For more information about the author, click to view their website: Ashley Day Law
Elder law and special needs planning involve preparing for expected and unexpected life circumstances, including the possibility of becoming incapacitated as well as protecting and providing for future needs of loved ones with disabilities.
At its core, Elder Law focuses on the unique needs of
older persons and practice areas that address issues of concern for aging
adults, adults with disabilities/incapacity, their families and
caregivers. Unlike traditional estate
planning, Elder Law begins by assisting you with issues associated with a long
and healthy life, rather than simply planning for death. It mixes legal and practical issues such as being able to continue residing in your home if you had a chronic condition, having someone help in managing your finances, and not becoming a victim of financial abuse in the process. Elder law endeavors to help you solve
the problem of not knowing what you don’t know.
Special Needs Law focuses on solving legal
problems for individuals with special needs and their caregivers. Although there is no uniform definition of
“special needs,” the phrase describes individuals with a wide variety of
physical or mental conditions who require assistance with personal care needs,
activities of daily living, paying bills, managing finances, etc., who may be
vulnerable to and need protection from exploitation or abuse, and who may need
access to public benefits or any number of other types of assistance. If you
currently provide care for a child or loved one with special needs (such as
mental or physical disabilities), you must have contemplated what may happen to
him or her when you are no longer able to serve as the caregiver. Frequently, parents and grandparents are
concerned about how their children and grandchildren will be cared for after
the parents’ or grandparents’ deaths and want to plan in advance to protect
their special needs loved one.
Elder Law and Special Needs Planning encompass many
different fields of law, including, for example:
Disability planning, durable powers
of attorney, living trusts, advance directives, other tools to delegate management and decision-making to
another in case of incompetency or incapacity
Estate planning, including the
management of finances and assets during life and disposition on death using
trusts, wills, and other instruments
Special/Supplemental Needs Trusts
Conservatorships and guardianships
Long-term care planning and placements
Trust and probate/estate administration
Elder abuse and financial
Retirement and Social Security
When each day
seems to present a new challenge, thinking about the future can be
overwhelming. A plan can help break
things down into achievable pieces. No matter what age or stage, it is getting
started that counts.
This article is
for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice.
This article was submitted by Ashley Day, Esq., A Day Law, LLC. Reach her at 251-277-3377.
Protecting your health and well-being is a top priority, especially as we get older. One important way to safeguard yourself is by creating a health care power of attorney document. This legal document designates a trusted individual to make health care decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. But as important as creating this document is, its not enough to simply have it you also need to make sure its in the right hands.A recent story shared by a friend highlights just how critical it is to ensure your healthcare power of attorney is given to the appropriate parties. In this case, a woman was acting as the power of attorney for her mother but didnt have the document on hand when her mother needed medical attention. The hospital demanded the document immediately, and in the chaos of the moment, the daughter ended up agreeing to have her mother fill out a new one on the spot.The problem arose when the nurse asked who should be listed as a power of attorney. The daughter suggested including herself and her mothers husband, who had raised her and was like a father to her. But her mother insisted that only her daughter be listed, causing tension and awkwardness between the family members. It was a situation that could have been avoided if the daughter had simply provided the existing document to the hospital.This story underscores the importance of not only creating a healthcare power of attorney but also ensuring that it is given to the appropriate parties. At Bellomo & Associates, we urge our clients to not only create these documents but to also provide copies to their doctors and keep them on file at hospitals. We provide extra copies so family members can have them as well. Taking these steps can help you avoid any unnecessary stress or heartache should an emergency situation arise.Creating a healthcare power of attorney is a smart move, but its only half the battle. To ensure that your wishes are carried out properly, its crucial to share the document with your healthcare providers and loved ones. Dont let a lack of preparation cause unnecessary tension or problems for your family take the necessary steps to protect yourself and your loved ones.Please give us a call at 717-845-5390 and well set you up with a free consultation or register for a free workshop by clicking here.
