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Long Term Care and Longevity: Will We Get Overwhelmed?

August 17, 2017

Filed under: Long Term Care — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

Most people know about the potential impact of costs tied to long-term care, but they haven’t taken time to protect themselves.

Long-term care costs could become overwhelming as a result of longevity. The number of individuals turning age 65 and older is set to double by 2060, by the time that today’s Millennials start to turn 65. They will also make up 24% of the population as compared with 15% today. That means that 1 in 4 individuals will be in an older age category at high risk of needing long-term care.  long term care costs

This is the result of data collected by a study referred to as Aging in the United States. The number of older individuals in the U.S. right now places a major burden on breadwinners in their productive years, but by 2030, there will only be approximately 2.8 adults of working age for every individual age 65 and older. This is a decrease from 5 in 2000.

Today’s working age citizens will be hit by a double whammy trying to build their own economic future and the economy. Data from aging parents shows that approximately 3 out of every 4 aging Americans will need some type of long-term care after age 65. The odds of a financial impact for any working couple with two sets of parents is extremely high if any of those parents does not have the resources for their own care. Long-term care services can be extremely expensive, costing between $100,000 or $200,000 per year, depending on the type of claim services and the location.

When multiple family members involved need long-term care, the cost can become extremely prohibitive, but these financial impacts extend beyond the cost of care. It can also lead to interrupted employment if one partner has to take time off work in order to care for an aging parent.

How Are You Going to Pay for Long-Term Care?

May 22, 2017

Filed under: Long Term Care — Neel Shah @ 1:13 pm

Plenty of statistics indicate that up to 70% of Americans will need long-term care at some point in time. Just one significant long-term care event or the diagnosis of a cognitive condition can significantly alter your retirement plans. Many people assume that Medicare will help to pay for all of your long-term care expenses. However, many of these are not classified as medical treatments and will therefore not be paid for through Medicare.

Medicare will help to pay for the first 100 days of nursing home care and some of the long-term care expenses may be covered by Medicaid but this program is typically geared for low-incomelong term care planning individuals. You may pay with three primary sources; family, self-insuring by paying through out of your own pocket, or a long-term care insurance.

The least complicated but often the most difficult or expensive way for long term care is to put aside extra money in your savings to pay for these costs. However, bear in mind that the average costs of long-term care can top $130,000. You might even assume that your family will help to take care of you. However, when it comes time that you need assistance, getting it from your family may not necessarily be available.

Family members like children may have moved away or you may have comprehensive healthcare needs that cannot be addressed by family members. The individuals who have a lot of assets will typically not qualify for Medicaid without advanced planning for Medicaid purposes so long-term care insurance could be a critical help but it is important to identify that this insurance opportunity early rather than later so that you can lock in rates while you are still relatively young and healthy.

Long Term Care Insurance on The Rise

May 11, 2017

Filed under: Long Term Care — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

 

Long-term care insurance, which covers critical expenses like late life needs, nursing home care and at-home nursing care, is becoming too expensive for many retirees to be able to afford. This is an unfortunate discovery because many retirees are not appropriately prepared for the cost of long-term care. long term care

 

A study conducted by LifePlans determined that the average premium for long-term care insurance was $2727 in 2015, representing an increase of more than 40% from 2005. Up to 55% of the individuals who had opted not to purchase long-term care insurance, who are over age 50 made that decision because it was too expensive. Long-term care insurance helps to fill an important stop gap for retirees.

 

More than 40% of Americans over age 65 will spend at least some time in a nursing home, according to a recent report shared by MorningStar, others will need at home care as well. Medicaid will cover nursing care only for those individuals who have fully exhausted their financial assets.

 

Medicare will only cover nursing care under a few narrowed circumstances. Overall, more than $338 billion was spent on long term care services in 2013 alone. Long term care insurance may be a critical part of your plan for retirement and getting older, but you should also consult with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney about how to approach Medicaid advanced planning.

 

What Americans Need to Know About the Rising Cost of Long-Term Care

February 2, 2017

Filed under: Long Term Care — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

Do you have plans for what would happen to you if you were to become incapacitated? Many people are under the impression that long-term care is something that only older individuals need to consider. It is certainly true that a broad range of baby boomers and other elderly individuals have to think about their long-term care needs as it relates to their longevity and their healthcare concerns. However, anyone can be affected by a long-term care event. 

Consider that some of the claims paid out by long term care insurance companies affect those individuals in their 20s. Just one car accident could have significant repercussions for you.

