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The Talk

No, we are not talking about the birds and the bees and how to have a conversation with your young son or daughter.  We are talking about the conversation with your parents as they age and what are their wishes in regards to caregiving, long-term care, death, and the planning associated with it.  Most families shy away from these conversations and essentially treat them as faux pas conversations and avoid them at all costs. While avoiding the conversation can make it seem like it’s going away and make it seem like everything is okay inevitably that decision will blow up and will become a very painful situation for those involved.

 

As an estate planning and elder law attorney, I cannot begin to tell you how many families avoided this conversation with their parents and regretted it later.  I have never had a family come back to me after I have suggested that they sit down and have “The Talk” and told me that they regretted it and wished they would’ve waited.  They all say that it was great to get everything out on the table.  

 

Most parents don’t talk about it with their children mainly because they don’t think that their children want to discuss it.  We often hear parents saying that my kid clams up or my kid gets very nervous and just doesn’t want to talk about me or my spouse dying.  Therefore it’s easier just not to have the conversation.  Believe it or not, most parents are open to having the conversation because they are dealing with it on a daily basis and they understand that it’s better to have the conversation or at least to think about it ahead of time.

 

Our advice is to try to start the conversation to understand what your parent’s wishes are for their golden years. Where do they want to live as they age?  Do they have an idea as to how they would like to be treated if they were ever to be in an end-of-life situation?  Where would they like to be buried?  Do they have their financial affairs in order and do they have professionals that they are working with that you could contact if something happened to them?  What is going to happen when if they have to go into a nursing home how can you assist them with their planning?  What happens when they die?

 

These are often great conversation starters.  An estate planning and elder law attorney could also assist you with filling in the details and understanding how to put these answers in legal documents to make them binding in the future.  Don’t underestimate having your parents go to a workshop on estate planning and elder law, it will get them thinking and may also provide the opportunity for the conversation to occur.

 

The holidays and times that families together often end up being the time that people get to discuss these topics and we encourage that you have “The Talk” not only for your parents but for you and your family as well.  As much as your parents will thank you for wanting to have the discussion to figure all of the information out you will also be relieved to know that they have thought a lot about it and have a lot of strong opinions and beliefs and now you know that you can carry out their wishes.  One thing that I have found is that people always want to do what’s best for mom and dad and oftentimes want to do what mom and dad intended.  If you have had the conversation and have documents in place everyone will be on the same page and no one has to speculate or argue about what was intended.

If you are interested in learning more about Medicaid crisis planning, please call our office at 717-845-5390, or click here to RSVP to our upcoming workshops.

 

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Stretching & Protecting Wealth

My estate planning and elder law practice have given me insights into these topics that I never thought possible. I encounter questions on a daily basis in my practice, how can an individual get the most out of retirement and how do you stretch your money and protect your wealth for future generations?

I am an estate planning and elder law attorney who happens to have a Masters in Laws and Taxation as well as being a Certified Elder Law Attorney under authorization of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. However, more than any class or degrees I have received, representing numerous families over the years and watching their decisions, and in some cases mistakes, has really provided me the most prevalent insight into these questions and their answers. 

 I firmly believe it is very important to work with a financial professional to assist you during your working  or earning years, as well as heading into your retirement years. Although it is possible for some people to “do it alone,” I’m a firm believer in hiring professionals to provide assistance in their area of expertise.

The small fee you will pay will be far worth it in the long run versus what you would save in the short term. Having a financial professional and a plan for retirement, not only how to get there, but also how you will live during retirement — is imperative. Stretching your money during retirement is similar to when you were saving for retirement, being disciplined and having a goal in mind. 

 The one piece that no one ever wants to talk about is the cost of long-term care and how we’re going to pay for it. Although none of us really want to receive long-term care in our home or in a nursing facility, statistically it is a likely possibility that we need to consider.

Long-term care in a nursing home will cost anywhere from 10,000 to $12,000 a month. And in home care, depending on the amount of care that is being received, can cost anywhere from between $17,000 to $20,000 a month. This care is often necessary and needed but if there isn’t a plan in place, it can devastate a family pretty quickly and wipe out all of their savings. 

The most obvious way to pay for long-term care is to simply self-insure, make certain you have enough in assets or investments to cover the cost. I find this to be a very difficult proposition, not only because it is impossible to know ahead of time how much care you are going to need, but also the cost of the care in the future is very unpredictable. I remember at the beginning of my career the cost of a nursing home was around $5,000 a month, and now it is well over $10,000 and in some cases in our area $12,000.

