0

Comparing Life Care Planning to Traditional Elder Law

This year, we are getting the word out there about the Life Care Planning we offer that involves a licensed social worker to act as the Client Care Advocate. A question that we keep getting is what is “What is the difference between Life Care Planning and Elder Law and why did you make the change?” The way that I explain it is that a traditional elder law firm prepares documents for an individual and then either waits until the client passes or until they need to go to a nursing home and will qualify them for public benefits.

A life care planning firm is a more holistic approach to providing care. Our licensed social worker, Meg Motter, works with families to assist in figuring out ways to keep their loved ones home and how to receive care in a home or in a less restrictive environment than a nursing home. A licensed social worker will be able to provide different cognitive assessments and evaluate safety and necessity of levels of care, unlike an attorney. The elder care coordinator allows the firm to provide a more comprehensive approach, separate from just estate planning documents or qualification for Medicaid. The care coordinator allows the firm to provide information and advice that was not otherwise available to the firm prior to becoming a life care planning model firm.

We are ecstatic to have Meg Motter onboard as our elder care coordinator and we look forward to assisting you and your family in the future.

Please feel free to give us a call if you have any questions or comments at 717-845-5390.

0

What is fair for a Family with a Child with Special Needs

Teacher with preschoolerAs parents, it’s hard to treat all children fairly, despite their different personalities and capabilities. Most try to ensure that one child never feels less loved than another. Some will carry that over into their estate planning. However, there are times when inequity may be a better choice. A recent Tickertape article is appropriately titled “Estate Planning for Special Needs Children: Trying to Be Even-Steven?” The article says that one instance when fair is not always equal, is when you’re planning the future for a special needs child after you die.

Children with special needs are typically eligible for state and federal benefits to provide them with assistance for their long-term support. Among the most common are Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid. In many states, SSI may qualify children for Medicaid, or Medicaid comes automatically with SSI. These are need-based benefits that are means-tested. SSI recipients have a strict assets threshold of $2,000 for an individual. If a special needs child gets an inheritance, it might push him or her, above that ceiling.  This could result in ineligibility for the program benefits that might be used to cover medical, therapeutic, or housing needs.

When money is paid directly to the child as beneficiary, it can cut SSI benefits. The same is true, if the special-needs heir disclaims the inheritance.

Government benefits may be retained, if an inheritance is set up in a Special Needs Trust (SNT), which is designed to help a beneficiary with special needs and preserve government aid while protecting assets. The trust allocates inheritance assets to the child with special needs, but it’s via a third-party.

However, there might be tax implications. While the inheritance itself isn’t taxed, the income that it generates in a special trust is typically taxable at trust tax levels. Creating an SNT can be complicated, and the rules can vary from state to state. Speak to a qualified trust attorney to be sure that all income is reported properly and there are no deductions left on the table.

Treating children equally when one has special needs, may result in creating an inequality. Because of the government program eligibility requirements, you must consider the net tax implications when dividing your estate. Be straightforward with your children as to your intentions, especially if one child will be needing long-term care. Knowing the plans will help everyone prepare for the future.

Reference: Tickertape (June 14, 2017) “Estate Planning for Special Needs Children: Trying to Be Even-Steven?”

0

Planning Ahead with Long-Term Care

Middle aged coupleAs we think of our parents aging, we may also start to think about our own aging. Sometimes it takes a negative experience with a parent’s estate planning to motivate us to start planning for our own long-term care and end-of-life decisions.

WTOP’s recent article, “Preparing for old age: Long-term care, insurance and estate planning,” says the first step is to mirror the kind of conversations you held with your parents and have the same conversation with yourself.

Take a look at your vision for how you want to age and how you want to address your end-of-life issues, before you make any moves with your estate plan or insurance coverage. If you have a partner, first work independently on your own wishes, and then have a conversation together.

Working with aging parents can also make you think about your planning for long-term care insurance. Start the process when you’re in your 50s. The older you get, the greater chance you have of running out of time to save or of becoming uninsurable. Recent statistics published by AARP show that 52% of  those individuals who turn 65 today, will develop some form of severe disability requiring long-term care support. The average lifetime cost of long-term care in retirement tops $250,000.

 The next step is to review your current estate plan in light of your goals. Many individuals or couples who have a plan in place will forget about them, letting their documents become out-of-date. If you don’t have an estate plan yet, getting it completed should be a top priority. Your estate planning attorney is experienced at working with clients to understand their wishes and to create a plan that reflects those intentions.

Before executing a plan, you’ll need to calculate your total level of wealth, create a list of intended heirs and charitable organization names, as well as a divorce decree, if applicable. If you have minor children, you’ll need to designate guardians to act in your absence.  It is also necessary to decide whether those same people will manage the inheritance for your children or whether you want someone else to assume that responsibility.

Planning for aging means taking careful consideration of many components of your financial plan. Look at how your retirement lifestyle and legacy plan could be impacted by a long-term care need.

Reference: WTOP (May 3, 2017) “Preparing for old age: Long-term care, insurance and estate planning”

0

New York Police Officer Sued for Welfare Check on Senior

Tablet with penThe New York Law Journal reported in a recent article, “Officer's Welfare-Check on Elderly Man Is Shielded by Immunity, Court Says,” that New York Judge Frank Geraci said the search by Orchard Park Police Department Lt. Joseph Buccilli was permissible, when lives or health could be at stake based on a 911 call.

The judge said the police officer was protected by his good faith actions in responding to an emergency. He had qualified immunity from a suit filed by the owners of the home he entered, in alleged violation of residents' Fourth Amendment rights to privacy. The judge went on to say that even if Buccilli's beliefs that his actions were justified in entering the home were based on wrong assumptions, the officer’s actions weren’t so "plainly incompetent" as would qualify as a violation of the resident's Fourth Amendment rights.

The judge said "…no one has pointed this court to any controlling case that clearly establishes the answer to this question: When performing a welfare check on an individual in response to a request from adult protective services (or a similar agency), may a police officer enter a location to determine the welfare of that individual?"

Buccilli was called to the Buffalo area home of the Batt family. LuAnn was the daughter of the elderly Fred Puntoriero, whom the family had taken in after he was diagnosed years earlier with dementia. Fred's daughter-in-law called the local Adult Protective Services in April 2012, complaining that she and her husband hadn’t been permitted to see Fred for several weeks. They were concerned about his condition. Fred’s son (Joe) and daughter (LuAnn) each had power of attorney over their father, according to the ruling.

Adult Protective Services made a 911 call to Buccilli the next day. Joe didn’t want to let the officer in, but Buccilli followed Joe through a side door and found wheelchair-bound Fred inside the home. Fred looked well-groomed and well-fed. He was able to identify himself, and an Adult Protective Services case worker later confirmed that Fred was under hospice care and was receiving good care. Fred died later in 2012, at age 76.

The daughter sued the police officer for violation of their Fourth Amendment rights in a 42 U.S.C. §1983 action.

Reference: New York Law Journal (April 3, 2017) “Officer's Welfare-Check on Elderly Man Is Shielded by Immunity, Court Says”

1 2 3 5

  • 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.