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Medical Assistance Renewals Return to Pre-COVID Rules

05.08.2024 Written by: Rachell L. Henning

Older woman researches medical assistance.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Minnesota’s Department of Human Services (DHS) temporarily paused processing Medical Assistance renewals. The Department resumed processing renewals in 2023 and has been utilizing an unwinding period to complete them more quickly. This unwinding period has allowed participants the option of not providing verification of their assets during the renewal process. This option will no longer be available for renewals due starting in July of 2024. 

Starting in July, individuals who have a renewal for their Medical Assistance benefits will be required to provide verification of their assets with their renewal paperwork. DHS will also be requesting updated and signed AVS (Account Validation Service) forms. This enables the county to utilize the participant’s Social Security number to ping banks nationwide to check for any open or closed accounts in the participant’s name, the other account owners on the account, and the balance of the account on the first of the month. 

It is important to complete and return the renewal notice by the deadline. Failure to do so could result in termination of eligibility for Medical Assistance and a need to reapply for Medical Assistance. Be sure to maintain bank statements and other documentation of assets to be able to timely provide documentation with the completed renewal to avoid unnecessary interruptions in eligibility.

The elder law attorneys at Henningson & Snoxell, Ltd. are knowledgeable in Medical Assistance applications and renewals and can help you navigate the process based upon your individual needs.

Contact us today for assistance.

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James Snoxell, CEO of Henningson & Snoxell, Retires April 30, 2024

05.01.2024 Written by: Henningson & Snoxell, Ltd.

James Snoxell, CEO of Henningson & Snoxell, Retires

James Snoxell retired from Henningson & Snoxell, Ltd. on April 30, 2024. Jim has seen the firm grow in size, capability, and culture since joining in 1982. But its goal, shared by attorneys, paralegals, and support staff alike, has remained constant: to serve clients with integrity, responsibility, and utmost concern for their needs.

Creating a Culture That Cares

Jim joined with partner L. David Henningson at the one-year-old firm in 1982. The pair shared a vision for an ethical law firm that put clients’ needs first, and they quickly set about searching for likeminded individuals to bring aboard. For Henningson & Snoxell, strength of character has always been valued alongside technical skills and experience.

Jim and David also sought to build a full-service firm that could meet the varied needs of all their clients, from individuals to large businesses. They brought in proficient attorneys who focused on specific areas of law, meaning a client could always speak with a knowledgeable professional, no matter their needs. Every team member played to their strengths, collaborating to ensure the best results. This team-oriented, client-focused environment continues to this day.

Growing Beyond

Jim has seen the firm adapt to many changes in technology and the evolving needs of clients over the past 42 years. But he is especially pleased with the positive changes Henningson & Snoxell has achieved in the workplace. Interaction in the office is more causal than it was originally, leading to a culture of camaraderie where everyone is encouraged to do their best work.

“I genuinely like and enjoy being with each of the other attorneys in the firm,” Jim said. “I respect them, and I trust them.”

Henningson & Snoxell has also grown beyond the strict hierarchical structure that was once the norm for law firms. Paralegals, support staff, and attorneys alike are respected and expected to contribute their thoughts, knowledge, and suggestions for improving the firm’s services. Clients routinely meet with different people, taking advantage of the wide range of expertise the firm offers.

“It’s made for a very level environment,” Jim said. “I can be critiqued by a law clerk or by the newest attorney in the firm if they see me doing something that’s not as good as it could be. And that has been a tremendous benefit for the firm, and it increases collegiality as well as the end result.”

Looking to the Future

Jim is confident in the firm’s future and the leadership that is in place for the coming years. Henningson & Snoxell has expanded greatly in size, sophistication, and the range of clients it is able to help, but there is always room for further growth.

“We still have the desire to continue to grow, continue to improve, and continue to be the best possible law firm that we can and do the best job we can for our clients,” Jim said. “That objective has never changed.”

He expects and encourages his colleagues to continue to honor the fundamental principles that have always guided the firm—to treat everyone well and to provide the best service possible.

