Saturday, May 18, 2013

Mr. Yancy goes to Marion (Kentucky)

I got a call last week saying I needed to go to Marion KY to sign closing documents to sell one of the rental properties dad owned.  Marion is quite a drive from where I live (over 60 miles away).  I had to sign the documents as executor, so I had no choice.  So, I left work Wednesday about 11:00am and started my journey.

I first had to get the keys to the home from our realtor's office (even though I had to go, she did not).  Then, I had to make a decision on which way to go.  I could go through Paducah or up the Interstate.  I chose unwisely and went with the Interstate.  I had forgotten that I-24 was one lane all the way to the exit I wanted to get off on.  It ended up taking about 20 minutes to go seven miles.  The trip after that was fine.   I ended up taking Highway 60 and going through Livingston County to get to Marion (in Crittenden County).

It had been years since I'd been to Crittenden County.    I remember going twice in 2001 to watch Ballard Memorial win a regular season and playoff game at Crittenden County.  I remember they had practically no bleacher space for visitors so you either sat on the ground or stood around the field the whole game.  I remember driving there to watch Jonathan's 8th grade team win in 2002.  However, I never drove past the high school so I didn't know what we in the actual city limits.   My destination was Farmers Bank so I would get to see what was actually in the city.

I found the bank with no problem (it's right next to the courthouse).  Marion reminded me of other small towns in Kentucky that I've visited (and always enjoy seeing).  I went in and met with the young lady handling the loan for the people buying the house.   She was very nice and we got through the paperwork very easily (less then 10 minutes).  She introduced me to her boss and we had a very nice conversation.  We laughed about the seeming reluctance of the Realtors to come to their city.   I finally asked them where I should go for lunch.  They mentioned a new Italian restaurant and a Mexican restaurant.  I'm not big on Italian and I had a dentist appointment afterwards and I didn't think Mexican would be a good plan before that.  They also mentioned a McDonalds.  I was surprised to find a McDonalds (and a Subway, Dairy Queen, and Pizza Hut) in Marion given it's population (a little over 3,000).  But I wanted to go somewhere different.  I had looked at TripAdvisor and the top rated place in town was the Marion Cafe.  So I decided to try that.

It was the next block over, so getting there wasn't a problem.  As I entered, I saw what I expected.  It was a basic home town cafe.  They did have wi-fi though.  I seated myself and a young man came to my table to get my drink order.  He asked about my new phone I was looking at (my new Blackberry Z10 from USEC) so we discussed that and the future of USEC (I have no idea).  I looked at the menu and ended up ordering an open-faced roast beef.  It was excellent.  It wasn't just shaved roast beef, it was real pieces from a roast.  The mashed potatoes and bread were good as well.   I had a little room for dessert so I looked at the dessert list.  There was a cake called HoHo so I had to ask about that.  The lady who asked for my dessert order told me they made a chocolate layer cake with cream filling between each layer and chilled it overnight.  They then poured hot fudge on top so that it solidified.  So, it was kind of like a HoHo (or it's Little Debbie counterpart I love - the Swiss Cake Roll).  I had to try that.  It did not disappoint, it was fabulous.  As I prepared to pay for my order at the table, I asked the young man for a little more tea, he offered to fix one that I could take with me.   I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I decided to take 641 back to the Interstate this time.  It went through Fredonia which is famous for the two things.  One is this store.   The other is the Western Kentucky Correctional Complex.   I actually have a memory from there and it's not as an inmate.  Years ago (in the 80's), I played for the WKYX/WKYQ softball "Some-Stars".  The very first games I ever played for them were there.  I remember a bunch of us riding over in the station van.  It was hot and we played a doubleheader against their B and A teams getting whipped each time.   I caught both games and I remember my legs were sore for days afterwards. 

The rest of the trip (through Eddyville to I-24 and finally to my dentist) was uneventful

Monday, May 13, 2013

Dealing with Aging Parents - Medicare - Part 1

Medicare is something that anyone 65 and over has to deal with. I can tell you it’s very confusing. I consider myself a relatively intelligent person and it’s confusing to me. I know my parents had a difficult time understanding it. Therefore, I do think that if you have older parents on Medicare, you can be very helpful in this situation. I will only speak to issues I directly dealt with. Volumes are written about how to do this but hopefully this will help you

First, I want to clear up a couple of fallacies about Medicare.

