Category Archives: Asset Protection
Q. I am considering whether to prepay for my funeral to save my family the expense and burden during what will be a tough time, but had a few concerns about it first. I am interested in learning more about prepaid funeral contracts and whether Medicaid pays for funerals, at all. If not, is it possible to set aside money for this in a funeral trust and be exempt?
Based on question that was asked on Avvo by a resident of Clarksville, VA
- A. Medicaid itself does not pay for funerals, but it does have rules that allow you to set aside money for your own funeral, burial, or cremation without having that money “count” as part of your assets when Medicaid determines your eligibility for long-term care coverage. Medicaid Regulations permit the ownership of prepaid funeral arrangements if funded totally by an irrevocably-assigned life insurance policy and/or by an irrevocable trust that is properly established by a funeral home. The amount of money you spend on properly-established prepaid funeral arrangements will be an exempt asset in connection with Medicaid. Medicaid regulations permit the Medicaid applicant to purchase prepaid funeral plans not only for the Medicaid applicant but also for his spouse (and his or her children, if desired), but again it is critical that these pre-paid arrangements are set up properly using either an irrevocable life insurance policy, a special type of irrevocable trust, or both.
Q: My second question is whether Medicaid imposes a limit on how much you can spend for prepaid funeral arrangements.
- No. There is no limit on the amount of money that can be spent on properly-established Medicaid-exempt prepaid funeral arrangements, but in reality, prepaid burial arrangements typically cost between $8,000 and $12,000 per person. Prepaid cremation arrangements typically cost between $3,000 and $5,000 per person. When the proper funding vehicles are used to prepay a funeral, the value of the prearranged funeral contract and the funding vehicle are excluded as a countable resource in determining SSI & Medicaid eligibility.
Most funeral homes will tell you that they have an appropriate funding system in place, but in actuality many funeral homes do not use appropriate funding system, which you only find out when you apply for Medicaid and are denied. The Fairfax Medicaid Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. has certain funeral homes that we work with that do use an appropriate funding system, and we therefore refer our clients to these funeral homes. However, even if you use a funeral home that uses an appropriate funding system, the funeral director must still fill out the forms properly, and there is significant opportunity for error in completing the forms. Accordingly, for our clients, we ensure that our office reviews the completed forms before our client signs them.
Prepaying for a funeral has many benefits, including locking in prices, relieving the burden of family members during a time of emotional stress, and ensuring that your personal desires are carried out according to your wishes. Additionally, purchasing prepaid funeral arrangements is just one of dozens of different Medicaid Asset Protection strategies that someone applying for Medicaid can use to legally and ethically protect assets from having to be spent down in connection with nursing home care. With proper planning, families can protect most or all of their assets and obtain Medicaid assistance without having to deplete their life savings. Always contact an experienced Elder Law Attorney, such as Certified Elder Law Attorney Evan H. Farr, before you make any prepaid funeral arrangements or take any other steps towards filing for Medicaid. Medicaid is the most complex area of law in existence, and one mistake can have tragic consequences for you or your loved one. Our firm serves clients throughout Virginia, Maryland, and DC, and would be happy to assist you.
Click here to view a short video and read more about Medicaid Asset Protection. Call 703-691-1888 to make an appointment for a free consultation with Evan H. Farr, CELA to talk more about your specific situation.
Bill, Glenda, and Theresa are siblings. Glenda runs the family business and is married to a doctor. They have chosen not to have children. Bill is a teacher and his wife Sheila is a stay-at-home mom and they have two children. Theresa is the youngest of the three and is a caregiver for their father, Don, who has Parkinson’s and helps their mother, Elise, who has physical disabilities.
Most parents want to treat their children fairly in their estate planning, and many assume that means having their children inherit equally. But there may be special circumstances to consider before the family pie is divided into equal parts.
To demonstrate how fair doesn’t always mean equal, take our example above. Don and Elise may want to leave more to Bill who struggles to support his family on a modest teacher’s salary than to Glenda who married well and has chosen not to have children. Or, they may want to compensate Theresa who has given up part of her own life to care for them. Lastly, since Glenda runs the family business, they may want to leave the business to her and compensate the others with other assets and/or life insurance.
