Elder Law- describes the area of law practice focused on the needs of the rapidly growing segment of our population that is nearing or in their senior years. Your Agins Law Firm elder law attorneys are committed to ensuring that those years truly are "the golden years."
Elder Law includes:
1) Estate planning and administration, including tax considerations, wills, trusts, retirement planning, Social Security benefits, and protection of seniors against fraud;
2) Medicare, Medicaid, disability, end of life planning, advance healthcare directives and other long-term care issues such as nursing home care, assisted living facilities and in-home care; and
3) Guardianship and conservatorship, commitment and fiduciary administration.
Your Agins Law Firm Chandler/Sun Lakes elder law and estate planning attorneys focus our attention on ensuring that seniors are prepared to avoid the pitfalls of aging not only in regarding their health but also concerning their finances. As our average lifespan has grown, so too, have the costs of maintaining the standard of living to which we've become accustomed. The average lifespan of a white male in the United States born in 1850 was about 38 years. By 1900, that had increased by 10 years to 48. By the middle of the 20th century he was living to about 66 years, and by 2011 that had increased again by ten years to a lifespan of over 76 years. White females outlived their male counterparts by 2 years in 1850 and by 2011, that gap had increased to 4 years.
It is clear that those who haven't adequately funded their retirement will have to find other means of supporting themselves after retirement. It is equally clear that people of means must ensure that their assets are sufficient to continue their chosen lifestyle, that those assets will not be unduly depleted, and that those assets will be handed down according to their wishes. The elder law attorneys at Agins Law Firm in Chandler/Sun Lakes have many tools at their disposal and the experience to help our clients deal with estate planning, healthcare choices and long-term care decisions.
Advanced Health Care Directives
We never anticipate becoming disabled, but planning for that possibility is necessary and prudent. An Advance Health Care Directive ("AHD"), also known as a "Living Will," sets forth your wishes concerning medical treatment while you are living, but unable to make those wishes known yourself. The AHD enumerates your preferences concerning certain life-sustaining treatments and whether or not you want certain life-prolonging interventions, such as feeding tubes, cardiac resuscitation or medical respiration. There are several specific requirements as to form that is specified by statute, but you may otherwise freely set forth your preferences, including whether your agent (the person you designate to make your decisions) has the freedom to exercise his or her discretion, or whether your wishes must be followed precisely.
Often, a Living Will is drafted in conjunction with a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. This allows you the flexibility to designate one person to speak on your behalf concerning medical decisions while another acts for you with regard to financial decisions.
It is most important that the agents named in your Advance Health Care Directive have ready access to the signed original of the document and that your primary care physician be aware of both the name and contact information of your agents and the existence of your Living Will, which you should review regularly and update as necessary.
Please contact your Agins Law Firm Chandler/Sun Lakes elder law attorney about creating an effective and current
Advance Health Care Directive for you.
Asset protection trust
The recent advent of the Affordable Care Act has brought about significant changes in health care planning for seniors. Whether those changes are good or bad remains to be seen, but it is undeniable that the cost of maintaining a loved one in a long-term health care facility is staggering and will only continue to grow. This is true notwithstanding a recent report by the Congressional Budget Office predicting that the growth in Medicare costs will slow in the near future. Medicare is intended only to cover the short-term care expenses for those over age 65, such as rehabilitation and recuperation.
Whenever long-term health care becomes necessary for an individual the costs may be covered by Medicaid, a joint federal and state program that is often the only recourse for many seniors. In such case, the government will first investigate whether that person has assets available to cover those health care costs in full or in part. Medicaid imposes very strict limits on the amount of available or "countable" assets a Medicaid recipient may retain - typically $2,000 to $3,000 depending upon the state in which you live. Countable assets include cash, checking and savings account deposits (including jointly held assets), IRAs, Keogh plans, pension funds (with certain limitations), annuities, stocks and bonds, and the cash surrender value of life insurance policies, among others.
In order to protect those countable assets without first having to "send them down," your Agins Law Firm Chandler/Sun Lakes Medicaid planning attorneys can design an Asset Protection Trust that will allow you to qualify for Medicaid while leaving an inheritance for your heirs. Because a revocable trust remains under the control of the person who establishes the trust - its "settlor," Medicaid deems those assets to belong to him or her, and they are considered to be countable assets. With an irrevocable trust, however, after a five-year look-back period, the transferred assets are deemed not to be under the control of the trust settlor and he or she may, therefore, qualify for Medicaid while the trust's assets remain available for a bequest to heirs.
Writing in Investopedia about the Top 5 Strategies to Pay for Elder Care, reporter Greg Daugherty stated that according to a 2012 MetLife Survey, "the average nursing home costs more than $220 a day, or over $6,000 a month and that in some metropolitan areas, those costs can exceed $15,000 a month. The MetLife study found that a month in an assisted living community - for those people who don't need the same level of care a nursing home
provides - ran $3,550 a month on average." It is not hard to imagine annual health care costs reaching or exceeding $75,000 to $100,000. Therefore, people approaching senior status should be planning ahead to ensure that their Asset Protection Trust is funded in full at least five years before they anticipate needing Medicaid.