8 Savvy Tips About Using Your Credit Card and Travel Points
Senior Law & Money : Getting Your Affairs in Order

Savvy Tips: Using Your Credit Card and Travel Points

Chasing your points?

Seniors are very good at using their points on credit cards and other perks they might get. In fact, seniors will use these well over other generations. Seniors know which cards have the greatest points for what purchases.

Many seniors keep this information on their phones. 

For example, going to the grocery store means I will use my Chase® card as it gives me more points than my American Express® Sky Miles for the purchase of groceries. 

I will then keep a monthly total of my points and how they add up.

Why do companies offer points for customer loyalty?

Companies offer points for customer loyalty to encourage repeat business and build stronger relationships with their customers. Here are some of the key benefits for companies:

  • Increased Sales: Encouraging Repeat Business: Loyalty programs incentivize customers to make more purchases by rewarding them with points that can be redeemed for discounts, free items, or other perks.
  • Customer Retention: It's generally cheaper to retain existing customers than acquire new ones. By rewarding loyalty, companies can discourage customers from switching to competitors and keep them coming back for more.
  • Valuable Customer Data: Loyalty programs often require customers to sign up with their contact information and purchasing history. This data allows companies to better understand their customer base, personalize marketing campaigns, and develop targeted promotions.
  • Enhanced Customer Relationships: Loyalty programs can help create a sense of community and exclusivity for customers. Feeling valued by a company can lead to increased customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.
  • Promoting New Products: Loyalty points can be used to promote new products. Companies can offer bonus points for purchasing new items, encouraging customers to try out new offerings without feeling like they’re taking a risk. 
  • Cost-Effective Marketing: Loyalty programs can be a cost-effective marketing tool. The cost of awarding points is typically lower than traditional advertising methods. Moreover, loyal customers are more likely to engage with marketing campaigns and respond positively to promotions. 
  • Creating Competitive Advantage: In industries with high competition, a strong loyalty program can serve as a significant competitive advantage. Customers are more likely to stick with brands that offer tangible rewards for their loyalty.

TOP 6 COMPANIES

Companies Will Change Their Policies

So, companies are changing their policies and they have a right to do so. You have no say. 

Recently, we have all seen how one airline company changed their “Medallion” program leaving many medallion members without benefits.  In fact, they were no longer able to use any perks they were accustomed to. 

This allows this airline to lower its liability and contain the problem if everyone who was a medallion member used their perks all at once. 

To add insult to injury, the credit card company attached to this airline just raised their annual fees and seniors can no longer afford the card.  If they cancel, they will lose their airline points. Their annual fees are increased to $350-$695 a year.  Are the perks worth this money? Maybe, if you use them consistently.  

But this company does have a card offer with no annual fee and you can keep your points if you decide to go that route. You can also keep your card number. You just have to know to ask for it. 

Let’s go back to the Airlines.  If you decide to use your “miles”, you may find that the points for the very same flights have increased several thousand points above the cost. 

For example, I recently wanted to fly to Seattle. The flight was $220.  But when I returned to the Airline site and asked to use cash + miles, all of a sudden it was now 35,000 points which is equivalent to $350. 

Most conversions from points to dollars is 1 cent per point.  But in this case, by raising the points (because I was actually USING them!), it is now 7/10 of a penny. Or another way to look at it is… it costs $130 more dollars points to use the rewards program.

On top of this, the miles + cash are only available on certain flights. 

PRO TIP: Never check out flights on your computer before first going to your “Incognito window” in the upper right corner. Then look at your flights.  Write down the flights you want. 

Then go to the website and select those flights. 

If you do not do this, you may find that once you shop for flights and then go back to look for them again, they have increased by 200%!  Once the airline company has your IP address they may increase rates knowing you are interested in their travel options. 

Some of us seniors will even have our children look up flights "incognito" as they get special offers seniors don’t see.  We will find and book the best offers this way!

