One of the most common issues that Marietta elder law attorneys deal with is how to help clients when it comes to both short-term and long-term care. Folks are living longer than they ever have before due to advances in both health care and technology. Certainly, this is what people have been hoping would happen for generations, but it does bring with it some new challenges. High on that list is the increased need for short-term care (to recover from an illness or injury, for example) and long-term care. What people so often want their East Cobb elder law attorneys to explain is how they can afford it and whether Medicare or Medicaid can help.
The answers to these questions are, of course, fairly complicated; but it’s worthwhile to have at least a little knowledge to get started. In the case of Medicare and Medicaid, you will find that both of them can help when it comes to paying for rehab services, but under different guidelines. This is something that Marietta elder lawyers spend a lot of time researching, and with laws constantly changing, it’s best to confer with someone knowledgeable about the current status of these programs.
If you are over 65, then Medicare might be a reasonable option for you. While similar to health insurance, Medicare is a federal program. Whether you live in Georgia or any other state, you can expect the same benefits and requirements. For example, to qualify, you need to transfer to a rehab facility (or nursing home) only after staying three days and three nights in the hospital; and the move needs to take place within 30 days of the hospital stay.
Basically, Medicare is there to help when an unexpected illness or injury arises so that you can get through it and recover. It’s not a plan for long-term care, rather it’s for those who need skilled care as they’re making their recovery. For that reason, Medicare will only pay for 100 days of care, and the last 80 days require a co-payment from the patient.
Your elder lawyer will tell you, however, that Medicaid is a state-run program. It is in place for those who have a demonstrated financial need. And that need must be pretty significant. In fact, you may have to prove that you have less than $2,000 in assets to qualify, and if you have more, you might have to get creative in how to reallocate it to qualify. Again, and elder law attorney in Marietta, Georgia, may be able to offer advice and suggestions on how to do this appropriately. The good news is that there are some exemptions to this $2,000 worth of assets rule, and you may be able to keep your house and your car while still qualifying.
Getting the most out of Medicaid can be difficult to figure out, so gaining clarification from an East Cobb elder law lawyer is definitely recommended. Social workers and staff at the hospital may also have suggestions and recommendations. This is one of those times when it pays to be prepared in advance, too, so that you know what your options will be and can set things up to work to your utmost advantage should you need to rely on Medicaid.
If you are a caregiver and you want to learn more about Medicare, Medicaid and long term care planning for your elderly loved one, please check out my free guide, “Hope For Caregivers: ABC’s of Long-Term Care and Legal Planning.” You can download it by clicking here.
Funerals can be very expensive here in Marietta, Georgia. Many families pay up to $10,000 (and oftentimes more) for their loved one’s funeral. Hoping to relieve family members from the stress of this financial burden, the idea of paying for funeral expenses in advance using a prepaid funeral contract is growing in popularity. As with any financial decision, you should carefully consider the pros and cons of this investment.
Some of the benefits of prepaid funeral contracts are:
- Your family does not have to deal with the emotional burden of planning your funeral.
- Your family has financial help, and sometimes full payment of your funeral costs.
- Many times you can lock-in the cost of your funeral at today’s price rather than a higher price in the future when the funeral is held.
- You can often pay in installments.
Some of potential risks of prepaid funeral contracts include:
- The funeral home could go out of business.
- You may not be able to get a refund if you change your mind.
- You may not be earning interest on the money you invest.
- You could move or die away from home and your contract may not be transferable.
Before you sign on the bottom line, be sure to talk to a qualified will and estate attorney here in Marietta GA. There may be safer ways to set aside or invest money that will accomplish your goal of taking care of your final arrangements and decreasing the stress on your family. The bottom line is that it is critical to gather as much information as possible before tying up your money with a local funeral home.
If you’d like to talk to our Marietta will lawyers about taking care of your family so they don’t suffer financially at the time of your death, give us a call at 770-425-6060.
Many people believe that it would be easier for their loved ones if they transferred ownership of their home before they need to. Bypassing probate in Cobb County, they believe, will be easiest for everyone. That could be true. However, there are several risks to consider that might harm you or your heirs.
