Moving to a nursing home.

What do you do if someone who needs to seriously look at moving into a nursing facility refuses? First, you must remember that individuals have autonomy. Unless you are a court appointed conservator or guardian of this person, you cannot force someone to move into a facility. If someone you love is competent (i.e. not under a court ordered conservatorship) but refuses a much-needed move to a facility, here’s an article with several responses to the usual reasons people give for why they won’t move: https://www.agingcare.com/articles/responses-to-not-wanting-to-move-to-nursing-home-153036.htm. These answers require work in some instances to be able to prove your point, but let that be a good reminder that you need to check your own reasoning as well. If your reasoning for wanting a loved one to move to a facility is something other than concern for the well-being of that loved one or a family member who is overburdened with the care of that loved one at home, you’re possibly on thin moral (and possibly legal) ice.

A common reason I see for refusing to move to a facility is the stereotype that nursing homes are like they were in the 90s—institutional-looking, foul-smelling places where old people sat in wheelchairs doing nothing and where people never came out until they died. A lot has gone on to change care facilities for the better in 20 years, but it’s easy to forgive people for not knowing. That old image was scary enough to keep people far, far away. The modern home is much nicer, and people are treated with far more respect and sensitivity. I’ve heard some described as either a cruise-ship on land or a college dorm. The best way to know what you’re in for is to do your homework and shop around.

I’m a big fan of making sure my elder law clients know about ways they can get the care they need. If I inform a client about all the options that are out there and they still want to stay home, I’m happy because now they’ve made an informed choice. Make sure your loved ones are making an informed choice too. Call or contact today if you want additional help.

See you on the trail.

Post by Peter Harrison.

Medicaid caregivers in the home

Did you know Medicaid will pay for caregivers to come to your home? I’ll talk in another post about the resistance people have about moving to a facility that provides care (a.k.a. a nursing home), but one of the results is people will drain their resources on in-home aides (it’s an open secret that extensive in-home care costs more than a nursing home) or sometimes forego much needed care because they don’t want to move into one of “those” places they remember from the 90s. As a result, these seniors shorten their lifespan and reduce their quality of life because of the lost care. To answer this problem, each State has created a way within their Medicaid program to provide care to seniors who live in their home to get the care they need.

Every state where I’ve examined these programs limits how much they pay for these caregivers to the amount that would have been paid in a facility, but if the care you need costs less than a stay in the nursing home, Medicaid will pay. The other catch, of course, is that you must be eligible for Medicaid. This means you should properly plan so that you or your loved one is not caught unprepared. If you or a loved one is resisting much needed care because you don’t want to go to a facility. Consider the help available from Medicaid, and don’t be afraid to call or contact me today if you want to know more.

See you on the trail.

Post by Peter Harrison.

Medicare and long-term care

“Doesn’t Medicare pay for long-term care?” If you were to ask an audience of the clients and adult children facing that question, you’d get a lot of wrong answers. This is one of those recurring questions that makes me feel like a broken record. Medicare does not pay for long-term care; at most it pays for 100 days of rehab. Medicaid pays for long-term care, and it has some serious eligibility tests. If you’d like a nice little general primer on how people pay for long term care, check out this article out of Texas: https://www.chron.com/news/article/Elder-Law-Medicare-won-t-pay-for-long-term-care-13544639.php

 Post by Peter Harrison.

Who me? Why should I make an estate plan?

Estate planning is unfortunately often seen as a rich person’s need. That’s simply not true. Three common reasons I get for avoiding an estate plan are: (1) I’m single; (2) I’m childless; or (3) I have nothing to pass on.

If you’re any of these, you still need a plan, but it may be very simple. You need to plan for incapacity. We live in an uncertain world and having basic documents like a power of attorney and an advance directive for medical care can remove the stress of haggling with doctors, banks, and other institutions you interact with from your loved ones or family if something unforeseen should happen to you.

Want to save money on attorney’s fees and court costs? Do an estate plan and consider a revocable trust. Transferring assets at death can be expensive if not properly prepared for. People (usually) aren’t trying to gouge your estate. However, it takes time and attention to detail to make sure your property goes to the right place while proving it to authority figures (such as a judge or compliance department at the bank) whose job is to prevent your estate from becoming a real-life episode of bad TV. You can reduce that expense with proper techniques, but only if you plan.

Don’t know who to give your property to? The law hates having property with no owner, so if you don’t plan for where your assets go, the law will do it for you. Have a pet? Check out pet planning https://www.trailheadep.com/news/2018/12/28/protecting-our-most-loyal-companions. Have family members who you don’t get along with? State law doesn’t care. Your estranged parent/child will be treated like your other family and take a share of your property if you die without a proper estate plan.