TIPS on how to get and use your points

  1. Don’t buy points. They are extremely expensive. 
  2. Your reward points are about to expire. If you cancel a credit card you will lose your points so use them before you cancel.
  3. Travel redemptions you want are available. If you focus on earning airline miles or hotel points so you can redeem rewards for travel, finding the award space or free nights you want is another reason to redeem right away.
  4. Never cancel your card because of high annual fees until you call the company.  They will give you several options.  Say no to the first options as they usually have second options that are much better. 
  5. You found a special offer. Sometimes rewards programs extend special offers that are hard to pass up.
  6. You’re ready to splurge. Sign up for a card that gives you a lot of points if you spend X number of dollars within a certain time. Remember 100,000 points is worth $1000.  Just make sure you are going to use those 100,000 points.
  7. If using your points to travel, go to the credit card’s travel center and purchase through them. You may get more “bang for your points” by using their travel agency vs going straight to the airlines, hotels, and rental car places. But always compare. 
  8. If you’re a member of Costco, don’t forget their travel center. It offers great deals. 
  9. And remember to always ask about a senior discount. I recently booked a hotel and the SENIOR DISCOUNT rate was actually $50 HIGHER than the website offer!  So be wise and beware. 
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fixed incomes and inflation
Senior Law & Money : Getting Your Affairs in Order

Fixed Income? Inflation? HELP!

Eggs cost what?!!  My electric bill is outrageous!  Doesn't anyone care that I’m on a fixed income?  And forget social INsecurity.  That’s left the train station…

Haven’t we all felt like this?

Perhaps our adult children are worried about us. They have their own expenses.  They want us to go out to dinner, move to a newer place, get that operation, but we are like, “Wait a minute, I can’t do those things because I don’t have the money.”

What do we do?

Each stage of retirement presents its own set of challenges and joys. For we seniors, retirement should be a time of relaxation, exploration, and spending cherished moments with loved ones. However, in today's economic climate, many of us find ourselves grappling with financial worries that overshadow these golden years. Rising expenses like groceries, gas, utilities, and dining out are stretching budgets thin, making it increasingly difficult for us to keep up with the cost of living. Meanwhile, the expectation to participate in family gatherings, attend events, and even purchase gifts for grandchildren adds another layer of pressure to an already strained situation.

The Financial Tightrope: Balancing Expenses and Family Expectations

We are facing a perfect storm of financial challenges, with the cost of essential goods and services steadily rising while fixed incomes remain stagnant. Groceries, once a routine expense, now require careful budgeting and comparison shopping to stretch every dollar. The same goes for gas, utilities, and other everyday necessities that have become increasingly expensive.

Yet, amidst these financial struggles, we often find ourselves torn between our desire to maintain family connections and the reality of our financial limitations. Our adult children may eagerly invite us to join them for outings, celebrations, and social gatherings, unaware of the financial strain it may cause. While we cherish these moments with our loved ones, the pressure to participate in activities we can no longer afford can weigh heavily on our minds.

The Dilemma of Gift-Giving and Social Obligations

Another source of stress for us is the expectation to participate in gift-giving occasions, particularly when it comes to our grandchildren. In years past, buying gifts for birthdays, holidays, and special occasions may have been a joyous tradition, but now it's a source of anxiety for many of us facing financial constraints. The desire to spoil our grandchildren clashes with the reality of limited resources, leaving us seniors feeling guilty or inadequate when we can't meet expectations.

Furthermore, we often find ourselves grappling with the dilemma of attending fundraising activities at our grandchildren's schools or community events. While we want to support them and be present for important milestones, the cost of tickets, donations, and other expenses associated with these events can strain already tight budgets. We may feel torn between their desire to participate and the financial burden it imposes, leading to feelings of guilt or isolation.

Breaking Down Limiting Beliefs and Overcoming Obstacles

These financial challenges may bring up several obstacles that make it difficult for us to address our concerns to our adult children:

  1. Fear of Burdening Family: Many of us hesitate to discuss our financial worries with our adult children for fear of burdening them or appearing incapable of managing our finances independently. This belief stems from a desire to maintain our sense of dignity and independence, but it can prevent us from seeking the support and understanding we need.
  2. Pride and Independence: We may struggle with feelings of pride and independence, leading us to resist accepting financial help or admitting when we need assistance. This belief can make it challenging for us to acknowledge our financial struggles openly and seek help from our loved ones.
  3. Sense of Obligation: We may feel a sense of obligation to attend family gatherings, events, and fundraising activities, even if we can't afford it. This belief stems from a desire to maintain family connections and fulfill societal expectations, but it can exacerbate financial stress and strain relationships with our adult children.