If you have children, when considering how to distribute your estate, not only do you need to decide what share each child should receive, but also when each child will receive full use of his or her share of your estate. Good estate planning means that the inheritance you leave to each child will stay in an asset protection trust for that child for the rest of his or her lifetime. If the child is fiscally responsible, the child can act as his or her own trustee and can make distributions to himself based on guidelines you provide, but assets that stay in the trust are protected from disability, creditors (such as bankruptcy and divorce), predators (those with undue influence on your child), and even long-term care expenses down the road. If the child is not yet fiscally responsible, then someone else would typically act as trustee until the child reached a suitable age of maturity.
If you are quite wealthy, you may want to leave your children enough that they can do anything they want, but not so much that they will do nothing at all. You don’t have to leave everything to your children. If you have sizeable assets, you can set up trusts for your grandchildren and future generations. You can also make contributions to charitable, educational and religious organizations.
While more than 50% of Americans feel it is important to leave an inheritance to their children and other beneficiaries, the majority (more than 120 million Americans) have not yet made any plans for their estate. Overlooking estate planning results in many wasted dollars and hours of frustration and emotional hardship each year that can be minimized with advanced planning and action.
If you do not have a properly-drafted trust-based estate plan when you die, the law will step in and force your estate through the nightmare of probate, a complex, time-consuming, expensive and emotionally draining process that most people would not wish on a beloved family member. A trust-based estate plan should be an essential part of your lifetime planning. For peace of mind, the time to address or update your estate plan is now. Call the Fairfax Elder Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. today at 703-691-1888 to set up a no-cost consultation.
Q. My ten year old son, Cole, was diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) when he was six. He is in a class of 20 children and there are two other boys and a girl who also have an ASD, all ranging in severity. These children spend half the time in the typical class and half the time in special education. When I was growing up, the only person I knew with autism was my friend’s brother, who didn’t talk and was very anxious about being around others. Why is ASD so common now, as opposed to 30 years ago, and what can I and other parents do to plan for our special needs children?
A. Autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, is a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. ASD affects each person in different ways, thus their impairment can range from mild to severe, but all those afflicted with autism share problems with social interaction.
What we know now is that there is no one cause of autism just as there is no one type. Different genes increase the probability of a child developing autism. We know that children who have a sibling or parent with autism are at a much higher risk of also having the condition or another developmental disorder. Genes may be affected by advanced parental age at time of conception.
But why is autism’s prevalence increasing? Thirty years ago, the rate of autism was typically quoted as 4 in 10,000. The most recent rate reported is 1 in 50. This is an alarming increase from one in every 88 children reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just four years ago. Factors that have brought the startling levels of autism to our attention include:
- Better Understanding: Thirty years ago, autism was first introduced as a separate diagnostic category in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders III (DSM-3). Prior to that time, clinicians using the DSM applied other categories such as childhood schizophrenia.
- More Awareness: Since the early ‘80’s, there has been extraordinary growth in awareness – both for professionals and parents. Pediatricians now screen for early warning signs, as do parents. These actions have all led to a much greater awareness of the symptoms of autism which has translated to more diagnoses being made. In addition, the increased awareness has permitted older kids to be diagnosed when the signs earlier in life were not recognized as autism.
- Expansion of the Symptoms: Diagnostic changes that recognized autism as a spectrum, now referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), have helped capture the wide range of symptoms that go beyond “classic” autism. These symptoms can include social, communicative, and repetitive/stereotyped behaviors. Since autism became a spectrum disorder, many youth were diagnosed who would not have been in past years.
- Changes in Etiological Factors: Less understood is the role of new causative factors that increase the risk for ASD. Much attention is being given to environmental factors and there is the suggestion that specific genetic mutations may be linked to autism.
Autism has come a long way in the past 30 years. We know now that autism is very common and that it may be influenced by genetic and environmental risk factors that are not well understood at this time. For these reasons, it is important for doctors, scientists, and awareness groups to keep researching the causes of autism, and to continue to promote awareness of the early signs and symptoms in order to support early diagnosis and intervention.
How can you plan for your son? More than $13 billion a year is spent to care for individuals with autism. For the average affected family, this translates to $30K per year. Many parents believe that needs-based programs such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid will be enough to take care of their family members with special needs when they are gone. This is a common misconception.
SSI is the federal needs based program that many special needs children and adults may be eligible for if they meet certain income limits. Many special needs children and adults may also get Medicaid to pay for hospital stays, doctor bills, prescription drugs, and other health costs. However, once a person with special needs exceeds the $2,000 a year resource limit, he or she is no longer eligible for SSI or Medicaid.
