[This article was originally published on March 22, 2005. The links were updated on August 16, 2018.]
Over the last several months, many seniors have received cards in the mail from the "American Senior Alliance" or the "National Processing Center" that are titled "2004 ELDER LAW UPDATE". The cards announce that "Congress has passed legislation that standardizes entitlement provisions for persons 65 and over" and go on to suggest that those who reply will be able to avoid probate and estate taxes, exempt assets from collection by a nursing home, and earn double or triple the interest of CDs.
It appears that the cards are being sent out on behalf of insurance agents who hope to sell annuities to those who respond. The Richardson, Texas-based American Senior Alliance, which denies any affiliation with the "National Processing Center," describes itself as "a not-for-profit corporation, whose sole purpose is senior education, including awareness of suitable benefits and services that may be useful to seniors."
Salespeople have been targeting the elderly as likely buyers of annuity products for a number of years now. For some seniors, an annuity may be an appropriate part of an overall financial plan, but for others an annuity would be completely unsuitable. To find out what's right for your particular situation, you should consult an independent financial professional who can evaluate your needs rather than someone who is simply trying to sell you something.
The American Senior Alliance's promotion, which implies that there has been a new federal law that "standardizes entitlement provisions," is misleading at best. The last time Congress made a major change to Medicaid entitlements affecting the elderly was in 1993. If an advertiser is misleading you in their promotions, who knows where it would stop?
The best advice is that if someone calls or writes you offering a "can't lose" retirement scheme, don't respond. Contact an elder law attorney instead.