Coffee heat rising

Of Taxes and Best-Laid Plans and Lamps…

WonderAccountant is having a tax frenzy. Honestly…I don’t understand how anyone can do that crazy-making tax-prep ditz for a living!

I thought I’d set up my spreadsheets to totally simplify this year’s antics, but apparently I failed. One thing I didn’t realize is that repairs and maintenance on the house are now tax-related because we’re now a sole proprietorship, not an S-corp. It’s been many a year since I incorporated The Copyeditor’s Desk. We decided to de-incorporate, though, because she felt we would do better on the personal tax side if we did that.

This afternoon the young(ish) eldercare lawyer is supposed to call. I want to discuss the matter of the long-term care insurance, which everyone is telling me to get rid of. Naturally, when I called to cancel it, Metlife had a trained poodle on the phone coming up with every which way to keep me paying premiums.

So the next step was to plow through a four-inch-deep pile of paperwork from Metlife and its predecessor, TIAA-CREF. Metlife is truly notorious for trying to weasel out of paying benefits.

It was my understanding that if you quit paying, the issuer was supposed to pay back your premiums ($19,000, so far, since I started with TIAA in 2001). But…no. However, according to the original policy, which as far as I can tell was unchanged when Metlife bought TIAA’s LTC insurance business, they apply the balance to any nursing home bills you rack up — but they do not repay the unused premiums to you.

Well, after all these years, 19 grand would pay for 2.8 to 3.6 months of nursing home bills (private room/shared room)

Most people die within 3 months of admission to a nursing home. So what remains there would probably cover most of the bills.

If I quit paying premiums now and instead put the money in a CU savings account, at $133/month, that would add up to $1596 a year.

American baby-boomers can expect to live to be about 85, on average. So that would add $15,960 to the 19 grand already in Metlife’s coffers, for a total of $34,000 available (supposedly) to cover nursing home bills. Assuming I can get Metlife to return my money to me if I cancel their policy. At about $5,000 a month (by then, presumably), that would cover about 7 months in a home.

Some people, of course, are stuck there for a good deal longer than that.

My healthier relatives — the Christian Scientists who did not drink and did not consume coffee and walked daily and ate what we today call “whole foods” — lived to be 94. They each effectively dropped dead of heart attacks. Neither one went into a nursing home. But…let’s suppose you weren’t made of quite THAT sturdy stuff, but still you managed to stumble along to, say, about age 92 or so… Hmmm…. That would leave time, at $133/month, to accrue $27,132 for nursing home coverage. Let’s figure the price will be around 6 grand a month by then, eh?

$27,132 plus 19 grand (assuming Metlife even still existed to cough it up, assuming Metlife would cough it up) would give you $46,132 as a nursing home fund. Assuming nursing homes cost about 6 grand a month by then, that would last you about 7 1/2 months. According to my English-major arithmetic, which is nothing to place a bet on.

So…you’re takin’ your chances. My father was in a nursing home about two weeks before he croaked over. But…heaven help us! D-XMiL is a hundred and five years old and still alive, laying in a bed in a nursing home unable to see or hear. God help her. And she’s been in that state for years.

Interesting. Assuming inflation drives nursing home costs to “only” $5000 a month in 10 years (not a safe assumption) and to 6 grand in 15 years, the number of months that saving program would cover is almost same.

Jeez. Think o’that…

So after a brief telephone chat, our proposed new estate-planning/elder-care lawyer engineered a meeting in a couple of weeks. He thinks — contrary to the advice of the financial dude and the accountant but in accord with Consumer Reports’ opinion, that it’s actually a good idea to continue paying LTC premiums, if you can afford it. I can, but it frosts my cookies. PLUS: reviews of Metlife are awash in horror stories. Apparently they do every goddamn thing they can to avoid paying as agreed in their contract.

In less tenebrous climes…

Isn’t that a great word? Translations of the Greek epics describe Hades — which was just an underworld populated by the shades of the deceased, not Hell as in a place of torture — as “tenebrous.” Shady. 😀

In less tenebrous climes, the new glass shade arrived to replace the one I busted a couple weeks ago. None of us — we’re talking moi and not one, not two, but three lamp store and repair folks — could find one just like the deceased. The closest I could find is not opaline — it’s just milk-white — and is shallower & flatter than the late lamented shade. However, if you’d never seen the old shade, you sure wouldn’t know any better. I think it will do the job just fine. And to my amazement, it fits in the fixture and accommodates a 3-way bulb just fine.

The Lamps Plus dude proposed to adjust the fixture to make it fit exactly, which I suppose would be nice. But the fact is, it looks fine and I fail to see why it needs any adjustment.

And also in the lights department: The middle bathroom in my house is illuminated by a pair of matching wall fixtures, one on each side of the mirror over the sink, that each use a couple of small halogen lights. Naturally, one of those crapped out this morning.

