There's never a shortage of "financial
advisors" willing to fleece seniors. That's heinous enough. What gets
my blood boiling even faster is when veterans and their surviving
spouses are targeted. Our veterans protected us, and now they need our
protection. And since the best protection against these scams is
information, here's the lowdown:
So-called Veterans Benefits
Experts advertise in newspapers, often offering free seminars or
no-charge meetings with veterans and surviving spouses. They represent
companies whose names are loaded with patriotic buzzwords. They often
distribute slick brochures adorned with patritoc images.
They tell a veteran that if his
assets exceed the level necessary to obtain Aid and Attendance benefits,
the veterans should just plow those excess benefits into an annuity.
Since the Department of Veterans Affairs does not look back at asset
transfers, the annuity will allow an otherise qualified veteran or widow
to achieve instant eligibility for benefits to help cover the cost of
home care, assisted living or a nursing home.
Of course, there is a catch. Two, actually.
First, tying up money in an
annuity is almost never a good idea for an elderly person. If it's ever
needed, you'll face huge penalties when you try to withdraw your money.
Second, people need more
intensive help as they age, not less. So if you're a veteran or
surviving spouse in need of Aid and Attendance benefits, somewhere
down the line you may want to apply for Medicaid benefits for long-term
care to help you with your more extensive needs. In Florida, if the
veteran or anyone purchases an annuity and then has to apply for
Medicaid for long-term care, the state of Florida MUST be designated as a
beneficiary of that annuity for Medicaid expenses. That's the part that
the annuity salesman won't tell you, or if we want to give the benefit
of the doubt, perhaps just doesn't know about. One thing the salesman
surely does know about is this: Selling you a "Veterans annuity" will
provide him with a handsome commission. And now you know it, too.
If you are a veteran or a veteran's surviving spouse and need help, DO
NOT purchase an annuity without consulting with a Florida Bar Certified
Elder Law Attorney who is also accredited by the V.A. to give benefits
advice. Your attorney will help you fully understand the pros and the
cons and explain alternatives to buying an annuity. All the attorneys
of The Karp Law Firm are V.A. accredited.
Attorney Joseph S. Karp is a
Florida Bar Certified and Nationally Certified Elder Law Attorney focusing on
Elder Law, Probate, Estate Planning, Asset Protection, Special Needs Planning
and Estate Litigation. He is AV rated by Martindale Hubbell. Mr. Karp is the
founder of The Karp Law Firm, a South Florida law firm with offices in Palm
Beach Gardens, Boynton Beach and St. Lucie, Florida. Mr. Karp was named a
2011 SuperLawyer by SuperLawyer Magazine and a member of the 2011
Florida Legal Elite by Florida Trend Magazine. He is admitted to
practice law in New York as well as Florida. Visit Mr. Karp's Florida Elder Law and Estate Planning
. . . .
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