Gainesville Estate Planning Law Blog

Taking care of yourself when you support your kids and parents

If there is anything more difficult than being a parent, it is probably being a caregiver to your own ailing parents. For some people, caring for aging parents is a task that occurs well after their children are grown.

Unfortunately, some people find themselves in the difficult position of providing financial and social support both to their children and their parents at the same time. These caregivers can have their time and financial resources spread too thin for sustainability.

Clarifying information regarding Medicaid for Georgia residents

Many Georgia elders have meager means with which to provide for their long-term care. It is not uncommon for aging men and women of low income to qualify for Medicaid, a national public health insurance program. Many people confuse this program with this program with Medicare. The latter is also insurance for those age 65 and beyond but does not pertain to income level in any way.

Medicaid involves a partnership between the federal government and individual states. Because state governments retain a lot of control over who is covered, how hospitals are to be paid and other issues, the program varies from state to state even though it is a federally based program. In some states, services, such as dental or eye care, physical therapy or prescription drugs may be covered under Medicaid insurance. 

Elder law issues: When a parent has dementia

Georgia and all other states require a person to be of sound mind when he or she signs legal documents, especially those pertaining to estate planning. However, how each state legally defines mental competence may vary. It is possible to have minor symptoms of dementia or other mental decline and still be deemed competent enough to sign a will or other legally enforceable document related to elder law issues.

Many adult children of aging parents showing signs of dementia or having been diagnosed with early-stage Alzheimer's disease enter durable powers of attorney. This allows them to step in when needed (as the disease progresses and the person afflicted no longer meets the state's legal definition for competence) to make financial or health care decisions on their parents' behalf. If no durable power of attorney is in place and an elder is no longer mentally competent, a next step would be to petition the court for legal guardianship. 

You need plans for when your autistic child can't go to school

There are many concerns that weigh on the parents of autistic children that parents with neurotypical children will likely never truly understand. For example, parents must plan for the care of their child not just until they reach the age of majority, but often for the rest of their lives. That can drastically impact how parents structure their last wills and estate plans.

Parents who have autistic children, even if that child is now an adult, also have to consider the daily life and socialization needs of their child. Unlike their neurotypical peers, autistic children may not be able to attend college, work jobs as they get older or even maintain social networks. Parents often have to step in to assist with these needs.

Why estate planning matters so much to elders

It is not uncommon for Georgia residents ages 65 and older to face challenging elder care issues in life. Adult children may try to help their aging parents with long-term care planning, which often includes the estate planning process. As people age, they are often more open to discussing their own mortality. Executing an estate plan is important for elders for many reasons.

Most elders say they do not want to burden their children. Signing estate planning documents can help adult children avoid stress regarding medical care, financial issues and later matters, such as funeral expenses. A solid estate plan can also help heirs and beneficiaries avoid litigation.

Contentions rise in a legal guardian case in another state

In Georgia and elsewhere, many elders have close relationships with adult sons or daughter, or perhaps adult nieces, nephews or grand-children. Such family members are often key figures in helping aging loved ones manage their financial affairs. An ongoing situation in another state involves the great-nephew of an older woman, who has owned and operated a hotel for many years, and a recent court decision to appoint a legal guardian due to her supposed incapacitation.

The hotel owned by the woman in question inhabits several residents who have lived there for numerous years, including her great-nephew, who emigrated to the United States from Lithuania many years ago. He says he thinks of her as a mother because she has been so instrumental in helping him obtain an education and become successful in his life in the U.S. In turn, he has always helped her by taking her shopping or to run other errands, as needed.

Choosing a nursing home: How to tell the good ones from the bad

Many circumstances can prompt a Georgia elder's decision to transition to an assisted-living environment. When an elder is no longer able to function independently, he or she, along with adult children or other family members, may research nursing home services and available residencies. Especially if one has never had experience with nursing facilities in the past, it can be quite challenging trying to figure out which companies provide the highest quality care.

Word of mouth is always a good marketing tool. It is helpful to ask current or past nursing home patients and loved ones of the same what they like or do not like about a particular nursing home. If negative comments outweigh positive ones regarding a specific company, it may be best to keep looking before making a final choice. An elder may have certain needs or priorities, such as those involving Medicaid or Medicare or other financial issues.

How do you pick the right person to receive power of attorney?

One of the most difficult aspects of creating an estate plan is unquestionably the need to allocate responsibilities to people in your family. Choosing who gets what asset may be a simple process by comparison. There may be certain items that have a meaningful history for family members or loved ones, or assets that people have specifically requested to inherit.

Fewer people are likely to directly request responsibility in your estate plan. Whether you need someone to serve as executor or power of attorney, the amount of responsibility and work that goes with that honor often keeps people from seeking it out.

Conservatorship: What is it and when is it necessary?

Most people over the age of 75 encounter mental or physical health challenges. It is often an adult son or daughter who is tasked with providing support to an aging parent, which can be quite difficult if a parent suffers physical or mental incapacity. In Georgia, and elsewhere, conservatorship is a process that allows someone to act on behalf of another who is no longer able to act on his or her own behalf.

When a court appoints a conservator, the appointee is able to make financial or personal care decisions for the incapacitated loved one in question. In these circumstances, the ability for the conservatee to act independently regarding finances or personal care becomes greatly restricted. A conservatorship of estate refers to an appointment made to manage the financial affairs, including debts, collections, income and other money-related issues. A conservatorship of person, on the other hand, concerns personal care decisions, such as physical health, food, clothing and shelter.

Trusts can secure your special needs child's future

None of us can predict the future, but we all want to ensure that our children are protected, no matter what. If you have a special needs child, you will likely feel an enhanced sense of responsibility. You may worry about making sure that they are provided for financially for the rest of their lives so that they are able to live fully and can get access to the best possible support and care.

Many special needs parents conclude that the best possible way to ensure that their child will be provided for is through the creation of a special needs trust. A special needs trust is a type of fund that can be contributed to by multiple parties, with the purpose of benefiting a person with a disability. It has several advantages from a financial perspective in comparison with simply leaving an inheritance for the person in your will.

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