In his retirement, Jim looks forward to having a little more time and flexibility to enjoy his hobbies and spend time with his community, church, and family. He is also excited to watch Henningson & Snoxell continue to grow and has nothing but hope and confidence in the firm’s ability to deliver excellent service to clients.

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A nurse offers medical assistance to an older woman in a wheelchair.

One misfortune, such as a sudden disability or diagnosis, can change the financial outlook of a person or married couple in a drastic way. The typical reason for applying for Medical Assistance for Long-Term Care Services, a program that pays for an eligible applicant’s nursing facility or community-based healthcare services, often includes an unforeseen circumstance that precipitates a need for this level of care. Suddenly, a person’s (or couple’s) plans and visions he or she had for himself or herself have become completely untenable.

For families deciding what to do, it can feel like their world has been flipped upside down in a single moment. There are so many unanswered questions that were not ever a concern before: How will I pay for this? What will happen if I run out of money before being approved for services? Will my spouse have anything left to live on? Will I be left impoverished just for needing this service?

Single persons, couples, or families grappling with these issues—especially when time is of the essence—need answers to these questions quickly. One of the first issues that people considering a Medical Assistance application will face is whether they will apply for the general Long-Term Care program to stay at a skilled nursing facility/nursing home or whether to seek eligibility for a waiver program that allows the applicant to stay in-home or at least at an assisted living facility/care unit. Although both programs fall under the Medical Assistance umbrella, there are important distinctions between the programs that affect people’s choices.

Waiver-Based Medical Assistance vs. General Long-Term Care

Most people prefer to receive community-based services outside of a nursing home. When it becomes apparent that a person may need to apply for Medical Assistance, even eventually, that individual or both spouses often plan a move to an assisted living facility, where they will pay their own way as long as possible, often selling their home or condo to begin paying for services themselves. This may not be the best financial or legal decision available to them. This is because the currently owned home or rental property is often still the most cost-effective place to receive care.

Seeking a waiver-based Medical Assistance program pays for care services, not room and board. The assistance covers broad needs that help an applicant with their needs for daily life, including bathing and dressing, and even chores and cleaning services. However, when moving to an assisted living facility, the waiver program fails to cover the rent; that will be left to the personal funds of the waiver recipient or the recipient’s family. Many people go all-in intending to qualify for the waiver program, only to find that they will still be on the hook for rent at the facility they were desperate to live in and that they sold everything else to get to. This comes as an incredibly unwelcome surprise.

Sometimes, getting into an assisted living facility is difficult in its own right. Assisted living facilities typically require potential residents to prove that they can afford to live there for two years. And because of high demand for assisted living facilities (and difficulty staffing these facilities in recent years), facilities want to assess whether they are even equipped to meet a person’s care needs. It used to be commonplace that residents of assisted living who were able to initially finance their stay privately would always have continuity of care and a place to stay once waiver services were paying for them. That is not necessarily the case anymore. The facility may move a person who has recently gone on waiver services to a different room or claim that there is no space or ability to provide continued service at all.

By contrast, a general Long-Term Care application will entitle the applicant to room and board expenses being paid, but only if a nursing home level of service is required. Therefore, that application requires proof of need for skilled nursing care that is beyond the capabilities of an assisted living facility. As you can see, there are many issues to consider, and the best thing a person can do is consider them with an Elder Law Attorney who practices in this area.

A budget may be the first order of business. People often put a great deal of weight on the large assets that they own, focusing on things like homes, brokerage or retirement accounts, and the like. These funds are what people think of when having to pay for the large costs of care that have only been increasing astronomically in recent years. However, you can least afford to get tunnel vision when it comes to considering your every option. Sometimes, it is helpful to focus on income and expenses because that is what we live on. If one option appears to provide more stability from a financial perspective, that may be the best option going forward.

The discussions you will have with an Elder Law Attorney will be very forthright and will often require finding a way to budget with your utmost goals in mind. These are difficult discussions, but they have an aim and outcome in mind: getting the best, needs-specific care for a client or client’s family member while qualifying for the most appropriate program available.