Hazard #1 – You could create tax problems
If you transfer your principle residence you could be disqualified from part or all of the capital gains tax exclusion causing an unnecessary tax liability. This means that if you decide to sell after sharing ownership of your home with your children, they would have to pay capital gains taxes on the increased value of the home. This is really bad news if you’ve lived in your home for many years and the value of the property has significantly increased.
Hazard #2 – House value counts against you if you need Medicaid
If you transfer your house within 5 years of needing Medicaid assistance for a nursing home, you will probably be ineligible. Medicaid has a five year “look back” period where any monetary gifts or property transfers are considered which may take you above the income requirements.
Hazard #3 – Your loved one could get divorced
If you transfer an ownership interest of your home to your child, and then the child gets divorced, your ex-son/daughter-in-law might be entitled to part of the value.
Hazard #4 – Your child could file for bankruptcy
When you share ownership of a home with your child, you also share exposure to one another’s financial problems. If you are moving to an assisted living home and plan to use the equity in your home to pay the rent, you may have a bad surprise if the bankruptcy court demands some or all of the proceeds of the sale to pay your child’s creditors.
Hazard #5 – Something happens to your child
If something unexpected happens to your child and they become incapacitated or predecease you, you could run into real trouble. If, for example, your child becomes disabled and needs Medicaid coverage, he could be ineligible due to his share of the home.
Hazard #6 – Your child is a problem
After you transfer ownership of your home, you must all agree if you decide later to sell the home or even do renovations. If your child doesn’t agree with you, they can stop you. I know that it is hard to imagine your dear son or daughter in this light, but it happens more often than you can imagine.
The bottom line here is that you need to be very careful when considering transferring or sharing ownership of your home with your children. There are several other options but it is important that you work with a qualified estate planning and trust attorney in Marietta GA who knows how to utilize better (and safer) legal strategies to accomplish your goals.
Americans are getting older, and most want to stay in their homes and communities as they age. As a result, many homeowners are taking steps to modify their homes so they will be able to safely and comfortably remain in their homes for as long as possible. This is called “aging in place.”
With the average annual cost of assisted living at $43,200 and nursing home care at $80,300 you will likely save money over the long run by investing in aging-in-place home improvements. Also, if you have long-term care insurance, it may help cover some of the costs.
Here are some of the most popular home improvements to consider if aging in place is important for you or a parent. You’ll notice that many are designed to help prevent the risk of falls, which dramatically increases with age.
In the bathroom:
- Install a shower with a zero threshold entry (no curb) to minimize tripping and to make accessible for a wheelchair.
- Add a shower chair (for those not in a wheelchair) and a hand-held showerhead.
- A comfort-height toilet (17-19 inches off the ground) will make getting on and off easier. (You can also buy a toilet seat extender, which sits on top of the existing toilet seat.)
- Install grab bars near the toilet and in the shower.
In the kitchen:
- Create counters at multiple heights to have the option to sit or stand when preparing meals.
- Install an under-the-counter microwave instead of one overhead.
- Add pull-out shelves in cabinets.
Throughout the home:
- Install nonslip floors, such as textured stone or linoleum.
- Increase lighting.
- Install remote controls for lights and window coverings.
- Lower electrical switches and raise outlets.
- Change doorknobs to lever-style handles and cabinet knobs to handles.
- Move the master bedroom to the first floor and install a bathroom if necessary.
- Add a ramp to the entrance and widen hallways/doorways to accommodate a wheelchair.
Many of these options, and more, are thoughtfully being included in new construction for those who want to purchase aging-in-place-ready homes. Custom homes being built for some of our disabled veterans are filled with innovative ideas. You can also consult a design or home improvement specialist who has experience with aging-in-place features.
Tips from a Marietta Elder Law Attorney for Selecting an In-Home Care Provider
There may come a time when your parent is no longer safe living at home due to physical or emotional/social concerns. Instead of moving Mom or Dad to an assisted living or nursing home, in-home care can provide a solution that makes everyone happy— your parent can stay at home in familiar surroundings and you can have peace of mind that someone is there looking after them.
