Studies show that seniors don’t plan for aging. They say they don’t know what to do, they feel there is no immediate risk of something bad happening, or their children will take care of whatever they need. Unfortunately, the lack of planning can have significant consequences. Seniors lose the opportunity to make personal, health, financial and legal decisions. They also leave their loved ones to handle what needs to be done. Elder law planning helps seniors address these concerns so they are in control and can maximize whatever resources may be available for their care. There isn’t a magical moment when elder law planning should be started, but there are issues to consider:
Health. It is best to start planning before a health crisis. This gives you plenty of time to think about your wishes, prepare and sign legal documents and make financial preparations. If you wait until you are facing a health crisis, some of your options will be limited. However, if you do have any type of medical issue, seek out appropriate elder law guidance as soon as possible.
Family relationships. Are you caring for family members (minor children, disabled children/adults; parents)? If you are responsible for others, then it’s particularly important that you have your own plans in place. If you are single with no children or family members who can help care for you if needed, then you also will need to factor that into your planning.
Financial situation. Do you have financial assets to protect? Medicaid has a 5-year look back period meaning that if you transferred property to others within 5-years of applying for Medicaid, those assets will still be considered in determining whether you qualify for Medicaid. As a result, you need to set up trusts and transfer property at least 5 years before you have a need for a nursing home.
Access to resources. Do you have long-term care insurance? This can help you get services and still preserve some of your assets.
The best approach to elder law planning is to consider it a continuous part of your life planning. All adults can benefit from certain key documents such as a health care proxy, living will, durable power of attorney and a basic will. These help ensure that if you become incapacitated for any reason or die, others know your wishes. In addition, most adults should consider obtaining appropriate insurance for themselves and their families (disability, life, long-term care).
As you age and your personal and financial circumstances change, you want to regularly update your documents and consider supplementing with trusts, gifts of property or other asset protection tactics in the event you need to qualify for Medicaid.
We can’t prevent aging or dying, but we can take control of our lives and be PRO CHOICE SENIORS.
Contact me to get started.