As elder law attorneys, we help people prepare for the eventualities aging, and some of these possibilities are not very pleasant. At the same time, if you keep your head stuck in the sand, a lack of preparation can make a difficult matter a whole lot worse.
This applies to the potential impact of Alzheimer’s disease. Over 6 million Americans have the disease at the present time, and it strikes 13 percent of all senior citizens and 32 percent of the oldest old. This is the term that is used to describe people that are 85 years of age and older.
According to life expectancy calculators, you are likely to join the ranks of the oldest old if you are fortunate enough to celebrate your 67th birthday. Most of us do in fact expect to live long enough to collect Social Security, so this is something that everyone should take seriously.
If you don’t do anything to care for incapacity, and you do experience a significant level of cognitive impairment late in your life, a conservatorship proceeding can be initiated. The court would appoint a conservator to act on your behalf under these circumstances.
This is a necessary safeguard, but do you want your family to go through this type of procedure, and do you want the government to make the decisions?
You can take the matter into your own hands if you include an incapacity component as part of your overall estate plan.
It starts with a living will, which is a document that you use to record your life support preferences. Organ and tissue donation and comfort care medication choices can be added as well.
Other types of medical scenarios can unfold when you are unable to make sound decisions. You can address this possibility through the utilization of a durable power of attorney for health care.
The person that you name would be able to make the choices for you if it becomes necessary, but there is another element to consider. They would not be able to access your medical information because of HIPAA regulations, so you should include a HIPAA release.
Financial decision making is another part of the equation. If you have a living trust, you can name a disability trustee to fill the role on your behalf in the event of your incapacity.
To account for property that is not held by a trust, you can name a decision-maker in a durable power of attorney for property.
Nursing Home Expenses
A significant percentage of people with Alzheimer’s disease ultimately require a level of care that can only be received in a nursing home. You can expect to pay will over $100,000 for a year in a nursing home in Los Angeles, and 12 months happens to be the average length of stay.
Medicare will not assist with nursing home costs because it is considered to be custodial care, and this is not covered. Of course, Alzheimer’s disease is not the only underlying condition that can make nursing home care necessary, so this a major threat your legacy.
Fortunately, Medi-Cal will pay for a stay in a nursing home if you can gain eligibility. Though there is a $2000 asset limit, and you could fund an irrevocable trust to gain eligibility, but there is a catch.
You cannot qualify for 30 month after you fund the trust, so you have to act before you actually require nursing home care. The principal would no longer be accessible, but you could receive distributions of the trust’s income while you are living independently.
Schedule a Consultation Today!
If you work with us to develop a plan for aging, you can go forward with peace of mind, and if you never need nursing home care, all the better. There is no time like the present, and you can set up a consultation at our Los Angeles estate planning office if you call us at 310-337-7696.
You can send us a message to request an appointment through our contact page, and if you reach out electronically, you will receive a prompt response.