This highlights the importance of not only having the appropriate long-term care insurance in place, given that the cost of a private nursing home room on an annual basis is edging closer to $100,000 a year, but it also highlights that it’s important for individuals of all ages to have critical healthcare powers of attorney and other documents that articulate who is eligible to make decisions on your behalf, should you become unable to do so. The right estate planning attorney can help you determine what documents are most appropriate for your individual situation.

The best way to plan for long-term care is to have a system in place in the event that something happens to you or someone you know. Consulting with an estate planning and elder law attorney may be the first step you need to take.

 

Long-Term Care Planning and the Great Wealth Transfer

December 6, 2016

Filed under: Long Term Care — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

Research shows that as more baby boomers entire retirement and pass away in the coming decades, $30 trillion in assets will be passed on to loved ones like children or grandchildren. However, far too many people have not even taken the necessary basic steps to protect themselves and their loved ones. Failing to plan can make for unnecessary confusion and frustration for your beneficiaries. This great wealth transfer is a good opportunity for any baby boomer to set up a meeting with an experienced estate planning lawyer.

One of the biggest reasons to accomplish this is simply due to the rising cost of long-term care. Someone who has not approached long-term care planning with the help of an experienced lawyer well in advance may struggle to make things happen in the way they want. It might also require them to go through the probate process. 

Long-term care has the potential to completely wipe out someone’s estate. The costs associated with long-term care, of course, depend on the patient’s individual needs and the location of the facility, but it’s expensive regardless. Just one long-term care event can take out a significant portion of someone’s savings or their estate, and this is to say nothing of long-term issues like cognitive decline associated with Alzheimers.

Bear in mind that research shows that the median cost per month for a home health aide is $3861 for approximately 44 hours of work. A private room inside a nursing home, however, carries a median monthly cost of $7698. Medicare only covers limited short-term issues and Medicaid, without proper planning, could require someone to spend through their assets before they qualify. All of this can make for a frustrating long-term care situation.

Thankfully, setting up a meeting with an experienced advanced planning lawyer can help you to lay the groundwork for your estate and your long-term care with enough time to achieve all your goals. Contact us at info@lawesq.net.

 

 

Estate Planning and Long-Term Care Go Hand in Hand

November 3, 2016

Filed under: Long Term Care — Neel Shah @ 9:11 am

There’s no doubt that estate planning is an important part of your looking ahead in your own life and even to after what happens when you pass away, but it’s important consider how you incorporate long-term care planning, too. 5

People in America are living longer than ever, and this means that traditional approaches to estate planning and retirement planning no longer cut it. Wanting to pass on assets to your loved ones is a worthwhile goal, but so is setting aside the time to ensure that you have taken care of your own future as well.

Long-term care planning involves multiple components such as thinking about your next steps if something were to happen to you, including safety nets like a long-term care insurance policy and a long-term Medicaid plan. Trying to deal with these concerns in the heat of the moment when a problem has already appeared is extremely difficult. It can also limit your options in the moment. Although no one wants to think about the potential for a disabling event or a cognitive decline, recognizing that the statistics show that at some point you’ll be dealing with this is the best way to approach the situation from a planning perspective.

Long-term care may be short term or it may involve a more in-depth situation like being in a nursing home. The only way to plan ahead is to think about whether the goals you have line up with your plans as they are now. It might be hard to look that far into the future and yet that’s a worthy goal in order to protect you and your loved ones.

What is Medicaid Planning?

April 26, 2016

Filed under: Long Term Care,Medicaid — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

Medicaid planning involves a careful consideration of an individual’s assets to determine whether or not he or she legally qualifies to receive nursing home benefits for Medicaid. Many individuals who do not carefully consider this process or who do not have other significant resources to support them in their older years such as long-term care insurance, may have to use all of their personal assets and resources to support an individual who has suffered a healthcare event.shutterstock_322363940

It can also be very problematic for individuals who have no other resources because family members can feel the pressure of having to provide for a loved one who needs nursing home care. This is why it is a good idea to consult with a New Jersey Medicaid planning attorney. One of the most common questions considered in the Medicaid process is whether or not you should get rid of property.

Bearing in mind that Medicaid has a look back period to explore whether or not you have attempted to give away assets so that you may qualify for Medicaid, it’s a good idea to consider your Medicaid planning well in advance. This allows you to take advantage of legal strategies that can help prepare you to qualify for Medicaid appropriately.

