Thursday, September 24, 2009

Reductions in Medicare in Healthcare Reform?

It has become difficult to wade through the political garbage to figure out what is happening with healthcare reform. Today this headline was on Lexis-Nexis:

WASHINGTON – (AP) Congress' chief budget officer on Tuesday contradicted President Barack Obama's oft-stated claim that seniors wouldn't see their Medicare benefits cut under a health care overhaul. The head of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, Douglas Elmendorf, told senators that seniors in Medicare's managed care plans could see reduced benefits.

Isn't it time the people in Washington figure out what they are doing and stop making things up about what they are doing?

What do you think?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

EP Motivations

Recently we conducted a poll on several social networking sites about motivations users identified for either doing or not doing estate planning (a Will; Powers of Attorney and Living Will).

We did this to see if the motivations of users of social networking are similar or different from those who obtain information through other means. Information experts suggest that social networking users gather, use and assess information differently from people who only read newspapers or watch television.

The poll consisted of two questions:

1. If you have done a Will what motivated you to do so?

2. If you have not done a Will, what prevented you from doing it so far?

Here are the several answers listed in the order of frequency we received to these questions:

For those who have done their estate planning or Will:

1. Suffered the loss of a loved one who didn't have a Will.
2. Saw the results of a close relative who dealt with a well-planned estate.
3. Made good on a promise to my spouse to get a Will.
4. Once I had kids, I knew I had to do my Will.
5. Made good on a promise to my Mother to get a Will.
6. The Army made me get a Will.
7. I knew it was the right thing to do and wanted it off my list.

For those who have not done their Will yet:

1. Procrastination.
2. I'm only in my 30's, nothing is going to happen to me.
3. I'll do it when I'm older.
4. I don't care about my estate.

These answers are interesting because they track closely with answers given by people to the same questions who do not use social networking. The answers suggest that the motivations to do estate planning and the motivations to not do estate planning are not unique to certain age or income groups. Even though users of social networking get their information differently, the information they do get via social networking is assessed and acted upon similarly to older generations.

There are no right or wrong answers to either of the two questions. The best approach for anyone is to make a decision to have a Will and estate plan, or to not have one with an understanding and appreciation of the results of your decision. Once you understand the results of your decision, then you can determine if it is a decision that is right for you and works for you.

For example, think about your responsibilities. If you are married, in a committed relationship or have kids, then having some form of estate plan is mission critical. On the other hand, if you are not in these situations, it may be less so.

Second, understand the results of not having a Will; Durable Powers of Attorney; a Living Will; proper beneficiary designations and then decide if the results are really what you want. Also understand the results of attempting to resolve these situations with web based and fill-in-the blank forms. If you are happy with the results, then you can be comfortable with your decisions.

The easiest way for you to make these decisions to obtain an estate planning assessment. Such assessments are free or very low cost in most cases. So think about your own situation, get informed, understand the results that your decisions will create.

Please let us know your comments and thoughts and we welcome any of your questions.