None of us wants to contemplate that we might become ill or incapacitated. But illness or disability can strike us without warning. Illnesses, injury, and tragedies occur to countless Americans each day. Some are caused by completely unexpected events, like the collapse of a bridge or a house fire. Others are caused by the ravages of time which remind us of our own mortality. While these events may be unavoidable, the impact can be lessened somewhat if we take steps now to plan ahead.
First, estate planning documents can designate someone to step up to the plate when you are not able to do so. A general durable power of attorney allows the person you designate, your “agent,” to make financial decisions for you when you are unable to do so. A health care power of attorney allows your designated agent to make health care decisions for you when you are unable to do so. A revocable living trust can provide great flexibility in managing your assets both during life and at death, so that you can avoid probate and guardianship proceedings and minimize any state or federal estate taxes. Your trustee can make decisions for you regarding the assets in the trust.
These documents will help ensure that someone you trust can make decisions for you. However, it is also important to consider how you will pay for any living expenses and medical care you might need.
Disability insurance can provide a stream of income for you in the event you are no longer able to work and earn a living. Long term care insurance can pay the costs of nursing home or home health care. Finally, Medicaid and other public assistance programs can assist in the payment of expenses.
A recent study by MetLife Mature Market Institute found that the average cost of nursing homes is $181 per day. That comes to a startling $66,000 per year. The cost varies considerably from city to city. For example, the average cost in Houston is $140 per day, or $51,000 per year, while in New York City it is $340 per day, or $124,000 per year. If you do not have insurance to cover these costs, they can quickly deplete a lifetime of savings.
You can put “Medicaid triggers” in your planning documents. These triggers allow your agent or trustee to do Medicaid planning such as gifting assets and rearranging your assets so that you can qualify for Medicaid benefits while retaining as much of your assets as possible.
Illness, injury, and tragedy are sometimes unavoidable. However, a qualified estate planning attorney can help you plan for what we all hope will never come to pass. Having a plan in place will allow you to breathe easier in the knowledge that you have done everything you can to minimize the impact of your illness or disability on you and your family.
Morrison Law Group, PLC has devoted its practice to estate planning and elder law matters for more than 16 years and has been a Member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys since 2017. Morrison Law Group, PLC is one of only three firms in Louisiana to be admitted to Academy Membership. The firm has helped thousands of clients meet their estate planning goals and pass on lasting legacies to their loved ones. To learn more about how you can achieve your estate planning goals, please call our office at (504) 831-2348 or contact us through our website.