Raleigh Elder Law Attorneys
Are you a “mature” American age 65 or older, do you care about someone who is, or do you anticipate becoming a mature American yourself? If yes, then you are in good company. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Americans 85 and older are the fastest-growing demographic group and, right behind them, 79 million baby boomers are moving into retirement age themselves.
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However, with advances in age come advances in health problems. Along with health challenges, there are special legal challenges that need to be addressed, and the sooner, the better.
At the Brady Cobin Law Group, PLLC, our dedicated Raleigh elder law attorneys can help you identify the plans you need to have in place in order to:
- Ensure your wishes are clear in the event that you become incapacitated
- Protect your assets and your loved ones
- Make financial arrangements for your long-term care needs
With more than 35 years of experience, our respected law firm has earned a reputation for honoring the life, work, and charity of every individual. We are committed to providing thoughtful estate planning advice and compassionate support to our clients.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation with our experienced Raleigh elder law lawyers.
How Our Attorneys Can Help You
We understand the unique issues people face as they grow older, and we work to develop plans that protect you and your family.
Our knowledgeable legal team has extensive experience handling a wide range of elder law matters, including:
- Long-term care planning and insurance
- Health care planning
- Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security planning
No matter what issue you’re facing, or what planning you need to do, our compassionate law attorneys can help you get the job done. We’re available to answer your questions and help you plan for the future.
Take Charge of Your Health
Your health isn’t usually something you think about when everything is good. However, it is crucial to have health care plans in place that address what should happen if things go bad. This includes two important steps:
- Preparing a medical directive
- Planning for long-term care
Both will help you maintain control over your health and your finances.
A medical directive will allow you to communicate your health care decisions in advance. This document will provide clear instructions to decision-makers about what health care you do and do not want. If you’re not able to communicate, this directive will be your voice.
Long-term care planning is another activity that will help you maintain control over your health and finances. Long-term care is a reality for most Americans, and adequate planning will help you head off problems long before they arise. No matter your age or your situation now is the time to think about the future.
Understanding the Costs of Long-Term Care
When people plan for retirement, they usually figure out how to replace income and how to take care of their day-to-day expenses. Too often, though, they don’t plan for the costs of long-term care. They think they won’t need it, but in fact, most people will. According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), more than two-thirds of Americans older than 65 will need long-term care, and on average they’ll need care for three years.
Long-term care is vitally important, but it is also a huge burden that can drain your accounts dry. It can cost tens of thousands of dollars a year to provide long-term care for an individual. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the average costs for long-term care in the U.S. in 2016 were:
- $253 a day or $7,698 per month for a private room in a nursing home
- $225 a day or $6,844 per month for a semi-private room in a nursing home
- $119 a day or $3,628 per month for care in an assisted-living facility
- $68 per day for services in an adult day health care center
- $20.50 an hour for a health aide
- $20 an hour for homemaker services
These costs can add up fast to more than $90,000 per year. Over three years, this can be more than $270,000 in long-term care costs. In many cases, the costs of long-term care greatly exceed the amount that someone has set aside in savings. If you haven’t planned for these significant costs, you may find yourself scrambling to live the life you want to. A lifetime of savings can be wiped out in a few short years.
What to Consider When Making a Long-Term Care Plan
By planning ahead for long-term care, you can protect your assets, minimize your liabilities, and maximize your benefits. Some of the factors to take into consideration include:
Assets are a key part of long-term care planning, and protecting them is one of the most important things you can do. If you require long-term care and rely upon government programs, the government may have a claim against your property and assets. Advance planning can help you get resources to those you care about while minimizing your liability for your care.
Two of the best ways to plan for long-term care are gifts and trusts. These will help you get your assets to those you love while benefitting your long-term care plan. A skilled Raleigh elder law attorney can help you time and structure your transfers for maximum benefit.
- Gifts. One way to plan ahead for long-term care is to reduce the number of assets in your estate through gifts to others. By getting resources to those you love well in advance of needing long-term care, you’re maximizing their benefit to others and minimizing their long-term costs to you. Gifts are subject to federal and state tax laws, so it’s important to understand the timing and consequences of these transfers.
