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Long-term care planning is a process best started early

Experts in elder care planning in Texas and elsewhere recommend strongly that families have a conversation with an elderly parent about his or her preferences and desires for long-term care. The talk must take place when the individual has control of his or her faculties and can contribute to the conversation. Early planning for long-term care can ultimately assure financial and emotional stability for all of the concerned family members.

One tough problem is that people tend to put this subject at the bottom of their priorities. That is unfortunate because the truth is that 70 percent of persons over 65 will need some form of long term care services, and the majority are not prepared. Furthermore, people who investigate the facts will find that the contribution of Medicare to long-term care is virtually nil. Additionally, in order to qualify for Medicaid to fund nursing home care, one's assets must be spent down and gifted away years before requesting services.

Good planning will include ignore long-term care protection

It is difficult to engage people in a discussion of long-term care needs when they are busy making sure that their expenses today and tomorrow do not exceed their budgetary constraints. People in Texas and elsewhere are reluctant to talk about long-term care when those needs seem so far away and possibly unnecessary. However, ignoring long-term care planning can be a devastating mistake under most life outcomes.

The problem does need to be addressed, according to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), which reports that 70 percent of Americans who reach 65 years will need assistance with everyday activities of life. This may be due to a chronic illness or disabling injury, including Alzheimer's, cancer, stroke, diabetes and the like. Despite this authoritative report, less than one-third of Americans age 50 or more have any plans for long-term care.

Long-term care plan needs to be studied early to plan options

One of the biggest challenges a person can face is preparing for the day when one may no longer be independent and self-sufficient. Due to a decline in physical or mental health, or both, the day may come when a person has to rely on others to make decisions about his or her long-term care. Lest one views the subject as too gloomy to worry about, it should be remembered that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that 70 percent of those 65 and older, including residents of Texas, will need some form of long-term care.

The average period of long-term care will be about three years. Despite those surprising statistics, only 35 percent of Americans age 40 and older have any kind of planning in place. In prior articles, we have stressed the importance of an elderly person meeting with family members for a discussion on future needs, preferences and planning for such potentialities. This, however, is happening in only about 40 percent of the cases.

Long-term care planning requires careful evaluation of all facts

The key problem that arises with respect to elderly planning is the high cost of extended care facilities during one's later years. Many people do not begin to even thing about long-term care until they hit their eighties, but due to the five-year look back period it would be far better to take this up in one's early to mid-sixties. There are numerous rules in Texas that provide the qualifications for one to be able to get Medicaid services, and an early consultation with an elder law attorney would be a good way to becoming well informed and prepared.

There is a limit on the value of assets that one can have in order to qualify for Medicaid. Early planning, through appropriate gifting to family members, may be all that is necessary in some instances. Additionally, some assets are exempt and will be appropriately maintained in their current status. These include certain retirement accounts and the applicant's home under certain circumstances, such as where a spouse, minor or disabled or blind child is living in the home.

Elder law planning works best when a family meeting can be held

Elder law professionals and financial advisers in Texas and elsewhere generally recommend that a family have an honest and forthright conversation with an elderly loved one to discuss the elderly person's wishes and intentions for those later, advanced years in life. Elder law planning is best done early, when the individual is still in full control of his or her faculties and physical health. It will prove to be critically helpful when advanced age makes it difficult for one to function independently.

Preparation for anything in life always pays off in premiums. Pitfalls and obstacles generally emerge when a future event or change in lifestyle was not prepared and planned out in advance. This is particularly true when the subject is about advanced aging and care for the elderly loved one whom we want to make as comfortable and as independent as possible. One of the things to discuss is the elder person's preferences for final illness care and other decisions with respect to his or her medical treatment.

Estate administration usually follows the dictates of a will

When a person dies in Texas, his or her will provides for appointment of an executor to handle the estate's administration. If there was no will, the statutory law of Texas designates persons who may qualify as an administrator of the estate. An executor or administrator will have to take certain steps and perform certain duties to properly administer the estate. Both executors and administrators may be generically referred to as the personal representative of the estate.

In a general sense, the biggest tasks for the personal representative are to collect the assets, pay the bills, and distribute the remaining funds to the beneficiaries. In some cases, the estate will be supervised by a probate judge, but that is not necessary if no special issues are involved. It is generally appropriate to administer the estate, perform all tasks and distribute the assets without formal court supervision.

Estate planning should be managed by an experienced professional

Estate planning for Texas residents requires experienced professional assistance. The process goes beyond the preparation of a simple will. Instead, estate planning entails a number of legal instruments and strategic planning decisions that must be geared to the special financial needs of the individual or married couple.

It is important to find experienced, knowledgeable estate planning professionals in order to assure a comprehensive and effective plan. Some of these may include lawyers, accountants, insurance planners, investment experts and others with relevant expertise. The most logical place to start is to arrange a consultation with an estate planning attorney.

Elder law planning can achieve substantial assets protection

Elder law planning in Texas is a critically important process that goes hand-in-hand with estate planning. In elder law planning, the concern is more focused on the care of the elderly loved one during those late years when incapacitation may become an issue. The majority of persons will unfortunately face the fact that they will need either institutionalized care or that they will need to pay for in-home care.

Nursing home care and some aspects of home care can be addressed through a process of Medicaid planning. Medicaid provides funding for elderly care in nursing homes to those who qualify. Generally, people can lose their assets to the government if they take Medicaid while having neglected to protect their real estate and other assets.

Insurance may be a vital part of long-term care plan

Long-term care insurance may be more of a necessity than some people think. The statistics say that almost 75 percent of senior citizens in this country, including in Texas, will need some form of long-term care prior to death. The cost of  the insurance and the care itself are continuing upwards. However, there are a variety of products on the market that may make the choices easier for those wanting to devise a long-term care plan via partial or complete insurance funding.

Certainly one's assets, income, needs and projected life span are things to look at first in deciding how to handle the problem of long-term care, both at home and in an institution. The policies to cover later life care are becoming more attractive and offering options for people who do not want an expensive policy that may never pan out. For example, now there are life policies that will pay a part of the death benefit upon the covered person's need for in-home or institutional care. If the person never needs that care, the policy will pay the designated death benefit to the person's heirs.

VA pushing estate planning penalties on some veterans pensions

In Texas and nationwide, many persons in private industry had to make adjustments to their estate planning over recent years as their pension plans took a hit from the recession and other economic pitfalls. The problem is now surfacing with respect to some veterans and their military pensions. VA benefits may be denied or discontinued under new rules, thereby making it imperative for some veterans to revise their estate planning strategies accordingly.

It appears that veterans over 65 with nonservice related pensions, and with income over $119,220.00,  may be singled out. Estate planning attorneys and investment advisers may have to make asset protection adjustments to estate plans previously created for some clients who are veterans. The same applies to new and future estate planning.

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Bedford (Fort Worth), TX 76021
Phone: 817-545-3425
Toll Free: 800-569-2663
Fax: 817-545-9847
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Austin, TX 78734
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Addison, TX 75001
Phone: 972-685-5202
Fax: 972-685-5206
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