Here are some tips will help you select an in-home care provider.
Determine the level of care needed. There are several options available, depending on the assistance your parent needs. Companions can provide social interaction and help with housekeeping, errands, meal preparation and medication supervision. Personal care aides provide hands-on assistance with personal hygiene, dressing and moving to different rooms. Licensed or registered nurses can provide skilled medical care. In-home care is available to even those with advanced needs.
Determine the cost and how to pay for it. According to a 2015 Genworth survey, the national median cost for a home health aide working 44 hours a week is $45,760. (Click here for costs in your state.) Actual costs will depend on the level of care and number of hours needed.
Long-term care insurance is one option to pay for in-home care, but many people have waited until the costs are prohibitive and/or they are uninsurable. (You may want to look into one of these policies for yourself now, as health care costs will only continue to increase in the future.) You can pay privately, using Social Security or pension benefits, savings or equity in the home. Medicare pays for skilled nursing care, but only for a short term. Medicaid programs are available for those with limited assets. Aid & Attendance benefits from the Veterans Administration are also available for wartime veterans and their spouses who qualify. A Marietta Elder Law Attorney can evaluate your parents’ situation and advise them about whether and how soon they could qualify for Medicaid to pay for nursing home care if they need it. Call us at 770-425-6060 for a no-cost evaluation.
Decide if you want to use an agency or hire an individual. Agencies provide you with some protection. They typically run background checks and drug tests on their employees, and if there is a problem, they are usually quick to correct it. They also handle taxes and payroll, and carry liability and worker’s compensation insurance. If you prefer to hire an individual, make sure you have excellent referrals. Also find out if you are liable for payroll taxes and worker’s compensation.
Check them out. If you are evaluating agencies, check their online reviews. Whether interviewing an agency or individual, ask about licenses, training (especially if dementia is an issue), and past experiences (good and bad). Call references and conduct personal interviews.
Be prepared to make adjustments. The type of care needed is likely to change over time. You may also need to make a change due to conflicting personalities.
As an elder law attorney in Marietta, Georgia, I find news like this encouraging as many of my clients or their families have been affected by Alzheimer’s.
Researchers in Australia have been experimenting with a non-invasive ultrasound technology that is showing great promise in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
It has been estimated that Alzheimer’s affects 50 million people worldwide, and those numbers are expected to rise dramatically in the near future. With no vaccine or preventative treatment, researchers have been trying to find ways to treat it, starting with how to remove plaques from the brain.
If a person has Alzheimer’s disease, it’s usually because of a build up of two types of lesions in the brain—amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles.
- Amyloid plaques sit between the neurons in the brain. Eventually, they become dense clusters of beta-amyloid molecules, a sticky type of protein that clumps together.
- Neurofibrillary tangles are found inside the neurons of the brain and are caused by defective tau proteins that clump into a thick, insoluble mass. This causes tiny filaments called microtubules to become twisted, which disrupts the transportation of nutrient, organelles and other essential materials.
Enter a team of researchers at the Queensland Brain Institute in Australia who may have just figured out how to remove the amyloid plaques. Using a focused therapeutic ultrasound, they beam non-invasive sound waves into the brain tissue at a super fast speed. The sound waves gently open the blood-brain barrier (a layer that protects the brain against bacteria) and stimulate cells in the brain that remove waste. These microglial cells are then able to clear out the toxic beta-amyloid clumps that are responsible for the worst symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
The team reports that 75% of the mice that were treated had their memory function fully restored, with zero damage to surrounding brain tissue. The mice had improved performance in three memory tasks—a maze, a test to get them to recognize new objects, and one to get them to remember the places they should avoid.
Trials are planned on animals with larger brains, such as sheep, and the team is hoping to start human trials in 2017. Watch for more information on this promising treatment.
The results were published in Science Translational Medicine. An ABC radio interview with the team can be heard here.