• Plan Now to Avoid Future Problems
  • November 28, 2014 | Author: Norman ("Gene") E. Richards
  • Law Firm: Foster, Swift, Collins & Smith, P.C. - Farmington Hills Office
  • The problems seniors face traveling through life can erupt suddenly or start small and grow more serious over time. A family crisis can arise when a loved one is diagnosed with dementia, has a chronic illness or is admitted to a nursing home. Often that is when the estate planning documents are pulled out of the drawer and the family calls the elder law attorney for help.

    Unfortunately, at that point some planning opportunities may not be available.

    How can seniors make sure they have the right documents and estate plan in place?

    1. PLAN AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE

    Pre-planning can preserve your options and reduce complications when a crisis hits a family. Contacting your elder law attorney as soon as there is a hint of a health problem with long-term implications can alleviate your concerns and allow you to review your options and make decisions carefully.

    For peace of mind contact your elder law attorney early.

    2. UPDATE YOUR EXISTING ESTATE PLAN DOCUMENTS

    Your estate plan should be reviewed every five years to account for the changes in life, the value of your assets and the law. If important powers or directives are missing, family members may not be able to carry out your plan or use the legal strategies that save assets. Powers needed for creative problem solving include:

    • Power to allow transfer of assets between spouses.

    • Authority over retirement plans

    • Power to take steps to qualify for Medicaid, VA or other government benefits.

    Your elder law attorney can help update your documents.

    3. CAREFULLY SELECT CAREGIVERS AND MONEY MANAGERS

    You know your family and you know that your plan is only as good as the persons you authorize to execute it. Therefore, when facing the strong likelihood of incapacity, it is important that you select your caregivers carefully.

    The best choice is not always a spouse or the oldest child. And, the person who can make health care decisions may not be the same person who will make sound financial decisions. If necessary, two or more persons can serve at the same time. It is also possible to build accountability into your documents to reduce the risk of bad decisions and try to prevent family squabbles.

    Your elder law attorney can help you with those decisions.

    4. PLAN FOR GOVERNMENT BENEFITS, IF POSSIBLE.

    Long-term care is extremely expensive. Nursing homes cost $70,000 to $90,000 a year. Many long-term care costs aren’t covered by Medicaid or private health insurance. And many of us don’t have the personal resources to pay for the care we need.

    Medicaid and the VA may help pay for care, but these programs have strict financial and complex legal requirements. Elder law attorneys such as Gene Richards can guide you through the confusing legal maze and help you steer clear of mistakes that will threaten your eligibility for benefits.

    With advance planning, many seniors can qualify for the maximum government benefits available to supplement their own personal funds and protect spouses or disabled children from asset depletion. An elder law attorney is uniquely qualified to help you with those plans.