The Challenges of Placing a Parent in Long Term Care

Elder Care Assisted Living Nursing Home Hospice Headlines 3d IllustrationLong term care (LTC) is a term that has many facets to its definition. It is comprised of a variety of services that meet medical and non-medical requirements for people who cannot care for themselves for long periods of time. It is a highly individualized care system which can be formally or informally provided. Formal facilities that provide long term care go by various names such as residential continuing care facility, nursing home, and personal care facility. Informal long term care is often provided, in its earlier stages, by a family member who is willing to provide their parent personal care, meals, laundry services, housekeeping, and transportation services to and from appointments.

These informal care providers are often referred to as the “sandwich generation” – those people who support their own children while at the same time care for aging parents. The stress of providing practical living and emotional care as well as financial support for two sets of generations, as well as themselves, can become overwhelming and have negative effects on the provider’s self-care and well being. It is a difficult decision to make but at some point formal LTC becomes a necessity for some parents.

When the time comes for your parent to be placed in a formal long term care arrangement things can get complicated very quickly. If a parent has not planned for their own aging process finding the right facility that accepts their healthcare coverage can be daunting. If a parent has very little income and assets, they may be able to qualify for Medicaid. However, because Medicaid has strict income and asset requirements, this can leave the spouse at home with very little to live on.  It is important to engage an elder law attorney to help make a decision about Medicaid eligibility. An elder law attorney may be able to protect more assets for the parent who remains at home through legal planning strategies.

Conversely, if a parent is very financially stable, then it may be possible to pay thousands of dollars a month to a quality health care facility. However, years of paying thousands of dollars a month can severely impact their savings and ability to leave a legacy to their children.  With proper legal advice, a plan to pay for care without losing everything is possible.

What of those parents who are financially stuck in between? It is another type of sandwich, the “financial sandwich” – seniors not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid but not wealthy enough to cover their own costs. There are still options available to those who fall into this category. It is never too late (or too soon) to talk to an elder law attorney about options to find and pay for long term care.

Long term care is becoming more expensive and less accessible as the increasing baby boomer population continues to put a strain on the US health care system. Now is the time to engage your parents in discussions about the type of care they would want if long term care is needed, including where they want to receive the care, and how it should be paid for. It’s important to document your parent’s wishes in appropriate legal documents that name an agent to make decisions if your parents are unable to. We would be happy to help you and your family navigate these issues and come up with a plan to make sure your parents get the best care possible without losing their life savings. Please call us at 267-288-5765 to schedule an appointment.

Aging is a Success Story

Senior couple on cycle rideAging is the sign of a successful life. After all, when you think about the alternative to aging your perspective about getting older shifts. You should start seeking self-sufficiency for your retirement years well before the age of sixty-five. But, even if you have not done so, don’t shun the planning stages. You need to address planning no matter what your age. Some preparation is better than none at all. It can provide you with some peace of mind and can take pressure off of family members who would have to make their own income adjustments to be able to provide money to support your cost of living. No one wants to become a burden to their children or otherwise extended family. It feels good to be able to provide for oneself (and one’s spouse) no matter how lavishly or modestly. It is a relief to know that you have solid plans as well as contingency plans for the future. Although it can be hard work and tough to realize how much it will take to cover your future living expenses, putting off the planning stage does not lead to easier or better outcomes.

First of all, consider your location. Many seniors prefer the idea of living out their lives in their own home but there is much to consider about that approach. Are you close to family members or someone willing to help drive you to doctor appointments and grocery stores when you are no longer able? Can your home accommodate a wheel chair; is there a bedroom on the first floor or is there a way to get up and down the stairs? How expensive are the property taxes in your area? How mild is the weather? If you want to go to a retirement community, what locations are most affordable as well as most desirable? How would you transition to less independent living over time?

Once you know your location goals, do some worst-case planning. Adverse health and unforeseen life events can ravage your finances unless you are already managing a sizeable sum of assets or have incorporated proper planning. You might look for advice as to how to turn a nest egg into retirement income, or how to add to your long-term insurance care, or to establish some long-term insurance care. Think particularly about in-home care should your goal be to stay in your own home as you age.