Even if you are not yet concerned about your healthcare and your need for potential nursing home care, you should consult with a New Jersey Medicaid planning attorney now to learn about all of your options. Putting a plan in place well in advance is the best approach.

 

 

Top Myths About Long-Term Care Coverage Through Medicaid

May 19, 2015

Filed under: Long Term Care,Medicaid — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

Usually, it’s Medicare that gets the bulk of news coverage, but Medicaid is still quite confusing for many people. Here are some of the most common misconceptions about Medicaid. shutterstock_129373694

You Must Be Poor to Get It

Medicaid helps people qualify for long-term care, and it’s true that you cannot have more than a specific amount of assets to qualify, but there are some exempted assets. Consult with your elder law specialist to learn more.

Medicaid Is Unnecessary Since Medicare Will Cover My LTC
Medicare only covers up to 100 days of skilled nursing care, so it’s not permanent. Medicaid is more likely to help a patient over the lung run.

Transferring Your Money to Your Kids Will Help With Medicaid Qualification

While it’s true that you don’t want to have too many assets in the Medicaid qualification process, you don’t want to assume that all your assets should be transferred to children. The reason is because there is a penalty period if Medicaid believes that you transferred assets in the years prior just to qualify for coverage.

Make sure you’re clear about how Medicaid- as well as Medicare- works when it comes to your long-term care. Contact an elder law specialist to get more details about this process. Contact us at info@lawesq.net

Preventing End of Life Costs from Destroying Your Estate

May 19, 2014

Filed under: Asset Protection Planning,Elder Law,Long Term Care,Medicaid,Nursing Homes — Tags: , , , , , — Neel Shah @ 9:58 pm

It’s very rare that anybody has covered all possible risks in terms of their wealth management when it comes to income and cash flow, guaranteed income, cash, investments, and the connection between long term care and your estate. If you skip planning for long term care expenses, you may find that your other wealth management tools and strategies don’t hold up to the rising cost of healthcare.

Preventing End of Life Costs from Destroying Your Estate
(Photo Credit: colourbox.com)

The average cost per month for a long-term care facility is over $7,000. That’s why long term care planning is so essential. When a long-term care insurance policy is too expensive or not an option because you do not qualify.

There are alternatives, however. Structuring your estate in a particular manner can help you guard against the cost of long term care. Two common strategies are eliminating assets through trusts and transfers. This means that down the road, if you need to reduce your assets for Medicaid eligibility, you’ve already done most of the work. If you are confronted with a long-term care event before you have done this, you could find yourself having to “spend down” your assets anyways before government assistance kicks in, depleting your savings and forcing you to do it rapidly, which is rarely in your best interest. However, if you do it incorrectly, it has the potential to have a severely negative impact on eligibility and penalty periods. To learn more about trust planning, gifting, and other strategies to mitigate risk in estate planning, email info@lawesq.net or contact us via phone at 732-521-9455.

You have Options For Your or Your Loved One’s Long-Term Care Needs

January 29, 2014

Filed under: Elder Law,Long Term Care,Medicaid — Neel Shah @ 7:24 pm

As life expectancy continues to rise, so does the possibility that an individual will require long-term care at the end of his or her life. A recent article states that 7 in 10 Americans will require long-term care at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, as life expectancies rise, so do the costs of long-term care.

ElderlyWomanInGlasses

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many families do not realize how high the costs of care are until they are trying to place a loved one in a facility.  Many studies estimate the cost to range from $8,000 per month to $13,000 per month.  At that point, it is too late to utilize any sort of planning or saving and the financial reality can be devastating. Therefore, it is important to have a plan to cover your long-term care costs. Below are three of the most common ways that people plan to pay for their long-term care.

1. Save and pay out of pocket: If you believe that you will be able to pay for your long-term care costs out-of-pocket, be sure to conduct some research to predict how much money you will need to save and account for contingencies.
2. Purchase long-term care insurance: Long-term care insurance is becoming a more popular method through which individuals pay for their long-term care costs. Importantly, be sure to purchase this early for the best rates.
3. Spend down your assets so that you apply for Medicaid: Medicaid is a needs-based program. Therefore, your assets must be below a specific threshold in order to qualify for benefits. If you are above the threshold, you may be able to carefully spend your assets down until you qualify for coverage.

Which is right for your family?

