What You Need to Know about Planning for Elder Care
It can be difficult to accept if you are at the point in your life when your parents are starting to show their age. The reality, however, is that the natural aging process will eventually cause some degree of physical and/or mental deterioration that may lead to a need for elder care. With that in mind, the Loveland elder law attorneys at Zimmer Law Firm discuss what you need to know about planning for elder care.
What Is Elder Law?
An elder law attorney focuses on legal issues that impact the elderly and those who care for them. The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, or NAELA, was formed in the late 1980s to better serve this growing segment of the population. Five years after the creation of NAELA, the National Elder Law Foundation was formed. The purpose of the non-profit NELF was to help improve the professional skills of attorneys who choose to focus on elder law. Unlike other practice areas, elder law does not focus on a single area of the law. Instead, it looks at how many different legal issues impact the elderly. An elder law attorney can help you and your parents plan for the possible need for elder care.
How Can Planning for Elder Care Help?
Because it is impossible to know when a parent will reach the point at which elder care is necessary, planning well ahead of time is best. Elder care planning may include any, or all, of the following:
- Creating or updating an estate plan. Every adult should have a comprehensive estate plan in place; however, the need for estate planning increases with age. By the time a person reaches his/her retirement years a comprehensive estate plan should be in place. If one is not in place, or an existing plan needs to be updated, now is the time to do it.
- Planning for incapacity. To ensure that wishes will be honored regarding medical treatment and end-of-life care, incapacity planning should be part of an elder care plan. This may include advanced directives that name someone to make decisions and/or allow for decisions to be made ahead of time.
- Alternatives to long-term care. Understandably, most older people want to remain in their homes for as long as possible. To avoid the need to enter an LTC facility, alternatives should be discussed and explored. Medicare and/or Medicaid may cover the cost of in-home health care, community-based assistance, or even a paid family caregiver which can delay the need to move to a nursing home.
- Planning for long-term care. The high cost of long-term care (LTC) often results in the need to rely on Medicaid to help pay for that care. Qualifying for Medicaid, however, can put assets at risk if Medicaid planning was not incorporated into a comprehensive estate plan in time. An elder law attorney can help create a Medicaid planning component or discuss last-minute Medicaid planning strategies if necessary.
- Guardianship/conservatorship. If you are concerned that an elderly parent can no longer safely care for himself/herself and/or manage his/her finances, it may be time to consider petitioning for guardianship/conservatorship. Making that decision is never easy; however, if it is necessary to protect your parent an elder law attorney can discuss the steps necessary to obtain guardianship/conservatorship.
Contact Loveland Elder Law Attorneys
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE webinar. If you have additional questions or concerns about planning for elder care, contact an experienced Loveland elder law attorney at Zimmer Law Firm by calling 513-721-1513 to schedule your appointment today.