As our loved ones get older, they may find that it becomes more difficult to take care of themselves. It is important to keep an eye on their health, financial stability, and overall wellbeing. You can help your loved ones age with grace by ensuring that their future needs are taken care of today. At Heritage Law Office of Wisconsin, Minnesota, and California, our elder law legal team can help you with all of your planning needs. Whether you need assistance applying for Medicaid or want to make sure that all of your loved one's estate planning documents are in order, we are here to help. Call us today at 414-253-8500 to learn more.
Long-Term Care Planning
There may come a time when your loved one is no longer able to live on his or her own. Now is the time to begin thinking about creating a long-term care plan. Nursing homes and assisted care facilities offer tremendous benefits to our elderly family members. This is especially true if your loved one suffers from conditions like dementia or Alzheimers. The staff in these facilities help to ensure that your family member is well taken care of and receives any assistance they may need.
However, nursing homes can be incredibly expensive, especially in Wisconsin. The cost of nursing home care in Wisconsin can easily exceed $8,500 each month. Since your loved ones will likely be staying in the facility for the rest of their lives, these costs can quickly deplete family savings.
Will Medicare Help With Nursing Home Costs?
Medicare is a healthcare program that is available to seniors who are at least 65 years old. The program is broken down into two distinct parts: Part A and Part B. Part A can be used to cover some costs associated with hospital stays, home-health aide services, skilled nursing care services, and hospice care. However, Medicare has very strict rules and regulations concerning coverage for nursing home costs. In fact, the program caps the number of days (100) for which a recipient can receive benefits. The program would prefer for patients and their families to shoulder the costs of long-term care with minimal assistance from the government. In fact, Medicare only covers approximately nine percent of nursing home costs in the United States.
Even though they are often confused for one another, Medicare and Medicaid are two distinct programs. Medicaid is not automatically available to all senior citizens. Instead, an elderly and/or disabled person must apply to receive Medicaid benefits. Medicaid can be instrumental in helping you cover the costs associated with your loved one's long-term care. However, it is important to understand that Medicaid has strict income and asset limitation requirements. In order to qualify for Medicaid, your loved one will likely have to “spend down” their assets and reduce their income significantly.
Deciding whether Medicaid is right for you and navigating the application process can be complicated and overwhelming. Failure to follow the state's rules and procedures can result in a denied application for benefits or penalties. Attorney Brad Sarkauskas is an experienced attorney who is intimately familiar with Wisconsin's Medicaid application process. He can walk you through the steps that are required to meet Medicaid eligibility requirements and help you through the preserving assets for family members. He will fight to protect your family's assets while making sure that your elderly loved ones get the long-term care assistance they need.
Planning to Protect Finances and Assets
Financial planning can be crucial as your loved one ages. Whether you need to protect family assets to qualify for Medicaid or need to ensure that your loved one has the financial resources necessary for home-health care, our Milwaukee elder law attorneys can help to find a solution that fits your needs. Trusts are a popular financial planning tool that can be instrumental in protecting assets and ensuring that your family is taken care of financially.
What are Funeral Trusts?
When your loved one passes away you are undoubtedly overwhelmed with sadness. If you do not plan ahead, you may be faced with tremendous financial burdens as well. The costs associated with a funeral, burial, or cremation, and end-of-life celebrations can be incredibly expensive. You can make sure that your loved ones receive the goodbye they deserve by creating a funeral trust. This trust allows you to set aside funds and assets that can only be used to pay for costs related to your loved one's death. If you are applying for Medicaid and trying to reduce your loved one's assets, a funeral trust can be a great way to preserve assets for personal use.
What are Special Needs Trusts?
Many elderly individuals become afflicted with certain debilitating diseases and illnesses as they age. These medical problems can be extremely expensive. You may have the option of creating a special needs trust to put money aside to pay for costs related to your loved one's health and well-being. In many cases, a properly planned special needs trust will not prevent your loved one from receiving government benefits to pay for nursing home expenses. The money kept in trust will not be considered his or her assets, thereby keeping them under the financial threshold for important benefit programs.
Planning For Future Decisions
One day your loved ones may not be able to make decisions for themselves. You can protect your loved ones by encouraging them to execute certain estate planning documents today. These legal documents can empower your loved ones to make end-of-life decisions while they still have the time and ability to do so while also empowering you to make decisions on their behalf. These tools can help to save time, money, and heartache when your loved one's health begins to deteriorate.
Last Will and Testament
The last will and testament is perhaps the best-known estate planning tool in existence. In a will, your loved one has the power to distribute assets and make last wishes known. Determining whether a Will is the best tool to transfer your assets takes careful planning.
What is a Living Will?
There may come a time when your loved ones are unable to communicate their wishes. A living will, also known as an advanced directive, is a tool that allows them to make health-related and end-of-life decisions today. Your loved ones can choose whether or not they would like extraordinary measures to be taken to keep them alive and even name a health care representative to make decisions on their behalf. Without an advanced directive, family members may fight over health care decisions and make a difficult situation even more stressful. In some cases, courts may be required to intervene if family members cannot agree on a course of treatment. Creating a living will, with the help of an experienced elder law attorney, can help to avoid problems down the line.
Powers of Attorney
Your loved ones may also need assistance with other decisions in their lives. Powers of attorney are tools used to give one person the authority to make decisions on another person's behalf. You may want to consider encouraging your loved ones to create powers of attorney regardless of how much they have in assets as the need to act quickly and make decisions does not stop just because someone becomes ill. You may be unable to access your loved one's accounts and information without a power of attorney.
Experienced Milwaukee Elder Law Attorneys
Thinking about the future can be difficult. However, it is important to plan ahead and take care of your elderly family members today. At the Heritage Law Office of Wisconsin, LLC, our elder law attorneys are here to make the planning process as simple as possible for you. Whether you need assistance protecting your family's assets by setting up trusts, creating estate planning documents, or getting much-needed Medicaid assistance, we can help.
Contact us today either online or at 414-253-8500 to get in touch with our experienced elder law team. We will review your planning needs, discuss the options that may be best for you, and answer any of the questions that you may have.