0

Family Caregivers – Thank You! 🙏

Calligraphy-2658504_640Being a family caregiver is one of the most rewarding, amazing experiences that children can provide to their loved ones. I have heard time and time again from children who are able to provide caregiving how rewarding it is, particularly in cases when it keeps their loved ones out of a nursing home. 

For a number of reasons, children who provide caregiving should enter into a written caregiver agreement with their parents.

First, it is the best way to ensure that there are not mis-expectations and hurt feelings later.

Second, if done properly, it will actually provide for both VA purposes Medicaid purposes, a legitimate spend-down of resources which would otherwise go to the government, and the monies paid will not be considered a gift. Therefore, no penalty will be assessed for the money paid to the child.

The one thing to remember is for the child caregiver monies that are received will be income taxable to the child; it is very important that the child claim those monies as income on their tax return so that it clearly shows that it was not intended to be a gift later.

However, family caregiving is certainly not without its downsides to caregivers. In most cases the caregivers could make more money if they stayed in the workforce and did not leave to provide care. In a situation where they are trying to continue to work and provide care, the increased stress added to the caregivers can be detrimental their physical and/or emotional health.

There are often cases that the caregiver impacts the family, either because one child is doing the caregiving and that child feels like they're being taken advantage of, or others feel as though that child is taken advantage of Mom and Dad because they are getting paid.

Either way, a lot of times it provides an additional stress to family members that they weren't expecting. There are often times where a caregiver will be out-of-pocket as well for certain costs, and getting reimbursed may surely be an allowable thing under the law, but having other children understand why money is being distributed to one child versus the others is often not an easy conversation. 

There is no doubt that for those people who are able to provide care to their loved ones, care in the home it is a wonderful gift.

However, I highly recommend that everything be put in writing for all of the reasons stated above, but mostly so that there are no missed expectations among the people receiving the care, the people providing the care, and the other family members.

To those who have been able to keep their family members home, thank you for everything, all that you do is appreciated.

0

The Bumpy Ride of Care for Your Parents

Holding elder persons hand“Thanks to Father Time and copious amounts of prescription drugs, people are living longer. But with longer lives comes the potential for increased healthcare needs.”

It can happen out of the blue. One second your folks are in pretty good shape. The next second, your dad is in the hospital with pneumonia and your mom is showing signs of early onset dementia.

How the devil did this happen? This is the basic question asked by Chicago Now in its recent article, “Getting Old Sucks: Why To Start Estate Planning With Your Parents.” As the article puts it: “you are officially on the rollercoaster ride to elder hell.”

Fortunately, there are things you can do on this bumpy ride to make it easier on you and your parents. While it’s uncomfortable at first discussing the topic of death with your parents, it’s necessary and important.

Talk to them about estate planning and make sure that they have wills, durable healthcare and medical powers of attorney (POA) and health care directives. If your parents don’t have these documents, you should make an appointment with a qualified estate-planning attorney and get this completed today as soon as possible.

For example, what if your father has a debilitating stroke, doesn’t regain consciousness and needs 24/7 medical support indefinitely? Without a health care directive, the hospital will keep him alive, even in a vegetative state, until he passes naturally.

You’ll be unable to have him removed from life support, unless you can show the physician and hospital administrators his legally valid health care directive and his medical POA that details his wishes. Without these estate planning documents, you and your mother will have limited control on how he should be treated.

From a financial standpoint, it is important to remember that the hospitals will continue to bill you even when your father is on life support and technically brain dead. After 100 days of Medicare coverage, your mom will be fully responsible for these care and treatment expenses, if there’s no supplemental insurance.

Start the dialog with your parents and let them determine how they want to live and die. This will save you and your loved ones considerable stress, frustration and heartache in the future.

Once this is under control, work on your own estate planning. You should contact a knowledgeable and experienced estate-planning attorney with your questions.

Reference: Chicago Now (March 7, 2017) “Getting Old Sucks: Why To Start Estate Planning With Your Parents”

0

Happy Birthday! So, How Well Are You Driving Lately? / York, PA

MP900409434Every day in America, roughly 10,000 people turn age 65. To help keep roadways safe as America grays and to help preserve the freedom of mobility of older drivers, researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine are training law enforcement officers to recognize warning signs of impaired driving skills and to take appropriate, compassionate action. They are also training doctors to think more about their patients’ ability to drive safely with age.

A recent article in the Claims Journal, titled Police, Doctors Receive Elder Driver Assessment Training,” describes an educational program called Training, Research and Education for Driving Safety (TREDS). The program is designed to reduce the number of fatalities involving older drivers and to extend the time seniors can drive safely.

The program’s focus is to educate people about the effects of aging on driving skills and the need to assess older people for driving impairments. TREDS teaches physicians about conditions and medications that can impact a person’s ability to drive safely, regardless of age.

TREDS would like to see doctors assessing their patients for age-related driving impairments. These can include problems with their vision, mobility, and dementia. The program will give these patients information on necessary medications that have fewer driving-related side effects.

Auto accidents rank second in causes of injury-related deaths in people age 65 and older. The original article estimates that one in five drivers in the U.S. will be age 65 or older by 2030. That’s twice the number of seniors in 2010—roughly 70 million in 2030.

Although some seniors can drive safely into their eighties and beyond, a person’s crash rate per mile driven starts to increase when they reach age 70. By their 80s, senior men are as dangerous behind the wheel (in terms of driving fatalities per mile driven) as teenage males.

For more information, contact an experienced elder law attorney.

For more information about estate planning, please visit my estate planning website.

Reference: Claims Journal (November 7, 2014) Police, Doctors Receive Elder Driver Assessment Training

0

New Study Shows Special Needs Expenses Skyrocket / York, PA

MP900407458A new study pegs the lifetime cost of caring for a child with autism at $1.4 million. For parents, there are no easy solutions. The good news: Sam is now high-functioning, and in many respects a completely normal 13-year-old. The downside: The price tag to get to this point has been massive. “Only a parent of a child with special needs can ever understand the struggles, and the financial commitment, of raising and recovering an autistic child,” says Mercier, a business owner from Winnipeg, Canada. “It’s an endless battle — and an expensive one.”

A new study in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics reports that the total lifetime cost of supporting an individual with an ASD is $1.4 million in the U.S.—with an added intellectual disability, the total rises to $2.4 million. Reuters recently reported on this study and its findings in an article titled "Raising an Autistic Child: Coping With the Costs."

These costs typically include an ongoing mix of special education programs, medical care, and lost wages as many parents of autistic children reduce their work hours or even quit their jobs to help their child full-time. The organization Autism Speaks estimates that it now takes roughly $60,000 annually to support someone with an ASD. Such costs can be so prohibitive that many affected families will move to states that offer a better collection of services.

The original article advises parents not to automatically think they must drop out of the workforce to manage their child’s case full-time. It is the natural human instinct to want to do so. No one knows a child and his or her needs like a parent, and navigating the morass of city, state and federal services can be a full-time job. However, if a parent drops out of the workforce, just as out-of-pocket expenses start to mount up, it can become very challenging financially.

The article urges families to take a long-term view of caregiving. In some situations it might be more advantageous for mom to stay in the workforce, and then hire additional support to provide case-management services. An attorney well-versed in special needs issues can be an indispensable aid in this area.

For more information about special needs planning, please visit my estate planning website.

Reference:  Reuters (June 24, 2014)"Raising an Autistic Child: Coping With the Costs"

  • Fill in the form below to download your e-book


    Download your free Avoid These Five Common Estate Planning Myths e-book
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.