What Should I Ask My Elderly Family Member About End of Life Wishes?

Having a conversation around the topic of estate planning is often difficult for adult children. This is because it means coming to terms with your parents’ own mortality and discussing issues on which you might not agree.

Even though the subject might be uncomfortable to broach, it is good to have this conversation with your parents well before you need to take action on any of these specific wishes, otherwise your parents’ estate plan is incomplete without these clear directives. Although the form those directives will take depend on the state in which they live, they might include things like;

  • Physician orders for life sustaining treatment, which regards your loved one’s wishes about what kind of treatment they do or do not want to receive.
  • A living will with details about termination of life support under specific conditions.
  • The appointment of a health care proxy who can make medical decisions on behalf of your parent if they become incapable of making them on their own.
  • An advanced or medical directive that explains what kind of care they would like.

All of these circumstances can be very unwelcome to deal with in the moment but it is important to have a plan in advance so that you can be able to take the necessary next steps should something happened to your elderly parent.

A Post-65 Estate Planning Primer

Estate planning is not just for the elderly. It’s not even just for those who see retirement on the horizon. Estate planning makes sense for people of all ages, but it does become especially important the closer you get to age 65.

There are several important things you should be thinking about as you approach and pass the age of 65. This has long been heralded as the primary age for retirement although many people are continuing to work past these years and looking to generate additional assets or simply because they enjoy the experience of working. There are legal risks associated with aging that you should take into account prior to reaching age 65 but this milestone is important for thinking about some of the other dangers that you might face as you continue to age. 

Increasing longevity numbers mean that anyone who has already reached age 65 should be thinking about the possibility of living for several decades longer. From concerns about paying for long term care to protecting your assets, planning to avoid guardianship, and qualifying for Medicaid, you might need an elder law attorney to help you identify all of the potential risks and to craft a strategic plan around protecting yourself from these risks and dangers. Schedule a consultation with an attorney who has extensive experience in the realm of elder law planning.     

What Is Self-Directed Long-Term Home Care?

Many people approaching retirement today will need long term care at some point in the future. Long term care typically brings to mind an image of nursing homes, but one growing trend is known as self-directed long-term home care. There are many different options available and more people than ever are choosing to self-direct their own long-term care when this is a possibility. 

An elderly Indian man at the retirement house

Person-centered choices are becoming increasingly requested, especially as people wish to age in place, even when faced with physical or mental challenges that require long term care. Individual states are choosing to create self-directed programs that enable the person in need of care to pay home care providers and schedule them as they wished.

This removes some of the limitations typically associated with long term care policies, which have become very expensive in recent years or through Medicaid. Many people are choosing to direct their own care, because there is a major problem associated with using agencies where the assigned caregiver doesn’t show up.

Customized care services also appeal to those who want individualized support and in general, research has shown that these people who were able to take control of their care were more satisfied and their overall experience was just as good or had better outcomes when compared with traditional care. There are now 1 million people in more than 200 different self-directed, veteran and Medicaid programs across the country.

And since 2011, enrollment in these services has increased by more than 2011. More vetting and management is required if you choose to go the route of self-direction. If you’re interested in protecting yourself with regards to a long-term care plan, you need an experienced estate planning lawyer who understands the scope of your state’s Medicaid rules and can help you design strategies and goals for the long term.

Estate Planning and Looking Ahead for Longevity

There are many different steps you can take to increase your chances of a successful retirement and many years lived beyond that point. Longevity has increasingly become an important component of overall estate, financial and retirement planning. Since although people are living longer, they are also more likely to be in need of long term care assistance.

Friendly young doctor talking with older patient in hospital

While a long life might be seen as an excellent gift, there are also legal and financial challenges that could be present. The earlier you can work to address or to prepare for these, the easier your older years will be. A non-smoking 65-year-old man today has a 50% chance of living until age 85 and a non-smoking 65-year-old woman has a 50% chance of living until age 88.

These four different steps can help you to be aware of the risks and the benefits of living into old age. These include:

  • Contemplate long term care since it’s likely that at least one member of a married couple will end up in a nursing home. Traditional long-term care policies can be extremely expensive, so make sure you do your research before selecting how to protect yourself.
  • Plan for incapacity. While it’s easy to assume that you might never be at risk of being incapacitated and unable to make decisions for yourself, failing to prepare for this possibility can take an emotional and a financial toll on your family members. Make sure that you’ve contemplated who can step in to make decisions on your behalf in terms of medical care and your financial needs.
  • Avoid probate by using an experienced estate planning attorney so that your loved ones can avoid this lengthy and problematic process.
  • Minimize your taxes. Make sure that you sit down with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney to discuss whether or not your estate will be affected by federal estate taxes. Even if it is not, there are plenty of steps you can take to maximize the money that you have set aside for your loved ones as well as for your own retirement.

