When most people plan for their senior years, they mostly think about a will that specifies how their assets will be distributed upon their death.
But there are other things to think about as well, such as what will happen if you have a stroke, develop a serious illness or become incapacitated?
What should you or your loved ones have in place in those circumstances?
It is extremely important to consider and plan for serious illness, not just death. While we are living longer, that doesn’t always mean we are living healthier. Stroke, complications from diabetes or osteoporosis can lead to nursing home placement. A legal plan must be established with the help of an elder law attorney when a person is healthy so that a difficult situation doesn’t become more difficult when illness or incapacitation occur.
Here are some suggestions for how you can plan ahead for serious illness:
Many people, as they get older, choose to have a joint bank account with a family member, such as a son or daughter.
The idea behind this is to have one less thing to worry about since a joint account is an easy way for someone else to have access to funds for day to day expenses. While this sounds great in principle, there are pitfalls to having a joint bank account:
A special needs trust is essential for protecting a loved ones quality of life and access to government benefits.
On March 23, 2010, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law by President Obama. This series of laws, also known as Obamacare, had and will continue to have a major impact on all aspects of our health care system. No greater example of this can be found than that affecting the long term planning which must be done by members of the special needs community.
Beginning January 1, 2014, insurance companies are no longer able to deny coverage to adults for pre-existing conditions. In fact, insurance companies are prohibited from denying coverage or charging more to any person based on their medical history, including genetic information. Insurance companies are also required to offer and renew coverage for any applicant.
Writing a will is something many adults avoid for as long as possible. A will is one of those things our parents always intend to do to pass on assets, but do not always find the time to do. There are excuses and too many other things “to do”. Waiting until one is faced with having to write a will creates stress and undue pressure. Some parents and seniors never create a will and in those cases, their children and heirs are often left with much administrative work and complications in trying to obtain the inheritance their parents planned for them.
When you are taking care of a parent and you know they do not have a will, it is often a sensitive topic to begin to discuss. The best thing is to encourage them to begin thinking about their wishes once they are gone, and then move to support them in doing some estate planning and to write a will. This can be done easily with the help of an elder law attorney. If you do not have a will yourself, one way to approach the situation is to suggest that you each have a will written. And, if you are the primary caregiver of a parent or other vulnerable adult, it is extremely important that you have procedures in place that will assure that your loved one is taken care of if you are no longer able to do so. A will not only plans for your heirs’ inheritance, it can also plan for one’s own care and medical choices because along with a will, a durable power of attorney and perhaps a living will and healthcare power of attorney can be prepared in conjunction with the will. Continue Reading The Importance of Being Earnest…about a Will! →
In order to eliminate problems and excess administrative work for your children and heirs, a bit of planning on your part is helpful. Choose now what you want to do with your assets and create a will, get help with legal agreements, living wills, trusts, etc. In order to do this, you may want to consult an elder law attorney. If you have children with disabilities and you are worried about their care after you are gone, an attorney practicing Special Needs Planning would be a wise choice.
Legal issues that affect people as they age and people with special needs are growing. Our laws are becoming more complex, and each state has different laws. Actions taken with regard to a single matter may have unintended legal effects. It is important that lawyers working with seniors, people with special needs, and their families, have a thorough understanding of the laws that may have an impact on a given situation to avoid future problems. Elder Law and Special Needs Planning encompass many different fields of law. Here are some samples: