health care

Medicare vs. Medicaid

Medicare vs. Medicaid

I am a lawyer, not a healthcare professional.

I mean, I did alright in chemistry, but I also don’t know my own blood type. So I am usually not the best person to ask about health-related issues. Nevertheless, I get the same question about once a week:

“What’s the difference between Medicare and Medicaid?”

Healthcare is confusing even under ordinary circumstances. But navigating federal programs like Medicare and Medicaid can feel overwhelming. Surprisingly, though, estate planning and other legal techniques can help with the process. (I will discuss some of those techniques in a forthcoming article.)

For now, however, let’s answer the question posed above and begin with a brief rundown of the differences between these two programs.

What is Medicare?

Medicare is a health insurance program administered by the federal government through the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). It primarily serves people over 65, regardless of income, but it is also available to younger individuals with certain disabilities or illnesses.

What's the Difference Between a Will and a Living Will?

What's the Difference Between a Will and a Living Will?

Estate planning can get confusing. We attorneys use crazy words like testator, corpus, inter vivos, and per stirpes. That's right: some of our terms are so weird, we have to italicize them.

Things get even more confusing when one estate planning term sounds just like another. So it's not surprising whenever our clients ask whether a Last Will and Testament and a Living Will are the same thing (or are at least similar).

The short answer: They are not the same thing. Not even close.

Before we dive in to the distinctions, here is a summary of what we will cover in this post:

You can click the links above to skip to that particular section, or just scroll down the page a bit. It's not a long article.

What is an Advance Directive for Health Care?

What is an Advance Directive for Health Care?

Estate planning is meant to give you peace of mind. Knowing your assets will go to the proper people is important. But equally (if not more) important is knowing that the proper people will be able to take care of you when you cannot do so yourself. Therefore, one of the most indispensable parts of your estate plan is the Advance Directive for Health Care.

We have previously written about advance directives in greater detail, but, to summarize, the document is made up of three parts: (1) a living will, (2) health care proxy appointment, and (3) anatomical gifts.

What is a Power of Attorney?

What is a Power of Attorney?

Kanye West once said that no one man should have all that power. Fortunately for 'Ye, one man doesn't have to have all that power if he has an essential estate planning document called a Durable Power* of Attorney. (*This was most likely the "power" Kanye was referring to in his hit song, "Power".)

What does a power of attorney do?

Generally speaking, a power of attorney gives someone (your "attorney-in-fact") the ability to act for you in financial and/or medical situations. In other words, one man doesn't have to have all that power — he can share it with someone else. This authority can be limited in scope, e.g., a single real estate transaction; or it can be broad, e.g., any and all healthcare and financial decisions.