I honestly don’t think it is out of the realm to predict the cost will more than double in a short period of time. But the people who were planning to self-insure, it was certainly a shock to them when they finally got to the point of needing it, and learning that we were closer to $12,000 a month. Although this can be possible for the wealthy individuals, it is not typically possible for the middle class, since they cannot accumulate enough wealth to absorb $12,000 a month in costs. The other thing to remember is that often times one spouse is the caregiver for another spouse, and when the well spouse ends up needing care himself or herself, both spouses end up in the nursing home to the tune of $25,000 a month. It would be very difficult to self-insure this kind of need. 

Another option is long-term care insurance. I am not licensed to sell insurance and have done numerous blogs on the topic of long-term care insurance. I am a big fan in general of the insurance because I love that it could keep an individual in their own home for as long as possible. If you are looking at long-term care insurance policies, I would definitely look at a rider that will pay for in home care.

Pennsylvania has products that are hybrid policies which are life insurance policies, as well as having the riders that provide for in-home care or nursing care. Pennsylvania also participates in the partnership plan, which will allow an individual who has a long-term care policy to exempt an amount of assets equal to the amount of benefit that they have received. I am a big fan of both of these, and if an individual is able to afford it, I believe it is absolutely a good investment. You certainly want to talk to an agent to determine if it is something that is possible for you and your loved one, as well as whether it is financially doable. 

In many cases self-insuring or long term care insurance is not an option, for a myriad of reasons, but often times we are stuck with a situation where a spouse does not have any way to pay for the long-term care, and they are reliant upon the crisis rules. Currently in the state of Pennsylvania, the crisis rules are very favorable, and will allow us to protect 100% of the assets for the spouse in the community. If you are interested in learning more about Medicaid crisis planning, please call our office at 717-845-5390, or click the link here to RSVP to our upcoming workshop to learn more about it. 

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Meet the Team: Deb Pingel

Deb Pingel a Wisconsin Native joined our team in 2020. Customer Service has been instill in Deb for her whole life. From babysitting, helping elderly through church, to customer service, Deb is in the front of the line to help others. Most recently she managed the online shopping at a local grocer, helping get groceries for the customers that were not comfortable shopping during the pandemic. Having a history of Medicaid Planning on the annuity side will bring another great dynamic to the Medicaid team. Deb loves being a wife, mother to her children as well as her fur babies. Deb received her Degree from UW-Milwaukee in Science and Arts.

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Meet the Team: Christine Oyler

Christine Oyler joined Bellomo & Associates, LLC in April of 2016 in the Medicaid Department.  She graduated from York College of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing.  Christine’s previous work experiences consist of working as an RN in Labor & Delivery, a LTC facility with adults that have neuromuscular disorders and as an Infection Control Practitioner.

Christine shares Bellomo & Associates belief that education empowers people to make the best choices for themselves and their families and this is why she loves providing workshops educating individuals on Medicaid.  She loves being able to help assist others through the Medicaid process. Christine loves spending time with her family.  She also enjoys taking daytrips and traveling, especially to the beach and Disney World!

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Moving On – Help for Seniors Relocating to Nursing Homes or Assisted Living Facilities

In my estate and elder law practice, I routinely provide advice to seniors and their families about the next step.  Specifically about what they will do when they need more care in their home or in an assisted living facility or in a nursing home.  Nobody ever wants to have to be relocated as we all wish that we could just reside in our homes until we pass.  However, this is not always the case and having a plan in place, preparing you and your loved ones for what it will look like to have to move will reduce the amount of stress and burden on your family tremendously.  

 I think the most important piece to all of this is for the entire family to be on the same page and to have open and honest conversations with each other.  All too often, families don’t have difficult conversations with the hopes that those decisions or that heartache will simply just go away if they ignore it.  My experience is that that is never the case.  But, ultimately will only provide more heartache and more stress that could easily be avoided if the family has conversations up-front before it is necessary.  

I am always amazed at the assistance and guidance that assisted living facilities, personal care homes and nursing homes provide to their potential residents.  The number of resources and guidance that they can provide are astronomical and should definitely not be underestimated or overlooked.  Take advantage of any and all resources that are made available.  But, if you have not yet made the final decision as to where you may want to move and cannot tap into the resources of a specific facility, there are definitely resources in and around our community that will not only assist you with preparation of your current home for sale and how to receive the highest top dollar but also what to expect when moving and what should you take or leave behind.  

Although these seem like very simple ideas and issues they really aren’t, and thinking about them in advance can save you and your family a lot of headaches.  Tap into your local resources to assist you with the move itself as well as how to get the new place put together and looking and feeling like home.  Spending a little bit of money in order to be able to get your new home feeling like your old home cannot be underestimated.  

If we can be of any assistance or answer any questions while you make decisions about long-term care, please give us a call at 717-845-5390.

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