Tuesday, September 20, 2011
I know that I have done a Medicaid post previously, but I have received so many calls lately that I thought it would be helpful to add another post with some additional information. If there is more you would like to know about Elder Law, I would encourage you to call and ask your question specifically, or post a comment to the blog if it is of a more general nature. I will start out the advice in this post with the most essential advice I can provide.
PLAN EARLY, DON'T SUFFER, IF YOU WAIT, IT WILL COST YOU
I wish that there was a mountain top I could shout this from. I know that your future poor health is not something that you want to think about, but without proper planning you will pay much more and perhaps receive inferior care. This brings you to the question, what is proper planning? In my humble opinion, proper planning is completing the following tasks long before you are sick.
1. Have a Power of Attorney for Property and a Power of Attorney for Healthcare drafted. These documents will be explained in a future post in more detail, but they are the best first step to take when you are healthy in the event of an emergency.
2. Have a Will drafted that acts as a Pour-Over-Will. A Pour-Over-Will is best described as a back up plan. A Pour-Over-Will does just as the name sounds, it transfers all property into another disposition vehicle. In most cases this is a Trust, which you would have set up in the past.
3. Have a Trust drafted to hold your assets. There are generally two types of trusts. An Irrevocable Trust is like its own legal entity. This type of trust is to remove assets from your name so that you qualify for governmental benefits. A Revocable Trust is an instrument that will transfer property outside of probate after death. Probate avoidance is critical to speed disposition of property after death, especially is both spouses are ill.
4. Complete a Medicaid application if you are eligible. I would recommend that you speak to an elder law attorney to help you determine if you are eligible, and if you are not, what steps you can take to become eligible. To find out more on Medicaid, check out my post here on Medicaid Eligibility.
5. Speak to an Insurance Agent who is knowledgeable in Long Term Care Insurance. I will link to my two previous posts on long term care insurance here. Long Term Care Insurance part 1 and Long Term Care Insurance part 2. I can not stress enough how important it is that you speak to an agent who is very knowledgeable in this unique type of insurance. I would be happy to recommend one if you do not know an agent who handles this type of insurance. The reason you need a specialist in this type of field is because most agents sell very few of these policies and will just read to you the brochure. They have no idea if you are the type of person who can benefit from this policy. They are simply selling what they were told to sell. They have no idea when the product is useful and appropriate.
6. Draft a Critical Document/ Information List. This is a document that includes all the critical information that loved ones will need in the event of your illness. An attorney with your best interest at heart will provide a comprehensive list of information that you should include in your Critical Document List. Before you decide on an attorney, find out how comprehensive they intend to be. There is more to Illness Planning than just legal documents.
These six planning tools are important to have completed long in advance of getting sick. My recommendation is to have these tools in place before you turn fifty years old. The likelihood of needing some or all of these tools after fifty is much greater than before fifty. In the case of medicaid planning, you need to have your documents drafted, in some cases, five years before you need care. This is why I stress that proper planning be done well in advance of problems. Better to have things prepared in advance than have their benefit be diminished by waiting until the last minute.
If you would like to speak to me about these issues, contact me at:
5013 W. 95h St.
Oak Lawn, IL 60453