Don’t wait for a crisis to hit and realize you are not prepared. The whole point of proper estate/long term care planning is to have a plan in place with all the documents you need ready to go – regardless of what life brings. You want these documents ready to work the way they are supposed to, and most importantly, when you need them.
We never know what the future will hold, and tomorrow is never a guarantee. Which becomes even more evident as you approach retirement years. That’s why it’s important to have a plan in place that can help you no matter what. For example, what if you or your partner develop dementia, one of you needs to move into an assisted living facility, you have a health emergency, or everyone stays well and happy for many years to come? Bob Michaels can help you prepare for all these possible scenarios and help you build a roadmap for the future customized to your specifications and personal situation.
The Minimum Plan
Having a plan for life’s curve balls is vitally important, but if you’re feeling young and invincible, you should at least consider having your basic documents in place. Keep in mind legal documents are not created equally. Your documents should reflect your unique situation and account for things such as the state where you live, the state(s) where you own property, your age, whether you have children, or if you are married, divorced, or in a relationship. How will you know if your documents will perform as needed? When the crisis hits. If you’ve Pre-Planned and your documents are inline with your intentions, great – but if you do not have those documents, they are out of date, or not inline with your intentions you’ll be forced into Crisis Planning.
Pre-Planning versus Crisis Planning
Unless you are wealthy, with plenty of money to spare regardless of the situation, you may have heard Medicare or Medicaid can pay for medical expenses or long-term care should you need it. However, what most people don’t realize, is that Medicare only covers some things and has no accommodation for long-term care, and to qualify for Medicaid you must show that you are financially incapable of paying and will have to exhaust all your money and assets before you qualify, often referred to as “spending down.” Additionally, Medicaid applicants are subject to a 60-month lookback rule, which means that any transfers or gifts of assets made in the 5 years prior to application can be subject to penalties (so you can’t just give your money away at the last minute to qualify). Since your assets need to be below a certain threshold to qualify for Medicaid (thus the need for “spenddown”), it makes much more sense to plan.
Your pre-planning can involve several things:
Your 6 Essential Documents: These documents will dictate what should happen to your assets if you pass away, who handles things if you become sick or incapacitated, and who makes decisions regarding your care or mental health.
Trusts: These can hold assets on behalf of you or someone else. There are many types of trusts including special needs trusts, funeral trusts, asset protection trusts, income trusts, and more. Trusts are for everyone and be customized to anyone’s situation.
Long-term care insurance: This can pay for costs associated with long term care that are generally not covered by health insurance.
When you’re planning during a crisis, you have less time to prepare and plan, which of course limits your options. You will certainly have less choices when it comes to how you can protect your assets, but with the guidance of an elder law attorney like Bob Michaels, it is still possible to make a plan of action that will ease many of your worries. You will use many of the same tools as you would if you were pre-planning, but you’ll implement them in different ways depending on your situation.
Whether you’re ready to start pre-planning or facing a crisis and trying to figure out what to do next, the Bob Michaels with Tacoma Elder Care is here to help. To get started today or to learn more about what we do, contact us today to schedule an appointment.
Bob Michaels is extremely passionate about providing the best possible legal experience for his clients, and focuses his practice on elder law, estate planning, business, and real estate matters. Bob specializes in helping folks build a long-term care plan based on their circumstance. If you are considering a long-term care plan, schedule your appointment today!