Choosing the Right Assisted Living or Independent Living Facility

Choosing the Right Assisted Living or Independent Living Facility

We offer a free-of-charge facility placement service to assure that your loved one can feel comfortable in a new environment. By utilizing Utah Senior Planning's years of experience in the field of long-term care, you can be assured that you have made the right decision. We know the places we would trust with our own families -- and the ones we wouldn't. 

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Caregiving in Utah and 6 Tips to Help

Linda is exhausted. She wakes up at 5:45 every morning and drives 35 minutes to her 83-year-old mother's home. Evelyn, Linda's mother, struggles with a host of health issues, namely dementia and osteoporosis. Linda assists mom with showering and getting ready for the day, cleaning the house, fixing breakfast, and aids in medication management

By 8:00 it is time for Linda to commute to work. Her co-workers are wholly unaware that their fellow employee has an additional full-time job outside of the office. At the end of the day Linda travels back to her mother's house to fix dinner and prepare her for bed. Afterward, Linda is finally able to return home to her husband and three children, knowing that once morning comes and the alarm clock chimes again, she will do it all over again. 

Linda's work is one of love and compassion. But even tasks done under the most honorable of motivations can be physically taxing, emotionally draining, and mentally exhausting.  

Family caregiving is growing more commonplace as baby boomers age and combine work in the paid labor force with unpaid work as caregivers. Utah is among the top four states in the country with a population growth of people age 80-plus. Unfortunately, Utah ranks in the bottom fifth of all states in legal and system supports for family caregiving. Utah is also third-to-last in the percentage of family caregivers without excessive worry or stress and enough time to rest. 

Advances in medicine and nutrition coupled with increases in standard of living have been a boon to longer life expectancy. Caregivers have a vital role to play in aiding the elderly community. Here are some tips to assist caregivers in their task ahead: 

1. Put Your Physical Needs First 

Caregivers often put so much emphasis on caring for others that they forget to care for themselves. Don't forget the basics: eat healthy, sleep well, exercise, and schedule medical checkups as necessary. You can't be much help if you are in need of care yourself.

2. Find Time to Relax

Doing something you enjoy, such as reading, walking, or listening to music can recharge your batteries.  

3. Get Organized

Simple tools like calendars and to-do-lists can help you prioritize your responsibilities.  

4. Just Say No

Accept the fact that you simply can't do everything and resist the urge to take on additional activities, projects, or financial obligations.

5. Stay Positive

Instead of dwelling on what you can't do, or the toughness of the situation, focus on the reward you receive from caring for someone that you love. 

6. Call on Community Resources

Home health aides, homemakers, home repair services, and volunteers from civic or religious organizations can shoulder some of the many responsibilities on your plate. 

All caregiving should know that they are not alone and there is always a solution for whatever caregiving dilemma they face. It is a grand and meaningful service you are providing. Don't forgot how great you are for stepping up and being willing to serve another!




Dying Without a Will: How Prince Can Help Us Get Our Estate in Order

On April 21, 2016 acclaimed musician Prince passed away in Chanhassen, Minnesota. His eclectic and flamboyant style moved a generation of music-lovers and many around the world mourned his death. Prince sold over 60 million records during his forty-year musical career. It is reported that the deceased songwriter’s net worth exceeds $250 million. 

Unfortunately, Prince did not have a will, trust, or any other estate planning documents prior to his death.

What happens now? (if Prince lived in Utah, of course)

If Prince died in Utah without a will or trust, he dies “intestate,” meaning that his individual property will go to his closest relatives in a manner directed by Utah law. Who gets what or how much depends on whether the deceased individual has living children, parents, siblings, or other relatives. Prince was divorced and did not have any surviving children or parents. This means his estate would pass to his sister and his half-siblings in equal shares – with an individual share being worth as much as $50 million dollars.

In the end, because Prince did not effectuate an estate plan during his lifetime, Prince did not get to choose how his property would be disbursed upon his death. He ceded that decision to an emotionless state statute that could never know whether Prince knew or even had a good relationship with his sister or half-siblings. 

There is a better way. 

A properly structured estate plan can save thousands of dollars in court costs, months in wait time, and provide you and your family with the roadmap to the future. Each individual and family is different and so every estate plan must be specific to the goals, challenges, and desires of the people who will be affected by it. 

Contact us today and we can help you get your estate in order.

*While this blog post was written by an attorney, the content is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney-client relationship and is not intended to be an avenue for legal advice*

Major Changes in VA Benefit Policy

Earlier this year the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) introduced proposed regulations relating to the Aid and Attendance program. These proposed regulations are a substantial modification to current VA policy and the consequences will be far-reaching, placing additional barriers between wartime veterans and the benefits they have earned. 

The proposed VA regulations are designed to bring the Aid and Attendance program more in line with current policy and regulations relating to Medicaid. The regulations propose a 3-year look-back, the imposition of a penalty period of up to 10 years for sanctioned transfers, the creation of bright-line net worth standard for income and assets, the denial of expenses accrued at an independent living facility, and a prohibition on a veteran holding property exceeding two acres.