Twenty million American families have at least one member with special needs, such as ASD, cerebral palsy, mental illness, blindness, and others. Parents of those with special needs are tasked with planning for their children throughout their lifetime, as many of them will outlive their parents but might not be able to support themselves and live independently.
We here at The Fairfax Elder Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C., know that the majority of American families who have a loved one with special needs require a Special Needs Trust. These families typically have very little in tangible assets, second mortgages on their homes, and little to no savings (likely due to paying for the costly therapies). As a parent or guardian, you want to ensure that your child with special needs will remain financially secure even when you are no longer there to provide support. A Special Needs Trust is a vehicle that provides assets from which a disabled person can maintain his or her quality of life, while still remaining eligible for needs-based programs that will cover basic health and living expenses.
In your situation, you can create a Special Needs Trust to benefit Cole that provides instructions as to the level of care you want for him. After you are gone, the people you have chosen to manage the trust (trustees) can spend money on certain defined expenses for Cole’s benefit without compromising his eligibility for needs based programs.
We invite you to call 703-691-1888 to make an appointment for a no-cost consultation with The Fairfax Elder Law Firm of Evan H. Farr P.C. to learn more about special needs planning.
Q. My 86 year old mother had a stroke last week, was in the hospital, and was moved to a nursing home for rehabilitation. I was wondering about Medicare coverage. Does Medicare cover nursing home stays? What if she needs more than the 100 days I read about?
A. Many people believe that Medicare covers nursing home stays. It is true that Medicare covers up to 100 days of short-term rehabilitation per illness, but there are a number of requirements that must be met before this short-term rehab stay will be covered. The result of these requirements is that Medicare recipients are often discharged from a nursing home before they are ready.
In order for a nursing home stay to be covered by Medicare:
- The patient must enter a Medicare-approved “skilled nursing facility” or nursing home within 30 days after a hospital stay that lasted at least three days.
- The short-term rehabilitation care received in the nursing home must be for the same condition as the hospital stay. In addition, you must need “skilled care.” This means a physician must order the treatment and the treatment must be provided daily by a registered nurse, physical therapist, or licensed practical nurse.
- Finally, Medicare only covers “acute” care as opposed to custodial care. This means it covers care only for people who are likely to recover from their conditions, not care for people who need ongoing help with performing everyday activities, such as bathing or dressing.
It is important to understand that Medicare does not pay one penny for long-term care. (This section is excerpted from Evan H. Farr, CELA’s book ”Nursing Home Survival Guide- Helping You Protect Your Loved Ones Who Need Nursing Home Care by Preserving Dignity, Quality of Life, anFinancial Security,” available on Amazon.com)
“If you are enrolled in a traditional Medicare plan, and you’ve been in the hospital at least three days, and you are admitted directly from the hospital into a rehab facility (which are typically skilled nursing facilities for short-term rehabilitation (i.e., therapy and treatment designed to make you better), then Medicare should pay the full cost of this short-term rehab stay for the first 20 days, and may continue to pay part of the cost of the short-term rehab stay for the next 80 days — with a per day deductible that you must pay privately (although there are Medicare supplement insurance policies that sometimes cover that deductible). There is also a Medicare Managed Care Plan, for which the 3-day hospital stay may not be required, and for which the deductible for days 21 through 100 is waived, provided certain strict qualifying rules are met But whether the plan is traditional Medicare or Medicare Managed Care (MMC), the nursing home resident must be receiving daily rehabilitative care and must be improving. Medicare does not pay for long-term care i.e., for custodial nursing home stays or in-home care. In a best case scenario, traditional Medicare or MMC will provide some coverage for the hospital stay and rehabilitation of up to 100 days for each “spell of illness” (although in our experience coverage usually falls far short of the 100-day maximum). If you recover sufficiently that you do not require a Medicare-covered care benefit for 60 consecutive days, you may be eligible for another benefit period, i.e., another 100 days of Medicare coverage, but the illness or disorder must not be a chronic degenerative condition from which you will not recover. What happens if you’ve used up the 100 days of coverage and still need more rehabilitation, or if you need to move into long-term nursing home care? You’re back to one of the alternatives outlined above: long-term care insurance, paying the bills with your own assets, or qualifying for Medicaid.”
Did you know that nursing homes in Northern Virginia cost 10-12K a month? For typical middle-class people who pay out of pocket, these costs will most likely drain all of their hard-earned assets pretty quickly. For more information, read our recent blog post “How Can I Afford a Nursing Home?”.