I have been an Estate Planning and Elder Law Attorney for approximately 20 years. I have been fortunate enough to obtain the designation to become a Certified Elder Law Attorney and to receive a Master of Law in Taxation and a certificate in Estate Planning. There is no doubt that finding Elder Law as a career was the best thing that allowed me to go to work every day, excited to assist people and help them. Over the years, I have known a bit about Life Care Planning and have admired it from a distance. The bottom line was I did not understand it nor truly understand what the purpose was and how it could help clients. Over time, I became frustrated in meetings when clients would ask me if their mom was safe to be at home, or what modifications would need to be done to keep mom at home, or how long could mom stay in the assisted living, and under what circumstances would she then have to move on to another level of care. I did not know the answers to many of these questions and, although I did have referral sources, I felt inadequate, or disappointed, that I was not able to help the client directly. I have also known Meg Motter for many years. Meg is a Masters prepared Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has been in the industry for most of her career. I knew I always wanted to work with Meg, but unfortunately, the timing and the money never worked out until the Spring of 2021. When the opportunity presented itself and she was available, I acted immediately and, without even truly understanding the Life Care Planning model, jumped in with two feet, knowing I had the right person. Now that our firm is knee-deep in Life Care Planning, there is no doubt that it was the best decision that I have made, mostly for the clients that we serve. The assistance that she can provide, which we were not able to offer previously, is astounding. I believe that everything happens for a reason and, although it took several years for us to embrace the model and to have the right person, there is no doubt that it is the right thing for our clients, and I am excited to share everything about the life care planning model to anyone who will listen. Monthly Life Care Planning Workshops are offered at both our York and Lancaster offices. If you would like to learn more about Life Care Planning and our Client Care Advocate, Meg Motter, LCSW, CDP please reach out to the office at (717) 208-4546.
In our tranquil corners of the world, where generations build legacies, we often find ourselves at a crossroads one that leads to choices that impact not just our finances but our familys future. Today, lets journey together and explore the age-old question: Wills vs. Trusts. Which path is right for you?The Legacy of Love and SecurityFor many, this journey begins with the dawn of financial stability. As your hard-earned assets grow, so does the desire to protect and secure them. Its not just about the numbers; its a promise of love, devotion, and the legacy you intend to leave behind.A well-crafted will is like a love letter to your family. It ensures that your assets are distributed according to your wishes, providing your loved ones with the financial security they deserve. It offers peace of mind, knowing that your legacy is well-guarded.Yet, here in York, we understand that privacy and efficiency matter, too. This is where trusts come into the picture. A revocable living trust, for example, offers the privilege of sidestepping the often lengthy and public probate process. With a trust, your assets are distributed privately, sparing your loved ones from unnecessary stress and public scrutiny.Embracing the Golden Years with GraceNow, lets consider the beautiful chapter of our lives when we move gracefully into our golden years. For many seniors, the prospect of skilled nursing facility care can be daunting, both emotionally and financially. Its a time when you want to ensure that your lifetime of hard work doesnt disappear in the blink of an eye.Wills and trusts play pivotal roles in Medicaid planning. But when it comes to securing your legacy while obtaining Medicaid benefits, trusts, particularly irrevocable trusts, can be life changing. These trusts enable you to preserve a legacy for your heirs, all while qualifying for Medicaid Assistance. This decision is more than just financial; its about preserving dignity and providing your loved ones with the peace and security they need during this chapter of life.Building a Strong Foundation for the FutureAnd for our young families, life is a whirlwind of dreams and aspirations. Amid all this, you must ensure your childrens future is secure. Your primary concern is their well-being, their dreams, and their security.Wills are the fundamental pillars of estate planning. They allow you to name guardians for your children, should the unthinkable happen. Its a promise that their future will be safeguarded.But, for those who seek to go above and beyond, revocable living trusts can provide an additional layer of protection. These trusts help you manage your assets efficiently, ensuring a seamless transition for your children if something were to happen to you. Its about laying a foundation for their future, one built on love, security, and opportunity.The Choice is PersonalThe choice between wills and trusts is deeply personal. It depends on your unique circumstances, your familys needs, and your dreams for the future. No matter where you are on your lifes journey, were here to guide you, to connect your hearts desires with the path you choose.This isnt just about assets; its about your legacy of love, security, and dreams fulfilled. Were here to help you make the right choice for your family, and together, we can build a legacy that will stand the test of time.
