Thinking about and planning for end of life care can be overwhelming. Not only is the process emotionally taxing, but there are a number of moving pieces to be considered. As an attorney, I work with clients who are navigating the legal, financial, medical and emotional paths of this type of planning. When it comes to the legal aspect, it is important to work with an Elder Law attorney who is able to address estate planning considerations, as well as the legal aspects of long term care planning.
- Have an Estate Plan
Having an estate plan is important – but just having the documents is not the full picture. It is important that the documents meet your specific and unique needs. It is also recommended that the individuals you’ve named to act in the event you pass away or are incapacitated know that they documents exist and how/where to get them when and if they need them.
I frequently receive phone calls from individuals after a parent died, stating they do not know if their parent had a will and/or do not know where it was kept. Without this information, families are left searching for a will and, if they cannot locate it, oftentimes have to go through formal probate proceedings. A health care directive and Power of Attorney will allow you to communicate your wishes regarding health care and financial matters. It also transfers the authority to the agents you would like to name to manage such matters in the event you are incapacitated.
- Update Beneficiary Designations
Beneficiary listings (such as on life insurance policies, retirement accounts and transfer on death accounts) will outweigh what is contained in a will. It is important that beneficiary designations are up to date. If they have not been checked for years, it is worth a quick phone call to confirm who is listed and ensure the beneficiary designation accurately reflects your most current goals and wishes.
- Communicate What Assets and Policies Exist
In managing your financial matters or distributing their estate, it will be extremely helpful for your loved ones to know what accounts exist, and where they are held. A client of mine spent months piecing together this information through collecting mail and making phone calls – a tedious and time-consuming approach – to identifying assets which could have been assessed in a conversation while her mother was alive. Having a list of assets, with your completed estate planning, can be very helpful when it comes time for your estate to be distributed.
According to a study by Consumer Reports, 1 in every 600 people is a beneficiary of an unclaimed life insurance policy, with an average benefit of $2,000. If families are not aware that certain life insurance policies exist, the money may go unclaimed. Knowing what policies exist and with what companies they are held is important to ensure your beneficiaries collect assets being left to them.
- Medical Assistance Planning
Planning for long term care costs is another important factor to keep in mind. Advance conversations and planning to save for long term care (including, for example, purchasing long term care insurance) is prudent. However, even the best planning may not be enough. According to the MN Dept. of Human Services, average nursing home care cost is $90,000 per year – and memory care costs are oftentimes higher than this.
Understanding eligibility requirements and proper asset reduction strategy can empower individuals who are planning for long term care. When done properly, it may be possible to protects assets for you family and also plan for appropriate and adequate long term care.
Schromen Law, LLC works with families to help make certain appropriate planning is in place, and important information is communicated and/or accessible to those who need it. With this planning in place, you can enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing you have planned for the worst, so you can continue living for the best.
The material contained herein is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to create or constitute an attorney-client relationship between Schromen Law, LLC and the reader. The information contained herein is not offered as legal advice and should not be construed as legal advice.