Trust Henningson & Snoxell

Although it appears like there is no opportunity to plan, it makes sense to proceed thoughtfully. None of these goals can be reached without the knowledge necessary to make a roadmap to get there. Even when there seems to be no room to maneuver, one of our Elder Law Attorneys can make sure you take your next best step forward. Contact us today to get started.

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New Shareholder Announcement: Adam Kaufman & Kelly Eull

03.11.2024 Written by: Henningson & Snoxell, Ltd.

Henningson & Snoxell Shareholders

Henningson & Snoxell, Ltd. is pleased to announce that attorneys Adam J. Kaufman and Kelly M. Eull are now shareholders of the firm. Adam and Kelly have been with the firm for several years, consistently providing knowledgeable assistance to clients in the areas of estate planning and family law, respectively.

Adam is part of our Estate Planning department, where he advises clients in the preparation of wills, trusts, incapacity plans, guardianships, conservatorships, and prenuptial agreements. He enjoys working with clients throughout their lives and helping them plan for their futures. Adam is licensed to practice in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Kelly is chair of the Family Law department and handles matters involving dissolution of marriage, paternity, custody, and child support. Kelly strives to achieve the best outcomes for her clients by applying her extensive experience in family law to help them make informed decisions.

Please join us in congratulating Adam and Kelly on becoming shareholders of Henningson & Snoxell, Ltd.

Want to learn more about Adam and Kelly? Visit our Attorney Profiles here!

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DHS Assisted Living Report Card

02.14.2024 Written by: Henningson & Snoxell, Ltd.

assisted living report card

On January 29, 2024, the Minnesota Department of Human Services launched the much-anticipated Assisted Living Report Card. The information will help families when they are investigating assisted living options for their loved ones and will enable families to search for a facility by name or by geographic area. This will help provide families with a centralized location to begin their search for an assisted living facility while gathering objective information about whether the facility can support a loved one with dementia, and to know how the facility performs on certain key indicators, such as quality of life, resident health, safety, and staffing. While the database is continuing to gather information, the Assisted Living Report Card site will provide families with a solid starting point when they begin their search for an assisted living facility in Minnesota.

The Assisted Living Report Card can be found at:

For families who are beginning the journey and find themselves in need of assistance or guidance, our elder law attorneys at Henningson & Snoxell can provide valuable insight into the process and provide resources to help with covering care costs. Contact us today!

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End of an Era for Estate Tax Exemption?

02.05.2024 Written by: Henningson & Snoxell, Ltd.

estate tax exemption planning

The end is in sight for the federal estate tax exemption to sunset. Unless Congress makes the current law permanent, it will revert to the pre-2018 amount of $5 million, adjusted annually for inflation, on January 1, 2026. Although no one knows what Congress will or will not do, inaction makes for poor planning—especially when it comes to estate and tax considerations.

Federal estate and gift tax laws provide for a certain amount of wealth to pass free from estate or gift tax either as gifts made during life or upon a decedent’s death. This amount is called an “exemption” or “exclusion.” The current federal estate tax exemption is $13.61 million per person. The tax rate on assets that exceed the exemption amount is 40 percent.  Estate and gift tax laws are tied together—if a person makes a gift to another individual during life in excess of the annual exclusion amount (currently $18,000/person/year), and assuming such gift is not a gift payable to an educational institution or medical provider for such person’s benefit, such gift “eats into” that person’s ability to pass wealth free from tax at death.

In other words, hefty estate tax must be paid on a decedent’s assets that exceed the amount that can pass free from estate tax in the year of death, and the amount of wealth that can pass free from this tax is set to decrease. The estimated exemption amount for 2026 is $7 million for individuals and $14 million for married couples.

This upcoming change in the law presents an opportunity. If a person gifts away significant wealth between January 1, 2018, through midnight on December 31, 2025, and then later dies with a taxable estate, such gifts made in 2018-2025 over the exemption amount do not adversely affect the decedent. This means that if a person makes large gifts now, when the estate tax exemption is high, and dies post-2025, the person can pass more wealth tax-free. There may be other tax avoidance or tax minimization strategies to consider as well.

