Tag: Elder Care

Navigating Long-Term Care Insurance with Your Houston Elder Lawyer

In our modern era, Americans are living longer, fuller lives. We are fortunate to be getting more and more quality years in the typical lifespan. Of course, there is still a need to plan for accidents, illness, and the eventual possibility that long-term care will be necessary.

Without long-term care insurance, life can become particularly difficult. When costs start mounting up, you will likely have to pay them out of pocket until you are completely broke and have few assets left to pass on to your heirs. Only then will Medicaid kick in. Long-term care insurance can be expensive, but it can end up saving your estate in the long run.

The best way to ensure your needs are met is to be prepared. Your Houston elder lawyer will be able to present you with a variety of options for long-term care insurance and other related considerations. He or she will help you put together a reasonable plan that considers the following:

  • What are you going to need? You may need to do some research to determine what the costs are for long-term care in your area. It is important to have a reasonable idea of what to expect so that you can have enough money to provide for your needs. Remember that costs continually go up, so if you are planning now in middle age, you will need a larger policy to cover the increases due to inflation and other variables.
  • Save money in the long run by planning to pay for the elimination period. By putting aside a reasonable amount of money that will cover expenses between the time that it is determined you need long-term care and when your insurance actually begins to cover it, you can end up with significantly lower premium payments.
  • Work with your Houston elder lawyer to ensure you understand the coverage. Wording and coverage both vary from policy to policy, and you want to ensure that you are getting coverage for exactly what you want. Some policies limit the number of hours a week that you can have care, for instance, which can become problematic if you end up needing to pay for round-the-clock care. You also want to make sure that the policy cannot be canceled or non-renewed when you reach a certain age or become ill.

Your Houston elder care lawyer will have extensive knowledge of what is most beneficial in our area and can help you plan for a future that protects both you and your assets. If you need help getting started, contact our Houston law firm at (281) 218-0880 to schedule a consultation.

 

Long-Term Care Insurance and Alternatives | Houston Elder Law Attorneys

As Houston Elder Law Attorneys, we know that taking care of an aging relative can be emotional, time-consuming and expensive. Most people who have taken care of an aging relative can tell you there are many costs associated with long-term care that are often not considered. For example, you might need someone besides yourself to start helping with household and personal tasks and/or home health care.

As your loved one’s health declines, you may also have increased medical costs.  It is really best if you consider this in advance so that you can focus on your loved one’s emotional well-being, rather than being stressed about where money is going to come from. The good news is there are a few options for planning for this financial burden.

One option would be hybrid long-term care insurance. These policies combine the benefits of an annuity or life insurance agreement with a traditional long-term care contract. With hybrid policies, the consumer has the guarantee of long term care benefits or, if no care is needed, the promise of insurance benefits to themselves and their beneficiaries.

Another option that would offer income over the lifetime of the individual would be an annuity. Annuities offer security for a steady stream of income with a low amount of risk. Unlike other insurance option you do not have to prove insurability by completing an application with present or prior medical conditions. Many annuities also have long-term care riders which would waive any fees for certain conditions.

Lastly, many single-premium whole life insurance policies have an attached long-term care rider. These types of plans typically have a higher cost and may have a maximum figure that can be applied to long-term care benefits.

There are pros and cons to all of these choices. Selecting the right way to invest so that you are ready for long-term care is tricky, as there is no one-size-fits-all answer. That is why it is critical to talk to an experienced Houston elder attorney before you invest. He or she will consider all of the options above and have several other techniques that you may want to utilize to meet your needs.

Mom Might Have Dementia, Can She Still Write a Will in Texas?

If your elderly parent is becoming more forgetful or is demonstrating other unusual behavior, you should get them to a doctor right away to be checked for dementia. More than 3 million cases of dementia are diagnosed each year and is most prevalent among people 65 years old or older. Dementia is often overlooked at the beginning because sometimes the symptoms are very vague, but if caught early, there are steps that you can take to improve your loved one’s cognitive health.

Unfortunately, many people fail to put an estate plan in place and only take action during a medical crisis or after a diagnosis such as dementia. In some of those cases, it is too late due to the client’s diminished capacity. You should not, however, assume that it is always too late.

In order for the legal documents to be valid you must be able to prove that the signer had mental capacity at the time they signed. So even if an individual is suffering from dementia as long as they still have periods of lucidity they may still be competent enough to sign a will in Texas.

The following criteria must be met in order for an individual to be considered mentally competent:

  1. They understand the nature and extent of the property that they own.
  2. They remember who their relatives and descendants are and are able to select who should inherit their property.
  3. They understand the function of a will.
  4. They understand how all of these things are put together to form and estate plan.

It is extremely important that all 4 of these criteria are met when executing the will or you could be leaving the door open for other family members to contest the will. If the will is successfully contested it will be considered invalid and the estate would have to pass through the state’s intestacy laws. Or, if there was a prior valid will, that would be used to settle your parent’s estate. If your parent is showing early signs of dementia, call our office right away for a free consultation. We can make sure that your parent’s wishes are known and documented in a way that will avoid a court challenge.

Alzheimer’s Patient Spoon-Fed Because Directive Wasn’t Specific

In 40 years, Bill Harris built up a lifetime of memories with his wife, Nora, but since she was diagnosed with early onset of Alzheimer’s seven years ago, things have changed.

“She doesn't really make words sometimes,” said Harris in an article on KGW.com entitled “Man says state ignoring wife's wishes in advance directive.” 11-07-16

For Harris, this tough situation got even more difficult with the decision of a southern Oregon judge this summer. The judge, in effect, “condemned her to ride out Alzheimer’s to the bitter end,” said Harris. He says it’s exactly what she didn’t want.

When Nora was told of her diagnosis, she completed an advance directive to be certain that her illness wouldn’t be prolonged. She believed when it wasn’t mechanically possible to eat by herself then she wanted to let nature take its course. However, now she’s stopped eating by herself and is being spoon-fed at a nursing home because, according to the judge’s ruling, her advance directive wasn't specific enough.

Still, the advance directive forms usually only cover getting fed through a tube, creating a conflict between two laws. An advance directive allows you to elect what happens if you become incapacitated, but the state law is there to make sure that care facilities do their job.

Advanced directives should be as specific as possible.

“What they did was basically sentence her to have to experience the full gamut of Alzheimer's,” said Harris. He said he also wishes the judge would have ruled in the spirit of the law and not the letter.

The advance directive law has limitations, but the legislature could amend the law so someone can make decisions on a loved one's behalf. However, now the best option is to be as specific as possible when filling out an advance directive.

Reference: KGW.com (Sept. 19, 2016) “Man says state ignoring wife's wishes in advance directive”