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The Natural Objects of One’s Bounty – I

The phrase “the natural objects of one’s bounty” means the closest surviving members of one’s family. It usually describes those to whom property of a dead person will go if the dead person did not make and leave a will. One advantage of making and leaving a will is that you can specify to whom you want your property to go after you die. Whether or not you make and leave will, it is useful to know the traditional names for the various members of one’s family.

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As executor, your first step in settling the decedent’s estate is to find all of the decedent’s assets. You must then figure out which assets belonged solely to the decedent so that you can protect them until they can be distributed either according to the decedent’s will or state intestacy laws. Finding such assets can be a challenge.

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Donating One’s Body to Science

A dead human body is usually disposed of by burial or cremation. One alternative that benefits people outside of the funeral industry is to donate one’s dead body to science. Donation to science (also know as donation to medical science) is turning over a dead body to doctors, medical students, and/or other scientists for use in their studies. The charitable goal is the advancement of science. Donation to science is usually to a medical school. The most common use of a dead body by a medical school is to teach human anatomy to the next generation of doctors and other medical professionals.

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Many private insurance companies sell coverage to supplement Medicare coverage. Two basic types of coverage are available: Medigap policies and Medicare SELECT.

What Do Medigap Policies Cover?

Medigap insurance policies are designed to fill in the gaps in Medicare coverage, including patient deductibles and copayments. Medigap policies are highly regulated by both federal and state law.

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When an individual has purchased a Medigap insurance policy to supplement Medicare coverage, how medical bills are paid depends upon two factors: whether the medical provider accepts Medicare and whether the individual has arranged for his or her Medigap insurance company to send claims directly to Medicare.

Federal laws impose restrictions on how and to whom Medigap policies are sold, as well as how payments are made.

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Most states limit the income a nursing home resident can receive before she is eligible for Medicaid benefits. This limit is usually below the costs of nursing home care. Many residents find themselves in the position of having too much income to qualify for Medicaid but not enough income to pay for the costs of care. Many residents will not have done any advance Medicaid planning and may get into trouble when they attempt to transfer income and assets to meet the eligibility requirements.

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When a nursing home resident who has received Medicaid benefits dies, the state’s Medicaid agency may attempt to recover unpaid Medicaid nursing home expenses from the resident’s estate. While there are federal laws and regulations governing recovery from a Medicaid recipient’s estate, each state is allowed to establish its own recovery guidelines. For example, a state may elect to restrict recovery to estate assets as defined under the state’s probate laws and codes. If so, the estate generally includes include all of the resident’s real and personal property that passes by will or by the state’s intestate succession laws. The State may also expand its definition of “estate” to include other assets such as unused burial funds, other cash, joint ownership interests, annuities, and trusts.

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The good news is the nation’s average lifespan keeps lengthening. The bad news: healthcare costs increase exponentially as we get older. Many elderly and ill individuals require lengthy stays in nursing home facilities, which can cost over $75,000 per year. Medicare may cover some medical expenses but many people require Medicaid to pay for long-term care. The eligibility requirements are strict — you may need the help of a Medicaid lawyer in Louisville, KY to find out if you qualify. Continue reading

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