ELDER LAW SERVICES
When should you speak to a New York Elder Law attorney? Believe it or not, it's never too soon!
People who are reaching the traditional age of retirement and their families have unique needs, concerns, and questions. Whether you are thinking of yourself or of seniors in your family, you undoubtedly have many questions about how to ensure you can afford the inevitable medical services and long-term care that come with age.
Ideally, you're planning ahead so you won't have to make panicked decisions under pressure. But if you're like most people, you don't really know what you should be doing now in order to properly prepare for the future. That's where an Elder Law attorney can help!
HOW WILL AN ELDER LAW ATTORNEY HELP YOU?
The Browne Firm has expertise in Elder Law and estate planning for New York families. We're here to educate you, advise you, and support you in making smart decisions around issues such as:
- Managing finances
- Protecting assets
- Arranging for long-term care
- Plans for disabilities, deteriorating health, and special needs
- Applying and qualifying for Medicaid
- Medicaid Asset Protection Trusts
- Estate planning
- Revocable and irrevocable trusts
- Guardianship of minors, dependents with special needs, and pets
- Advance health care directives and health care proxies
- Living wills
- Power of attorney
Eventually, we will all pass away. Death is inevitable. But what is NOT inevitable is financial hardship and complications for those left behind because of a lack of proper planning.
A significant aspect of Elder Law is estate planning, and you should get your estate plan in order NOW, well before you're approaching retirement age. You may not feel like a senior—in fact, you may not be a senior yet at all! Good—this is the time to plan and prepare for the future. There's just no such thing as starting your estate planning too soon. The earlier you start, the easier it will be for you and your family to deal with the expenses that come with aging, to protect your assets, to ensure your wishes are carried out, to preserve your assets, and to create generational wealth.
A QUALIFIED, COMPASSIONATE ELDER LAW ATTORNEY WILL HELP YOU PROTECT WHAT MATTERS MOST
At The Browne Firm, we're passionate about helping ALL individuals and families with the tough topics that have to be addressed when you or a loved one is approaching the traditional age of retirement. When things are left until the last moment, we will assist you with Crisis Planning (needing Medicaid Services as soon as possible). But we emphasize and encourage Proactive Planning whenever possible.
The same philosophy applies to estate planning for individuals of every age. Understand your options so you can prepare to deal with whatever comes down the road.
LONG-TERM CARE COSTS ARE ON THE RISE – WILL YOU HAVE ENOUGH WHEN IT'S TIME?
We all know that costs for everything go up over time, not down. If you're still working and advancing in your career, and if you've made some smart investment decisions too, it might be easy to assume that you'll be fine when you're finally faced with the costs of long-term care for yourself or a loved one.
But most people are quite shocked when they finally see the real numbers. The current costs for long-term—not to mention the projected costs for 10 years down the road—are positively staggering.
Consider these numbers:
The estimated average nursing home daily rate the New York state ranges from $372/day to $461/day, for an average annual cost of anywhere from $135,936 to $168,1444.
Alzheimer's residential care (also called Memory Care) will add another 20-30% to these costs.
Even less expensive options are still a huge burden for the average family. Non-residential adult day care runs anywhere from $50 to $130 per day depending on where you live. Home health care costs $24 to $33 an hour.
And here's the kicker: these rates are expected to more than double over the next 10 years!
While it's impossible to predict how long someone will need care—or how soon that need will occur—one thing we know for sure is that costs are already high and constantly on the rise. It's easy to look at numbers like these and feel hopeless or overwhelmed. But you don't have to feel that way. With proper planning and expert legal advice from an Elder Law attorney in New York at The Browne Firm, you can explore your options now and be confident you'll be covered.
Planning for these expenses is critical, and the sooner you do it, the better. Please don't try to figure it out on your own though. These are complex financial issues and Medicaid is a complex system. We have the experience and expertise to help you navigate it, so let us help!
PROACTIVE PLANNING FOR LONG-TERM CARE
With proactive planning, you'll have peace of mind knowing that you and your loved ones will be cared for—and you won't be financially devastated as a result of providing for them. This happens to families more often than you might think, but it doesn't have to happen to yours.
