An important concern for seniors and their families is what will happen if they are unable to live independently as they age. None of us want to be dependent on another person for care or to have to leave our homes and move to a long-term care facility. However, with modern medicine and today’s ever increasing life expectancies, the reality is that many older people may need to move to independent senior living, then may later need home care or assisted living, and finally even nursing home care.
In a health crisis, such as after a stroke or fall resulting in injury, seniors and their families may wonder where the older person can safely live, what their care options are, how much it will cost, and if they will have enough money to pay for their long-term care living arrangements.
The complex and ever-changing rules of Medicare, Medicaid, and veterans services, play an important role for people over 65 along with traditional estate planning concerns. I refer to this as estate and longevity planning or elder care planning. These questions are becoming more common as health care costs continue to rise and as people live longer with conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, the effects of a stroke, or age-related frailty.
As an elder law attorney in metro Detroit, I assist seniors and their families in reviewing the options for their long-term care in the event they are unable to live independently. This may involve planning for home care, assisted living facilities, or a nursing home. In addition, I help them determine how best to pay for their long term care given their income, assets, and individual care needs. This often involves an evaluation of what public benefits are available such as Medicare, Medicaid and veterans Aid and Attendance benefits.
I begin my representation of many clients with a comprehensive estate and long-term care planning evaluation. This written analysis reviews the best planning strategies to pursue in order to meet the client’s estate and long-term health care needs, based on their individual personal situation. In this analysis, I will examine all aspects of the client’s financial well-being and issue a follow-up report which summarizes the client’s unique situation, reviews the laws, and, perhaps most importantly, reviews the various benefit programs that are available to the older person, and what they have to do to qualify for them. I then do the work to help the older person qualify for the benefits they may need.
My analysis and report will also detail the best possible estate plan for the client. This may then involve the drafting of a comprehensive general durable power of attorney, Medicaid Asset Protection Trust, Irrevocable Trust for VA purposes, revocable Estate and Longevity Trust, or Family Caregiver Contract. The long-term care plan will serve as a road map and guide families in future decision making.