Elder Law & Special Needs Planning Clients

If I want to stay in my own home, do I have other options besides a nursing home?

Yes. Staying in your own home can be important and may also be less stressful and expensive than a nursing home. Financial support could come from long-term care insurance, federal or state funding sources, or by obtaining a reverse mortgage on your home.

What are Medicare and Medicaid?

In 1965 the federal government started a program called Medicare. This program provides people over age 65 or people with disabilities with low cost health coverage. Medicare does not frequently provide funding for long-term care. However, Medicaid, which is a state-administered federal program, gives low-income Americans medical and long-term care support. A skilled elder law attorney can help you to determine your eligibility requirements, which include meeting certain asset and income limits as well as asset transfer requirements.

Am I eligible to receive Medicare or Medicaid benefits?

If you are over 65 years of age, disabled for at least two years or have chronic kidney disease, you may be eligible to receive Medicare benefits. Medicare benefit payments are limited to only the first 100 days in a nursing home facility. The Medicaid requirements are different and you must meet your state’s income and asset limits or spend or transfer assets until you are within the limits. Certain assets, like homes, may not be able to be transferred. Meeting with an Elder Law attorney can help you to determine if you are eligible to receive Medicare or Medicaid.

Is it illegal to transfer assets for the purpose of obtaining Medicaid benefits?

No. Previously it was illegal to transfer assets or spend down assets to meet Medicaid requirements. Attorneys were then targeted by Congress who passed a law related to the attorneys advising clients rather than the applicants of the federal programs themselves. In 1998, it was declared that these laws limited free speech of Elder Law attorneys.

What is long-term care insurance?

Private insurance policies provide long-term care insurance to be purchased to cover long-term care needs. These needs include home care by a paid caretaker, or assisted living and nursing homes. Even though these policies may be expensive they save a considerable amount of money when compared to long-term care costs. An experienced Elder Law attorney can help you determine if long-term care insurance will benefit you.

Do I surrender any rights when I execute a power of attorney?

No. A power of attorney gives an appointed person the ability exercise the rights you request in your power of attorney document. You may determine that the appointed person may withdraw money from your bank account or write checks. Your rights to said financial matters are not surrendered but you do not have exclusive control over these matters.

Why should I execute a living will or health care directive?

If you wish to determine your medical treatment, should you become unable to take care of yourself, living wills and health care directives are important planning tools. A specific person can be appointed to make these medical decisions for you if you are unable to do so. These planning tools can also provide guidance for your family members and doctors should something unplanned arise. A living will can also relieve your family members of making difficult decisions related to life-support measures.

Can I change my power of attorney or advance directive after I sign it?

Absolutely!  While you are still legally competent to sign legal documents, you can revoke your current power of attorney or simply amend it to accommodate your current situation.  For example, if you want to change who is to serve as your power of attorney or whether you want your power of attorney to cover certain tasks and not others, you can do that.