Gender Pay Gap Has Retirement Implications for Women

Although women now graduate in greater numbers than men from college, they also carry 64% of student loan debt. A new study completed by Merrill Lynch found that women have to save for retirement earlier than men and must start planning well in advance. This is if those women intend to maximize their pension benefits and their Social Security.Hire a NJ estate planning lawyer

The unique challenges that women continue to face have to do primarily with debt and pay disparities. Women are confident in many different financial areas except investing. Women may be as confident as men when it comes to budgeting and paying bills but that confidence decreases significantly when it comes to managing an investment. Up to 41% of the women who participated in this survey found that not investing more was their biggest financial regret.

Lack of coverage and educational exposure were some of the most common reasons cited by women who felt that financial management was a daunting task that they did not feel comfortable taking on. If you are interested in tackling your retirement and estate planning goals together, scheduling a consultation with a lawyer who is knowledgeable in this area can help to ease your mind and ensure that you have a path that will address your needs for many years to come.

Does The 4% Rule Still Factor into Your Retirement?

When thinking ahead about how many assets you need to be putting into your retirement, what different percentages you use will depend on your overall financial planning. The 4% rule is one that is often used as a guideline for a comfortable retirement. A Wall Street Journal argued, however, that folks who live by this 4% rule may be at risk of going broke due to the chances of increasing longevity and long-term care. 

The 4% rule is a long-established recommendation about how much retirees may be eligible to safely withdraw from their retirement plan every single year. A financial planner from MIT initially developed the financial rule associated with 4%, meaning that you would pull from your initial retirement assets and then increase that amount every year to reflect inflation. Having a comprehensive estate plan and financial plan for your future is the only way to guard against the potential downsides and obstacles that you may face after you have left the workforce and no longer have the eligibility to pull in income in other ways.

Even if you have enough set aside for retirement, you must factor in how long-term care planning may influence your ability to live longer and a healthy life in retirement. Just one long-term care event can have repercussions for years in terms of having enough money to continue.

Are You Prepared for Thousands of Days in Retirement?

Many people who are looking ahead to their retirement may miss out on the fact that increasing longevity numbers show that once you have retired from the workforce, you may be spending as many as 8,000 days inside retirement. This means having an appropriate estate and retirement plan to guide you. plan for estate and retirement

Because people are living longer and staying healthier, it is not unlikely for someone in their mid-sixties now to enjoy a life expectancy of as many as 30 more years. There are many different opportunities and challenges that come prevalent with these concerns.

You may be thinking about how you intend to spend your days, and hopefully, you will already have retained the services of a financial advisor and an estate planning attorney. There are road maps out there of what to consider one year before retirement and five years before retirement.

Having a comprehensive financial plan that incorporates all of the assets you have worked so hard to save over the course of your lifetime, as well as what you might need to do in the event that you become incapacitated or need the assistance of a nursing home is very important.

There are many different concerns that should factor into your budget, including taxes, Medicare, social security, estate planning, insurance, and long-term care. Scheduling a time to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney is the first step towards guarding all of the assets you have generated

What Unexpected Caregivers Need to Know

Some people may not anticipate being a caregiver in the future, but that’s something they need to check in with their parents about. Adult children are not always aware that their parents are planning to use them as a caregiver. A lack of long term care insurance and other assets that could be used to pay for critical health benefits in the future may mean that some parents are planning on their adult children to take care of them. Although parents often have unmet expectations of their children, this rarely comes up until the caregiving issue is in an emergency state. 

Parents who may be left with no one else to help them around the house or to bring them to doctor’s appointment can be a devastating situation for an adult child who is less able to save for their own future as they help pay for their parents’ future care. A study completed by Bay Alarm Medical shows that more than 55% of parents anticipate that their children will be the ones taking care of them, financially or physically, as they get older but most children did not agree with that notion or even know about it. In the Midwest, for example, only approximately one-third of adult children expected that they were responsible for caring for their aging parents.

