We Answer Some Frequently Asked Questions About Estate Planning
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My loved one is starting to become confused and forgetful, and needs more and more help handling their financial and medical decisions. What are the options?
Ideally, if your loved one still has mental capacity and understands the significance and ramifications of sharing or transferring decision making power to you, your loved one will execute legal documents that allow you to make their medical and financial decisions for them, without the need of obtaining court intervention or approval.
My loved one has lost mental capacity and does not have any legal documents in place. What are my options?
If your loved one has already lost full mental capacity, you may need to seek a legal conservatorship over your loved one, so you can make medical and financial decisions on his or her behalf.
My loved one is already in a health care crisis. Is it too late to plan?
No. While we may not have as many options, we still have powerful legal options that can help your loved one secure financial assistance and care assistance for your loved one that will allow them to age with dignity and receive a high quality of care.
My father was a veteran. Can my parents qualify for the VA Aid and Attendance Benefits?
The VA Aid and Attendance benefit is available for both the veteran, and the surviving spouse, who need assistance with daily living, if the veteran served at least three months in the service during war-time where one day of combat took place, even if the veteran was not in the actual combat. There is, however, a financial threshold for eligibility. Using strong powers of attorneys, trusts, and gifting, we can usually help a veteran or surviving spouse qualify for the VA Aid and Attendance benefit without having to first exhaust all financial resources. If your loved one needs assistance with their daily living activities, you should contact us right away to learn about the benefits that may be available to you, even if you still have assets and resources of your own.
I heard I have too much income and assets to qualify for benefits and will need to spend everything down before qualifying. Is that true?
Typically, most government benefits available to seniors require the senior to have a very limited amount of resources available to them. Our legal planning tools allow us to ethically and legally help your loved one obtain these resources without having to spend everything down to meet the program’s typical eligibility requirements. Knowing your legal options is extremely powerful and allows you to take advantage of programs that on the surface may not seem available to you.
My parent or spouse is going into a long-term care facility and we are worried about funding their care and eventually running out of money. What are the options?
Using strong powers of attorneys, trusts, and gifting strategies, we can help your loved one’s secure government benefits such as Medi-Cal or the VA Aid and Attendance Benefit, long before they go broke paying for long-term care. If your loved one has been diagnosed with a long- term care issue, or needs assistance with their daily living activities, you should contact us right away to learn about the benefits that may be available to you, even if you still have assets and resources of your own.
How to Reduce the Cost of Long-Term Care Insurance
A person who turns 65 today has a 70% chance of needing some type of long-term care at some time in their remaining years, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. On average, women will need 3.7 years of long-term care and men will need 2.2 years of care. Only 20% will need care for longer than five years.
If you don’t have the financial resources to pay for this long-term care yourself – either for a nursing home stay or in-home care – you will likely consider long-term care insurance to fill the void. While annual premiums can vary according to your age and health status, they can be fairly expensive.
Here are some tips to reduce the cost of long-term care insurance:
- Buy young. Since premiums rise as you age, purchasing a long-term care policy when you are younger can mean cheaper premiums. Just be sure you are aware that premiums can increase as you age, so be sure to discuss this with your insurer.
- Shorten the benefit period. Lifetime policies are the most expensive, and since statistics show that most of us will not need long-term care for more than five years, you can save thousands of dollars in premiums if you buy a short-term policy.
- Lengthen the elimination period. Most policies have a 30-90 day waiting period before coverage begins. If you can make this period longer, your premiums will be cheaper.
- Reduce daily benefits. If you can pay for some of your long-term care needs yourself, you can reduce the daily benefit amount on your policy, which will result in lower premiums.
- Share the care. If you are married and both of you are buying long-term care insurance, a shared care policy could provide you both with more coverage for less money. A shared care policy provides a pool of benefits that are shared between you and your spouse, so if you buy a 5-year shared care policy, the two of you would have 10 years of benefits. If your spouse only uses 3 years, you would have 7 years of benefits to use.
- Take the deduction. Your long-term care insurance premiums may be deductible. If they meet the requirements for “qualified” long-term care expenses, they can be deductible, with the amount depending on your age and tax year. For 2014, the long-term care premium deductibility limits are $1,400 for those more than 50 but not more than 60, $3,720 for those more than 60 but not more than 70, and $4,660 for those over 70.
To learn more about long-term financial planning for your golden years and other elder law issues, call your Newport Beach Estate Planning Attorneys today at the Meier Law Firm to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk about an Achieve Your Dreams Planning Session.