Finding Solutions and Navigating Financial Challenges Together

It's essential for us seniors to recognize that we are not alone in our financial struggles and that open communication with our adult children is key to finding solutions. Here are some strategies for navigating these challenges together:

  1. Honest Conversations: We should feel empowered to have honest and open conversations with our adult children about our financial concerns. By sharing our worries and limitations, we can enlist the support and understanding of our loved ones. Who knows? Our children might even start paying for us, instead of us paying for everything!
  2. Setting Boundaries: We should feel comfortable setting boundaries and expressing our financial limitations when it comes to participating in family activities and gift-giving occasions. Setting realistic expectations with adult children can alleviate pressure and reduce feelings of guilt or inadequacy. It's not uncommon for seniors to give money but it doesn't have to be a lot. 
  3. Exploring Alternatives: We can all work together to explore alternative ways to spend quality time together that don't require significant financial investment. Whether it's enjoying a picnic in the park, cooking a meal at home, or participating in free community events, there are plenty of ways to bond without breaking the bank.
  4. Seeking Financial Assistance: We can explore financial assistance programs, resources, and support services that may be available to us. Whether it's through government assistance, community organizations, or nonprofit agencies, there may be resources available to help alleviate financial burdens and provide relief. And always be asking, "Is there a senior discount?"

Embracing Support and Building Stronger Connections

Together, we can all find creative solutions, offer support, and build stronger connections that enrich our golden years of retirement. We just have to be honest and open with our families.

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Senior Law & Money : Getting Your Affairs in Order

3 Fraud Protection Tips You’ll Feel Confident About

What comes to mind when you think about fraud?

I know it strikes terror in my heart when I think of all the money, we have worked for all our lives could disappear in seconds. 

But in today's world, we work through the internet. As much as our companies try to keep up with hackers, they can continue to be ingenious when it comes to figuring out scams. 

AARP recently came out with an issue covering scams in 2024. While they go over which are the most recent ones, they are always changing so how can we protect ourselves and why don't we do a better job of doing it? 

We have all been cautious with our finances, but we are not immune to the concerns that many seniors face when it comes to fraud. We hear the stories of friends falling victim to scams or losing their life savings to fraudulent schemes.  

Why is this so? 

We seniors often have limited technology proficiency. Some of us have cognitive decline. Many of us trust authoritative figures. (I saw this over and over again in doctor’s offices. Hmmm.)  Some of us succumb to high-pressure tactics. Many of us do our best to check out the scams but they are so real we fall for them and find out later it was a scam.  

And then there’s this… 

  • “It won't happen to me.”
  • “I know better.”
  • “I trust my bank, mail, etc.”
  • “I don’t want to seem paranoid so I won’t ask for help.”
  • “I’m too embarrassed to ask for help.”
  • “This is all too time-consuming.”

Sound familiar?

I recently got an envelope in the mail from a place called loan Depot. I never heard of it before but I opened the envelope and it said that sensitive information had been hacked into and I had two or three years of protection through a “credit” company. 

My first thought was, "Oh goody, I get to sign up for free protection.”  but then my second thought was, “Wait a minute. If I'm going to give sensitive information to a “credit company” that's going to protect me, is this a scam?"

Since I had never heard of loan Depot before I called them by finding their number on the internet and not using the one on the letter that they had sent. In fact, I found it curious that this was a different number from the one on the letter. 

They said that they had bought a loan which I did not know anything about and assured me that they were reputable. I had to do quite a bit of digging to figure out if this was really truly a scam or not. 

A week later I got another letter in the mail stating that an institution I work with has been hacked and again I have two to three years of protection with a well-known credit agency if I want to click on the link and go right to their website and sign up. 

So how are we supposed to protect ourselves from this kind of scam or real events?

 I researched everything that was told to me and ended up making seven different phone calls from the original authorities and not from any of the links or websites or numbers in the letter. 

So here are three quick tips you can do to protect yourself from scams coming at you through phone calls emails text messages and post office mail. 

Anti-scam tip #1: Stay Informed: Stay up-to-date on common scams and fraud schemes targeting seniors by reading reliable sources of information such as government websites, consumer protection agencies, and trusted news sources. Awareness is the first line of defense against fraud. 

Anti-Scam tip #2: Verify Requests: Always verify the identity of individuals or organizations before providing personal or financial information. If someone contacts you asking for sensitive information or money, independently verify their identity by contacting the ORIGINAL company, organization, or person directly using trusted contact information.  