Although participants in other regions of the United States were much more likely to say that they felt an obligation to take care of their aging parents, the ones most likely to step up for responsibility were the children who were closest with their parents. Many families avoid talking about this or other money related topics because it is an uncomfortable subject. However, it can also be an important one if you anticipate that your children will be the ones taking care of you.

Debt is Affecting Retirement Dreams for Older Individuals

Looking ahead to retirement is something that is a big issue for many baby boomers getting closer to prominent retirement ages of 50 and beyond. However, an exploration of the finances of people in this age category indicates problems with burdensome debt. 

According to the University of Michigan Retirement Research Center, more Americans are carrying heavy debt levels into their 50s and beyond.

More than 20,000 Americans in this age category were asked about their financial topics. The average amount of debt they are covering is $17,623 with 42% of Americans carrying that debt.

The average debt load in 2012 was $3,634. One-third of this was non-mortgage debt carried on a month to month basis. This presents a significant challenge and limited opportunities for people approaching retirement age who may want to have as many options as possible to protect their interests, support themselves in retirement and pass on assets to their loved ones.

If you find yourself in the situation of having debt or having recently paid off debt such that you have more assets, you should consult with both a financial planning and an estate planning attorney to get a better perspective on the facts you need to evaluate in your future.  

The Benefits of In-Home Care for Seniors When Compared with Nursing Homes

As you or your elderly parents age, there will frequently come a time when a new level of care becomes important. This is the appropriate time to consider how Medicaid can help assist with your financial planning but it is also time to consider whether or not it makes sense to have in-home care or to consider a nursing home for your loved one. When such a change becomes necessary, you need to be able to evaluate all of your options quickly. Aging at home is one common alternative to nursing homes.

Geriatric facilities are moving away these days from providing long term care beds to increasing the number of rehabilitative beds they offer instead. Since Medicare pays $500-$600 per day for a rehabilitative bed, while Medicaid only pay $125 a day for a long-term care event, this means that there is decline in the availability of long-term care beds, making it harder to find a space in an affordable and high-quality facility around the country. In-home care may be one solution that your family is eligible to use. 

Home care options are much less expensive than a permanent facility and allow an individual to age in place and get the help that he or she needs in the comfort of their own surroundings. Finding the right person to provide in-home care is critical. Increased access to necessary services, better feelings of independence and cost savings are just a couple of the reasons why you and your family members may consider in-home care versus a permanent nursing home placement. Make sure to do your research about the provider for in-home care to feel confident about your final decision. This can help put you at ease regarding a great deal of the fears associated with helping a loved one transition into a new phase in their life.

Helping a Loved One Age in Place

One of the biggest concerns for the retiring population and individuals approaching older ages has to do with being able to age in place. More than ever, people are interested in living out their retirement years and beyond in their own home and comfortable surroundings rather than in a nursing home, assisted living facility, or hospital. 

Careful planning can allow for this situation to become a reality, but family members should always be aware of the best way to support a loved one who has the desire to stay in his or her home. This means thinking ahead about how other support structures, such as visiting family members or a paid individual who checks on your loved one every so often, can give peace of mind to everyone involved.

The first step in this process is to recognize that your loved one’s home as it stands now may not support his or her needs. Some modifications may be necessary in order to help your loved one live a more independent life. It may be worth scheduling a meeting with your family member’s doctor in order to better understand his or her needs and how some changes within the house might be both necessary and helpful.

Recognize that an outside individual in the form of companion support or a home health aide may be the extra level of help your loved one needs so that all the tasks of caregiving do not fall on family members, who may be unable to keep up with a consistent schedule or struggle with overwhelm.

Including all relevant family members as well as healthcare providers for your loved one in the plans for aging in place can allow you to see some of the pros and cons of this decision. Proper support and planning ahead can go a long way.

How to Help An Elderly Loved One Avoid Identity Theft

Unfortunately, identity theft is on the rise and elderly individuals may be most vulnerable to having their accounts hacked. They might not even realize that this has happened until it is far too late. There are several different things you can do to help your elderly loved one avoid identity theft. Use these tips to prevent an unfortunate incident.shutterstock_78312646

  • Do not have your elderly loved one carry their social security card with them. Instead it should be stored in a safe place.
  • Never attach your social security number or a personal identification number to any card that you are carrying, or store this on a piece of paper or receipt that your loved one is carrying.
  • Make sure that your relative has signed all of their credit cards immediately. It is best to use credit cards that only have the new chip technology.
  • Make sure that your elderly loved one always checks his or her receipts to ensure that they received their own as opposed to someone else’s.
  • Shred any documents that have a social security number, account number or pin number located on it.
  • Make sure that you check your elderly loved one’s credit reports on a regular basis so that you can be alerted to fraud as soon as possible.
  • Have your loved one store passwords for all accounts in a safe location.
  • Contact debit card or credit card issuers immediately if you believe that your loved one has been subject to identity theft. Doing this can help to stop the thieves before it goes any further.

