Estate Planning and Elder Law Issues
Managing and preserving the property of the elderly and protecting the financial well-being of the family in the face of catastrophic long term care costs, are major problems confronting many families today. As the elderly loses the ability to make decisions on medical and financial issues, the family must take a more active role. To intelligently prepare for this transition, the client and family should develop a plan, in consultation with an attorney, early on. Planning ahead helps ensure that the client’s financial affairs and future care will be managed according to his or hers wishes, and it allows for the most efficient use of the client’s assets.
A well developed plan also helps to ensure that the client and family will be legally protected. Developing a practical plan requires that the client and family educate themselves in a number of areas. Given the high cost of long term care, it is important that the client and family be aware of the eligibility requirements for all available public benefit programs (such as Medicaid). It is also important to understand the various surrogate decision-making options available.
The planners will have to consider several other legal issues, depending on the client’s circumstances. These may include the transfer of real and/or personal property, the creation of joint or in trust for bank accounts, the use of annuities and Living Trusts for asset preservation, the need for a will to govern final asset distribution and funeral arrangements as well as a power of attorney for the transfer of assets, and a living will and health care proxy for health care concerns.