You and your loved ones must prepare for every stage of life, so it is critical to plan for your current and future needs. Knowing your planning options and your rights as an elder or caregiver can make a significant difference. Seeking guidance from an Elder Law attorney early on in the process and understanding the available resources will help make the transition easier for you and your loved ones.
It isn’t easy to think about the time when we can no longer care for ourselves, but the fact is that about 70% of us will need long-term care services at some point in our lifetime. The best approach is a proactive one. With offices in Cleveland and Columbus, KJK’s Elder Law team can help you establish a plan for yourself or your loved ones and guide you to the right resources to assist with difficult decisions. Whether you are developing your estate plan or need in-home or facility care, we provide our clients with guidance and support, including drafting your estate plan, reviewing home care service agreements and facility admission contracts, and if necessary, assisting with the guardianship process.
Nursing Home, Assisted Living Facility and In-Home Care Contract Review & Negotiation
It is critical to review any residential contract before signing. A contract for in home care, an assisted living facility or nursing home includes details about cost, resident rights, services, discharge policies, grievance procedures and tenant obligations. These agreements are often signed by the individual’s power of attorney. Many of these agreements include language regarding payment liability that should be reviewed carefully to ensure your agent does not commit to any personal liability. Working with an experienced elder law attorney will help ensure that the contract is carefully reviewed and meets your needs.
Some critical elements to look for in nursing home contracts are the level of care accessible in that facility and policies for changes in care needs or financial status. For example, independent or assisted living facilities may only provide a certain level of medical care that meets the needs of primarily independent seniors.
Should a resident require additional support outside the means of the independent or assisted living facility, they may be required to relocate to a facility with a greater level of care. While some nursing homes accommodate various care levels, you should understand what your contract says about transferring to a different facility.
A legal guardian is appointed by the court to be legally responsible for the well-being of an individual who is deemed no longer fit to care for themselves. In addition to providing care for the individual, elder guardianships also protects elder individuals from third parties who may attempt to take advantage of their vulnerable state. The need for guardianship can arise over time as necessary transitions become apparent, or it can occur suddenly following a major medical incident or incapacitating event.
There are two types of guardianship:
- Guardianship of an Estate: Guardian of the estate is responsible for paying bills, managing accounts or taking legal action on behalf of the individual.
- Guardianship of the Person: Guardianship of the person refers to the person who will have the authority to make decisions about the individual’s living arrangements, nursing home care or health care.
Guardianships can be complex, especially if there is a disagreement about which family member may be more equipped to assume the responsibility. Planning for guardianship ahead of time allows you to choose the person you trust to make the best decisions on your behalf in your estate planning documents.
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Being prepared for unexpected changes in health or financial security means planning for you or your loved ones long-term care. Advocating for your own or your loved ones’ needs can feel overwhelming, but working with an experienced elder law attorney will ensure that contract negotiations work in your favor and all necessary care requirements are met. KJK’s Elder Law team is prepared to help you and your loved ones establish a plan that best serves your eldercare needs.
Important to Know:
Elder Law Frequently Asked Questions
What does an Elder Law Attorney Do?
Elder law attorneys advocate for the elderly and their loved ones. They handle a wide variety of legal issues including:
- Estate planning
- Long-term care planning
- Medicaid and Medicare
- Probate and Estate Administration
What is the difference between Medicare and Medicaid?
Medicare is a federal health insurance for those 65 years or older. Some younger individuals may qualify for Medicare based on disability.
Medicaid is federal health insurance for low income individuals. Medicaid also covers long term care expenses.
Can I gift everything to my kids and qualify for Medicaid?
It is best to consult with an experienced elder law attorney before making gifts that could affect your ability to qualify for Medicaid. Any Medicaid planning must be done in compliance with federal law. These gifts must comply with gifting rules and the look back period. Other considerations to gifting are exposure of your assets to your children’s or loved one’s creditors or spousal claims.
Does Medicare cover my long-term care expenses?
Unfortunately not in most circumstances. Medicare will cover rehabilitation stays at a long-term care facility after a hospital admission. This length of this rehabilitation stay is limited.
How do I pay for long-term care?
Long-term care may be paid for on a private pay basis, using long term care insurance or Medicaid.
Are some assets exempt from Medicaid?
Yes, generally your home, car, personal belongings, and a modest amount of other assets are exempt. The amount and values of what is exempt differs based on an individual’s or couple’s circumstances and it is important to consult an experienced elder law attorney.