As an elder law attorney, my goal is to help my clients create plans that preserve their quality of life as they age and allow them to leave a legacy for their loved ones. The challenge is being able to accomplish these goals when illness or incapacity makes long-term care necessary. Having the resources to be able to pay for a quality nursing home is one of the greatest concerns that families have today. The good news is that there are ways—effective, legal, and honest ways—to accomplish these goals while protecting yourself from whatever life might throw in your path.
Supporting Your Desire to Age in Place
Aging in place refers to the desire many people have to stay in their own homes for as long as possible. It is often a less costly option than traditional nursing home care, but for many people, aging in place doesn’t happen because they haven’t planned ahead to make it possible. A big part of my elder law practice is helping clients understand their options for remaining in their homes when a serious illness, Alzheimer’s or dementia, or the sudden death of a spouse occurs. I will help you develop a plan to remain in your home for as long as possible and pay for nursing home care—which can be financially devastating—if you need it.
Planning for the Possibility of Incapacity
Incapacity planning isn’t just for the elderly. Think about it. In the blink of an eye, you could be involved in an accident, rendering you seriously injured and unable to make or express your choices. If this happens, who will take care of your family? Who will make medical decisions for you? Does anyone know your wishes for life support? As part of my elder law and estate planning services, I will make sure you have the documents in place to protect you if you’re unable to make decisions for yourself. These documents include:
- Comprehensive Wills and Trusts to protect your assets
- Living Wills
- HIPPA Privacy Releases
- Healthcare Powers of Attorney
- Financial Durable Powers of Attorney
- Standby Guardianship for Minor Children
- And a host of customized documents to meet your specific needs
The work I do for clients is always tailored to their unique needs and desires, never cookie-cutter forms you could download for free. I pride myself on getting to know my clients as individuals and helping them plan for their futures.
Pre-Planning Asset Protection Strategies
The strategies available to help protect your assets from taxes, liability, and the high cost of nursing homes will depend on your income, net worth, retirement savings, and much more. First and foremost, I will perform a thorough analysis of your income and assets and develop a plan of action to help preserve your estate for your heirs and ensure you’re able to get high-quality long-term care when you need it. This is particularly important if you need Medicaid assistance to pay for nursing home care. To qualify, you must meet the income and asset limits, which are generally very low. However, with advance planning, we can set up certain types of trusts to safeguard your assets while maintaining your eligibility.
Crisis Planning Strategies
Despite your best intentions, you can’t be prepared for everything. If you or a loved one has a health crisis and needs to go into a nursing home immediately—or your loved one is already in a nursing home and their assets are being drained—you need help now. We can complete an asset or income spend down to ensure your eligibility for Medicaid assistance. We will also go to probate court to appoint a Conservator to handle important affairs if you have not established Powers of Attorney and Advance Health Care Directives beforehand. Once the spend-down process is complete, we can pursue a Medicaid application, which today is a very complicated matter. There are also more sophisticated strategies that may be available to help people preserve their quality of life, including:
- Asset transfers to a caregiver child
- Transfers to children through a personal services contract
- Medicaid Compliant Immediate Annuities
- Pension benefits for veterans and their spouses
Again, the strategies available to you will depend on a number of factors, which we will discuss as we work to create the best plan for you.
Ensuring Eligibility for Medicaid
Probably one of the most important aspects of elder law planning is making sure you can qualify for Medicaid benefits to pay for a nursing home. Because Medicare and health insurance plans do not cover long-term care, you will have to use your income, savings, and other assets until they are gone, unless you can qualify for assistance from Medicaid. We will look at your options for spending down your assets, creating a Medicaid trust, and other strategies to make sure you can get the quality care you deserve.
Get to Know Attorney Mark Connell
I came to practice law after exploring diverse careers in molecular biology, physical therapy, real estate development, and small business ownership. These experiences have made me a more resourceful and understanding attorney. I have designed a very unique process that guides you through the decisions you must make to protect what you’ve worked so hard to build. We don’t know what the future will bring, but we can put a plan in place now that considers every possibility. Fill out the contact form below, or give me a call at (203) 488-5586 to discuss how I can help you.