Do you have a loved one who is in a nursing home or nearing the need for nursing home care? Or are you simply looking to plan ahead in the event nursing home care is needed in the future? Life Care Planning and Medicaid Asset Protection is the process of protecting your assets fro having to be spent down in connection with entry into a nursing home, while also helping ensure that you or your loved one get the best possible care and maintain the highest possible quality of life, whether at home, in an assisted living facility, or in a nursing home. Learn more at The Fairfax Elder Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. website. Call 703-691-1888 to make an appointment for a no-cost consultation.
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The following was excerpted from Evan H. Farr, CELA’s new book, entitled “Nursing Home Survival Guide: Helping You Protect Your Loved Ones Who Need Nursing Home Care by Preserving Dignity, Quality of Life, and Financial Security.”
Buy the book on Amazon.com.
“One of greatest concerns people have about nursing home care is how to pay for it. There are basically four ways to pay for the cost of the care provided by a nursing home:
- Private Pay. This is the method many people must use at first. It means paying for the cost of a nursing home out of your own pocket. Unfortunately, with nursing home bills of more than $12,000 per month at some facilities, few people can afford to pay on their own for a long-term stay in a nursing home. Even those who can afford to do so often desire to explore other options — options that allow them to retain some or all of their assets for other important needs, while still permitting them to pay for nursing home care.
- Long-Term Care Insurance. If you have long-term care insurance coverage, this could help pay the costs of needed home care or nursing home care. Unfortunately, only about ten percent of the population carry long-term care insurance, so most people facing a nursing home stay do not have this type of coverage in place. Many people who would like to purchase this type of coverage find that they can not afford it. Read more about long-term care insurance on page 34.
- Department of Veterans Affairs. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) primarily pays for long-term care through the Veterans “Aid and Attendance” Special Pension Benefit payments. In some parts of the country, there are also nursing homes that are run by the Department of Veterans Affairs. You will find additional information about the Veterans “Aid and Attendance” Special Pension starting on page 46.
- Medicaid. This is a combined federally-funded and state-funded benefit program, administered by each state, that can pay for the cost of a nursing home if certain asset and income tests are met. According to AARP, about 70 percent of nursing home residents are supported, at least in part, by Medicaid. Medicaid qualification and eligibility is discussed in greater detail starting on page 52.
A WORD ABOUT MEDICARE
You will notice that Medicare is NOT listed among the sources of funds used to pay for long-term care in a nursing home. This is because Medicare does not pay a penny for long-term care, ever. Medicare is the national health insurance program primarily for people 65 years of age and older, those under age 65 who have been disabled for at least 24 months, and people with kidney failure. Medicare may provide some coverage for short-term (up to 100 days) rehabilitation in a nursing facility, provided you continue to get better from the rehabilitation, but you must meet certain strict qualification rules, which will be discussed in greater detail starting on page 36 .”
About “The Nursing Home Survival Guide- Helping You Protect Your Loved Ones Who Need Nursing Home Care by Preserving Dignity, Quality of Life, and Financial Security.”
In the book, The Nursing Home Survival Guide- Helping You Protect Your Loved Ones Who Need Nursing Home Care by Preserving Dignity, Quality of Life, and Financial Security,” Mr. Farr provides invaluable information and guidance to families dealing with the possibility of nursing home care and struggling to make the best decisions for themselves or their loves ones. Mr. Farr, a nationally-renowned Best-Selling author and frequent educator of attorneys across the U.S., uses his mastery of the subject to educate consumers about the ever-changing landscape of nursing home care in America and, most importantly, how to get the best care and how pay for that care without going broke.
Readers can get expert advice on diverse topics ranging from the basics — how do you select the best facility, what does Medicare cover, how to get the best long-term care insurance — to the advanced, such as Veterans Aid & Attendance Planning, Medicaid Asset Protection, Pre-Need Medicaid Planning, and Medicaid Crisis Planning. Mr. Farr provides access to a valuable Nursing Home Evaluation Tool and insights using case studies featuring some of the most common Medicaid Asset Protection strategies and how they pertain to real-life situations. Readers will also become educated about the rights of nursing home residents, estate and Incapacity Planning, How to Find the Best Lawyer, and more. The “Nursing Home Survival Guide- Helping You Protect Your Loved Ones Who Need Nursing Home Care by Preserving Dignity, Quality of Life, and Financial Security” is now available on Amazon.com.
