Senior Citizen's Guide digital books
Senior Citizen's Guide

Life Care Planning Should Be All About You

The longer we live, the higher the risk of catastrophic illness and expense. What can you do to prevent the chaos, which so often occurs when a person becomes severely, irremediably disabled? You can do what I call Disability Planning. Careful planning is like having fire insurance on your home you wouldn't dream of not keeping up that policy, even though, in your entire lifetime, you probably won't ever put in a single claim.

Keep these eight key principles in mind:

  1. Careful planning can avert a crisis
  2. Failure to plan will result in a crisis if catastrophic illness and disability occur
  3. The risk of catastrophic illness and disability is real
  4. The strategy that worked for someone else probably won't work for you
  5. You must organize and consolidate your financial affairs now, to make it easier to manage later.
  6. Legal documents which prepare a proper disability and estate plan, and which designate your surrogate decision-makers, must be signed while you are still of sound mind. Waiting until the catastrophe occurs may mean that those documents can't be made for you, and your wishes may not be carried out.
  7. Trusts are not just for aristocrats they are crucial tools for asset protection for people with disabilities.
  8. The five-year look-back for Medicaid eligibility means you may need to start planning for the future sooner that you thought.

Time and again, when an elder becomes frail and dependent, the family breaks apart arguing over who's in charge of residential, financial and medical decisions. You simply cannot assume that they will all agree on where you should live, how your assets should be managed, or the appropriate course of treatment if you are at a stage of advanced incapacity. Your physicians may be seeking guidance regarding your wishes. One child may want you to stay near him, while another may not want you to sell your house, and yet you may find your home becoming a burden and might picture yourself in an assisted living environment. These problems are particularly likely to occur if you didn't create a plan and explain your wishes to everyone involved. Families that seemed to be congenial have split apart when the truly difficult decisions need to be made on the parents' behalf. The result can be protracted and distressing litigation such as contested guardianships. So you need your own elder law advisor who can craft a plan that specially suits your wishes.

Do you have a family member with disabilities? Consider creating a special needs trust to preserve assets for them and protect their eligibility for benefits like Medicaid or SSI. Is your spouse suffering with a debilitating condition that will result in need of long-term care? Begin planning early, consolidate your assets into a manageable arrangement, and get advice on what strategies will be the best ones for you. Are you suddenly facing a need to place a loved one in a nursing home? The Medicaid application process can be dense and complex, but legal help is available to enable you to make best advantage of federal and state laws. Is it apparent that long-term care will probably be needed within 5 to 7 years, due to current health problems? Perhaps a 5-year asset protection plan is the wise course to take.

Does your Will actually match up with your beneficiary designations? The Will might leave the estate to all children equally, but if certain children's names are placed on your assets, the result may not match the Will. Do you have a Power of Attorney or Living Will for Health Care? These need to be signed while you are still able to do so, voluntarily and free of undue influence. You may want to explain your decisions to children who are not listed as primary decision-makers.

Life care planning should be all about you. By taking charge of the planning and decision-making when you are feeling well, you can assure greater peace of mind and protection for your future.

Home    Featured Programs    Choose Local Area     Request Information
A JR Media Publication • www.jrmediallc.comSite Index