Long Term Planning / Elder

“Most people don’t plan to fail they fail to plan.”   

 

Legal Pre-Planning

Legal pre-long term planning / elder planning is one of the most important to any senior care plan.  No matter how this journey goes for you or a loved one, at some point, legal issues will arise.  Doctor and hospital visits can become complicated if the proper power of attorney documentation is not in place. Banks and financial institutions will not work with anyone who does not have the legal authority to represent the account holder.  The following are important documents to research and have in place.  Pre-planning is not just for older adults, but adults at any age.  Work with an attorney, and if you can. Specifically, an Elder Law Attorney in your area to ensure that these documents are correctly administered, signed and notarized if needed.  Consider the money spent an investment in you and your family’s future.

    • Power of Attorney– Health Care and Financial- This document(s) allows you to appoint another person to make decisions on your behalf and/or in the event you are unable to make decisions for yourself.  Also called a Durable Power of Attorney in some states.  A person who is incapacitated or cognitively impaired cannot assign a power of attorney (this is where I have personally seen a lack of pre-planning have serious repercussions).

    • Living Will– This document helps spell out healthcare wishes to physicians and family.   This ensures that no one else decides for you how your medical care will be administered, or not. 

    • Will– A legal document that declares how you want your estate and possessions distributed after your death.  Even for those with very few assets, a Will can be an important document to spell out how to distribute personal possessions.

Caring for a elderly parent or family member is a huge responsibility that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

 

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If you talk to any competent eldercare professional, they will stress that pre-planning is the key to making good choices when it comes to long term care.  Unfortunately, what generally happens is that family members wait until a crisis occurs, and then, naturally, fast actions lead to hasty, poorly planned decision making.

Now is a good time to take inventory of some of the things you might be faced with when it comes to care options for a family member or yourself.  

Make important long term care decisions now, while you can. Pre-Planning is Key.

We recommend the following when working on your long term care pre-planning.

  • Work with an elder law attorney and financial professionals.  It will cost you a little money up front but will be money well spent when it saves your loved one’s time, money, stress, and heartache if/when the time comes to put your plans and wishes into action.

  • Take the time to research and understand the resources in your area.  Senior housing, community centers, and financial assistance are much easier to access if you understand beforehand the application processes and requirements to receive useful benefits.

  • Notify key people of your decisions.  If you assign a power of attorney, for example, it is imperative that your representative understands what your wishes are.  The same holds true for financial, medical and end of life decisions.

Financial Long Term Planning / Elder Planning

Preparing for retirement is one thing, planning to pay for senior care is another subject itself.  As reported by Genworth, the annual cost of home care in 2015 is $44,616 (based on 44 hours/week), assisted living $43,200, and nursing home care is $80,300.  If those numbers are giving you heart palpitations, you aren’t alone.  Take the time to understand the following government programs that may be able to help pay for the cost of senior care.  Remember, qualifying for programs like Medicaid and VA benefits do not happen quickly in many cases.  Research these programs before a crisis.

  • Medicare:  Medicare does not pay for any long-term care.  It does pay for short term rehabilitation if specific criteria are met.  Many clients I have worked with in the past were very misinformed or misunderstood the limits of Medicare benefits when it came to paying for senior care.  Medicare.gov does a great job of explaining what is covered under Medicare benefits.

  • Medicaid: Medicaid is a federal program, but benefits are administered by each state and vary widely in criteria to qualify.  Generally speaking, Medicaid will cover the cost of long term care in certain settings if specific health and financial conditions are met.

  • VA: The VA offers a variety of long term benefits to veterans and their spouses, again if certain criteria are met.  You can find specific information on the VA website about the programs, benefits, and pension options available.  My experience with a family member was that it took 9 months for her application to be approved, so plan ahead.

There are a variety of other ways to pay for long term care (reverse mortgages, long term care insurance, annuities, trusts, etc…).  We will leave those topics to the industry experts and post when they are available.