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Money Makeover

The Kenyons' Payoff

When Your Spouse Gets Sick

Certified financial planner Ben Jennings has given Linda and Lloyd Kenyon a Money Makeover plan. Will they sell their house? Reallocate their investments? Bookmark this site to follow their story.

Feb. 27, 2009

Jennings’s plan has given Linda more confidence that she can indeed make the move to Salem, and she is considering hiring a contractor to finish the home renovation. She’s less certain about sacrificing price on her rental home to sell it quickly. “I need that money,” she argues. She agrees her investment portfolio is too heavy with stock and will begin reallocation by selling the company stock.

March 9, 2009

VA doctors have reduced Lloyd’s medications to make him less lethargic. Linda reports this has made him more difficult to handle: “He argues with me about everything,” she says. Nonetheless, she is determined to keep him at home for at least another year, ideally until after they complete the move to Salem.

March 12, 2009

Linda took a step toward securing a durable power-of-attorney (POA) for Lloyd: she dug up some blank POA forms she bought a few years earlier at a stationery store. The document will authorize her to be Lloyd's surrogate for most legal decisions once his signature is witnessed and notarized. Lloyd's dementia makes this task both a pressing issue and a delicate one. As long as Linda informs the notary of Lloyd's condition and picks a day when Lloyd's symptoms have abated enough to satisfy the notary that Lloyd knows what he is signing, Linda says that the POA will be legal in Oregon. She should know. Her background in title insurance makes her an old hand at authenticating documents. Says Linda, "I'll just have to wait until Lloyd's having a good day."

March 19, 2009

Linda looked into enrolling Lloyd in Medicare Part B, as Ben Jennings had suggested. Part B covers outpatient care and physicians' services. She was dismayed to learn that Lloyd had signed up for Part B seven or eight years ago (he was eligible because of his Social Security disability status) and later canceled, probably because he was getting free care as a veteran. To re-enroll him now, the Kenyons would have to pay an additional 10 percent on their premium for each year Lloyd was eligible for Part B but didn't pay in. This "drop-out" penalty would bring the monthly bill to $187.52. Jennings, when he heard about this new wrinkle, still thought getting Part B sooner than later would be a worthwhile precaution in case federal funding levels drop for veterans like Lloyd. While considering what to do, Linda came down with a terrible cold. "That's a lot of extra money every month," she says, "my head isn't clear enough to decide right now."

March 26, 2009

Linda has almost fully recovered from her cold—"I finally have my voice back," she says—and she's sent off the enrollment card for Lloyd's Medicare Part B coverage in plenty of time to beat a March 31 deadline. She worries about adding more than $2,000 in premium costs to the couple's annual expenses but says she's glad to have the extra layer of coverage in case regulations change, as they sometimes do, and Lloyd is no longer eligible for physician and outpatient services through the VA. "I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this will work out for us financially. I think it will."

This week Linda got all the necessary information on the couple's finances in 2008 to their tax preparer, but she doesn't yet know how much, if anything, they may owe. "I didn't pay quarterly taxes last year, so I will owe something," she figures. "Bob [the preparer] is going to get me set up to pay them regularly from now on."

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