Gainesville Estate Planning Law Blog

Incapacitation: One of many elder law issues in Georgia

No one wants to consider the possibility that he or she might one day become incapacitated. Many Georgia residents will find themselves in need of assisted-living care this year. Adult children and other patient advocates will likely try their best to help their loved ones or clients develop elder law plans that protect their financial interests and provide for their medical health, as well.

An advance care directive is a valuable tool that can be used to make preparations in case of incapacitation. By signing this document, an elder can implement instructions as to what type of care he or she wants or does not want if a life or death situation arises and he or she is unable to act. A power of attorney is a similar document that allows someone to make financial decisions on one's behalf.

Durable power of attorney protects those in cognitive decline

A thorough estate plan considers all kinds of potential future circumstances. From a last will that includes succession of inheritance in case an heir dies to limit how many revisions you must make, to adequate direction for medical issues you may experience, there are many circumstances that your estate plan should cover.

One of the most commonly overlooked is mental decline or incapacitation. Those who live well into their golden years may eventually experience reduced cognitive function. Some people may develop degenerative mental conditions, like Alzheimer's disease. Others may struggle with dementia that causes difficulty navigating the world around them. In those circumstances, individuals need protections. Someone else will likely become their guardian, but that takes time.

Trust planning and estate planning often go hand in hand

Long-term care issues can be complex. Many adult children in Georgia are currently trying to help their aging parents execute estate plans prior to transitioning to assisted-living residences. For many elders, forming a trust will be an integral part of their plans.

There are various types of trusts and it pays to do a bit of research before determining which option best fits a particular person's needs. When assets are placed in trust, it becomes the official owner of the property being transferred. A third party may be assigned to manage the trust.

Asset protection is critical factor toward long-term elder care

In Georgia and elsewhere, nursing home living is typically quite expensive. However, it is not uncommon for older people to need daily living assistance for any number of reasons. That is why it is always a good idea to think about asset protection and to plan for the possibility of needing funds to pay for nursing home living at some point in life.

Many elders in this state and beyond choose to purchase long-term care insurance as a means of protecting assets from the potentially staggering costs of a nursing home. There are certain medical conditions and other issues, however, that could make a person ineligible for this type of insurance. For this reason, most advisers recommend researching and purchasing long-term care insurance while one is still in relatively good health.

Basic issues to consider regarding long-term care planning

There may come a time in any Georgia resident's life when he or she is unable to function independently on a daily basis. This type of situation may be prompted by an injury, a medical treatment such as surgery, or a natural decline in physical or mental health capacity due to the normal aging process. Long-term care planning can help meet health and personal care needs for as long as necessary in a particular situation.

No two situations are exactly the same. When it comes to long-term care, numerous caregivers, service companies, insurance agencies and other licensed professionals may play key roles in providing asset protection, and many may provide medical and personal care assistance to those in need. The location where a long-term care plan is carried out may also vary; some people arrange for in-home care while others take up residence in a nursing home or go to an adult day care environment on a regular basis.

Should you create a trust for your special needs grandchild?

Grandparents often have a special bond with their grandchildren. There is something magical about the love shared between a doting grandparent and their grandchild. As a grandparent, you may feel fiercely protective of your darling grandchildren. These protective instincts may be even stronger if you have a special needs grandchild.

Instead of hoping for the best, you may want to take action to help provide for the future of your sweet grandchild. While you may have already created an estate plan or last will, you may need to reconsider the format you use if you hope to leave something behind for a special needs grandchild.

Guardianship and possible hidden assets are central focus of case

An elderly man with a net worth of several million dollars was deemed incapacitated by a judge in another state in 2017. Since then, his girlfriend and her family have been battling against two people to whom the court granted guardianship. The situation has become increasingly heated, and the judge recently ordered the woman and her family to evacuate the estate owner's home. Georgia residents worried about similar elder law issues may want to follow this case.

The woman reportedly began a romantic relationship with the man (now age 81) in 2012. She is also listed as his sole beneficiary in his will. The legal guardians have asked the court to intervene, stating that they believe the man's assets will be totally drained if the judge doesn't stop the woman and her family from taking advantage of the wealthy, elderly man.

Medicare versus Medicaid: Be sure you understand the difference

There are several government programs that serve elders in Georgia and beyond. Medicare and Medicaid are the two most people have at least heard of, if not know something about. However, there are a few key differences between these two program,s and it is critical that anyone incorporating either into a long-term care plan understand what each has to offer.

If you have a disability and have not yet reached age 65, you may be eligible for Medicare. If you are 65 or older, you may still qualify for benefits this health care insurance program provides. The good thing about Medicare is that eligibility is not dependent upon your level of income.

Changes in your family can mean changes to your power of attorney

People like to say that family is forever, but families do change over time. The relationship that you have with someone at one point in your life may be drastically different only a few decades later. How you feel about siblings, spouses, parents and cousins can change and evolve over the years.

It is hard to predict how bonds with your loved ones will fluctuate and grow over time. That is one of the reasons why it is wise for people to regularly revisit their last will. However, that isn't the only document you may need to change when your family relationships change. You also need to look into updating your power of attorney to reflect your new family situation when relationships change.

How do most people pay for long-term care?

Many people in Georgia hesitate to discuss their own mortality. Just as many avoid thinking about the possibility that they might suffer an adverse health condition or life-threatening emergency that would prompt a need for long-term care. Regardless of whether people like to think about it, it can happen. That's why it is always a good idea to prepare for the unexpected as much as possible.

Long-term planning and financial planning often intersect. There are many issues to consider when figuring out how expenses will be met if independent living is no longer possible and nursing home residence or other assisted living care is needed. Most people pay for this type of care in several ways.

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