  • Medicare is free – It most certainly is not. For your entire earning life, you pay for it. 1.45% of your earned taxable income goes to pay for it. Your employer kicks in 1.45% as well. If you are self-employed, you pay 2.9% (both parts). There is no cap (unlike Social Security taxes) so no matter how much you earn, you pay Medicare tax on it. Once you are using Medicare, you pay a monthly amount (that comes out of your Social Security normally) for Part B (I’ll discuss that in a minute). For 2013, it’s 104.90 a month for most people.

  • Medicare pays for everything – No, it doesn’t. For a hospital stay up to 60 days, you pay a deductible of 1184.00 and for anything after that, you pay about 300 a day up to 90 days and then it gets into “lifetime use days” which I don’t even really understand. Your Doctor visits, lab tests, durable medical equipment (oxygen tanks and generator for example), you pay 20%. There is no stop-loss as is common with regular insurance policies so no matter how many of these type expenses you end up paying, you never hit a maximum. Finally, for prescriptions, you have a 300 deductible. Then, you pay 30% of “approved drugs” until you hit the “doughnut hole” (2970) when you pay 100% until you hit 4750.00.
Confused yet? 

Let’s talk about the parts of Medicare. Part A is hospital and strictly hospital. It’s not doctors, even ones that come and see you at the hospital. That’s Part B – Doctors, lab work, durable medical equipment. Part D is prescription coverage. Seniors generally apply for Part A and B when they turn 65. Part D you handle getting on your own. What’s Part C? Medicare Advantage (which I know nothing about).

I think that’s enough for one day. I’ll continue with some of our experiences and some recommendations in my next post.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Dealing with Aging Parents Finances - Part 1

Let me say up front this is strictly based on my experience in having both of my parents pass away in the past year. Yours may vary. Also, I am not a financial or legal expert. I am just trying to give some direction to others in this situation. I know having this information up front would have been helpful to me.

You may possibly run into the situation where your parents don’t want to even discuss this. It may be from embarrassment, the fact they don’t want to admit their mortality, or they simply can’t accept their children helping them (in a role reversal). Be patient with them. You may want to broach the subject by telling them about others you know who didn’t do this and how difficult it is to deal with in additional to the emotion of losing a parent (most people know somebody who has gone through this).

First, do you parents have a will? If not, they really need to get one. It isn’t as big a deal if both parents are living (assuming they own everything jointly or they are in a state that recognizes community property). If however, only one of your parents is alive not having a will can cause the assets of their estate to be distributed by law which may not match what their real intent was. The probate court will want the original copy of the will (I’ll discuss probate in another blog post). It also a good idea to read the will so that you’ll know who the executor is and have an idea of their directives. You can either have a lawyer do this or download from one of the several legal form type web sites. This can be complex so I would recommend a lawyer if you can afford one.

Secondly, each parent should have a Living Will. This will dictate what measures should (and should not) be taken in medical situations. This is especially important in situations where a parent may be close to death and not able to speak for themselves. The person assigned the responsibility for carrying this out in the Living Will should be someone who can think clearly in these situations and not allow emotions to change the actions stated in the Living Will. This document is a bit less complex that a will, so can probably handle getting a copy yourselves and having each of your parents complete one. In Kentucky, the signatures must be notarized. When a parent checks into the hospital, they will probably ask for a copy of this.

Probably the most difficult document to agree to is a Power of Attorney. This document gives the person designated as POA the ability to act for that person in financial matters. This includes signing deeds, real estate papers,etc. You can even sign checks for that person if need be. You need to have a level a trust with your parents to do this. You should request a durable power of attorney. This means the POA is in effect even should the parent become incapable of making decisions. This document can be done either by a lawyer or downloaded from a legal web site and completed. It requires notarization.

Finally, it is a good idea to know where you parents have their checking and savings accounts, any investments (401k, mutual funds), which life insurance they have and any property they own. You’ll need to know every bit of this to carry out an estate when they pass away. It also helps if one parent dies and you have to help the other parent in carrying out financial matters. You should send every one of these entities a copy of the POA. It can often take weeks from them to process this document. I didn’t realize this and it delayed things when trying to help my dad access some of my mom’s retirement accounts when she passed away.

Next time I’ll discuss the beast that is Medicare.