Anti-scam tip #3: Seek Help When in Doubt: Don't hesitate to seek help or advice from trusted family members, friends, or professionals if you're unsure about a financial opportunity or suspicious activity. It's better to ask for assistance than to risk falling victim to fraud. Check the internet for the latest scams by typing in what they are requesting and seeing if it pops up as a scam. Next, ask someone who works in technology to check it out.  

These three strategies will leave you feeling in control and safe. Does it take time? Yes. Is it a bother? Yes. But does it protect something so very valuable to you? Yes.  

And think of it this way…what would you do if we lost all our money?  After all, this IS what they are after.  

Since I started protecting myself and my assets against fraud, here are some benefits I have experienced. 

I maintain the integrity of my computer. I have peace of mind because everything is checked and rechecked. I work with honest people I find and know.

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How much do I need to retire?
Senior Law & Money : Getting Your Affairs in Order

How Much Do I Need to Retire?

Well, I really find it ironic that “America Saves Week” is the week before our taxes are due!

What’s up with that?

How can folks save when they're up against taxes?  Maybe “America Saves Week” should change its name to “America Start Saving” and put it the week after April 15th.

But seriously, how much do Americans really need?

According to Fidelity, aim to save at least 1x your salary by 30, 3x your salary by 40, 6x your salary by 50, 8x by 60, and then 10x by 67!

It’s a pretty good rule of thumb. And if you have that saved and invested, you will be in good shape. 

  • Truth: When you retire you will spend as you would your normal salary.  But when you get up into your 80s and 90s you will not spend as much. 
  • Truth:  Most seniors don’t want to spend because they want to leave something for their children. 
  • Truth: How much will seniors leave?  They will leave it all. 
  • Truth: Most seniors who have saved responsibly will not go hog-wild when they retire.
  • Truth: Between 1980 and 2020, the share of 25–35-year-olds who owned their home declined from 39.4 to just 15.5 percent. Among 35–45-year-olds, the share who owned their home dropped from 64.4 to 39.7 percent.
  • Truth: Senior citizens (65 and up) have the highest homeownership rate at 78.6 percent.
  • Truth: Just over 40 percent of homeowners older than 64 have a mortgage, a jump from roughly 25 percent a generation ago

Fidelity also has three rules of retirement they follow: 

1. 80% of your pre-retirement income

Over decades of helping people plan for retirement, the financial planning industry has figured out that most retirees can live on less than they earned during their working years. 

“Replacing 80% of your income means your lifestyle can essentially stay the same.  That’s because, once you retire, you’re no longer paying Medicare and Social Security taxes or making contributions to a 401(k) or IRA.

2. 10x your annual salary by 67

The financial-services firm Fidelity suggests that savers can target a much lower income replacement percentage than 80%. To maintain a lifestyle similar to the decade before retirement, a 45% income replacement target is sufficient.

3. The 4% rule

Retirees can safely withdraw 4% of their portfolio in the first year of retirement. If they adjust subsequent annual withdrawals for inflation, they should not run out of money in most market conditions. 

Should I pay off my mortgage?

Since more seniors are retiring with a mortgage, what's the answer.

Well, according to Forbes, it really depends…

[Say you have a 30-year mortgage of $200,000 with a fixed rate of 4.5%. Your monthly payments would be $1,013 (not including taxes and insurance), and you’d spend a total of $164,813 in interest over the life of the loan.

[NOTE: Check withy our advisor but as a rule of thumb…if the interest rates drop 2% or more than your current rate, consider refinancing. And be sure not to finance closing costs but pay those outright.]

Now let’s say that you’re able to come up with an extra $300 per month to put toward your mortgage. You’d shave off 11 years and one month from your repayment period, plus save $67,816 in interest.

On the other hand, you could take that $300 per month and invest it in an index fund that tracks the S&P 500 Index instead. Historically, the S&P 500 has returned an average of 10% to 11% annually since its inception in 1926 through 2018. If you want to be extra conservative, however, we can assume an average annual return of 8% on your investment.

At the end of 19 years (about the length of time it would take to pay your mortgage early), you would have $160,780. That’s more than double your potential interest savings. In fact, after that length of time, you’d have about $105,487 left on your mortgage. If you decided to pay your mortgage early after all, you could use your investment funds and still have $55,293 left over.]

Since most seniors live in their homes and not senior communities…

Here are some reasons why you may—or may not—want to consider paying off your mortgage early.

