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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 care 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 every step of the way, including drafting your estate plan, reviewing home care service agreements and facility admission contracts, and if necessary, assisting with the guardianship process.

 

Long-Term Care Planning

Long-term care (also spelled Long Term Care) planning is planning for your future needs during your lifetime. This may include care in the home, assisted living or a skilled nursing facility. The cost of long-term care continues to rise for both assisted living and skilled nursing care. The need for long-term care is unpredictable, but there are planning techniques to ensure you have a plan in place and your assets are protected.

Long-term care planning is planning for your lifetime – what happens while you are living should you need in-home care or care in a facility. This planning includes ensuring you have your estate plan in place so you have individuals named to make decisions when you are unable to do so, utilizing long-term care insurance, asset protection planning and Medicaid planning.  Many times, this plan includes working with a Geriatric Care Manager to manage hospital stays and discharge planning to an appropriate facility.

Long-term care can include personal care, in which someone assists an individual with daily needs such as bathing, grooming, eating or dressing. It may also include home health care offered by a medical professional to provide physical or occupational therapy or assistance recovering from surgery or a medical procedure. 

While most long-term care is provided in the home, there are times when residential living is a necessity in a facility such as a nursing home or hospice. There may be a time when long-term care needs can best be met with the aid of community programs such as an adult daycare center. Our Ohio Elder Law attorneys can also help provide you and your family with the right resources to help you through the long-term care planning process.

Should the day come that you or your loved ones need long-term care, KJK’s Elder Law team can help walk you through this process and help you make informed decisions. 

Medicaid Planning

Medicaid is a commonly used state and federal health care program that benefits low-income individuals of all ages, including those 65 years of age and over. It is particularly critical for long-term care and pays for nursing home care, and in some circumstances care in the home or an assisted living facility.. Eligibility for Medicaid depends on an individual’s health, assets and income, and marital status. In 2017, nearly 3 million Ohio residents were covered by Medicaid, with more than half of recipients being elderly and individuals with disabilities.  

Long-term care costs continue to increase. Our knowledgeable Elder Law Group can help you protect your assets from the threat of those expenses by assisting with Medicaid planning. We provide guidance through the entire process, from pre-planning asset protection to emergency or crisis planning for immediate long-term care needs. Even in a crisis situation, we are able to protect some assets through strategic gifts or spenddowns. We guide you through the Medicaid process whether you are seeking long-term care at home, in an assisted living facility or in a skilled nursing facility. 

 

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. 

Guardianship

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.

 

We’re here for you:

Let us help you and your family Plan Ahead

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
  • Guardianship
  • 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.

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