Tag: Long-Term Care Planning

Houston Elder Lawyer Answers, “When should I start planning for long-term care?”

One of the most frequently asked questions our Houston elder lawyers receive is, “When should we start planning for long-term care?” The short answer is, “Long before you need it!”

When it comes to your home, your health and your finances, you want to be in the driver’s seat. That is why it is so important to plan now for any future care you may need. Even if you have a nice nest egg set aside for retirement, it could quickly become cracked and scrambled if you require a stay in a nursing home or need assisted living. A nursing home stay could easily cost you $6,000 to $12,000 per month. How long would your money last at that rate?

Many people realize that long-term care is a rising concern for elderly individuals. While it is true that most people living in long term care facilities are older, planning for long-term care is not something you should put off. At any point, any one of us could require long-term care. Just one accident could place you in long-term care facility for the reminder of your life.

Unfortunately, we have seen families forced into debt and even bankruptcy to meet the needs of their loved ones. This is why we discuss the need for long-term care insurance with all of our clients. Additionally, we make sure that you have all of the proper legal documents such as powers of attorney and healthcare directives in place in the event something happens to you and someone has to step in and make financial and medical decisions on your behalf.

A solid Medicaid Plan and/or Irrevocable trust may also be a wise idea in order to protect your family’s finances from the grasp of long term-care facilities, without jeopardizing your loved one’s access to benefits such as Medicaid down the road.

When setting up your plan, it is important to meet with an attorney that not just handles estates, but also elder law issues, in order to create a strategy for long-term care that will protect your family and provide total peace of mind.

If you have any questions about a long-term care plan or would like to discuss the documents that you need, contact our Houston elder attorneys at (281) 218-0880.

Some Surprising Expenses in Retirement

After working hard and saving your money wisely, you’re ready for a successful retirement. Unfortunately, there can be bumps and hiccups with the plans. Nobody wants to be caught off-guard when it comes to saving for the future, so Forbes has published info on four retirement expenses that may catch you by surprise—and steps you can take to still come out ahead—in “Four Retirement Expenses That May Catch You By Surprise.” 10-21-16

1: Medical Co-Pays and Long-Term Care Expenses. The co-pays for doctors and treatment surprise many folks. They don’t realize that insurance premiums and even co-pays can change over time, and they typically don’t plan for those changes. Some people, in years where they have a large income, will often be victims of the “donut hole” of Medicare insurance premiums. These can increase to $200 per month. Anticipate that these costs will increase and budget additional savings to cover the changes. As far as long-term care, it’s a major issue. You should speak with an elder or estate planning attorney about the best way to cover long-term care expenses. Keep this in mind when planning for the future and save extra money for this expense.

2: Financial Support for Children and Grandchildren. This is more and more common. Grandparents don’t feel like their kids had it like they did when jobs were easier to find. Often grandparents want to take an active role in contributing. But if you do this, be sure that you’re not sacrificing your own lifestyle and retirement savings for their benefit. Helping out with family is terrific, but you don’t want to make a mistake that could end up costing you big time in the long run.

3: Inflation and Increases in Basic Costs of Living. The price of just about everything is rising, and we’re living longer on average. You need to think in terms of giving yourself “raises” and understand that retirement may cost double or triple what it does when you start to retire.

4: Home Expenses. We’re not talking about a new addition or a heated pool. Expenses could include the roof, the driveway, the furnace or the AC. All of these basics deteriorate over time and require money to repair or replace. One option may be to sell the home and move to a spot with less upkeep. If you decide to stay put, you need to save for basic house maintenance as the home ages.

Planning for a successful retirement is no small feat. Enjoy the retirement you deserve, but be aware of potential surprises that many arise as you near retirement. You will be in a better position to have the savings you need to address those surprises head-on and have the confidence you need to retire successfully.

Reference: Forbes (September 1, 2016) “Four Retirement Expenses That May Catch You By Surprise”

Don’t Be Shy: Talk to Parents About the Future

The challenge of helping aging parents is a most common issue. For example, a man’s father, who recently was diagnosed with dementia, couldn’t remember where his money or financial records were kept. That makes for a gut-wrenching situation, trying to locate important documents while caring for an ailing father.

