing up for Medicare Advantage may void your coverage.

How to Enroll

Once you've selected a plan you can enroll either on the Medicare.gov website, over the phone at 1-800-MEDICARE, directly with your chosen plan or through an insurance broker.
If you need some help choosing a plan contact your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) at Shiptacenter.org. Also see the HealthMetrix Research Cost Share Report at MedicareNewsWatch.com that lists the best Advantage plans based on health status.
Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.
Published May 27, 2016
 
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Washington County Community Foundation Announces Spring Grant Recipients

 Washington County Community Foundation Announces Spring Grant Recipients

 

Grants totaling over $7,900.00 were awarded to several Washington County organizations by the Washington County Community Foundation for the Spring 2016 grant cycle. Grants are awarded from the Foundation’s Touch Tomorrow funds.

 

Blue River Services is the recipient of a $406.00 grant from the Tony and Jeanette Nolan and Rachel Spaulding Davis Touch Tomorrow Funds. The grant will be used partially to match another grant Blue River Services received to install automatic doors in the two Washington County facilities so the public may have safe, unobstructed access to services.

 

The Burl and Carmelita Jean and Garland and Norma Sue White Touch Tomorrow Funds have awarded Hoosier Hills PACT a $5,575.00 grant to paint and repair the exterior of the Domestic Violence Shelter. The paint will help to offer a more welcoming appearance for clients and guests in the community.

 

The YMCA of Washington County is the recipient of a $2,000.00 grant from the Gene and Judy Hedrick and Brent and Lauren Elliott Touch Tomorrow Funds. The grant will be used for “Afterhours at the Y”, a program for students age 12 and older to come to the YMCA on two Friday nights in the summer.  The grant will be used for advertising, Sumo wrestling contest, and movie licensing.

 

Washington County Community Foundation is a nonprofit public charity established in 1993 to serve donors, award grants, and provide leadership to improve Washington County forever

End

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