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Your Kids Will Thank YouOne of the questions I often ask people who come to our workshops, is What do you want to accomplish when doing your estate plan? Most people tell me they want to protect stuff from the nursing home, while others want to be smart about taxes. Some people say they just want to make things easy for their family. They dont want to be a burden and they want to keep the family peace. With this goal in mind, I want to share some tips on how we can put together a meaningful plan for your family to reduce their stress when you are affected with health issues. When you pass away, your family will go through the grieving process, but you dont want it to be a stressful time from a financial and or legal standpoint. Rather, you want to set your kids up for success.What Does It Mean By Setting Your Kids Up For Success? Often, when people do an estate plan theyll want to write a Will. When they pass away, the kids tend to take over as executor or trustee. If a parent gets sick before they pass away, the kids may take over as power of attorney or guardian. What Is Guardianship?Lets assume that people dont do any planning, and have no legal documents. Should they become incapacitated, their kids will end up in guardianship. Lets take Fred for example, who hasnt done any planning, and is a widower. If he has a stroke, his kids need to get control of the money and make decisions. However, if Fred has not done any planning, his kids cannot make decisions simply because they are his children. They have to go through a process called guardianship. This means taking Fred into the courthouse to be declared legally incapacitated, by a judge. The judge may request that the guardian reports back regularly, so that the judge can make sure the guardian is the right person to make the decisions. This can be an expensive legal process, which can also be emotionally challenging.Can Guardianship Be Avoided?Its easy to avoid the guardianship process by simply having a Power of Attorney document. This document lists somebody to be your agent, who will be your legal and financial decision maker. In the event that you become incapacitated, somebody else can act on your behalf. They can walk into any bank or financial institution with the Power of Attorney document, and do what needs to be done, while acting in your best interests. Fortunately, we dont need the courthouse to make it happen. While we cannot prevent getting sick as we get older, whether its having dementia or a stroke that affects us, we can give our kids the legal authority to make decisions. Communicate With Your KidsIn addition to having a Power of Attorney, you also need to have a Will or a Trust in place. We encourage our clients to use a trust instead of a Will, to avoid going through the probate process. Regardless of whether your child is the executor of a Will or the trustee of trust, when you pass away, they will have roles and responsibilities. It is important for you to communicate with your children to tell them about what their future roles and responsibilities will be. It is not enough to just create a document and leave it on the shelf. You need to tell your kids where your assets are, where you bank, who the financial advisor is and who the attorney is. Avoid The StressIt often happens after a parent has passed away, that the adult children come to us with a bag of their parents documents and paperwork, trying to make sense of it. The kids are not only grieving after losing a parent, but they now have to sort through mom or dads belongings and paperwork. They are also confused about what their responsibility is as an executor or trustee. I urge you to make it easy for your kids to fulfil their roles, by sharing details of where your assets are. You dont have to share details of the value of your assets while youre still living, but I encourage you to share the necessary details with your kids. This will help them with the administration and avoid a stressful situation.Why You Need An Advanced DirectiveWho would make any health care decisions, if you are affected by a health issue and cannot make decisions? You need to decide who that person will be, and communicate with them. If you are elderly woman with no surviving spouse, one of your children will have to make decisions if you are unable to. You would need a document called an Advanced Directive, stating what must be done if you get sick or become incapacitated. It is wise to appoint two different family members to make financial and healthcare decisions respectively.Consider Having A Life Care PlanI encourage you to consider enlisting our help to create a Life Care Plan, which we offer at Sechler Law Firm. This plan takes into consideration where you will get care, and how you will pay for it. It means your family will not have to worry about whether they have made the right decision about your care. We have a social worker and a healthcare professional on our team, because life care planning is more about healthcare planning than it is traditional legal work. However, we consider it to all be part of doing estate planning. To find out more, call 724-564-6615. You can also learn more by coming to one of our Three Secrets Estate Planning Workshops. Call to register for an upcoming free workshop!
