Elder-LawWhat is Elder Law?

For most people, “Elder Law” is a new term.  In essence, the field of Elder Law covers any issues that seniors or their loved ones typically face.  One of the key issues that seniors encounter is the financial strain of providing for long-term care when independent living is no longer an option.  Additional issues that seniors might face include special needs planning, guardianship and conservatorship issues, and protecting assets for a spouse or to pass assets on to the next generation.

Is “spending down” my only option? 

Many people have heard about “spending down” resources so that a person can qualify for Medicaid coverage.  Did you know that “spending down” all your assets is not your only option in order to qualify for Medicaid?  What many people do not know is that there are many legal options that can protect assets while still allowing a person to qualify for Medicaid!

Case Scenario:

Matthew and Sarah have had a good life together. After their marriage, they raised three children. Throughout their working years, they carefully saved so that they would be able to retire without having to worry about money.

Together they enjoyed their early retirement years. They took trips to places in the world that they had only dreamed of visiting. Items started being checked-off their bucket list. All of their savings allowed them to live the retirement years of which they had dreamed.

Then Matthew started to forget things. Not much at first. Where did I put my car keys? We have plans to go out tonight? And then the forgetfulness started to get worse. Matthew and Sarah soon realized that the course of their retirement journey was taking a significant change.

Dementia. Alzheimer’s. Parkinson’s. Cancer.

All words that we do not want to hear. Yet, as lifespans increase, those words become reality in more and more families. At some point, the shock of the diagnosis merges into the shock of the cost of long-term care. In Arizona, Matthew’s care in a long-term care facility could cost $6,800 per month. Do Matthew and Sarah need to spend all of their savings to provide for his care? When Matthew passes away, will Sarah have any resources left to cover her ongoing monthly living expenses? Do they have any other options available to them?

When should I start planning for long-term care? 

The sooner you begin planning, the more legal options you will have to structure your finances. Elder Law planning takes place at two distinct times:

Pre-Planning occurs years (ideally 5 or more years) before long-term care is needed.  The flexibility of time creates many different excellent options that can help people protect many of their assets while preparing for the potential care needs of the future.

Crisis Planning occurs immediately before the filing of a Medicaid application.  Even at this juncture, an Elder Law attorney can help to protect some assets, while assisting the family to prepare the Medicaid application.

What if I have long-term care insurance?

Long-term care insurance is one excellent piece of an overall Elder Law plan.  Your long-term care policy provides more options and flexibility when coordinated with other planning aspects.  Benefits of long-term care insurance vary greatly, from amount of benefit per month to number of years of coverage.  An Elder Law attorney will want to know the exact details of your insurance to help you plan properly.

Inman Law PLLC’s initial consultations are provided at no cost so that we can help you determine if Elder Law planning might be appropriate and helpful for you!