The Livens Law Firm

Proactive attention assures more effective elder law planning

When a crisis arises  with respect to the health of an elderly loved one, there may be remedies available in Texas and elsewhere to help ease the financial strain on the individual's family members. Those remedies, however, may be smaller and fewer if sought in the 11th hour. Elder law planning is best achieved when the individual is still lucid and competent to handle his or her affairs, generally at the age of retirement or older, or at the onset of a disability even if that happens prior to retirement age.                       

A last will and testament is not enough to plan for one's final years. The will, along with a power of attorney and a living will, are the foundation of the basic estate plan. However, the basic tools are often not enough to prepare for the needs of the future. A living trust may be ideal for some people and can eliminate the need for the paper-intensive probate process that occurs after the individual's death.

Elder care considerations are an added layer of concern.  Long-term care planning comes into play generally for those who live a long life and need assistance in a variety of possible ways in their last years. The things to prepare for include a long-term disability in which nursing care is needed. Whether it takes place in an institution or at home, the cost will be overwhelming for most families but can become at least tolerable with elder law planning.

Thus, assets may have to be transferred to family in order to save them from government attachment due to a huge Medicaid bill for nursing home care. There are remedies to save the family home and investment funds, but an elder law attorney should be consulted early in order to evaluate and execute an effective plan. Texas laws in this respect are generally uniform with the rest of the country -- the maximum advantage will be gained if proactive planning is utilized.

Source: post-gazette.com, "Elder Law: So much for 'reactive' estate planning", Julian Gray and Frank Petrich, July 26, 2015

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