New York Medicaid Lookback Period

The New York State Medicaid Lookback Period is one of the most obvious examples of how failing to plan can really hurt a family. More and more, people find themselves and their family members struggling to pay for the costs of long term care.  Sadly, nursing home costs are so high that after a while even the most seemingly “well off” families can find themselves turning to Medicaid to cover the cost of care. The two most frequent problems I’ve seen as a funeral director are this: the family doesn’t understand that, when determining eligibility, New York employs a five year look back period for your assets.  Many people confuse IRS gifting laws with New York Medicaid Lookback Period Laws.  The IRS may allow you to gift away money without penalty, but those gifts are counted against you if they are made during the five year Medicaid lookback. Even more heartbreaking, I see families fail to take funeral expenses into account when doing their “spend down” to become Medicaid eligible. It’s a scenario that plays itself out, over and over again throughout the state.  A parent dies in a nursing home after having exhausted all of their  assets, and instead of getting an inheritance, the children find themselves reaching into their own pockets to cover the cost of funeral and burial expenses. There’s a great article which details how the New York Medicaid Lookback Period affects the estate planning process. No one wants to, but it’s important to have difficult conversations with those you love, long before the need arises. Make sure those conversations include clear statements about what your...

Funeral Industry Advertising Still Gets a D

The more things change, the more they stay the same, don’t they?  Well, it’s true in the funeral industry, that’s for sure. In 2007 I wrote a guest blog for Tim at Final Embrace about how terrible funeral home advertising is. Very little has changed- there are still too many funeral homes which lack websites, have no social media presence, and rely on the yellow pages for people to find them. These are likely the same funeral directors who will argue that the most valuable funeral is a traditional service followed by a burial, and rigidly rail against the rising cremation rate and its impact on the bottom line. How’s that working out for you? Are your margins still decreasing? What’s your call volume like? We all know that funeral directors aren’t known to be early adopters of anything. However, it’s time to smell the spider mums before your competitor does. Research shows that when people are dissatisfied with a service or experience, they will tell 15 other people about it, but if they have a compliment they will tell only 3: and that’s when a situation isn’t emotionally-charged like a funeral.  That’s not to mention how frequently grieving families have a captive audience of friends and family around them, meaning their complaints and praise have a very broad range. Does complaining about the rain keep you from getting wet? So how will clinging to the past help you attract today’s savvy consumer? If you want to capitalize on every dollar they’re willing to spend, you have to be flexible and creative, or they’ll spend that dollar at your...