By Diane Weinberg

The world of Elder Law is fluid; I always describe the practice as working with “shifting sand.”  With that in mind, we already have updates to two of our recent blog posts:

1)    “Medicaid Moved the Cheese,” posted on July 8, 2014.  Well, Medicaid didn’t actually move the cheese.  Medicaid planned to move the cheese, and the federal government got in the way.  As you may remember, on July 1, 2014, Georgia was supposed to shift from an “income cap” state to a “spend down” state for purposes of qualifying for Nursing Home Medicaid.  Under the income cap rules, an individual must earn less than $2,163 a month to qualify for Nursing Home Medicaid.  Under the spend down rules, an individual’s income is offset by the cost of the nursing home care and other medical bills to determine whether he is eligible.  This change was mandated a Georgia law that passed during the last legislative session.

Changes to the Medicaid rules must be approved by a federal agency, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).  In the past, Georgia has implemented these rules, and CMS has been able to approve the rules retroactively.  Between the time that the new law was passed and July 1, CMS implemented a new policy – it would only approve changes prospectively.  In other words, Georgia is not allowed to implement this change to a spend down state until CMS approves it.  We will keep you posted as we learn more about the transition to a spend down state.

2)    When will Casey Kasem RIP?  Casey may have passed in June, but the battle over his destiny continues.  After Casey died, his wife, Jean Kasem, moved his body to Canada.  She also received permission from Norwegian officials to bury his body in Norway based on his apparent Norwegian ancestry.  According to his children, Casey wanted to be buried in a cemetery in Glendale, California.  As I draft this blog, the current location of his body, now 2 months post-mortem, is unknown.

You may remember that there was similar family conflict surrounding Nelson Mandela’s burial.  Mandela was still alive and in the hospital when his family began fighting about where he was to be buried.

The lesson learned from these situations is to plan what you want done with your final remains and to write down your wishes.  You may even want to purchase a funeral plot, a pre-need funeral contract, or a cremation contract, especially in situations of family conflict.  These purchases are certainly an investment in your future (as you will need them at some point), and they clearly express your desires.   For those interested in pre-need planning, we are happy to provide a trusted referral.

Remember, Life Changes; Plan for It.

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