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How Estate Planning Helps You and Your Caregiver

Dear Angel,

I have Parkinson’s and need lots of care, and I know things are just going to get tougher. My sister is my caregiver who helps me full-time. I heard that getting my estate planning and long-term care planning in order will not only help me but will help her, as my caregiver. If that’s true, how so? Thanks for your help!

Estee Tuplan

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Dear Estee,

​You are correct. You can make your sister’s caregiving role a lot easier by planning ahead and having the following elder law and estate planning documents in order:

  1. Revocable Living Trust and Last Will and Testament

Estate planning involves planning for the distribution of your assets at death through wills, trusts, and other legal documents. Using these documents, you direct who you want to administer your estate, who you want to receive your property and assets, and who should care for your minor children, among other important things. Having these documents in order will help your loved ones avoid probate and will give your caregiver the peace of mind that your wishes are known and can be taken care of in an orderly fashion. Important to understand is there are multiple types of living trusts. The two most common are the revocable living trust, which protects your assets from the nightmare of probate, and the Living Trust Plus®, which is an irrevocable trust that protects your assets from probate, plus lawsuits, plus nursing home expenses by making the assets in the trust not countable for Medicaid eligibility purposes. More on this below.

  1. Advance Medical Directive

An Advance Medical Directive (which includes a Health Care Power of Attorney) is a legal document where you name a health care agent to make your medical decisions if you are ever unable to do so yourself due to your incapacity. It outlines your wishes for medical treatment, especially end-of-life care. You can specify what life-prolonging measures you want or don’t want. It is helpful to give your agent your preferences for the type of care you desire. At the Farr Law Firm, the proprietary 4 Needs Advance Medical Directive® includes a Medical Power of Attorney, Long-term Care Directive®, Near-Death Directive, and After-Death Directive. By putting these wishes in writing, your caregiver is relieved of the decision-making stress and she or whoever you designate can follow your instructions.

  1. Financial Power of Attorney

A Financial Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows you to name an agent to manage your property and make financial decisions on your behalf. It is an essential tool in the event that, due to age, illness, or injury, you are unable to carry on your legal and financial affairs. A financial power of attorney avoids the “nightmare of living probate,” the time-consuming, expensive, and publicly embarrassing process where someone has to go to court to have you declared incompetent. This document helps a caregiver, or whoever you choose as your agent, to act on your behalf and sign your name to financial and/or legal documents.

  1. Living Trust Plus® (LTP)

The LTP functions much like a Revocable Living Trust and maintains much of the flexibility of a Revocable Living Trust, but protects your assets from the expenses and complexities of probate PLUS lawsuits PLUS Medicaid PLUS Veterans Aid and Attendance for Wartime Veterans. The LTP protects the trust creator’s assets from lawsuits, medical expenses, and — most importantly for the 99.8 percent of Americans who are NOT among the ultra-wealthy — from the devastating costs of nursing home care, and even offers assistance with paying for in-home care and assisted living care for veterans via the Veterans Aid and Attendance benefit. The LTP would give you and your caregiver the peace of mind that you are well-protected and will have the quality of life and the care you need when you need it the most.

  1. Medicaid Planning

Nursing home care in the DC metro area is catastrophically expensive. Lifecare Planning and Medicaid Asset Protection ensures that you receive the best possible care and maintain the highest possible quality of life, whether at home, in an assisted living facility, or in a nursing home, without depleting the assets that you worked your whole life to earn. Due to the complexity of income and eligibility requirements, it is best to consult an experienced Elder Law attorney, such as those at the Farr Law Firm. Lifecare Planning helps give you and your caregiver the peace of mind that you will have the medical care you need and the best quality of life.

It’s a perfect time to create an estate plan to make it easier for you and your caregiver. At the Farr Law Firm, our Elder Law practice centers around four primary Levels of Planning®. By getting your planning in order, it will give both you and your family much-needed peace of mind.

Hope this helps!

Angel

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About Renee Eder

Renee Eder is the Director of Public Relations for the Farr Law Firm, and gives the voice to the Critters of Critter Corner. Renee’s poodle, Penny, is an official comfort dog who she and her children bring to visit with seniors who are in the early stages of dementia at a local senior home once a month.

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