Although December 31, 2025, seems far in the future, it is important to understand how this change could affect your current estate plan and how long it may take to update or change your planning. Our team at Henningson & Snoxell is happy to review your estate plan and discuss options for additional planning! Contact us today.

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Starting January 1, 2024, numerous businesses in the United States will be required to disclose details under the Corporate Transparency Act (CTA) regarding their beneficial owners—those who ultimately have ownership or exert control over the company. This information must be submitted to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), which operates as a bureau within the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Does my company have to report?

The CTA mandates that corporations, limited liability companies, and similar entities must report if they are either: (i) established by filing with a Secretary of State or an equivalent office under State or Indian Tribe laws, or (ii) foreign entities registered to operate in the United States, except for certain exempt entities. Furthermore, most partnerships, including Limited Partnerships (LPs), Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs), and Limited Liability Limited Partnerships (LLLPs), fall under the CTA’s reporting requirements, as they are typically formed through a state-level filing.

There are many exempt entities, including, but not limited to, public companies, banks, credit unions, tax-exempt entities, and large private companies.

What does my company need to report?

Beneficial owners of reporting companies will first need to be established based on the criteria set forth by FinCEN. Reporting companies will then need to disclose information about these individuals, such as name, date of birth, address, unique ID number, and image, as well as the entity’s name, address, formation jurisdiction and tax identifier.

For entities created or registered after January 1, 2024, there is an additional report needed for the “company applicant.” The company applicant is the individual who first files or registers the entity. Reporting companies established or registered before January 1, 2024, are not required to report information about their company applicants or update this information, as long as it was accurate when initially reported.

When should we report?

Starting January 1, 2024, FinCEN will begin accepting Beneficial Ownership Information (BOI) reports. The deadlines vary based on the company’s formation or registration date:

  1. Companies created or registered before January 1, 2024, must submit their BOI by January 1, 2025.
  2. Companies formed or registered between January 1, 2024, and December 31, 2024, need to report BOI within 90 days after the effective notice of their formation or registration.
  3. For companies established or registered on or after January 1, 2025, BOI must be filed within 30 days following the effective notice of their creation or registration.
  4. Any updates or corrections to previously filed beneficial ownership information should be reported to FinCEN within 30 days of the change.

What are penalties for non-compliance?

Willful failure to report or update ownership information, or providing false information, can lead to severe civil or criminal penalties, including daily fines or imprisonment. Senior officers may be held accountable for their company’s non-compliance. Penalties also apply for intentionally causing a company to fail in its reporting obligations or for providing false information. However, there is a safe harbor from penalties for voluntarily correcting inaccurate reports within 90 days of the original deadline.


Please note, all information presented in this post is for general informational purposes only, and the content provided is a summary. Please contact our business attorneys to update your governing documents and contracts and for more information and guidance regarding the effect of the CTA on your operations.

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Keeping the Peace during the Holidays

12.20.2023 Written by: Henningson & Snoxell, Ltd.

Holidays can be a difficult time for families. Gathering around the dinner table often brings stress, especially if there are concerns regarding money and aging parents. Well-meaning children may bring up ideas on how Mom and Dad can avoid “giving everything to the nursing home” by giving assets to the children. I urge families to proceed with caution. Planning for incapacity and long-term care should be a longer discussion with legal and financial professionals involved to ensure that aging loved ones are protected from unintended consequences.

Long-term care planning is a complex process dealing not only with tax consequences but also possible eligibility issues regarding financial assistance for long-term care. Generally speaking, Medical Assistance prohibits giving gifts of any amount within five years of application for assistance.

Let’s look at an example. Grandma gives each of her five grandchildren $10,000 for Christmas each year for four years. On the fifth year, she finds herself in need of long-term care but without sufficient assets, so she applies for Medical Assistance. Unless the $200,000 in gifts given to the grandkids over the past five years is returned to Grandma, she will be ineligible for Medical Assistance for nearly two years. This is called a penalty period. It is calculated by taking the amount of the gift and dividing it by the Statewide Average Payment for Skilled Nursing Facility (a/k/a SAPSNF). This number is updated every July based on the monthly average cost for care in a nursing home in Minnesota.