Key Tips for Choosing a Caregiver for an Elderly Loved One

More than 41 million Americans have a chronic health condition that minimizes their daily activities in some way and 12 million are unable to live independently. Out of the 1 in 5 elderly individuals who have reached age 85, more than half need long-term care or are impaired in some manner.shutterstock_151335704

Most people in this situation want to continue to live independently in their own home as long as possible. For those with disabilities who are also elderly, that is possible only by bringing in outside help. Keep these tips in mind when hiring a caregiver for your elderly loved one:

  • Assess home care needs.
  • Write a job description.
  • Develop a job contract with details.
  • Know where to look for a caregiver.
  • Interview applicants.
  • Check references as well as a criminal background check.
  • Hire thoughtfully.

Continue to monitor the potential employee’s performance long after he or she has begun working for your loved one.

What Does Physical Caregiving Have To Do With Elder Law Planning?

According to recent research and stories by the New York Times, more adult children are moving closer to their parents. If you live within 20 minutes of your aging parents then you can be seen as a typical American. Physical proximity can play a critical role when an elder family member needs caregiving.shutterstock_296020625

The median distance that Americans live from their mother is only 18 miles and it turns out that only 20 percent of individuals live more than a few hours’ drive away from their parents. The primary reason for focusing on women is that women tend to be caregivers more often. Caregiving goes both ways as an adult child may benefit from an elderly loved one babysitting their grandchildren, for example.

That being said, living close to your parents can be problematic even when you are just a couple of miles away, if your elderly loved one is experiencing advanced signs of aging. This is why it is imperative to consider all of your caregiving options and determine when Medicaid or other issues may kick in and help with this process. Speak with an elder law planning attorney today to learn more.

Proactive versus reactive approaches in elder law planning

Although it is certainly possible to achieve a fair amount with reactive planning in an elder law crisis, it is much easier to plan in advance. An elder crisis with no prior planning might leave invested parties with only a will or a will and power of attorney to review. Even if these documents are clear, they might be just part of the puzzle when it comes to elder law planning. If a will or power of attorney is all you have in place, your loved ones might struggle to answer pertinent questions down the line if something happens to you. CZwBoPsXAxqmnWRu0IcQzBOq-zBKlJ3es7lZfGpfZsA

Being proactive with elder law planning can help to reduce stress, but it can also be important for saving money. For example, buying long-term care insurance can help to protect your assets even in the event a crisis that requires nursing home care or other advanced medical assistance. Planning can also help to address the potential of where you would like to live when you are older. You should never assume that your family members are clear about your plans or that they are all on the same page with regard to your care. If you have desires about medical treatment in the future, they should be communicated early.

Ready to get ahead on the planning process? Contact us today to get started.

Elder Law Costs Compared: Assisted Living, Nursing Home, and In-Home Care

The baby boomer generation is a big one, and the impact on health care services is reported widely throughout the news. According to US News and World Report, over the course of the next two decades, more than 10,000 baby boomers will reach age 65 every single day. This statistic is causing more individuals to think about planning ahead for long-term care and the inevitable costs associated with it. Whether you’re nearing this category yourself or whether you’re helping a parent plan, it pays to be informed about care options. 18scG5olSFcN_T7nAvlyJR0UuPaAw6Op6b14U7fh3j8

Many people are not aware that in-home care can exceed the costs of assisted living-location is also a factor, especially if you or your loved one lives in the city. The costs in urban areas surpass non-urban areas by as much as 15 percent.

Bear in mind as well that quality and cost can also vary quite a bit between independent care and agency staff, although the latter usually fall under licensing and accreditation standards. The average costs for the various types of care nationwide are as follows:

  • In-home care: Monthly cost of $4500
  • Nursing home care: Monthly cost of $550-6200
  • Assisted living: Monthly cost of $3000

Many people are not informed about just how easy it is to spend though assets and leave a healthy spouse with the financial fallout. Protect yourself by planning ahead- contact our office today for more information. Contact us at info@lawesq.net.

