There are many aspects to consider when planning for retirement: financial planning, estate planning, even travel planning. We recommend you add long-term care planning to your list. Family members provide 80% of the care for aging parents in this country, providing an average of 21 hours of care per week. As a result, the financial costs for those doing the day-to-day caring is significant.
Long-term care planning can help ease that financial burden. When family caregiving is not possible, there are other options: long-term care insurance, government benefits, Veteran’s Administration (VA) aid and attendance or other VA pension benefits. Plachta, Murphy & Associates can help you sort through your options and weigh the pros and cons. Our attorneys are members of National Association of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA). Our Elder Law Solutions team can help you establish a short and long-term plan that works for you and your family.
Taking Steps to Plan for Long-Term Care
- Plan proactively: Sit down as a family – if possible, before your parents even require care – to discuss with your parents their wishes for care.
- Take it a step further with a caregiver contract: Spell out on paper who is doing what, who is paying for what, who will fill in for the caregiver(s) when they need a break, and how the caregiver(s) will be financially compensated. More and more families are sitting down with their elder law attorney to draft such agreements. It makes sense--and saves on a lot of grief, money and arguments by dealing with the issues before they erupt into crisis.
- Set up a trust for the caregiver: The trust can provide the trustee with the authority to manage elderly parents' finances and assets and even avoid probate.
- Use the parents' home as financial "collateral" for the caregiver: The parents' will or trust can provide that the caregiver receives a gift of the home outright or a certain portion of the proceeds from the sale of the home upon both parents’ passing.
- Provide for the caregiver in a will: Another way to compensate the caregiver is to include a provision in a will requiring a lump-sum payment of money to be distributed to the caregiver upon the second parents' death.
- Consider long-term care insurance: Long-term care insurance provides a monthly payment from the insurance carrier of a predetermined amount toward the cost of in-home, assisted-living and nursing-home expenses.
- Tap Veterans Administration aid and attendance or other pension payment benefits to cover costs: If either parent served in a world war, they may be entitled to receive VA benefits to help offset some of the costs of long-term care.
- Know your rights Under the Family and Medical Leave Act: covered employers must provide eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period to care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition.
- Tap the Child and Dependent Care tax credit: This credit may be worth up to $3,000 for one dependent or $6,000 for two or more dependents to individuals who qualify.
- Tap the help of support groups and organizations: West Michigan has a bounty of wonderful groups that assist caregivers. A good starting place: the Caregiver Resource Network.
- Order the "Long-Term Care Planning Tool Kit" Created by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, obtain by going to the website http://longtermcare.gov/?s=how+to+decide
- Download and use our Caregiver Contract Questionnaire to assist in discussing your long term care wishes.
Compassionate, Competent Legal Guidance for Long-Term Care Issues
At Plachta, Murphy & Associates, our mission is to help you and your family successfully move through all the challenges of planning for a loved one's long-term care. Our Elder Law Solutions Team includes a family advocate, medical social worker, and government benefit specialist, in addition to attorneys with decades of experience in long-term care planning issues. Let us help you with the legal aspects of planning for a loved one's care as well as connecting you with the financial resources and emotional and social support you and your family need at this time.
If you are concerned about coordinating a loved one's needs and care, or about planning for your own, we invite you to download our Caregiver Contract Questionnaire and contact us online or by phone at 616-458-3994 to schedule a consultation with our Elder Law Solutions team.
Elder Law Solutions Team: Brian J. Plachta, Bryan D. Reeder, Jeffrey M. Black, Richard J. Cross, Vicki A. Poleni, MSW