There are some options to protect or gift assets, but such strategies should be coordinated by an elder law attorney, the person’s financial advisor, and tax advisors. An elder law attorney who is well-versed in the rules regarding Medical Assistance can work with families to plan a legacy while ensuring that the long-term care needs of the elderly loved one are kept at the forefront.

Planning for Incapacity is also best accomplished with the aid of professionals. Handwritten powers of attorney and health care directives may be valid on their faces, but they can create significant headaches if there are questions regarding the individual’s capacity to execute such documents. This is especially true when concerns of financial exploitation arise. When a healthcare directive or power of attorney is called into question because of a person’s incapacity to execute new documents, the parties must go to court in a guardianship and/or conservatorship proceeding. These are expensive and oftentimes contentious proceedings costing tens of thousands of dollars and splitting families apart in the process.

If you think a family member might need to enter an assisted living or long-term care facility, pick the right time and place to discuss it. Many aging loved ones are fiercely protective of their independence and autonomy. Conversations regarding safety risks of remaining in the home need to be approached respectfully and carefully. This promotes a more productive conversation and a higher likelihood of finding solutions that balance safety concerns with our loved ones’ wishes.  Proactive discussions and support can go a long way toward preventing a need for emergency interventions. Elder law attorneys can assist families with navigating tough conversations. They provide an objective outside perspective and practical knowledge of what the next phases of life might look like. At a time when a family may be overwhelmed and not quite sure what the future looks like, an elder law attorney can help you plot a course for the future while keeping the peace in the family.

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Ban on Asking Applicants and Employees about Pay History

12.18.2023 Written by: Henningson & Snoxell, Ltd.

Effective January 1, 2024, all employers in Minnesota will be prohibited from asking job applicants, including contractors and current employees seeking internal promotions or transfers, about their pay history. Employers will need to base a salary offer on market conditions and the applicant’s skills, education, and other qualifications. However, job applicants may voluntarily disclose their pay history with a prospective employer. Employers should review applicant materials and communicate to applicants what information will be used in determining the salary offer.

Contact us to learn how to prepare for this ban. We are here to help protect you and your business.

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12.13.2023 Written by: Henningson & Snoxell, Ltd.

Effective January 1, 2024, Minnesota’s Earned Sick and Safe Time (ESST) law will require employers with one or more employees to provide paid leave to all employees who work at least eighty (80) hours a year in the state of Minnesota to be used for one of the many permitted purposes specified in the statute.

What responsibilities do employers have?

  • Employers have the option to either allow employees to accrue ESST at a rate of one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked, up to at least 48 hours in a year (the “accrual method”) or use the “frontloading method” whereby the employer ensures that each employee has the requisite amount of ESST frontloaded by January 1, 2024.
  • Include the total number of ESST hours accrued and available for use; and the total number of ESST hours used on the employee’s earning statements at the end of each pay period.
  • Provide notice informing the employees about ESST.
  • Include an ESST notice in any employee handbook.

Under the Accrual Method, employers must allow employees to carry over accrued but unused ESST but may cap the total amount of accrued ESST at 80 hours.

Under the Frontload Method, an employer must frontload 48 or 80 hours depending upon whether they pay out unused ESST at the end of the year.

Policies that already provide paid time off will comply with the ESST law as long as they meet or exceed all necessary criteria and do not include conflicting provisions. It is not mandatory for the paid time off policy or plan to be explicitly labeled as ESST to fulfill the law’s requirements. However, employers may find it beneficial to incorporate references to ESST usage within their policy.

Please note, businesses in Bloomington, Duluth, Minneapolis, and St. Paul are already subject to sick and safe time ordinances. On January 1, 2024, employers will have to follow that which is most generous as it applies to their employees.

Contact us regarding implementation of the ESST law as well as necessary reviews and updates to employee handbooks. We are here to help protect you and your business.

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