Nobody wants to accept the fact that their parents are getting old. At some point, however, if you are fortunate enough to have your parents around that long it becomes necessary to face that reality. As your parents age, the natural aging process will cause physical and/or mental deterioration. They may need help with little things such as everyday tasks or may need around-the-clock care at some point. Planning now for what the future may bring is the best way to protect your parents. Toward that end, the North Andover elder law attorneys at DeBruyckere Law Offices discuss planning for elder care.
What Should Be Included in Elder Care Planning?
There is no way to know how a parent will age and/or be affected by the again process. You might have a parent who barely slows down until he/she passes away peacefully at home one day. On the other hand, your parent might develop Alzheimer’s or face significant physical deterioration that requires the kind of care only offered at a long-term care facility. Because you simply cannot know what to expect, elder care planning may include any, or all, of the following:
- Making sure there is a comprehensive and up-to-date estate plan in place. The need for a comprehensive estate plan increases with age. By the time your parents reach their retirement years a comprehensive estate plan should be in place. If both parents do not have a plan, make sure they get started on a plan. If they have estate plans, make sure they sit down with their estate planning attorney and review those plans and make any necessary changes.
- Incapacity planning. Your parents probably have opinions about end-of-life medical treatment and care as well as about who should make those decisions. To ensure that their wishes will be honored regarding medical treatment and decision-making, incapacity planning should be part of an elder care plan. This may include advanced directives that name someone to make decisions and/or allow for decisions to be made ahead of time.
- Discuss care options. Your parents may want to remain in their homes as long as possible as they age; however, they may eventually need help to do so. To avoid having to move to a long-term care facility, alternatives should be discussed and explored. Medicare and/or Medicaid may cover the cost of in-home health care, community-based assistance, or even a paid family caregiver when the time comes that help is needed.
- Plan for the cost of long-term care. The high cost of long-term care (LTC) often results in turning to Medicaid for help because Medicare will not pay for LTC. Qualifying for Medicaid, however, can put your parents’ assets at risk. The way to avoid this is to incorporate Medicaid planning into an estate plan now. An elder law attorney can help create a Medicaid planning component or discuss last-minute Medicaid planning strategies if a parent waited too long and now needs to qualify for Medicaid.
- Becoming a guardian or conservator. If you are concerned that a parent can no longer safely care for himself/herself and/or manage his/her finances, it may be time to consider petitioning for guardianship/conservatorship. Making that decision is never easy; however, it may be the only way to protect your parent from serious physical injury or financial victimization. An elder law attorney can help you decide if guardianship/conservatorship is the best option.
Do I Need an Elder Law Attorney to Plan for Elder Care?
An elder law attorney focuses on legal issues that impact the elderly and those who care for them. The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, or NAELA, was formed in the late 1980s to better serve this growing segment of the population. Five years after the creation of NAELA, the National Elder Law Foundation was formed. The purpose of the non-profit NELF was to help improve the professional skills of attorneys who choose to focus on elder law. Unlike other practice areas, elder law does not focus on a single area of the law. Instead, it looks at how many different legal issues impact the elderly. An elder law attorney, therefore, can help you create a plan that addresses the care needs of your aging parents.
Contact North Andover Estate Planning Attorneys
If you have additional questions or concerns, please contact the North Andover elder law attorneys at DeBruyckere Law Offices by calling our New Hampshire office at (603) 894-4141 or our Massachusetts office (978) 969-0331 to learn more or visit our website at http://dadlawoffices.com.
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