LUCKY NUMBER THIRTEEN

Like the black cat purring at your feet, or the ladder you mistakenly wander under, the number 13 makes people a little nervous. With the new year, many people are speculating what changes the law will bring and what it will mean for them. We would like to share some good news and give you a glimpse at a few positive changes that 2013 will bring.

Changes with Medicare

One of the best changes 2013 brings concerns Medicare. Medicare not only covers hospital stays but also will cover up to 100 days of skilled care and therapy services. Traditionally in order to have Medicare cover these services, a patient would have to show a likelihood of medical or functional improvement. If someone stopped showing improvement, Medicare would stop paying even if the patient would experience significant decline without the services. Up until now, there has been no law on the issue, but this was widely accepted as the general practice.

A recent court case has ended this practice. Now, under the new Medicare coverage rules, Medicare will pay for such services if they are needed to “maintain the patient’s current condition or prevent or slow further deterioration,” regardless of whether the patient’s condition is expected to improve. This will be a real benefit to people who suffer from chronic conditions.

Changes with Gift and Estate Taxes

Ohio will completely do away with the Ohio estate tax in 2013. This means when someone passes away in Ohio, no matter how large the estate is, there will be no state taxes due! As with all tax laws, legislatures may change this law in the future, but as of right now this tax rule has no sunset date.
The federal estate tax laws, which were due to sunset, will not see much change. Rather than dropping to $1 million, the exemption will remain at $5.12 million per person and rise each year with inflation. This means that a married couple can potentially leave an estate worth up to $10.24 million tax free. For those very large estates that have assets over the exemption, the taxation rate will rise to 40% from the previous 35%.

The gift tax exemption will rise! Under the 2012 federal law, you could give up to $13,000 to any individual each year without having to file a gift-tax return and having it impact your lifetime gift exemption. In 2013 this number increases from $13,000 to $14,000! This means that each year you may give up to $14,000 to as many individuals as you wish, tax-free. For married couples, you and your spouse together can give up to $28,000 per year.

Changes with Williger Legal Group

2013 will bring changes to our law firm as well. Many clients, who have trouble taking time off work during the day, have expressed a desire for evening hours, and we have listened! On Tuesday evenings from 6-8, Kyla will be at the office to help clients with their Estate Planning and Estate Administration needs. As always 2013 will find us looking forward, so we may continue to provide high quality up to date legal advice for all of our clients.
We hope the New Year brings you all health, wealth and happiness.

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