Elder Law and Medicaid Planning
Whether for yourself or your aging parents, at P.A. Lundy & Associates, we can help you plan for the financial, medical, and legal challenges that come with growing older.
Who Needs Long-Term Care Planning?
Thanks to healthier lifestyles and enhanced medical technology, life expectancies in the U.S. are at an all-time high. But that also means more seniors will require some form of long-term care. Whether in-home assistance or a long-term nursing home stay, it’s becoming inevitable that most of us will require such care at some point in our lives.
Problem is, such long-term care is growing more expensive every day. In fact, some studies estimate that nearly two-thirds of families will run out of money within the first year or two of moving into a nursing home. Unfortunately, most private health insurance plans and Medicare don’t cover long-term care costs—which can average $4,000 to $12,000+ per month in the U.S., depending on where you live and what level of care you require.
How Can Estate Planning HELP?
With the proper Estate planning in place, you can rest assured that you and your loved ones will have the proper safeguards in place to keep you at home as long as you desire, cover the expenses of your care and receive the maximum quality of care, when it’s needed. We can also help you qualify for Medicaid and other benefits to help cover these ongoing expenses.
Indeed, using trusts and other asset-protection strategies, you and your loved ones may be able to take advantage of government benefits without “spending down” all of your assets or losing everything you own.
Additional Elder Law Issues
Elder law involves a number of issues that are intertwined with traditional estate planning. For example, its essential to have your durable power of attorney, will, living trusts, and advanced directives reviewed by your team at P.A. Lundy & Associates.
There are special provisions that need to be present in these documents that—if not included—can create unnecessary obstacles.
Anyone can require a guardian or someone to care for them when illness, injury, or mental decline presents itself and they become mentally or physically incapacitated. Unless the person has the proper estate planning in place that names a guardian, however, guardianship must be established through county probate court. We can guide you through this often complex and emotional process.
Obtaining Adult Guardianship
The process begins with the interested party filing a petition, whether “ex-parte” (in secret) or not, in court that requests the court declare the incapacitated person incompetent.
Regardless of which “interested party” files the petition (petitioner), guardianship will only be granted if the court determines there’s enough evidence to show the person is mentally incapacitated and can no longer make legal, financial, and/or healthcare decisions for themselves. The petitioner must establish a good faith basis for the petition. If guardianship is granted, the incapacitated person is known as “Disabled person” (DP).
Who Can Serve as an Adult Guardian?
Although courts typically give preference to a spouse or another close family member, a guardian doesn’t have to be a relative. Provided the person is a competent adult, a close friend, or any other interested party can serve as long as they prove they’re best suited for the position.
If a relative or friend is not willing—or capable—of serving, the court will appoint a professional guardian or public guardian. Sadly, this can lead to horrible financial and/or physical abuse of the incapacitated, so it’s best to plan ahead and name a guardian in your estate planning documents to keep courts out of the picture entirely.
Types of Adult Guardianships and Corresponding Responsibilities
There are two types of guardianship:
- Guardianship of the person – involves making decisions about the ward’s place of residence, physicians, medical treatment, and a host of other personal issues.
- Guardianship of the estate – involves decisions about the person’s income, legal actions, assets, insurance claims, and many other matters.
Usually one person is appointed for both roles, but the court can also split the responsibilities among multiple parties. Moreover, the court often requires the guardian(s) to file detailed status reports—like financial accounting—at regular intervals or whenever important decisions are made.
With the huge responsibility and loss of control that comes with guardianship, the process can often feel overwhelming. The team at P.A. Lundy & Associates will HELP you take the best course of action to ensure that the right decisions are made and the proper guardians are selected.
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