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Planning Now for the Potential of Alzheimer’s Later

December 11, 2013

Filed under: Incapacity Planning,Long Term Care,Medicaid,Spending Down — Neel Shah @ 9:00 am

More and more senior Americans are forced to deal with the devastating diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. Without planning, an Alzheimer’s diagnosis can be a devastating financial blow to an individual and his or her family. A recent article discusses how individuals can take control of their financial futures by planning now for the potential of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis later.

One potential way through which a person can get funds to pay for medical care is through Medicaid. Medicaid is a need-based program, so a person must meet certain income requirements to apply. If a person is above the threshold to receive Medicaid, he or she must spend-down assets in order to qualify. However, the spend-down of assets must be done carefully,with the oversight of an estate-planning attorney. Importantly, Medicaid employs a look back provision that will disqualify certain distributions of wealth if they occur within five years of a person’s application for Medicaid.

Often, Alzheimer’s patients require more care than Medicaid will cover. One option to fill the gap is through long-term care insurance. These insurance policies provide broad coverage for care received in a patient’s home, assisted living facility or nursing home. It is important to get long-term care insurance early, as rates go up as a person ages. Additionally, it may be difficult to find an insurer after a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.

Give Serious Consideration to End of Life Decisions

November 21, 2013

Filed under: Advanced Directives,Elder Law,Living Will,Long Term Care — Neel Shah @ 8:59 pm

One major part of estate planning is determining what kind of care, if any, you would like to receive at the end of your life. Although most people would rather not think about the end of their life, a recent article explains the importance of giving serious consideration to end-of-life care.

If you have thought about what type of care, if any, you would like to receive at the end of your life, it is important to complete an advanced medical directive and a medical power of attorney. These documents will allow you to put these desires in writing so that medical staff will be aware of your wishes when you cannot otherwise communicate with them. Additionally, they allow you to select the person who you trust to make medical decisions on your behalf.

Sample Virginia Durable Do Not Resuscitate Ord...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One common type of advanced directive is a do not resuscitate order (“DNR”). A DNR advises medical staff not to take life-saving measures in the event that death is imminent. If you have a DNR, it is important to keep it in an easily accessible location, and inform your family and doctors of its existence. Importantly, an advanced directive that directs medical staff not to prolong the dying process does not withhold medicine and other procedures meant to keep you comfortable during the dying process.

Conversely, you could also complete a prolonging procedure declaration. This document instructs medical staff to do everything they can to delay death, even when it is imminent.

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Long Term Care Planning: Understanding the Medicaid Look-Back Provision

November 13, 2013

Filed under: Elder Law,Long Term Care,Medicaid,Nursing Homes — Neel Shah @ 6:01 pm

For those engaged in the process of Long Term Care Planning, perhaps the most intimidating proposition is Medicaid’s look-back provision. This provision provides that certain assets that a person no longer owns will still count toward the calculation of his or her total assets to determine whether he or she qualifies for Medicaid coverage. A recent article discusses the look-back rules.

The Medicaid look-back period is the five years prior to that date upon which an individual applies for Medicaid benefits.  All transfers made during this period are subject to scrutiny by Medicaid officials. For the purposes of calculating benefits, it is as though all gifts made during this period never occurred. For example, if an individual gave his or her child $20,000 the year before he or she applied for Medicaid coverage, the government would likely count that $20,000 towards the person’s assets to determine whether he or she qualifies for Medicaid.

Some individuals try to avoid the look-back provision by setting up a trust. Although Medicaid officials do not consider a trust to be a part of a person’s assets, assets moved into a trust are considered. Therefore, if assets are transferred to a trust during the five-year look-back period, Medicaid officials will take them into account.

Individuals often mistakenly believe that Medicaid has an annual gift-giving exclusion similar to that of the IRS. However, this is not true. Although the IRS allows taxpayers to give gifts up to a certain amount without invoking tax consequences, there is no parallel in the Medicaid determination.

What is an Irrevocable Funeral Trust?

October 24, 2013

Filed under: Elder Law,Long Term Care,Medicaid — Neel Shah @ 9:00 am

One tool for those looking to spend down their assets in order to apply for Medicaid benefits is the Irrevocable Funeral Trust (“IFT”). Through an IFT, a person can set aside funds to pay for his or her funeral and burial expenses. Importantly, funds in an IFT are not considered to be part of a person’s estate for purposes of Medicaid qualification. A recent article discusses the basics of the IFT.

Importantly, an IFT should not be used by just anyone. High net-worth individuals who will not require Medicaid assistance, for example, would not use an IFT because they likely have sufficient funds or insurance policies that will cover medical expenses.

