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Tips for happier senior living

Look at your Will. If there have been any changes in finances, health, employment, marital status, a gain or loss of family members or changes in your wishes, have it revised.

Do you have Health Care Directives? If several years old, have them reviewed as changes in the law have occurred. If not, consider getting them drafted now.

Look at your financial power of attorney? Is it durable? Will it carry out all of your wishes? If signed more than two years ago, have it reviewed and revised.

Do you spend time in two states? Do you own real property in another state? Is this a second marriage for you or your spouse? Do you need to provide for disabled children or grand children? If so, special consideration should be taken with all of your planning documents to ensure your objectives are met.

Look at your Medicare card - make sure you have coverage for both Part A (Hospital) & Part B (Services).

If tempted to switch to an HMO Medicare plan (don't) but if you do, do not drop your supplemental insurance until you have used the plan on several occasions. Should you be dissatisfied with the HMO and disenroll you may not be able to obtain supplemental insurance again due to pre-existing conditions.

If you have a family member of retirement age that is disabled or has health problems, consider getting a medical/legal/financial check up now. A little bit of planning now can save a lot of heart ache, frustration and money later.

If you are providing care to an aging parent or relative, they may be able to compensate you for the care you have provided without effecting their Medicaid eligibility.

Find out now what your benefits from Social Security will be by calling 1-800-772-1213 and asking for a "Request for Earnings and Benefit Estimate" form.

Not all professionals are familiar with the intricacies of medical, estate and financial planning for families. These areas involve complex and often competing federal and state rules and regulations. Make sure your advisor is knowledgeable in most, if not all aspects of health care and entitlement programs including Medicaid, Medicare, services and housing options for seniors, long term care options, nursing home law, pertinent tax law and financial planning. This particular area of law is complicated and often has results that are unintended. An expert in the area will tell you what to expect and will help you create a plan to achieve your objectives.

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