Gaining Control Before it Slips Beyond Your Reach
As attorneys who practice in the area of Elder Law, we frequently meet with people who take action without knowing that there was a better way. The lack of knowledge can be very costly.
For example, I recently met with a gentleman whose Dad needed assistance in a Long Term Care facility. The Nursing Home told the adult son that Dad had “too much money” to qualify for Medicaid. The son would just have to “spend down” all of Dad’s money before he qualified for any assistance. So the son just wrote a check to the Nursing Home every month – for five years! Let’s do a little quick math:
This facility costs $7,000 per month. Times 60 months. Our total comes to $420,000 of Dad’s money irrevocably spent – never to return. Why didn’t this son consult an Elder Law Attorney much earlier in the process? In his particular case, he could have saved over half of this money (with proper planning) while helping Dad get the care that he needed along the way. (By the way, each case is unique – your situation may be very different from this.)
My intent is not to “cast stones” at the son in the above example. He did what he believed was right based on the information that was made available to him, by a source (Nursing Home representative) that he deemed to be credible. This was a reasonable mistake made by a reasonable person – but the end result was that the family spent down a lot of money that could have been saved.
Did the Nursing Home Lie?
No. A person must financially qualify for Medicaid before they can receive long term care assistance. However there are legitimate planning techniques known to many Elder Law Attorneys that they can use to help protect certain assets. The Nursing Home is not in the business of saving your money – they are in the business of providing care.
It’s kinda like asking the IRS for tax saving tips! The IRS is not in the business of helping you maximize all of the credits, deductions and exemptions that the law makes available to you. To get all of this you may be better served to seek the assistance of a CPA whose job it is to ethically and legally save you as much money as possible.
The value of knowing in advance
It’s not just about the money. Sometimes it’s about making sure that your declining parent receives the most appropriate care in the most effective and cost efficient way. Knowing in advance what planning steps to take for a declining parent, what care options are available and how to coordinate this care without suffering caregiver burnout are all critical parts of the planning equation.
This all can slip past us without our knowing…
All of these changes can slip up on us. I remember when Cindy’s Mom started to decline in physical health it was not sudden but gradual. Cindy always visited with her Mom regularly, but sensing that her Mom needed a little extra help, started to stop by her Mom’s house every morning for a cup of coffee and a visit. Before long she was spending over an hour each morning helping her Mom with various tasks such as taking medications, preparing lunch and getting ready for the day. Then the time requirement started to increase as she also started helping with the morning bathroom routine and helping her Mom to get settled in for the day.
Sometimes these changes happen so gradually that you as a Family Caregiver or Care Manager may be lulled into a sense of complacency. You may not realize that there are better and more effective ways to do many things that you’re currently doing on behalf of your parent. You just started helping as needed and were doing the best you could every step of the way. Soon you found yourself overwhelmed, confused and stressed out.
This can happen to anyone
For example, the son (mentioned at the beginning of today’s edition) who was helping his Dad get proper care in a Nursing Home. The Nursing Home told him that he needed to write a check for first month’s care. Not knowing any other options, he wrote the check and moved on. The next month he wrote the check again – and wrote it for each month thereafter. $400,000 later he realized that maybe he should have gotten a second opinion.
What if you could take a deep breath, stop for a minute and re-evaluate the actions that you’re currently taking on behalf of your physically or cognitively declining parent? This may be your opportunity to do that very thing.
Stability Without Stress
If any of the above resonates with you, then I encourage you to watch the free training video that Cindy & I have posted at Stability Without Stress. In it, we share some of our best tips to navigate these tricky waters.
Are you hungry for more? Beginning on January 14th, we will be offering an aptly named LIVE training series called “Stability without Stress“. This 4 week course will be highly interactive! (Meaning it will be shared with a very small group via Zoom.) During this course, we will be seeking feedback from you and will be answering questions along the way. If you can’t “attend” by Zoom, you will be able to participate by phone.
For more details, including registration information, head over to Stability Without Stress. We hope to see you there!