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My Loved One is in a Nursing Home, is it too Late?

“My loved one is in a nursing home, is it too late?” The simple answer is no, it is not too late! The only time it is too late is when there are no assets available or when all of the assets were previously gifted. If the family member in the nursing home still has assets, it is not too late.

The confusion in many of these cases arises because most individuals believe that because the nursing home didn’t mention that anything could be done, that means that nothing can be done. Unfortunately, it is not the nursing homes business office’s job to tell a family how to protect assets. It is their job to make sure that they provide great care for their residents and get paid for their services. To be completely honest, most of them do not even realize that anything can be done because when you look at the law on its face, it doesn’t really mention anything about it. You have to dig a bit deeper!

If you have a loved one that has entered a nursing home, please contact our office immediately so that you can watch our educational workshop and have a free consultation where we explain your options to you before you make any decisions. It is our job to protect you and your family and to protect as much as we possibly can for our clients. Allow us to do our job and allow the nursing homes to continue to do their job to provide care and get paid for their services.

Remember, it is not too late. If a loved one is already in a nursing home, please give us a call so you can attend our free workshop by registering here or call schedule 717-845-5390 and we’ll set you up with a free consultation.

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Review These Retirement Planning Criteria

401k piggy bankStock Investor’s recent article, “6 Retirement Estate Planning Criteria You Must Address,” says every retiree’s investment objective should address these six criteria:

  1. Minimum required yield. This is the first factor when looking for reliable long term income. It is calculated based on household income requirements and investable assets—typically IRAs, taxable brokerage accounts and other savings that are planned for retirement income. When the required percent of investment (portfolio yield) increases, so does the income risk. When the yield is too high to be practical, traditional thought says to liquidate some of your principal by gradually drawing down your investment portfolio over retirement years or by using an insurance product like a single premium immediate annuity.
  2. Income Reliability. This means the income, just like a paycheck, will be there regularly and will have a low risk of fluctuation—and an even lower risk of being reduced or eliminated.
  3. Income growth that keeps up with inflation. This can come from the investments organically growing their dividends over the years or from the excess income the actual investments produce that are accumulated and used to supplement future household income with inflation.
  4. Liquidity. This is the ease with which investment securities can be converted into cash. This will be a high priority, if you think a need could arise that would require an unplanned tap into the principal of the investment portfolio.
  5. Future capital preservation of the investment principal. Conventional wisdom says that retirement savings will be consumed and the savings will decumulate. Capital preservation is a priority, if you want to maintain the investment capital to meet future possible household major expenses—like assisted living costs or creating a testamentary special needs trust (a trust created at your death in your estate) to provide for a disabled child or grandchild, to provide for a grandchild’s college expenses or to donate a favorite charity.
  6. Simple transfer to the surviving spouse. In many instances, a spousal retirement account has just one person who builds, monitors, and manages the portfolio. Therefore, it’s important to have an easy transition for the surviving spouse to continue the management of the income portfolio.

Reference: Stock Investor (May 24, 2017) “6 Retirement Estate Planning Criteria You Must Address”

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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”

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Find Out More about Home Healthcare Services

Doctor with patient“It should ease your mind to learn that there are many more sources of funding for in-home healthcare than you may think.”

There can be stress, confusion and sadness when a person learns that a loved one needs in-home healthcare services. There are many things to evaluate when it comes to the different types of care and how to pay for home healthcare.

Miami's Community Newspapers’ recent article, “How to Pay for Home Healthcare without Going Broke,” says that many funding resources for in-home services may cost very little or nothing. There are some funding resources for seniors who don’t qualify for government programs. However, bear in mind that some carry financial risks. An experienced Elder Law attorney can help you find the best options for your circumstances.

There are also several different types of caregivers for senior caregiving. You should learn about various roles, since their funding is from different sources.

Personal Care. There are many names for personal care assistants like home care aides, custodial care aides, personal care assistants and companionship aides. They help seniors with hygiene and grooming activities. These caregivers are self-employed and aren’t required to have any certification, licensing, or insurance. They typically charge 20-30% less than workers from home health care agencies and you can usually get one on short notice. Medicare doesn’t cover funding for personal caregiving alone. As a result, most families use personal savings for this service.

Home Healthcare. Home healthcare aides (HHA) or certified nurse aides (CNA), personal care aides (PCA) and geriatric workers are considered skilled care. They perform duties like taking a pulse or monitoring blood pressure and personal care. They help with medication management and medical equipment, and provide a higher level of care. HHAs usually work with home health care agencies that have state certification to bill under Medicare and are bonded, licensed and insured.

Seniors who need these types of care, should look for funding for home healthcare in several areas:

Medicare and Veteran’s Administration. Two primary sources of funding for skilled senior care are Medicare and the Veteran’s Administration, and home health agencies take care of the billing.

Medicaid. Some in-home healthcare services may not be covered under Medicare or Veteran’s Administration coverage, so seniors with Medicaid may need to bill for some medical services separately.

State Programs. The Older Americans Act offers funding to states for Meals on Wheels and meals served in senior centers. It also funds programs for health promotion and family caregiving support.

Personal Funding. Maximize federal and state funding before you use your personal finances. There are several ways to finance uncovered costs like your personal savings, annuities, long term care insurance, a reverse mortgage, life insurance policy conversion, home care loans and a home equity line of credit.

Go with a Pro. Using your personal funds, life insurance and loans will affect the senior’s estate and financial worth, so talk with an Elder Law and estate planning attorney.

Reference: Miami's Community Newspapers (March 21, 2017) “How to Pay for Home Healthcare without Going Broke”

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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”

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