Getting Your Ducks In A Row Before a Crisis Occurs

You should get your ducks in a row long before a crisis occurs, especially where your health and finances are concerned. Many of our clients come to see us when a crisis is occurring. For instance, their spouse or loved one is in the hospital or has just entered a skilled nursing facility. At this stage the planning is usually more difficult, and we may be facing memory issues of the ill person. It may also be more difficult to preserve the home as a legacy for the clients’ beneficiaries. The home is many times our clients’ largest asset.

As part of long term care planning, we plan how various stages of care will be paid for and determine what assets and resources are available. We proceed to get our ducks in a row to protect assets. We also line our ducks up for obtaining Medi-Cal to pay for the skilled nursing facility and the VA Aid & Attendance Pension Benefit to pay for in home care or an assisted living facility. Gifting and spending issues for Medi-Cal and VA are considered. The longer we have to do long term care planning, the easier it is for all concerned. In addition, your peace of mind can be assured earlier on. 

FAMILY DYNAMICS: When we are able to do pre-planning for our clients, we can better take into account issues concerning family dynamics. We need to know which family members are helping the ill person, and who can be relied upon when help is needed. We can offer suggestions for the well spouse for her care for the ill spouse when he comes home. We will be better able to find out if there is serious infighting and resentments among family members. When a crisis occurs, these dynamics become intensified.

LEGAL DOCUMENTS: Are the legal documents up to date? If they are, you are in a tiny minority. If you have not gone to an elder law attorney in the last several years, your documents are probably not up to date. There is specialized language that can be utilized for asset protection and for government benefits planning in the various documents. For instance, if we want to preserve the home and protect it from a Medi-Cal lien, and the ill person has severe memory issues, we may not be able to proceed to transfer the home to the well spouse or a child without going to court. Most revocable living trusts and financial durable powers of attorney do not contain this specialized asset protection language.

Pre-planning will also allow us to discuss any changes that may be needed in the trust, will, financial durable power of attorney and other estate planning documents. Family dynamics are always changing with the occurrence of deaths, divorces, children who are themselves in need of care, second marriages, etc.

Written Michael J. Young, elder law attorney, Medi-Cal attorney, senior law attorney and probate attorney in Walnut Creek, CA and former in-house counsel for title insurance companies. Mr. Young is a Medi-Cal attorney and is VA Certified. 1931 San Miguel Dr., Suite 220, Walnut Creek, CA 94596. 925-256-0298. Mr. Young serves Contra Costa and Alameda Counties, including the cities of Walnut Creek, Alamo, Danville, Concord, Brentwood, Pleasant Hill, Antioch, Clayton, etc. Mr. Young advises clients regarding Probates, Probates with Real Estate, Medi-Cal, nursing homes, asset protection, the VA Aid and attendance pension benefit, and long term care planning. Mr. Young is an Elder Law Attorney and Probate Attorney with offices in Walnut Creek, CA. Walnut Creek Elder Law Attorney, Walnut Creek Probate Attorney. Senior Law Attorney

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