Have that tough conversation now and concentrate on the top areas of your parents’ well-being. It will help alleviate the administrative and emotional burden of caring for them. Parents should to be reassured that you’re not trying to take control of their lives or take advantage of them. Begin the conversation early—that’s best for the long-term interests of the whole family. 9-29-2016

With that in mind, NASDAQ’s article, “Long-Term Care and Wealth Planning for Aging Parents,” points out some of the most important financial issues, decisions and plans to discuss with your parents:

  1. Consider a living trust. In addition to a will, your family may also benefit from creating a living trust to designate which beneficiaries will inherit the assets. The difference between a trust and a will is that assets included in a properly-executed living trust will not be part of the probate process. A living trust may be a bit more expensive to create than a will, but it will let your parents do wise tax and estate planning to protect their wealth. This definitely requires the expertise of an experienced estate planning attorney.
  2. Plan for possible long-term care. It’s not too early to start planning for long-term care. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that there’s about a 70% chance that a 65-year-old will need some type of long-term care at some point. In fact, some will require long-term care for more than five years.
  3. Consider housing options. It’s critical to discuss housing options with your parents and what they would want to do in the event they can no longer live without aid in their own home.
  4. Figure out transportation needs. If your parents are having trouble with remembering things, they may no longer be able to drive safely. What’s the plan for when they can no longer drive themselves?
  5. Talk to your parents. Research shows that many adult children and their parents frequently are not on the same page with money issues. Some folks have difficulty talking about who’ll make financial decisions on behalf of parents if they no longer have the ability to handle their money safely, and others disagree on what role children should play in the care of their parents.

Despite being somewhat uncomfortable, a conversation with your parents about their health and wealth as they age is very important. You can show your parents that you have their best interests at heart and can avoid some future conflict and challenges.

Reference: NASDAQ (August 10, 2016) “Long-Term Care and Wealth Planning for Aging Parents”

Reverse Mortgages Are Back in Style

One couple who wanted to live in a community for people 55 and older in an area they had always admired used a reverse mortgage to finance building their home in that development. 9-14-2016

The New York Times article, “The quiet comeback of reverse mortgages,” reports that reverse mortgages, which allow homeowners age 62 and older to tap into their accumulated home equity without facing monthly payments in return, have received a bad rap over the years because of abuses by lenders.

The volume of reverse mortgages decreased to about 30,000 this year from about 115,000 at their highest point in 2009. However, with reforms, they’re making a slight comeback and are viewed as a way of helping some retirees fill in the gaps in their future income. A reverse mortgage can provide cash or “longevity insurance” when other sources of retirement income dwindle. They also can be a source for out-of-pocket health care costs or other sudden financial needs. Similar to a conventional mortgage, a reverse mortgage obligation is met when the house is sold by the owners, the last owner has died or the home is sold by heirs. Any equity left over is kept by the last homeowner.

Also known as “Home Equity Conversion Mortgages,” these loans are insured by the government. The Federal Housing Administration makes up any debt owed from the final loan balance and net proceeds from the sale. You don’t have to worry about being “underwater” on the loan in case the home’s value is less than the mortgaged amount.

Reverse mortgages can give retirees with only modest savings but little or no housing debt the ability to stay in their homes and can provide a financial safety net for those worried about outliving their retirement funds.

A reverse mortgage can eliminate the burden of conventional housing debt, monthly payments of interest and principal, and can assure heirs that they wouldn’t be required to make up any losses if the home sold for less than the value of its mortgage.

Stricter regulation from the FHA and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau—like mandatory counseling prior to lending—and lower costs have helped increased their popularity among seniors. Some folks don’t have enough savings to get through retirement, so they may use all of their wealth—including home equity—as a retirement income source. Others use reverse mortgages to create a cash buffer in the event a dip in the stock market depletes their retirement portfolio. Rather than selling stocks and funds when the market is down, they can use their home equity through a reverse mortgage line of credit to provide an income stream. One other rationale for seniors looking at reverse mortgages is to finance the costs of long-term care.

Although it can be a source of ready cash, a reverse mortgage isn’t for everyone. If you want to leave your home to your heirs by letting them sell your home at your death, a reverse mortgage will leave no equity in your home.

If you’re thinking about a reverse mortgage, do your homework and don’t be in a rush. Consult an elder law or estate planning lawyer for more information regarding how this might work for your situation.

Reference: The New York Times (July 2, 2016) “The quiet comeback of reverse mortgages”