Thursday, February 28, 2013

Caregiver Conference Legal Issues

After we had lunch at the Conference a lawyer was ready for his segments of the Conference. He discussed Estate Planning and Medicaid Planning for Eligibility. I never would have imagined you could plan for Medicaid but I guess you can and people actually pay lawyers to help them set it up.

Estate Planning

Keep in mind and Estate is everything you own. Planning for what happens after you are gone helps to protect your assets, provide for your family, and charitable goals. Sounds pretty simple.

Three Documents Everyone Needs to Have:
  • Durable Power of Attorney (POA)
  • Healthcare Directive/Living Will
  • Will or Revocable Living Trust
Most of us in the military world know what a Durable POA is and/or we already have one for our spouses, but does our spouse have one for you?

Healthcare Directive/Living Will is your personal moral statement about your end of life choices. Life support and pulling the plug is never what any of us want to have to consider but it can be the cold hard reality of life. You need to ask yourself if you want to be kept alive indefinitely on life support or only for a period of time?

A Will is basically a statement of where you want your property to go. A Revocable Living Trust is a legal document which helps to avoid probate and can eliminate some of the tax burden that comes with inheirtance.

It is in your best interest to have your documents witnessed and notarized. With witnesses you will need to have a Self Proving Affidavit, a statement which declares they witnessed your signature on your document. The Self Proving Affidavit helps so your witnesses will not need to be tracked down at a later date and time.

Community Property Agreement is essentially a contract between spouses stating that if one passes first all property reverts to the surviving spouse. This contract will also mean no probate.

Before you begin you will need to inventory your assets in a general manner, inventory your liabilities, list your family members, and finally what you want to accomplish with your documents. The interesting part mentioned is that when constructing your Will and leaving possessions to family/friends you do not have to list everything and who they will go to in the Will, it can be stated to 'see attached document' and that attachment can be changed without changing the whole Will. He was asked if you can disinherit your family, of course you can.

Medicaid Planning

This was a lot of information and there was no hand out but simply put there is a way to protect assets for your family and still receive medicaid benefits for nursing home/skilled nursing care towards end of life. Unfortunately if you own property you will need to plan with about 5 years before you will need to care if you can.

Another thing to check out is Purple Cross Plan, which is like a savings account for burial expenses and is exempt from your medicaid 5 year look back period.

There are lawyers that specialize in this type of law and it is advisable when there is a life changing illness which will require long term specialized care.