As elder law attorneys, we help people prepare for the eventualities of aging. Without question, it can be difficult to envision the way you will feel when you are in your 80s.
At the same time, the average lifespan for someone that is 67 is the middle 80s, so this is a life stage that you will probably experience.
Alzheimer’s Disease Among the Oldest Old
The Alzheimer’s Association does a lot of great work educating the public about this disease, and they also offer hands-on resources for families that are touched by it. They have found that over 30 percent of people that are 85 years of age and older have Alzheimer’s disease.
There are over 6 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s right now, and the numbers of cases are expected to increase because of the aging of the baby boomers.
Clearly, cognitive impairment is a very real possibility during the latter stages of your life, and there are other types of incapacity that can make it impossible to manage your affairs.
If you become unable to communicate your decisions, the state could appoint a conservator to act as your representative. This is a necessary safeguard, but most people would prefer to make this choice on their own when they are capable of doing so.
A loss of control with regard to the selection of a decision-maker is one negative, and there is the matter of family disagreements. Everyone that is interested may not be in complete agreement with regard to the individual that should act as the conservator.
Proactive Incapacity Planning
You can take the matter into your own hands in advance if you execute the appropriate legally binding documents.
A living will is used to state your preferences regarding the use of feeding tubes, resuscitation, artificial hydration, and other forms of life-support. The document can also include your comfort care medication choices and organ and tissue donation designations.
Decision making scenarios can arise that are not related to life-support utilization. To account for this, you can name someone to make these choices on your behalf in a durable power of attorney for health care.
If you have a living trust, you would act as the trustee while you are alive and well, so you would maintain complete control of the assets. You would name a successor trustee to manage the trust after your passing, and they can also be empowered to serve as a disability trustee.
To account for the management of property that is not held by a trust, you can name an agent in a durable power of attorney for property.
There is one other detail that you should attend to when you are developing your incapacity plan. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was enacted in 1996, and it is in place to protect the privacy of patients.
A provision in this act prevents doctors from disclosing medical information to anyone other than the patient unless a release form has been signed. You should definitely include one of these documents in your incapacity plan.
Nursing Home Asset Protection
Many incapacitated adults reside in nursing homes, and Medicare does not pay for the custodial care that these facilities provide. Medicaid will cover long-term care, but you cannot qualify if you have significant assets in your name.
You could establish and fund an irrevocable trust to divest yourself of countable assets, but you have to act in light of the 60 month look back period. The trust must be funded at least five years before you apply for Medicaid coverage.
Schedule a Consultation Today!
As you can see, there are some steps that you should take to prepare yourself for the eventualities aging. If you are ready to get started, we are here to help.
You can schedule a consultation at our Glastonbury or Westport, CT elder law offices if you call us at 860-548-1000, and you can use our contact form if you would like to send us a message.
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