You need to know if your state has approved the Long-Term Care Partnership Program, a joint federal-state policy initiative to encourage the purchase of private long-term care insurance. A professional can explain to you how it can protect some of your assets if you would require extensive care in the future, for instance for Alzheimer’s disease, which could potentially exhaust your private insurance policy benefits and require you to apply for Medicaid. A professional can also advise you if there are any federal or state tax incentives available to you for long-term care partnership insurance. You can also discuss implementing some additional life insurance that can remain in force until you are eighty. It can help a spouse with extra money should something happen to you. In the meantime, both of you could sleep better at night knowing the insurance policy is in place. The point is, you need to examine some potential worst case expenditure scenarios and how you would be able to meet the needs of your care should the moment arise.

Your aging is a success story. Embrace how you prepare for your senior years no matter what your age is, and the sooner the better! Retirement requires careful thought, planning and decision making for the best outcome possible for you and your loved ones.

Contact our office today at 267-288-5765 to schedule an appointment to discuss how we can help you with your planning.

Why May is Special for Elder Law Attorneys – Part 2

Adoring A SeniorMay is National Elder Law Month, as designated by the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.  It is a way to acknowledge the profession that supports seniors and their families with all of their planning needs. And while that sounds interesting, many people still ask, “What do elder law attorneys do?” In Part 2 of this series, “Why May is Special for Elder Law Attorneys,” we will discuss additional ways elder law attorneys help seniors and their families.

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Choosing the Right Trustee

Choosing the Right Trustee

When planning for your loved ones’ future, you may consider creating a trust to protect assets set aside for them. If you create a trust, you will need a reliable and trustworthy person to name as the trustee who will manage the trust. Choosing the correct trustee is an important decision because he or she will be responsible for carrying out your wishes when managing the trust.

The trustee will be responsible for duties such as managing investments, paying bills, preparing tax returns, and managing other accounts within the trust.

Before choosing a trustee, consider the following points that will help you determine who will be best suited for the role.

1. A trustee must be over the age of eighteen and capable of managing his or her own affairs successfully.

2. The trustee should be completely trustworthy and committed to the beneficiary’s best interests.

3. The trustee should be able to make sound judgments and have a strong understanding of his or her duties as the trustee. While not required, legal or financial expertise is valuable.

4.  If a person is going to be the trustee of a special needs trust, knowledge of public benefits and how to avoid invalidating these benefits is beneficial.

5. The trustee should be someone who is healthy and will be able to continue managing your trust for many years to come.

6.  A trustee should have the time to devote to managing your trust effectively. If the person you are considering is very busy, you should consider other candidates before making your final choice.

7.  If you don’t know someone who would be a suitable trustee, consider hiring a professional trustee or institution to manage your trust. Professional trustees may include a trust company, accountant, lawyer, or investment manager or advisor. However, professional trustees or institutions do charge a fee or percentage to manage your trust.

8.  Consider co-trustees if you would like to have a trusted friend or family member and a professional trustee manage your trust together.

9.  Understand your family dynamics when selecting a trustee. If you are choosing a family member to be the trustee, try to avoid conflicts between family members and explain to other relatives why you have chosen a particular person to be the trustee.

10. If you make a relative or friend your trustee, decide who will be the successor in the event that the person is no longer able to manage your trust.

After you have chosen a trustee, it is advisable to reexamine your choice every few years to ensure that your trustee is still the best choice for your needs. If circumstances change, you may need to assign a different trustee who is better suited to the required responsibilities.

If you need assistance preparing a trust or choosing the right trustee, contact Newman Elder Law. If you want to learn more about our elder law services, click here.

Source:

http://www.elderlawanswers.com/how-to-choose-a-trustee-15384

Tips on How to Declutter

Tips on How to Declutter The mid to later part of the 20th century has given us many inventions, from the computer to the iPod and much more.  Of course, it’s the “much more” that is cluttering up homes across the country. From old LPs to books that have never been read, we all have items that are taking up space in our homes. It is especially true for the seniors. Many have lived through times of scarcity and feel that they should hang on to items, no matter their level of usefulness. Others have mobility and cognitive issues to deal with and have trouble deciding what to keep and what to get rid of.