However, those who are worried about how to pay for their long-term care costs and do not have money earmarked for their funeral should consider an IFT. A person taking out an IFT will be required to pay completely in advance, and will not be permitted to take out an IFT for an amount that exceeds 125 percent of the average funeral cost.

Importantly, no medical underwriting is necessary for an IFT. Beyond the one-time payment to the insurance company, the insured party faces no expense from the trust.

Dealing with Early-Stage Alzheimer’s

October 23, 2013

Filed under: Aging In Place,Caregivers,Elder Law,Long Term Care,Medicaid,Nursing Homes — Neel Shah @ 9:00 am

Currently, the sixth leading cause of death in the United States is Alzheimer’s disease. Between 2000 and 2010, the number of deaths caused by Alzheimer’s disease increased by 68 percent. By 2050, the number of Americans with Alzheimer’s disease is set to increase to 13.8 million. As a recent article explains, Alzheimer’s could quite possibly become an epidemic, if it is not one already.

English: PET scan of a human brain with Alzhei...

English: PET scan of a human brain with Alzheimer’s disease (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If a loved one in your family begins to display the signs of Alzheimer’s disease, the first thing a family should do (beyond medical attention) is be sure that the family member has executed a will, durable financial power of attorney, and health care power of attorney. These documents allow the person to direct how his or her assets will be distributed upon his or her death, and also to direct who should make medical and financial decisions for him or her when he or she is no longer capable.

Importantly, a person diagnosed with early-stage Alzheimer’s may still be able to sign these legal documents. When a loved one is suffering from short-term memory or vocabulary loss, but still has a grasp on reality, he or she can often show the necessary mental capacity to create legal documents.  Although it is best if these documents are created prior to the early-stage dementia, if that is not possible, have a geriatric psychologist evaluate the person immediately prior to signing.

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‘Spending Down’ for Medicaid Coverage: A Cautionary Tale

October 16, 2013

Filed under: Aging In Place,Elder Law,Long Term Care,Medicaid,Spending Down — Neel Shah @ 9:00 am

Medicaid is a need-based public benefit program that assists citizens in paying for medical care. Therefore, a person can only receive benefits if he or she meets certain income criteria. In order to meet the criteria, many people attempt to spend down their assets. However, if not done properly, a ‘Medicaid spend-down’ could have disastrous consequences. A recent article tells the story of Eugene Shipman, who ran into trouble after attempting to spend down his assets to qualify for Medicaid.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (Me...

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (Medicaid administrator) logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Shipman and his wife, Arline, began the spend down process in April of 2008, so that Arline would qualify for Medicaid coverage for her anticipated and impending care needs. As part of this spend-down, Eugene disinherited her in his will executed in March of 2009. Following the drafting of the will, Arline’s son, David – who exercised her power of attorney – disclaimed any inheritance from Eugene on her behalf.

Then, in 2010, Eugene unexpectedly passed away. Arline’s attorney scrambled to file a petition to claim an elective share of Eugene’s estate on her behalf. When the trial court denied the petition, Medicaid got involved and asked the court to reconsider. Luckily, the appellate court revoked the disclaimer and granting Arline the elective share.

Had the court determined that the disclaimer should not be revoked, not only would she have lost her Medicaid eligibility, but she would have also missed out on half of Eugene’s estate. The story of Eugene and Arline should remind individuals that they must seek competent counsel and take caution when involved in a Medicaid spend down.

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ALERT: New Rules for Reverse Mortgages

October 2, 2013

Filed under: Aging In Place,Elder Law,Long Term Care,Medicaid,Reverse Mortgages — Neel Shah @ 2:16 pm

As the costs of long-term care continue to rise, more and more elderly Americans are turning to reverse mortgages in order to fund these costs. A reverse mortgage allows a homeowner aged 62 or older to convert his or her home equity into cash while also remaining in the home. The homeowner can choose to accept this cash through a line of credit, monthly payment, or lump sum. As a recent article explains, the rules surrounding reverse mortgages are about to change.

Logo of the Federal Housing Administration.

Logo of the Federal Housing Administration. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Federal Housing Administration (“FHA”), which insures and regulates reverse mortgages, recently announced that it will modify the reverse mortgage program in order to reduce the incidence of default. Two major changes include lower caps on borrowing limits and new rules that will make it even harder to obtain a reverse mortgage.