The Aid and Attendance program is a needs-based benefits program offered to veterans who require the assistance of another person in order to perform activities of daily living. In order to qualify a veteran must require the support mentioned above, have served 90 days or more of active military service with at least one day during a wartime period, and must have received a military discharge other than dishonorable.  

The Aid and Attendance Program is designed to assist veterans and survivors in helping offset unreimbursed medical expenses. Aid and Attendance is also means-based, meaning that each qualifying veteran must meet certain income and asset restrictions in order to qualify for the dispersal of the full award amount. To qualify, the veteran must meet both income and asset inquiries.

Under current VA regulations, a veteran’s qualified medical expenses are subtracted from the veteran’s monthly income. This figure was then subtracted from the maximum monthly benefit to provide the veteran with his or her Aid and Attendance Award. If a veterans qualified medical expenses were more than his or her income, then the Veteran would qualify for the full Aid and Attendance Award.


VA regulations relating to the Aid and Attendance program do not currently have a bona fide asset limit. Most practitioners are hesitant to apply for Aid and Attendance benefits if the veteran has assets above $30,000, but because the VA did not draw a line in the side in terms of an asset limit, some applications were approved with substantially more than the $30,000. 

Summary of Proposed Changes in VA Policy


VA does not currently have a look-back period in connection with asset transfer. A 'look-back' period is the time in which a governmental agency like the VA can investigate transfers of assets in determining your eligibility for benefits. The longer the look-back, the more onerous the application process. The VA proposes to implement a look-back period of three years. Absent clear and convincing evidence, VA presumes that asset transfers made during the look-back period were made to establish VA entitlement.


In connection with the assessment of a 3-year look-back, the VA would impose a penalty period for transfers in violation of the look-back. The penalty period would be calculated based on the total assets transferred during the look-back period to the extent they would have made net worth excessive of the asset limit. The penalty period would begin the first day of the month that follows the last asset transfer.


VA does not currently have a bona fide net worth limit. The proposed VA regulations implement the same maximum community spouse resource allowance figure utilized in Medicaid rules. This figure, $119,220 in 2015 and adjusted for inflation every year, is the “net worth” of the veteran and provides the maximum allowable dollar amount a veteran is able to maintain while still being eligible for the Aid and Attendance benefit. A claimant’s net worth will be determined by adding annual income to his or her non-excludable assets.


VA does not currently have a restriction on the amount of acreage a claimant may exclude from asset calculation. The proposed VA regulation still allows a veteran to exclude his or her primary residence from net worth, but imposes a restriction upon acreage surrounding the residence. A veteran may only exclude a “reasonable amount of land.” The rest is subject to be calculated under the new Net Worth Standard.


Major changes are afoot in the realm of Veterans Affairs Aid and Assistance benefits. The proposed VA regulations were instrumented after repeated failed attempts by the United States Congress to enact similar legislation. Because the VA itself is the genesis of these proposed rule changes, it is more likely than not that they will result in valid administrative law by the end of the calendar year. It is incumbent on all those associated with the application of VA benefits to become aware of such revisions. And for veterans to move quickly in applying for benefits before the landscape changes drastically. 

*While this blog post was written by an attorney, the content is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney-client relationship and is not intended to be an avenue for legal advice*

Frequently Asked Questions Added to Website

Our goal at Utah Senior Planning is to provide informed answers to some of life's most challenging conundrums. No, we are not in the business of spiritual healing, as fun as that might sound. We tackle the realities of estate planning with a focus on issues relating to long-term health care, providing our clients with cutting-edge strategies to accomplish the tasks before them.

What does that mean? 

Utah Senior Planning provides counsel relating to benefit programs such as Medicaid and VA, while assisting clients with insurance, financial, legal, and health care planning. We pride ourselves on being informed and delivering our clients the best outcome for their given situation. With that in mind, we want to extend our interaction with the community.

We are happy to introduce a 'Frequently Asked Questions' section to our website. We hope to catalogue entries designed to answer basic questions relating to retirement, estate, and heath care planning. We will answer questions such as what is the difference between Medicaid and Medicare? Can I receive VA benefits for in-home care? How can I protect my savings from the potentially catastrophic health emergencies? How does one find the right type of long-term care facility? How much will it cost? Are there programs that I qualify for that can help me pay for it? 

All this and more! Check back often as we foresee updating this section often. 

Helping Your Loved One Find the Right Assisted Living Facility -- for Free

How can we transition those we love to a facility that will take care of them the way we would take care of them if we were able to do the work ourselves? Where do we begin? How can we be sure that Mom or Dad or both are taken care of?  What is the difference between an Assisted Living and a Skilled Nursing facility? How do we discuss these subjects with Dad while respecting his autonomy? 

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