Pros

  • Interest savings: This is one of the biggest benefits of paying your loan off early. You could save thousands or tens of thousands of dollars in interest payments. When you pay your mortgage early, those interest savings are a guaranteed return on your investment.
  • Peace of mind: If you don’t like the idea of constant debt, paying your mortgage early could ease your burden. If you experience a financial emergency, having a home that’s already paid off means you don’t have to worry about missing mortgage payments and potentially losing the home to foreclosure. You still will be responsible for property taxes as long as you own the home, but that’s a much smaller financial responsibility.
  • Build equity: Paying down your mortgage faster means building equity in your home more quickly. This can help you qualify for refinancing, which can save you even more money in the long run. You may also be able to leverage your equity in the form of a home equity loan or home equity line of credit (HELOC), which you can use to make improvements that increase your home’s value or pay off other higher-interest debt.

Cons

  • Opportunity cost: Any extra money you spend on paying down your mortgage faster is money you aren’t able to use for other financial goals. You may be paying off your mortgage early at the expense of your retirement savings, emergency fund or other higher-return opportunities.
  • Wealth is tied up: Property is an illiquid asset, meaning you can’t convert it to cash quickly or easily. If you faced a financial emergency or had an investment opportunity you wanted to jump on, you’d not only have to sell your house, but also wait until a buyer was available and the sale closed.
  • Loss of some tax breaks: If you choose to pay down your mortgage instead of maxing out your tax-advantaged retirement accounts, you will give up those tax savings. Plus, you may lose out on tax deductions for mortgage interest if you normally itemize.

Pros and Cons of Investing

Investing your extra cash instead of paying off your mortgage early has some benefits and drawbacks. Here are the main ones to consider.

Pros

  • Higher returns: The biggest benefit of investing your money instead of using it to pay down your mortgage faster is the ROI. For many years, average stock market returns have been significantly higher than mortgage rates, which means you stand to gain quite a bit from the difference.
  • Liquid investment: Unlike a home that ties up your wealth, having your money in stocks, bonds, and other market investments means you can easily sell and access your money if you need to.
  • Employer match: If you choose to invest your extra funds in a retirement account and your employer offers a match, that’s additional free money that you get to enjoy compound earnings on over time. You’d also be investing pre-tax dollars, which could help you afford larger contributions.

Cons

  • Higher risk: There is more volatility in the stock market than in the housing market year over year, so you should be sure your investing timeline is long enough to weather ups and downs. You also need to make sure that your investment strategy matches your risk tolerance and that you’re mentally prepared to take some hits.
  • Increased debt: Choosing to invest your money may not be the best option if you don’t like the idea of having debt to your name. Until your mortgage is repaid, you don’t actually own your home—the bank does. And there will always be some risk that you could lose your home if you aren’t able to make the payments.

Or, you can decide to do a mixture of the two. There are many choices. 

But just like the beginning of this article, America Saves Week, be sure you have saved enough to live the life you want.  We know social security and medical bills are not something we can control or predict. 

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protect your wallet
Senior Law & Money : Getting Your Affairs in Order

Protect Your Wallet: 7 Common-Sense Stories for Seniors and Families

As we age, it's essential to safeguard our finances from potential threats, like our family, friends, strangers, and yes, now the internet!

We already know this, don’t we?

But the craziest hacks they have these days are catching all of us off guard. 

Things like, “We have a package to deliver and can’t find your address. Click here.” or “Your home title has been changed, click here.”

When we get unsolicited emails or texts now, we have to first check if there is fraud going on in the "Google World of Search" and then go straight to the source instead of clicking on the button in the email. 

Always delete and report junk if you have this option. 

Yes, financial management can sometimes be daunting. However, with the right knowledge and strategies in place, it's possible to protect assets and prevent financial pitfalls. Here are some tips for you seniors and you caregivers to safeguard finances and make informed decisions:

Stay Informed: Knowledge is power. Keeping up-to-date with the latest fraud schemes gives you a chance to avoid a hack. Caregivers? You need to know who is in charge of your parent's finances at all times. Just in case, there is an emergency, you need to have this information so you can talk with this person. And someone has to keep an eye on the balance!  I’ve lost count of how many people were robbed by family, professionals, and strangers.

Be Cautious of Unsolicited Offers: As I said above, be cautious of unsolicited phone calls, emails, or mail promising too-good-to-be-true deals or requesting personal information. Scammers often use these tactics to obtain sensitive financial information. Verify the legitimacy of any offers or requests by searching first for current frauds and then going directly to the source, like your own personal bank or store you bought from. 