Estate Planning - Ashley Day Law provides comprehensive planning ot individuals and families.We help our clients prepare for unexpected incapacity or death, to ensure both that their family and loved ones have the ability to care for them and that their assets are transferred at their passing in accordance with their goals and wishes. We design and create proper estate plans for our clients, review beneficiary designations, and advise our clients to ensure trusts are funded.Establishing your estate plan is one of the most important steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones during your lifetime, in case of disability, and at your death. A well-thought-out and comprehensive estate plan can prevent the need for someone to obtain guardianship in the future, lessen administrative costs associated with the transfer of assets at death, and help smooth familial relations.Our estate planning services include:Forming Living, Irrevocable Protection TrustsAssisting with Beneficiary Designations and Other Non-Probate TransfersDrafting Wills, Living Trusts, Healthcare Directives, Powers of Attorney, and Other Planning DocumentsAdvising Executors, Administrators, Trustees, and GuardiansDeveloping Caregiver Agreements and Other Family AgreementsPost-Mortem PlanningWhile estate planning often includes a variety of items among those listed above, foundational estate planning includes, at least, wills, durable powers of attorney, advance healthcare directives, HIPAA authorizations, and a stand-alone or testamentary supplemental needs trust if you have a loved one with special needs. These instruments are critical to ensure your wishes are followed. A properly designed and implemented estate plan also can help you accomplish additional goals, such as:Providing financial security for your familyEnsuring your property is preserved and passed on to your beneficiariesAvoiding disputes among family members, business owners, or with third parties (such as the IRS)Providing for your childrens or grandchildrens educationProviding for your favorite charityMaintaining control over or ensuring the competent management of your property in case of incapacityMinimizing tax consequences and other costsAvoiding probateProviding adequate liquidity for the settlement of your estateTransferring ownership of your business to your beneficiariesPassing on your values, sense of responsibility, and work ethic to heirsEvery family situation is unique. We work with you and your other professional advisors, including financial planners, accountants, and/or other attorneys who are familiar with your goals and concerns to determine what options work best for you and your family and ensure their implementation.By protecting your estate and yourself, you are protecting your family and sparing them the expense, delay, and frustration that occurs when family members fail to plan. No estate plan is one size fits all. As priorities change, plans can be modified. Its never too early or too late to plan. Give us a call. Were here to help.
SPECIAL NEEDS PLANNINGParents of children with special needs often worry about how their children would survive and be cared for when their parents are no longer alive to support them. If one of your loved ones is living with a disability, you make sure that all their needs are met daily. But what would happen if you were gone?Also, over the years, parents are required to make many decisions in their childrens best interests, and those decisions are only amplified for parents with special needs children. Often, parents of special needs children dont know what questions to ask and are unaware of the many questions that inevitably will come their way. For the greatest success in securing your childrens futures, its important for parents and other family members to be prepared before its too late. Thats the role of special needs planning.Special Needs Planning involves preparing for the current and future care needs of children and adults with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities, neurocognitive disorders, and/or psychiatric illnesses. It is the best way for a parent, grandparent, and/or guardian to proactively protect and provide for children and grandchildren with disabilities both in the near and not-so-near future for care, housing, and quality of life should something unexpectedly happen to you; for 18th birthdays (automatic transfer of parental rights); for eligibility for government benefits; for change in life circumstances; planning for your childs quality of life, and for your peace of mind.Our special needs planning services include:Special (Supplemental) Needs TrustsRevocable Living Trusts with Special (Supplemental) Needs Trust ProvisionsWills with Special Needs & Spousal Trust ProvisionsGuardianships and ConservatorshipsPlanning for Age 18Planning for Eligibility for Government Benefits (SSI, Medicaid, etc.)Government Benefits AdvisementSchool Law/AdvocacyGuardianship/Conservatorship AdministrationSpecial (Supplemental) Needs Trust AdministrationSpecial needs planning is critical because individuals with special needs often are unable to make appropriate financial decisions for themselves and/or are at risk of financial exploitation by others. Equally important is to maintain eligibility for public benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid and enable children with special needs to have fulfilling lives.SSI is used to pay for food and housing (primary needs), but it is not nearly enough to live on. Medicaid waiver programs enable access to beneficial services and programs not accessible absent Medicaid eligibility. Generally, beneficiaries of SSI or Medicaid can have little income and, at most, $2,000 in assets. Leaving money to loved ones directly to provide for their care would jeopardize their ability to receive any help from these means-tested government programs. On top of that, the money left to them would have to be spent down to pay for primary needs previously covered by SSI instead of being used to improve the care provided and quality of life. A Special (Supplemental) Needs Trust (SNT) manages resources while also maintaining the beneficiarys eligibility for public assistance benefits.For most families, a third-party irrevocable Special SNT is the most effective way to set aside assets and funds to help the person with special needs. Cash, investment accounts, real estate, or proceeds from a life insurance policy are common ways to fund the trust. The trust can provide for the beneficiary during the parents lifetimes and will provide for the beneficiary when parents are no longer around to care for the beneficiary. Because the SNT owns the assets instead of the beneficiary, the assets are excluded from asset limit tests for SSI or Medicaid. Meanwhile, trust funds can be used to pay for quality-of-life improvements for the beneficiary, such as a phone, an iPad, computer games, trips, travel to visit family, entertainment events, and other activities. The SNT also ensures that funds are used for the benefit of your vulnerable family member and that other relatives, such as siblings, are not left with the responsibility and costs of care.Special needs planning can be a complex and confusing area of the law. Ashley Day Law, LLC will work with you to construct a comprehensive plan customized to your situation and provide you with the tools and information necessary to make sure your loved one is protected, so you have peace of mind knowing your loved one will be taken care of just as you wish.How well you do or dont plan for a special needs family member can have tremendous consequences. Give us a call. Let us help you get it right.