Do you have a loved one who is in a nursing home or nearing the need for nursing home care? Or are you simply looking to plan ahead in the event nursing home care is needed in the future? Nursing homes in Northern Virginia cost $10-$12K per month. Life Care Planning and Medicaid Asset Protection is the process of protecting assets from having to be spent down in connection with entry into a nursing home, while also helping ensure that you or your loved one get the best possible care and maintain the highest possible quality of life, whether at home, in an assisted living facility, or in a nursing home. Learn more at The Fairfax Elder Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. website. Call 703-691-1888 to make an appointment for a no-cost consultation.
Q: I have a 75 year old father who lives alone in his home. He doesn’t have an in-home caregiver, but has lots of friends and family who check in on him regularly. Since he served during the Vietnam War, he has had flashbacks that still affect him and keep him up at night. He suffered at least one stroke in the last 5 years, has trouble walking, seeing, and hearing things, left the stove on recently and sometimes forgets to take his medication.
I think he would do so much better if he moved to an assisted living community. Plus I wouldn’t worry as much knowing that he had appropriate care and supervision. The problem is he’s resistant to the thought of this change. How do I talk to him?
A: The decision to help your father move out of his current home is a complex one — both emotionally and practically.
If he is showing signs that living alone is a strain, it may be time for a talk. Before having the talk, be prepared for the psychological roadblocks you’re likely to hit when you broach the subject. The following tips will help make the conversation more productive, and maybe even pleasant:
- Understand that your father’s home represents control. You’re asking your father to let go of control at a time when age itself may be making him feel he’s losing control over so much else — fundamentals like mobility, vision, hearing, his very ability to navigate the world.
- Look at housing from his point of view. Visit the assisted living facility that you’d consider for your father. Imagine you were in his shoes on your way in the door. Think about how he may feel in making this place his home.
- Be tactful and gentle. Broach the subject of where to live in a neutral way and you may find that your father harbors the same fears for current and future safety and security that you do. Find out what your father fears most about moving and about staying before launching into your own worries and what you think ought to be done
- Remind yourself that he may come around to the idea. Attitudes change, and the most resistant older adults sometimes wind up as the happiest retirement community residents if they eventually realize they need help. But if he doesn’t wind up moving when you think he should, you can still support him by making his housing situation as safe and comfortable as possible.
- Keep in mind that in the end, it’s his decision, not yours — and communicate that thought to him. As long as he’s mentally competent, acknowledging that he’s in charge of his own life will make the process of helping him navigate the housing maze more positive and productive for all involved.
If, on the other hand, your father has a full life, a close neighborhood and community connections, and seems to be thriving, it’s worth exploring as many in-home care options as possible before raising stress levels by pressing a move from a beloved home. We here at The Fairfax Elder Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. hope you and your father talk and listen to one another and come to a resolution that works best for his happiness and well-being, and your concerns about his living alone and being able to take care of himself.
Whether the outcome is in-home care or assisted living, we suggest that you plan ahead in the event nursing home care is needed in the future. Life Care Planning and Medicaid Asset Protection is the process of protecting assets from having to be spent down in connection with entry into a nursing home, while also helping ensure that you or your loved one get the best possible care and maintain the highest possible quality of life, whether at home, in an assisted living facility, or in a nursing home.
The Fairfax Elder Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. has also recommended to clients like your father that he may be eligible for the Veterans Aid and Attendance Benefit, but may also need Medicaid for nursing home care in the future. To be eligible for the Veterans Aid and Attendance Benefit, beneficiaries must be at least 65 years old (or totally disabled), veterans or married to veterans who served during a wartime period, and must have been not dishonorably discharged. Applicants must also need help with at least one activity of daily living: eating, walking, dressing, bathing, using the toilet, or adjusting prosthetic devices. Those who live in nursing homes or require in-home care, or are blind, may also be eligible. Please call 703-691-1888 to make an appointment for a no-cost consultation.
Transitioning a loved one into assisted living or a nursing home isn’t easy for most families, especially if your loved one has Alzheimer’s. For a person with Alzheimer’s disease, changing the routine and moving into an unfamiliar environment make the move especially daunting. If you’re helping a loved one who has Alzheimer’s move into a care facility, these are some tips to make the transition as comfortable as possible:
- Make frequent visits before the move. Consider carefully whether to include your loved one in these visits. If your loved one is interested, it might make sense to bring him or her with you. If you sense that a visit would only create stress and anxiety, visit without your loved one.
Speak with the staff about your loved one’s background and any special needs. Provide details on your loved one’s medical and mental health history, including a detailed medication list.
