|IL 618-466-8466 or MO 314-812-4820|
Visiting the doctor with the person you provide care for can be a very important aspect of your role as caregiver. Many times a doctor’s visit can be a stressful and confusing event for a senior. Having another person there to provide support and ask the difficult questions, may provide an opportunity to improve the entire process and the benefits received.
Before the appointment: Prepare! Pay attention to symptoms and any changes in eating habits, weight gain or loss, and even temperament. Prepare a list of questions that need to be discussed with the doctor, and prioritize the questions to make sure you don’t run out of time. Schedule the appointment for the best time of day for the senior.
At the appointment: Be Supportive & Helpful! Discuss your role in the appointment with the senior in advance. Find out if the senior would like to visit with the doctor alone initially. Ask the doctor to clarify if confusion exists. Make sure the senior gets their questions answered, and concerns addressed, by the doctor. Take notes during the visit.
After the appointment: Implement. Discuss the visit with the senior to ensure they felt the visit went well. Review your notes from the visit. If there are any changes in prescriptions, be sure to monitor for any side effects. Follow up on any test results that may be outstanding. If a follow up visit is needed schedule it and add it to your calendars
If you have not named your spouse or significant other your agent to make your financial and health related decisions when you are incapacitated, they cannot do so. The only option in this instance is a guardianship or conservatorship. This is a court process that takes time and money. In fact, far more money than simply getting your planning taken care of ahead of time. Every person over the age of 18 should have powers of attorney in place.
There are many steps out-of-state or long distance family members can do to help out with the caregiving responsibilities. What normally begins as a few social calls a week or month, can become a long-lasting and ever-expanding role. That social call is a way to casually check on the status of things, how is everyone feeling, did the prescriptions get refilled, are the household bills being managed as they always have. A conversation regarding whether the Halloween decorations are up, can be very insightful to whether your loved one is aware that a new month is upon us. Keep in mind, many times our loved ones do not want their children to worry, so they may fib a little on the answers. So that long-distance caregiver will want to be observant and creative during the conversations.
Other ways a long-distance caregiver might stay involved is by providing emotional support to the primary caregiver. Many times the primary caregiver can feel overlooked or taken advantage of. Offering appreciation and positive feedback to the primary caregiver can go a long way during this journey. They can also assist with the hiring of a professional caregiver to come in once a week, possibly to give their mother or sister a day off. Or, making travel arrangements to come in town for a week here or there to allow the primary caregiver a vacation. Respite care is very important to ensure the primary caregiver is taking care of themselves as well as their loved ones. Respite care can be for an afternoon each week or for several days at a time. Remember every family is different, you have to find the best fit for you and your family, but there are always tasks a long-distance caregiver can manage to stay involved.
It is very common for someone to ask us “what is the most important legal document to have.” Obviously you do not want to discount the importance of any legal document, as they all serve a purpose. Depending on your respective client’s need, each legal document serves a separate purpose and can be of great importance at the right time and place.
However, with that being said, if pressed for an answer my personal opinion is that the single most important document for family to have in place is the power of attorney for property. The reason is quite simple, through a power of attorney for property containing all the important provisions, you can effectively manage any other need or situation that may arise for the family. A properly drafted power of attorney for property is simply instrumental in protecting the familiy’s assets.
Routinely, families come into our office and tell us they have a Power of Attorney for Property already in place. When that document turns out to be the Statutory Short Form we have to break the news to them that it is not effective as an asset protection tool. The Statutory Short Form on the four corners of the document does not vest the agent with sufficient authority to protect their loved ones assets.
There is a tremendous difference between the Power of Attorney we use for traditional estate planning and the power of attorney that we use for asset protection cases.
Things you need to consider in determining if the power of attorney you hold will protect your assets include (but are not limited to):
· Does the Power of Attorney allow for gifting?
· Does it allow for gifting to the acting agent under the Power of Attorney?
· Does the Power of Attorney allow for the creation of an irrevocable trust?
