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Elder Law & Special Needs

 

Elder Law         

The term “elder law” has various meanings today, but it generally refers to a comprehensive approach to the various interrelated legal issues facing the aging population. This not only includes making sure an estate plan is in place to address assets and decision making during and after one’s lifetime, but also giving clients legal information/advice and referrals to help them navigate the complicated world of available benefits and secure for their basic needs at an advanced stage of life. 

One of the most common issues and concerns amongst clients in this population involves the high costs associated with long-term care (i.e. nursing home, assisted living, or home health) in the event it is ever needed.  Everyone has different opinions and ideas on how they would like to pay for the costs of long-term care. Since such costs are typically not covered by Medicare and private health insurance, generally, such costs can be paid for with: (1) long-term care insurance; (2) “out of pocket” with your own income/assets; or (3) the government program, known as “Medicaid,” so long as your assets and income are under a specific level. 

In certain occasions, clients may be unable to obtain long-term care insurance and are concerned about having to liquidate their assets solely for long term care expenses. Therefore, some clients seek out pre-planning or proactive planning advice and document drafting well in advance of needing long-term care before there is a crisis or significant health issues. There are various techniques for such pre-planning, including, but not limited to, gifting, irrevocable trusts, and limited liability companies, all of which contain different pros and cons, including the level of control left to the client, the creditor and estate planning implications associated with the intended beneficiaries, and the real estate, income, and gift tax implications. Since there is no one-size fits all plan, Amber will thoroughly review your family, asset situation, and intended goals and explain your options. If you decide that pre-planning is right for you and it is something that you are comfortable with doing, Amber can craft a plan specific to you and your goals.  

If it becomes clear that long term care is going to be immediately needed, in certain circumstances, there still may be some planning that can be implemented. Amber can explain your options, including in-home care, assisted living, nursing home care, or personal care agreements, and provide an assessment and review of any long-term care insurance policies that you may have. Additionally, Amber can help you with determining and maintaining your eligibility for Medicaid and Veterans’ benefits, including, but not limited to, the preparation of the application and any Qualified Income Trusts needed to receive/maintain eligibility. 

Contact the Law Office of Amber L. Niese, LLC today for a conference where you can learn your options, ask questions specific to you, and receive useful information related to elder law matters.


Special Needs Planning

Special needs planning addresses the complex array of legal issues facing disabled individuals. This not only includes estate planning for families who have disabled children, grandchildren or intended beneficiaries, but also providing advice and guidance related to the complex legal processes surrounding guardianships and the various benefits, programs, and options available to disabled individuals. 

Frequently families believe that their estate plan must “disinherit” a disabled child, grandchild, or beneficiary since it would jeopardize any means-tested public assistance received by the child, grandchild, or beneficiary; however, options are available for family members to structure a “safety net” or “supplement” for the intended disabled beneficiary with a gift or inheritance. Additionally, in certain circumstances, planning can also be implemented with the disabled individual’s own assets or income through the use of “special needs trusts” or STABLE accounts (also known as ABLE “Achieving a Better Life Experience”). 

For assistance with planning for a special needs beneficiary’s well-being and for help with navigating the legal issues surrounding special needs contact the Law Office of Amber L. Niese, LLC today for an initial appointment.