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2. Asset protection is imperative. The course of Alzheimerís disease can be relatively brief, or it could extend over a period of many years. Many Alzheimerís and dementia patients do not develop serious physical ailments until the later stages of the condition. Since you may need care for quite a long time, itís crucial to have a plan for dealing with the exorbitant costs of medical and health care services that will be required to manage the illness. Professional assistance with daily activities may be needed beginning as early as the very first year.
For Alzheimerís and dementia, planning has to take into account increasing levels of care, including around-the-clock supervision. As an example, home care can involve two or three 8-hour shifts of health care attendants. Medicaid typically doesnít cover three, or even two shifts, although live-in assistance may be available in certain cases. That means itís vital to conserve the value of existing savings, investments, income, and real estate. This is a critical step in assuring that funds will be available to pay for living expenses and optimal care if you want to stay in your own home, instead of residing in a facility.
There is another aspect of asset protection to consider, aside from the issue of having the money to pay your health care costs, which is especially relevant when you stay home. Even with professional home care attendants doing a lot of the daily ďheavy lifting,Ē so to speak, and Medicaid footing the majority of the bill, itís still not an easy experience for spouses and other family members, either emotionally or financially. For this reason, most Alzheimerís patients want to consider their familyís future after theyíre gone, so that their lives can be as stable and fulfilling as possible.
What that will require is estate planning. Elder law techniques do the work of providing for your financial needs while youíre alive. Estate planning gives your family economic support after you die. And as a practical matter, Elder Law and estate planning go hand-in-hand, particularly when planning involves a married couple. All other things being equal, the best possible scenario you can have with regard to legal representation is an Elder Law firm that has estate planning counsel on staff.
With what these two legal disciplines can offer, itís possible to have sufficient financial security to pay for all the care you need, and enough money left over to take care of your loved ones.
As an example, we represented an 89-year-old widow who suffers from Alzheimerís disease, arthritis, hyperlipidemia and diabetes. She is also incontinent and requires help with most activities of daily living. She was paying for both home and adult day care from her own funds, covering approximately eight hours per day, six days a week, and rapidly depleting her assets. In addition, she actually needed more care and attention than she was getting.
We prepared and submitted a Medicaid application for home care services, and created a special trust to preserve her surplus income. Her condo apartment and remaining financial assets were transferred to her niece, who is now administering these resources for her auntís benefit.
The happy outcome of this story is that with effective planning, our client gained the advantage of enjoying the benefits of her savings, income and property while she is alive. Her niece will retain ownership of anything thatís left over after she dies. In addition, she now gets twelve hours per day of home care, seven days a week, providing the extra professional assistance she needs. And itís all paid for by Medicaid.
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