The Peninsula Center for Estate and Lifelong Planning
Williamsburg Estate, Probate, Trust, and Business Attorneys

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Elder Law And Long-Term Care Planning Services

Elder law involves planning for the complex health care, long-term care and other issues facing elderly and disabled individuals and their families. For many older Americans, poor health does not always require expert medical care but instead, help with the most basic tasks of everyday life. In truth, the possibility of needing long-term care services is often displeasing. Studies show that we stand nearly a 70 percent chance of needing long-term care at least once before we die. Therefore, everyone should take into account that at some point residency in a nursing home or an assisted living facility may be needed.

However, the substantial cost of nursing home care for an incapacitated person can wipe away a family’s nest egg and the inheritance planned for surviving family members. Therefore, it is not surprising that over the years, our clients have expressed a number of major concerns about how to adequately plan for potential incapacity and the impact of their incapacity on their life savings and Medicaid benefits. There are options available, and our attorneys are trained in tailoring plans that will meet the individual needs of our clients.

Guardianships And Conservatorships

Every person over the age of eighteen (18) years of age is presumed to be able make his own decisions and manage his own affairs. In seeking a guardianship or conservatorship, the petitioner challenges this presumption and asks the court to: (1) find that the allegedly incapacitated person is not capable of making his own decisions or managing his own affairs and (2) transfer the authority to make decisions from the incapacitated person to the petitioner. A guardian makes medical care decisions and has general responsibility to ensure the incapacitated person’s basic needs are satisfied. A conservator is responsible for the assets and accounts of the incapacitated person, to include paying the person’s bills, filing his or her taxes, managing investments, etc.

The Commonwealth of Virginia exercises its authority to protect persons with disabilities and its citizens generally by ensuring that guardianships and conservatorships are only granted when necessary. After a guardian or conservator is appointed, the Commonwealth ensures that the person appointed appropriately attends to the incapacitated person’s physical and financial needs by overseeing the actions of the guardian/conservator through periodic reporting requirements. Our attorneys are experienced in handling both contested and uncontested cases as well as in assisting with the administration of the estates of incapacitated persons after the appointment of a guardian and/or conservator.

Medicaid And Veteran’s Benefits

Medicaid can help pay for the costs of long-term care, including nursing home and in-home care. In order to qualify, an individual must be 65 years of age or older, or disabled and in need of long-term care, and must meet certain asset and income level requirements, which are determined by looking at the assets of both the disabled individual and spouse. In order to qualify for Long-Term Care Medicaid, an individual can have no more than $2,000 in assets. However, there are techniques that can be implemented to help save as much as possible. For this reason, it is crucial to seek counsel as early as possible, so you will have time to evaluate all possible options and select those that are for you and your family.

The Department of Veterans Affairs provides financial assistance to help U.S. military war veterans and surviving spouses pay for medical expenses. These benefits are not dependent upon a condition related to military service, are tax-free and are provided in addition to Social Security and other sources of income. In order to qualify for VA Aid & Attendance benefits, the household gross income and net worth must be below the threshold limits. With proper planning, the veteran or widow(er) may be able to qualify for Aid & Attendance pension money and other assistance while preserving more of the household assets than is possible with straight Medicaid. This will aid the family in paying for future medical and long-term care and postpone the depletion of the veteran’s (or spouse’s) assets. The goal is to stretch these assets so the family can postpone the need to rely upon Medicaid to pay for long-term care. Only individuals accredited by the Veteran’s Administration can assist with this type of planning. Attorney Helena Mock, a Veteran herself, has been a VA accredited attorney since 2011.

Life Care Planning

Making plans for long-term care can be overwhelming, especially because this implicates legal, medical, financial, and emotional concerns. Many firms navigate the long-term care system by taking an asset-centered approach, focusing primarily on preserving the elderly client’s finances to the greatest extent possible to pay for care or to pass on to the next generation. This is certainly one important aspect of aging, but it is not the only concern that comes with getting older. Through our life care planning program, our attorneys and staff offer a holistic approach to navigating long-term care by addressing not only the financial concerns, but also the changing medical and emotional needs of our clients, allowing us to form ongoing relationships with you and your family.

We start with a comprehensive review and update of our life care planning clients’ legal and financial documents to make sure that you choose the people who will help you when you can no longer manage your own affairs and that these trusted family members or friends have the ability to act on your behalf and provide the care you need according to Virginia’s laws. We also make a plan for the future by assessing your eligibility for long-term care benefits, establishing your long-term care priorities, and planning how to pay for future long-term care.

However, the service does not end there. Our on-staff Elder Care Coordinator will work with you and your family to ensure that our clients are receiving the care they need to maintain a comfortable lifestyle and to age with dignity. We will advocate on your behalf to medical professionals, in-home caregivers, and long-term care facilities to ensure that you consistently receive high-quality care.

We also work extensively with family members who may be overwhelmed by decision-making and uncertain about the next steps to take in the twists and turns of the aging process. Alternatively, if our client does not have children, or has family members who live far away, are too busy, or are too irresponsible to help the client through the aging process, we are here to serve as a primary point of contact. As our client’s medical condition changes, we work with you to adapt the plan and ensure that the proper steps are taken in a timely manner to continue to protect all facets of the elder’s life. When a “medical event” or crisis arises, we can quickly resolve the problem because we have been involved with the client’s unique situation from the very beginning.

Many people do not realize that nearly every aspect of the aging process intersects with the law. With our experience and our passion for helping our clients, we can ensure that caregivers and decision-makers avoid making common mistakes and allow our clients to age with as little disruption as possible. This makes Life Care Planning truly the best protection for seniors and their families.

Contact An Elder Law Attorney For A Consultation

If you need help gifting your estate to qualify for Medicaid or VA benefits, reviewing the legal consequences of insurance products, selecting a nursing care provider or addressing any other long-term care planning issue, call our Williamsburg lawyers at 757-969-1900 or email us to schedule a meeting.