Guard Personal Information: Never share sensitive information such as social security numbers, bank account details, or passwords with anyone unless they trust the recipient and have verified their identity. If someone asks me for personal information, I will tell them I’ll call back to the institution whose telephone number I have and ask about this. This way, I know I’m talking to the institution.

Monitor Accounts Regularly: This is a no-brainer. Everyone should be reconciling their accounts every month, including credit cards. I recently got a notice that one account had been hacked and personal information had been released. The account offered a 2-year protection service to monitor all my accounts free of charge. This is an offer you should look into. And be quick about it. The offers are usually good for only 1-2 months. 

Set up Alerts: Many financial institutions offer account monitoring services that allow us to set up alerts for unusual activity or transactions exceeding a certain amount. These alerts can provide an additional layer of security by notifying seniors and caregivers of potentially fraudulent activity in real time. Let’s face it…we will all be hacked at one time or another. Do you know the common phrase in boating? “If you have grounded a boat yet, you haven’t been boating long enough.”  Well, the same goes for internet information. Time will promise you this. 

Limit Access to Financial Accounts: In the Senior Freedom Club, we highly recommend all our members have TWO people monitor the accounts. This can be a trusted professional and another family member or TWO family members. But one must check and balance the other one. Again, lost count of how many seniors have left their money to one family member, and Poof! It’s gone!

Create a Will and Estate Plan: You have to have a will.  Again, the reality is…it costs more to die than to be born. So let’s pass the money to our loved ones instead of the government. If you want to give to a cause state that in a will. Probate courts are overloaded with cases and it can take years to get it all figured out. You don’t want to leave the headaches to others. See the Senior Freedom Club for the scams estate attorneys are now using to get more money out of the estate and into their own pockets. 

OK. I think I’ve made the point…implement and protect your finances and you won’t be sorry someday. It’s the life we live and the internet as well as our families are here to stay. 

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medical bills
Senior Law & Money : Getting Your Affairs in Order

9 Strategies for Resolving Incorrect Medical Bills

Let's tackle a topic that can be a real headache: wrong medical bills. It's frustrating and confusing when you receive a bill that doesn't seem right, but fear not! With a little know-how and persistence, you can navigate through this maze of medical billing errors. Let's dive in and empower ourselves to fix this before it puts us in a bad mood!

9 Steps to Realistic Medical Bills

Review Your Bills Carefully: The first step in correcting a wrong medical bill is to carefully review each line item. Look for any services or charges that seem unfamiliar or incorrect. Check the dates and the doctor. Mistakes happen due to coding errors or billing oversights. This happens over 95% of the time. 

Keep Detailed Records: As a caregiver or a senior managing your own finances, it's crucial to keep detailed records of all medical appointments, procedures, and services received. This documentation will serve as evidence when disputing incorrect charges. Take that notebook with you when you visit your doctor. Make sure all bills coincide with your notes. 

Understand Your Insurance Coverage: Familiarize yourself with your insurance coverage and benefits. If you are a member of the Senior Freedom Club, see your Guidebook dedicated to this very question. Understanding what services are covered and what you will pay for will help you identify billing errors more easily.

Contact the Billing Department: Start with your doctor’s billing department, not Medicare or Medicaid. If you spot a mistake on your medical bill, don't hesitate. It doesn't go away. Be prepared to provide specific details about the error and any supporting documentation you have. And you are not done. You MUST follow up in 3 weeks to see if this was corrected. 

Ask for an Itemized Bill: Request an itemized bill from your doctor’s office. An itemized bill breaks down the charges for each service or procedure your doctor gave you. Many times you will be charged for things that you never agreed on. For example, “Patient was surveyed for falls.” This means the medical assistant who roomed you asked you if you had fallen in the last three months. Did you agree to pay for this? 

Dispute the Charges in Writing: If the billing department doesn't resolve the issue to your satisfaction, consider disputing the charges in writing. Send a formal letter outlining the errors you've identified and requesting a correction. Keep copies of all correspondence for your records.

Now this gets tricky. 

One insurance company told me she is required to throw out your request three times before she will look at it. This way they hope you ignore the mistakes and just pay the bill. Be persistent. 

Follow Up Regularly: Don't be afraid to follow up regularly with the billing department if your dispute isn't resolved promptly within 3 weeks. Persistence is key when it comes to correcting billing errors. So put this on your calendar. 

