The Veterans Administration does have some key pieces in place for wartime veterans. So, if you’re a veteran of Korea or World War II or Vietnam, there is a special stipend that you could receive for at-home care or assisted living. In addition, you may be eligible to utilize the nursing home in Sandusky which is specifically for wartime veterans.
The financial power of attorney is really the cornerstone document that you need to do planning. The reason that it’s so important is that it would specifically permit a third party, the attorney, in fact, to be able to exercise certain strategies because they have the legal ability to do so even though the principle, the individual that set the power of attorney up may no longer be competent.
The power of attorney law in Ohio changed on March 22nd of 2012. The Ohio legislature adapted the Uniform Power of Attorney Act which put certain high powers in place meaning that if you don’t have specific power to do something inside the power of attorney then you do not have it and if you have a power of attorney that was written prior to March of 2012, it might make sense to have that reviewed to make sure that it still will do what you think it will.
Well, that’s something I hear quite often when I’m interviewing clients or at least it’s presumed because their parents never had any long term care. But with modern medicine and their ability to extend our life expectancies, that’s really not the case anymore. When I first started lecturing in 1999, the chance of needing long term care was about 50%. That same statistic now, if you reach the age of 65, is now over 75%. So, it’s no longer true that it won’t happen. It’s just a question of when.
That’s a kind of question that arises and unfortunately, there’s a kind of misperception that if you haven’t done planning five years in advance of a nursing home stay, that there are no other options. However, there are a number of strategies that can be used even if you’re already in a nursing home.
When a spousal situation arises and Medicaid is available, they have a monthly minimum maintenance allowance for the spouse at home. And typically, in an interview session where someone does come in, they are very concerned that they’re not going to have any income or they’re going to have to live on just their Social Security. But actually, there is a minimum amount that the spouse at home would receive and that’s about $2,000 a month. However, there are other calculations that need to be added to that number to determine the final amount but the bottom line is that you would be allowed to keep at least $2,000 a month of income.
In the Medicaid world, there’s really two sides. There’s the single individual that applies for Medicaid and in that circumstance, they would have the house exempt for 13 months. However, in a spousal case, the house would be permanently exempt as long as the spouse and the community continues to reside there.
If you’re currently in good health, you want to make sure that you have the cornerstone pieces in place and that is the proper documents, the financial power of attorney, the living will and the medical power of attorney, critical pieces to have in place now that you’re healthy. In addition, you might be able to look at certain long term care insurance products that would help pay for care as the future unfolds.
Planning for long term care needs really comes as you start thinking about retirement. Many of us may not retire until we’re 70 years old but we do want to start entering the conversation in our mid-60s because we have good health typically. And so there’s going to be a number of insurance products that could be available to pay for long term care if we have that good health.
Traditional long term care insurance is really not the best method for paying for future long term care costs. There are new hybrid products now that have been introduced and the government essentially is incentivizing to consider purchasing those products. And in fact, we’ve spent the last three years looking for the best products that are available and we have found many of them can be purchased with IRA funds which typically had not been the case prior to the Pension Protection Act that came into play in 2010.
The biggest threats to retirement savings are realistically the cost of long term care. The average cost currently for a nursing home is around $90,000 a year and at-home care would be a very similar number because of the fact that you would need significant amount of hours from a home care company. So, when you’re on the final turn and the only thing that can really trip you up now is cost of long term care. So, it’s very important that you have some strategies in place in order to prevent that from being a catastrophic situation.
Typically, people will have a revocable living trust in place. However, if you’re interested in doing asset protection, you would need to add an irrevocable trust to the mix so that you would have certain assets protected. Whatever is placed inside the irrevocable trust essentially after five years would be protected. Well, one of the best ways to learn more about your options would be to attend the twice monthly workshops that we offer at our office. They’re set up to essentially to give you all of the pieces of information that you would need to make better decisions about how you’d be able to handle a long term care issue. So, you’re invited to sign up online at our website which is stanolaw.com.
So basically, the Estate Planning attorney is concerned about what happens if I die. So, they set up documents that deal with death and how assets are going to be distributed. Whereas the Elder Law attorney takes you from where you are at today and then goes along the timeline until you pass away but we deal with what happens if I happen to get sick along the way and what options do I have in order to make sure that my estate isn’t consumed by the cost of long term care.
If your assets are in a revocable trust, you actually don’t have any protection because that type of trust is primarily used to avoid probate. And in fact, we have a recent Ohio Supreme Court decision that has made it an issue relative to the house being in a revocable trust and that is no longer considered exempt. Typically, the house would be exempt if there was the spouse and the community residing there. However, if it is in a revocable trust, it would lose that exemption. There’s a simple cure for it but it’s very important that you seek an Elder Law attorney to be able to implement that as soon as possible.
Well, that is kind of a warning salvo, when you first are diagnosed and basically, it’s saying we’re going to need long term care in the future and it’s critical that we get the proper legal documents in place, essentially, the financial power of attorney because down the road, if we have issues with competency, we don’t have a power of attorney, it could thwart some of the strategies that might be available.