What compels people to keep things?  Often there are memories attached to many things. Gifts from friends who have since died, pictures of family members from years gone by, letters from past lovers are a part of a person’s life. Then there is hope, as in, “I hope to lose weight, I hope to get time to read those books, I hope to pick up that hobby again.” Then there is not wanting to be wasteful, as in “I may need that plastic container one day.” Never mind the fact that there are 23 plastic containers in the kitchen, some of which don’t have lids.

So, how do you conquer the clutter?  The short answer is one item at a time. The long answer is that you need to talk to your children or grandchildren about clearing out the house. This talk will be easier if a move to smaller quarters or to an assisted living facility is being planned, since you know that you can’t bring everything to the new place.

Once you are on board with decluttering how do you get started?

One Room, One Closet or One Drawer at a Time

Since it can be overwhelming to get rid of years and years of accumulated belongings, it is best to start with one room, such as the bedroom or the kitchen.  Go through a drawer or closet until you have cleared out all the items that are in the way of the things you use more often.  Throw away what isn’t useful and set aside the rest.  Do the same with the next drawer or the next part of the room.

Set aside some items to give away or sell

Invariably, you will come across something that you don’t want to give to a thrift store or throw out. Maybe a grandchild, a friend or adult child would like it. Or you feel that you could make some money selling the item either online or at a yard sale.  Take this opportunity to ask friends and family members if anyone wants the antique gravy boat or salt and pepper shakers from Disneyland. Give away the items that people want, sell whatever remains that can be sold, and what’s left can go to a thrift store. Most thrift stores will pick up from your home, so you just need to schedule a pick up date and time and let them know how much “stuff” you have to donate.

Leave a Giveaway Box

Despite your best efforts to tackle clutter, new things become old things that become relegated to closets and drawers. Having a giveaway box nearby will help keep the clutter from getting out of hand. When you find something that needs to go, put it in the box. When the box is full, take it to a thrift store or sell the items, so that someone will put the items you no longer need to good use.

Since one person’s “junk” may be another person’s treasure, the best way for someone to find that treasure is get rid of your junk.

Sources:

https://www.caregiverstress.com/aging-issues/senior-hoarding/10-reasons-seniors-keep-stuff/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-intelligent-divorce/201403/why-people-hold-stuff

Life as a solo senior

Lonely old man staring out of a windowBaby Boomers are known for many things, two of which will affect them as they age, namely they have the highest divorce rates and the highest rates of childless marriages.  Since many boomers don’t have a spouse or children, many will face aging issues without the help of family members or close friend.  In addition, many Boomers and Generation X’ers have never been married or had a companion and they too will face aging issues alone.

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What is Undue Influence and How an Elder Law Attorney Can Help

When a person has diminished mental capacity, is ill or isolated, they become more vulnerable to those who might do them harm.

At times, people take advantage of those who are elderly or vulnerable for financial gain or control over assets. One form of exploitation is undue influence.

Undue influence is not typically considered a crime in and of itself, but acts as the means for committing a crime. It is commonly recognized by the misuse of one’s influence to substitute his or her own will for the will of another. The influencer takes advantage of his or her position of power over another person and the consequences can be very destructive.

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How You Benefit from Powers of Attorney

A health care power of attorney is an essential part of your estate plan.

A health care power of attorney is an essential part of your estate plan.

When planning for the future of an elderly family member or child with special needs, you should consider preparing a powers of attorney. Powers of attorney are a simple and inexpensive way to help manage financial and medical accounts if you or your loved one is no longer able to make decisions clearly.  For reasons of simplicity and clarity, it is usually better to have separate financial and medical powers of attorney.

Powers of attorney eliminates the worry and stress of managing financial and medical accounts during a time of incapacitation. Powers of attorney are prepared by your attorney and give control over financial and medical accounts to an agent, who is normally a family member or trusted friend. The agent is then granted legal authority to manage the principal’s accounts, usually while he or she is unable to.

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