Through proactive planning, we work together to preserve as many assets as possible while ensuring that the necessary financial resources will be available to pay for the needs of you or the family member who will need care.
There are many tools we draw upon to help you plan and prepare. You'll definitely need an estate plan. You'll also need to assess your current and projected financials to determine if you might be able to pay for future long-term costs out of pocket. We will discuss long-term care insurance policies and the possibility of relying on those to pay for the majority of care. And, of course, we will talk about Medicaid and Medicare and explore how those fit into your plan.
We certainly don't want to scare you, but if you're approaching retirement age and haven't started looking at your options for how to pay for long-term care, you really must take action as soon as possible.
For many people, the long-term care financial plan includes tapping into Medicaid for assistance, but Medicaid has very specific eligibility requirements that you need to know about now. If you plan ahead, it will be far easier to qualify for Medicaid down the road, and it's essential you start planning long before you need it.
MEDICAID LOOKBACK PERIODS AND YOUR ELIGIBILITY FOR FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE
When you submit your application, Medicaid uses a 5-year lookback period to assess whether you qualify for assistance to pay for a stay in a nursing home or other long-term care facility. Community Medicaid (getting a home care attendent) has its own eligibility requirements and currently the lookback period does not apply.
Figuring out what counts towards your eligibility can be tricky with all of the exceptions and prohibitions. This is definitely something you'll need expert help with and why you'll need to work with a New York Elder Law attorney. This is always why it's so important to plan ahead—to ensure eligibility while also protecting your assets.
For example, while you might live fairly modestly and assume you're well within the window of eligibility, it's often surprising how quickly the value of assets can add up and push you outside that window. It's not just your home, but other property or land, vehicles, tools and equipment, artwork and antiques...anything of value is counted against your eligibility.
While you would do anything to make sure your loved one is taken care of, obviously you can't just liquidate everything you own to pay for their care—nor should you have to. So what are do you to do when faced with these big expenses? Especially if your planning hasn't been exactly perfect?
AN EXPERT ATTORNEY WILL HELP YOU USE THE RIGHT PLANNING TOOLS
The Browne Firm is well-versed in Elder Law, estate planning, and Medicaid planning. We can help you make decisions now that will ensure you won't have so many worries later. We know all the tools we can bring to bear to YOUR situation to give you the best outcomes.
WHAT IS A MEDICAID ASSET PROTECTION TRUST?
One of the most popular proactive planning tools we use is something commonly referred to as a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust. This is a trust that is irrevocable (which means once it is established, making changes are difficult, unlike revocable trusts set up during the typical estate planning process).
When you place your assets into a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust, the value of these assets aren't counted against you when you apply for Medicaid assistance. But this is something you have to establish BEFORE the Medicaid lookback period which means at least 5 years before you apply for Medicaid. And since you don't know for sure when you need the assistance, you shouldn't gamble and wait until the last minute.
AVOIDING MEDICAID ESTATE RECOVERY IS KEY TO PASSING ON GENERATIONAL WEALTH
If creating generational wealth and leaving assets to your loved ones are important to you, Medicaid planning should be on your to-do list NOW, no matter how old you are. If you fail to protect your assets in the right way, you might be able to get Medicaid assistance, but after the recipient (you or your loved one) dies, the government engages in something called Medicaid Estate Recovery. What that means is that the state will seize assets as reimbursement for the Medicaid benefits that were paid out. Assets kept in a revocable trust are not protected from recovery by the state, which is why it is absolutely critical that you meet with an attorney from The Browne Firm to set up a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust. This is the only way to ensure the wealth you worked so hard to build will go to the people you care about after you die—and not to the government.
