Most people have heard of Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney, and other documents found in the average estate plan. How do these essential estate planning documents fit into the Life Care Planning process?
First, let’s look at a few definitions. A Life Care Plan is an integrated plan to address the legal, financial, and care-related challenges created by a person’s aging, long-term illness, or disability. Broadly speaking, an estate plan documents how assets will be transferred after death, who will manage financial matters and make healthcare decisions during a person’s incapacity, what kind of medical treatment is desired if a person can’t make those decisions themselves, and whether an estate goes through the probate process. Estate planning tools like Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney, and Advance Directives document these decisions.
Estate planning is an important part of every Life Care Plan. Estate planning documents offer vital protections for an older adult’s legal and financial wellbeing. Estate planning documents can even play a role in care-related decisions during a long-term illness and at the end of life.
When prospective clients first meet us, we ask them what they want to achieve, and then listen carefully. One of the most common goals we hear involves protecting assets from the high cost of long-term care. This is a goal that estate planning documents created as part of a Life Care Plan can almost always achieve. Maybe the well spouse is still able to live independently and wants to avoid being impoverished after the ill spouse qualifies for Medicaid. Maybe the client is a parent who worked hard, scrimped, and saved because he wanted to leave something to his children—but now the parent needs expensive long-term care.
In these situations, the Life Care Plans we design for our clients rely on estate planning strategies to reach their asset protection goals. For instance, if a person doesn't want the high cost of long-term care to deplete their assets, certain types of Trusts can help accomplish that. If a person needs long-term care right away, these strategies won’t work as well, but for most people who are at the beginning of a long-term illness, there may be time to set up an Irrevocable Trust to protect those assets from Medicaid.
Throughout the process, we stay focused on the client’s goals. In one case, a client retained our firm for a Life Care Plan and, seconds later, we handed that client a Durable Power of Attorney to sign. We had our paralegal in the back drafting it while we were in the meeting with the client because that's what was necessary. I knew that this client couldn't achieve his goals without his son's help, so we needed that Power of Attorney right away. We didn't need to wait three weeks, and then tell them to come back in and sign documents.
When it comes to making life better for clients and family caregivers, every employee at Takacs McGinnis Elder Care Law is committed to getting results as quickly as possible. We will do whatever we need to do to help our clients reach their goals.
Do you need help with estate planning issues for an elderly loved one? Takacs McGinnis Elder Care Law is here for you. Call 615.824.2571 to schedule a consultation.