Planning for Elder Care & Assisted Living
Everyone ages and most people will require a higher level of care at the end of their life. It is frustrating, scary, confusing and difficult when mental and physical abilities become diminished and when parent-child roles become reversed and middle-aged adult children must step in to help provide safeguards, protection and care for aging parents. Scott stresses that the Power of Attorney (POA) is as important as a Will in developing a comprehensive Estate Plan, because this is the document that will determine who has decision-making powers when caring for an older person. Many families have questions about how will care, meals and housing be provided in the final years of life, and how will these costs be met. Again, there are many nuances and complexities that require the guidance of an experienced Elder Law attorney. In brief, if all assets are gone, including a personal residence (but this does not apply if one spouse can continue to live at the residential home), then there is a social safety net and through Medicaid assistance, the federal and state governments will pay for care, including skilled nursing care. This involves a 5-year look back window, which is prorated over the 5-years, to ensure that people have not given away all of their assets to children or others, and then request that the government care for them for free. Most middle class clients will not exhaust their assets to be eligible for Medicaid. Instead, there are all types of facilities and programs to provide housing and care. There is an increased push for greater visiting nursing care and home caregivers so that people can remain living at home for as long as possible. In other circumstances, home care is just not practical. My duty as an attorney is to protect my client and make sure they are receiving the best level of care they can afford, it is not to ensure that their children receive an inheritance, although this is also a goal and we employ strategies to achieve this. Different types of assisted living and skilled nursing facilities have different services, and different types of contracts (i.e. Type A, Type B and Type C), all at different price points. Navigating the pathway to the best care facility is confusing - an experienced Elder Law attorney will help remove this confusion.