Gifts and other asset transfers are also subject to rules outlined in the Medicaid planning section below. If you do not plan far enough ahead, these gifts may be subject to penalties. A lawyer can help you understand the rules on gifts and when they’re best for your situation.
- Trusts. Trusts are another way of planning for long-term care. By starting an irrevocable trust and transferring assets to it, you can reduce the assets you hold and thus reduce your potential liability for long-term care costs. However, these trusts are subject to complex rules regarding the timing and availability of your funds. Depending on the amount and nature of your assets, a trust may work for you. A lawyer can help you understand whether trust is the right choice for your situation.
Medicaid is a program to help lower-income Americans pay for medical costs, including those for long-term care. Unlike Medicare, it is not available to all seniors, and it has strict income and asset requirements. Medicare only covers limited long-term care situations, but Medicaid will cover chronic situations that require long-term care. Qualifying for Medicaid can be an important part of planning for the future.
By planning in advance, you can control where your assets go and reduce your assets and income in order to qualify for Medicaid. If you’re planning for Medicaid, one important rule is known as the “look-back rule.” The look-back rule examines gifts and other asset transfers for five years prior to applying for Medicaid. If assets are transferred during this five-year window, they may subject the applicant to penalties. Penalties typically delay an applicant’s qualification for Medicaid.
If you need to qualify for Medicaid, a lawyer can help you plan your asset transfers in advance and can help you understand any penalties you may face.
Long-Term Care Insurance
In some cases, long-term care insurance may help people pay for the care they need. Individuals can obtain this type of insurance by themselves or through employers and partnership programs. Long-term care insurance offers benefits such as tailored coverage and the flexibility to hold onto assets without worrying about the penalties and costs of Medicaid.
However, this type of insurance can be expensive and may not be right for your situation. It may make more sense to transfer assets and qualify for Medicaid than to pay the premiums for long-term care insurance. A lawyer can help you determine whether long-term care insurance is part of the best plan to protect you and your assets.
Planning for Special Needs
When someone has special needs, planning ahead for long-term care is critical. Those with special needs may not be able to manage their own care, so it’s important to have key documents and information in place. These can help caretakers avoid problems and give the best possible long-term care.
These documents include:
- Asset and trust information in place for the benefit of the individual
- Birth certificates, medical records, and guardianship records
- Letters of intent with clear instructions
- Powers of attorney and medical care directives
A lawyer can help you organize the documents they’ll need and understand what government programs may be able to help with long-term care. Medicaid, Social Security, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and many others may all provide vital resources. When you plan ahead, you’re securing the future for those you love.
Veterans have many options that can assist them with long-term care. These programs include home and community-based initiatives that can cover evaluation, respite care, home health care, and other care options. Veterans’ benefits may also cover assisted-living center costs if the veteran meets eligibility, income, and disability requirements. An elder law lawyer can help you understand and obtain the long-term care benefits that you’ve earned.
Accidents happen, and illness can strike without warning. In situations where you’re taken off-guard, you’ll need to put plans into action fast. Insurance coverages, Medicaid applications and penalties, and asset protection may all spring on you at the same time. If you find yourself in a crisis, an experienced lawyer can help you control all the moving pieces.
No Matter the Challenge, Our Raleigh Elder Law Lawyers Can Help
As the number of candles increases on your birthday cake, so do the odds of becoming incapacitated due to an injury or illness. Whether incapacity strikes suddenly or over time, the consequence is the same. Either you will have properly appointed decision-makers of your own choosing through legal planning in advance, or a judge (who likely does not know you or your loved one) will appoint someone for you under the ongoing supervision of the court.
The estate planning alternative is less expensive, easier on your loved ones, and protects your privacy from the public record. At the Brady Cobin Law Group, we stand ready to walk you through every aspect of long-term care planning. Contact us today for a consultation.