Elder Law - Plan to provide for future needs and preserve your legacy.Planning for the future and ensuring that your wishes will be carried out doesnt have to keep you up at night. If you or your loved one is 60+, now is a good time to plan your legal strategies to receive care in your home as you desire and if you may need expensive long-term care. If you have plans in place, we will review them with you and suggest modifications or additions, if any, for you to accomplish your goals.Elder law and estate planning serve two different, but equally vital, functions. The main difference is that elder law is focused on ensuring your care and preserving your assets during your lifetime, while estate planning concentrates on what happens to your assets after you die.Elder law planning is concerned with ensuring that seniors live long, healthy, and financially secure lives. It usually involves anticipating future medical needs, including long-term care. Elder law services include planning for the expected and the unexpected: pre-need planning and crisis planning. Planning is tailored to each clients concerns, goals, family dynamics, and immediate or potential future care needs and may include planning tools such as:Advance Directive for Health Care (Living Will)Healthcare Power of Attorney with Healthcare PreferencesDurable Power of Attorney for Property with Expanded PowersLong-Term Care Sensitive WillsCertification as to Validity of Power of Attorney and Agents AuthoritySpecial Needs Trusts or Other Asset Protection TrustsMedicaid and SSI PlanningLong Term Care PlanningGuardianships and ConservatorshipsUnderstanding/Protecting Against Elder Abuse and NeglectElder law planning also includes your instructions about living arrangements and priorities when it comes to care, which benefits your entire family. Whats more, it can ensure that you are protected from elder abuse or exploitation when you get older or become incapacitated. For seniors, this means resting assured that you will not be a burden to your children, siblings, or other family members if/when you are not able to care for yourselves. For other family members, your planning manifests your love for them, providing peace of mind and the tools needed to ensure care is provided as planned.Finally, elder law covers assistance with guardianship and conservatorship, if needed. Guardianship and/or conservatorship may be necessary to protect and provide for individuals who are unable to care for themselves or live independently, who are unable to understand or manage money and assets, and who may be at risk of abuse and exploitation. Supported Decision Making may be an alternative to guardianship/conservatorship for individuals with limited abilities to retain their decision-making capacity by choosing supporters to help them make choices.When planning proactively, Ashley Day Law works with you to determine your priorities and what future needs must be met and put together the best course of action based on your income and assets to protect your quality of life and reduce unnecessary stress within the family.When crisis planning, our caring and comprehensive approach can help guide you through a difficult process and relieve you of some of your worries.Having to place a loved one in a skilled nursing facility can be an emotionally wrenching experience. To make matters worse, confusion often reigns supreme when determining how to best use income and assets and when navigating the Medicaid application process. Well-meaning family, friends, and even professional advisers may give conflicting or incomplete advice causing families needlessly to lose their property and assets. At Ashley Day Law, we will help you plan for future care needs and how to pay for them, prepare documents for you to enact your plan, and assist with the administration to ensure plans are implemented and assets distributed as instructed.You want to do what is best for the people you love throughout your lifetime and ensure they are taken care of after you are gone. Give us a call.