So it was off to French’s Electric Co to try to snare replacement bulbs. Good luck, I figured, since every light bulb that works has been taken out of our sticky little hands.

To my surprise, they had a few! 40 watts, said he. So I bought the whole boxful, sensing that these will not be around much longer.

Indeed, when I got home I found that 40 watts was what the fixture was rated for…but that the other bulb in the lamed fixture was a 120-watt number. Jeez. So I replaced them both, elegantly not touching the glass on the things. Perfect!

Then I noticed that another bulb was out on the other fixture. Replaced that. Noticed that the two bulbs in there were also 120 wats. Hm.

BUT…the result was gorgeous! Much brighter than the incumbents…so much so that one could in theory paint one’s face in front of that mirror, which until today has not been an option. It’s been much too dim in that bathroom to make up your face.

I hope these will last. The upshot, though, was that I used two of the four lights I’d bought, trying to stockpile three of them for future use. So now I’ll have to go back over to French’s and buy another box of them, hoping to have enough to last into my dotage.

What a stockpile I have in the storage room! Almost every drawer is jammed with incandescent lightbulbs. That’s how much I hate, loathe, and despise the eye-stinging light from those horrid LED things. Once my stash is gone, I guess, I’ll have to switch to candles.

Since I habitually turn off the lights whenever I leave a room (unless I have to go out after dark and need to make it look like maybe someone’s home), light bulbs last a LONG time at the Funny Farm. A couple of those bulbs in the bathroom had been there since I had the fixtures installed — sixteen years ago. So I expect eight or twelve extras will last until I croak over. And then some.

5 thoughts on “Of Taxes and Best-Laid Plans and Lamps…”

  1. How did you get the name of the elder-care lawyer ?
    My husband and I need to update our wills, POAs, etc. It seems the attorney that did our old ones (and has the originals) is gone/not practicing anymore.
    And all the people we has asked for referrals either don’t have wills or their lawyer moved. My husband prefers to deal with a lawyer that we get through a personal recommendation.

    • By falling and bashing myself in the dark, while walking the dog. I was trying to flag down a passer-by to get someone to drive me home, since I was hurt bad enough that I couldn’t walk 3/4 of a mile back to the house. He was the only one who condescended to stop.

      Turns out he’s one of WonderAccountant’s clients.

      She had given me the name of the lawyer they used when they were dealing with her mother’s final stages…that woman wouldn’t even bother to return a call or email. So when he mentioned that he was an eldercare lawyer, I said…we gotta get together.

      Talk about serendipity!

  2. Bathroom fixtures and lightbulbs!

    When I first looked at this house, 9.5 years ago, my realtor and I came up the stairs and turned on the light at the top of the stairs – which illuminated a wall sconce halfway up the staircase, at the turn, and a ceiling fixture in the hallway at the top of the stairs. Said light came on, and immediately the bulb went “pop” and went out.

    I’ve lived in the house for 9.5 years and have *yet* to replace that bulb – I’ve never experienced having light there, so I don’t miss it 😀

    The main bathroom upstairs, has a fixture above the mirror – it’s pretty dim – I’m fairly certain that it only has 1 of 3-4 bulbs working . There is also a ceiling fixture in this tiny bathroom – which has never had a working bulb in it, in my experience – so I keep forgetting it even exists.

    The master bathroom has something like 10 feet of lights – that HORRID “hollywood” bathroom fixture that has a row of round globe bulbs? When I first moved in, I noticed that some of the bulbs were burnt out – but the light was still ridiculously bright – so I left them along. Now, nearly 10 years later, I think I’m down to about half the bulbs still working – and the room is finally reaching a *reasonable* level of brightness. I would love to replace the fixture, so I have no plans to replace any bulbs in that fixture – maybe when they finally all die out, I’ll pick something better 🙂

    I do have some incandescent bulbs in my stockpile – I don’t mind the new “warm” LED bulbs – but I’ve been informed that the CFL and LED bulbs generate electric “noise” and are not suitable for use in or near your garage door opener as they will interfere with your clicker’s signal – so I bought a bunch for that fixture.

  3. You’re kidding…you can’t use those stupid bulbs in the garage? Gaaaahhhhhhhh!
    If I can’t get a real lightbulb for the fixture in the garage and can’t use one of the stupid new accursed bulbs, I’m gonna have a problem out there.

    Better stash as many real lightbulbs as you can find room for before the Democrats get back into office, because they’ll see to it that even the Made-in-China junk incandescents still on the market will be taken out of our sticky little hands.

    Apparently you can use halogens in regular light fixtures, but they get very hot and have a bad habit of exploding. So, according to one site I found on the subject, they need to be inside glass lampshades or covers so that glass won’t go flying around the room.

    LOL! Those Hollywood-style bathroom fixtures! Remember them well…I had one in the dark bathroom in the old house.

    This house has a skylight in that bathroom, but it’s still far from enough light to let you apply make-up. It’s an interior room that has no window.

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