As the name would imply, elder law attorneys assist clients that are concerned about the issues that are typically faced by senior citizens. There are some things that you should understand if you want to be comprehensively prepared for the future.
One of the elder law issues that is very pressing during our current era is the matter of long-term care. Medicare does not pay for living assistance, and the majority of senior citizens will need help with their day-to-day needs before all is said and done.
Long-term care is quite expensive all around the country, but the average cost of care in New York is higher than the national average. It can easily run you in excess of $120,000 for a year in a nursing home, and many people stay in the facilities for multiple years.
How do you pay for long-term care without losing everything you have always intended to leave to your loved ones in the process? For many, the solution is Medicaid. This program does pay for long-term care, but you have to plan ahead in advance if you want to obtain eligibility at the right time.
The program is only available to people with very limited financial resources. To qualify, you could choose to give assets to your loved ones, but the gift giving must be completed at least five years before you submit your application if you want to obtain timely eligibility. Elder law attorneys help clients who would like to qualify for Medicaid to pay for long-term care.
This is just one of the elder law issues that are on the table at the present time. We will look at another one in the next section.
People become incapacitated due to various different underlying conditions. However, one of the most attention-getting causes of incapacity is Alzheimer’s disease. Though you have undoubtedly heard of Alzheimer’s disease, you may be surprised to hear how widespread it has become.
The Alzheimer’s Association is a great source of information about this disease. According to their website, around 40 percent of people who are at least 85 are suffering from Alzheimer’s. The disease causes dementia, and dementia sufferers are typically going to become unable to make sound decisions on their own.
Longevity statistics also enter the picture when you are thinking about possible incapacity. The Social Security Administration has a tool that you can use to determine your life expectancy based on your age at any given time. A person who is turning 67 today will probably live for at least 18 more years.
When you compare the life expectancy statistics with the ubiquity of Alzheimer’s disease among people that have reached an advanced age, you can see why you may want to prepare for this eventuality in advance. If you do nothing, the state could appoint a representative to act on your behalf during a guardianship proceeding. Most people would prefer to appoint handpicked decision makers in advance.
This is typically done through the execution of legally binding documents called durable powers of attorney. The “durable” designation is useful, because a power of attorney that is not durable would no longer be in effect upon the incapacitation of the grantor.
When you have a durable power of attorney in place, someone that you choose would be able to make decisions for you if it ever becomes necessary. You can have a durable power of attorney (alternately referred to as a health care proxy) for medical decision-making, and another durable power of attorney for financial matters.
There is actually a variation of a durable power of attorney called a springing durable power of attorney. With this document, the agent or attorney-in-fact that is named to act as a representative will only be granted the power if you do in fact become incapacitated.
The last piece of the incapacity planning puzzle is a living will. This document is utilized to state your preferences regarding the utilization of life-sustaining measures like feeding tubes and artificial hydration and respiration.
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