Karen Hodges Testimonial by Elaine Marze

 For the 15 plus years that I have worked for S.A.F.E. Planning interviewing people for our newsletter and now social media about their experiences with us, I’ve heard some positive testimonials, but a recent talk with Karen Hodges has to be the most positive feedback yet. 

Karen’s mom, Barbara Bell, recently passed away six years after having a major stroke with complications of Alzheimer’s which necessitated her going into a nursing home in July, 2012.  According to Karen, her dad, Jimmy Bell, always believed Barbara would one day be able to come home, and he worried that the $5,000 per month cost of the nursing home would eventually mean selling their home and land to pay for her care.  He worried that Barbara would not have a home to come to, and of course he looked into how his insurance could help him which was disappointing due to the 90 day stay limit, etc.  It was at this point that Karen’s aunt who barbaraworked at the nursing home advised Jimmy to call S.A.F.E. Planning.

Jimmy and Barbara had worked hard and saved to be able to buy their retirement home and have a few cattle in Doyline.  They wanted to be able to take care of their financial needs without being a burden to their daughters, and they wanted to be able to leave something to their family when they died.  Jimmy began working when he was seven years old as a shoeshine boy in Montgomery, Louisiana.  During WWII he would walk downtown to where soldiers paid him 10 cents to shine their shoes before they got on the trains, and he would go home with a pocketful of dimes that he and his mother needed for food.  He was an independent and proud man, but after Barbara went into the nursing home he knew he needed help.  Karen said they stayed up nights praying and figuring how long he could pay for nursing home care before having to sell everything to meet state guidelines for Medicaid.  Then in November, 2012 Karen was with her dad when he met with Ric in their first conference at S.A.F.E. Planning.  That appointment changed their lives.  The S.A.F.E. staff got Barbara approved for Medicaid effective January 1, 2013 and saved their entire estate.

It was hard for Jimmy to trust a complete stranger with his personal finances, and Karen said there was hardly a day during those first weeks that her dad did not call or go to the office with questions and the need to see how things were being handled.  Jimmy was also concerned about making sure that Barbara would be taken care of if he died before her.   It was hard for him to turn over all his paperwork, but he was more afraid not to because he wanted to save his home and assets.  “When she gets better I want her to be able to come home to the home she loves,” he would say.

Karen was especially impressed that the S.A.F.E. Planning staff was able to deal with her dad’s fears without getting exasperated having to explain the process over and over, but she said not one time was he treated with anything other than compassion and patience.

 Jimmy preceded his wife in death when he died peacefully in his sleep in June, 2015.  The estate he entrusted S.A.F.E. to help protect was safe from any estate recovery by Medicaid, and Barbara never had any interruption in the benefits secured for her.

jimmy bell“Ric (Cochran) told us step-by-step what to do,” said Karen.  “We had to trust Ric, and it was good that we did because he and Sharon (Calhoun) took care of everything and guided us through each phase.  After dad passed, my sister and I went to him and said help us, we don’t know what to do.  Again, Ric led us through the process and Mom was taken care of too.  Then just a couple weeks ago we went back to Ric after mom died and asked for his help in handling things.  S.A.F.E. never failed to treat us well, and they always did what they said they could do.”

“I have told many people and continue to tell them repeatedly that we’d never have been able to get all this done without S.A.F.E. Planning.  I have every intention of turning my inheritance over to Ric (for financial management) because he did such a wonderful job protecting my parent’s estate.  What they did for us was life-changing!”

*Editor’s note: ”I remember interviewing Mr. Bell when he gave us a testimonial for the newsletter a few years ago.  Men like him are few and far between these days.”