Planning in the Event Disability or Long Term Care Insurance is Unavailable or Insufficient
Unfortunately, many Americans will either be medically ineligible for disability and/or long term care insurance or unable to afford the premiums. In that event, more aggressive planning should be considered as early as possible to make sure life savings are not depleted as a result of having to pay out-of-pocket for care. With the help of an estate and elder law attorney, a plan can be created that will protect much of the assets of an individual or couple that would otherwise be at risk of being depleted.
At a minimum, individuals need powers of attorney that will allow an agent (also referred to as “Attorney-in-Fact”) to handle all of their property upon disability, as well as an Advance Health Care Directive or Health Care Power of Attorney appointing a health care representative or attorney in fact for health care decisions (these have different names in different States). A fully funded revocable trust can ensure that the person’s property will be cared for as desired, but will not “protect” assets from being counted as a resource when determining eligibility for any needs-based benefits or when determining what funds are available to pay for long-term care. If this is a concern, other tools and strategies will need to be employed. Again, this is where the advice of a qualified estate and elder law attorney is paramount.
What if a Person is Disabled or Needs Long Term Care and There is No Planning?
When a person becomes disabled; he or she is often unable to make personal and/or financial decisions. If the disabled person cannot make these decisions, someone must have the legal authority to do so. Otherwise, the family must apply to the court for appointment of a conservator over the person or estate, or both.
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