- Before the move, make your loved one’s new room or space look and feel as familiar as possible. Decorate the area with a treasured quilt, a shelf with special items, a favorite chair or other meaningful possessions. Familiar belongings can trigger feelings of connectedness and ownership, as well as boost your loved one’s sense of security.
- Bring pictures of loved ones and friends, memory books or photo albums. Reminiscing about the past can help a person who has Alzheimer’s bring reassuring memories into the present. Label the pictures to help staff members or others identify the people in your loved one’s life and encourage conversations about the past.
- As you’re preparing your loved one’s space, be careful with heirlooms and irreplaceable items. Consider bringing items that can be replaced easily if necessary — such as copies of old photos instead of the originals.
- On the day of the move, follow your loved one’s normal routine as much as possible. If you can, handle the move during your loved one’s best time of day — whether it’s in the morning or the afternoon.
While you’re moving, do your best to stay positive. Your attitude can help your loved one feel safe and secure in the new environment. Once your loved one is settled, trust the staff to help with the next big step — your departure. Rather than making a big deal about your leaving, the staff might engage your loved one in a meaningful activity while you walk away.
Leaving your loved one in the new home or facility might be difficult for you — both on the day of the move and in the weeks and months that follow. Feelings of grief, loss and guilt are normal. Keep in mind that it might take your loved one a couple of weeks to a couple of months to become acclimated to his or her new living arrangements. Trust the facility’s advice as to whether to visit your loved one regularly during this transition time or to stay away. Staying away during the transition time may be very difficult for you, but may be better for your loved one by allowing your loved one time to acclimate to the new surroundings without being frequently reminded of the old.
Once your loved one is settled in the care facility, be sure to read our article about Looking out for a Loved One in a Nursing Home.
Do you have a loved one who is in a nursing home or nearing the need for nursing home care? Or are you simply looking to plan ahead in the event nursing home care is needed in the future? Make sure you are prepared financially. Persons with Alzheimer’s and their families face special legal and financial needs. At the Fairfax Elder Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C., we are dedicated to easing the financial and emotional burden on those suffering from Alzheimer’s and their loved ones. Nursing homes in Northern Virginia cost $10-$14K per month. We help protect the family’s hard-earned assets while maintaining your loved one’s comfort, dignity, and quality of life by ensuring eligibility for critical government benefits.
Life Care Planning and Medicaid Asset Protection is the process of protecting assets from having to be spent down in connection with entry into a nursing home, while also helping ensure that you or your loved one get the best possible care and maintain the highest possible quality of life, whether at home, in an assisted living facility, or in a nursing home. Call us today at 703-691-1888 to make an appointment for a no-cost consultation.
Organizing life can be difficult, particularly when you are coordinating your care or that of a loved one. Doctors’ appointments, medication schedules, and other activities can seem overwhelming. But, your smartphone or tablet can prove to be a big help in these and other areas. If you’re a child caregiver, consider adding an extra smart phone or tablet to your plan for your parent, or re-purposing your old smartphone or tablet when it’s time for you to upgrade.
Although there is no single app that can ever take the place of medical advice and diagnosis from a physician, these apps can come in handy for day-to-day health questions and concerns, exercising your brain, tracking your food intake and retrieving important information:
- The WedMD app allows you to access first aid treatment suggestions and research common illnesses.
- Pain Care records pain levels, duration, characteristics, mood and triggers in order to automatically share this information with physicians who can prescribe or adapt medications.
- MedWatcher pushes safety alerts for medical devices and for drugs to your tablet or smart phone. It also allows the user to report adverse events (and side effects) directly to the FDA. This feature has the potential to make devices/drugs safer for everyone involved.
- Instant Heart Rate uses the camera on your smartphone to detect the pulse from your fingertip.
- Magnifying Glass with Light – Allows anyone with poor vision to read or locate things a bit easier
- GoMeals gives you tools and information to help you succeed at healthy eating. It features three applications in one–A nutritional database, powered by CalorieKing, combined with a restaurant locator and a food tracking tool.
- CogniFit is the ultimate brain training app. Play different brain games to challenge your mind and train your cognitive skills.
- Pillboxie is the easy way to schedule reminders for yourself and remember your meds.
- Words with Friends is a multi-player word game where players can take turns building words crossword puzzle style with an opponent in a manner similar to the classic board game.
- Find My Phone will help you locate your missing device on a map, play a sound, display a message, remotely lock your device, or erase all the data on it.