Medicaid planning is a strategy that can safeguard the future of senior citizens. This is a complex process, and it needs thorough consideration of various factors to ensure maximum benefits. Here is a list of 6 essential factors to remember during Medicaid planning for senior citizens.Eligibility Criteria:One has to meet certain parameters to avail of the benefits of Medicaid. Therefore, it is important to understand this requirement before proceeding with Medicaid planning for senior citizens. The income limits can be varied by state. The asset limits also vary, and assets like cash, investments, and property are considered.Asset Protection:Protecting the assets while availing the Medicaid benefits is also an important consideration that the applicant has to consider. Experienced attorneys implement various strategies like altering countable assets to exempt assets to protect the applicant's interest. Sometimes, prepaid funeral plans and particular annuities can also be used to protect assets during Medicaid planning for senior citizens.Lookback Period:Medicaid has a certain "lookback period." During this time, if any assets get transferred, they will be reviewed. Though this lookback period varies by state, it typically lasts five years. If the asset transfer has occurred during this period for less than the market value, then Medicaid may penalize that individual. Planning accordingly and avoiding improper asset transfers during this period is crucial in such conditions.Income Planning:Applicants with more than the Medicaid income limit must establish Miller Trust to get Medicaid benefits. This trust helps to deposit the excess income and use the money for future medical expenses. However, before going ahead, it is crucial to understand the specific rule associated with creating and managing trust.Long-Term Care Planning:Medicaid covers long-term care services that seniors require. This service can be availed at a nursing home or in the home. While considering Medicaid service, it is important to consider which specific care the senior needs and whether they can align with the Medicaid coverage in that state.Estate Planning:Estate planning is part of Medicaid planning. It mainly focuses on meeting the senior's wishes while maximizing Medicaid benefits. This planning phase involves creating a will, establishing trusts, or drafting power of attorney. Estate planning helps to protect assets from unwanted heirs.Conclusion:Medicaid planning for senior citizens is complex, and many rules and regulations are involved. Understanding the eligibility criteria, and other aspects is crucial for maximum benefit. Therefore, hiring any senior citizen attorney to handle this process is recommended. We at Platinum Services can guide and assist you in your Medicaid planning.
Did you know June 15th is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day? One of the best ways to recognize World Elder Abuse Awareness Day may be to learn more about the unfortunate prevalence of elder abuse in our communities and ways it can be prevented. Let us discuss three ways to advocate for elders at risk this month. Understand the prevalence of elder abuse. The most well-known type of elder abuse may be that which occurs in nursing homes, but elder abuse may also occur in an assisted living facility, the elders home, a family members home, or even out in the community. Just as the location of abuse varies, so do the types. Elder abuse ranges from physical abuse, to emotional abuse, to neglect and abandonment, to sexual abuse and financial abuse. The most typical victims of elder abuse may be those adults who are dependent upon others, from assisting them in their home with their activities of daily living, to a person who assists them with financial transactions. While both men and women can both fall victim to elder abuse, women can more often be the victim. Both being aware and spreading awareness that elder abuse is occurring everywhere can be a great step in identifying and preventing or stopping it.Know the signs of abuse. Signs of abuse include the older adults becoming withdrawn, such as being less talkative or not tending to their hygiene and appearance.Weight loss and agitation can be signs of stress related to the abuse. In the case of physical abuse, there may be outright signs of abuse, including unexplained cuts or bruises, broken glasses or marks from unnecessary restraint. Financial signs of abuse may present in the forms of collection notices, utilities being turned off, or even eviction, if the elders funds are being misappropriated or stolen.Know how to help. With all the varied possibilities of abuse, as well as the various signs of abuse, the most vital step a person who suspects abuse can take may be not to ignore it. If you see a possible sign of abuse or have a gut feeling that something seems off, take the time to look into it. This may include talking to the elder about the possibility of abuse, while also remaining aware that the elder may not feel comfortable or safe disclosing abuse. In addition to speaking to the older person about the existence of abuse, you can enlist the assistance of other friends and family members, make a report to the local adult protective services agency in your community or speak to the elders physician, regarding the possibility of abuse. The physician may be able to help investigate the abuse by talking with the elder and will also likely be a mandatory reporter of suspected abuse under the state laws where the elder resides.Be sure to spread the word about World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15th and share these tips. Together we can make a positive difference in the lives of the elders in our communities.For assistance with elder related legal issues, please get in touch with our office to schedule a time to meet.
Platinum Benefit Services, Inc. is committed to helping families gain maximum government benefits for Long Term Care and providing both compassion and application expertise. Since 1996, we have helped more than 10,000 families qualify for Medicaid while strategically protecting an estimated $1,000,000,000 in assets in conjunction with appropriate legal counsel.Platinum works diligently to process all types of long-term care applications with a specialization in complex nursing home applications for families who employ high end asset protection strategies. Platinum Benefit Services, Inc. are experts in the field of nursing home Medicaid application processing.