Long Term Care Planning

S2016tatistics show that New Year’s resolutions are maintained continuously by most Americans for only one or two weeks. Here are 5 resolutions that you can keep and that will help protect you and your family:

  1. Make sure that my family knows what I want if I become ill or incapacitated and provide them the tools to get things done for me.
  2. Give a trusted person the authority to take care of my health and my financial affairs should I become incapacitated.
  3. Make sure that my assets (the things I own) will be distributed the way I want by the person I have chosen to handle my affairs.
  4. Make sure that I have arranged my affairs to minimize taxes, and have helped provide a secure financial future for my spouse, children and other heirs.
  5. Make sure that I have anticipated long term care expenses, so I can preserve assets for myself and my heirs.

You can accomplish these resolutions by putting together a proper estate and long term care plan.  An estate and long term care plan prepared by a knowledgeable estate planning attorney will address these resolutions through the proper use of Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney, Health Care Directives, and proper beneficiary designations, and life and long term care insurance.

To make 2016 the year you keep your resolutions – call  experienced Estate Planning Attorney, Elga A Goodman today at 973-841-5111 to assist you in creating an estate plan that will implement your 5 New Year’s resolutions.

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A general durable power of attorney is an important estate planning and elder law planning tool.   A power of attorney allows the attorney-in-fact, also6291331_s power of attorney referred to as the agent, to manage the legal and financial affairs of the principal (the person making the power of attorney designation).  The agent’s authority comes from state law and from the power of attorney document that describes the agent’s duties and powers.  Typically the agent would be able to pay the principal’s bills, take care of banking, manage investments, pay insurance premiums, make claims for benefits under health insurance or other programs, collect money owed to the principal and apply for government or other benefits.  The principal can customize the power of attorney document to meet his or her specific needs.

One power that can prove particularly helpful for estate planning and elder law planning is the agent’s ability to create a trust for the benefit of the principal.   However, this power is not automatically included in a general durable power of attorney.  If the principal wants the agent to have the power to create a trust, the power must be expressly stated in the power of attorney document.

A recent appellate court case from Kentucky illustrates this point.  In Dishman v. Dougherty, a case involving a very complex set of facts, the wife as the agent under a power of attorney created a trust for her husband.  In that case, the court held that

“in order for an attorney-in-fact to create a trust pursuant to a POA (power of attorney), this authority must be expressly provided for in the instrument if it contains a specific provision related to trusts.”

The court found that the instrument in question only permitted the agent to “[c]onvey any real or personal property to the Trustee of any trust agreement between me and said Trustee and entered into either before or after the date of this instrument[.]”   That language, which is the usual language included in many power of attorney documents, only allows the agent  to convey property into a trust but does not permit the agent to create a new trust.  In Dishman v. Dougherty the court held that the trust created by the wife was void from inception.

If you are creating a power of attorney you should consider whether to give your agent the power to create trusts, and what other specific powers, if any, should be included in the document.

Getting Legal Help

The power of attorney is an important planning tool.  If you need help preparing a power of attorney or if you are the agent under the power of attorney and need guidance in your role as the agent contact experienced Estate Planning and Probate Attorney, Elga A Goodman. Contact us today at 973-841-5111.

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Times change….  That’s a given.  And, for those of us at or approaching retirement, how we expect to live out our senior years has certainly changed.  In the not too distant past, many seniors could expect to live with adult children or other loved ones as their abilities to care for themselves diminished.  But, in today’s world where seniors are living longer and families are overextended in many ways, including financially, such expectations are often unrealistic.

In approximately the past 15 years, Long Term Care Insurance has gained prominence as an option.  This type of insurance aims to cover all or a large part of costs associated with home health care, assisted living, nursing homes, and other long term care services that may arise. These services are typically not covered by traditional health insurance or Medicare.

Now, another care option is gaining the attention of older, financially secure adults.  The Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) offers a somewhat different approach for seniors.  Usually restricted to individuals aged 55 and older, CCRCs offer a sort of one stop shopping arrangement often referred to as “aging in place.”  Requiring a sizable up-front entry fee plus basic monthly fees, individuals start off living independently in houses, apartments, or condos.  The independent living arrangement may include a variety of recreational options and communal activities for active residents.  However, if residents require assitance with daily living as they age, CCRCs provide such services, including nursing home care as needed.  No need to leave the community and make other arrangements.  No need to worry about space availability.  The  CCRC will care for you on location, placing you, as needed, in the appropriate facility within the community.

Of course, when considering such options it is critical that you carefully review the terms of the contract.  Marketing brochures and other sources of information won’t necessarily tell you everything you need to know.  Will you get back any or all of your up-front CCRC payment if you change your mind and decide to leave?  How are increases over time, if any, determined?  Who makes the decision as to when additional services/living arrangements are needed?  Do your heirs inherit any of the upfront CCRC payment?  What happens if your financial assets are depleted during your residency?  Contracts must spell out exactly what you will and won’t get.  So, be sure to read them carefully, ask questions, and, if you’re still uncertain about terms and conditions, it’s highly advisable to seek assistance from a professional such as an attorney or financial advisor.

Getting Legal Help

Experienced Estate Planning and Elder Care Attorney, Elga A. Goodman, can help you explore elder care options and understand contractual terms and conditions.  Contact us today at 973-841-5111

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There comes a time for many older people when, for various reasons, they must leave their homes.  For some, moving in with children or other close family members is the solution.  For others, a different solution is needed.  This post describes two alternative living arrangements that have gained prominence: 1. Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) and 2. Assisted Living.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs)

CCRCs are usually restricted to individuals aged 55 or older.  Different levels of care are available to an individual as his/her needs change over time.  It’s a sort of one-stop shopping arrangement.  No need to worry about leaving the community to find a suitable new living arrangement when the time comes.  It’s all available within the CCRC.

– A person may start off living independently in a house, apartment, or condo.  Various social activities and recreational facilities are often available.  Depending on the community, on-site swimming pools, tennis courts, beauty salons, dances, card games, and off-site trips may all be part of the CCRC experience.

– As the person ages and requires assistance with daily living, such services are provided, including nursing home care if needed.

– CCRCs typically charge a high one-time admission fee in addition to a monthly occupancy fee that rises only modestly (if at all) over time.

Assisted Living

Assisted Living  is a housing arrangement for older people who need some assistance, but not to the extent provided by a nursing home.  Assisted living aims to help people live as independently as possible, providing some modest individualized support services along with limited health care services.

– An individual typically has his own room, furnished with his own things.   There are communal areas, including a dining hall where meals are served, and a variety of social and recreational activities are available.

– Occupancy fees are paid on a monthly basis.

It’s All In The Details

Whether opting for  a CCRC or Assisted Living, it is critical to carefully read the contract.  Marketing brochures and other sources of information won’t necessarily tell you everything you need to know.  For example, if a one-time admission fee is required, check the contract to see if you will receive a refund of some of that money if you decide to leave.  Also make sure you understand exactly what your basic monthly fee will get you.  There may be additional fees for a variety of things such as administering medication or emergency ambulance services, and, if you assume these are included in your monthly fee, you may be unpleasantly surprised.  Such separate fees can significantly increase your monthly costs.   So, to the buyer beware!  It’s all about the details; and they’re in the contract.

Getting Legal Help

Experienced Estate Planning and Elder Care Attorney, Elga A. Goodman, can help you explore elder care options and determine what meets your needs.  Contact us today at 973-841-5111.

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