The FHA plans to change the borrowing limits in order to reduce the cap on the amount that a borrower can receive in the first year of a reverse mortgage. After the new rules are implemented, a borrower will only be able to take up to 60 percent of the appraisal value of the home. This amount is reduced from the previous cap of 75 percent.

The FHA will also implement various rules that will make it harder to obtain a reverse mortgage. These rules will also likely reduce the size of the loan that borrowers will be able to receive. The new rules are scheduled to take effect on October 1.

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Long-Term Care for Your Cat

September 12, 2013

Filed under: Caregivers,Estate Planning,Long Term Care,Pets,Wills — Neel Shah @ 9:00 am

All too often, cats are surrendered to animal shelters because their owner either died or had to enter a long-term care facility where the cat was not allowed. In order to avoid this fate, a recent article argues that cat owners need to have a long-term care plan in place for their pet. Importantly, this care plan can be simple and easy to create.

The first step in creating a long-term care plan for your cat is selecting a trusted friend or relative who may be willing to care for the cat in your absence. Discuss your designation with that person to make sure that he or she is up for the task. If you have an estate plan, you can insert a clause that gives your cat, and some money for its care, to the designated caregiver. If you do not have an estate plan, you can simply make a care arrangement with that person.

English: Portrait of a female feral cat (Felis...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In your will or care arrangement, be sure to outline your cat’s routine. This may include feeding and exercise habits. Also include all medical information, including your cat’s veterinarian, where his or her medical records are located and any current medications.

Importantly, provide the designated caregiver with a spare key to your home or apartment. This will allow the person to enter your home if you suddenly become incapacitated. Finally, be sure to set some money aside for your cat’s care. When determining how much money to provide, consider that your friend will need to pay for food, veterinarian bills and any other necessary care expenses.

Avoiding the Financial Crisis of Long Term Care

September 11, 2013

Filed under: Insurance,Long Term Care,Medicaid — Neel Shah @ 9:00 am

Many elder Americans are not prepared for the high costs of long-term care. This is causing a financial crisis, as too many Americans are relying on the federal and state governments in order to provide for this care. As a recent article explains, one way to avoid this crisis is by purchasing long-term care insurance.

According to the article, the two biggest fears of the baby boomer generation are (1) outliving the finances they have saved for retirement, and (2) being forced to depend on another person for care. Unfortunately, many seniors do not understand how the Medicare/Medicaid systems work, and believe that the federal programs will pay for any long-term care that becomes necessary.

In fact, Medicare has many limitations. For example, Medicare will only cover a stay in a skilled nursing facility if the stay is 100 days or less and is medically necessary. Of course, determining whether a stay is medically necessary will depend on Medicare standards that may be confusing.

Long-term care insurance, therefore, can fill in where Medicare leaves off. Long-term care insurance allows policy-holders to select which types of care they would like to receive. And what if long-term care insurance is not an option? Then it may be time to consult with an Elder Law attorney to discuss options, such as Medicaid “spend-down”, that can help with payment of long-term care.

When You Aren’t Sure Where to Start: Having an Estate Planning Discussion with an Elderly Parent

September 4, 2013

Filed under: Estate Planning,Finances,Long Term Care,Power of Attorney,Trusts,Wills — Neel Shah @ 2:38 pm

A majority of adults find it difficult to discuss financial issues with their aging family members. Although these are often difficult and uncomfortable conversations to have, they are often necessary. Moreover, it is important to have these conversations with your parents early, before they become unable to handle their financial lives. A recent article discusses how to start this conversation, and what topics to cover.

One way to ensure that you bring up this topic is to make an appointment with yourself to do so. A good idea is to plan the discussion for after a family gathering such as a birthday party. This way, other family members can join in the conversation. If you believe that your parents and family members will be receptive to the idea, select a date and time and then invite them to join in on the conversation.

During the conversation, it is important to discuss several different aspects of your parent’s estate. The first aspect is legal. Determine whether your parent has done any estate planning. If yes, ask where the legal documents are and what estate planning tools are employed, such as wills or trusts. Your parent may also wish to explain any distributions.

Another important aspect to discuss is healthcare. Determine what types of health coverage your parent has aside from Medicare. This may include long term care insurance, or simply some money set aside for anticipated health care costs. Finally, determine whether your parent has executed a health care power of attorney. If he or she has not, encourage him or her to do so. This will be an essential step should the time come when your parent is unable to make their own decisions on their healthcare.