- iBooks includes the iBookstore, where you can download the latest bestselling books or your favorite classics – day or night.
- iCam allows you to remotely monitor multiple live video and audio webcam feeds from your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad over WiFi, 3G and EDGE. A great use for this app is for a child caregiver to remotely monitor aging parents to make sure that they are ok when left alone..
- Elder 911 has useful info for caregivers and others.
- Phonotto – simplifies all phone functions for seniors
- Springpad gathers all those things you want to remember in an accessible place and then provides more information about them, all within the palm of your hand. It’s like having a reliable and efficient personal assistant with you always.
- Remember the Milk app will not only remind you to pick up milk, but will also direct you to the nearest supermarket.
We here at the Fairfax Elder Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. are pleased to see all of the advances in technology and apps available to help improve seniors quality of life, health, and well-being. Now that you know about these apps and you’ve planned for everything from what to pick up at the grocery store to setting up reminders to take your meds, it is time to plan for your future and for your loved ones. Evan H. Farr is a Certified Elder Law Attorney with a focus on helping protect seniors and their families by preserving dignity, quality of life, and financial security. Call us at 703-691-1888 to make an appointment for a complimentary consultation.
When many first consider Estate Planning, they immediately think of preparing a Last Will and Testament. While having a Will is slightly better than dying without a Will (i.e., dying intestate), Wills also have some major drawbacks – the biggest drawback being that a Will forces your estate to go through probate.
The probate process includes proving the authenticity of a person’s Will, appointing an executor, identifying and inventorying a person’s assets, paying debts and taxes, identifying heirs, and distributing property according to the Will, or if no Will is available, according to state law. See below for five detailed reasons why Probate is such
- Probate requires frustrating intrusion by the court, lawyers, and the public into a very emotional, private, family time. A judge may have to determine who is a legitimate creditor, and may have to rule on distributions to children and other beneficiaries. Your estate may have to hire a lawyer to shepherd the executor through the legal maze.
- All of your affairs will become public knowledge. The contents of your Will would be on file in the courthouse, for all to read. And Wills are read. They are read by salesmen, by newspaper reporters, and by the morbidly curious, all seeking in one way or another to take advantage of the publicity required by the probate process.
- Probate takes time. Unless your executor is absolutely certain that there are no debts owed by the estate (a rare occurrence, since almost everyone leaves some small debts behind) and is willing to accept personal responsibility for your debts, the Virginia probate law mandates that your assets not be distributed for one year after you die, to allow creditors time to petition the court for full payment. Any assets distributed before that time come with a heavy cost for your executor — he or she is personally liable for the repayment of all of this amount, even if the beneficiaries to whom distribution is made have already spent the amount distributed. Thus, your executor will likely be very hesitant to distribute before all debts and taxes are paid. The court, not your family, will supervise and authorize the settling of all debts and the payment of inheritances, in its time and with its delays.
- On a national average the probate process takes from five to eight percent of your family estate out of the hands of your beneficiaries and gives it to the courts and other outside individuals. Planning with a trust can save the average American family about $30,000 in probate fees, attorney fees, and court costs alone, according to a national study by the AARP. The upfront cost of a trust is only slightly higher than just a will, but the savings in the end always makes the initial expense more than worthwhile.
- If you are not competent at any time before your death, the trustee of your living trust can serve as the caretaker of your property. This can avoid the expensive and embarrassing public process of a guardianship and conservatorship proceeding, where your children have to prove that you are not able to manage your own affairs. A living trust combined with a power of attorney provides the most complete protection available.
A proper Estate plan, kept up to date, helps minimize delays and costs and can provide for the prompt appointment of executors, guardians and trustees, payment of expenses and taxes, and settlement of claims.
How Steve Jobs Avoided Probate
Steve Jobs (1955-2011) was the co-founder, chairman, and CEO of Apple Inc. who seemed to have done a lot of things right, including avoiding probate. The details of his $7 billion estate will be kept private because Jobs and his wife implemented Revocable Living Trust planning. Probate nightmare avoided. Avoiding probate saves time, huge fees, and, likely most important to Jobs, keeps affairs private.
If Jobs had failed to use proper estate planning, his assets, debts, beneficiaries, and executors would be making headlines. All of this personal information would be available to the public because it would be part of the probate record filed at the courthouse. Anyone can walk in and request to view and copy a probate file. Today, many courthouses are online, so anyone in the world can access probate files. Would you want strangers, con men, long-lost cousins, nosy neighbors, and needy charities all
knowing who got what and how to contact them? You can protect your beneficiaries by keeping their inheritances and their identities private, by avoiding probate.