MEDICAID CRISIS PLANNING
What should you do if you haven't prepared ahead of time and now someone you love needs Medicaid assistance? We can help! Skilled Elder Law attorneys at The Browne Firm will guide you with strategies to help you get the Medicaid coverage you need without losing assets intended to be kept in the family. We will:
- Assist you in completing the Medicaid application
- Advise you on which monies and accounts can be “spent down” to help you meet eligibility requirements
- Establish a Pooled Income Trust (also called a Supplemental Needs Trust) to protect assets
- Discuss other strategies for protecting assets if a trust can't be used
There are income limits related to Medicaid eligibility. If your monthly income is “too much” for you to qualify for Medicaid and it's difficult or impossible to spend down the surplus so you can qualify for assistance, an expert Elder Law attorney at The Browne Firm can help. We will set up a Pooled Income Trust where you can deposit a portion of your earnings so you can keep the money you worked so hard to earn and still receive essential Medicaid assistance.
We will also be very pleased to help you complete your application for Medicaid to maximize your chances of meeting the income and asset eligibility requirements. It can be a complicated process, and it's even worse if you're in the midst of worrying about the sudden health care and housing needs of yourself, your spouse, your parents, or another family member.
We can't overemphasize the many advantages of Proactive Planning. But if you find yourself in the position where Crisis Planning is necessary, The Browne Firm is your trusted partner in working with you to protect the people and things that matter to you the most.
MEDICARE – ISN'T IT ENOUGH?
One very common misunderstanding many people have is that Medicare will cover long-term care costs in nursing facilities. This simply isn't true. Medicare does NOT cover the costs of staying in a nursing home facility. If you or a family member are in a nursing home, Medicare may cover the cost of doctors and providers, medication, medical supplies, and hospital services. However, the actual cost of the nursing home stay will have to be covered with your own personal money, or through long-term care insurance, or through Medicaid. Do you know how you'll handle those expenses when they come up? Don't wait until the last minute—start preparing today. Talk to an expert Elder Law attorney at The Browne Firm NOW to discuss your planning options.
DON'T ADD FINANCIAL BURDENS TO YOUR EMOTIONAL BURDENS
The last thing you need is more money worries, especially when you're approaching the traditional age of retirement or responsible for a family member who is. Dealing with the emotional aspects of disability, long-term health issues, moving into a care facility—these are stressful life events, and even more stressful when you don't know how you'll pay for it all.
One thing to be aware of is that there are some very famous personalities you may have seen on television or on social media who are well-meaning but are giving very bad advice. Dave Ramsey, Suze Orman, and other “financial experts” may share some useful information, but when they encourage you to go the DIY route in doing your estate planning, please understand that doing so will almost certainly put your finances in serious jeopardy down the road. Medicaid in particular is a very complex system, and one-size-fits-all financial planning advice is insufficient and even dangerous if you plan to apply for Medicaid assistance in the future. The smartest thing you can do is turn to The Brown Firm for expert legal advice and guidance when it comes to Elder Law, estate planning, and Medicaid—and to do it sooner rather than later.
ESTATE PLANNING EARLY IS IMPORTANT NO MATTER YOUR FINANCIAL OUTLOOK
If you are in the fortunate position of having made sound financial moves and you're confident you'll be able to pay for any long-term care expenses that arise for yourself and your family members, you may not ever need to apply for Medicaid. If that's your situation, we still strongly advise you to do a thorough review of your estate plan. You may also still want to look into establishing a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust or Supplemental Needs Trust.
In short, estate planning is not a one-time event. You need to review your documents regularly with the guidance of an expert Elder Law and estate planning attorney. When your family grows or shrinks, when your income increases or decreases, when your asset portfolio expands or declines—these are just a few of the life events that should trigger a review of your estate plan.
Remember, estate planning is about more than just money. It's also about ensuring your medical wishes are met, that your children (and even your pets) are cared for in the way you want them to be, that if you become incapacitated that you have the person you trust the most making decisions on your behalf, and so much more.
If you've created wealth in your life, you undoubtedly want to preserve your legacy and give the next generation a leg up in starting down their own paths of wealth building. The most important key in multi-generational legacy and wealth building is estate planning. Let the expert attorneys at The Browne Firm provide expert legal advice and guidance in doing just that. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.