Get Help if Needed: If you're having trouble resolving the issue on your own, consider enlisting the help of a healthcare billing advocate, like Mary Daniel

She specializes in navigating the complexities of medical billing and can assist you in disputing incorrect charges. If you are a member of the Senior Freedom Club, see the interview I did with Mary as she explains how she takes care of this mess for you. 

File an Appeal with Your Insurance Company: If the incorrect charges are related to insurance coverage, you have the right to file an appeal with your insurance company. Be sure to submit any relevant documentation to support your appeal. Expect to do this four times. 

Use Your Persistence and Resources

Remember, you're not alone in this journey. There are resources available to help you navigate through the process of correcting wrong medical bills. Stay informed, be proactive, and don't hesitate to advocate for yourself or your loved ones.

Together, we empower ourselves and our loved ones to navigate the healthcare system with confidence and clarity. We worked hard for our money and medical care. Let’s keep it. 

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Estate Planning
Senior Law & Money : Getting Your Affairs in Order

Essential Guide to Estate Planning for Seniors and Caregivers

As we journey through life, one inevitable certainty remains: the passing of time. With it comes the responsibility of ensuring that our affairs are in order, especially when it comes to matters as significant as estate planning and financial management. For seniors and their caregivers, these topics hold particular importance, as they involve not only securing one's legacy but also ensuring peace of mind for loved ones left behind.

For more information on the items you need please see your FREE Super-Ager’s Starter Guide. Get it here

Super Ager's starter guide

Estate Planning and Wills: Ensuring Your Legacy Lives On

Seniors, understandably, have concerns about the fate of their assets and belongings once they pass away. Crafting a will is not merely a legal formality; it's a testament to a lifetime of hard work and dedication. It's about ensuring that your wishes are carried out precisely as you envision them.

One crucial aspect often overlooked in estate planning is the necessity for clarity. Ambiguity in a will can lead to confusion and, in unfortunate cases, familial discord. To mitigate such risks, seniors are encouraged to take proactive steps in clearly outlining their beneficiaries and any specific instructions for their estate.

Gathering all beneficiaries together for a comprehensive discussion can be immensely beneficial. This not only provides clarity on who receives what but also fosters open communication among family members. Allowing beneficiaries to ask questions and seek clarification can prevent misunderstandings and conflicts down the line.

The role of the caregiver in this process is invaluable. Caregivers often serve as trusted confidants, offering support and assistance in navigating complex legal matters. By actively involving caregivers in the estate planning process, seniors can ensure that their wishes are accurately conveyed and executed.

Financial Management and Power of Attorney: Empowering Caregivers for Responsible Decision-Making

Caregivers shoulder the responsibility of not only providing physical and emotional support but also managing the financial affairs of their senior loved ones. This includes everything from paying bills to safeguarding against financial exploitation.

One essential tool in this realm is the power of attorney. Granting power of attorney to a trusted individual empowers them to make financial decisions on behalf of the senior, ensuring that their best interests are protected. However, obtaining power of attorney is not a decision to be taken lightly; it requires careful consideration and planning.

Seeking the guidance of an elder law attorney can be immensely beneficial for caregivers navigating the complexities of financial management. Importantly, caregivers should be aware that they can consult with an attorney even without the senior's explicit permission. This proactive approach not only safeguards the senior's interests but also equips caregivers with the necessary knowledge and resources to make informed decisions.

An elder law attorney serves as a valuable ally for caregivers, offering legal expertise and guidance in navigating financial matters. From drafting legal documents to providing ongoing support, an attorney can help caregivers navigate potential conflicts and ensure transparency in financial dealings.

Moreover, having an attorney involved can be instrumental in resolving family conflicts that may arise. Their objective perspective and commitment to transparency can help diffuse tensions and facilitate constructive dialogue among family members.

In Conclusion: Navigating the Complexities of Estate Planning and Financial Management

Estate planning and financial management are vital components of preparing for the future, ensuring that one's legacy is preserved and their wishes are honored. For seniors and caregivers alike, proactive planning and seeking expert guidance are essential steps in navigating these complexities.

By fostering open communication, seeking legal counsel, and taking proactive steps to address potential conflicts, seniors and caregivers can pave the way for a smoother transition and ensure peace of mind for themselves and their loved ones. Remember, the journey towards securing your legacy begins with thoughtful planning and proactive decision-making.