The best way to avoid probate like Steve Jobs did is to consult a Certified Elder Law Attorney, such as Evan H. Farr, CELA to design and implement a fully funded Revocable Living Trust or a Living Trust Plus, depending on your situation. Call The Fairfax Elder Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. at 703-691-1888 to set up an appointment for a no-cost consultation.
Join us tonight at 7 – 8 p.m. at Burke Centre Library for a “Long-Term Care Seminar”
Space still available. Call us at 703-691-1888 to register.
Burke Centre Library 5935 Freds Oak Road Burke, VA 22015
At this event about Long Term Care, you will:
- Learn what the most important estate planning document is, and find out whether yours is up-to-date!
- Find out if your Will is sufficient to meet your needs, or if a Trust is a better instrument for you!
- Find out how you can protect your assets from lawsuits, divorce, and long-term care creditors!
- Discover the important government benefits you or a loved one may want to qualify for in order to help pay for future long-term care expenses, including Medicaid and Veterans Aid & Attendance.
Presented by Evan H. Farr, CELA, principal attorney at The Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. in Fairfax, VA. http://www.farrlawfirm.com
Ask the Expert- Prenup and Estate Planning for a Second Marriage
Q: I am a 60 year old widow who is getting remarried in the spring. My fiancé and I are both in good health, and have adult children from previous marriages. We live in a home we purchased together last year. We heard it is a good idea to have a prenup for a second marriage. Would you recommend it and what type of estate planning do you suggest?
A. Congratulations to you and your fiancé on your upcoming nuptials!
In your situation, and for anyone entering into a second (or subsequent) marriage, I strongly recommend a premarital agreement. Many people mistakenly think of a premarital agreement as only dealing with what happens in the event of a divorce. However, the most important reason for a premarital agreement is to determine how your estate will be distributed when “death does you part,” i.e., when the first spouse dies during the marriage. Most parents want to eventually leave some or all of their assets to their children, yet in a second marriage most people also want to ensure that the surviving spouse remains financially stable. If you simply leave everything to your surviving spouse, there is a very good chance that your surviving spouse will not leave anything to YOUR children. A premarital agreement, along with using properly-established trusts, is the way to avoid this problem.
Even if you have already completed an estate plan of your own, a new marriage almost always calls for significant changes to your plan. A typical arrangement is that both spouses put their premarital assets into a trust. Upon the death of the first spouse, the assets of that spouse are held in trust for the use of the surviving spouse and then, upon the death of the surviving spouse, the remaining assets are distributed to the children of the spouse who died first.
Although both parties to a new marriage have the right to hire separate attorneys in connection with creation of a premarital agreement, many couples prefer to go through this process together, via mediation, in order to minimize the expense and avoid the adversarial nature of being represented by two separate attorneys. The advantages of having two separate attorneys is that both parties both receive completely independent, private, and confidential advice. By going through mediation in an effort to develop a written agreement and estate plan, you will be giving up these advantages. If you choose mediation, the purpose of the mediation will be to attempt to arrive, in a cooperative and informal manner, at a mutually acceptable agreement that resolves all financial and legal issues that may arise in connection with your upcoming marriage, your existing marriage, or your co-ownership of property.
If you aren’t able to complete your planning before you get married, you should consider a marital contract, also called a post-nuptial agreement. Like the premarital contract, a marital contract can be essential for remarried couples with children from different relationships.
I am a trained mediator and am available to mediate premarital and marital contracts with couples planning to enter into a second or subsequent marriages, with a goal of preparing the agreement and then doing the subsequent estate planning for the couple.
As far as estate planning suggestions for your situation, either a Revocable Living Trust (RLT) or The Living Trust PlusTM may be a good option, but it is difficult to assess without meeting you and your fiancé and discussing your situation in detail.
In a nutshell, a Revocable Living Trust will enable you and your fiancé to have full use of the trust income and principal for life. Upon death, the assets may continue to be held in trust or distributed for the benefit of the named beneficiaries. The Living Trust PlusTM functions very similarly to the RLT, but it protects your assets from the expenses and difficulties of probate PLUS lawsuits PLUS long-term care while you’re alive. You can read more about these and other estate planning strategies on The Fairfax Elder Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. website.
Please call us at 703-691-1888 to set up a time for a free consultation.