Don’t think you have any property? If you have any equity in your home, you have an estate. Been saving for retirement/contributing to your 401(k) or IRA? Got life insurance? You have an estate. If you have minor kids, they’re not property, but they’re your responsibility. If you fail to name a guardian, the State will do it for you. These are all excellent reasons to make an estate plan.

If you want advice on how to properly plan your estate—yes, even if you’re not an elderly millionaire with fighting kids—call or contact me today.

 See you on the trail.

 Post by Peter Harrison.

Whiteboards for family caregivers

Here’s a great idea for family caregivers: use a whiteboard to post reassurance for your loved one with dementia. I’ve seen the repetition of questions in my own family members who are touched by this disease. When the repeated questions are tinged with anxiety, having the answers to your own FAQ can be both a relief to you as a caregiver and to your loved one who is fighting his or her own fight against this terrible disease. Read more here: https://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-47056039

 Post by Peter Harrison.

Digital Assets mean more than Bitcoin.

“What’s this “Digital Assets” language in your documents, and why does it matter? I’m not some king of Silicon Valley.” That’s an exaggeration of what I hear when a client reads about digital assets in a last will, revocable or living trust, powers of attorney, and the like. Here’s a concrete example of why they matter from New York: it was to get the decedent’s photos from the cloud. This will didn’t give specific powers to the executor to access the photos, and it caused a problem. As more and more of us are relying the cloud storage, this issue will continue to grow. Thankfully, lawmakers and tech companies are realizing the coming issue and are beginning to take steps. Read more here: https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/what-happens-to-my-digital-assets-on-82559/. If you’re worried about whether your estate plan takes potential pitfalls like access to digital assets into account, call or contact me today.

 Post by Peter Harrison.

Estate Planning laughs

Instagram.com nickgalifianakisart

Instagram.com nickgalifianakisart

Good for a laugh but NOT the way proper estate planning should be done. If you worry your family is charging down this path, it’s time to get an elder law attorney involved! Proper duties need to be sorted out, assets protected (for the parents, not as “your” inheritance), and the air needs to be cleared about who is doing what and why others aren’t doing more before these siblings develop permanent bad blood and never speak to each other again.

Post by Peter Harrison.

In case you were curious, here is fine example of a lesson from Bleak House being just as current today (i.e. when families fight, only the lawyers reliably win): https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/08/your-money/family-estate-court-fight.html. For most estate planning lawyers, while we’re happy to help you in litigation (we have bills to pay too), if it’s your estate, we’d much rather help you avoid the fight in the first place. I steer you away from taking the majority of the conflict-avoiding advice in the article because there is no one-size-fits-all solution, but there’s a particularly good line about the truth in reducing estate planning conflicts. “Avoiding costly and destructive family squabbles is both straightforward and incredibly complex. Family members must be willing to put in effort that may be unpleasant and difficult.” Call or contact me today if you’d like some help tackling this problem.

 Post by Peter Harrison.

Top 10 Scams targeting the elderly and how to report them.

I had so much response to my post warning about the FTC scam going around (found here) that I decided to dig for some more material. If you know of elder fraud happening now, call the United States Senate Special Committee on Aging Fraud Hotline toll-free at 1-855-303-9470, or report it online at https://www.aging.senate.gov/fraud-hotline.

 Want to know the top 10 most reported scams against the elderly and how they try to get you? Check out the committee’s report at https://www.collins.senate.gov/sites/default/files/2019%20Fraud%20Book.pdf

 Aren’t concerned about fraud against the aging? You should be. According to Derek Schmidt, Attorney General of Kansas who reported to the Committee, “By one estimate, only one in every 24 cases of elder abuse is detected or reported. Despite that underreporting, statistically one in every 10 Americans age 65 or older who lives at home will become a victim of abuse.” Statistically, someone you know or love has or will be a victim of elder abuse, which could include being victim to one of these top-10 scams.

 Please call or contact me today if you would like to know how good estate planning can reduce the chances a scam will hit you or your family.

 See you on the trail.

 Post by Peter Harrison.

Here’s an article about wearable tech and aging. I share the views of both sides. This could be the beginning of a revolution in medicine, but if we cannot learn how to properly use it and understand its limitations, it will just become one more bit of static in the background. Something to keep an eye on, though, because falls are devastating to the elderly.

https://khn.org/news/apple-watch-health-apps-track-fitness-falls-heart-problems/

See you on the trail.

Post by Peter Harrison