For Seniors

Seniors are concerned about ensuring their assets are distributed according to their wishes after they pass away. They worry about creating a will that clearly outlines their beneficiaries and any specific instructions for their estate. Seniors should be sure this is clearly laid out so there is no family conflict later on. The best way to do this is to bring all beneficiaries together to explain who gets what and then allow them to ask questions and clarify our thinking. 

For Family Caregivers

Caregivers: Financial Management and Power of Attorney: Caregivers often assist with managing their senior loved one's finances. They worry about obtaining power of attorney to handle financial matters legally and responsibly, including paying bills, managing investments, and protecting against financial exploitation. Caregivers should know that they can seek the advice of an elder law attorney at any time, with or without their senior's permission.  This not only protects them but prepares them for the right questions to ask later. This also allows the caregiver to have someone to turn to when family conflicts arise.  This attorney can keep things transparent for all to see and remains objective throughout the emotional turmoil. 

Next Steps

Joining the Senior Freedom Club ensures both family caregivers and seniors a clear and open communication about the legal and financial matters of senior responsibility.  Learn how to talk with one another and what documents you both need to save thousands down the road. 

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Senior Law & Money : Getting Your Affairs in Order

Estate Planning Unveiled: Navigating Probate Nightmares

No one wants to talk about estate planning but no one wants to leave their loved ones a nightmare either. To understand all the jargon, we turn to the American Bar Association

If you want to put your estate planning on hold for this year, here are four significant problems families may face when settling your estate:

Probate Process Delays

The probate process, which validates a will and distributes assets, can be time-consuming. Delays may occur due to legal requirements, court schedules, and potential disputes among beneficiaries. These delays can create frustration and financial strain for the heirs. As the probate process drags on so do the legal fees go up. 

Every state has different rules but it is best to get with an elder law attorney who knows the rules and can decide what’s best for you. 

Most seniors will put their assets in a trust.  This avoids probate and those horrible costs. Also, life insurance, IRAs, and pension plans can bypass probate if you have named a beneficiary who receives the asset upon your death. 

You can also transfer your bank accounts on death.  Most banks will allow you to do this. It’s important so that you leave the executor with funds to pay for your burial, taxes, and any other fees.  On average, every executor should have $10,000 ready to spend within a month of your death regardless of how well you plan. 

Family Disputes and Inheritance Conflicts

Inheritance can lead to family disputes, especially if there are disagreements over the distribution of assets. Sibling rivalries, differing interpretations of the will, or unclear instructions can escalate tensions, causing emotional strain and potential legal battles.

Disputes over who gets what, interpreting the will differently, and sibling showdowns can turn the whole affair into a soap opera, creating tension and potential legal showdowns. Then everybody gets a lawyer and soon well, nothing is left. 

When I went over my assets with my kids, I was as proud as a peacock.  I thought I had everything all set.  Well, little did I know they had 49 questions they wanted me to answer.  I never thought of this stuff and I had to go back to the drawing board. Tough group of kids I raised!

Tax Liabilities and Financial Complexities

Estate taxes, income taxes, and other financial obligations can significantly impact the value of the estate. Families face challenges in understanding and managing tax liabilities, which can lead to financial burdens and complications in asset distribution.

Do not make the mistake of stating your residency in a state you are no longer a resident.  Many super seniors move to Florida and change their residency to Florida.  When the northern states find out there has been a death of one of their residents, they might want a piece of the estate.  Make sure you let your loved ones know never to fill out a death certificate without your elder law attorney. Changing a residency on this legal document can take months and thousands of dollars. 

Managing and Selling Estate Assets

Selling off estate assets can be a real challenge. From deciding fair prices to finding buyers, it's like managing a huge garage sale, but with more emotional baggage. Getting through the process of liquidating property or belongings can be time-consuming and emotionally draining.

Not all family members are going to agree on who needs or gets what.  When I stated that my car could go to whoever needed it the most, my kids went nuts, “Not OK!”, they said.  You have to designate who gets it.  If they do not want it, so we buy it from them. I was shocked. 

This just goes to show us super seniors that we need to get this right. We don’t get a second chance so let’s make it easy on our families. 

Be sure to pick up this list in the Super-Ager's Starter Guide, page 22 on the legal documents you should make now and put in a folder.  Every year, just update it and let it be. 

Less worry, more time for lovin’!

Super Ager's starter guide
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