As a financial advisor, Charles Marsala, candidate for Louisiana U.S. Senate, wrote a weekly advice column, which has since been approved by compliance for publication into a book: 6 Steps to Financial Legacy. The topics progress as one ages through life with chapters on Financial Scams, Insurance, Government Pension and Health Programs, and Transferring Assets. Recently, the Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings on Protecting Older Americans from Financial Exploitation, and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) stated that financial elder abuse totals as much as $36 billion per year and impact 37% of all seniors.

Marsala, a Louisiana native, coined the phrase “Bourré Investment” after a Cajun card game in which players have to match the ante pot and are subject to losses beyond their expectations. As Senator, Charles will make addressing financial exploitation a priority. He remarked that the television commercials advertising gold are targeting seniors, and the ads alarm him. A senior may think he/she is buying gold bullion, but in fact is buying gold coins at highly inflated rates. There exists no protection for seniors who fall victim to these scams, and such activity is excluded from most security laws.

The Bernie Madoff and Allen Stanford Ponzi scheme scandals showed Marsala that current laws do not provide adequate protection to those scammed, nor do they recognize the life-altering impact on the victims and their families. People who lose their life savings have been known to face years of depression or even commit suicide.

Protecting senior savings by excluding assets from Medicaid qualifications

Another initiative of Marsala is easing and increasing exclusions for Medicaid qualifications. He has noticed that many baby boomers have led frugal lives, building up savings to act as a legacy to their children or to a nonprofit. However, after nursing home care, the surviving spouse and/or children could be faced with the possibility that Medicaid files a claim against the house. Other options could force liquidation of a 401K at high tax rates in order to cover uninsured long-term care needs.

Complicated rules can allow the transfer or exclusion of assets from Medicaid claims. However, high legal fees are incurred in order to set up Miller Trusts for 401Ks or to qualify homes to be transferred. For instance, Marsala noted, a senior with a $300,000 home and $200,000 in cash savings might be able to transfer the home to a sibling or child in return for a period of care, but not the cash. Yet Medicaid might allow someone with a $500,000 home and no cash to transfer the entire estate. Thus, keeping a larger home might be better than downsizing for Medicaid exclusions.

Expanding the Pension Protection Act protects senior savings

The Pension Protection Act of 2006 created ways to cover deferred savings accounts into long-term care with the possibility of reduced tax consequences. There are several variables with this concept, and Marsala believes the Act could be simplified and expanded. As a Senator, Marsala has an intensive first 100-day agenda. Marsala's legacy is AWE News, dedicated to wildlife and water conservation. He seeks to give everyone the opportunity to leave a legacy. #Policy