· Does the Power of Attorney allow for the agent to enter into a caregiver agreement with the agent acting and being compensated as the caregiver?
· Does the Power of Attorney clearly state the client’s intent to return to their home?
· Does the Power of Attorney allow for changes to pay on death, transfer on death and beneficiary designation?
All of these provisions and many more can be contained in a Power of Attorney for Property designed to protect the client’s assets.
One constant consideration is when and how should such broad powers be included and enacted. The Power of Attorney that a 30 year old client needs is not the same as that of a client in their 50s, 60s or 70s. A clear conversation about the power they are granting others is required before such documents should ever be executed. Many times the appropriate answer lies in when certain powers within the Power of Attorney become active. For example, maybe the traditional powers become active immediately but more advanced asset protection powers do not become active until a doctor determines the client unable to handle their affairs or some subsequent document being signed by the client activating the powers.
An IRA is one of the few assets that will be taxed when your heirs receive it. An IRA has income in respect of a decedent status. Planning for the transfer of your IRAs is a critical part of protecting your assets. Ensuring your heirs ability to stretch an IRA can save $300,000 over time
Tune in today to hear Stephen on The Bystander’s Kid with Jill Boomer on WJBM 1480 AM. Stephen will be discussing planning for the Second Half of Life and upcoming educational workshops held throughout the community by Jones Elder Law.
Wishing all our friends and family a wonderful Labor Day! We hope everyone is able to get outside and enjoy this beautiful day!
Special Needs Planning is extremely important for any family caring for a disabled child or adult. A disability can be diagnosed at birth, appear in an adult, or develop at any age by illness or injury. Advanced planning can ensure that important public benefits are not jeopardized. In a crisis situation, however, fewer options may be available to protect the present and future needs of a disabled person. Here a few steps to take before crisis hits:
First – A Special Needs Trust may be established by a parent or loved one of a disabled person to make gifts or outright transfers for their disabled loved one without fear of jeopardizing critical government benefits.
Second – Parents of a minor child with a disability should have Powers of Attorney in place for financial and health care matters. They should also consider establishing a standby guardian for their child in the event the parents become unable to care for or make decisions on behalf of the child.
Third – Understand your disabled loved one’s eligibility for public benefits.
Fourth – A Summary of Our Wishes should be developed to guide future caregivers, trustees and family members, and will provide a seamless transition in the level of care for your disabled loved one.
As you can imagine, this list is not all-inclusive, there are many more consideration with Special Needs Planning. For more information on Special Needs Planning, feel free to contact our office.
August 21st is National Senior Citizens Day! In celebration of this day honor your elders and show them your appreciation for their contribution to our community, family and home. Consider volunteering at a local nursing home, or meals on wheels program, for just an hour or two. If nothing else, a simple smile can go a long way to lonely elderly person having a rough day.
Many Senior Citizens do not like to consider themselves old, and age can sneak up on you fast, especially the older you get. If you are one of those senior’s in denial take this day to review your Retirement Accounts, dust off that old Last Will & Testament you created 30 years ago when your children were minors and review what it actually says, or schedule a health check up with your physician. Then, of course, once you have completed one or two of these dreaded tasks treat yourself to the Senior Discount at the local diner.
One of the biggest misconceptions we see is the belief that once a Trust is created nothing else needs to be done. Unfortunately, the creation of the Trust is not enough. Once created, the Trust needs to be “funded.” Funding is the process of re-titling your assets and accounts in the name of the Trust.
If you have created your Trust (signed the Trust documents) but fail to fund your Trust you may inadvertently cause the problems you were trying to prevent such as forcing your assets through probate, or even worse, disinheriting someone because of the way the beneficiary designations are completed.
Funding is not a difficult process, it just takes a little time to ensure you have dotted all your I’s and crossed your T’s. So just as it would be silly to pay for a Safe Deposit Box, but never place anything in it. Don’t create a Trust and never fund anything into it!