The Importance of Pre-Crisis Long Term Care Needs
We all know that the longstanding motto of the Boy Scouts is “Be Prepared”. The obvious reason is to encourage scouts to be prepared mentally, physically and emotionally to take care of themselves during life and in an emergency. Teaching young people to know and be able to use practical survival skills when needed is an important lifetime lesson. We teach this important lesson to our children but often we don’t practice what we preach. There are also practical survival skills for handling Long Term Care Needs issues. Are you and your family mentally, emotionally, legally and financially prepared in case a family member needs Long Term Care? Can you act promptly? Do you have a plan? The following is an overview of the important issues Elder law Attorneys will discuss with you in advance of crisis. It is our goal to provide important survival skills and create a plan for peace of mind. The plan will include discussions of the following four areas:
Doesn’t Having A Will Avoid Probate?
I start with this issue because successfully managing the Long Term Care Needs of a family member can be stressful and difficult on the family and family relations. A comprehensive discussion on Long Term Care Needs should address the family dynamics and how to best address caregiver issues and any problems or tensions that may arise.
It may seem obvious that everyone should have all their legal documents in place and updated. However, I can assure you that it is the exception, not the rule. In addition to addressing inheritance issues, we address making a Will or Trust appropriate. Our firm provides for pre-crisis Long Term Care needs planning, including: Advance Directives (Durable Power of Attorney, Health Surrogate, Last Will & Testament, Living Will) These documents may look like forms that can be downloaded from the internet or purchased at your local stationers.
In fact, these documents are sensitive in nature and require a multi-faceted and comprehensive set of specific legal Powers. It is very important that they be complete and include specific Power to do each and every act that may be required on behalf of a loved one. A general statement that the “agent can do any act that I can do” will not suffice under Florida law, but more important will not be recognized by many of the institutions that you may present it to, such as most banks.
Arranging for the finances of the person with the incapacity to be handled. This will avoid an unnecessary Guardianship Proceeding in court. We also make sure that this person is not going to inadvertently inherit funds that will compromise their ability to receive public benefits to which they may be entitled, such as Medicaid and Veteran’s benefits.
How do we pay for Long Term Care: Insurance, private pay, public benefits, such as Medicaid and Veteran’s benefits? Proper Pre-Crisis Long Term Care Needs Planning should include a discussion of public benefits. Many people assume that they are not eligible for Medicaid and/or Veteran’s Benefits; or other government programs. Many people do not know what they are entitled to or how to get full access and benefit from these resources. Additionally, families must learn how to maximize Long Term Care insurance policies, Medicare, Medigap Insurance or an HMO.
Social, Caregiver and Advocacy Issues
This entails a review of other community resources and programs where the family can learn more. This will include housing options, caregiver options, funeral arrangements and care managers.
Crisis Planning: Is It Too Late?
“My mother was living home and was fine. We kept putting off going to a lawyer. Then she fell! Medicare stopped paying for her rehabilitation. How am I going to pay for the nursing home she now needs? What documents do we need? Is it too late?”
Unfortunately I hear this all the time. Much as we would hope our families would plan for all possibilities, it is a fact than many do not. WE ARE HERE TO HELP! No one should make you feel guilty. We move forward from here. Is it too late? The answer is NO! But we must move quickly. We must assess the situation and determine if we can protect assets and qualify for Medicaid or Veteran’s Benefits for the nursing home patient.
We must prepare all the necessary Estate Planning documents such as health care surrogates, living wills, durable powers of attorney and a will. We must look at the family dynamics and structure a plan that works for each individual family.
But time is definitely money. For more information visit How to qualify for Medicaid Legally and Honestly and Veteran’s Benefits for Long Term Care Costs. In addition to protecting assets and qualifying for Medicaid, it is important that the nursing home patient have all of the important documents in place. The most important of all is the Living Will, Health Care Surrogate and Durable Power of Attorney.