As elder law attorneys, we keep a finger on the pulse of matters that impact senior citizens in ways that can be addressed through the proper planning. Everyone has heard of Alzheimer’s disease in a general sense, but you should understand the relevant facts when you are looking ahead toward your senior years.
You may have heard that the life expectancy for all Americans is about 78 years. This includes people that pass away at all ages, but it goes up when you are talking about someone that has already reached a certain age.
Once you become old enough to collect Social Security, your life expectancy is well into your 80s. The segment of the population that was between 85 and 94 years old grew actually faster than any other group between 2000 and 2010.
Alzheimer’s becomes a greater threat as your elder years pass. The Alzheimer’s Association tells us that about 10 percent of all seniors have the disease, and the number swells to 32 percent among those who are 85 years of age and older.
It is certainly a very unpleasant reality, but this is a fact of life that you should face head on when you are making preparations for your elder years.
With that in mind, you should certainly include incapacity planning in your estate plan. When it comes to financial decision-making, you can execute a durable power of attorney for property to name someone you trust to manage your affairs in the event of your incapacity.
When you understand the benefits, you may use a revocable living trust as an asset transfer vehicle. If you go this route, you would act as the trustee and the beneficiary while you are alive and well. To account for incapacity, you can name a disability trustee in the trust declaration.
Even if you have a living trust, you should still have a durable power of attorney for property to account for resources that you never conveyed into the trust. It is not required, but it makes sense to use the same representative to act in both capacities.
Because of regulations in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), medical professionals can only share healthcare data with the patient. You can give your representative and anyone else that you choose the power to speak freely with your doctors if you include a HIPAA release.
Another incapacity planning document that should be part of the plan is a living will. With this type of will, you state your preferences with regard to the use of life-sustaining measures.
Potential Nursing Home Costs
Obviously, a significant percentage of people with Alzheimer’s spend the last portion of their lives in nursing homes. These facilities are very expensive, and Medicare does not assist with nursing home costs.
Medicaid is an alternate program that does cover the custodial care that nursing homes provide. Of course, this is a need-based program so you are generally not eligible if you have significant assets in your own name.
To protect your resources with your legacy in mind, some people will give away assets or fund a trust to fit within the guidelines, but advance planning is key. Gift giving must usually occurr at least five years before you submit your application.
Let’s Get Started!
Now is the time for action if you are going through life without an estate plan, and we can help you adjust your existing plan if it needs an update. If you would like to schedule a consultation with an attorney from our Charlotte or Huntersville, North Carolina office, call us at 704-944-3245.
The folks in Kentucky can reach our office in Ashland at 606-324-5516 or our office in Florence at 859-372-6655. We also have a contact form on this website that you can use to send a message to either location.