Elder Care: Nursing Home Alternatives

By the year 2050, more than 1/5 of the population will be aged 65 or older. Although one of the most common solutions to the challenges of aging is to move an elderly relative to the nursing home, it’s certainly not the only option. There are situations where your loved one may not thrive there, and sometimes their care needs are just not at the level of a nursing home. This is when it’s a good option to consider alternatives like senior living or assisted living. shutterstock_181395782

Networking between seniors in these communities helps create a village concept regarding recommended services, helping one another, and coordinated outings. Local volunteers can extend this process by helping when needed and looking out for individuals who may have greater needs. Federal efforts to ensure that low-income housing  is available to seniors also allows for greater aging in place, keeping your loved ones at home as they grow older but with some level of supervision.

To learn more about planning for the future with regards to long-term care, contact us at info@lawesq.net.

Guardianship for a family member with Alzheimer’s

May was celebrated as Elder Law Month, and as the baby boomer generation ages, guardianship of an elder may be a growing concern. Although guardianship is most often discussed regarding minor children, it can be a helpful tool for older family members, too.

Guardianship for a family member with Alzheimers
(Photo Credit: medcitynews.com)

One in three people age 65 or older will contract some form of simple disability (cognition, vision or hearing impairment, the inability to get around without assistance, etc.). A diagnosis of such a disability may highlight the difficulty that individual faces in daily living. More difficult than basic aging or simple disability is the presence of Alzheimer’s; according to the Alzheimer’s Association five million are living with it presently, at a cost in 2013 amounting to $203 billion.

Being watchful for thesigns of Alzheimer’s can be an important step in recognizing the need to consider guardianship: among them, memory loss affecting daily living; the inability to complete familiar tasks; misplacing things; confusion over either time or place.

If the elder person does not have a power of attorney or advance directive, you can go into court and seek a declaration of incompetence. Subsequent appointment as a guardian will mean assuming decision-making for living arrangements, the management of finances and medical choices–the last two critical as out-of-pocket costs for older Americans have jumped 46 percent since the year 2000.The guardian has the legal duty to act in the best interest of the ward, and only in those areas permitted by the court. Those looking into guardianship for older parents may want to evaluate their own estate plans at the same time.

Difficulties may extend or render contentious the achieving of a guardianship role. If other family members cannot agree on the need, or on the proper person, the process can be lengthy. Further, the elder individual has the legal right to contest, and the determination of the court will only follow upon extensive expert evidence. Planning for your needs in advance can be extremely helpful for reducing family conflict. To learn more about applying for guardianship in New Jersey or planning to avoid the need, reach out to us at info@lawesq.net or contact us via phone at 732-521-9455.

The Fifteen Best Countries for Overseas Retirement in 2014

It is not uncommon for Americans to spend significant time away from their home state in order to take advantage of more favorable living conditions. Be it to live for less, for diversity investments, or to simply enjoy one last adventure, more and more Americans are choosing to retire abroad. A recent article discusses the 15 best countries for Americans to retire in 2014.

The Annual Global Retirement Index created the list based on a series of factors, including the price of necessary goods and services such as groceries and utilities, average temperature, and friendliness of the locals. As executive editor Jennifer Stevens explains, the list is “designed to be a real-world snapshot of the places we deem most worth a potential-retiree’s attention today.”

English: View of the Chagres River in Gamboa, ...
English: View of the Chagres River in Gamboa, Panama. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Topping the list for 2014 is Panama. As Stevens explains, Panama offers American retirees a “great combination of variety and value…No matter what it is you’re hoping to find, Panama is a good place to look for it.” The remaining rankings are as follows: (2) Ecuador, (3) Malaysia, (4) Costa Rica, (5) Spain, (6) Colombia, (7) Mexico, (8) Malta, (9) Uruguay, (10) Thailand, (11) Ireland, (12) New Zealand, (13) Nicaragua, (14) Italy and (15) Portugal.

Taking advantage of overseas options does not always mean changing your place of residence, but precautions should be taken to make sure that your estate plan is appropriately adjusted for your travel. To determine your unique considerations before booking your tickets, consult with a qualified estate-planning attorney.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Dealing with Early-Stage Alzheimer’s

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.

Enhanced by Zemanta