“You can’t go back and change the beginning,
but you can start where you are and change the ending.” -C.S. Lewis
Elder law focuses on health issues, long-term care planning, disability, and incapacity planning for all segments of the population. Health, capacity and long-term planning including Medicaid may come about as a result of accident, injury or chronic disease that has nothing to do with age. Elder law also deals with estate planning that includes discussions to include long term care insurance. The estate planning part of elder law has additional considerations to be addressed i.e., capacity (if someone is elderly or disabled and has long-term care or other health needs), handling assets, applicable military benefits, or creating special trusts to enhance the quality of life of a person with special needs. Regulations and restrictions may exist for some benefits and time restrictions may also be a factor. For example, the current “look-back” period for Medicaid is five years. If you transfer property within five years of needing Medicaid, you may be ineligible for a certain time period, based on the value of that property and the cost of care. Dealing with these issues can be an important part of any planning process because health care and long-term care services are expensive and have uncertain availability. Incapacity planning is best done before the need arises, whether someone is elderly or not. If you or someone in your family currently needs or may need long-term care in the somewhat near future, it is very important that you plan for those needs now, while options are still available.
Many of the issues involved in elder law planning are like the estate planning process. For example, incapacity issues can often be dealt with by having the proper powers of attorney in place. A comprehensive power of attorney can designate who will handle your financial and health care decisions in the event of incapacity.
(Do not be fooled by “simple” generic POA forms! These forms may be easier on your budget, but they may restrict the specific powers required when you need them. If you do not have a power of attorney and have not expressed your wishes as to who should handle your affairs, the only other option is for your loved ones to petition the court, so a judge will decide who will make decisions for you. It may not be the person you want.)
LONG TERM CARE PLANNING-
INCLUDING MEDICAID &
LONG TERM CARE INSURANCE
Long-term care costs are staggering and are only destined to rise with the rapidly increasing number of people needing such care. Currently, the average nursing home cost in Colorado is approximately $7,800 per month or $93,600 per year – just for basic care. At-home care is often not available 24/7 and when it is available; 24/7 At-home care can be cost prohibitive. Contrary to what many people believe, most of the time this cost is NOT covered by Medicare.
Unless you or your loved one has long-term care insurance or can qualify for Medicaid, these costs must be paid for with assets, income or savings. As a result, few families can afford to pay for long-term care for very long without wiping out family assets.
In Colorado, Medicaid will pay for long-term care for those who qualify. Given the cost of long-term care, Medicaid may be a necessity even for people who own a comfortable amount of assets. If you or a loved one is facing the possibility of long-term care, it is important to know what is required to qualify for Medicaid assistance. Keep in mind, Medicaid laws are restrictive, confusing, constantly changing and different in every state. In addition, the application process can be daunting.
Whether you have immediate long-term care needs, an illness that has you concerned about long-term care or are in perfectly good health trying to plan for the future, our office will help you explore your options. We offer consultations for the Medicaid application process, Medicaid crisis planning (when someone needs to qualify for long-term care covered by Medicaid immediately) and proactive planning (for long-term care covered by Medicaid in the future). Even if you think there is nothing you can do, you may be surprised. Let us help you explore your options.
CHRONIC/SERIOUS ILLNESS PLANNING
"The road may be bumpy but stay committed to the process." -Unknown
These days, many people are suffering from a chronic illness or other serious health condition. In fact, it seems that every family has been touched by serious illness in some way. Sometimes, it is an ongoing issue that someone has been living with for some time. Other times, it is a sudden diagnosis of a potentially debilitating or life-threatening illness that appears to come out of nowhere.
Suddenly, both the patient and his or her loved ones are filled with questions and uncertainties.
How will this illness affect my family?
What kind of treatment is required and how will we pay for it?
Will the treatment work?
Will I be here for my family for the long term?
Will I need long-term care?
How do I handle all these questions while still trying to deal with the news of the diagnosis?
Our firm strongly stresses that you should have proper planning in place so you can concentrate on dealing with the most important matter of all – your health. Although we cannot help you with the immediate treatment decisions or the fear that may come with such a diagnosis, we can help you plan for contingencies. We can prepare comprehensive documents that will allow health care and financial decisions to be made for you in the event you cannot or are just too overwhelmed. We can help to ensure that things run as smoothly as possible and give you peace of mind, knowing your wishes will be carried out – both now and in the long term.