Elder Law Update At Large Edition October 2009 Vol II
Preface: For F/A’s & CPA’s: Our recent workshop for F/A’s and CPA’s was very well received so we are scheduling another on November 5, 2009 at 4:00 PM. Call for reservations at 847-292-1220 For the Public: Don’t miss our new free public workshop: “Don’t Go Broke in a Nursing Home”, on October 27, 2009 at 11:00 AM and 6:30 PM. Call for reservations at 847-292-1220 1. Long-Term Care as a Political Football! For those of you who have been following the national debate on health care, let’s not lose sight of the piece dealing with long-term care. A provision was submitted to the House and Senate that would establish a new national long-term care insurance program that would offer just basic help to the elderly and disabled. It appears now that effort is now under attack. According to policy observers, the provision has a long way to go. The provision created a voluntary federal long-term care insurance program. Those who elected to participate would pay a premium of about $65 a month. The provision indicated that if they had paid for at least 5 years they would be eligible for benefits of $50 or $100 per day depending on how much help they needed. While this payout would be relatively modest compared to the average cost of nursing home care, which in our area could be anywhere from $175 to $230 a day, it could be viewed as some additional help to the elderly and disabled that would allow them to stay at home longer. The insurance industry argues that the benefit called “Class Act” (Community Living Assisting Services and Supports) would provide only a modest benefit and would not adequately protect Americans who need nursing home care or 24 hour home health services. The lobbyists also argue that this benefit might give consumers a false sense of security and further discourage sales of long-term care insurance that might provide more coverage. Other industry analysts argue that by focusing on the extreme needs of long-term care that the insurance industry is missing the point. Simply put they indicate what most Americans need is some assistance with things like getting up the stairs or bathing or dressing so that they can stay at home and not enter nursing homes or obtain the required full time care before its truly needed. This proposed class act benefit can provide as much as up to $27,000 per year which could go a long way to meeting the needs for things like putting in ramps and railings and a few hours of help a day from a home health care provider. That $27,000 per year when combined with possible $26,000 a year that can be obtained for veterans through the aid an attendance program could be a nice way of keeping our clients at home longer so that they don’t end up in a skilled care nursing facility at $6,500 a month or more and instead can remain home with the assistance of the VA benefit and/or Class Act benefit. Just something to think about. Some of our clients will never qualify for long-term care insurance because they do not meet the medical standards. So rather than housing people that have some needs in nursing homes a cheaper alternative might be to subsidize this Class Act provision and similar other benefits like VA benefits so that the overall cost of providing help at home will be less than long-term care in a skilled care facility. 2. More Alzheimer’s. A recent report indicates that more than 35 million people around the world are living with Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia. The U.S. and other developed countries have been preparing themselves for an increase in Alzheimer’s cases. 3. Taking Care of Mom and Dad Without Going Broke Yourself. In addition to the overwhelming emotional and physical effort expended by children in caring for elderly parents, sometimes we ignore the significant amounts of money that children are spending to care for their parent. Often this happens at an alarming rate so that adult children end up ignoring their own savings and retirement needs or even worse some go into debt caring for their elderly parents. Some of the recommended ways in minimizing this risk is to make sure you check out the multitude of government and not-for-profit organizations geared to deliver services to the elderly throughout the country. The most often cited reason is that many adult children feel that their parents have too much money to qualify for these governmental benefits that are already funded. Some parents are just too proud to ask for the help. Therefore, the recommended approach in dealing with this issue is as follows:
- Have “the talk” with mom and dad.
- Make sure your parents have the basic fundamental estate planning documents in place which here in Illinois are the Illinois power of attorney for property (with carefully customized long-term care authorizations written into them by an experienced elder law attorney) and a durable power of attorney for health care.
- Some families consider hiring a geriatric care manager in order to analyze the needs and best solutions for in-home care for the parent.
- Some families rely on hiring a consultant that is skilled in looking at assisted living facilities and nursing home that best suit the needs of the parents based on the accommodations of the parent’s financial position, medical situation, and family preferences with regard to geographical location and intangibles such as look, feel and grace associated with the facility.